Katra tilted her head to one side, parsing the phrase in her mind. She was sure he was asking her place of origin, but the words seemed … lacking something.
“C-C-Cyre,” she answered, shivering as a gust of damp, chill air blew through the camp.
“See-rie, huh?” he said it slowly as if it were a foreign word he had not pronounced before. “Never heard of it,” the little man said as he turned back to the fire, scattering the coals as they danced into low flames in the breeze.
“It … it’s the Jewel of Khorvaire,” she began.
“Look, lady,” he said, “I can’t understand a word of that.”
Katra stared at the man.
How could she explain to this ignorant little nub of a, a – human. She felt her ire rise, and the tattoo to Tymora she got several years ago flared to life. She yelped as she felt a jolt of not-quite pain radiate from the base of her spine, down her legs, and up to her skull.
Gratitude, young lady, the husky voice of Tymora said, this young man is here to help.
“N-nice to m-meet you, too, um, Sam,” she said, looking at his hand then back up to his face, clutching the blanket closer around her.
“Clothes, yeah,” the young man said and turned to rummage through a knapsack at his right.
From the bottom of the pack, Sam produced a pair of well-patched worn leather trews and a threadbare homespun tunic.
“Sorry, only gots the one pair o’ boots,” he said with a shrug and handed her the clothing.
“Thank you,” she replied as one hand snaked out from beneath the blanket and snatched the shirt and trousers from him. She stared at him pointedly until he turned his back.
Katra relaxed a little after pulling on the clothes, she didn’t feel so … exposed.
“You can turn around now,” she said.
“So,” he looked at her through narrowed eyes, “where did you say you was from, again?”
“I’m not sure you’d believe me if I told you,” she began.
“Try me,” he said, suspicion clouding his gaze.
“OK,” Katra took a deep breath. “According to your goddess, um, Ty-more-rah?” she pronounced the name carefully, looking to Sam with a questioning look. At his nod, she continued, “I guess I’m what she called an ‘Astral Changeling’ and apparently her cleric. My world is called Eberron.”
The look on his face confused her a little. He didn’t look like he believed her, but he didn’t disbelieve her either.
“I can’t deny what you said’s true,” he said. “I know I checked every inch of this area, for a good fifty paces around before setting up this camp. Yet, here you are, appeared out of nowhere, weighing more than a normal elf should, with the strangest doggone accent I ever done heard. Alls I can do is take your word for it.”
“Half-elf,” Katra corrected.
Sam looked at her as if she were daft.
“Half-elf then. So, what’s your plan?”
“My plan?” Katra’s voice cracked. “I don’t have a plan. My plan is to survive and find a way home. I don’t know.” A tear left a track in the dirt on her face.
After a few breaths, she stood up and almost fell. Sam jumped up to grab her arm and steady her.
“You OK?” he asked.
“Just having a little problem with balance. I can’t find my center.”
“You said you was from where? Eber…something? Maybe the ground is different there?”
“Maybe.” She eyed him with sudden anxiety, “please don’t leave me out here alone!”
“Leave you? Where in blazes did that come from?”
“I can’t be a burden on you, how will I survive?”
“What are you talking about, lady?” exasperation coloring his voice.
“I … I,” she looked at him, eyes wide.
“Look, lady, I wouldn’t leave you out here alone by yourself. Hells, if I did that, I might’s well put a blade in your heart and kill you now. And if I’d wanted you dead, you’d’a never woke up.”
Katra couldn’t argue with that logic.
“I’ll slow you down.”
“I ain’t on no schedule.”
“I don’t know anything about the wilderness.”
“Neither did I when I started this little adventure of mine, but I learned, and so’s’ll you.”
“I don’t have a weapon.”
“Can you use a staff?”
“Of course,” she said, rolling her eyes before she could stop herself. “It’s the first weapon my Da taught me to use.”
“Good, you can show me in the morning,” he said, grinning. “I made a little lean-to over here, I think we can both fit.”
“Ain’t had one since I left Scornubel, been safe so far. Mostly I done prayed to Tymora for enough sleep to make it through the morrow. She’s been listening so far.” Sam gave her a wink and said, “and now that you’re here, sounds like she’ll listen even better.”
Katra looked at him, astonishment plain on her face. What did she know about praying for protection? That was always Ruebyn’s purview, and he was a stuck up little … “Ahh!” Katra jerked as that not-quite pain shot up her spine again.
You will learn.
Taking a deep breath, Katra stretched her back, holding onto the log on which she perched.
“Yes, just another, um … message from Our Lady of Luck.”
“Ah,” replied Sam with a smirk.