Kanrik's Tale: Memories
I have lied many times, about many things; but I ask you
to believe me this one time, on this one thing; and that is this: I did not lie
to the Usul. Hannah, her name was. She's probably at the bottom of an abyss in
the Lost Desert, and that suits me perfectly, for she was much too clever for
her own good. She found it easy to believe my half-truths, easier still to sympathize
with me for the loss of my village and my sister.
I did have a sister, once. Back when I was still
oblivious to the world's evils, an innocent and carefree child-ah, how the years
slip backward in my mind! I can almost hear her calling now-
* * *
"Ayenti!" The middle-aged Gelert took her paws
from her mouth and shook her head. "Where can that boy be." She turned to go
inside. A blue Gelert pup, his fur splashed with mud, ran up behind her and
tugged shyly on her skirt. The mother looked down and laughed. "Ayenti!" she
cried again, but this time it was of welcoming, not of searching. She scooped
up the child and carried him into the small hut that served as their home.
She set Ayenti down on the floor inside. "Now,
what've you been up to?" she asked him. A teenage Gelert rose from her seat
in the corner and smiled down at Ayenti, eyes sparkling with laughter.
"Running around somewhere getting muddy, I suppose,"
the girl said in a teasing voice. She smoothed down a muddy patch of Ayenti's
fur and tweaked his nose. He laughed.
"And no time to clean it before the festival,
either," Ayenti's sister continued. She shook her head, her long, heavy braids
whisking across her back. "Well, I suppose it'll do." She stood back and considered
her younger brother, paws on her hips. "Or we could just duck you in the water
barrel," she suggested.
"Now, now, Kanrica," their mother said, shaking
her head at her children. Kanrica smiled at her and turned away to pick up her
ceremonial dress. It was blue, and embroidered in blue; the embroidery was hard
to see. She unfolded it and shook the dust out, and smiled at Ayenti. Ayenti
"That's better," Kanrica said. "This evening
is a time of celebration, brother. Be joyful!" She left the room, humming the
song she would sing this evening and practicing her dance steps as she walked.
The evening was spectacular; at least, Ayenti
thought so. Kanrica danced, her hair hanging lose down her back; she sang, for
pure joy, for the joy of the dance and the joy of the song. If Ayenti hadn't
already idolized his older sister, he did now.
That very night the sickness came. Their mother
stayed up all night with Kanrica, who had developed a cough. Ayenti lay awake
in the darkness and listened, his worry growing with each rasping breath his
The next three days were terrible. More and
more in their village got sick, and Kanrica seemed to lose her energy, her interest
in life, with each passing day. Ayenti was kept busy, though, with the chores
of those who were sick; he had almost no time to simply sit and speak to his
Ayenti left after the third day, sneaking out
while everyone was sleeping, sick and well alike. His belongings, such as they
were, he had in a knapsack over his shoulder; he only looked back once. "I'll
find the cure for you, Kanrica, and I'll come back with it." Ayenti paused,
and said, "This isn't goodbye, you know, Kanrica. It's only 'see you later.'"
Then he left, and he did not look back again.
Ayenti walked for most of the night; soon after dawn he found himself at a ferry
station, and snuck onto a boat headed for Krawk Island.
When the boat bumped against the dock of the
island port, the tourists that filled the rest of the ship left in a gaggle
and went one way. Ayenti went in the opposite direction, wondering how to find
the cure. He didn't notice as the street got more and more shadowy and foul-smelling
until a fist came out of nowhere and knocked him sprawling. Ayenti looked up;
a Darigan Grarrl stood looming over him, sneering and readying for the next
blow upon the helpless Gelert pup. Ayenti closed his eyes.
The blow never came. The Gelert slowly opened
one eye, then the other; a hooded and cloaked figure had stepped between him
and the Grarrl.
"Leave him be," the cloaked girl said, and turned.
She knelt by Ayenti to give him a paw up, and he saw her face; that of a green
Acara. She couldn't have been older than Kanrica was.
"I'm sorry," the Acara murmured as Ayenti brushed
"I'm looking for-" he started. The Acara held
a paw to her lips, indicating silence; he nodded. She turned back to the Grarrl,
who still stood nearby.
"He is only a pup. Spare him, my love," she
said. The Grarrl grunted, and she continued in a whisper, "We could take him
in; train him. Soon our dreams of the most powerful thieves' guild will become
reality, my love."
The Grarrl considered this, and nodded. "Bring
him," he said shortly, and went inside a building nearby. Ayenti watched, and
saw a sign above the door, marking it as the Bronze Dubloon.
The Acara smiled at Ayenti. "Would you like
a-a job?" she said, and cursed herself for stammering.
He nodded. "I'm looking for a cure, for-my village,"
he said. "Would you help me look?"
"Are they sick, then?" the Acara asked. "Take
the job, and I'll do everything I can to help you find the cure." Her paws were
crossed behind her back; she had no intentions of keeping that promise.
"I'll take it," Ayenti said, not hesitating
now that his new friend had told him that she would help. "What sort of job?"
"Galem will have to tell you that. He's the
Grarrl," she added. "I am Masila. What's your name?"
Something prompted Ayenti to give a false name.
Perhaps it was the memory of the Grarrl, Galem. Perhaps his memory of his sister.
Perhaps he was simply cautious. Whatever the reason, though, he answered steadily,
"My name... my name is Kanrik," shortening his sister's name to something that
might be a male name.
Masila nodded. "I am your friend, Kanrik," she
said. "Never forget that."
Ayenti, now Kanrik, nodded dutifully.
"Come along, then." Masila beckoned; and Kanrik
followed her, away from everything he had ever known.
* * *
She never made good on her promise. Masila, I
learned later, was sly and treacherous; to me, to Galem; to everyone. If I had
known before, if I had declined their offer-but I hadn't, and I didn't. I have
only myself now, and a memory, a memory of my sister, dancing in the firelight,
singing songs of joy, and one other; a memory of the Usul, agreeing to help
me find a cure for people she didn't know.
If only I could go back, find my family, and
apologize-but it has been too long, and I do not know the way. Now, I begin
to see what I could have been, what I could have done, if I hadn't blindly followed
Masila into the Bronze Dubloon.
It is only memories now, only the past now,
and it can no longer harm me.