After putting Hannah to bed, Dremnin walked quietly through the hallways of Kaer Derin Kuyu seeking Vridich, the elven Nethermancer. He wanted to make sure that the evil of the Horror’s was completely gone from his little girl, and he wanted to see if the magician might give him some clues as to her destiny.
The Scout’s conversations with his new daughter since their exit from the lair of the monster Selenys had left him with many new feelings; and above all was a strange new sense of both fulfillment and responsibility. The little girl saw him as her father, and he was determined to step up and fill that role for her to the best of his ability. Though biologically old enough to actually be her father, he had some big shoes to fill in the process of actually being her sole parent.
As Dremnin silently left the newly inhabited Dwarven quarters, he realized that he did not know where the Nethermancer was staying. Now that he pondered on it, the elf had been surprising absent for the last couple of revelry filled days. With a grin making its way to his lips, he felt the Scout magic begin to tingle in his whole body at the prospect of finding the path to his forlorn companion. Although not unlike the feeling of adrenaline shooting through his body, Scout magic made every one of his senses peak. It was like listening to music that only he could hear.
A single, strong note reached his ears after he found the Elf’s foot prints leading off into a side tunnel. With his heightened senses, he could feel the tunnel minutely shift downward. After five minutes of walking, the tunnel abruptly turned from a dirt floor to alabaster paved stones, with fine alabaster block lining the walls and ceiling. A few more steps and he could see Throalic writing on each individual block. Raising his lantern a bit higher, he could read what appeared to be dates and names. Great! The kaer’s crypt. Why does this not surprise me? What a strange Elf.
Continuing on another twenty feet, Dremnin came upon two large closed doors. Made of solid stonework, each door was engraved with the picture of a large dwarven hammer. Written on the head of the left hammer in Throalic: From Earth We Sprang while the right hammer read: To Earth We Return. Dremnin pushed on the left door, fully expecting it to make a grinding stone noise as it did so. He was fully surprised by the fact that even after hundreds of years the door pushed easily open and didn’t make but the barest of whispers. Dwarven craftsmanship indeed.
Once past the doors the crypts opened up into a wide room. Stale air reached his senses immediately. In the center of the room were ceiling tall vaults, each holding multiple name-givers. Lining every inch of the stone walls were stone vaults that were inset back into the walls. Every vault was occupied here as well.
Looking around, Dremnin didn’t see Vridich, nor did he hear the musical note that he had picked up earlier. Bending down to run his hand across the stone floor pavers, his hand came away dust free and clean. Hmm…How could that be? Not picking up any clues as to what direction Vridich might be, he tried once again to extend his senses outward. A multitude of paths appeared before him in his mind’s eye. But he could tell that none of them were Vridich’s path. Growing a little frustrated, Dremnin closed his eyes tightly shut and reached out again. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally caught something. This time a low thrumming beat reached his senses, and in his mind’s eye a path of red opened up before him. The beat had a very low frequency and seemed to crescendo in and out every couple of seconds. Dremnin could feel his own heart beating in his ears. Realizing he had been holding his breath, he slowly exhaled. Being respectful for those laid to rest; he followed the red path through the crypt, mindful not to disturb anything.
The pull of Vridich’s path was like nothing Dremnin had every felt before when tracking someone. Every step closer seemed to increase the “volume” of Vridich’s beat.
In the farthest reaches of the crypt, Dremnin came upon a door that had, until recently, been blocked over. The piles of crumbled blocks and mortar were strewn around the base of the door, along with a mining pick. Due to the dust from the destruction of the block wall, it was easy to tell now that someone had been through here recently. Carefully navigating the broken carnage, he quietly stepped through the doorway.
What greeted him was a sparse room, maybe twenty by twenty. On the far wall was a desk that appeared to still be intact. Sitting at it was his elf companion, Vridich. Despite finding his friend, Dremnin’s gaze was drawn to the rest of the walls in this room. All of them appeared to have writing on every inch of them. Even on the floor were writings and symbols that did not appear to be any recognizable language.
Rather than just walking up on the Nethermancer and perhaps startling him, Dremnin stood at the entryway and said quietly, “You’re a hard one to find, Vridich, my friend. I have followed your song and have discovered you here amongst the kaer’s dead instead of remaining with the living. May I enter?” Remembering that the elf had a krilworm as a familiar, he made no move to enter or even appear hostile, hoping the little worm would not see him as a threat.
The thought suddenly crossed his mind, and he gasped out-loud in alarm, “By the Passions, this must be where Selenys learned her craft from the Horror.” He would not speak the evil Horror’s name, but went on guard immediately, with real concern for Vridich filling his heart.
Vridich turns in his chair to look towards Dremnin. In his right hand he’s holding an ink well, his fingers and hand appear to be stained black all the way to his wrist. While in his left hand is clutched what appears to be a large crow’s feather for writing. “Of course you may enter. It is safe now.” With that Vridich turns back to a desk scattered full of parchments and books.
As Dremnin steps closer to the table and Vridich, he hears a hissing noise to his right. Startled, Dremnin unconsciously reaches for the pommel of Derin’s Sword strapped at his side. Squinting slightly, he sees perched on the nightstand next to a crumbling bed the hideous looking krilworm.
“Shhhhh…Eidolon. He is friend.” Vridich says over his shoulder. “Apologies Dremnin, but the concept of friend is foreign to most krilworms. It’s something we are still working on.”
When finally standing next to his companion, it’s obvious that he appears to be copying some old crumbling parchments to a newer empty book. The “writings” appear to be nothing legible, let alone an actual language. Continuing to write, “I’m afraid I didn’t realize that I was humming or singing to myself while I worked. I hope that I wasn’t too out of tune?”
Dremnin chuckles to himself, “It wasn’t so much that you were belting out a tune friend, only that my scout magic lead me to you by sound. A soft, thrumming, dark beat to be precise.”
At this Vridich raises an elven eyebrow, “Hmm. That’s very interesting. And you started hearing this “music” when you started looking for me?” A nod of affirmation from Dremnin, “I’ve never heard of such a thing. Although I shouldn’t be surprised, magic affects us all differently. I’m most certain the way you see and hear magic is much different than my own.” Reaching into a small pouch nearby, Vridich throws a small amount of fine sand over one of his pages.
“You were right in your assumptions. This was Selenys’s former abode. As I study her scrawlings, I’m finding out many interesting things about her and how she brought about the demise of this Kaer. Unfortunately, if she had only had a proper mentor, this could have all been avoided. A shame, really.” Vridich shuffles most of the papers into his satchel, waiting for the others to dry.
“Anyways, what can I do for you friend?” he says at long last.
Gently having a seat on a nearby crate, “I am very concerned for Hannah now that we have finally left Vargaxes domain. Since we have returned, she has become a chatterbox. Her questions are nearly nonstop from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed. She does seem to sleep well now, the nightmares gone, so that’s a blessing; thank Floranuus.” Stopping briefly to chew on his lip, “I want to be her adopted Father.” He finally says with a will of steel.
“Upon our return, she has told me that she remembers nothing prior to “waking up” in Vargaxes domain. She has no recollections of living in the mine or who her real parents are or where she even came from. So I would appreciate it if you could look her over again. I want to be sure she is healthy, for a fresh new start that she deserves.”
With a bit of a smile on his face, Vridich says, “I had a feeling you’d come asking. I checked her, and the rest of the group days ago.” Seeing the dubious look on Dremnin’s face, “It’s not that I’m paranoid, but more that I see it as my job to keep us safe from the things that lurk in the Netherworlds. In Hannah’s case, I no longer see the dark spot that marred her pattern since the last time I checked. So in that regard, I believe her to be free of the horror that was tied to her. However, there is residual damage, more like scars. I expect this means that some part of her is still healing. No surprise with everything she has been through. I wish you the best of luck. I’m sure you make a fine Father figure.”
With relief clearly written on his face, Dremnin sighed, “Thank you friend. This will help me keep my head clear, so that I can stay focused on our path ahead of us.”