Guess what? I'm going on another adventure! No, not because I need money. I'm still rich from the last adventure! This one is kind of a favor to Mirhandrax. Well, I guess technically to Outcast but I'm not really doing it for him. I should probably start more at the beginning.
Archonandi, Mirhandrax, Outcast and I met up yestereve at the pub in the Vheshrame Adventurer's Guild. (Mirhandrax has managed not to start any brawls in this one so he's still welcome here. Unlike Ulmarn.) We were seated on the second floor's interior balcony, overlooking the main floor where patrons sat on benches before long tables. The balcony seating is big comfy arm chairs and tray tables and I like it lots better. Mirhandrax, being the biggest bear of a Gormorror EVER, had to sit on a bench anyway because chairs big enough to seat two normal primes aren't large enough for him.
Being a smith for months and months and not adventuring has changed Arcsy. His arms and chest muscles are bigger than ever, but his grey-furred body doesn't have quite the same lithe agility he used to. There's something in his eyes too: an ease and affection behind the raccoon mask of black fur, instead of the constant state of wary, alert preparation.
And you know, Outcast looks SO DIFFERENT from the scrawny scraggly brown otter-man we rescued from bandits back in Chirreb. His fur is a glossy mahogany now, paling to soft beige on the underside and he's let his headfur grow out long enough to pull back in a ponytail. He's filled out -- not plump but muscular; his shoulders look twice as broad as they were. I don't think I'd recognize him if I hadn't been seeing him every couple weeks since we met. It's weird to realize that this must be how he's supposed to look and that the way he was when I first saw him was the result of months of imprisonment and abuse. Sometimes I wonder what it was like and mostly I'm glad I don't know. I know he brought it on himself in a way but I still feel sorry for him because NO ONE deserves that.
We'd gotten together just to be sociable since Archonandi's retired from adventuring and I'm rich. There's no reason Mirhandrax shouldn't be rich too, except that he probably gives all his money away because he's that sort of prime. Also he's determined to help Outcast.
Their current plan to find Outcast's really-should-stay-lost-if-you-ask-me-bu
"Adventuring is the best way we've got of raising this kind of sum, and we did have a good run for the last couple of tasks." Mirhandrax drummed the claws of one giant paw against his tray table. "But the market of high-paying adventuring work has dried up recently."
Archonandi took a swallow of ale. "I don't hear as much as I used to, but I'll let you know if anything comes my way."
"Lady Inithia gave me the list of reagents she'd need for the enchanment." Outcast laid a short scroll on a tray table and pushed it where the others could reach. "Some of these are irritating to gather but not particularly difficult. Third-minute milkweed blossoms, for example, I can get myself with patience."
I made a face at the idea. Third-minute milkweed blooms for 9 seconds at random intervals between three and nineteen days apart. It is super annoying to harvest and hardly anyone cultivates it because of that. Well, it wasn't me going to do it.
"The most expensive item on the list is fresh knowledgefruit, though." Outcast tapped a blunt claw against the final line.
Mirhandrax wrinkled one side of his broad muzzle. "No wonder. I didn't think that grew anywhere in Ketheria."
"Not in the Flats, no. Lady Inithia has a source in Borenexia. That's six branches down and four thousand miles away. And since it has to be fresh, not preserved ... "
"At that distance, it'd be easier to get Lady Inithia to it than it to her," Mirhandrax said.
Outcast smiled wryly. "True. Unfortunately, she doesn't like to travel and her laboratory isn't mobile. And even setting aside the cost of an express courier, the prices from Borenexia aren't cheap."
"I think there might be knowledgefruit trees closer than that," Archonandi said. "I've heard rumors of it growing in the Underneaths of Dentheia. With the secret of its exact location guarded by an azgrath."
Outcast grimaced. "I don't mind taking risks, but going into the Underneaths to face an azgrath might be more trouble than this one is worth."
"That depends on how old it is. A young azgrath ... " Mirhandrax started.
"That rumor's over a decade old," Archonandi said.
"Never mind, then. To be honest, I'd rather not kill an azgrath for the sole crime of having a thing that I want, anyway." Outcast exhaled. "I did some research and there are closer known knowledgefruit trees, but not from anyone who will sell the fruit. A nyacanth raider in the Verticals of Mrasteia is said to have one."
"A raider? How many monsters does it lead?" Mirhandrax asked.
"Fifteen or twenty, by most accounts."
Archonandi whistled. "That's a bit much for two adventurers, unless they're all scawn."
Mirhandrax grinned. "Sounds like a worthy challenge to me."
"They're not scawn. I wouldn't want to plan an all-out assault on them," Outcast said, "but a distraction and a snatch-and-grab might be feasible. I'd need more information first, to know what their defenses are like."
All this planning talk was WAY too much like work if you ask me, so I interrupted to say, "What's knowledgefruit anyway?"
"Wrinkly yellow-brown berries." Archonandi held thumb and forefinger a half inch apart. "Some say they look like curled-up infant Orren. If you eat a bunch of them, they'll give extra power to the next Kennoc spell you cast, and -- some say, though I personally doubt this -- improve its accuracy."
"Ohhh babyberries!" I said. "There's a crefian nest in the Verticals below Vheshrame that grows those why don't you just trade with them?" Everyone stared at me. "What?"
"Crefian nest ... ?" Outcast said.
"Yes I met them when I was still an adventurer like a year ago maybe? They're nice they look like gigantic butterflies with intangible wings if you've never met one and they traded us some babyberries so we could boost a tracking spell we needed."
"... yes. That does sound much easier. Thank you."
Then Mirhandrax asked if I'd show them how to get there and I figured I'd just come with them because I'd like to see the crefians again anyway. I don't know if this will really be an Adventure but it's in the Verticals! So probably.