Old Stories

Meri's Epic Adventure
Chapter 1

The Journey Begins

Meri was a spunky young cleric who just couldn't wait to find an adventure. He spent most of his youth in the dense woods of Misty Thicket, and occasionally went with friends to hunt in Kithicor woods. Of course, they would only hunt there during the day, as the nights were too dangerous. Just like the others, Meri would collect wolf hides, bear hides, and spider silk, but the difference was that while the others took them to the shops in exchange for some coin, Meri would bring the stuff home for his dad. Did I tell you about Meri's dad? No? Ah well, then maybe I should mention that Meri's dad is none other than Twippie Diggs, the most famous tailor in Rivervale and probably all of Norrath, as far as that matters. Diggs is said to be able to weave magic with his needle and thread. He has a stand just outside the Fool's Gold Inn, where he sells common leather items to most passersby; this, he says, is his sin money. But there have been many times when a druid or a monk would stop by and beg him to repair their Foreman's Tunic or Lockjaw Vest that was badly damaged in battle, and Twippie would make them look new again.

Whether it was a wizard or an enchanter upset because their Flowing Black Robe or Green Silken Drape had lost its potency due to damage done to the magic threading, Twippie had the right material and imbued needle to bring the garment back to its full power.

But this story is about Meri, and the time had come for him to improve his cleric skills as best as he could. He must now expand his horizons and see what challenges were out there so he could advance. He told his father of his plans, and Twippie quite agreed that Meri's time had come. He gave his son the best-reinforced leather gear that he had, many pieces of which had a little extra magic woven into them. He also packed a few extra sweets for Meri, like bixie honeyed muffins and candied wasp wings, then pulled Meri aside.

"Son," he said, "many years ago, a...er...ah...monk came through here and stopped so I could do some repairs on his J boots. As I was fixing them, he told me a story he had once heard about a vest called a spectral shirt. This shirt had many special qualities, and the interesting part was, he was certain that this shirt wasn't taken from some creature in Norrath, but was something that could be sewn. He seems certain that some special equipment was necessary to make this item, which could be found throughout the land. I have often thought about this shirt that he mentioned, but I have been busy raising you, and my business has kept me very busy. I haven't had the time to find out more about it. I have passed many notes to others in the tailoring guild, and I have been led to believe that the tailor, Fhara Semhart, who lives in Qeynos, may know more about this. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind finding out more about the shirt for me? It would be great if I knew if this shirt was actually possible or if it is just some needless rumor.

Meri took his dad's note and some letters that others wanted delivered, said his good-byes, and was off to Misty Thicket. He quickly passed by the hovels of halflings that made this part of the woods their home. He even stopped long enough to say goodbye to the wall guards that had often admonished him when he was younger for some foolhardiness or another. He ran past the orc camp, ignoring them even as they thumbed their noses at him. Soon, he had reached the goblins that were guarding the entrance to Runnyeye. Both guards knew that Meri could take them both, but this didn't stop them from growling their displeasure as he ran past them into the cave.

In the blackness of the cave, Meri donned a halo of light, which dispelled the darkness but not the gloom. Noise flooded the cave; from the goblin's priest forever chanting to the slaver's whips cracking and the constant pounding of picks, the noise seemed to come from everywhere at once. To keep the noise from disorientating him, Meri kept his shield arm touching the right wall. Slowly, he worked his way to where he saw people from other races sitting. This must be the way out, Meri thought, and was about to step around the corner when suddenly, from another passage, there came a huge and grotesque looking eyeball. As Meri drew back into the shadows, he heard someone shout, "Borxx's is out!" That cry was a mistake for the warrior that shouted it because no sooner were the words out of his mouth than the giant eye had turned and fixed its gaze upon him. The warrior started to shake as if someone had just grabbed hold of him and appeared possessed. Acting as if he had no will of his own, the warrior drew his sword and began attacking his companion. An ogre that was sitting beside them quickly stood up, grabbed a rock, and hurled it at the eye. As the eye howled in pain, the ogre then pushed the warrior and his friend out of the cave, following behind them. Meri sank even deeper into the shadows, with his hands covering his ears to deafen the screams of pain the eye was emitting. The screams soon turned to howls of rage as the eye realized that its intended target had escaped it. The eye spun around, looking for a fresh victim, but seeing none, it soon went off down the passage that it came. Sighing a breath of relief, Meri shook off the scare that he just had and quickly headed out of the cave himself.

It seems that Meri had jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. In front of him were the ogres and the warrior beating on a huge beast that made Meri's jaw drop. The beast's torso was extremely muscular, and its size completely dwarfed that of the ogre. Its head reminded Meri of the animals back home that gave milk but with deadly pointed horns protruding from it. The creature's legs were shaped like those of a wolf but definitely had the strength and power of a bear. Meri cast two heals on each of the ogre and the warrior and turned to see their companion sitting there. She was human like the warrior, but she had a darker complexion with a higher-shaped forehead and the most amazing alluring eyes. Alarmed, Meri noticed that she had a lot less life than those who were fighting. He bent down and started applying bandages to her while keeping one eye on the battle going on before him. The tide had turned in favor of the adventurers, and the beast finally sensing fear tried to turn and make good its escape down what was a large canyon. But this just inflamed the combatants even more, and they doubled their attack until the beast was finally brought down.

"Thank you for your help," said the lady as she continued to regain her mana and strength. "Is there anything we can do for you?"

"Yes, please," replied Meri, "Can you tell me what path I must follow to get to Qeynos?"

The warrior gave out a bark of laughter as he handed his friends their share of the loot, "That's easy and hard to answer, my friend. Easy because all you have to do is follow this canyon here and keep the wall to your left at all times. Hard because there is a good chance you will never make it!"

"And why is that?" Meri asked.

"Many Minotaurs," the ogre responded, pointing at the beast that lay before them, "Also many muddites and evil eyes."

"I could invisibility you," the lady again spoke, "but unfortunately, none of us can cast spirit of wolf on you, and you stand a great chance of having invisibility wear off while still in the canyon, leaving you at the mercy of whatever creature is around. There is only one way you can go, but it holds its own danger."

"And that would be?" Meri asked.

"Har, Har, Har, that would be the wall," chortled the ogre as he pointed to a set of steps that went up the left wall just to disappear out of sight.

"Yes," said the warrior, "Your best bet is to travel the wall. But you better be sure your grip is firm and watch for the winds as you go, for the fall from there will surely kill you."

Meri thanked them for the information and wished them well in taming the beast that they had called Minotaurs and started to climb the steps up the wall.

Meri was in no time at all at the top of the stairs, which opened to a wide pathway that led around the canyon wall. He looked down to where the people he had just left were and felt his heart leap into his throat. The adventurers, if it was them, appeared to be mere specks, and the mouth of Runnyeye's cave looked smaller than a mouse hole. Meri began to follow the path that was wide enough for two people and was gently sloping down towards the canyon floor. But as Meri took the first turn in the wall, the path became so narrow that he had to watch his footing, and the path now rose even higher than before. He noticed a ledge slightly above him and started to use it as a handhold, for the path was now barely a foot wide. It was at the second turn in the wall that Meri realized the danger he was in. Inching his hand along the ledge, he suddenly felt the wind tearing at his arm. Gripping the wall as tightly as he could, Meri slowly made the turn in the wall and stood there for a moment petrified. The odd contours of the canyon gave this section a wind tunnel effect. Meri could feel the wind slamming him against the canyon wall while at the same time, its icy fingers tried to claw at him, trying to loosen his grip. He could also see that the wind had pummeled the ledge he stood on, and in parts, it appeared to be not there at all! The wall wound into a wide V shape, so Meri knew that if he made it across this section, the other side would be the lee side of the wind and should be much safer. He inched his way forward, trying to find a rhythm to the pushing and pulling of the wind. He ignored the pain that was in his arms and hands as the rocks from the hand ledge above bit deeply into his palms. The process was tedious but passed, just as the pressure of the wind seemed to, and soon Meri found himself facing the wall he had just crossed. He was happy to notice that on this section of the wall, the path once again opened to a comfortable size and did not seem to be as high from the canyon floor as before. Meri took the time to apply some salve to his hands and grab some food and drink. From here, he was also able to see some of the creatures that inhabited the canyon below. Even from here, the Minotaurs appeared to be huge as they ran up and down the canyon bellowing out a call to others, stopping to sniff the air, then off again in a different direction. Goblins could be seen sitting at different spots, gripping their spears and constantly watching, and once Meri thought he saw one of those "Eyes," which caused him to pull his feet away from the edge. He carried on, and at the next bend in the wall, the wind had lost a lot of its punch. Soon, he saw a set of stairs that trailed back to the canyon floor.

Meri was almost at the bottom when one of the steps broke loose and sent him sprawling down the rest of the way. He suffered little damage and thought he had landed on a pretty soft rock when suddenly that rock began to howl. "This must be one of those Muddites the ogre had talked about," Meri thought as he rolled to a standing position. The Muddite first looked as if it was going to charge Meri, but it stopped quickly and then flung some mud at him, blinding him! Meri desperately clawed the mud out of his eyes, and by now, the Muddite had taken two fifths of Meri's life. He rooted the creature and standing back he cast Smite on the creature while dodging the mud balls it tossed at him. He had almost done the creature in when once again the Muddite got lucky and hit Meri squarely in the face. Vision blurred, Meri ran up to where he felt the Muddite was standing and started to wail away at it with his mace as he wiped the mud off his face. As his vision cleared, he saw the Muddite lying defeated at his feet; he went to pick up the clay brick that the creature dropped when he noticed two more creatures nearby, one pointing at him, and the other running as if it was about to tell others. Meri knew it would take hours to clean the mud out of his clothes, and another engagement with more of those creatures wouldn't be a smart thing, so Meri ran as fast he could out of there. He looked over his shoulder once and saw some of the Muddites chasing him from a distance, but Meri didn't stop until the canyon finally opened up to a clearing.

In front of him was the start of a well-traveled road, and in front of him, it veered into two directions, with the left path leading to some cabins. He headed in that direction and saw that there were some shops with a spring well in the back. Meri washed and made his appearance presentable enough and headed into one of the shops to sell the brick of clay and to restock some supplies. He found out that he was now in East Karana and if he kept heading west, he would be in Qeynos in about two days' travel. They had also warned him that there were dangers here, such as spiders, lions, hounds, and the occasional evil eye that wandered along the road to the wooden bridge he had to cross. Meri thanked them and went back to the road heading west, where he saw some of the spiders the shopkeeper spoke of. Meri was surprised to see how big these spiders were and decided to travel with the road on his left close to the view and the mountainside on his right in case he had to run there then later double back. He hadn't traveled far when from behind a tree popped a bandit.

"Ah see here mah payday!" sneered the bandit in the meanest voice he could muster.

"You can try!" Meri responded and with a yelp of strength leaped upon the bandit not allowing him a chance to get the upper hand. Meri's initial attack brought the bandit's life down by two fifths, but the bandit had fought many campaigns and started to wear back Meri's attack, doing a fifth of damage. Meri quickly cast Smite with another yelp of strength, renewing his attack on the bandit. It looked like he had finally gotten the upper hand when out of nowhere, another bandit appeared. This one looked bigger and meaner than the first and did not help the other bandit but seemed to be positioning himself so he could finish Meri off and have two pockets to pick. The first bandit, seeing this, fought with renewed fury, for he did not want to share his spoils with the other, even at the cost of his own life! Meri knew the situation for him was grim, so you can imagine his surprise when the first bandit magically sprouted an arrow in his chest; in fact, this so surprised the first bandit that he dropped dead from the shock!

Seeing the other bandit keel over did not faze the second bandit in the slightest. He raised his bronze saber high with the ill intent of removing Meri's head, but before he could complete the swing, an arrow pierced his arm, pinning it to the tree beside him. The bandit screamed in pain as his weapon fell from his numbed hand; that was when a second arrow pinned the bandit's shoulder to the tree. A wood elf stepped from its hiding spot with a bow in its hand and said to Meri, "You looked like you needed a hand. I would suggest that you finish this guy off; otherwise, he will just haunt you and make a pest of himself to everyone else." Meri put the bandit out of its misery and then turned to the wood elf to thank him.

"My name is Virken, and I am a ranger," the wood elf said, "And whom do I have the pleasure of speaking with?"

"My name is Meri, and I'm a cleric. I am on my way to Qeynos to deliver some mail and a note for my father."

"Well," said Virken, "I am also heading in that general direction myself; I was wondering if you would be interested in traveling together?"

Meri was relieved to find someone who knew the route and was more than happy to group with him. With Virken leading the way, they were able to avoid bandits and other hazards with relative ease and were soon at the bridge.

The wooden bridge spanned a wide river leading into North Karana. As they neared the far side, they could see two wood elves and a barbarian, all of whom were quite low in health. At their feet was a creature that Virken told Meri was called a griffawn. It had the body of a lion and an enormous wingspan with the most colorful plumage ever. The head was that of a very ferocious bird with a very dangerous-looking beak, and the talons that passed for feet could certainly shred a person to ribbons in no time at all. Meri cast Heal all around until the adventurers were back to full health. One of the wood elves sprang up from where she sat and danced over to Meri and Virken and curtsied.

"Hi, my name is Brannie," she said, "My friends and I would like to thank you greatly for your kindness!" She then came up close to Meri and added, "And boy! Are you ever cute!" which she then tweaked Meri's nose before running over to her friend. Meri found the way his ears and cheeks burned the strangest sensation he had ever felt; and was mesmerized watching the wood elf as she pesteringly whispered into her friend's ear. The other wood elf sat patiently listening to her friend until finally, she giggled and stood up. She then cast a spell on Meri that made his feet feel as if they had wings, and she then cast Spirit of Wolf on Virken.

"Thank you, gentlemen, for your heals, and I do hope that this spell will help you along the way. Safe journey to you both," she said.

Brannie then came up and, staring right at Meri, said, "And I really do hope we meet again."

Again, Meri's ears burnt strangely, and he felt unable to talk. Virken had to literally drag Meri down the path.

Besides the winged beasts, there were large beetles that roamed this area. Besides bears, lions, and wolves, there was a creature called a willowwisp. Virken helped Meri kill a few of these creatures until finally, they got a greater lightstone; now, Meri didn't have to change from his normal headgear to a halo of light whenever it got dark. They were moving much quicker now and didn't realize that they had entered West Karanas until they saw a few bandits standing beside the road ready to waylay them. Both Virken and Meri disposed of the bandits and then took care of two more that were lurking a little farther up the road. Virken told Meri to take the bandit sashes and who to give them to once he reached Qeynos for a good reward. They were back on the road and before long they passed a spot that Virken told Meri was guard tower two and to the right Meri could see some shops in the distance. They had just passed guard tower one when suddenly Virken held Meri up, sniffing the air. "A werewolf had just passed this way," Virken said, "we better be careful because I think our SoW is about to give out."

They entered the canyon that led to Qeynos hills, and sure enough, there was a werewolf in front of them. It seemed that the werewolf had already had a victim and was about to deliver a killing blow when Virken notched and let loose his most damaging arrow, causing the werewolf to miss. This had also given Meri enough time to sidle around to where the werewolf victim was; Meri saw that it was a dark elf and that he was bleeding profusely and unconscious. Meri quickly cast two quick heals on the dark elf, which seemed to revive him, and Virken had let loose another arrow on the werewolf before switching to bear claws and the wickedest sword Meri had seen and jumping on the werewolf's back. Meri then cast another heal on the dark elf, which seemed to bring him back to full health and kept the rest of his mana in reserve in case his friend Virken needed a heal, and assisted Virken with his mace on the werewolf. The werewolf, which seemed to have an easy kill in front of it, was now facing the fact that its life was in jeopardy, it began to run but the dark elf casted a leech spell draining whatever life that was in it out.

"May I have your names, gentlemen!" The dark elf demanded. Meri introduced himself and Virken and would have said more, but the dark elf cut him short. "All you need to know is that my name is Breck. My lord and master Innoruuk had deemed that I needed to make this journey, and he had also deemed that I was fated to suffer and fail! His plan was to have me suffer the indignities of that werewolf, which would have required me to repeat this journey over again, but you two interfered, and now I am cursed! So be forewarned that someday should our paths cross again, I will do my utmost to see that I repay you for causing me such shame!" and without giving anyone a chance to say another word, the dark elf took off like a shot.

"Well, that was strange," Meri said, "what with the cursing thing, I thought he would have been happy that we saved him!"

"You never know," said Virken, "maybe he was. The dark elves that I have met have a strange code of ethics that they follow. There is a good possibility that this curse this guy spoke could be a good thing or a bad thing; I guess we will never know unless we run into him again." The werewolf had nothing to loot, so the two companions headed on into Qeynos Hills.

Once in Qeynos Hills, they traveled together to the first marker that had marked the road they had just traveled on. "Well, my friend," said Virken, "I am sad to say, but here is where we must part company. I must travel on to Surefall where there is a ranger's guild there, and speak to some people that know that can give me some training that I need. I certainly wish I wasn't such a poor shot." He said with a wry grin on his face. Meri thanked his new friend for all the help he gave him and wished him well, hoping that someday in the future they would meet again. Meri stood there and waved until Virken could no longer be seen, then he turned and headed down the road that was headed to Qeynos. Already it had felt to Meri that he had been through a lot, yet at the same time, Meri was pretty sure that the adventure had only just begun.

© Copyright 2023 Kenneth G Brennan

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