Priestess of the Sunbird
I glanced around at the rows of shops, merely a handful out of the many that lined the seemingly endless streets of Bash Kalla and sighed quietly. I was lost. Again.
It had become a depressingly frequent occurrence over the past…well… however long it had been since I started wandering. On the day I gathered up everything I could carry and left the fishing village I’d grown up in I really had no idea how big Aldinia was, or how long it would take me to cross it on foot. I was just certain that my dream of the Sunbird was the final clarification I needed. I was determined to make my lifelong yearning to serve the Sunbird into more than just an aspiration. It was going to be a reality.
To that end I had sought out Bash Kalla. Somewhere amidst these winding roads was a…no The temple to the Light. A’isha Sacmis, High Priestess of the Sunbird, walked its halls. She was the one person who could make my hopes a reality or crush them like a captured butterfly.
It was late evening here, and most of the shops around me were closed for the night. Only one other shared the street with me… a tiny figure, childlike in stature but not in seeming. Perhaps he was a gnome? I had never met one before, so I wasn’t quite certain.
Well, if there was one thing that I had learned on my journey it was that most people were, at the very least, willing to offer a young lady directions in exchange for a warm smile or a tall tale.
“Hello sir, could I perhaps ask you…” I began.
“Tadinanefer.” He interrupted.
“Tadinanefer,” he repeated. “It’s my name.”
“Oh.” I took that information in then tried to start over. “Hello Tadinanefer could I perhaps ask you…”
“No.” He interrupted again.
“May I ask why not?”
“I’m not here to indulge your prurient curiosity or hand out my life story to strangers. I’m just here to drum up business for the shop.” He pointed up at a sign marked with the artificer’s symbol. “Buy something, then we’ll talk.”
“But I just wanted to ask…”
“If you really want to ask then you’ll buy something.” He pointed at the shop once again.
I sighed a second time, more than a bit frustrated with this conversation and glanced along the street hoping for someone other than a surly gnome to ask directions of. There was no one in sight, so I wandered into the store. In my hunt for something to buy I admired wonders I simply could not afford. A jeweled bird caught my eye. It opened its beak and sang so beautifully that I held my breath until it finished, flapped its wings and settled into somnolence. In the end I bought a packet of tea. The gnome glared at me as I pulled the pittance it cost out of my nearly flat coin pouch and handed it over.
“May I ask my question now?” I asked.
“Fine,” He snarled.
“I would like to know how to get from here to the temple of the Light.” I told him.
“I’m a pilgrim hoping to meet Lady A’isha Sacmis, and I would very much like to know how to get from here to the Temple.”
“You aren’t going to ask about my height, my weight, my parentage, where I’m from or how I got here?” He seemed shocked, and maybe a bit chagrined.
“Well, I would certainly love to hear about the continent…I have never been there. I would also love to hear about the journey as it is said to be quite arduous. But, Umm… the rest of those questions seems rather rude. Anyway, if you charge for each question I can only afford one answer. Any others will have to wait upon the day that I can afford that beautiful musical bird.”
“Hmp. You followers of the Sunbird and your fascination with feathered things.” He groused.
“We are what we are, my fine gnomish friend, and I love most all things feathered.” I replied.
“Hmph.” He grunted again, and then gave me the directions I needed. As I walked I made a mental note of his store’s location. While I remained in Bash Kalla I would make a concerted effort to befriend him. He surely had more than a few interesting tales with which we could while away an evening, and perhaps, someday, I really would buy that bird.