The shadow fell across Tesmor Lokian's table,
enveloping not only much of it, but also his hand and
his as-of-yet-undrunk ale. The black-haired Dragoni
did not have to look up to know who interrupted
his brief respite from his day's labor. He had heard
the newcomer speaking to others in the Scarlet Wish tavern-
the only tavern in the remote village of Emerald Valley-
heard him speaking and prayed silently but vehemently
that he would not come to Tesmor's table.
It was ironic that Tesmor prayed for the stranger to keep away,
for what stood waiting for Tesmor to look up was none other than
a missionary from the Temple of Aluwen. Resplendent in his
collard silver-white robes- resplendent save for the ring of Emerald Valley
mud at the bottom--he no doubt awed many a fellow villager of Tesmor's.
However, his presence did nothing but dredge up terrible memories for the
dragoni, who now angrily fought to keep his stare fixed on the mug.
"Have you seen the Light, my brother?" the figure finally asked when it was clear
that his potential convert planned to continue to ignore him."Has the Word of
the great Prophet touched your soul?"
"Find someone else," Tesmor muttered, his free hand involuntarily tightening
into a fist. He finaly took a gulp of his ale, hoping his remark would end the
unwanted conversation. However, the missionary was not to be put off.
Setting a hand on the dragoni's forearm-and thereby keeping the ale from
again touching Tesmor's lips-the pale young man said, "If not yourself alone,
think of your loved ones! Would you forsake their souls as--"
The dragoni raored, his face red with a rage no longer held in check.
In a single motion, Tesmor leapt up and seized the startled missionary by the collar.
As the table tipped over, the ale fell and splattered on the planked floor,
unnoticed by its former drinker. Around the room, other patrons,including a few rare
travelers passing through, eyed the confrontation with concern and interest...and
from experience chose to keep out of it.Some of the locals, who knew the dragoni well,
shook their heads or muttered to one another at the newcomer's poor choice of subjects.
The missionary was a hand taller than Tesmor,no small man himself at just over six feet,
but the broad-shouldered dragoni outweighed him by half again as much and all that muscle
from day after day of tilling the soil or seeing to the animals. Tesmor was a square-jawed
dragoni with the bearded,rough-hewn features typical of the region west of the great city
of Irsis, the "jewel" of the eastern half of the world. Deep-brown eyes burned into the more
pale ones of the gaunt--and suprisingly young--features of the Temple's proselytizer.
"The souls of most of my family are beyond the Prophet's gathering,brother! They died
nearly ten years ago to plague!"
"I shall s-say a prayer for...for them--"