Chapter 2

“Togi Din, travelers. I am Tharnos, the king of the Tuath of Klouta.”

“So, you would like to leave Klouta again. Garris, the fisherman, is an experienced sailor who could safely take you to Maini. But he, and therefore you, need my permission to do this. Now, naturally, I could grant you such approval, but there is a small matter you must handle for me. As strangers, you are better suited for it than someone from this area, since it requires great discretion. You would have to promise me to keep quiet about this conversation! ^ ^ This is what the situation is: we expect a king to have full mental and, especially, physical powers since otherwise he could bring misfortune to the Tuath. Now, my wife and I have been wanting children for a long time. We, and the weapon-bearing men, are becoming impatient. ^ ^ Therefore, I would like to get an amulet from the Druids in Arjano which could reinforce my virility. I’m sure that you understand that I do not want to entrust this order to one of my men, or go to Arjano myself. Go to Bero, the Druid, and ask him for a strengthening amulet. Bring it to me and I will grant your travels.”

Togi Din. We come to ask the Druid Bero for a special amulet.” “You want to see Bero, hmm? ^ ^ Please be patient. I will be back shortly.” “So, this is the Center of the Druids. Judging from the access going down, the rest of the center is underground. ^ ^ I was shocked when I saw the little hut.” “Ah, there is the man in the white gown again!” “Strangers, I have talked with our chief, Nemos. ^ ^ He is ready to meet with you.” {LEAD}{NAME}and {HIS } companions follow the Druid under the earth…

“Welcome, travelers, to Arjano – the 2000 year old school of the Druids.” “Togi Din, Nemos. Pardon me if I bore you with my curiosity, but does your history really go back 2000 years?” “Indeed, our records go back to the time when the Great Canto led us here from the Land of our Forefathers.” “May I ask where the Land of your Forefathers was and how the trip took place?” “When the Land of the Forefathers was destroyed by the Crusaders, Canto and Danu led the Chosen Ones through the Kingdom of the Mists here to Albion.” “Now, tell me what brings you here and why do you want to talk with Bero?” “We have been asked to get a specific amulet. We were told we should see Bero about it.” “I understand. Unfortunately, you can’t speak to Bero. I can’t even speak to him.” “Why, is he sick or did something happen to him?” “No. He is dead.” “Did he take a trip?” “Not at all. He is still in this building. ^ ^ I see I must start further back. As you already know, this building is very old. It was founded shortly after the arrival of the Chosen Ones. The Goddess, Danu, granted us a favor and allowed the building to be built on her land. ^ ^ Now, there are countless parts of the building – far more room than we need. A large part of it has been sealed off for almost 400 years. There was a disagreement with a group of Druids we call the Fire Worshippers, and who ultimately became the Kenget Kamulos. ^ ^ At the time, there was a bitter disagreement which ultimately led to the exodus of the rebels. Structures still maintain traces of the war and are filled with mechanisms and inhabited by demons. ^ ^ In spite of all our objections, Bero climbed down into this part of the building, called Drinno, so he could look for magic artifacts.” “And now you believe that we are the right persons to go looking for him?” “Right.” “Wouldn’t it be better to put together a well-armed search party of warriors from the region?” “You must know that Drinno, the Forbidden Part, has been taboo for centuries. No one goes down there. ^ ^ But, you seem unaffected by our taboos and I’ve also heard that the Iskai are fearless warriors.” {INK 001} Tom throws a glance around. {INK 002} ^ ^ “Our continued journey depends upon this amulet. What do you think? Should we undertake the job?” “Job? If you mean that we should have a look down there, I’m with you.” “I won’t retreat at the first sign of danger. I will stay with you, Tom.” “Well, I would dismiss all apparent dangers as superstition if I hadn’t already seen what strange things happen here. ^ ^ Don’t expect any heroic deeds from me, but I’ll go along.” “Well, I’m glad you’re willing to help. I can even provide some back up for you. We had a hard time keeping him from going down to Drinno. ^ ^ May I present Bero’s foster son, a young Druid by the name of Mellthas. He is deaf and dumb, but his spirit is as bright as the sun. He will accompany you.” {INK 001} Mellthas’ face shows a stressed smile, as he bows quickly and hastily writes something on a piece of paper:{INK 002} ^ ^ “I’m pleased! Let’s set off soon, I’m very concerned!” “Bero made provisions for himself before he climbed down. He is no fool. I think he will barricade himself somewhere if he is having difficulty. ^ ^ There is probably no reason to be hasty, but you don’t have too much time. ^ ^ The Arjano Druids will support you as much as they can. I wish you Lugh’s blessing in the rescue. Should you wish to speak to me, I will be in my room in the east part of this floor.” {INK 001} Mellthas writes and holds up a piece of paper:{INK 002} ^ ^ “Tell me when you are ready to climb down. I will lead you to the entrance. Please hurry.”

Mellthas indicates, through his gestures and notes, that this is the entrance to the forbidden part of Arjano. The door has already been opened.

The return proceeds without major problems. Bero is greeted with a warm welcome from some and sharp words from others. They enter the room of Nemo, the Head of the Druids. “Bero, I think I can save myself the reprimand. You know what you have risked.” “It was certainly a mistake to climb down to Drinno. However, I only regret having put Mellthas and his companions into danger because of my foolishness. ^ ^ I would like to thank all of my rescuers again.” “With which I would like to concur. Bero is quite often a pigheaded plague, but nonetheless I am happy to have him back with us in one piece.

Chapter 2

Albion Dasmatarix