The brownhaired man seems to be in his mid thirties and is a
bit small and roundish in stature, but on his face you always see a friendly,
though a bit shy grin. Remarkable are his a bit too large nose and the little
dimple his right cheeck shows when he's smiling. The man wears leader sandals
and a baggy shirt as well as pants of the heavy and sturdy type of cloth with
the legs ending just below the knees.
Artimidor "Nice to
meet you, Mannef. I'm Artimidor. I'm coming from Marcogg, sent by the Count to
deliver a message to a merchant here."
A roundish, friendly Man "Nice to meet you as well, Artimidor. You're probably searching for Tendrim, right? Because we don't have really many businessmen around here..." Mannef laughs heartily. "Tendrim is usually at the tavern up north, unless he's talking with the Mitharim dwarves at their caves. Well, just ask again at the tavern if you can't find him."
Artimidor "What are you doing?"
Mannef Derkhan "Oh, just this and that. Always busy with a lot of things at the same time. I'm farmer, fisherman, the village's carpenter if you want, and of course father. So it never gets boring, I assure you. Right now I'm working on some furniture made out of baych trees."
Artimidor "Can you give me a few directions perhaps? Where to find an inn or a place to buy equipment perhaps?"
Mannef Derkhan "Ah yes, sure, Artimidor. Though Nepris isn't really a large village you know, and you'll find what you seek pretty easy:
If you follow the main road you'll see that it continues north for quite a bit. Follow it straight till the next crossing, and you'll see the 'Saltwillow Tavern' right in front of your face.
To the west of this crossing you'll see the 'Pines Hostel', a nice place to stay if you want - quite a celebtity resides there as well at the moment, by the way.
And if you continue this western road, you'll get to Akhim's house, that's our provisioner. He should have most things you'll probably need. At least he has most things we need." Mannef grins.
"Well, and if you continue on the main road, following the eastern bend, and then go north, there's Hungurt, our smith, in case you need a weapon or two.
Much farther north you'll come across the dwarves of the Mithral, should you have business with them. However, not every stranger is accepted in their caves."
Artimidor "What kind of celebrity currently resides at the inn?"
Mannef Derkhan "Uhmm... Don't know his name exactly. It's hard to pronounce. He's some sort of sage. Well, maybe not precisely a sage." Mannef looks doubtfully. "What do I know about sages anyway? But he's some sort of historian, white beard and all. He wrote a book about the kingdom, I guess, and is researching for another one here. I've heard he will visit each house here in Nepris and talk to the locals about this and that to learn some more details about various things which happened here. - So far he hasn't been at our farm. My dear, I can't even imagine seeing Andrus talking to this famous man with his manners..."
Artimidor "Who's Andrus?"
Mannef Derkhan "Oh, that's my wife's father, my father in law so to speak. He's... well... grumpy all the time as you might find out yourself. But he's grumpy to everyone, even to Ilbeth. He mainly chases away everyone who wishes to have a talk with him, so our historian won't have any luck neither, I'm sure."
Mannef steps closer and whispers in your ear: "And he drinks way too much, I tell you, Artimidor! He won't make any good impression on such a wise man, I fear..."
Artimidor "Any news perhaps I should know of?"
Mannef Derkhan "News? Well, I assume you haven't been around much here. As there seem to happen some weird things in Nepris lately, and no pleasant ones...
People say that they've heard strange noises and saw mysterious figures crossing the swamps and hiding in the forests. But nobody can tell for sure.
And several days ago Wanya, the little daughter of Turkan, disappeared suddenly. A sad story this is indeed..."
Artimidor "Tell me more about Wanya's disappearance!"
Mannef Derkhan "There was a thunderstorm that day, maybe a fortnight ago now... The children say they all played at the meadow near the Baveras Shrine when the storm surprised them, and so they ran home as fast as they could when the rain started to come down. But Wanya never arrived at her father's house. Oh, it's really sad. First Turkan lost his wife, and now his daughter has disappeared and nobody can help him..."
Artimidor "How was the search for the lost girl?"
Mannef Derkhan "Oh, we searched everything double and trice during that night and the next days, but all to no avail. Some say they don't trust the gypsies, who arrived a few days later, but why would they show up here at all if they'd have taken the girl? Others say a beast must have killed her, but we found no hint for that neither. Or maybe it were these dark figures which some claim to have spotted lately? Could be however that people are just imagining these things now that this all has happened, but I don't know. - Anyway, Wanya hasn't returned anymore since that day. And there's little hope that she ever will."
Artimidor "This Wanya story sounds really tragic, indeed."
Mannef Derkhan Mannef nods. "Yes, it does. The town elders have discussed the issue several times already in the meantime, and we unceasingly have searched the whole first week. Now it looks as if Turkan needs to accept his loss."
Artimidor "Who are the town elders?"
Mannef Derkhan "The town elders govern our little village, if you want. Though they rarely need to make major decisions. They are usually the old fishermen who can no longer go out to sea. The town elders are accorded honor for surviving and judged to possess wisdom by experience. When there are any important decisions to make, the elders meet for consultation and then decide what to do.
At the moment we have four elders in Nepris: Candrall Maer, Calmann Narth, Lisu Isvikh, the innkeeper, and my father in law, Andrus Voltmer."
Artimidor "Do you know more about these strange figures you mentioned?"
Mannef Derkhan "Unfortunately not. I'm not living near the swamps or in the woods and also have no business there, so I haven't seen anything personally. On the other hand I'm not sure if what Hieronimus says that he has seen, is something others would see as well. You know what I mean..."
Artimidor "What makes you feel that this Hieronimus may not have seen anything?"
Mannef Derkhan "Uhmmm... He's strange, you know, very strange... He's a hermit living in the middle of the darkest forest, likes to talk to his rats and such. There's a good chance that he has gone completely nuts by now... But you need to meet him yourself maybe to get convinced..."
Artimidor "I've talked with Andrus. He mentioned a rats problem you're having in your basement..."
Mannef Derkhan Mannef hesitates a bit. "Uhmm... Yes... That's true. We actually do have a little rats problem in the cellar."
Artimidor "Anything I can help perhaps with your rats problem? Or do you intend to take care of it on your own. Mannef?"
Mannef Derkhan Mannef's face brightens up. "You would help, Artimidor? You know, I've been busy with various things lately, and - quite frankly - I'm not the guy with the best experience concerning rat exterminating and that kind. Not that I couldn't do it of course, but the circumstances, you know..."
Mannef ponders for a while.
"If you get rid of all rats down there, I'll give you some sans as compensation for your efforts, ok? And you get a club and a health potion in advance. - Is that a deal?"
Artimidor "Fine with me. Give me club and potion and I'll go down there."
Mannef Derkhan"Perfect then, Artimidor!" Mannefs pads you on the shoulder.
Then he disappears behind the house and comes back with a wooden club.
"I don't know if this is the proper weapon for rat killing, but you can use it, if you want." He hands you the club. "And here's something to refresh yourself, should the rats decide to strike back..." He laughs.
You take the health potion as well.
"Oh, and I nearly forgot...", Mannef finishes. "Here's the key to the basement, which you'll need. You can find the trapdoor in Pinn's room. - Good luck!"
You nod to Mannef, taking the key as well.
Mannef Derkhan "See you later, Artimidor!", Mannef says, then gets back to work.