After the fight with the Kobolds and meeting the two children and Edgrin, Zandu knew he needed to take a break for a little while. His stomach grumbled reminding him that he had been about to eat when they heard Kimi scream. He retraced his steps to the bed chamber and retrieved his backpack. Returning to the mess hall he righted a bench and sat at a table. He was weary. He thought it must be after dark for sure. A depressing silence had fallen on the living making them all too aware of the five dead kobolds around them. Zandu picked out part of his rations and looked around the room. Gloomy faces from Kimi and Mikra looked expectantly from adult to adult. Kimi was stoic and putting on her best face for Mikra but Zandu could see her sorrow and uncertainty. Kieyanna looked like a fortress in her new armor and he didn’t know how she could move in all that metal. But she looked good and comfortable. Much more comfortable than he felt. Dhohar looked about like he felt. The druid must not be comfortable underground and encased in all this stone. The air was stale and hot. It made breathing more difficult than it should’ve been. He locked eyes with each of his companions in turn and offered them a seat at his table. He laid out the rest of his ration to share. He began to speak.
Life is complicated. It sure has a way of sending the unexpected at you at just the right time. I have not been completely honest with you about my background. I am not originally from Varisia. I did live there but before that I came from an island off the coast called Hermea. I had a privileged childhood. I was afforded the best education, the best training, and the choice of whatever I wanted to study (as long as I was deemed worthy by the Council of Enlightenment). While still young I trained in multiple fields to identify my aptitude. I was trained in martial arts, music, history, magic, and some others. Magic was everywhere in Promise. Under the close watch of Mengkare our town flourished. The benevolent dragon was a shelter from the terrors of the world. Our isolation gave us the time to focus on honing our skills and reaching our potential. If you failed to reach that potential, you were quietly removed from the island. So everyone performed to their best. We want to be our best. In my studies I learned the basics of spell casting. I love reliable methods with which they can be studied and reproduced. It is an ancient art that goes back ten thousand years to when mages first tamed the wild magic. I did prove gifted in the magic arts. It was one of the reasons I was allowed to become an agent of Hermea. But in my quest for perfection I found the meditative arts at the Temple of Mengkare to be much more in line with what I believe. I joined their ranks and studied with them for four years after finishing my childhood schooling. I continued to use some of my magic but it was no longer the focus of my attention. When I was chosen to begin training as an agent it did not fit into my cover very well. My mother was orriginally from Varisia and I had the blood as well as her stories and cultural knowledge. I studied long and hard with her to know the ways of the people and their practices. I also spent much time in the libraries in Promise learning all I could about the world I would soon enter. At that time the Council believed it was better if I did not use my magic except to communicate with them. They gave me a token to boost the power of the spell and allow me to communicate anywhere in the world, as long as I can see the moon. I use it very rarely these days. I fear I have little to report as of yet. But such is the way when seeking perfection. I have found that it is a sore few good adventurers who wish to leave this world of wonder…and I will attest that I share their reasons. I must now do what is best for our party in this dark time. I cannot afford to ignore part of me that might give us an edge in this battle. There is far too much on the line. If you will give me but a quarter of an hour, friends, I will refresh my mind as to the spells we may need.
The others shocked at the revelation of his homeland which they had never heard was not all-together unexpected. They had each had a feeling that perhaps Zandu was not telling the whole truth. But his actions spoke louder than his omissions and if he had been hiding a bit of who he was, they now understood. But what more could this near-elitist man be hiding from them? Respecting his wish to review his spells the others withdrew to another table and fed the children and Edgrin. They had not seen palatable food since being captured. The raw rat meat fed to them by the Kobolds tasted like cardboard and made their stomachs turn inside-out on occasion. The availability of common hard tack trail rations was like seeing a fresh stew with all the vegetables and chicken you could imagine. They ate through one whole ration without talking. This gave Kieyanna and Dhohar the time to move off down the hallway for a private discussion about Zandu’s story.
Zandu withdrew his old beaten spell book that he had rebound with wood covers to protect it against the perils of the road. Opening it he sat at the table in the mess hall and studied the glyphs and arcane words while the others ate. He still prepared spells occasionally, usually about once a week. Just to keep his mind sharp. He hadn’t cast a spell in months. But this dungeon of evil certainly seemed like the place to start. He didn’t consider himself a crusader for good but children did not deserve to be ripped from their families and die tortuously at the hands of others. It felt good to feel the surge of power grow over his body. He felt stronger with it. More ready to face the world. When he was finished studying he looked down at the end of the table where a part of his dinner ration lay. With his mind he reached out to the bread and willed it to him. With a gesture of clenching a fist and the utterance of a word in Draconic the bread lifted from the table and flew to his hand. He reached out his clenched hand and took the bread. With a big satisfied bite he ate the rest of the bread and felt on top of the world. Knowledge would win this day.