Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 04

January 5, 2010

Updated with revisions.

Links for archives…

Chapter Four: The Princess

Where Dayspring Learns a Few

Things About History…

Dayspring watched as the rest of his companions gathered their supplies for the journey in the early morning at the temple. He had not slept well the previous night, the desert night more discomforting than he believed it would be. Walking outside onto the balconies for some air, he was greeted by Layla. The High Priestess invited him in and spoke to him at length in regards to his people, discussing recent events in their homeland. She asked many questions about the region despite their Clans being rivals, just enjoying the presence of someone else from her homeland. After she had revealed her hidden name, they found their families had a great many things in common. Outside the duties of her position, she seemed very relaxing to him and they spoke for hours.

The next morning was a procedural process of organization and preparation. The wizard and his daughter packed light, neither requiring much beyond basic supplies. An old Ranger named Herb was among the party that Layla put together for the trip—a visitor on a somewhat related purpose who volunteered to join them on the journey, at least until he had to go investigate other issues. He packed light as well, but with a bit more food and provision. Two Mystic Guards of Myr were assigned to the party as well, a pair of ninja women from some far off land that Dayspring had never heard of. The rest of the party was composed of his two original compatriots, who packed as lightly as they had before leaving Tryps.

The two ninja women wore loose fitting body coverings that concealed much of their form, but allowed them to move very quickly. Their faces were concealed beneath gray cloth wrapped around their faces as they prepared the horses for the journey across the sands to the nearest Kingdom, a relatively small coastal province called Bris. The old Ranger leaned against the doorway to the stable as they worked.

Make sure those horses get plenty of water before we head out,” he instructed. “We don’t want them dehydrating before we clear the sand.”

Dayspring walked up to Herb and smiled.

You’re a Ranger,” he said. “You know much about the Vuku Gem?”

Picked up a story here and there,” Herb replied. “Nothing too substantial or of great worth. Nothing to seriously investigate beyond the stuff we already know.”

You know about how it disappeared?”

I know the story anyway.”

Dayspring waited for a long moment before realizing the older man was not going to tell him anything. Eventually the Ranger smiled and continued.

According to the Histories of the Rangers it was a group of dragon worshipers,” Herb explained. “They wanted to resurrect their former masters, so they went to the Temple of Myr and stole the Gem at sword point. The Gem is believed to have powers over the dead or some such nonsense. Nothing anybody actually believes in anymore. The Keeper of the Temple had sworn a pact of nonviolence, which they amended following the theft. A group of Rangers went in pursuit, eventually catching up to the thieves at their hideout. Legend has it that the Rangers easily slaughtered the encampment of dragon worshipers, leaving none alive, but losing the Gem in the course of the battle. No one knows what happened to the Gem itself. It was simply… lost. The location of the encampment itself was stricken from all record.”

So we have no idea where it might be?”

I didn’t say that.”

But—”

It was stricken from the record, but there are other ways to find it. Like retracing the path that the first Rangers took.”

And you know it.”

It’s not that hard to follow. That’s the reason I volunteered. Figured I could be helpful and join along for your own journies.”

Dayspring nodded as he saw Eseen leading her horse out of the stalls. She whispered in its ear as it drew nearer to the two men. A tall black horse, it neighed slightly as it passed them by. Herb frowned as she moved past.

That is a Mare of the Old Breed if,” he observed. “Wasn’t sure there were any of those left. The legends say that they speak to those who have a kind enough heart to listen. I have never seen one myself, but they are rumored to be seen every now and then throughout Terran. No one has been able to bridle one though.”

Interesting.”

Quite. Come along, I think Layla is preparing to give us her blessing.”

They moved to the stairs where Layla calmly stood waiting. She smiled warmly at Dayspring as he and the Ranger joined the gathered travelers before her. They bowed their heads as she began to speak. While Slant was dressed in an identical manner to the previous day, Eseen had donned a much more form fitting apparel for the journey. Wearing a tight greenish-brown tunic with flaps that extend down and green leggings that disappeared into her high boots, Dayspring was greatly impressed by her beauty. Around her thin waist hung a loose belt with a small selection of useful oddities she deemed necessary to carry with her. She smiled at the knight as she adjusted her cloak.

The eight of you are to travel in search of the Vuku gem,” she announced. “The majority of you has joined this cause of your own will and for your own reasons, two at my request. You are not bound to go any further than you feel need to. It is likely a grave mission we send you on, one that some of you are unlikely to return from. Take heart that all the prayers of all who reside in this temple go with you.” She moved down the steps and stopped in front of Eseen, speaking to her briefly before moving to the next in the line. She continued with this until she reached Dayspring. “Your escorts still pose a threat.”

Nothing I can do about that right now,” Dayspring replied.

I have a gift for you.”

Reaching beneath her robe, she draw out a sheathed dagger and offered it. He thin pale fingers held it gently, respecting it. He stared at the tanned leather and ivory hilt as she held it out to him.

This weapon was shaped from a shard of dragon’s egg,” she whispered. “As with all weapons, it can take a life. But, if you are truly worthy, it can save a life. Use it with the honor and and nobility that I know you possess.”

He bowed as he took the weapon in his hand.

Thank you,” he whispered. “I won’t forget your kindness, Madame Priestess.”

Just keep an eye on my daughter for me,” she replied. She smiled gently. “She is quite skilled, but so young and I fear she might be a bit much for her father to supervise fully. I’m sure he will be grateful for the assistance.”

As you wish.”

puup

And so Dayspring rode out with his party, making all haste for the kingdom of Bris, the harbor kingdom to the south. They arrived at the kingdom around sunset as many ships were returning from the day’s work at sea. Being on the coast, the town extended far on the water with the castle itself actually floating out just beyond the rest of the town. Built on an extensive system of trusses, the city rose high above the water as the travelers crossed the stone streets towards the castle.

We will have to pay respects to the King,” Herb explained. “We shouldn’t move through the kingdom without doing so, it would be dishonoring his domain to do so.”

You sure that’s a good idea?” Olaf asked. “Bris shares a bitter rivalry with Tryps. A long time ago they fought for the resources of the desert. The black deeds of those days still carry a heavy weight for both kingdoms.”

All the more reason to follow the codes of conduct and call on him,” Dayspring answered. “We should prove ourselves good and honorable men. Maybe he’ll even provide us with aid.”

Olaf shrugged as they continued on towards the jade towards of the castle. Called the “Jewel of the Sea”, the Castle of Bris was crafted almost entirely out of rare emerald jewels harvested from the bottom of the sea—an inadvertent advantage with the nigh indestructible nature of the jewels in regards to most conventional attacks. The smooth but jagged structure loomed ahead as they rode into the city.

They passed through the carved gates and announced themselves to the Chancellor waiting at the entranceway. Recognizing Herb and Slant, he smiled and nodded before going straight in to alert the king of their arrival. The group dismounted and followed a turquoise dressed attendant down the halls towards the throne room where the King of Bris sat waiting. On the walls were the various trophies of the previous kings’ exploits—skeletons of various sea creatures and such, a myriad of tributes and ghanima. It made the visitors a bit uncomfortable as they looked up looked at the monuments.

A heavy and portly man with thick black hair, King Reul of Bris was regarded around Terran to be the greatest sailor known to any age. Though he did not sail with the frequency he once did, he still was regarded as superior to all others at sea.

Sitting on his throne in dark blue robes, he watched as the party approached. They all bowed to him as they entered. He stood and rushed over to Slant, shaking the wizard’s hand ferociously.

Welcome back to my humble city, you slippery rascal,” he said. “How’s time treating you, my old friend? How is your lovely wife?”

Better than I could have expected,” Slant replied gently. He gestured to Eseen, who smiled gently. “My daughter, Eseen.”

You recovered her!” the King shouted joyously. He wrapped the girl in a hug, lifting her off the ground before setting her down and allowing her to catch her breath. He looked on her carefully. “She’s the very image of her mother, which is quite fortunate. She’s always been your better half. If she had taken after you, there would likely be some issue.”

Quite agree, quite agree.”

What brings you back to Bris?”

Slant gave a brief summary of what had happened to the King as they walked towards the balconies. Listening eagerly, the King looked at the Knights of Tryps with a skeptical eye. When the wizard mentioned the Vuku gem, the King smiled.

Now that is a strange coincidence,” the King observed.

What is?” Herb asked.

Not long ago my daughter was troubled by dreams,” the King explained. “Strange dreams of an unknown nature. I called on a Reader of the Myr to look upon her. I was sure you heard something of it, although he has yet to return to the Temple… anyway, he indicated it was a vision that required further investigation. So, a Ranger was called for. He came and they went to investigate. What happened during their quest I do not know, but the Princess was seriously injured. The Ranger left before long on some urgent business, after we were certain that my daughter would make a full recovery. After he left, Vera was in a state of delirium when she mentioned the Vuku Gem.”

How long ago was this?” Slant asked.

About a month and a half ago,” the King replied. “The Ranger didn’t stick around long enough to explain himself and we were so focused on my daughter’s recovery that I haven’t pressed her for a full explanation.”

Who was the Ranger?” Herb asked.

Went by Zev while he was here with us,” the King answered. “Vera developed an affection for him before he departed. A rather unhealthy one if you ask me. Had a partner that helped him out. A thief by the name of Fenway. You know him?”

That sly dog,” Herb hissed. “Of course I know him! I trained that little bastard in all arts of any importance! Last saw him three months ago back in Clar, helping to flush out a group of raiders. Said Fenway had a job for them and they were going to check it out. Should of known there was a girl involved. A princess, no less… at least his standards have gone up.”

He smiled and looked at the others. Most just rolled their eyes, others misunderstood his meaning or did not care. The King coughed gently before speaking, his tone betraying nothing.

He seemed honorable while he was here and I found him trustworthy,” he said. “Anyway, about your purpose. My daughter has healed well-enough, I think the time has come to have Vera tell what became of the Gem. I’m rather curious myself. Who are the leaders of your party?”

Myself, the Ranger and the young knight, Dayspring it would seem,” Slant said. “But I would have no secrets here. It is getting late. It might be wise to wait until the morning to discuss things with your daughter.”

Nonsense,” the King replied. “She’s probably awake. The girl always keeps odd hours, odder still since her injury. Kids these days, never appreciating the beauty of a good night’s sleep. We need only summon her.”

He gestured for an attendant to go retrieve the princess as he turned his attention back to Eseen.

You truly have a beautiful daughter,” he remarked. “I always felt great sorrow and pity for you and Layla after she was lost. How long ago did you find her?”

About eighteen months ago,” Slant replied.

That long?” the King replied. “I’m almost insulted you would wait such a time to introduce her to me. I think she would make a fantastic acquaintance for Vera. The Old Sea Hag keeps telling me Vera needs more friends.”

Circumstances were such that we could not manage a visit,” Slant replied somberly. “Layla often says she’s a queen without any of the benefits. You know how things get.”

That does indeed sound like her. And I can understand whole-heartedly.” He smiled at Eseen as he gently took her hand. “Have you learned to dance, child?”

A bit,” Eseen replied nervously. “My studies at the Temple take up much of my time, but I do get plenty of opportunities to learn.”

Well, if your father possesses any sense—hasn’t shown any sign of it yet, but I keep hoping for it—he’ll let you spend a spell here and Vera can show any manner of things. I think you’ll be fast friends and the Old Sea Hag might give me a moment’s peace.”

Old Sea Hag?”

He’s referring to the Queen,” Slant interjected. “He and Queen Uma have any manner of pet names for one another. It’s there way of keeping the union interesting.”

Interesting is a good word for it,” Reul added. He looked back to Eseen. “Where did you spend all the years you were missing?”

I was raised by a Dark Elf named Urborg,” she answered. “I was kidnapped and he recovered me. He took me in despite the… strained relationship between him and my father. It was not an entirely unpleasant childhood. I spent several years as a child of the forest until my parents found me.”

A lucky child,” the King observed. “I don’t think your father realizes how good his luck tends to be.”

Usually there is enough bad to balance it out,” Slant added.

The King began to laugh as Vera entered. She was a stocky looking girl with some bulk to her, but most with an interest in such things agreed it was well-proportioned muscle and she was still quite beautiful. She wore a simple gray gown, her brown hair braided back with ribbons woven throughout. Glancing at the new arrivals as they bowed to her, her soft features gave a curious and perplexed look before spotting Slant. She smiled gently at him before regarding her father.

You summoned for me, father?” she asked softly. There was something of a falseness to her tone, but most did not mention or even notice it.

Yes,” he replied. “I think it’s time you explained a few things. This party here is traveling out in search of the Vuku Gem. You made mention of it while recovering from your adventure with Zev and his companion. I was wondering if you could shed some light on what happened to it.”

She frowned as she considered what to say.

I am afraid I will be of little aid to you in that regard,” she said. “It was around that part that the battle began things got a bit confusing. I set out with Zev and Fenway to investigate the dreams I had been having. We confirmed that the dreams of a valley called Calla Leto and some strange treasure hidden there. Deciding that Calla Leto was the key, we rode there to see it for ourselves. When we arrived at Calla Leto, we encountered a great number of issues. The first being that I was not the only ‘Dreamer’ to be led to that place. Proceeding us was a sizable contingent of goblins and raiders from the Shadowy Mountains. Being well-versed in such matters, Zev and Fenway scouted out the situation before us. From what they gathered, it appeared that the unexpected arrivals had different dreams than I and therefore difference purposes in being there. The goblins were searching out a god of theirs while the raiders sought some strange treasure that we could find no specifics about.”

Strange that no seers at the Temple of Myr saw such visions,” Slant mused.

They were strange dreams and I am not entirely sure they were visions as a seer would define them,” Vera offered. She grew noticeably more defensive at Slant’s skepticism, feeling the need to explain. “Maybe the seers dismissed them as nonsense, as I did for a time. I did not understand them myself and only sought to learn their meaning when it became overwhelming. Our intent in the valley was an inquiry and things went bad from there. Seeing the situation before us, we knew they could not be allowed to continue unabated and there was no time to call for aid. So we fashioned some improvisations. What we lacked in numbers we made up for in intelligence and guile. Zev and Fenway had a small arsenal of supplies with them that allowed us to turn things in our favor with ease, and I was not entirely unskilled with a bow. With the hordes dispatched, we approached their excavation site. There we encountered what they had unearthed. It was some creature that none of us could explain. A goblin of some unknown nature I would guess, but it was far to large to be a goblin. I won’t try to describe it. It went berserk to begin, killing the remaining goblins and raiders without reason. When it was clear we were in danger, the three of us intervened.”

Herb groaned. They all looked to him as he stepped forward. He frowned as he looked around at the others.

Zev and Fenway, they fought this… goblin, didn’t they?” he surmised.

It was mostly Zev,” Vera clarified. She doubted it would make much difference, but made the effort regardless. “I helped too, but Fenway and I were really supporting him.”

Irrelevant,” Herb replied. “Standard procedure in such in a circumstance like what you’ve described is to observe and collect data before intervention.”

We did observe and gather information,” Vera interjected. “Albeit not very long… but we did! And we deemed negotiation a moot point.”

And I presume that’s how you injured yourself?” the King guessed. His general tone gave off a bemused disappointment.

The monster knocked me back and I fell into the pit,” she answered defensively. “It was only a six foot drop, into a pile of dirt. Could’ve happened to anybody and I was fine after the fall. There was some unknown chemical on the air there and that made me sick. Regardless, the creature fled not long before dawn and we proceeded back to Bris with all haste.”

The room remained silent after she concluded. Slant signaled for the court attendant, whispering rapidly to the small man. With only a nod the man scampered from the room at a torrid pace. That completed, the wizard turned his focus to the girl.

There are two concerns I still have about what you’ve told us here,” he said. “One is the Gem.”

Of course,” she gasped. “Forgive me, I forgot all about it. I found it after my fall, purely by accident. It was a bit of surprise for all three of us. I don’t think the goblins recognized it as anything important, probably ready to discard or sell it. We didn’t know what it was at first, but Zev figured it out after we got back here. I think he figured out what the creature was too, because he was anxious to go in pursuit. Too anxious, some would say.”

What did he do with the gem?” Dayspring asked.

I think he took it with him,” she said. She shrugged as though she believed it were irrelevant. “I read the books we have on it after he left. It is little more than trinket at this juncture in history, a relic of the ancient tribal ways of Terran. Probably no power to it at all.”

So some would say and many believe,” Slant mused. “I think we’re done for now. We’ll figure that one out later. I do have questions about this creature, but those can wait for tomorrow.”

Advertisements

One Response to “Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 04”

  1. ahelmic6 said

    ~~~~
    the city was rose high above the water as the travelers crossed the stone streets towards the castle.

    nodded before going straight into alert the king of their arrival

    The goblins were apparently searching out a god of theirs while the raiders sought some.”

    It was a some creature that none of us could explain.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: