Copyright Marc Gilbert ©2000
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
Chapter 4 - The New World
Dazrii and her friends were at the border of the city at dawn. The sun was in the sky today; the floating continent that had been blocking the sun yesterday was now far away. It appeared as if that particular fragment had a slow rotation in the sky, or was it this fragment they occupied which was rotatingÖ It was all still difficult to comprehend.
After a brief description by the mage Frolmir of the area they should begin their search, and after he wished them good luck in their mission, they took their backpacks and left the city to begin their exploration of the new world, apprehension warring with determination.
For hours, they saw nothing other than dried and cracked earth with only some rocks and twisted remnants of burned trees to break the monotony of this dead land. The only thing with a spark of life in this place was the river they were following, but it wasnít the beautiful river that they had known once. Now the river seemed sick and weak, with just a little trickle of water flowing.
It was about noon when they took their first break. They sat themselves on some round rocks at the side of the stream. They took some rations from their backpack and some water from the stream.
"This place is dead," said Siltis despondently.
"I wonder if weíll ever see something alive in these lands," answered Dazrii.
"Not everythingís dead," commented Chala. "I can still sense some life; itís very weak but life is still there. It may take many years before the flora and fauna return to normal, but nature will heal itself. It always has."
"Maybe, but the land will never be the same again, with these floating continents up there and these odd magical anomalies I have been feeling. It seems that Magic itself has been altered since the comet impact. I should have talked about it with Frolmir before we left. I wonder if he noticed it too. Maybe itís justÖ"
"Did you see that?" interrupted Siltis, who was already on his feet, his hand on the hilt of his sword.
"What? Where?" asked Dazrii.
"There! In the water! I saw something move."
"Why are you so quick with your weapon, Siltis?" asked Chala. "Itís probably just a fish! Like I said, I still sense life in this desert."
He relaxed a little, but kept his hand near his sword, ready to draw it if needed. "Maybe, but what I saw seemed too big for a fish in a stream like this."
The water looked murky in an area roughly ten feet in diameter, as if something had disturbed the sand and silt at the bottom of the stream. Siltis advanced a little, his eyes trying to peer through the dark water. Fast as lightning, a long tentacle erupted from the water reaching Siltis' right leg and encircling it tightly. Siltis suddenly felt a burst of pain, as if many needles had pierced his leg. He slashed at the tentacle with his sword, but the thing in the water was fast enough to release its grip on Siltis' leg, the razor sharp claws of the tentacle lacerating the leg in its retreat into the water. Siltis' sword flashed again, this time slicing the tentacle in two before it could disappear under the water.
"Get out of the water!" shouted Dazrii, a blue ball of energy forming in her hand.
Siltis struggled to get out of the water as another tentacle raised itself from the water and lashed at him. He had just enough time to parry with his sword. The tentacle had a deep cut from the blade but was still able to move. It retreated back somewhat, hovering over the surface of the water awaiting an opportunity to hit Siltis.
A third tentacle attacked, but was blocked by Siltis' shield. He sloshed out of the water and fell heavily to the ground, his wounded leg not able to support him. The injured tentacle tried to reattach itself, but never reached its destination as a sizzle of blue lightning shot out of Dazriiís palm and struck the creature in the water. The tentacle lost all mobility and hit the ground. The water by the bank slowly subsided and grew still.
"Are you ok Siltis?" Dazrii asked, seeing him on the ground, blood all over his leg.
"Yeah, it hurt a lot, but I think that Iíll be fine." He tried to get up but Chala stooped him.
"Let me see that wound first," the young healer said as she carefully ripped away the damaged cloth of Siltis' pants obscuring his wound.
"Can I help?" asked Dazrii.
"Yes. Search in my backpack for bandages and put clean water on them, then bring them to me. Iíll do the rest."
"Alright," answered Dazrii, already searching in the backpack.
When she found the bandages, she went to the stream. Kneeling upstream of the dead creature she dipped the bandages in, cautious lest another one of them should attack. That done, she returned to Chala, who had already finished studying the wound. The healer took one of the bandages to clean the wound. She then laid her hand upon his leg. Healing energy pulsed from her hand, entering Siltis' leg and closing the wound.
"Heís cut deep, but nothing is broken. He got lucky; it just missed the muscle," Chala said in response to Dazrii's unspoken question. " Iíll be able to close the wound. It will not heal completely today, but heíll be able to walk."
Satisfied her friend would be fine, Dazrii went back to the stream. She plunged her staff into the water and fished the creature out. "Iíve never seen anything like that!" she said. "I wonder where it came from."
The dead creature at her feet had the body of a large fish, with a huge mouth filled with sharp teeth. It had four tentacles attached to its body, two on each side. Dazrii put some pressure on a tentacle with the tip of her staff and a row of claws emerged from it. A good defense system, she thought.
"We should return to town, report that creature and give Siltis some time to heal," suggested Chala.
"No!" answered Siltis. "Iíll be fine. And as for this creature, they said in town that they would be sending out a foraging patrol to find food or resources to help rebuild the town. I'm sure theyíll find this thing easily enough."
"Are you sure that youíll be ok, Siltis?" Dazrii asked.
"Yes, Iíll be fine. Letís get moving; we have a mission to accomplish."
The small group gathered up their packs and moved off, still following the stream, much more slowly than they had upon arriving. Their eyes were more vigilant now; they scanned the terrain and stream more carefully than before. They would try not to make any further assumptions about what they would find in this, their new world.