Before we get started with the story bit for tonight I’d like to trot out an idea I want to turn over to one of you. Some people have a hard time, understandably, keeping track of the minutia I pepper throughout the story that I callously expect them to tattoo on their minds. Perhaps one of you kind readers have time enough to go through the archives and construct a text primer that people can use to refresh their memories from time to time? Just thought I’d float that out and see if anyone bites.
Please contact me through betweenfailures(at)Hotmail(dot)com. Other forms of communication will just get lost. Also add me to your contacts so my replies don’t go in the junk bin.
“Hello Regalius.” (reh-gay-lee-us) Chirped Niona. His scowl had fallen on Julius and hardened considerably, but upon hearing Niona’s voice it melted away as if he’d never even laid eyes on him.
“Niona!” He exclaimed. “You beat us here. Even with your disability you manage to shame me again!”
“Disability?” Julius mumbled at her.
“He means my lineage” She snorted. “Backhanded is the only kind of compliment he’s familiar with.”
“I meant no offense, dear lady!” Regalius interjected.
“It’s okay.” Niona smiled. “You’re so amazing you can be offensive without even trying.”
“My apologies…” He mumbled. “My tongue outpaces my head where you are concerned.”
“It kind of does that all the time actually, but you’re getting better at least.” She replied. “Fancy some lunch?”
“You are too kind.” He said, taking a seat in front of Dew Beam, apparently unaware that she was anything other than a tree. In his defense she had been doing little more than swaying in the sunlight for a while now and hadn’t taken any notice of him either.
“Make a fire, will you?” Niona asked Regalius, pointing at the pile of sticks Julius had tossed in the fire pit. He expected the dark elf to start fiddling with a tinderbox or something, but instead he readied his fiddle and rose from his seat. Regalius fixed a hawkish sneer to his face which he directed at the kindling and began to play. The tune was quick, syncopated, and Julius had to admit, reminded him of fire. A few seconds in the wood burst into flame so violently it made Julius jump and Dew Beam scream. The scream was so peircing and unexpected that Regalius nearly pitched into the fire in his mad scramble to escape it and observe the source.
“By the stars! A dryad!” He gasped. “It was nearly upon us! You, thief, cover me! I’ll make short work of it!”
Julius stayed where he was, confounded partially by being addressed at all and partly by being addressed as thief. Regalius, however was already starting his song of flame again, but with more intensity than the campfire had been portioned. Dew Beam was simply scooting gingerly away from the fire towards Niona, who was the only one unmoved by the ruckus. She picked up her spear, and casually gave Regalius a light jab to the stomach, one armed, with the blunt end. He crumpled like a blanket.
“She’s a friend, doofus.” She scolded, barely looking up from the frypan.
“Of course…” Coughed Regalius. “How… foolish of me… not to notice…. Even… the trees wish… nothing more… than to be near you…”
Julius had to admit, in spite of his irritating nature, Regalius’s overt devotion to Niona was kind of endearing. Against his better judgement he offered him a hand up.
“For future reference,” He instructed. “my name is Julius.”
“Of course, I’d forgotten.” Replied Regalius. “It was I who brokered your employment in our cause.”
It suddenly occurred to Julius that Regalius was likely the one who saddled him with the useless magical map. He considered letting him fall back down again, but his better nature won out.