7- A Shadow Speaks

Nedaria quietly reminisced about her youth. No one in Erudin had known she was different. As a young free-spirited erudite, she discovered she had an innate power to see into people's minds and overcome the boundaries of the present to glimpse into the future.

She remembered the first foreboding dream that came to her. One of the nobles of Erudin was planning to murder his own son who threatened to replace him and ascend to the city's council.

After rising from her sleep that night, she ran to her mother, Tilisea Nebeian, who was studying at the grand table in the library of their home. She tugged at her mother's robe and told her the nightmare she had.

Her mother first smiled with delight as she entertained the wild musings of her child. Then, as Nedaria continued, her mother's face twisted in fear. She quickly hushed Nedaria and ran into the storeroom, frantically throwing supplies into a satchel. Tilisea grabbed her daughter's arm tightly and dragged her quickly through the city and out into the darkness of the Toxxulia Forest. She crouched in front of Nedaria and handed the satchel to her. With tears glistening in her eyes, Tilisea held her daughter's face in her hands.

"Run now little one. You cannot stay here. The nobles will learn of your gift and rob you of all you hold dear -- your mind and talents. Talk to no one. Let your senses guide you. I will seek you out soon," Tilisea said in a single rush of breath.

Nedaria was terrified and confused, but turned from her mother and ran as far and as fast as she could. Her tears streaked her soft cheeks as she sobbed.

It had been many years since that night and she never heard from her mother again. Her heart withered knowing that her mother may have paid a dear price for saving her.

Nedaria's time within her memories ended abruptly as a sense of gloom passed over her -- a presence she was not familiar with was nearby. She looked up from the necklace she was crafting and saw nothing. She rose from her seat on a crate of blankets and turned her eyes to the east.

In the heat haze and geysers of steam, the shimmering outline of a humanoid figure moved closer. It was a shadow that moved without the need of an object to cast it.

Nedaria heard of shadowed creatures in Norrath that could move in the light of day. She also recalled that they were to be avoided.

The figure then crept backward behind the steam. Nedaria followed, believing that this creature of shadow would have already attacked had it wanted the blood of those in the camp.

Down the hill, under the gentle flapping wings of a fire drake, Nedaria waited alone. She sent out a soft voice from her mind, hoping it would reach the creature. In the Common tongue of Norrath, she repeated, "I am here to listen if you have something to say."

A gravelly voice whispered into her right ear. She remained motionless.

"We seek the same enemy. The servants of Solusek Ro need to be cast out. You know as well as I that this is the only path to true magical power. It is our place to rule the world. The pure and true magic of the Shadowed men is the only art," it said. "I can help you if you can help me. I can promise you power."

With her back to the Shadowed man, Nedaria listened as he told a tale of greed among the Solusek kobolds and a growing resentment of the resident lord, the mighty dragon, Nagafen.


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