Beyond Dominia: The Role Playing Mill: Maraxus' Return
By Aerlin on Wednesday, August 30, 2000 - 01:56 am:
September 13, 794 - Talismanian Reckoning ***
Three weeks passed in relative obscurity, and Aerlin quickly took to the work of an ordertaker for the Inn. To their credit, Edgir and Em asked few questions about her past, and she did not offer much up for them. They simply adopted her as the daughter they'd never had, and allowed her the privacy she wanted and deserved.
Still, each night after her work was done, she retreated to her room and avoided company, attempting again and again in vain to find a way to open the book. She dared not take it outside, for fear that someone might mistake it for a quick prize to redeem to the highest bidder. Repeated efforts yielded poor results, and Aerlin was as close to opening it as she had been when she first received it.
The night was fully dark outside, and she had just changed into her night clothes when a small knock came at her door.
"Aerlin? May I come in for a moment?" It was Em's voice. The kindly lady had been a frequent guest in her room, a shoulder for Aerlin to cry on, and a person she could confide in if she so chose.
"Of course, Em. Please do."
Em's curly gray hair floated around her head, and she too had prepared herself for a night's sleep. The mild look of concern on her face cued Aerlin that something was amiss.
"I'm sorry to bother you so late at night, but we've just had a visitor, and he wishes to speak with you. I wanted to give you warning, though. He's big and rather well armed, but polite. He says his name is Maraxus." Aerlin suddenly gasped.
"Maraxus! By the gods, please take me to him."
Aerlin was shaking as she took each step down the stairs, unsure if it would really be him, but anxious to see another familiar face, especially that of her beloved uncle. Tears of joy came unbidden to her eyes as the massive frame of her uncle came into view, and she ran the rest of the way to his warm embrace. He held her close for several moments.
"So, I've found you at last, child." He held her at arm's length, and gazed admiringly upon her. "You've grown a bit. At least you're not starved, Lin." He smiled.
"Forgive me, but it's obvious you two definitely know each other," Em interjected. "Aerlin, show him to a seat. I'll bring you both something to drink."
"Thank you," she replied, leading her uncle to a nearby table. Maraxus had always been imposing, but even she had never seen him outfitted as he was. An aging warrior, he carried a massive sword, and his bulging muscles were covered by the thin sheen of armor beneath his traveling clothes. He had never possessed great intellect, but living with the remnants of Oor-Tael for nearly two decades had made him a bit smarter than if he had lived his life elsewhere.
He sat down, and the chair groaned under his weight. His face grew serious as he looked at his niece, and she took this sign ominously. There was almost a feral savageness to his expression, and she knew that he was once more in the element he had apparently abandoned years before. Max had gained some leanness that complemented his musculature, in contrast with the once slightly obese Maraxus she had grown up knnowing.
"What is it, Uncle? How did you find me here?" she asked, curious to know about her uncle's appearance.
Maraxus leaned on the two back legs of his chair, and it moaned stressfully. "Well, Lin, I'll make a long story short. Gandalf rather unceremoniously sent me through one of his ungodly portals and I ended up who knows where. I realized I was in the middle of the damned Shaharazad forest and decided to hunt for you. He had told me he was sending everyone everywhere but only told me of his plans to send you to Whayn-Fharh, for what I don't know."
"What was he planning, I wonder," thought Aerlin out loud. "He told me he was sick, gave me the Edair, and shoved me through a portal, too."
"He actually gave you the book? Things must have been dire indeed. He didn't seem to be in such frail health that his life was in danger, but a person can never be sure."
Em returned, bearing ale for both Aerlin and Maraxus, and a glass of water for herself. She sat next to Aerlin.
"Do you mind if I listen in for a bit? I'm afraid I'm not very tired, and I'd be interested in Sir Maraxus's tale."
"I don't suppose it would hurt," Maraxus answered, "But I fear the news I bear isn't easy to take." Em nodded and seated herself, and Maraxus went on with his tale.
"To the south, the land is dying once more. I couldn't find a trace of illness within the land itself, but the plants are drooping and wilted. Animals lie dead by the side of the road, and not just small creatures either. Even the few of the open treefolk were dead, the life gone from their eyes. They were torn apart, though I found no marks of weapon upon their bark. I can't figure out what your father meant to accomplish by separating everyone."
"He told me to seek out Master Sunset, Max."
Maraxus shifted his position, settling himself into the chair. The dreamy look in his eye spoke of memories long past and days of peace. "Ah yes, I remember him. Your father left him in charge of the library when he left. Pheodran was the town the library was founded in. Sunset's a good man; I'm sure he'll be there."
Em leaned forward. "You think he might know what's behind the sickness you found?" Maraxus shook his head.
"I'm afraid I don't know, my lady. He's got connections to virtually everything in the known lands; there's no reason to think he wouldn't at least know about it, if not know the cause."
Aerlin drummed her fingers on the table, lost in thought.
"How do you feel about this illness, Maraxus? Do you think it will spread here?" Em enquired.
"That's a question I don't want to answer. It might, it might not. I won't be here to find out," he said warningly.
Aerlin's mind flashed over a myriad of possiblities. Should she seek out Sunset and learn why her father had given her the book? Or should she turn her energies to learning more about the illness? Either way, her path seemed to lead somewhere. To Pheodran, to consult Sunset. She only had to convince herself she needed to go.