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The Search for the Jade Monkey - by Tiexie

Part Two

"Silence woman!" Tiexie flinched as she stood before her grandfather on the castle stairs. His tone was like that of a whip lash on her skin. Oh, how she hated that tone. She had traveled all night and day to reach the city of Medievia, to seek the guidance and wisdom of this man she both feared and respected.

"Papa...," she started and he waved her off with a massive, scarred hand.

" I said, silence." Tiexie's gaze dropped to the toes of her beat up dragon hide boots as Krandor glared at her from the top of the steps. He sighed heavily as he gazed down at the bowed blonde head, "This is the most half-baked gullible thing I have ever heard you come up with. I have no idea what is going on in that thick skull of yours, but I do know that you are going to get yourself killed running around chasing after hallucinations."

Tiexie didn't raise her gaze from her boots, but her body stiffened in rage. Fine, he didn't want to help her. She did not need him anyway. Her eyes flooded with tears, and she bite her lip to hold them back. This man, whom she had tried her entire life to live up to, did not accept weakness. Especially from his own bloodline. After a long silence, she realized he had stopped speaking and was waiting on her response. She had no idea what he had been saying, nor did she really care at this point. Raising her gaze to meet that of the aging cleric above her, she nodded.

"I understand Papa, may I go now?"

She could see the anger boiling behind those wise eyes, but he didn't say anything further as he waved her away. "Yes, go. Follow your foolish trail of fantasy." The last was said with obvious sarcasm, which she pointedly ignored.

Walking the several steps to the top of the castle staircase, Tiexie hugged her grandfather. She ignored the sharp twinge of pain in her chest as he stiffened. "Be well Papa. I shall see you soon."

Tiexie chanted a few words and disappeared, reappearing at the town fountain amongst a flurry of activity. There were preparations to be made, and she had little time to dwell on the coldness of her bloodline. She shoved her ill thoughts to the back of her mind, and headed for the bank with renewed vigor for her purpose.

Tiexie stood on the docks near Derah, watching as large swashbuckling men loaded large crates of goods onto the deck of the Stormrider. Soleil bless Rabileius for this, she thought as she gazed up at the brutal sun beating down on the men. Not a cloud in the sky. She hoped that was good sign. A blessing from the mighty goddess of the sun herself. She said a silent prayer, and hoped she got this ship back to the docks in one piece. She knew Grundle would have her hide if she didn't, and Rab's too.

She gave a small chuckle as she thought of Grundle, the leader of her town, and the owner of the D.O.A Stormrider. He was the friendly sort, always laughing and having a grand old time. She knew he trusted Rabilieus with his life and his ship, but the nagging thought in the back of her mind was that he would kill them both if they did anything to his precious sloop. She glanced up as she saw a flash of lightning lance across the sky, and she laughed. Maybe she was asking to much for anything to go right.

"Yaarr little one!" She glanced up to see the object of her random thoughts striding down the gang plank to join her on the docks. "How do ye fare lass?" Grundle's big hand slapped her on the back in a motion of jovial friendship, and she nearly toppled off the docks into the water.

Making a choking sound, she twisted her lips into a smile and faced the big man. "Greetings Boss. I did not expect to see you here so early in the morn."

Grundle laughed loudly and winked at her. "What, you didn't expect me to miss out on this great adventure did you?"

Tiexie had no response for that. She knew everyone thought she was daft. Apparently Grundle did not however, or he was simply humoring her and wanted his ship back in one piece. Whatever the reason, she was glad to have the debonair young prince as company. This was going to be a long trip she thought, as she watched Rabilieus shouting orders from the helm of the ship.

Tiexie watched the young deckhand as she struggled with the bucket of water. The girl looked like she was about to spew everything she had eaten for the last twelve months. Her face was as green as that of a dragons scales and her eyes were bloodshot and full of tears.Tiexie laughed under her breathe as she slid down the ropes of the rigging, her soft boots landing her on the deck with an almost silent thud. She hadn't expected to see any other females aboard this vessel, and she was pleased and curious to see this one.

"Greetings." Her soft voice was kind, but the amusement was evident in her tone as she watched the young girl freeze at the female voice.

"Ah h-hallo" She was a small framed young woman who appeared no more than twenty or so, and currently was about to drop the heavy bucket of water in her hands.

Tiexie reached and took the pail from her, and sat it on the deck watching as the girl sighed with relief. "You'll get used to it."

She smiled kindly at the girl, who looked at her in question. "The rolling of the ship." Tiexie explained and watched understanding dawn. "Eat lots of bread, and stay away from the mangos. Bad on the stomach." Tiexie laughed and watched as the girl winced, knowing she had eaten nothing *but* fruit since boarding the ship a week ago.

She held her small hand out, "I'm Tiexie, of the house of Krandor. 'Tis a pleasure to see another female aboard this beast."

The woman reached out and shook her hand, wincing as she did so. "Waterkrest. Most people just call me Krest, of the house of no one."

Tiexie waited but the young woman didn't elaborate and she didn't push it. "Need a hand with that?" Tiexie motioned to the bucket of water, but Krest shook her head.

"I'd love nothing more than help, but if that big lug catches me, I'll never hear the end of it." Waterkrest's eyes glazed with anger as her stare fell on the big man at the helm, and Tiexie smothered a laugh. She knew Rabilieus could be hard to take at times, but once you got to know him, he was all bark and no bite. She just hoped this struggling deckhand figured that out sooner rather than later.

"What in the name of Vryce are you doing girl! I told you to swab the deck!"

Tiexie laughed and glanced across the way at Rabilieus, who was standing with his legs spread wide. Hands on his hips, the big man swayed easily with the motion of the waves, glaring at the two women engaged in conversation.

The young woman growled under her breathe and snatched the bucket up, headed off in the opposite direction, and Tiexie knew Rab had met his match in that firebrand. Give it time she thought. Give it time.

Tiexie lay restlessly in her bunk, her thoughts a jumbled mess of disarray. Two months and no luck. The men were getting bored and restless and she knew they were not going to last much longer without complaining.Rabilieus had fulfilled her every whim and request, and they had sailed up and down the ocean chasing one silly tale after another. An old man in G'dangus had told them that a queen in a far away realm of cloud giants knew the secrets of the Jade Monkey, and they had spent nearly two weeks trying to find this mysterious place, only to hit another dead end upon arrival. She swung her legs over the side of the uncomfortable bed, and sat up. She knew Rab would be out on the deck, staring up at the stars. Maybe he'd like some company. The big man never slept. She didn't know why or how he survived on little to no sleep, but she had never had the courage to ask. She suspected the answer was not a pleasant one, and he never volunteered anything about his past unless asked. She surely had no intention of ever doing so.

Tiexie was suddenly shaken from her reverie by the hearty shout of "Land Ho! from the lookout. Grabbing the dragon skin cloak at the bottom of her bunk, she flung it on and headed for the door.

They had arrived in Lyryanoth, the fabled city of the lizard people. Tiexie remembered sitting around camp fires as a small child and hearing stories about the lizard folk. She struggled to remember details but nothing came to mind. Racing out onto the deck, she bumped into a young sailor with a scowl on his face. Exion, she remembered the other men calling him. A rather sober young man, he always seemed to be frowning about something. She made a mental note to get to know him better later. Her curiosity had always gotten the best of her, and his ill tempered personality fascinated her. For now, she flashed him a broad smile and raced past him, taking the steps two at a time.

Tiexie paused from writing in her journal and looked out the port hole as the crash of thunder wracked the ship again. She sighed heavily and closed the large tome covered in matsah hide. It was going to be a long night. She flung the journal onto the bed, making a soft thud as it landed. The eye on the cover blinked at her in confusion and she shrugged, heading for the door. The soft click of a lock could be heard as the eye on the magical tome closed.

Tiexie blinked in the fog as she climbed onto the deck, her gaze adjusting to the foul atmosphere. Men were lined along the starboard bow, hauling buckets of water from the hull of the ship. She could hear the loud clanging of hammers as men below decks repaired whatever damage they had somehow taken on.

A large portion of the mast had broken off and was lying across the deck, and she could see sailors scrambling to repair the wreckage. She glanced up just in time to see Waterkrest nearly go over the side, as the young girl strained to empty the buckets of water. Jostling past cursing sailors she scrambled across the deck to put herself between the girl and the side of the ship, forcing her to hand the buckets to Tiexie. The young woman flashed her a look of exhausted relief as Tiexie heaved another bucket-full over the side. Tiexie's thoughts raced as she worked mindlessly on the job at hand, her body moving in the automatic rituals she had preformed dozens of times before aboard ship.

They had caught a break in Lyryanoth, at least she thought so even if Rabilieus had been skeptical. She absent-mindedly glanced up searching for some glimpse of the large swashbuckling captain as she thought of him, passing another empty bucket back down the line. Relief washed over her as she watched him shout orders from the helm. Tirelessly he pushed his men, never asking them to do what he, himself would not do. She watched the dark muscles of his bare back flex as he struggled with the large wooden mast lying across the deck.

She wished now they had stayed in Lyryanoth awhile. The men seemed to enjoy the time there, and the food. The women were surprisingly very attractive, and several of the men aboard had taken with them. There were several groans of disagreement when Rab had ordered them to pack it up. They had spoken to many people in the wondrous city, but it was a young woman named Melnshara Daenar that had given them the clue they needed. The clue that Tiexie hoped would lead them to the end of this adventure and to her freedom.

She heaved another bucket of water over the side as she recounted her conversation with the beautiful creature three days ago. She had sat with the impatience of a child, as the woman told story after story of how her father had traveled to a far away place called Stornaway castle to meet with a powerful king named Clayborne. The woman told her how the man had come to a tragic end to his life and how his spirit still haunted the castle, guarding some dark secret.

To be continued...

January 21, 2006

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