Quest is the story of Noane, a sixteen year old girl who is forced to seek a new life beyond the farm.
Quest at Waldo Works
In their quest to find their destinies, five extraordinary travelers come together in a great and dangerous adventure.
Noane is a young woman forced to leave home. Thane is the young man who meets and falls in love with her. Arruzis, a cat-like creature - the last Kulgarr - seeks his lost colony. Nehe-my'an the Swift is the Shyme guide who leads them through the terrible Walking Mountains. And Winsome is the Hunter Crane, the sole guardian of the fallen king's treasure.
Noane is held captive to become the wife of a double crossing trader named Lorrm Chu. Arruzis is captured to become the main attraction in a traveling menagerie! Thane is nearly crushed in mountains that walk! These five must brave crushing mountains, treacherous trails, packs of wild Gorgas, a crooked politician with his eye on the throne, a crafty trader with his eye on a certain young woman, deadly sea monsters and a sea so impassable that the crossing of it is only legend.
Tragedy brings them together but fate tears them apart. Parted on the Perishing Sea, will they ever see each other again?
QUEST - a story of five beings who risk everything for hope and a place to call home.
The wind knocked out of him, Arruzis lay on the damp grass, too stunned for a moment to get up. Scrambling to his feet, dusting the twigs from his black cloth vest, he readied his weapon, ready to teach whatever had upended his dignity a lesson. Snarling he turned -
- to see that it was no jumping doe, but a frail human girl.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I-" She had begun to say as she swiftly stood, but when her eyes caught sight of him, she closed her mouth and stepped back. Gulping thickly at the fang-tips glistening beneath the folds of his upper lips, her mouth opened to speak but no words came.
Arruzis could see the pupils of her eyes widen at the sharp tip of his arrow pointed toward her mid-section. He soon realized she was, though human, unarmed. At her obvious frailty and fearful countenance, he lowered his weapon.
The girl gulped, staring at him with very wide eyes. She stared rudely from the top of his head to the tips of his partly extended curved, claws.
To his startled, and offended, good breeding, she suddenly blurted - "How odd you look!"
Arruzis said, his silken voice low and dangerous. "I believe you were about to apologize." His own voice sounded strange to him. Years had come and gone since he had spoken aloud.
"I was, I-" The girl stammered and took one step back. She then actually turned to leave, which affronted Arruzis's good manners no end. Probably typical of a human, though, he thought. She looked like a human. Smaller than the ones he remembered seeing when they would trail through the hills hunting deer with their long bows and many arrows.
"Girl, it is rude to knock someone down and then not apologize." He counseled, dusting the stubborn soil from his knees.
Turning back, she stammered. "I am sorry, but I've never spoken to an anima - s-someone like you before." She stepped closer again, searching his face and examining his clothes and form. "In fact, I've never even seen anyone like you before." She was now more curious than afraid.
Irritated, "Well, now you have."
"Yes." She answered.
Arruzis waited but it seemed no proper apology was forthcoming. What else could I expect? He thought. Her clothing was dusty and disheveled, the striped blue and black of her long dress faded. Her black hair was braided into hundreds of tiny ropes that hung down her back and fell over her wide eyes. Her dark features, though marred by dust and perspiration, were small and delicate. She had a small scar above her nose. He recalled his old father's descriptions of the human creatures. This one was probably a
common example of the female of the species.
Arruzis stepped back and began gathering his camping things which were nothing more than a small pot made from a hide, a wool blanket and his crossbow, besides his carving knife used for gutting fish or stripping meat from bones. Stuffing the items into his leather satchel, he ignored her, intent on leaving immediately.
But instead of wisely going away, she walked closer, actually stepping right up to him, forcing him to step back. She seemed completely calm now and Arruzis was somewhat alarmed by it.
He outweighed her by two hundred pounds if an ounce, and could easily tear her to bits with one paw tied behind him, but she obviously had not considered it a risk and stuck her hand out.
Arruzis looked down at the tiny appendage incredulously. Had she never heard of the Kulgarr? The human girl must be a simpleton. Is she not afraid of me? But then, he thought, she would never have had cause to ever meet one, as he was the last of a dead race.
The girl stayed very still, with her human paw extended, waiting.
Brave girl, Arruzis thought but he made no move to take her hand. He had never touched a human before and had no intention of doing so now. He himself had seen humans but only from a far distance. To him, they were weak, odd smelling and thoroughly disagreeable creatures. What he had learned of their behavior from his father, though, far outweighed their physical faults.
This female human, however, was not quite as he had been taught. She seemed unworried. She smelled, Arruzis discreetly sniffed the air, wild but it was not an unpleasant odor. And she seemed startlingly bold for one so small.
She also possessed the most expressive black eyes he had ever seen, framed by lashes almost as long as a Kulgarrin maiden. "I excuse you for interrupting my morning." He said stiffly. "You may go now."
To his astonishment, she moved not an inch in the other direction but continued to reach her hand to him.
Finally she spoke again, "I am offering my apology and attempting to introduce myself." Her courage was, Arruzis thought, satisfactory. Despite himself and his fathers’ better judgment, he was intrigued.
"I see." He hesitated for a few seconds and then stepped forward. Taking her hand, he shook it just once, touching this human girl as little as possible.
"My name is Noane."
"N-o-o-w-n." He repeated her odd name.
"And you are-?"
"If you must know. I am Arruzis." Receiving no further comment from the girl, Arruzis was satisfied that their odd meeting was adjourned. He slung his pack over his shoulder and started walking away.
"Oh!" She said, and for a moment he wondered if his going, for some reason, scared her anew. Her expression was bewildered and her blue dress ragged at the skirt as though torn by the talons of a beast.
She had been, he surmised, traveling alone, but from where? He had passed at a distance two or three farms in the last several days but they were twenty miles behind him now.
"Where are you going, girl?" He immediately regretted the question. What did it matter? He thought. Here was where they met and here was where they would part ways. Sensing her reluctance to answer, he said again, "Are you in some kind of trouble?" His better sense scolded him for asking.
Receiving no answer, he wondered if the girl wasn't quite clear in the head and again turned to continue his journey.
"I've been very foolish!" She blurted, and then more softly, "I've lost my things. Gorgas got them."
Arruzis looked at her with renewed interest. "I see." He answered. "I suppose we've all run from something, at one time or another." He knew she wanted his help of course, but he wanted no company nor any desire to aid a foolish, wandering human.
"I wasn't running away. I was traveling."
"Oh?" He said, not really believing her. "I'm going," he offered, "Up North to a place called Landsend." He elaborated as though to a simpleton, "It's a town."
She nodded. He wasn't certain if that meant she wanted to come or if she was just agreeing with him. Arruzis decided it was time to cut their acquaintanceship short. "I can't help you, girl. You got yourself out here, and you can get yourself home." He continued walking away from her, only to look back to see that she was following at a cautious distance.
"Please." She said. "I need to get home - to the Blade - to Sandstone. I have no food, no tent. The Gorgas killed Mummy. I just escaped with my life."
"Obviously." Arruzis said. "What's that to me?" He walked away, faster this time. After a few minutes, he couldn't help but look back. He saw what he expected to see, the human girl still behind him. He stopped and spun around. "Stop following me!"
She stopped as well. "I just need a little help. Is there a town-?"
Arruzis dropped his sack on the ground and strode over to her. "Do you know what I am, human girl?"
She did step back a little then. "Well, I suppose you’re a cat of some sort."
"Wha-? I am a Kulgarr! Not a cat, not a cat! We are deadly, ancient hunters. We live two hundred years. How long do you expect to live?" He asked her, and when she didn't answer, "How long?"
"Eight...eighty years I guess."
"Well listen, girl. That's about eighty years longer than you'll be alive if you try to follow me again. So, compared to you, that would make me practically immortal!"
Incredibly, Arruzis saw a fire ignite behind her eyes. "Practically?"
It was time to put an end to this, Arruzis decided and stepped forward again, really close this time, so she had to step back and back while he kept his nose almost right to hers. "Understand me well. I am a Kulgarr. I hate humans. I travel alone. I want nothing more to do with you. If you value your neck, you will walk the other direction."