If the loud noise that rung out over the ship hadn’t already woken me from my nap, the group of teenagers stumbling over each other to get to my door first certainly would have. Just when I was getting to the part where Tain gave me one of those planets he won, too.
“Kenari… come quick!” one of the older girls who ended up on top of the pile announced in a rush.
“By Bast’s left whisker… what’s going on now, Jadana?” I muttered as I wiped the sleep from my eyes and stumbled after them down the hallway towards the stairs to the upper deck.
“It’s the Dwarves!” said one of the excited boys behind me. Adanu… I think that’s his name. “One of them started throwing these things off the side of the ship, and before you know it…”
“They started exploding!” finished another one of the boys.
Raelin, maybe? I’m too tired to remember names this morning. Silly me, thinking I’d finally get to sleep in after finally getting everything straightened out with the Dream Stone. Last time I let Hatuk convince me to join a game of Dragon Ante when his firewater is involved.
“And why did you guys come get me for this?” I moaned as I shielded my eyes from the bright morning sun shining down without pity upon the main deck.
“Well that big man with the swords, he yelled at the Dwarves, and when he asked them what they were doing…” Jadana replied.
“They said they were doing it for you!” Janros finished with a grin as he pointed across the deck at the two Dwarves, one of them bent over the rail laughing with the other slapping his back.
“And why would they want to do that?” I groan as I rub my forehead.
Dassam lands (thankfully quietly) next to me on the deck from the rigging above and smiles as he points towards the group of female elves talking on the upper deck and wraps his other arm around my waist. “It seems that the Emerald Scarab is full of stories about you and your friends, love… and when she talks about you, things tend to explode.”
“Like with those monks!” says Jadana excitedly.
“Or against those pirates!” offers Janros.
“I like when she used those Thunderstones against the slavers the best,” says Raelin with a grin.
“Okay…okay,” I chuckle. “I just hope that for all that noise they’ve come up with something good. I’ll go talk to them and see what’s up.”
Dassam looks to the Mulhorandi teenagers with a raised eyebrow. “And now that you’ve retrieved her, I know some people who are supposed to be helping me repair the sails,” he says with mock sternness.
“Aw Dassam…” they moan.
“No complaints…it takes a working ship to have those adventures, you know.”
I grin lopsidedly and walk over to the two Dwarves who have finally stopped laughing and caught their breath.
“Oh, that one is definitely a keeper, Atsu,” Azibo says as he wipes the soot and tears from his eyes with a hankerchief he pulls from his pocket.
“But what do we call it?” says Atsu.
“How about we call it a day, guys?” I reply. “I love new inventions… really, I do… but do you have to test them so early in the morning?”
“Early?” scoffs Azibo as he whips out a pipe from his apron and lights it. “It’s mid-afternoon at least, missy!”
“Afternoon?” I repeat incredulously. “That’s it, Hatuk… no more of that firewater!” I call up into the rigging to a chorus of laughter from above.
“Yes, afternoon,” says Ef Utan as he comes through the door from below decks and holds it open for some of the older Mulhorandi who have their arms full of food. “Now that you’re finally up, why don’t you help your new friends since they were nice enough to make us lunch.”
The delicious scents of figs and meats tickle my nose as my stomach rumbles. “Ah… real food… magic rings are a blessing, but they can’t beat a well-cooked piece of meat!”
A few hours later plates are emptied and bottles start to get passed around the circle of companions, crew and ex-slaves… but skip over the younger group to many moans of disappointment.
“How about a story, at least?” asks young Adanu as he yawns and lays his head in Syana’s lap.
“Yes, I’d love to hear more about Sapphira,” says Kagiri, a female Tiefling from the group of Mulhorandi slaves we saved. “Did she take out many of these slavers before she passed?”
“Monk Surfing!” shouts Raelin and Janros together.
Lenata coughs and sets down her cup of mead as she clears her throat. “What was that?”
“Monk surfing!” cheers Raelin. “That’s when you were all chasing those monks on the rooftops when Vedis fell and Kenari took out that monk by grabbing his…”
“What exactly have you been filling their heads with, Kenari?” Lenata asks as she looks at me doubtfully.
“Wasn’t me, honestly,” I laugh as I lean back in Dassam’s arms. “I kind of want to hear this one, though… it’s one of my favorites too!”
“Afraid it’s my fault,” says Irisi, a bronze-skinned female elf with long dark hair. “My friends and I had been talking to the Emerald Scarab for the past few days, and she shared many a story with me about your adventures.”
“But… how are there so many stories about us?” Vedis asks in wonder as she sips her drink.
The Emerald Scarab leans forward and shows her Seeker pin to the group. “Word tends to get around when members of our group do amazing things,” she replies with a grin.
“Oh you’ve got no idea how right you are about that one,” I chuckle to myself.
“So does that mean we can have a story, now?” begs Reilin.
“As much as I would love to hear more about what Kenari did to irritate the Shu,” Lenata says with a roll of her eyes, “I think what we really need to talk about is the future, instead of the past.” She looks around at her companions and the group of freed slaves. “Now that we’ve stopped the 10th Pit plots with the Dream Stone and freed you from your imprisonment… what are your plans?” She gestures to the Emerald Scarab. “We are currently on our way to the asteroid city of Bral in order to reunite her with the Seekers, if any of you wish to depart there.”
A low murmur fills the air as people shrug their shoulders and begin to talk amongst themselves. Irisi and the two elves on either side of her lean in close to whisper to each other before nodding in agreement.
“If we may ask… what are your plans, Kenari?”
“Me?” I say in surprise, as I wasn’t expecting to be asked so soon. I sit up and look over my shoulder at Dassam, who nods in approval. “Well… I was thinking of returning back to Mulhorand, actually.”
“I thought you hated that place?” Vedis asks as she leans back and rests on her elbows.
I tug on my ear and laugh. “Not so much the place as the people… which is exactly why I want to go back.” I clear my throat and do my best to put on my serious face. “After what I saw the 10th Pit do to so many innocent people… to all of you,” I gesture to our new friends, “and to our lost friend Sapphira, I’ve decided that I want to continue aiding the anti-slavery movement. I mean really… who needs that kind of help more than the people of Mulhorand, right? Besides… I need to see if the Temple of Bast is still there, because I’ve got a doozy of a story to tell.”
Lenata smiles. “I am pleased to hear you’ve taken up such a good cause, Kenari.”
“Now don’t think that this means you can leave me out of it if you guys come up with our next grand adventure now,” I joke with a wag of my finger.
“Someone’s got to go first to check for traps,” Ef Utan replies.
“Well good… as long as I know I’m still needed,” I chuckle.
“I too would like to fight the slavers,” says Kagiri, the female Tiefling. I had seen her in the battle around the pyramid… she fought with determination and not without a sense of joy from what I could tell. Something tells me she didn’t have the best of times with her captors.
“You’re going to need new weapons in that fight now, so you better be taking us along!” pipes up Azibo to the agreement of his brother. “Besides, we just got the first prototype of the Boomer Bomb to work!”
Irisi laughs. “You will need a storyteller to chronicle your adventures, will you not? I have longed to be able to tell the stories of true heroes again.”
Ef Utan snorts. “That’s all she needs,” he mutters.
“We want to come too!” announces the group of younger Mulhorandi.
“I don’t know about that, guys… this isn’t exactly going to be the safest thing for kids, you know..” I begin.
“Compared to being a slave for a bunch of foul demon worshippers who could send you to your death inside the pyramid at any moment, you mean?” replies Marosia, one of the older teenagers who has taken on a bit of a den mother role to the others.
“Well… when you put it that way…”
“Besides, we could help! You will need eyes and ears in town who can run messages, right?” continues Janros.
“Okay… okay… you guys have a point!” I reply as I raise my hands in surrender to their cheers.
“Mmm… temple ladies…” mutters Caelin, a male Tiefling. “I wouldn’t mind coming either,” he says with a wink as Dassam growls low behind me. I reach back and give his hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Okay… what about the rest of you? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to come with me?” I ask, my brain running through ideas of what we could do with so many people willing to help.
One of the older humans named Ellatar stands up after talking to the remaining ex-slaves. “While not all of us are interested in battle, we too would like to aid the temple and give thanks to the Goddess for sending you to help us, Kenari.”
“She didn’t send me anywhere,” I scoff. “I just got tired of waiting.”
Lenata smiles as she gets up to return to the helm and pats my shoulder. “Mysterious ways, Kenari… mysterious ways.”