"Gods messing up th' afterlife an' Ethernere. Dragons mucking wi' th' Ages End prophecy. Chaos everywhere -- adventurers thinking they can fix it all themselves wi' nae proper support network, an' th' crafters hae tae pick up th' pieces an' keep things stable ... again." The pint-sized redheaded halfling muttered and mumbled to herself as she lent a helping hand in Cardin Ward, making blankets, warding items, cookies and what-have-you to help things keep running as smoothly as possible up in Ethernere.
Niami didn't really feel put-upon, or underappreciated, she just needed a good grumble session now and then. She also had this feeling of impending doom for some odd reason, and her verbalization was a pointed reminder to her god, Bristlebane, that she had enough on her plate at the moment without anything more being added onto it.
She was mostly finished with helping out in Cardin Ward, and was looking forward to heading home for some comfort food when the Far Seas representative, Steve Echgar called her over to ask for a bit of help tracking down his boss. She heaved a sigh of relief that it wasn't a desperately urgent situation, and turned to make her way to Vesspyr.
She really should know better by now, when someone looks that eager to see her.
"WAIT! Before you go, I have a bit of a problem that maybe you could help with too. I can't leave my post here, but I'll be in big trouble if I don't take care of it. Could you help me? Please?"
Mum blew a strand of red hair out of her face as she looked up at him. "Och, tallstuff, what be th' problem?"
Steve wrung his hands as he responded. "I just need your help finding someone who's gone missing. I don't have a lot of coin, but I'll trade you this wonderful pack pony for your own. I know they look pretty similar, but mine's had Lian Augren's advanced training and can sniff out rare harvests."
She'd always wondered how to get her pony to sniff out rare resources, so naturally her ears perked up at this. "I suppose tha' sounds fair enow. Tell me more aboot this missing person!"
"Oh, bless you! The problem is that one of the island kids followed me through the teleport device when I wasn't looking, and got lost before I could get him back. His family will be frantic, and it's my fault for not noticing him. Please get him safely back to his family?"
Since she had been the one who helped establish the teleport device, that meant Mum started to feel a bit responsible as well. Add to that the fact that Ethernere was insanely dangerous for adults, much less a child, and she hurried to reassure him of her help. "Och, o' course I'll start asking aboot right away!"
Then her brain caught up to her.
"Oh dear sweet Bristlebane on a polka dot mule. PLEASE tell me he was nae wearin' a pink tunic. Please oh please tell me it was nae ..."
At his solemn nod, Mum fought, valiantly, with the urge to just sit down and cry, before she trudged towards the nearest guard.
Eventually, she found the little demo-, erm, darling, perched atop a rock wall, with lots of nasty critters wandering nearby.
Her tone was a mixture of concern and frustration as she greeted him. "Och, Qho, what are ye up tae THIS time, lad? It is dangerous here!"
His response, on the other hand, held zero fear, and a ton of excitement. "Hey! It's Niami, my most favorite friend! Isn't this place wonderful? Look at all the fruit bushes, and they smell so wonderful! I was trying to pick some but those scary things chased me up here. Can you help?"
Could it really be that easy to get him to go home?
Of course not.
"Aye, o' course I can help ye get back home!
The little brat actually giggled at her as he responded. "No, silly, can you help me pick the fruit? I'm not climbing back down till I get some of that fruit. I know those scary things with teeth won't chase YOU away."
(Blessed Bristlebane why me? What did I do tae deserve this?) Mum mentally counted to ten, then to one hundred. "I would nae be so sure, but if I get ye some fruit will ye get off this rock an' let me get you back home?"
"I'll climb down as soon as I get some of that fruit, it just smells so delicious! I can't leave without it!"
Heaving a heavy sigh (and giving the Horde that were wandering around a wide berth), Mum flew off the rock wall to scrounge from some nearby shrubs. Once she had enough, she flew up to where Qho was standing on the wall and dropped them in his hands with a slight huff. "There ye go, now will ye ..."
And off he scampered, fruits clutched in his greedy little hands. She really hoped he was headed for the safety of town.
"... wait! Meh. Och."
Cardin Ward looked much the same as it had before. Lots of busy defenders, an upset Steve Echgar ... and no Qho.
"Did you find the kid? I thought I just saw him heading to the south at a dead run."
Her fingernails tapping out a restless tattoo on the wooden rolling pin holstered at her hip, Mum grumbled up at him. "I be working on it! Ye, sir, owe me a ginormous debt o' gratitude!" And off she went, stalking to the southeast.
Of course he was balanced precariously on the wall surrounding the Tourbillion.
"Look, Mum, it's all glowy!"
How in Norrath this child had survived even to his current tender years was beyond her. Zero sense of self-preservation! Perhaps the rumors were true that Bristlebane had something to do with his birth, but even Bristlebane wasn't that cruel to the rest of the world. Usually. Maybe it was Cazic's fault? "Get back from there, Qho! It's nae safe. Ye said ye'd come back wi' me."
His excited voice wafted after him as he jumped off the retaining wall and into the center of the Tourbillion. "I just want to look around a bit more. What do you think is down there? "
"Och, nae again!" And with that, she followed him through the portal to the Eidolon Jungle.
Of course, he still wasn't suitably frightened. "Look! The trees have eyeballs! Have you ever seen a tree with eyeballs? The tree is looking at me!"
Her temper started to fray, as she snapped, "Sae is that hungry looking monster over there! Qho, it's nae safe! Tha' thing can kill you, an' me as well! Come o'er here right now, lad!"
Unconcerned, he pointed into the distance. "But there are more trees with eyes on that side! And look over there!"
Before she could make a grab for him, much less respond, he was gone ... again.
"I am getting tae auld frae this. Cannae e'en keep up wi' a pint-sized bit o' trouble. Grant ye, he does nae seem tae be troubled by th' mortality-thing, but, ouff!" Mum wheezed, panted and grumbled, but still she followed after him. There was no way she'd leave even him alone out here.
The little demon was pointing at the entrance to a nasty dungeon that gave Mum the heebie jeebies. "Look Mum! More eyes! Do the trees come from inside here?"
Ok, forget about counting to one hundred. Forget about being nice. This had to stop before they both ended up dead. With a bellow that would have impressed a mighty giant, she shouted at the top of her lungs. "NAE, QHO! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOOT GOING IN THERE!"
Of course, that was apparently the wrong tack to take. "Don't yell at me! You're no fun at all lately!" And off he went ... again.
Frazzled, frustrated, and alternately grumpy and frightened (for herself as well as for him), she finally managed to catch up with him at the edge of the Fearcreep.
He wouldn't meet her eyes as he sulked. "You yelled at me. Go away."
For Bristlebane's sake, did nobody ever teach this child any discipline or respect for his elders? "Ye deserved it! Stop being a brat, leave th' trees alone, and come wi' me right now."
"I can't stop looking at the trees, they won't stop looking at me." Ugh. No sense of self-preservation. At all. Not even a smidgen/
Good grief, now he wanted to have a staring contest with the trees?! What next? She had to figure out some way of luring him away before things went (more) wrong. "What if I get a tree tae take wi' us. Will ye leave this place then?"
Yep, still sulking. "You didn't have to yell at me."
Frazzled, she ran her hands through her now-disintegrated braid, making red and gray hairs stick out in every direction. "I'm sorry, lad, okay? This place scares the beejeebies out o' me!"
Nearby, she found a likely-looking smaller tree, and, with the help of her pony, managed to drag it back to Qho.
He seemed to be a bit mesmerized by the nearby trees, though. "I can't stop staring back."
She knew her voice sounded a bit desperate as she presented her woody offering. "Look, I brought ye a tree of yuir own, so ye can take it wi' ye. Now let's go home, please?"
He jumped back with a yell."Aaah! That's really scary up close! You keep it, I don't want it! I'm frightened!"
While it was good that he was finally frightened, it was bad that he ran off ... again.
When she finally found him in a stream, she just shook her head wordlessly. Of course he'd be in there treading water, just like he always did in his pond at home. He must have gills hiding somewhere along with his invisible demon horns.
"Isn't this a beautiful place, Mum? The water is so clear and cool, it reminds me of home. And look, fish!"
Oh yes, fish. She tried to control her tone with an effort. "An' I suppose ye expect me tae catch ye some?"
It was with some surprise that she listened to his reply. "No, I'm not. Look! I can catch them myself, they're so close. Isn't this wonderful, Niami? I'm actually out in the world harvesting for myself."
Maybe flattery would work. "Congratulations, Qho. Mayhaps ye're growing up at last, lad."
He chattered on excitedly, his earlier sulk forgotten. "Do you think so? Oh, I really hope so.This is all I really ever wanted, to have an adventure and harvest things for myself. I couldn't be any happier."
She could understand the happiness, and be glad for it, on one level, but she really wished his parents had been better on the discipline and taught him ways to achieve his goals in a safer manner. Especially in a manner that didn't involve one frazzled, grumpy redheaded halfling! ""An' does it nae make ye miss th' Isle of Mara, jus' a wee bit? Th' cool water, yuir parents' pond ... now yuir wish has come true, isn't it time tae go home?" (Pleaseplease, ohplease, Bristlebane. Yuir loyal priestess is at th' end o' her rope here).
"Maybe .... yes, maybe just a bit. I'm going to run ahead down this path to dry off, and then maybe you can help me get back home."
Once she recovered from nearly swooning in relief (or perhaps she'd just forgotten that she was holding her breath), she gave a heartfelt exclamation. "Praise tae all th' deities past an' present, an' most especially tae Bristlebane!"
Wonder of wonders, she found him waiting for her at the portal leading from the Eidolon Jungle back to the Feerrott. Of course he was distracted by the sparkly! "This looks like the same swirly energy that got me out here. Green and sparkly.""This will get us closer to your home, yes. It's safe to go through this time. Wait for me on the other side." Mum ended up holding her breath once again after saying that, half-fearing to believe the made chase through Ethernere was over.
Naturally, he wasn't waiting beside the portal when she arrived. Fortunately for her blood pressure and breathing, though, he actually was waiting for her on the shores of the Feerrott. Of course, he was totally oblivious to her stress as he chattered. "Oh, there you are!"
With an effort, she controlled her tone. The last thing she wanted was to have him run ... again. "Ye had me worried! Why didn't ye wait frae me?"
"I did, but you took too long! So I went harvesting again! Look at all the pretty things."
Yep, she was absitively posilutely too old for this. "That's verra nice, but now it's time tae go home. Off we go tae th' dock, th' boats will take us back tae th' Isle o' Mara."
The little brat-child knew enough to try to worm himself back into her good graces, at least. "Okay. Thanks for taking care of me, Mum. This was the best day of my life."
She was tired enough that her tongue ran faster than her brain, but he didn't seem to notice the slip as she said, "An' possibly th' worst o' mine ... I mean, ye're welcome, Qho-lad."
Eventually, she left him safe and sound at his home, with one final admonishment about being careful on her part, and one final attempt at brown nosing on his part. It was time to return to Cardin Ward and receive her well-earned reward.
As she scampered for the newly-installed portal at the docks, she shook her rolling pin at the sky. "Bristlebane, I know ye get tae much pleasure oot o' making me eat my words whene'er I say ne'er again, but I've had it, tallstuff. Really. Truly! Ne'er again! Else I am going tae do summat rude tae more than jus' yuir foot fur, dagnabbit!"
I suspect that I will not be the only one who is sad that while the newest installment of the ongoing Qho quest series has the promising mention of graves in it, you do not get to kill Qho, only chase him around in Ethernere. (If you pay attention to lore, Ethernere is beyond the grave, as it were.)
Fiddlesticks. I was getting so excited, too.
That aside, welcome to the newest Qho quest, that will be released with the release of the Tears of Veeshan expansion November 12, 2013. If you are unfamiliar with the Qho series, it begins with the signature line, A Gathering Obsession, and then continues with The Return of a Gathering Obsession.
You will find that the above story and dialog loosely follows the quest itself, so if you read it, you have a pretty good notion of what to do. Therefore, I am only going to give some brief pointers, and some details about the reward.
If you want more information about crafter goodness with the ToV expansion, check out the master ToV preview article!
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