I don’t remember much of the next few days. It all turned into a blur of riding horseback for the whole day and some possibly useless practice trying to activate guild cards any time I wasn’t riding… or sleeping. I did sleep, because I knew I needed to… but I never really felt tired. At least, my head wasn’t clear enough to process actually being tired- but once I put my head on a pillow I was immediately unconscious, even if I woke up early from worry.
I began to gradually notice fewer trees and less greenery in general. That meant I was getting close to Escait… and made me wonder why people would choose to live in a desert. The answer was, of course, that they didn’t. At least, not all of them. There would be fertile land, just less of it. What there was had to make up for the lack of that in some way. It could be the amount of open land- but land was not so desperately scarce that they would have needed to live in a desert just for that.
Most likely, it was for something valuable the area had. Maybe they mined for gems or something else to that effect. Actually… I wondered about that. Were there even mines in this world? I had assumed there were, but as far as I had seen most of the resources came from dungeons. On the other hand, that was from my perspective as an adventurer. There were still farms, mines weren’t out of the question… but they would be less necessary and only worthwhile for more valuable and scarce resources.
Then I came to the border. Although Escait was a desert, that didn’t mean it was just sand dunes and oases. In fact, there was no sand at all just yet. Perhaps that would change further into the country. I wasn’t sure. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to Escait anyway.
The border was pretty easy to recognize- there was a few towers and a few buildings behind a wall approximately ten feet high. On top of the closet tower I saw guards scanning the horizon, presumably for anyone trying to sneak by. They would be able to see for miles around, and while they couldn’t possibly cover everything they did seem to control the only source of water I’d seen for the past half a day.
I realized I didn’t know what to do, so I rode up to the gate. Nothing would physically stop me from riding around the fort- but that didn’t mean they wouldn’t shoot arrows or send riders after me. Not that I was planning to sneak by anyway. There was a short line at the gate- a few wagons that looked to be full of grain. It didn’t take them long to get through the gates, and then it was my turn.
There was a cloth overhang giving the guards at the gate shade- though it looked like it could be collapsed in case the archers on top of the wall needed to fire down below. I’m sure the guards appreciated it, because they were both wearing plate armor and that stuff was hot enough already without standing in the sun all day. One of them gestured as I rode up, “Identification, please.”
I handed over my guild card- double checking it to make sure it was mine and not one of the other two. I didn’t want to have to explain why I was carrying them. I activated it and the guard gave it a quick glance over before waving me through.
“Go into the first building on your left. They handle the adventurers there.”
Of course there was more to it than just looking at my card. This was a border after all. Still, I appreciated that they sorted people into different groups. The wagons with the grain were all pulled up in front of a different building to the right, while I tied up Cass outside the smaller building to the left.
A big burly man spoke as I entered the guild. “Welcome to the Othya-Escait border adventurer’s guild. Looking for a change in pace with different dungeons?”
“Well, I… not really. I came here looking for someone.”
The man looked me over. “Ah… are you perhaps Llyr? The guildmaster sent word someone of your description would be coming.” I appreciated the fact that he asked even though he clearly could tell who I was. There weren’t many five foot tall adventurers period… let alone ones that walked around in full armor. Except dwarves, but they were a different build entirely.
“Yes, that’s me.” I pulled out my card to show him, and he checked it over visually before verifying it with one of the same large devices the other guilds had for verifying cards.
“Very good. You’ve been pre-cleared for passage over the border if you wish.”
“Umm… I don’t know if…”
The man pulled out a piece of paper, “I imagine this message will help you decide what you want to do. It’s from the guildmaster himself.” I took the letter and looked it over.
Your friend is likely already in Escait. You mentioned she did not know you were coming along for a visit, so it may take some Luck to find her. I know you are unfamiliar with the country, so look for my friend Kazik in the guild in Inassas. He knows many people, and speaks fluent Othyan. He should be able to help you get in touch with your friend. Don’t forget, your guild card is just as valid in Escait. It’s good to keep it on you at all times in case you get lost.”
It seemed like a simple letter to a friend, as if I were just going on a trip to see a friend instead of hunting down someone who was kidnapped. It didn’t really say much, but it did help me decide what I was going to do. Timmy knew more than he could say- but he told me what he could.
“Ah, I guess I’m going,” I nodded and told the burly man.
“Very well then. Though we have cleared you from our side, Escaits side will have to verify things. Standard contraband check, it shouldn’t be a problem. Keep your guild card handy, just in case Ainar over there wasn’t looking when I verified it.”
I nodded as the large man went to call over the other man who was working at another desk across the room. Besides the two of them there were only two guards standing by the door in the otherwise empty building. Apparently there weren’t too many adventurers who came through here.
I held my guild card in my hand… along with the two others I had stacked neatly. I had a plan in case I was caught with them, but it was better if they went unnoticed.
Ainar came over, and spoke to me with a slight accent, “We do need you to fill out a form with your reason for visit and expected duration of your stay. Dungeon delving, visiting with friends, that sort of thing.”
“Well, I’m mostly going for a friend, but I might try my hand at the dungeons there…”
“If you are actively adventuring through dungeon delving or completing specific quests, the guild will welcome your stay as long as you wish. There’s always use for more adventurers. However, if you are just touring the normal duration is about a month before you must apply for an extension.”
“Right.” I nodded. A month should be fine… and if it wasn’t, I could just spend some time in a dungeon to get an extension. Like it or not… after a month I would either have clues to Kantrilla’s location or… no, it was best not to think about the alternative.