Stories : A Dereth Love Story
Joe woke from a fitful sleep hearing Ulgrim once again ranting to someone who dared give him something other than stout.
He looked about through tired eyes, yet a grin split his face. He was nervous today, for he was going to hunt something more terrible than all the Olthoi in the world. Or, so said Ulgrim last night as he pulled a chair up next to Joe and Hoggy, listening to their conversation.
"Madness! Might as well throw yourself into a pit with those viamontian pets!!" Ulgrim roared as he slammed his mug down. The mug glowed as it seemed blue fingers reached upward from the mug to keep the stout from flying outward. Hoggy laughed, actually agreeing with Ulgrim. Joe smiled and told Ulgrim to be quiet or the fighters here about would stop providing Ulgrim with his favorite drink!
Ulgrim snorted in disbelief. "You would not do that to a man who is obviously down on his luck, now would you?" he pulled his mug from the table and tilted it back.
"Aye, I would! And it would be enjoyable to see you pinning away for a bit." Joe said.
So, off the conversation went to other things, along with plenty of stout. While it was still before dawn, Ulgrim had tucked Hoggy onto a bench and left Joe as he was his feet still upon the table, his chin against his chest, softly snoring. He raised his mug to the young man, "Good luck youngster, and may you and the lady live long!"
Joe pulled his stiff legs from the table and grimaced. Oh, by the three they hurt! He heard a soft snort and looked to his right and there was Hoggy, snoring as he lay there dreaming away. Joe rubbed his legs and a smile crossed his face as he massaged life back into his legs. "Why did we even BEGIN to drink with Ulgrim?" he spoke softly and chuckled a bit. "Serves us right." He thought and patted the small pouch on his belt, smiling as he felt the contents there. He grabbed a mug half full and splashed it on Hoggy's face. "Get up you lout! Ulgrim drank us under the table and it's almost mid day!"
Hoggy shot bolt upright, wand in hand yet pointed backwards. "Wha? What?" he said through dry mouth he never known before. Then his hands shot to his head. "Damn it! What did we do last night?"
In answer to his question, the innkeeper was there. "You were drinking with him." his head nodded toward the door where Ulgrim stood spouting off again at a smiling woman in red covenant armor. She just nodded politely as she piled Ulgrim with more stout. "He also said you two were picking up the tab." cam the barkeepers voice as he placed a small piece of paper on the table.
Joe picked it up and his eyes grew wide. Taking the paper, he leaned over to Hoggy who was moaning in pain. "Hoggy pick this up for me now and I will give you the money when I get back. I am late already." with that he shoved the paper into Hoggy's vest pocket and hurriedly went out the door.
As he passed Ulgrim the woman stopped Ulgrim and a familiar voice came to him. "Joe, where are you off to in such a hurry you do not say a greeting?"
Joe turned and looked at his old friend. Her almost ice colored eyes looked at him seriously. "I am sorry Grandma, my mind is elsewhere." She smiled at him. "Well Ulgrim has been telling me some things I find interesting. I suggest a bath and maybe some cleaner clothing under the armor, eh?" She winked at him and went back to speaking with Ulgrim.
It was not until she said that that Joe sniffed and his nose wrinkled. "By the three I smell worse than a Guruk!"
He walked up and leaned down and gave the woman a soft hug. "Thanks, Grandma." She smiled and waved him away. "Please, the stout reek is worse than Ulgrim's!"
Tika sat patiently waiting for Joe. The wind was blowing slightly and the chill of winter was beginning to leave. Even the birds had come back and began to sing the last few days.
It as not like Joe to be so late and she wondered if anything had happened. He had told her of a strange new rumor the townsfolk were talking about and he wanted to go investigate.
She could not say no, looking at the big grin on his face, and the little puppy eyes he seemed to have when he wanted to really do something. She could not argue either as it had been wonderful, fun and strangely exhilarating the past weeks.
That is why she felt so strange when the thoughts of her deceased kept coming forward the last few nights.
She sighed, and then from around the corner of the mansion, Joe came. As he came closer she saw her was the cleanest she had seen from his armor, to his freshly scrubbed and shorn face.
"I am sorry to keep you Tika, it seems my travels through the night did me too much harm." came his cheerful and apologetic voice.
Tika smiled as she stood. "Well at least you bathed and even shaved!" She laughed, "Trying to impress me or the monsters on this new quest you found?"
Joe rubbed his hand across his head and smiled. "Well one does not travel around with a leader of people looking like some drunken cur from Corcoso, it gives the wrong impression."
They both laughed and Joe pulled the wand from his belt. "Ready to go? I tied to a portal as close as I could find, it will still be quite a run into the mountains."
Tika nodded and pulled the helmet on and felt the familiar tingle of its magic’s starting as it covered her head.
The portal sparkled to life, giving off the same familiar sound but not the purple and pink hues of the ones that brought them all to Dereth. They stepped in and felt the familiar sense of imbalance and slightly nausea as they materialized on the opposite end.
What came after was one of the most tiring, harrowing runs through the mountains of Dereth, every time they fought monsters, and then continued on without checking bodies as if something drove Joe on so fast.
He would stop and wait for her. "Not much further. He finally huffed as they finally sat down on the side of a mountain. They waited long enough to get used to the thin air then continued upwards.
When they reached the top. Joe stopped and kept looking outward. Tika looked about and gasped. She had thought she had been everywhere upon Dereth, yet she was mistaken.
From the top of this peak she turned all about and seemed as if she could see forever the whole of Dereth and beyond below her. It was breathtaking and wonderful. As she was turning about looking, Joe cam up beside her and tugged at her sleeve.
As she turned, Joe dropped to a knee and grabbed her hand, "Everything you see below us I can try to give you, if you would just travel with me as my wife."
Tika felt the ground seem to waver and her heart fluttered. And for a moment she saw her once husband and this time he was smiling and the words seemed to mouth now made sense, "Be happy and alive my love."
She grabbed Joe's hands and looked down at him. The tears flowed from her eyes and she gasped and could barely hear her own words. "Yes. Yes I will travel with you as your wife." Then her legs could hold her no more and she fell. Joe reached up and caught her in his arms and smiled. They sat down softly and looked out upon the green and blue of Dereth. Joe carefully slid the ring upon her finger and then kissed her as lovers do. When they stopped for a moment, Joe winked. "Next time let me kiss you first, before you faint."
Tika laughingly smacked him and they began their trip to "Their" home. Neither felt alone anymore, and the flush of happiness upon their faces was apparent to all.
"Yes," they both thought, "Love still can come to Dereth."
Many thanks to the wonderful author, Alissa Freewind