Away from the turmoil of the warehouse Alex had relaxed enough to get time going again. He braced himself for the gut wrenching effect of time twisting back on to its proper path and dipped his hand into the wash basin. Despite this simple precaution his face and knuckles whitened from the force of the ring. To his quiet adjusted ears even the calm of night sounded like thunder. What was left of his adrenaline slammed his body into overdrive as the sound of movement came from behind him. He lunged toward his pillow for dagger he kept hidden there. Alex grasped the hilt, turned and thrust the knife protectively in front of him, his back to the wall.

The female figure in the center of the room just continued to sob softly. He didn't know what to think. She looked twelve but held herself as if much older. Both human and elf features combined to make her softly beautiful. Green cracks ran down her metallic gold skin in a way that made her gold irises seem perfectly natural and grotesque at the same time. She seemed vulnerable, as if she needed protection from him not the other way around. He was so confused the challenge on his lips changed to an inquiring "hello?"

The last of her sobs dying away she looked up humbly "Would you mind... telling me where I am?"

"You are in my room at the Weeping Wyvern... In Waterhaven." He felt foolish still holding the dagger in front of him, but he couldn't bring himself to put it away even if his "opponent" was as vulnerable as she first appeared.

"Hm," was all she said and continued to look around the room.

He was flabbergasted. "Hm." Is this all she has to say for herself? "Normally by the time I've have someone in my room this long, I know their name if not where they're from."

The girl stopped looking at her surroundings to notice, as if for the first time, the person standing by the bed. "My name is M'leryne. Do you know why I was sent here? Oh, wait. That must be it. Father must have sent me straight to my destination. But how would he know? If he did, that would mean. Do you have a magical sack?"

Despite being bombarded by this stream of thought, Alex was emidiately back on guard after that last statement. He had won the magic bag with a pair of diamonds in a game of karanok. Salain was a bad looser and had not want to part with the item. It seemed unlikely this girl would be mixed up with an ugly second-rate magician like Salain, but any mention of the sack set Alex on edge. "I've been patient enough with you; tell me who you are and why you are here." He brought the dagger in his hand back up to full readiness and checked the window and door for possible escape routes.

M'leryne was taken aback by this. She had never had anyone directly confront her before. She walked over to the desk and sat down meekly. "My name is M'leryne. I am from Mistendale. I left home on a journey to find Stormhand's magical sack." Her lower lip quivered a bit as she stared at the floor.

Alex once again found his hold on the dagger loosen. And once again, he didn't know what to make of this girl in front of him. "Who's Stormhand and what do you mean you're from Mistendale? Mistendale is the home of the dragons. You can't live there if you’re not a dragon."

"Stormhand was my father. He died when I was only a child. King Shalinmorlass rescued me and raised me as his own. After a few decades, the loneliness of living with no others like myself made me start this journey. I decided to set off to find the sack that I think holds the belongings of my mother whom I never had the chance to meet."

She told the story with such passion; he was almost in tears. He put the dagger back under the pillow and sat on the corner of the bed closest to her. (It seemed right she should have) "After a story that well told, you deserve this." He undid the straps holding his belt pouch on and handed it to her. "I hope it is the one you are looking for."

Her hands reverently clasped the small black pouch. In her hands, the pouch elongated from square to oval. Black lightened to a deep shade of indigo. The mouth of the small bag opened to let two small lockets spill out. On the verge of tears, M'leryne opened the first locket and let out a cry of recognition. "This is my father." She clutched the heirloom tightly in her palm and quickly opened the second locket. A drop of salty water hit the picture of her mother as new tears filled her eyes.

Alex felt his presence was an intrusion and looked away. A bird roused from its slumber outside Alex's window warned him of danger. He jumped up to see Kraus flying toward the open second story window.

"Alex. You WILL give me the ring." A multi colored spray of light shot from a wand in Kraus' hand and slammed into the outside wall of the tiny room. The entire wall fell into the street below but the inhabitants of the room were unaffected. "What do I have to do to kill you? I don't know how you managed to protect yourself this long, but you will not hold out against me for ever." Another prismatic blast shot forth, and the room was unaffected as it encountered an invisible barrier where the wall had been.

Alex turned to run for the door but slammed into a large brown robed man instead. "Brother John. What are you doing here?"

Beads of sweat glistened, a testament to the intense concentration that creased his face. "I am trying to... hold up... a shield. We must get out.... Now!"

Kraus' next spell shook the lamp from the table and made M'leryne drop the picture of her mother. Sheer rage distorted her face. "I will not be disturbed right now." She slowly and deliberately stood from her chair. Light poured from her body into a swirling mass in front of her. The light was so intense that night was turned into day for miles around. A push of her hands sent the energy crashing through the cleric's force field and on to the cause of her disturbance. The wizard's protective spells gave a pitiful flicker and winked out leaving him unprotected for the rest of M'leryne's fury made solid. Kraus' limp and blackened body fell from the sky to land on the rubble he had created earlier. The tremendous energy M'leryne had expended on destroying Kraus left her weakened and she colllapsed to the floor.

To be continued