New Beginnings

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Nethrali has no idea what her life was like prior to living on the streets. Her earliest memory is of running through the dirty streets of an unknown city trying to escape the guards. She’d been standing near a fruit vendor counting some coins she’d managed to find on the dirty roads to see if she had enough to get anything to eat.

Someone had stolen a purse off of another person in the crowd and they’d immediately blamed her since she was a dirty little tiefling and the only one in sight that looked suspect. At first she’d tried to protest and then the fear had won over and she’d just fled. She’d almost made it away when she turned to see if the guards were still chasing her and missed the bard that had walked into her path.

She’d run right into them and fallen over in a heap. Nethrali had assumed she was about to be beaten and arrested or worse, but the pretty man had picked her up and held her close while the guards ran up to him. He’d whispered asking her name before they’d reached them and she’d timidly responded.

When the guards got to where he was he’d brushed some of her hair out of her face and smiled at her serenely. “What sort of trouble did you get into today little Neth? And how are you so dirty when I just sent you off ten minutes ago?”

One of the guards had reached for her but the man had stepped back and glared at the guard. “Do not touch my ward!”

“Master Bard she is wanted for the theft of a purse! This is a serious crime.”

At that he had faced Nethrali and looked at her sternly. “Did you take something that wasn’t yours Nethrali?”

She shook her head and hid her face in the man’s neck trembling in fear and hoping that he was one of the few people that would be kind to her. He’d very gently set her down but he’d stayed on her level and brushed her hair back again. “Empty your pockets for me Neth, please?”

She’d started crying because she’d thought he didn’t believe her. She was trembling but she’d done as asked. All she’d had in her pockets were the three pennies she’d had for the fruit vendor and an old rusty spoon she’d found in the trash.

Both of the guards had looked stunned but one of them had hit the other upside the head and shouted. “You idiot you said you saw the child take it! Was it just convenient to blame whoever was close by or was it that she’s a teifling?”

At that Nethrali had jumped and moved back towards the Elf with the gentle voice. He’d wrapped her in a fierce hug and she’d cried until she couldn’t cry anymore. He’d simply hummed to her and rubbed her hair carefully, ignoring how dirty she was. When she’d cried herself out the guard that had been shouting just moments ago cleared his throat and Nethrali looked up at him with fear in her eyes. She’d grabbed at the Elf’s fine shirt and said in a small terrified voice, “Please don’t take me away. I was just trying to get fruit but I didn’t know if I had enough for an apple. I don’t know all my numbers yet.”

He looked at her for a moment and smiled sadly. “The apples are one silver piece little one. Your pennies wouldn’t have been enough but if you’re careful and keep your money tucked in your pocket when you ask the vendor their price they won’t cheat you.”

The elf that was holding her held her a little closer and sighed. “I’ll make sure she doesn’t leave my side the rest of the time we’re in the city, sir. She’ll leave with me in a month.”

The guard nodded. “Of course Master Bard. There is a tailor three doors from the inn that will replace her clothing for you. My wife uses them to get clothing for our two sons. They go through clothes as if they were water.”

The men had shared a laugh and the guard had turned to her. “I am sorry we scared you little one. Please forgive us. If you have need of a guard in the city you may go to any of the men and ask them to find Captain Stark for you.”

At that he’d handed her a big coin on a chain. “If they give you any trouble you show them this and they’ll know you speak the truth. You’ll be safe here from today on, and any time you pass through you’re welcome to visit me.”

She’d looked up at the elf man and then turned back to the guard and thrown herself at him in a fierce hug. “Thank you.”

The guard had caught her easily and patted her on the back for a few moments. Then he’d gently handed her back to the elf and taken his leave.

The Elf had smiled down at her and started walking. “So, now that we’ve made the story, would you like to travel with me until we find you somewhere safer?”

Nethrali simply nodded.

Bun
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