It seems that Reigars are busy people, and Tain is no exception. Upon arriving at his estate we were escorted into his library by his Major Domo and made to wait. “Suits me fine,” I say as I clap my hands and gaze longingly at the books on his walls.
“Help yourself to food and drink, but do make sure that you refrain from disturbing Master Tain’s special collections,” he warned before bowing and making his leave.
My shoulders drooped in disappointment. “Well damn… still, some books are better than none at all.” While that fancy book with the moving patterns on it will have to wait for another day, at least I’m able to keep myself occupied with an interesting book about a place called Nilespace. The more I read, the more curious I become… as these Aegyptos seem to be much like the people of Mulhorand. Could our Gods have left Mulhorand and travelled there? When I see mention of the lands of Alamut I suddenly feel like kicking myself. It seems like so long ago now (I guess because it was) that I met that priestess from Alamut on the streets of Sigil. If I had known this then, I would have asked her so many more questions. Perhaps one day when our fates once again become our own, I can convince the others to take the ship there.
I guess the book was more interesting than I thought it would be… because before I knew it Tain was making his glittering entrance through the doors. “My friends, how incredibly fabulous and wondrous it is to see you again! You simply MUST tell me what happened!”
“We have an amazing tale to tell, my friend,” I smile as I stretch out my hand to my side and bow. “Make yourself comfortable as we weave our tale of powerful wizards, time travel, dragons and Gods!”
Yes, I know… I was laying it on pretty thick. But really… if a nigh-immortal being gives you a ship for “artistic purposes,” then they shouldn’t be disappointed. By the end of it we were all chiming in with our experiences… from tragic romances to Star Archons and shaking hands with deities.
“Astounding! Tell me that there is more!” Tain says as he claps in joy at the end of our tale.
“Alas, we encountered a Witch-Wraith on our way here, which disabled our Helm. If it weren’t for our luck with finding an Elven Warbird to tow us here, we’d still be floating off in space somewhere,” Lenata replies with a shake of her head.
“Which is why we need your help,” I chime in. “For you see, we were told by a Beholder that in 35 years time we would be competing in the Colloseum Morpheum at the behest of the Queen of Thistles… but how are we supposed to do that without a working ship, eh?”
“That is definitely a conundrum that I will have to puzzle today. In the meantime, I suggest you remain here and avail yourself of my staff and their services, and after we have had our morning breakfast tomorrow, we will see how we can solve your problems.” Tain then bows to us all with a flourish and exits the library.
“How about a masseuse?” I ask one of the servants hopefully.
“Certainly, madam. Do you require a male or a female?”
“Heck, they could be asexual for all I care… just as long as they know what they are doing!”
The next morning after a filling breakfast we accompany Tain out to the docks to a meeting he has set up for us. I have to grin as I watch the people of Refuge part in fromt of the Reigar like a boat in the sea. Who knows whether it’s love or fear or power that cause them to do that… either way, it must be nice to have that kind of effect on people. When he stops to talk to a seductively dressed woman that I remember clinging to his arm over 15 years ago, however… I admit it peaks my curiosity. It seems that Asreena still has a reputation of loving and leaving her husbands; seeing how she’s hardly aged, however, I have to wonder what state she’s “leaving” her ex-husbands in.
That curiosity fades quickly at the sight of one of those Mantis ships parked next to a Warbird, however. My hands itch to grab my pistols in case all hells break loose until Lenata lays a hand on my arm and gives a gentle shake of her silvery braided hair. I take a deep breath and try my best not to look at the Scro as Tain escorts us aboard the Warbird and bids us farewell.
Once aboard the Warbird we are escorted into another waiting room where (big surprise) we are forced to wait once again after being told that we would have the meeting on the “Constellation,” an Armada-class Elven ship. While Tain I’m sure made us wait for artistic effect, with the Elves it is the slow trudging march of bureaucracy as 6 long hours pass.
Eventually our boredom is broken by an elf walking in with a scroll case under his arm. He introduces himself as the secretary to Commander Silenos as he opens the case and rolls out a large map upon the table in the middle of the room. From what I could gather of the elf’s concerns, it seems that they sent a previous mercenary group called The Seven Stars to Morag Space to get information and plans regarding the Scro’s revival of a Witchlight Marauder. This group is now assisting others with the war effort, however, so… when it comes to further investigations, that’s where we come in. They have discovered from the plans that the Scro need a Witchlight Key in order to make the marauder work. They have several leads and maps on how to find it, and need an expendable group such as ours to obtain the key and bring the Witchlight Marauder to them before the Scro use it to destroy one of their planets.
“You mean like you did to Borka?” I mutter sarcastically under my breath. “Sure, we’ll go take a planet destroyer from the Scro and give it to you instead… as long as you only destroy Orc planets what’s the harm?” The Elf doesn’t say anything before he leaves, but from the tight-lipped smile and squint of his eyes, I’m sure he heard me.We’re left to ponder this new assignment for two hours before we are greeted by Silanos, the chief advisor to the fleet grand admiral. He goes over the map in more detail, and explains some of the decoded text and locations that his team of code-breakers has discovered. In one corner is the phrase: “He who touches the key awakens it, and he who remains in physical contact with the creature controls it.” In the bottom corner is the phrase: “The silver key is shaped like a diamond and beats like a heart in a red celestial body.” From my travels so far and the books I’ve read, I can’t help but think that there is more to this phrase than meets the eye. Ancients of multiple cultures all seem to have a love for vague riddles and misleading phrases in their prophecies. This “red celestial body” could be a cluster of stars, or it could literally be the body of a Celestian for all we know.
The actual place we’re going is dubiously named Shadowspace, as the system seems to be surrounded by dark clumps of…well… shadows. Fortunately there are sections open for ship travel, however. The following is a map key to the locations that he described to us:
- Sohoras – “Treasure is here” (more like dragons from the look of it)
- Lacume – “Choking Mist”
- Iousus – “Sweet Forest”
- Zimpunatus – “The Man Comet” (snicker)
- Chonat – “Fresh Water”
- Wierit – “Caressing Wind”
- Kiffin – “Sleeping Giant”
- Pajax – “Silent Planes”
- Delas – “Spotted Clouds”
- Triggit – “Wet Death”
- Min – “Pyramid Sun”
“The route to Shadowspace is unfortunately through the homespace of the Spawn of Zyros, a particularly fanatical religious cult,” Silenos warns. “From what Tain has told us of you, I’m sure your capable crew can handle it. Oh, and one last thing…” he says as he gathers his documents together, “the Spelljammer has been observed there.”
“Now see, you should’ve just started with that,” I say with a chuckle. “Then I actually would’ve paid more attention.”
“You will have three aides of ours accompanying you on this trip for training purposes,” Silenos continues without batting an eye at my snarky comment. “They will prepare and be ready to board your ship in the morning.” I hear Vedis groan softly and catch as she rolls her eyes and mouths the word “babysitting.” I can tell from the stiff expression on Lenata’s face, however, that she’s thinking of the last time we were “accompanied” on one of our adventures… when she found herself impaled to our helm by a Giff sword. “In the meantime we will see to repairs on your ship and supply you with some necessary added equipment for your travels.”
Silenos then rolls up the maps and hands them to Lenata. He then shakes her and Vedis’ hands and informs us on how we will get back to Refuge before taking his leave. It isn’t till we’re back on our ship in Refuge that Vedis speaks up about the meeting. “Check out what Silenos slipped me when he left!” She unfolds a piece of paper and reads a message that warns us that there may be a spy forwarding information to the Scro, and that we should arrest them if we catch them on our ship.
Great… there’s always got to be a catch.
“So…..” I say as I clap my hands together and inch my way towards the boarding ramp. “Seeing as we’ve got till the morning and all… I’ve got something to do so I will see you all later. Bye!” And with that I take off down the ramp and run through the docks.
“Wait a minute… where’s she going?” Ef Utan asks with a puzzled expression.
“Where do you think?” Lenata smiles knowingly. “If Aladan was here, you wouldn’t see me till the morning either.”
Illustration by Syreene
I know it’s been fifteen years for him, but it’s only been around two months for me… and despite the fact that I said good-bye in that letter, I just have to see with my own eyes. Is he still here? Did he find someone? Is he happy?
I weave my way through the city streets and finally make my way to what I knew to be his home once. Taking that as a good sign, I cling to the shadows and try to peer through some of the windows. I keep telling myself that if I find proof of someone else with him that I will leave… but all I can see are the usual trappings that I remember. There are a few changes here and there, but from the general disarray of the place I can tell that a female has not occupied it. I gasp and duck quickly as a light is turned on inside.Bast help me, he’s still here… what should I do? Would it be fair to him if I came back into his life now? Is it selfish of me to want to be happy in his arms again, even if it’s just for one night before we’re off on another chase?
I am shaken from my reverie by a knocking… and then I realize that in my obsessing over the moment, I’ve already knocked on his door.
I hold my breath in fear and anticipation as the door opens and I see his blue eyes staring back at me in surprise. His hair may be a little grey around the edges… but he is still the Dassam I remember. “Hi,” I say meekly. “Did you get my letter?”
His jaw drops as he looks me up and down… and then his hands are in my hair as he pulls me to him and I kick the door closed behind us.