3- A Common Course
Morden Rasp groaned as he gently lowered Calliav Giniuar from over his shoulders to soft grass under a tent, his arm and back muscles quivering under the strain.
It had been over a day traveling through the deserts, Karanas, and Qeynos Hills to bring Calliav and Nedaria Debeian to their next camp in Nedaria's Landing. For much of the distance, Morden and Tondal Di'Xevar shared the burden of carrying the comatose mage by making a hammock from bear hides. The bear-hide tore in the West Karanas and rather than wait to repair it, Morden wanted to press on. Much work had to be done, he told them.
Nedaria walked along side them with her hand resting on Calliav's shoulder. For many days, she tried to reach Calliav who was lost in his own mind. Several times, for a few fleeting moments, she felt a glimmer of Calliav's consciousness and kept losing him. She believed that if they took Calliav to the place where the boat was to be built, he might wake. The boat was his idea after all. Nedaria didn't hold too much hope, though, but thought it couldn't hurt to try it.
With Calliav restlessly continuing his sleep under the tent, Nedaria sat next to him and shook her head dejectedly.
"I'm going to give it another try while I have the energy," Nedaria said, her eyes dull with the hopelessness of the task. "Don't go far. With you here, it may help draw him out."
"What? Ye want me to whisper in 'is ear? Tell me what ye're wantin' me to do," Morden grinned, trying to lighten the grave mood.
"Both of you...sit down near me and hold his hands, one on either side," she said.
Tondal kneeled to the ground, his armor lightly ringing as plates shifted. He looked indifferent about the whole affair. Morden looked at him, his left eyebrow raised to reveal an inquiring steely eye. Tondal felt Morden's curiosity boring into him.
"Everything will be okay. I know it will. He will come back to us," Tondal said.
"Ye know, I get a wee bit skeptical of ye're comfort with all these strange events we've been privy too, eh? Aren't ye a dark elf? Shouldn't ye be all death and misery?" Morden nudged Tondal with his elbow.
Tondal sighed and smiled at Morden.
"I'm as different to the dark elves as you are to the Rogues of the White Rose, Morden," Tondal said.
Morden's expression went dark for a moment at the remark before he turned to Nedaria.
"Let's get on with it then," he said.
Nedaria closed her eyes and rocked back and forth slightly, whispering words that neither Morden nor Tondal could understand.
With a scarred and rough hand, Morden squeezed Calliav's wrist. In an instant, Calliav's eyes opened, looking wild and frightened. He looked to see the three leaders of the Wayfarers Brotherhood looking down at him.
"Have I been gone long? I'm so glad you're safe. I could hear the explosion..." Calliav coughed uncontrollably, his throat dry and unaccustomed to use. Tondal opened a flask of water and tilted it to Calliav's lips. Calliav sipped some water, sat up, and looked around him in disbelief.
"Oh my. You're building it. Why you have faith in me is beyond my comprehension...as are many things it seems. I have been less than stable and reliable since we've met," Calliav said.
"Aye, true, but ye've never been wrong, friend," Morden reassured.
"You must continue to build this ship that will be as grand as any city on Norrath. Do not underestimate the scale," Calliav urged Morden, his face lengthening. "It was me that caused that explosion in the tunnel. I'm so glad you're alright...but, I did learn that these stones and materials we find with magical properties are very powerful when gathered in quantities. Above all, I found they pull my mind in one direction...west. We must find the Grozmok Stone. It is pivotal to this journey and this magical ore somehow. Have you found..."
Calliav's eyelids began to flutter and his chin dropped to his chest. Nedaria, having been listening to Calliav, let her mind's grip on Calliav slide. Before she should enter his mind to hold him awake, he was gone again.
Nedaria's face wrinkled with frustration, first at Calliav and then she shot an icy look to Morden.
"We need to talk, now! Let's move from him. I do not want him to hear this," she said strictly.
Morden looked at Tondal with surprise. Tondal, always wise and keeping out of tiffs between Morden and Nedaria, just shrugged back. All three moved beyond earshot of Calliav at the water's edge where the sea tickled the shore.
"I know exactly what Calliav is talking about Morden," Nedaria said with detectable frost.
"What exactly do ye mean?" Morden said cheekily, trying to bring a smile to Nedaria's face.
"Stop it. This is no time for jokes," Nedaria scolded him. "That feeling Calliav had of having his mind pulled in a direction..."
"What of it, Nedaria. Spit it out, hm?" Morden said.
"I had that very same feeling myself once," she continued. "It happened when I was in the presence of the Grozmok Stone."