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The Search for the Jade Monkey - by Tiexie

Part One

Her brow furled in confusion as she struggled to cast sanctuary for the third time and failed. She growled angrily at the small imp who dared to point and laugh at her. Wagging his finger, he chuckled, "Thou must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon in order to cast that spell!"

What was this Jade Monkey she kept hearing about that was jokingly referred to in all the taverns, amongst the Heroes and Immortals. She sat on the docks of the ship yard, eyeing the flock of sea griffins flying overhead.

"Tiexie get off your butt, and secure the rigging!"

She jumped as Rabilieus' booming voice echoed across the water from the deck of the sloop. "Not NOW Rab!", she shouted back in frustration, only to watch the big man growl at her with his teeth bared.

She eyed the man as he stalked across the deck of Stormrider, wondering why the hell she had volunteered to go on this mission. Boredom, pure and simple. She had nothing better to do this week than swab decks and hang from rigging all weekend. And, the pay wasn't really all that bad if you thought about it.

She broke her reverie and looked up at the parade of ship mates walking down the dock, packs slung over their massive shoulders. "Yeah this is gonna be fun," she muttered under her breathe as they strode past her and boarded the ship. Being the only female on a ship full of brawny, boisterous men wasn't her idea of a good time, and she wandered again how she let her friend talk her into this.

Her gaze fell on the tall, broad shouldered man who lingered on the docks. He had wavy dark hair, and the brightest brown eyes she had ever seen. He leaned idly on one hip, his legs spread wide. His massive frame seemed to sway smoothly with the waves beating against the dock, as if he were one with the ocean itself.

Gaid, that was the name she had heard the others call him. It was rumored that he had spent time in the eastern country as a warder for some princess or something. He seemed to be staring at the clouds rolling in from the south, as if he could will them away with a simple thought. The frown that marred his handsome face looked serious and menacing.

She jumped again, as Rabilieus shouted something that was lost on the wind. Sighing, she stood up and dusted off the worn leather trousers she wore. Hoisting the heavy pack onto her shoulders, she headed towards the ship, thinking this was going to be a long weekend.

Tiexie plopped down on the soft bed in the inn, sighing deeply as her head hit the pillow. Not bothering to remove her muddy clothes, or unlace her boots. Her eyes drifted closed as stared up at the white-washed ceiling, recalling the weekend's events. She unconsciously rubbed the bandage on her right arm, as she recounted the horrid battle with the massive worms that had tried to destroy the ship.

Rab had called them Aquoderms. Ugly things that had bleed green when the crew had slain them. She shuddered as she remembered watching the crew skin the dead creatures. They had stretched the white carapace of skin across the bow of the ship, leaving it in the sun to dry. Apparently the large skins were worthy of gold in trading shops in the city of Trellor. A loud knock on the door awoke her from her doze, and she muttered under her breath.

With a flick of her wrist, the frustrated mage conjured a magic missile and shot it towards the door. A loud yelp, proceeded by a curse followed. Tiexie grinned in ill-tempered glee, and rolled off the bed. Stalking to the door, she snatched it open. "What?"

The short little man glared at her in anger, rubbing his seared hand. "The boss..." He left the sentence hanging, knowing no other words were necessary at her scowl.

Grabbing her cloak off the chair behind her, she stomped out the door, slamming it in her wake and nearly taking the trollish little mans hand off for a second time. She was sick to death of 'the boss' and his irrational demands on her time. Ok, so she owed him. But how long was she going to have to pay for one mistake?

She sat silently in the chair, staring at the cleric across the table from her with rage in her eyes. The raucous merriment of the tavern patrons around her drowned out the angry tapping of her foot on the floor beneath the heavy cloak she wore.

"I have a job for you, love," the lithe man across from her spoke softly, leaning in close to her.

"Don't call me that," she growled under breathe, as she curled her fist into a ball on top of the table.

The tall man smiled at her as he watched the fireball in her hand she squelched with a flick of her wrist. "Still have a time controlling that temper, don't you, love..." He drawled the word out, intentionally enraging her with his intimate endearment.

Tiexie flinched, and he saw it. Worse yet, she knew he saw it. Oh how she hated him. Hated his clean white robes, and his shiny blonde hair. She hated the little ruby medallion he wore around his neck. Grotesque thing it was, with a coiled serpent in the center. "The job," she snarled out between clinched teeth. "What do you want?"

He grinned at her, flashing beautiful, white teeth. "Ahh, the job," he drawled. "I want you to locate an object of some worth for me," he paused, before continuing, "That is, if it even exists."

Her eyebrow quirked in question, at his mysterious answer. "And ... that would be?"

The cleric flashed another perfect grin. "The Jade Monkey."

The tavern suddenly went silent for several seconds, before the raucous laughter and merriment continued.

"Excuse me?" She knew she had heard what she thought she had heard, because the entire tavern had also heard it, she just could not *believe* that she had heard it.

His grin widened," You heard me Tie, I want you to locate the Jade Monkey for me ... and there is a pretty penny in it when you do."

She bite her lip, noticing he hadn't say 'if' you do but when. Her gaze moved lazily around the room, searching for some point to look upon besides his glorious countenance. He cleared his throat when she did not respond, "I know what you're thinking, but this is the last job, my love."

Again with the love, oh she wanted to slam his face into the table. "That's what you said last time, when you sent me all the way to the The Barbegazian Alps to find your stupid dagger of Iona. And what about the time before that when you sent me to the depths of Demonforge to seek out your Forest Helm?"

The smooth lines on the man's face marred for a single instant as a flash of anger crossed his face. "Your Grandfather..," he started and then paused, knowing he did not have to finish the rest of the sentence to make his point. Once again, Tiexie flinched. "This is the last one, swear on it.

"Swear by Vryce," she grated the words out, wanting nothing more than to kill this man with her bare hands and knowing he could destroy her with a mere flick of his fingers.

He smiled slowly, the small dimple in his right cheek flashing as he fingered the vulgar medallion around his neck. "I swear by Vryce, my little apprentice, do this for me and your debt is paid."

Tiexie swallowed hard at his words, knowing he had chosen those words as a barb. He was good at that, twisting the dagger before pulling it out. Little apprentice, the words echoed in her head. Another life, another person. She had grown up since then, and she had seen him for what he was. A dangerous, malevolent creature who sought nothing but more power. She stood up slowly, her gaze meeting his. Folding her hands in front of her, she bowed slightly in a sign of respect that they both knew was not sincere. "So you have said My Lord, and so it shall be done..."

Turning on her heel, the young mage strode out of the tavern, feeling the gaze of the deceptively beautiful man on her back.

She eyed Rabilieus warily as he plopped another net full of crabs at her feet, before hauling the net over the side and tossing it back into the water.

"I know it's a busy season, and you know that I would not ask such a favor of you, were it not important." She continued to watch him, wondering what he was thinking, and why he did not speak.

She sighed and leaned against the railing, as the big man begin to unravel a coil of twisted rope. She smiled slightly as she gazed at his muscular shoulders flex under the worn tunic. Women had always found her friend attractive, and he had left more than his fair share of broken hearts up and down the coast, but she had never seen him that way. She stood watching the silent giant she called friend, as he mulled over her words.

Finally he spoke, in that thick burlish accent she had once had so much trouble understanding. "This is dangerous little one, you know this. You are playing with fi..."

She cut him off before he could finish. "I *have* to do this Rab! This is the last time, and finally I will be free of his whims and demands."

Her gaze pleadingly locked with his, begging him to understand. He understood all to well. Although he never spoke of it, Tiexie knew that he had come to the land of Medievia by way of indenture. The hardships and humiliation this powerful man must have withstood were beyond her comprehension. He did indeed understand the desire to be free.

"You don't even know where to start! This is a foolish quest girl, a mere fairy tale joshed about by immortals." He eyed her with a grim expression.

"I know Rab, I know, but what if..." She paused, "what if it's *real*?"

Rabilieus raised an eyebrow at the sudden pitch in her voice. "So what if it is real? Are you going to find this... Jade monkey and bring it to him? Have you thought of the repercussions of that?"

Tiexie sighed heavily and looked out over the starboard bow, watching the seagulls. "Yes I have thought about it, and I don't care."

She was lying and he knew it, but Rab didn't push her. "Rain coming in little one, go check the rigging will ya..."

Watching her heave another sigh he shouted over the roar of the gulls, "Pack it up you scurvy lot, we're going on a quest to find the Jade monkey!"

Amongst the braying laughter of his men, Rabilieus winked at her before nodding his head towards the rigging. Tiexie grabbed a hold of the ropes at the base of the mast and begin to secure them, a smile of pure relief breaking out on her impish face.

To be continued...

January 21, 2006

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Search for the Jade Monkey - Part I
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Search for the Jade Monkey - Part II
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Search for the Jade Monkey - Part III
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