A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99:
Treasure Hunting

by Fur and Fantasy
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Tomar stopped in his tracks as he and Jerik quietly stalked through the snow, raising his head and sniffing the air, a light, cold breeze blowing by. He indicated that Jerik should look ahead, hunkering down so he was harder to see in the snow-covered forest.

He nodded and moved forward without a sound, carefully stalking the unseen prey.

"*Young buck in a clearing.*" He sent back to his partner.

Tomar nodded, gripping his spear and stepping closer with painful caution not to make a sound. With four legs he had better balance during the cautious move, but also had to make sure he kept twice as many feet quiet. When he could see their prey, grazing in a lightly-snowed over area, he signaled to Jerik that he was ready.

The tom raised his arm, focusing on the middle joint of the slender hind legs and fired two bolts, crippling the animal before it had even registered any pain.

Tomar lunged forward an instant later, driving his spear into its heart and dropping it as crimson blood spread on the white snow and dark ground.

"Perfect," he grinned back to Jerik, turning back to the animal and offering a brief prayer of thanks before removing his spear and pulling out his knife to clean it before they took it back. "Should be enough for us for a few days here, easy," he added.

"Good," Jerik nodded as he helped out. "The stew spoons work nicely, but fresh meat is so much better."

"Oh yeah," Tomar chuckled. "Besides, stew every day for the whole trip would get almost as bad as gruel. So, we want to do most of the work out here, or take him back to be finished closer to camp?"

"Camp. We can get more hands to help." He grinned up.

"Works for me," Tomar chuckled, grunting as he lifted the mostly gutted deer, much lighter than it had been at first, but still a load. "You are definitely going to have to help me wash down though," he chuckled, its blood still trickling down his back.

"Like I ever mind getting my hands on you." He chuckled and led the way back to camp on their already broken trail.

"Tease," Tomar chuckled.

"Jerik? Are you and Tomar on your way back?" Quasma asked him with a whisper spell.

"Yes." He replied quickly, instantly on edge. "With meat."

"Good," she told him. "We have company. I think it's friendly, but it could mean we've got trouble ahead. Requiescants. Should we offer to share dinner with them? Just two, but it doesn't hurt to be friendly."

"Do you know what a Requiescant is?" Jerik looked back at his partner. "Two have arrived at our camp."

"Let's just hope they're passing through," the Rohr murmured, a shudder running through him. "Remys could explain them better, but the Requiescants aren't usually good news. Usually show up just before something Very Bad happens. As long as they're not actively looking for us, they shouldn't be trouble."

"Are they looking for us?" Jerik asked along the still active whisper spell. "They're really bad news, according to Tomar. Heralds of Very Bad Things."

"That's what I've heard too," Quasma said. "And no, they're just traveling through," she added a moment later. "Saw the campfire, thought they'd offer to share some supplies; sounds like they've got some fairly fresh vegetables," she added, knowing that their own supplies in that area were a little lacking.

"Might as well be friendly. Bad things'll happen if they happen."

"Well, you can meet them when you get back then," Quasma said as the spell ended.

"We have company for dinner?" Tomar asked.

"Yap," he nodded. "Apparently just passing through and they have fresh vegetables to share."

"That's worth it then," the Rohr chuckled. "Here's hoping they're not bound for anywhere all that close to where we're going. At least it's just two of them."

"What's the deal with them being considered bad news?" Jerik asked as they got closer to camp.

"Like I said, I'm not really sure. They just tend to show up right before something bad happens, being all cryptic and waiting for it to happen, then moving on after they help bury the bodies and hold a service. Remys probably knows more about them; they seem to get along with necromancers."

"Both deal with death." He nodded and they fell silent for the rest of the trek. "Hey!" He called out with a wave for his friends as they came into view of the clearing they were camped in.

"Welcome back!" Quasma called, waving back with a pair of pale-furred Foxes standing nearby, dressed in dark clothes like they were ready for a funeral.

"Yep, Requiescants," Tomar said. "Just keep in mind, they're not bad people ... just have some bad habits, by most folks standards."

"Okay, we caught dinner, who's prepping it?" Jerik's gaze fell directly on Tim and Kennara, the two best cooks of the odd lot the Mages and Defenders made.

"Guess it's us," Kennara chuckled.

"We are willing to help," one of the other Foxes offered quietly. "With cutting up the vegetables, at least."

"Thanks," Tim smiled. "Vegetable soup with roast venison?" He suggested to the others.

"Sounds good to me," Tomar nodded easily, Quasma and the others quickly agreeing.

"We'll do the soup then," the spokesman for the Foxes said. "I am Requiescant Terrel," he said, turning back towards Jerik with a polite bow. "My partner is called Birkin," he added.

"Jerik Clawson," he returned the bow smoothly with a slight smile. "My Defender is Tomar Farlander."

"A pleasure to meet you," Terrel said, standing up. "We will let you know when dinner is ready," he added, heading into a new tent in the clearing along with his partner.

"They're a private lot," Remys said quietly. "We should probably let them speak with us when they want, and about what they want. So, it looks like hunting went well," he added, smiling at Tomar as the Rohr sat the buck down to be prepared by Kennara and Tim.

"Very well," he chuckled. "Plan worked perfectly; easiest hunt I've had in a long time."

"It helps to have a plan," Jerik grinned at him. "And a ranged weapon." He patted his Glovatrix. "And we'll leave the Requiescants in peace." He nodded acceptance of Remys suggestion.

"Well, we'll butcher this and let it drain some more," Tim said easily. "Want us to take out a leg bone for them to use for the soup?"

"Probably a good idea," Kennara said easily. "Add some extra flavor."

"Are they likely to object?" Jerik turned to Remys, uncertain whether the Requiescants meal offering was vegetarian by choice or necessity.

"No, they're not," the Gila Monster said easily. "They simply don't have the magical gear and sources of supplies that we do; they probably don't want to run out of dried and jerked meat before reaching the next town."

"Makes sense," Quasma nodded. "Well, while we're waiting, why don't you fill us in about the Foxes?" SHe suggested to Remys. "Jerik doesn't know much about them, and I don't know much more."

"I don't mind, as long as you guys don't mind Jerik washing some blood from my back while we talk."

"Maybe in your tent?" Tessi suggested. "It's a lot warmer in there, and you've got space."

"Sounds good." Jerik nodded. "It'll be a good chance to try out that freshen enchantment I put on the main brush."

"That'll help," Tomar grinned, leading the way into the tent with the others behind them.

"By the way, when are we going to work on making the other tents like this?" Quasma asked as they stepped in, the tent enchanted to be larger on the inside than they were outside, much like their rooms.

"Given the number of favors and bribes involved to get one done in time, quite a while." He shook his head and pulled out the brush set he had given to Tomar only a couple weeks before. "I understand the theory, but what's involved ... I'll point you to how to get it done, but it won't be by me for years yet."

"Understood," Quasma nodded. "I thought it was something a bit beyond your usual work, but you had one, so ...."

"We didn't do all the enchanting ourselves," Tessi giggled. "Jerik had some favors owed by Mage Kenneth for helping clean up after a little ... accident ... he had."

"Still trying to find a way to make a layered bag of holding, huh?" Quasma giggled.

"I don't think he's ever going to give up," Remys chuckled. "At least he isn't destroying his lab too often anymore."

"Dimension-warping isn't easy," Tessi shrugged. "So, back to the subject at hand?" She asked as Tomar settled down for Jerik to work on grooming him.

"Right, the Requiescants," Remys nodded, taking a seat himself, Rainbow sitting down next to Tessi to listen quietly. "First off, they're not mages, though some people get them mixed up with necromancers. They actually come from all walks of life; they're more like a religious order that way."

"Weirdest priests I've ever seen," Rainbow commented.

"If they were priests, I'd agree," Remys admitted. "When people are close to death, especially if a spirit or undead creature is responsible, they sometimes hear a sort of distant music."

"The Requiem," Quasma supplied.

"Right," he nodded. "Now, not everybody hears it, and most people who recover from something like that never hear it again, at least not until they're about to die again. But some people can hear it for the rest of their lives. The Requiem ... it's a beautiful song. Nobody's quite sure where it comes from, but it's almost like it's meant to draw the spirit out of the body, ease the passage to death. Now, imagine hearing that, something that alluring, but your soul being bound to your body, unable to follow it?"

"You go hunting." Jerik said simply, knowing all too well that call, even if he experienced it differently in the Moment. "You follow until you can follow it for real."

"Usually," Remys nodded. "I've heard it all my life, or at least as long as I remember. When I was just a hatchling I was almost killed in an outbreak of the Grey Plague. Family paid to have my scales returned to their original color," he added at the curious look from Quasma. "It's why I'm not as strong as I should be, one of the reasons at least. I'm not a carrier, but I'm one of the people who hears it. I've just heard it long enough that it wasn't until I was ten that I realized not everybody did.

"The Requiescants aren't the same; they follow the sound of the Requiem, following it from one impending disaster to another. They aren't willing to kill themselves or others directly because they're convinced that the Requiem only accepts souls worthy of it. They aren't willing to help stop the disasters they sense because they think that it's better to die, and possibly follow the Requiem, than to keep living without knowing about it."

"That's why the bone whistle affected you so strongly." Jerik barely guessed, seriously subdued by the conflicting morality of such a choice. He could understand their reasoning perfectly, but at the same time, it ran against everything he thought he believed in.

"Now that would explain it," Remys mused. "At any rate, you can see why most people aren't very fond of them. Even if they don't know about the Requiem, you're dealing with people who have an uncanny knack for showing up just before something very bad happens. And the more of them that show up, the more likely it is that what's about to happen is going to be a real disaster."

"How can you tell someone's a Requiescant?" Jerik asked as be began a proper grooming now that the blood was cleaned from Tomar's fur, the Rohr more than happy to receive the attention.

"Generally, it's a matter of behavior and look," Remys said easily. "They actually are an order of sorts, albeit a loose one. They tend to dress like Terrel and his friend, and they usually keep quiet. They don't particularly like unnecessary noise, and they hate the undead as much or more than anybody but a taltos. They're like a sour note in the melody they listen to."

"That'd make quite an advantage to an undead hunter." Jerik mused, thinking of the possibilities without a conscious effort.

"If they hunted them, it would," he nodded. "It's more something they deal with when they find them. Remember, obsessive," Remys chuckled darkly. "Still, they're fairly good allies to have on your side, if you're involved in that sort of thing. I just wonder where they're going."

"And coming from," Quasma added with a glance towards home and the direction the pair had come from.

"Can't you tell?" Jerik looked at Remys. "You can hear the song they do."

"I can hear it, but all that gives me is a direction," Remys explained. "And a rough distance. They're heading to the west, and a good long ways, I'd say. But the exact place, I don't know it any better than they do."

"Are there always disasters about to happen?" Jerik asked curiously.

"Of one sort or another," Remys shrugged slightly. "It could be a young noble thrown from his horse and breaking his neck, it could be a blizzard about to move in and freeze an entire village to death, it could be a mine collapsing."

"Don't joke about that," Quasma said, maybe a little sharply.

"I wasn't joking about it," Remys said seriously. "There's usually something, some where, that's about to go terribly, terribly wrong."

Jerik nodded, still thoughtful and utterly fascinated by this song. "Does it sound different if you know the person about to die?"

"Only that it's closer," Remys said, shaking his head. "Assuming the person is. So I can tell you right now, none of you are about too keel over from a heart attack during the night," he chuckled slightly.

"Well, that's a relief," Tessi giggled, breaking the solemness a bit.

"If we're close to a death, would you tell me?" Jerik asked seriously. "I should be able to sense it, much the same way I picked up on the bone whistle. It's not something that has been reported, so I just have to pay attention and try to figure it out."

"I'll let you know, though I can't usually pick up on a death in battle unless it's a very large one. It's usually pretty clear even without being able to hear it, unless there's something serious about to happen."

"I meant during a calm time," he shook his head a bit. "When I can meditate to try to pick up on what you're hearing. I don't expect it soon."

"Understood," Remys nodded. "Next time I hear it with any sort of strength, I'll let you know."

"Thanks," Jerik nodded and began working on Tomar's long black hair.

"You can't hear it from the direction they came from though, right?" Quasma asked him, still a little concerned.

"No," he said, shaking his head. "Whatever happened that way, if anything, is past. It might just be that they were passing through the mountains; it's not like there are that many passes through."

"True," she admitted. "Hope you're right."

"Try not to anticipate trouble." Jerik advised her gently. "When you have a connection to magic like ours, your will is enough to make things happen."

"All right," Quasma nodded a bit. "Well, we should be there in a few days anyways. Just hope Sis still has the old house," she admitted, rubbing the back of her neck a little. "It'll be nice to have a night out of the tents before we go finding the mine."

"Isn't there at least an inn in town?" Jerik looked at her in real surprise.

"Have you ever lived in a mining town?" Quasma asked him seriously. "The prices are through the roof if there's an active vein, and the roofs are full of holes if there isn't. We could stay at an inn, but I'd rather save the money and stay in the tents if Sis had to move out."

"Oh," he nodded. "At least the tents are warm and dry."

"So, what does your sister do?" Tessi asked, cocking her head curiously. "Is she a miner?"

"Well, uhm ...." Quasma blushed as she trailed off, trying to figure out what to say. Fortunately, before it became too obvious, Tim opened up the flap of the tent and stuck his head in.

"Dinner's just about ready to start, if you guys want to come out for it," he said.

"Thanks," Quasma said quickly, trying to keep her relief from being too obvious.

"It's hardly a bad profession." Jerik told her softly as they left the tent, one at a time.

"I know, but would you want to tell Tessi?" Quasma pointed out just as softly. "If there's anybody who'd find a way to make it awkward ...."

"You think she hasn't already figured it out?" He raised an eyebrow and followed her into the packed down snow of their camp.

"Let me keep thinking that at least one of us is relatively innocent, okay?" Quasma chuckled slightly. "I had an excuse to know about those sorts of things at her age."

"She's not experimenting, but she's about as innocent as we are." He smirked at the Lynx as the group gathered around the sizeable fire in the middle of the loose circle of tents.

A few moments later, the two Foxes came out as well, taking their own seats.

"The soup will be ready in about an hour," Terrel explained. "A good second course, once we have finished this. Thank you for your hospitality."

"You are welcome," Jerik inclined his head slightly.

"Well, here we are," Quasma said cheerfully as they reached a small village, low in the mountains over a week's hike to the east of the Academy. It was mid-day, and the town seemed very quiet, almost deserted, despite the obvious buildings and smoke curling up from them. A small dog barked and ran towards them, circling the large group excitedly.

Jerik extended a hand and projected friendly at the excitable mutt, who sniffed his hand, stayed for a pet and then began running again as their approach gathered interest from those around.

There were a few badgers and moles who poked their heads out curiously, and more Lynxes. Most of them seemed to be very young, women, or dressed in fine clothes that marked them as people who weren't working in the nearby mines.

"Welcome strangers!" A Mole shouted from the second-floor window of a large house.

"Hello, Marson!" Quasma called back with a grin.

"Now how do you know my name?" The Mole asked curiously, beady eyes blinking blearily.

"I used to live here!" Quasma laughed. "It's Quasma! Come on down, I'll introduce my friends."

"Quasma? We'll I'll be ...." The Mole disappeared back into the window, closing it behind himself.

"Marson runs the general supply store," Quasma explained. "Probably didn't wake up too long ago. Just fair warning; he's blind as a cave-fish."

"Not unusual," Tessi nodded, smiling at the short, squat male that waddled out to greet them.

"Nice to know there is one, if need be." Jerik nodded, his mind on the mission as always.

"Quasma, it is you!" Marson said cheerfully after a moment, his long nose working hard and fast as he spread his arms and stepped forward to hug her - finding Tessi next to her instead. "My you've grown ...."

"I'm here, Marson," the Lynx giggled. "The girl you're hugging is Tessi, a friend of mine. Don't tell me you lost your glasses again?"

"Your cousin ... ah ... borrowed them last night," Marson admitted, releasing Tessi and turning to hug Quasma instead, getting it right this time.

"You know, you'd save yourself a lot of trouble if you'd just take the hint and marry her," Quasma chuckled, scratching the short Mole's head teasingly. "I'll bring them back later, but next to me is Tim, my Defender," she explained, the Rottweiler kneeling as Marson looked at him, peering hard to make out his face well enough to recognize him later. "The Parrot is Rainbow, Tessi's Defender, and behind you are Kennara, Remys, Jerik, and Tomar, from right to left."

"We can do introductions again when your glasses are back where they belong." Jerik offered helpfully.

"At least now I'll be able to guess who's who," Marson chuckled, tapping the side of his nose. "Just don't stand too close together when we meet again."

"All right," Quasma chuckled. "I'm gonna go tell Sis we're in town, we'll bring your glasses back after that, okay?"

"Okay," he said agreeably. "I'll see if I have any horehound twists in stock yet," he winked, chuckling as he trundled off to a nearby shop.

"We're lucky he was able to find his clothes this morning," Quasma chuckled with a fond smile. "He's a nice guy though. Come on, it sounds like everything should be just like I remember it," she added with a cheerful grin, turning to head off to a nearby house with a prominent red sign above the door, no writing on it.

"Horehound twists?" Jerik prompted for an explanation from either Quasma or Kennara.

"It's a type of candy made from horehound juice," Kennara chuckled as the group followed Quasma a bit more sedately. "Soft and chewy. Not too hard to make, harder to make right. You remember the licorice I've made? Same type of thing."

"That was good, even if it was evil to get out of my teeth." Jerik grinned to Tomar's snickers.

"I don't know, I thought it was fun." Tomar winked at him.

"You two!" Remys groaned, earning a positively vicious look from Tomar that made the Apprentice shift away from him so Kennara was between him and the Rohr. The Vixen wondering just what had earned that look from Tomar. He was usually pretty easygoing about that sort of thing.

"Come on you guys, let's just go meet Quasma's folks," Tessi grinned as they reached the building where Quasma was hugging an older Lynx woman who'd come out to meet her.

"Mmm ... good to see you, Sis," Quasma murmured, giving her an extra squeeze.

"Good to see you too, Imp," the older Lynx smiled. "So, these are your friends?"

"Yep," Quasma nodded, stepping back to introduce them. "This is Tim, my Defender," she started, the Rottweiler bowing his head respectfully. "And this is Tessi and Rainbow, Jerik and Tomar, and Remys and Kennara," she finished, indicating each pair in turn.

"Pleased to meet you, Ma'am," Tessi said politely.

"Yes, Quasma has been terribly quiet about you." Jerik grinned and bowed to the woman.

"Oh she has, hmm?" She asked with a chuckle, glancing at Quasma.

"Not that quiet, Sis," Quasma said sheepishly. "After all, I didn't know how things were going, so ...."

"Relax Imp," she smiled slightly. "I understand. I haven't been able to write for a while; running this place takes up a good chunk of my time. I'm Madame Berosa; you can call me Amanda."

"It's good to meet you," Jerik bowed politely.

"Thank you," Amanda smiled, the Lynx stepping back into the house. "Please, come in, though you should probably stick to the ground floor. The second floor is mostly for business."

"Speaking of which, a certain Mole needs his glasses back," Quasma piped up.

"Here," Amanda chuckled, reaching into her dress and pulling them out of a small pocket and handing them over. "Cindy dropped them off on her way up. One of these days that girl's going to get into trouble. So, are the eight of you planning on staying here for a while? Quasma said you were coming, but she was typically cryptic about why."

"Nice to know we aren't the only victims." Tessi giggled.

"We were hoping to." Quasma nodded.

"I'll have the guest rooms made up then," Amanda nodded, taking a seat in the main room. "Make yourselves comfortable," she added, indicating the large number of chairs that appeared to be reasonably comfortable. "So, anybody care to fill me in on just why you are all here? I doubt it's a social visit," she chuckled.

"Well, we do want to try and keep it quiet," Quasma said as she took a seat next to Tim. "If word gets out, every miner in town'll be off in the hills looking for a quicker buck than usual. I think I've got a line on an old bandit hideout in one of the abandoned mining stations, and I'm even sure which one it is. The records say that nobody ever recovered their loot, so we're hoping it's mostly intact. After all; coins might tarnish, but they don't rot."

"Yeah, that would be something to keep quiet," Amanda agreed. "Don't worry; I didn't get where I am by blabbing secrets all over the place. By threatening to occasionally, but not by actually doing it," she chuckled.

"Thank you," Jerik nodded to her. "It'll be good to have a real bed after a week and a half on the road."

"They won't be the best beds, but they'll definitely be better than bedrolls," the older Lynx agreed.

"I should probably run Marson's glasses back over to him," Quasma offered. "Back in a few minutes?"

"Sure," her sister grinned. "While you're gone, I'll talk with your friends about just what you've been up to," she winked.

"Guess I'll have to hurry then," Quasma chuckled, heading out with Tim behind her as the rest of them settled down into general small-talk, and the town around them started to settle back into the routine of a work-day.

"Okay ... according to all my information, this should be the mine the bandits were in," Quasma said late the next day, the group deep into the mountains, having already bypassed several more recent mines.

"This?" Tessi asked dubiously, looking at the few remains of the entrance, ancient, rotted wood marking it.

"Hey, it's a couple hundred years old and wasn't really built to last longer than it took them to rip out the silver that was in this vein," Quasma pointed out. "That it's in this good a shape is a minor miracle."

"At least it looks like it doesn't go straight down except for the entrance," Remys said, moving over to it and peering down to the bottom. "There's a floor about ten feet down, then tunnels leading back and down."

"Think you can help us get down, Jerik?" Quasma asked, knowing he was best at levitating people. "We could jump it pretty well, but it'd probably be a little rough on Tomar, for example."

"A lot of rough," the Rohr corrected her. "We don't jump down well. But Jerik should be able to get me down there, at least; we've done this before in training."

"There's the rope ladders too." Jerik pointed out. "Rainbow can glide down, I'll take Tomar, but it's best to save our energy when we can."

"We'll just make sure to anchor the ladders in the ground," Tim nodded, setting his pack down and pulling out the coiled hemp ladders.

"And keep one on us for the way out," Jerik nodded and motioned for Rainbow to glide down first, as the Parrot could get out of trouble fastest if the entrance was guarded. "There are two of us that can get out without it to secure one if need be."

"All clear!" Rainbow called a moment later. "Send a ladder down, I'll secure the bottom!"

Tim drove two stakes into the ground, tying the top of the ladder around them before sending the bottom down. A few moments later, they were ready to go, Quasma starting down first. Before too long, they were all down and ready, letting their eyes adjust to the darkness surrounding them, even with their flameless torches.

"So, you have the path we need?" Quasma asked Jerik.

"Yes," he nodded and extended his scenes as much as he could without compromising his movement. "I didn't get a perfect view, and the traps are unknown, but there is a clear path there."

"I'll take point," Tomar offered. "Rainbow, Tim, you stay in the rear, Kennara, you join me up front?" He suggested.

"Sounds good to me," the Vixen nodded, faux flames dancing across her dark breastplate, Tomar wearing his lighter mail skirt. Tim and Rainbow quickly shifted to the back, keeping the mages in the middle.

"Jerik, you and Tessi should probably stay closer to the front," Quasma said quietly. "Remys and I work better as support in a fight."

"And my spells have a shorter range; be easier to fight between Tim and Rainbow than Tomar and Kennara," Remys added.

"Works for me," Jerik nodded and motioned into the passageway. "We go forward until the second branch to the right."

"Right," Tomar nodded, starting to carefully lead the way. Water dripped in the caves, making distant noises that echoed as they carefully explored the mines.

"Jerik, can you sense something?" Remys asked him with a very quiet whisper, not magical, but a real one.

The tom paused and cast his mind out a little further, then nodded. "Yeah. Semi-intelligent. Several of them."

"Thought so," the Reptan murmured. "Let's be careful, guys ... we've got company."

"And traps ahead," Kennara said, the group coming to a stop as soon as the word 'traps' was out. "Trip line."

"Give me a moment," Quasma said, casting a spell quickly, Numin glowing with a faint purple light. "Trip line's only half of it. Ground's rigged to collapse for ten feet on the other side, probably to stop anybody from jumping the line. Tim?"

"On it," the Rottweiler whispered, opening his pack and starting to pull some things out of it. A small pair of clippers, and two long boards that were almost comedic coming out of the small, enchanted backpack. The group helped as they could, Jerik in particular to get them settled on the far side of the trap and spaced for Tomar's wider step.

"They're stable." Jerik nodded to his Defender.

"Good," Tomar nodded, Kennara leaning down to carefully clip the trip wire before Tomar cautiously walked across on the boards. He stopped on the other side, helping to move the boards closer together so the others could cross more easily.

"Okay, come on!" He said. "It's safe on this side."

Kennara went next, moving quickly along the boards to be followed by the others while Rainbow flew over.

"Umm, guys? Where'd Tim go?" Kennara asked when she realized the fourth Defender was missing.

"What?" Quasma asked, stiffening instantly, starting back across the boards only to have Tomar reach out and stop her.

"One of us," the Rohr said firmly, looking at Kennara. The Vixen nodded, then started back across carefully, sword drawn, a torch in her other hand. She looked around on the other side, frowning.

"He's gone," she confirmed. "And I think I know where," she added, taking her sword and sticking the side of the mine, breaking through a thin sheet of stone. "Damn ... just wide enough to fit him through, and whoever did it was damned good."

"He's alive though," Remys said quickly, reassuring Quasma. "I haven't sensed his passing."

"Rescuing him is first priority now, though." Jerik flatted his ears, annoyed at himself that he managed to not notice the trap door or the disappearance. "Can Tomar fit threw that passage?" He called over to Kennara.

"Only if he can shrink," she said, shaking her head. "Most of us can; but Tomar won't be able to, and I'd be surprised if Rainbow fits well unless he goes head-first."

"Kobold hole," Quasma muttered, rapping her staff firmly against the floor and casting a spell. "Going through the tunnel would be suicide; they've got room to fight, and we won't ... but there's another path near here," she said after a moment, indicating the proper direction. "Let's move."

"Right," Tomar took lead with Jerik a half pace from his front legs while Kennara joined Rainbow in the real.

It didn't take long for them to realize they were heading down, fast, moving through old, hollowed out veins that led into natural caves deeper in the mountain. They couldn't move nearly as fast as they wanted to; besides the natural difficulties they had to face, like trying to get air through stretches of tunnel filled with gasses, or navigating the natural twists, turns, and crevices of the caves, they had to stop at least once every few minutes to disarm one simple trap or another.

All in all, by the time they were nearing their destination, Quasma was about ready to kill the first creatures they came across that weren't Tim just on principle.

"Try to relax and focus," Jerik whispered to her. "It won't do him any good if you are hurt."

"I know that," she muttered, though it did seem to help calm her down, a little.

"This might not be the best time to say it, but I sense several creatures dying," Remys said quietly. "Not Tim, but others. I can hear it."

"Probably him fighting back." Jerik nodded and took out the next trap with a wave of his hand and wave of Force. "We need to move."

"We do, but it's something else," Remys nodded as they hurried along.

The three remaining Defenders and all four mages were on alert, watching carefully for any signs that another attack was going to happen as they worked down into the mine. They started to hear chirps and high-pitched barks from deeper in the mines, the sounds of the kobolds they were hunting.

It sounded like they were getting close.

Jerik gathered his combat spells to mind and combat tactics that wouldn't involve upsetting Tomar too much when they reached their targets. They both knew he could handle himself, but training was well-ingrained in the Rohr and he tried to respect that when he could.

They saw the end of the tunnel, that they were approaching a cavern - and suddenly a flurry of darts and stones flew at them from the middle of it, aimed mostly at the torches or right below them.

"Down!" Tomar shouted, swinging the torch to block what he could, several of the darts hitting his armor and bouncing off of the metal scales while Jerik dived for the floor and instinctively calculated the flight path and returned fire with a rapid string of magic missile spells.

The others dropped as well, Jerik's magical bolts flying out and striking some of the attackers. Tessi quickly cast a spell, reaching out to touch Tomar's flank, raising a faint magical field in front of the Rohr that deflected the next stone. It didn't last much longer before an answering blast of magic shattered the shield, another hitting Tomar and two more slamming into Jerik's head and shoulders.

"Shit, they've got a sorcerer," Quasma growled.

"Not for long," Jerik snarled in pain as he reeled before going flat on the ground and raising his Glovatrix to lock onto the strongest Force-signature in front of them and fired a volley of three bolts directly at it.

There was a loud shriek of pain, followed by the kobolds gathering to protect their leader.

"Cover us," Kennara said, moving to the front of the group with Rainbow and charging into the fray, the Parrot quickly casting a weak spell and illuminating the cavern with a number of light-globes, revealing the cluster of kobolds and the injured queen in the middle of them.

"Tim's back there!" Quasma hissed, noticing the Rottweiler bound and gagged on some sort of natural rock shelf.

"Cover me," Jerik backed behind the other Mages, then focused his mind on untying their friend from a distance.

"Cover them, cover you; make up your minds," Remys joked grimly, slipping his staff out from beneath Tomar and using it to aim a magical ray at one of the kobolds as it raised a throwing axe. The small creature squeaked in dismay, its muscles giving out as the necromantic ray sapped its strength.

"Shut up and fight," Tomar growled, pulling his spear out of his pack and hurling it into the group, impaling one of the kobolds near the leader. Four more magic missiles arced out of the group, hitting Rainbow, Kennara, and Tomar, the Rohr grunting but taking the hit as the Parrot and Vixen slammed into the group, hacking with their swords.

"There's something else here," Quasma murmured, sure there was something going on as she fired magic missiles at the now-visible targets in the battle. "Why would they bring him here?"

"And why aren't they retreating?" Tessi added as she dropped another one of them with a spell of her own.

"Damn spider silk," Jerik muttered as he divided his attention between the crude telekinetic work on ripping Tim's bonds off as he went to work on the kobold queen's mind, tearing into it mercilessly to find out what was going on.

"Holy - we've got a problem!" Kennara shouted just as Jerik found out what was happening.

Tim had been meant as a sacrifice - and the kobold's "god" had just arrived, a giant spider easily twice the size of a horse, descending into the cavern from above.

He redoubled his efforts on freeing the Rottie, it was now more important that ever that he could move.

He managed to tear the ropes loose, Tim reaching up and ripping the gag off his muzzle even as he rolled off the shelf and started running for the battle, grabbing Kennara's second sword when she tossed it to him.

"Let's get out of here!" Tomar shouted as the three Defenders started retreating for the main group.

"There are still other people down here, other victims," Remys warned them quickly, leaving them to make the decision of whether or not to stay and fight.

"Hells!" Jerik hissed. "We can't leave them." He insisted and began to pound on the giant spider with the Force, telekinetically trying to tear it's legs out and puncture it's huge abdomen.

He didn't have nearly enough strength to kill it like that though, not while he was trying to fight on top of it. The kobolds had found the main group, and were attacking with the fury of a group of zealots defending their priestess and deity alike.

Tomar leaped into the middle of the main group, kicking and slashing with his sword. The small creatures were dropping like flies, but their leader was still hanging back, seemingly trying to reason with their 'god.'

The scary thing was, it seemed to be working.

Remys cast another weakening spell, aiming this one for the spider as it started to approach the main group.

"Jerik, get the queen!" Tomar shouted, grabbing one of the kobolds with a free hand and hurling it into the spider. "She's controlling it somehow!"

He nodded and switched targets, hitting her hard with a telekinetic slam directly down before focusing on her with his darts and magic missiles.

It didn't take long, under that barrage, for the kobold to go down. The rest of the tribe seemed to realize what had happened instantly, scattering into the crevices of the mine where they could escape. Tessi pulled out a spare torch from Rainbow's pack, lighting it with a spell and tossing it to Kennara.

"Here!" She shouted, the Vixen grabbing the torch and running towards the spider, the other Defenders not far behind her as the four of them began harassing it, taking the chances that were presented to attack the giant creature while their Mages used their spells. Once Remys got a paralytic bolt to hit, it became more of an exercise in damaging a giant spider than fighting one.

Finally, they managed to drop it, leaving all eight of them exhausted, sore, and very, very dirty.

"Is anybody hurt badly?" Kennara asked after a few moments, once they'd all caught their breath.

"I'll be fine, soon as whatever they hit me with wears off," Tim said. "Think they were using spider-venom."

"Where are the others?" Tomar asked Remys and Tim both.

"This way," the young Necromancer said, starting back into the caverns, and indicating the spider's massive web, several wrapped bundles in it indicating the remains of past meals ... some of which were still alive.

"I don't know which are alive and which aren't, but I know some of them are," he said softly.

"Then we'll just have to get to work," Tomar nodded. "Tim, can you and Quasma go back to the village for help? I have a feeling we're going to need it."

"You guys can get out without me, right?" Quasma asked, clearly concerned for both her friends, and her Defender.

"I know the path." Jerik assured her even as he pulled a dagger out and began to cut cocoons open as they were passed down.

"All right," Quasma nodded. "We'll be back as soon as we can," she added, offering Tim a shoulder to lean on as they started out.

"How many are there?" Quasma asked as she arrived back a few hours later, the sounds of a crowd behind her. "Alive and otherwise?"

"Six dead, two alive." Jerik answered quietly as he tended to one of the living.

"We've got help for them," Quasma said softly, leading a group of miners with stretchers down. Even the miners were shaken by what was left of the dead; drained, half-dissolved corpses that reeked of spider-venom, pain, fear, and death.

"Gods," she whispered.

"At least we managed to rescue two, and Tim." He reminded her firmly, trying to get her to focus on something besides the dead. "Do you have the supplies to help the living?" He looked over towards the lead miner.

"What we can," he nodded gruffly. "We'll come back for the others later, then burn this whole complex out, teach those kobolds to take our friends ... we'd thought they'd just gotten lost, or found gas pockets."

"We'd appreciate it if you don't burn it out until after we're back." Jerik told him. "There could well be more to find."

"Understood, though you should be heading back, let the adults take care of this, now that we know they're here."

"We just killed almost two-dozen kobolds and a giant spider," Tomar pointed out dryly, indicating them as he looked down at the shorter Badger. "I think we can take care of ourselves, even if we are young."

"Very well," the Badger shrugged as they loaded the two survivors onto stretchers. "Can one of you help us get them out?"

"I will," Jerik nodded. "I'll be back shortly." He added to the others as Tomar stepped up to help guide the miners back to the surface.

The two of them left, leaving the other three mages, Rainbow, and Kennara behind.

"All right, can we find the kobold queen's body?" Remys asked once they'd left. "We need to confirm that the treasure's still in place. How's Tim?" He asked Quasma as Kennara started digging through the bodies, looking for the leader.

"He'll be fine, even if we had to tie him down to get him to stay back in town while I can back with the miners. What are you going to do with the queen?"

"You have your ways of gathering information, I have mine," the Gila Monster said simply. "Just don't interrupt me; I'll only have a few minutes, and getting answers from the dead takes time."

"All right," she nodded and everyone stepped back to give him space once the queen's body was uncovered.

Remys closed his eyes, forming the spell he would need in his mind, carefully started to etch it out in the air with his staff, quietly speaking the words to the spell. A slight chill ran down the spines of all present as he reached out, opening the kobold queen's mouth as a sickly green cloud of gas rose out of her, almost like a last breath. The cloud coalesced into a vaguely recognizable shape, similar to the body that had released it.

The kobold queen's spirit let out a shriek of rage as Remys' eyes snapped open.

"Quiet," he ordered it. "You will answer my questions." She gibbered something, yipping and barking. Remys just smirked.

"Then it's a good thing I do speak your language. Now, have your people found the treasure in this cave; coins, items, gems, or anything like that?" He listened to her response, nodding.

"Good. Now, where did you move it to, and how do we get there?" The spirit didn't respond, clearly not willing to help the people who had killed it. The necromancer scowled, reaching his hand through her.

"Mortue," he said crisply. His hand flared with blue light, and the spirit screamed.

"Now, you will obey me," he growled. The spirit nodded frantically, already starting to speak, and he withdrew his hand. The queen kept speaking, apparently alternating between swearing at the necromancer who had summoned her and answering his question. Remys nodded, memorizing what she was telling him and translating it mentally. It took almost two minutes, much of which was spent threatening her with further punishment if she didn't get back to the subject at hand. Finally, she was done, her spirit beginning to fade.

"One last question, and you may return to Kurtulmak. Have you trapped the hoard?"

The smug look and short response was clear to all of them; they had, but his spell wouldn't last long enough for her to tell them just how, or how to disarm them. Moments later, she faded away.

"Was that really necessary?" Quasma asked him with a scowl of her own as he stood and brushed some dirt from his robes.

"Yes," he said simply. "We now know where to find the treasure, that it's trapped, and that if we follow our original path, we won't find anything by now. The survivors will return to move the rest of it; they've intended to use it as a bargaining chip if their warrens were ever found, and so we have to find them and bargain for it."

"I meant torturing her," the Lynx pointed out.

"Did I have a choice?" He replied. "She wasn't going to answer, and there are only two ways to convince a spirit to speak. Since I didn't have anything she wanted, that left me with one way. There's a reason that spirit-summoning isn't a method diviners practice."

"And a reason necromancers have a bad reputation," Quasma muttered under her breath while they waited for Jerik to return. It was not long, and he and Tomar were quickly brought up to speed.

"Sounds like we're in for another fight." Jerik nodded. "Lets get going." He indicated for Remys to lead the way from behind Tomar and Kennara.

"Remys didn't mention it, but he got some of that information by torturing the queen's spirit," Quasma told Jerik softly as they walked along, Rainbow still watching the back.

"I'm not surprised." He nodded, his voice low but without a hint of recrimination.

"You're okay with that?" She asked him, starting to wonder if she was the only person here who wasn't.

"Under the circumstances, yeah." He had to nod. "She's the enemy and uncooperative."

"Okay," Quasma sighed, shaking her head a bit. Maybe if he'd heard it he would have thought differently. For now ... well, she had to admit that it had worked.

They worked their way through the mine, occasionally having to find a way around a particularly narrow opening. Fortunately, the kobolds hadn't been able to find a large enough place to live that only they could reach.

It wasn't too long before they started coming across the signs that they were approaching the village; trap after trap after trap, each one becoming harder to find and bypass safely.

"Next time you summon a spirit, Remys, make sure to ask it about the traps first," Tomar muttered as he flexed out his front leg after nearly twisting his ankle dodging an arrow trap.

"I'll keep that in mind." The Gila Monster nodded while Jerik strengthen the mild injury before they moved on.

"Are you sure she was telling you the truth?" Tessi asked Remys a bit later. "I'd have thought we'd have run into them by now ...."

"They are trying to hide from us," he pointed out, tapping Kennara's shoulder with his staff and indicating a crevice a little ahead of them. "And Jerik and I can only sense that they're around, not their exact location. I wouldn't be surprised if -"

Suddenly, Kennara jumped forward, reaching into the crevice and earning a yelp of surprise from inside. She snarled, pulling her hand back and shaking it in pain before she reaced back in, pulling out a kobold guard and dangling him in the air.

"Thought so," the necromancer smirked slightly. "Now, I suppose the question is if we bargain, or if we just have him show us the way and start wiping out these little vermin before we take what they've got."

"Bargain with them," Quasma said firmly.

"If you insist," he shrugged. "Does anybody have a translation spell handy? I doubt this one speaks trade."

"Everyone but you," Tessi snickered. "But I think Jerik's the best choice to cast."

The tom nodded and lifted Kaul to cast the simple incantation.

"Now, little one." He focused on the kobold that Kennara was holding. "You can cooperate and get out of this alive, or we can smear your entire clan across the rocks."

"What do you want?" The kobold asked quickly, looking at Remys and the warriors with a frightened, jittery expression.

"The treasure you gathered from the mines and your other victims." Jerik told him simply. "We will leave with it. Whether your kind are still around is of no consequence to us."

"We have no other slaves!" The kobold said easily. "All we captured went to the sacrifices!"

"He's probably telling the truth," Remys said. "If there were larger numbers of people missing, there would have been more notice in town. We should see if we can get them to bring the treasure out to us."

["Do we want to release him, or have him lead us to the village?"] Jerik signed to the others, not wanting the kobold to hear their debate.

["If I use a charm spell, we'll be able to trust him,"] Tessi offered.

["Works for me."] Jerik looked around for any dissention and not finding any. Tessi cast the spell quickly, pointing her staff at the kobold, a faint white light glowing around him before he stopped struggling in Kennara's grip.

"Now, I want you to go back to your village and convince them to bring the treasure out to us." Jerik instructed calmly. "If they do, no one will get hurt."

"All right," the kobold nodded eagerly. "I will tell them."

"Good," Jerik smiled at him and nodded to Kennara, who put him down on his feet.

The kobold ran off, ducking into the crevices and making his way back home.

"We should probably warn them about the miners getting ready to burn the mines out," Quasma said, sitting down against the side of the tunnel. "But at least we're not going to have to carry it out from the center of their village, out through even more traps."

"What's with the sudden compassion?" Remys looked at her. "Before the fight you were going to kill them all."

"I was pissed off about Tim being caught, okay?" Quasma asked, her ears folding back. "Unlike some of us here, I still remember they're people, not mine-rats! We killed the ones that captured him, most of the ones that were behind the sacrifices, and killed what they were sacrificing people to. There's no reason to let the rest of the tribe get burned to death, especially since that probably includes women and children somewhere down there!"

"Which means that even if we don't warn them, most of them will probably survive just fine, since the odds of the miners going any deeper than we have are slim to none, and they'll be back to full numbers within a decade, probably starting this all over again," Remys pointed out. "Frankly, helping the miners burn the entire lot of them out would probably be best, especially for the miners themselves."

"We did promise that nobody else would be hurt if they worked with us," Tessi pointed out.

"I didn't say that we wouldn't warn them," Remys shrugged. "I was just wondering what brought about the sudden change from wanting to slaughter every kobold she came across to being pissed off at me for getting the information we needed from the one who was behind capturing her Defender, and all the rest."

"I don't know why I even bother," the Lynx groaned, shaking her head.

"Because it's good to try and understand teammates." Jerik pointed out. "I was kind of wondering too, anyway."

"I wouldn't have actually killed all of them," Quasma said softly. "Not if it wasn't what I needed to do to save Tim."

"I know, Quasma," Tessi said, sitting down next to her. "Look, why don't we just get the treasure back, warn them, and head out? It doesn't sound like they're eating the miners or anything, so without the spider and without their leader, I think we can leave 'em take care of themselves from there out."

"Besides, I said we would," Jerik added. "They'll be warned and we'll just leave with our haul."

"You guys are being awfully quiet," Remys observed, looking back at the Defenders.

"First rule when your mages are starting to argue," Rainbow chuckled slightly. "Get the Hell out of the way until it looks like it's getting serious."

"They're trained to follow our lead," Jerik reminded them. "Unless we're about to do something incredibly stupid."

"I know," Remys nodded. "Just usually would've expected to hear them chiming in during this."

"We knew it wasn't going to get serious, and didn't want to muddy the waters," Kennara smiled slightly, walking over to him and nuzzling his scaled muzzle affectionately.

It earned a raised eyebrow from Jerik, but the tom's attention quickly turned towards noise from down the passage. "I think they're back."

And they were; a large number of kobolds carrying baskets full of coins and carefully crafted artistic pieces. Most of them were dirty, but once they got home with them, they'd be worth a good amount. There were even a few weapons left; one of them was a heavily rusted and pitted sword, but another one was a dirty, but largely intact, battle-axe.

"We brought the treasure; you take it, and leave us be?" The kobold they'd charmed asked them.

"Yes," Jerik nodded and motioned his friends to begin packing their loot in the bags of holding. "The miners intend to burn the mine above out. I doubt they will come this far and we do not intend to tell them where your village is, but if you stay further into the caves until they are done, you should be safe."

"We will," the kobold nodded, explaining to the band with him before they darted back off into the tunnels. "Let them burn the not-god and old queen; they're no good anymore."

"I expected more than this," Quasma murmured as they loaded the treasure. "Well, it's still a good amount."

"Especially for what is essentially no work." Jerik nodded even as he scanned the items, visually and mentally, as they were loaded. "We do have at least one magic item here, so it's worth a fair amount, especially if we can sell it away from the Academy."

"Assuming we sell it," Remys nodded. "The axe, I'm guessing? It's in the best shape for what it is and how long it's been here."

"Well, I'll go now - join the others, move the tribe. Be safe leaving!" The kobold told them, turning and following his tribe-mates out as the Mages and Defenders loaded their haul, then headed out the way they came.

It was early the next day when the seven of them made it back to the city, between getting out of the mine and the trip back into town. The miners were already going down into the shaft to try and burn out the goblins, and the young adventurers were all exhausted.

"Y'find what you were looking for?" Amanda asked them as they returned to the house.

"Yeah," Quasma nodded. "How's Tim?"

"He's fine, though he'd be ripping the door to your room down if he could," the older Lynx chuckled. "Go see him."

"Thanks," Quasma smiled warmly, putting her pack down and taking off to go meet her Defender.

"So, I hear you found a tribe of kobolds down there?" Amanda asked Jerik and the others once Quasma had headed out.

"And a giant spider," Jerik shuddered. "Not an easy fight."

"I'll bet not," she nodded. "Business is going to be busy tonight. Why don't you go get some rest? When the miners get back, it's going to be impossible to sleep, I'm sure."

"Thanks for the warning," he nodded. "We all need the rest," he motioned the group to head for the rooms provided for them on the ground floor.

"So, still think monster-hunting's the way to go?" Tomar asked with a bit of a chuckle once they were in their room, groaning as he pulled his armor off. "Damn am I glad Tessi got that shield up."

"More than ever, honestly." He nodded and opened their bag of holding to pull out the brush set. "It feels good to have freed them, even if just a little."

"You've got a point there," Tomar admitted. "So, what do you think about what happened with Remys and Quasma? If it's like that in the field with them every time, I think we're going to want to alternate," he chuckled. "Why don't I brush you out first?" He offered.

"Yeah, but I don't think it will be. She was really stressed about Tim and I doubt we'll need to threaten spirits very often." He smiled and handed the brushes over before pulling his robes off and working on taking the interlocking leather plates of his light armor off.

"Here's hoping we don't," Tomar chuckled slightly, helping Jerik remove his armor. "I'll admit, Remys did seem a little creepy today. Guy has got to work on his people skills."

"I know, but he's a Necromancer." He sighed with a low groan to have his fur bare again. "Even the really stable ones like the Elder and Scyress are creepy most days. Tag on being a Plague survivor and Blight upbringing, he's doing pretty well."

"Yeah, we're lucky he hasn't tried making one of those whistles for himself with all that," Tomar chuckled, starting to brush Jerik's fur out. "Maybe Kennara's helping to mellow him out ... you notice them in the cave earlier? Most affectionate I've seen them in ... ever, really, even if it was pretty much one way."

"As you said, it'll be a few years yet before he'll notice anything that way," he smiled, a deep reverberating purr growing at the skilled attention. "But yeah, it was good to see. If nothing else, he didn't react badly to it."

"Yeah," Tomar smiled, taking a deep breath and relaxing into the comfortable routine of grooming. "She'll probably have a few frustrated years before he catches up. Well, she'll deal with it. Everything's working out for the best now, it seems. Not sure how much the treasure's worth, but I'm sure we can pay off our debt to the Academy with it."

"Just that'll be a relief." He nodded. "Especially for Quasma. It was some real-world experience too."

"Yeah, and for once we headed out, came back, and nobody almost got killed," Tomar chuckled. "Well ... Tim ... but he doesn't need a cleric to heal him. Speaking of getting hurt, how's your head?"

"Still ringing if I move it too fast," he admitted. "Not nearly as bad as what Kyr did to me though. A good night's sleep should settle it."

"You're taking the hits better," Tomar chuckled. "And yeah, we could all use that," he added with a bit of a yawn, moving on to the next brush. "Any thoughts on when we head home?"

"Probably in a couple days. Give Quasma a chance to catch up and visit and the rest of us to catch up on sleep." He chuckled slightly. "Though if it's as noisy as Amanda suggested, I might just set up our tent outside of town."

"Jerik, you're gonna have a dozen or so miners getting back and celebrating their 'victory' over a vicious tribe of kobolds," Tomar chuckled. "Yeah, it's gonna be noisy around here, at least tonight, and probably smell so strong around here you'd think the village was in heat. Schedule sounds good to me though."

"I think at least we're going to want to make camp early." Jerik shook his head slightly and stretched out under Tomar's attentions. "We've both taken enough bruising to make celebrating much hurt in the morning."

"Oh yeah," Tomar chuckled. "The others can stick around if they want, but I'm inclined towards borrowing the tent to sort the treasure."

"Works for me, but for now, let me groom you out and let's catch a good nap before the miners return." He smiled and picked up the large hand brush meant for Tomar's large lower body.

"Mmm ... sounds very good," Tomar rumbled, settling down to be brushed out, the two of them winding down from their adventure.

"I can't believe it," Quasma sighed, shaking her head. "Three baskets full of coins that took two kobolds each to carry them, and after we're done with the conversion rates, it'll be barely four hundred gold pieces for all of us, five hundred if we find somebody with a taste for antique coins to take some of them." Despite the vast number of coins that had been brought to them, it turned out that the majority of them were copper or silver, the occasional gold or platinum coin only serving to get their hopes up before they found a hundred more that weren't.

"Yeah, but that's enough to cover the debts, aren't they?" Tessi pointed out, indicating the dirty old statues and weathered axe. "Leaves the rest here to be divvied up between us."

"More than we'd really counted on," Tomar pointed out.

"Yeah, but I'd been hoping to find a legendary bandit's hoard, not the picked over remains of what other folks left behind," the Lynx admitted with a bit of a rueful chuckle. "Must remember to underestimate the take in the future."

"We haven't really cleaned up the stuff here yet," Rainbow pointed out. "Might be worth more than we thought."

"And if it isn't, there are a couple pieces I definitely wouldn't mind keeping." Jerik added with a nod towards the artistic pieces.

"Yeah, but you like pretty over money." Tessi teased him.

"So?" He raised an eyebrow in a challenging grin. "I'll bet I get fewer headaches over it."

"He's got you there, Tess," Quasma chuckled. "Uhm ... Remys is going to be okay, right guys?" She asked, not having mentioned the necromancer's absence yet.

"Yeah, he was just too wiped out after the mines to join us," Tomar said easily. "Kennara helped us move him out to his tent and Jerik cast a warmth spell; he'll be up tomorrow afternoon probably."

"This season and the mines are hard on Reptans. He's been burning a lot of energy to keep up with us." Jerik nodded. "His recovery is just more dramatic looking than our long night's sleep."

"Makes sense," Quasma smiled slightly. "Just wanted to make sure it was just something like that, not that he was hurt or something."

"Or mad?" Tessi asked. "Don't worry; you know Remys as well as the rest of us. If he was mad, you'd know about it."

"Right," the Lynx chuckled a bit. "Okay; let's get down to business. Anybody sense anything magical here besides the axe?" She asked, setting the weathered weapon aside, leaving the statues and jewelry.

"This one," Jerik picked up a good-sized ruby, alone worth more than all the coins. "It feels a lot like the crystal Tessi made."

"May I?" Quasma asked, taking the stone and her polishing cloth, cleaning it off and inspecting it carefully.

"I think it's a signet stone," she told them, indicating the carefully etched symbol on the largest facet. "Nobles used to use them instead of rings; they'd send a magically recorded message along with a messenger, saying that the message was authentic and discussing it a bit to show it was the proper one. If the owner has any descendants left alive, it should be worth something to them. Just have to track down the changes in the family name since this was made."

"Even if not, it's probably worth a little extra to an Enchanter as a rare item," Tessi added. "It wouldn't be difficult to make, but having an authentic example of something is a coup."

"Especially an historical one," Quasma nodded. "So, that's a nice touch. Why don't we take a look at some of the other pieces next? Any preferences which?"

"The phoenix statue." Jerik pointed to a stylized non-morphic avian flying out of a fire.

"Let's take a look at it then," the Lynx nodded, pulling it out and grunting at the weight of it before she started to polish it clean. "Certainly heavy enough," she observed, showing a golden surface. "Doubt it's solid gold, but we don't have what we'd need to check on that here ... the granite base is probably real though," she added.

"The workmanship is good too." Jerik observed as it came free of decades of dirt and dust to reveal a finely wrought creation of a golden bird golden bird rising from red flames from a nest set on the shiny granite base. "Not exceptional, but it's quite pretty."

"Definitely," Tessi agreed. "May I, Quasma?" She asked, taking the statue and hefting it. "Gold-lead," she said after a moment. "Doesn't have quite the right weight for the real thing. Probably an old religious icon." She handed it back to Quasma, who looked between the statue and Tessi.

"How can you tell just by lifting it?" She asked.

"Mom and Dad have a lot of antiques like that," the Tabby explained. "They taught me how to tell the difference between gold and gold-lead by weight. It's harder to tell with things like this, that have irregular shapes and different materials, but not impossible. Still very nice," she added.

"Might be worth trying to find out what it means to what religion it might be from." Jerik considered it. "Even if it's not worth anything much to them, it's nice to know."

"Oh yeah," Quasma nodded. "I figure I'll spend most of the next month in the libraries back home," she chuckled.

"Most likely," he nodded. "The coins and gems are easy to figure value on. The rest will take a little more work to determine, and then determine what to sell and what to keep."

"Yeah, I figure we'll end up divvying them up well after we get home," she smiled, setting the statue down and pulling out a small ring, polishing the small opal in the silver band, then looking on the inside.

"An inscription ... 'To my Dearest Magdalene.' An old wedding ring ... might have belonged to whoever had the signet stone, I guess. Not really any way to tell, given how old it is."

"That's something descendants usually really want back." Jerik said softly. "And it can be figured out. It just takes same effort and divination or object reading. Something like that tends to carry a fairly heavy signature."

"Usually takes a bit more information to find too," she pointed out. "Divination magic at my level needs tips. I'll see what I can find though."

"You aren't the only one who can do it," he reminded her gently. "Kaia is ahead of you, and if you need hints, I can probably get them. The research isn't your burden alone."

"Thanks," she smiled slightly. "So, what's next?" She asked.

"The axe," Tomar suggested.

"It's the only magical thing left," Jerik nodded, sure his Defender was interested in it for himself.

"Not that the ring and statue are," she chuckled, picking it up and looking at it carefully, wiping off the head. "Silver?"

"Weapon-silver," Tessi said, cocking her head as tarnish came off the blade. "I think this was made back during the War; nobody but the Silver Knights use weapons like that since then, and they don't use axes."

"Who are the Silver Knights?" Jerik prompted her.

"An order of knights who use silver weapons and armor; they mostly focus on taking out the Feasters," Tessi explained. "People who've made a bargain with evil creatures to give them the power to turn into monsters when the moons are right."

"The haft used to be marked, but it's impossible to read now, at least not without better magic than I have with me." Quasma decided, looking at the ancient wood, inspecting the head. "These etchings look familiar ...."

"They just look like waves to me," Tessi said, looking at them.

"That's it!" Quasma exclaimed, snapping her fingers. "Aquan script. I don't know it well enough to read it, but I'm sure it means something in aquan."

"Any idea what the enchantment on it is supposed to do?" Tomar asked.

"Not sure," she admitted. "Might just be a preservation enchantment. I'll have to identify it; going to take a little time."

"Time we've got, especially once we get back home with no more double shifts." Jerik grinned at her.

"Going to be so nice to get back to a normal schedule," she grinned back. "Nobody minds taking that off the top?"

"I don't, and I'm the only person it might hurt," Tessi giggled. "I'll enjoy seeing you guys more often, without it being in the enchanting shop. Just remember to bring me along the next time you get into trouble!"

"We don't do it intentionally." Jerik objected, sort of.

"Riiiight." Quasma smirked at him. "Just how many rules did we almost break last time?"

"It was for a good cause." He insisted.

"It always is," Tomar chuckled. "That's exactly why you never get in any real trouble for it," he added, nuzzling Jerik's neck lightly.

"True," he murmured and reached up to cup the Rohr's cheek, then yawned widely. "Anybody mind finishing the last bit tomorrow?"

"Sounds good to me," Quasma smiled. "Sleep well, everybody."

"You too, Quasma," Rainbow said cheerfully and stood with Tessi to leave for their own tent. "Sweet dreams to all of us."

"Rest well," Jerik nodded, very suddenly feeling the weight of their adventure and the desire to sleep for a time.

A Heritage of Power 4: Jerik's Story 9.99: Treasure Hunting

Het Level is Low
Slash Level is
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is Low

68 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written January 18, 2006 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Herath, Star Wars (Furry)

Primary Races: Avian, Canine, Feline, Fox, Kat, Mole, Reptile, Rohr (Herm Wolftaur)

Contents: Furry. Herm. Het (M/F). Violence

Pairings: Jerik Clawson/Tomar, others

Blurb: Treasure hunting is nothing like they'd planned, but it hints at important things to come for both Jerik and Tomar.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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