Balance

Bored and Stubbi Pt 2

29th of Reaping 383 ONT, Lunar Star Course 153-2A7-K8L315R, Champions Fist, 8:15pm

BROOOOMPH

Cassidy climbed quickly out of the case as the thick yellow smoke streamed out behind him.

“Shite, forgot de dense bird… CHEEPS!” he dove back into the case amide the yellow smoke, quickly collected the little canary and pulled him to safety onto the deck above. Seeing the yellow smoke continue to plume out of the space he closed the lip “Captain’s gonna be right tuffed over this one” he murmured placing the very dazed little canary on his shoulder and scratching his head wondering how long it would take for the smoke to clear.

“Hiya Cass!” he heard a cheery voice from behind. He jumped at first startled that he might be discovered, but then realized who it was and turned with a grin

“Tar-Di, Don’t go snakin’ up on me sprog, yer nearly shuk me ter ’alf ter death” the girl giggled

“aren’t you already dead Cass?” the vampire ran his hand through his hair again

“Oi suppose yer are roi, no foul done then, what can I do ya for?” the little girl held up a massive stack of cards, maybe three or four decks shuffled together

“Want to play cards… I am sooooo bored, and I’m gonna play Stubbi!” she said. Cassidy scratched his chin for a few minutes

“Well… oi cud use an alibi, an’ Mr. Cheeps cud use sum clean air for a bi… don’t tink oi nu ’oy ter play stubbi though” he said

“I can teach you… it’s easy” she said, turning away, but stopping quickly “just be sure to bring some coins”

“Sorry lass, oi got almost naw coin, captain keeps me stoney broke yer man does.” Cassidy said in a regretful tone. Once again, he was met only by giggles

“Don’t worry about it, I’ve got coin you can have, there was plenty in Hakari’s bag” she said holding up a small pouch. The Vampire smiled a toothy grin

“Well… it sounds loike we are playin’ stubbi den, lead on wee lady, lead on.” Cassidy said, following the girl up to the mess hall.

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Bored and Stubbi Pt 1

29th of Reaping 383 ONT, Lunar Star Course 153-2A7-K8L315R, Champions Fist

“I am SOOOOOOOOOO board” Tar-Di complained as she slowly smacked her head against the wall in the hallway below decks. Not being allowed to cast magic was the worst, and being in space was boring, and all Hikari wanted to do was work, study and sleep… it was the most boring thing ever. Maybe Deborah would play with… it was at least a try. She ran over to the ladder and scrambled down to the cannon deck. Deborah was there with Willhym; they had a cannon all pulled apart and were cleaning and scraping the inside.

“Debs, you got to come play with me… I’m soooooo board” Tad-Di said as she skipped onto the deck. She saw the Master Gunner eying her warily, she hated that look, everyone always gave her that look. Debs at least didn’t she looked up with an apologetic smile

“Sorry Tar-Di… the Captain wants every single canon in tip top shape before we get to the moon… but we are doing them one at a time in case there is trouble… this is only the second one… I want be able to play for awhile yet”

“Awwww… maybe I could help?” Tar-Di offered… before Deborah could say anything the Master Gunner jumped in

“That won’t be necessary, why don’t you find Suli and play with her?” he offered

“Suli is busy helping George in the kitchen” Tar-Di mopped. The Master Gunner sighed and walked over to his pack pulling out a deck of cards

“Here” he said passing her the deck “I want them back, but why not find a few crew members and play some cards, I don’t know a sailor who doesn’t play cards, and we won’t get much done with you sulking around here” Tar-Di took the cards and thought about it, she hadn’t played in some time, not since the orphanage really… she used to love the game Stubbi, that had been a lot of fun, but you needed three decks to play

“Thanks, Mr Tyre… by any chance do you have two more decks? I’d love to play Stubbi”

“Sorry Kiddo, just the one… but try Nate, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him with a deck” The Master Gunner responded, his voice having an odd echo as he stuck his head and arm into the barrel of one of the cannon.

“Ya, I’ll do that” Tar-Di said with a smile scampering off

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Letters to my Father and Brother Part 2

22nd of Reaping 383 ONT, High Port

Salve, Ronan.

I am now a Goddess; I win.

Miriel

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Letters to my Father and Brother Part 1

22nd of Reaping 383 ONT, High Port

Dearest Papa,

Salve. I trust that you are well, though the absence of a response does vex me; do the humans from beyond the Sorrows ready for war again? Perhaps they’ve begun already and you are on the front lines, laying waste as only a Strix could…I miss you, Papa, and I miss our village. Has Ronan brought his virum home yet? I am eager to meet both him and my young nephews – does Pariss look a little like Mother? Are his wings stronger, now that he is older? He was so small, a runt, like I was…

And what of Hectore, and his mother? Our cousin Dea-anin was a good surrogate choice, but Hectore’s birth was so hard on both of them; did she heal properly? If only I could have stayed…no matter. I do not regret my leaving, I have learnt much and have many new allies.

We seem to to get waylaid every time I think we have a moment of respite. And I had hoped that my scions would have found you and the others by now, to inquire on the past of our race – I need to know where we come from, to find out about me…but I have need of them elsewhere and my curiosity will need to be sated at a later time.

I have undergone many…changes Papa. You and Sheris were surprised by the avatar who chose me. She…and mistake me not, she is definitely a she…was drawn to me because I am Divine. The arch-Mage here could not penetrate my mind fully because I am apparently older than I look; Papa, who am I? Do you know anything that you have not told me?

Who was Mother?

You said she was an elf in exile, that she would never speak of her past; could that be because she knew who I am??

Papa, help me, speak to me. Please, I beg of you…

I am sending you this letter now because my Captain has declared war on the moon and the illithids that it harbours; if you knew Thalion, you would not be confused. He is an elf Mother would have been pleased to meet, and you will be impressed with his fighting skills. I hope that at the conclusion of our quest we will not leave behind a fiery death trap orbiting over our heads and you will be able to finally meet my noble Companions.

Of course, my suitor, Harold, no longer seeks me as his mate; his nation is at war and he is a Prince. He does not want to tempt himself in running for fear of losing me, and acknowledged that I was a prime target for blackmail should I be captured, so we went our separate ways. He still has my love, Papa, and always will. He is the first to treat me as an equal, to accept me as I am as a woman and strix…he makes me whole in ways I could not guess. I hope he wins this war, I wish to take him as my virum – he just has to say something.

Hopefully nothing will change now that I am Divine.

Well…we have much to talk about. ’Ave Atque Vale.

Your daughter,

Miriel

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An Unexpected Journey Home Final

23rd of Reaping 383 ONT, Al’Callani Estate, 2:33am

Hikari placed the items Tar Di had requested silently on the bed beside Charisia’s leg. Oak and willow branches, silver nails, silk thread and a bolt of blue silk cloth. Then she stepped back and let the chaos mage do her thing. Each object began to glow with a different light but as they started to move they each shifted to either a deep red or vibrant purple glow including Charisia. Then Hikari had to look away as the intensity reached a point where even her new eyes couldn’t process it. There were sounds she didn’t want to hear or identify and prayed to both Ymeri and Pan that it would work out.

Minutes later the glow dimmed and died and Tar Di groaned and staggered towards the bed. Hikari grabbed her and looked towards her cousin. Where once a carefully hidden and bandaged lump of mangled leg lay now had a work of art in its place. Seamlessly from her hip downwards flowed the wood and silver interspersed with silk mimicking perfectly Charisia’s original and unblemished leg. Charisia began to stir and Hikari swiftly deepened the sleep spell on her. Charisia settled back in turning slightly and she marveled at how smoothly and fluidly the new leg moved in response.

She looked to Tar Di expecting a smug I told you I can do anything look but instead was met with a look of horror on her apprentice’s face. She clung tightly to Hikari and all but dragged her out of the room. Once in the hall with the door shut she looked to Tar Di whos till hadn’t taken her eyes off the door. “Ok, what happened? The spell looked like a perfect fit for her.”

“I didn’t mean… That wasn’t supposed to happen.” Tar Di gave a shiver and looked to Hikari, “The aura that I’ve been seeing glimpses of around the Estate all rushed into Charisia when I finished the spell.”

“Like the ones you keep seeing around me and some of the others?” Tar Di nodded.

“Yes, I don’t know why or how but in gaining that leg she’s also gained a fate. I saw swords, magic and dragons? Or maybe giant lizards it was hard to tell.”

Hikari hugged Tar Di and began pulling her away from the door and towards the end of the hall and their room. “Having a fate is not necessarily a bad thing and with your gift she has a chance to do and become something amazing. Thank you Tar Di.”

+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+

Morning came to the quiet Estate and with it came Thorbil and a small wagon. HIkari greeted it and her dwarven friend with a happy wave. He smiled and gave her a tired wave in response before pulling up to a stop beside her. “I’ve got what you asked for mistress. Sure got a lot of odd stares from the crew but told them nothing but you wanted some of your gold.”

“Great,” Hikari conjured a floating disk under the one chest, “Wait here and we’ll be back in a moment.” Thorbil nodded and leaned back on the bench closing his eyes for a brief nap. Hikari made a mental note to check over his gear as well and make certain that she did what she could to upgrade it as well as Tar Di’s.

Walking back into the main room to the sounds of wonderment and joy made Hikari’s steps light as she left the chest under the shrouded picture of Paprikka. Turning as she let the disk dissipate she saw a smiling Tar Di munching on an apple. “Ready?”

Tar Di nodded, “More than ready. You’d better not forget what you promised me last night. But why not wait and let them thank you in person?”

“Because we like being mysterious.” Hikari grinned as they both left out the front door.

“Yeah don’t I know it.” Muttered her apprentice and Hikari only laughed. She may not be as great and powerful as she claimed years ago but she could still be mysterious as most mages were. Tar Di would learn to be the same in time. Moreover Hikari wanted to escape before she had to answer any difficult questions from the Al’Callanis.

Ten minutes down the road with Thorbil sleeping in the back and Tar Di dozing on the seat beside her Hikari relaxed and directed the cart up the path back towards the main road that would take them back to High Port.

“Wait!” A voice called out behind them and called out again, “Wait!”

She reigned in the horse and twisted around in her seat to see Charisia running full out towards her. She slid to a stop, her new leg flexing and shining in the light and stood there panting. “You…. Cannot… just leave… after doing… this to me…”

“We,” Hikari began.

“No, you will be quiet and listen to me.” Charisia demanded and behind HIkari Tar Di grumbled about a spell to shut Charisia up permanently. She looked back at her apprentice and shook her head. Now was not the time. She looked back to Charisia who bowed deeply towards them. “Thank you. Thank you so very much. I can walk again, I can even run! You’ve done something no one else could and I can never be grateful enough for that.” She straightened up and Hikari could see the tears streaming down Charisia’s face mirroring her heartfelt thanks. “I can never repay you for this. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

“You are most welcome. It was a wrong that needed mending and it was Tar Di that did the work on your leg.”

“And what of the gold? Not only did you two fix my leg but you left a chest of gold… under… Paprikka’s… portrait…” Charisia stared hard at Hikari, “Who are you?”

“The gold is to help you rebuild what I could not reinvigorate with the weaving equipment and resupply. Your family doesn’t deserve to lose their home. Seek out the Alfirin family. They have a vineyard and make an excellent wine and more than one of them has a fondness for silks and fabrics like your family makes.” Hikari shrugged, “We are nothing more than what we appear. Go home Charisia Al’Calanni and find a way to bring some happiness into other lives. That would be payment enough.”

“Then can you carry a message for me?” Hikari didn’t speak and Charisia continued, “Can you tell Paprikka… Can you tell her I’m sorry. Tell her I was horrible and wrong and I miss her. Tell her… She can come home. I love her and want my sister back.”

Hikari took a deep breath and blinked hard trusting herself to only nod. She flicked the reins and the cart began to pull away from Charisia though she could not see the road. Charissa was always a clever girl, she’d figured it out at least in part. Maybe one day she’d come back. Maybe one day she could come home…

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An Unexpected Journey Home Pt 3

22nd of Reaping 383 ONT, Al’Callani Estate outside of High Port, 11:00pm

’She leaves.’ Phobia told Hikari. She nodded and silently rose and dressed. If everything she’d seen was true then Tar Di would be nearing the answer to all of this. She’d wanted to tell Tar Di and explain what was going on but she knew her young apprentice too well to know it would not work. Telling went in one ear and right out the other. She needed to experience it firsthand and as much as she sulked about it this was for the best. And in truth, if this worked, then Hikari was going to have to revamp everything about how she taught. That wasn’t a bad thought regardless of how tonight went.

Activating her flight spell Hikari floated out the window and down towards the well-lit building. She smiled when she spied Tar Di creeping up the path and decided to shadow her. And like a moth to the flame Tar Di crept up to the partially open door. From within came a variety of sounds including the methodic whisk and click of a loom and the splash and burble of the dye tanks being stirred. Just the sounds brought back memories to Hikari of how the sounds of laughter and chatter used to fill the air daily back when she was a child with Liliahna overseeing the entire operation and a collection of elves, half elves and halflings worked side by side to create the silks and cotton fabrics the Al’Callani name had become synonymous with. But tonight she could only hear a single loom and the burble of one tank and the whispered voices of less than a handful of people.

She floated lower. “What in the seven hells?” Tar Di muttered from the doorway. Hikari could finally look inside and saw what she had feared from the moment she’d seen Charisia running the simple errand for the much needed alchemical supplies required in making their special silks. Sure enough Charisia was hunched over a tank slowly working the fibers through the process of loosening up to accept colouring. Liliahna worked at a single loom painstakingly weaving the threads into the softest and tightest of fabrics. On the other side Etheronim was also bent over a table mixing ingredients and none had noticed the arrival of Tar Di being so focused on their work.

“Maeve told me what you did today Sia,” came Liliahna’s soft voice. “You need to go and apologize to her in the morning.”

“But mother, it wasn’t my fault she stuffed the jar in without tying it in place.” Charisia whined back.

“And she is almost one hundred and twenty one and raised you when your father and I were busy trying to save our land. You know better and should have double checked for her. We can’t afford to waste any of it for any reason if we are going to have enough fabric to sell at the next market. You will apologize to her or you will have her chores added to your own once our guests leave.” There was steel in Liliahna’s voice and Charisia capitulated quickly. Hikari had counted six servants over their time at the Estate and knew that was the extent of their help and a fraction of what it was when she was growing up here. Something had happened to change their fortunes and it was nearing the end of what they could do to hold onto what little they had left.

Looking around the room Hikari noted that most of the magic placed in the weaving equipment were in disrepair or bleeding out or gone including the loom Liliahna was using. She estimated they had maybe a year or two more before it too would be broken. Their goods still sold well given the small carefully wrapped bolts on the center table but the volume wasn’t there anymore, nor was the help. She’d seen enough and was glad she’d conjured that mount for Thorbil to take back to High Port. Hopefully he’d be back at first light with what she’d asked for.

“Tar Di,” Hikari whispered and causing the youth to jump in fright. “Come back to the room and let them be. We need to talk.” Hikari floated away leaving tar Di clutching at her chest as the pounding of her heart subsided.

A few minutes after she’d returned to the guest room Tar Di walked in glaring at Hikari. “Thanks for almost killing me with fright.”

“We didn’t want you to get caught snooping. Sorry but grabbing you probably would have been worse.” Hikari shrugged. “Did you figure it out?”

Tar Di looked grumpy, “Yes. But why should we care if they are struggling to get by? If you asked me they deserve it for what they did to Paprikka and how they treat others. A good example of karma I’d say.”

“And at one time Paprikka would have agreed with you.” Hikari nodded in agreement.

“But… there is an awfully big but coming isn’t there?” Tar Di eyed her suspiciously. “How can you even think it given what happened today in High Port?”

“Because Charisia was scared. She lashed out in fear both at Mavis and us. She was given the better part of their funds to purchase those goods and she knew coming home without it would be disastrous. And yes, Elven pride meant she wasn’t going to ask us or anyone else for help with her problem. We were an elf once too, all great and powerful and all that.” Hikari chuckled mostly to herself. “I saw the stain on her fingers and knew it had to be from the dye vats and the process they use to make the silk take a deeper and much bolder colour than most places can produce. But I wasn’t certain until I came here and to do that I had to make sure she couldn’t say no by using the Archmage’s gift.”

“So? Even if they are not evil or bad people why are we here?”

“So we could learn the truth,” HIkari sighed and conjured up an illusion of the main room and spun it so Tar Di could see the wall with the paintings. “This wall is for portraits of all living family members. Even though they pushed Paprikka away they did not remove the picture. Instead they shrouded it in black as in mourning for a missing or departed family member. If they did not love her the painting would have been gone.” Tears ran down Hikari’s cheeks as she spoke. It had been so easy for her to hate them, to resent how she’d been treated and what she had been forced to do to survive. And yet… She still loved them, they were the only family Paprikka had ever known and to learn now that they mourned her meant much.

“Then what are we going to do? Tell them that you are Paprikka and do the whole tearful family reunion thing?” Tar Di wasn’t so impressed being an orphan who’d relied on a bear for protection for so long before being scooped up and dragged onto their ship.

Hikari shook her head, “No, Tar Di, Paprikka’s time here has passed and we do not wish to open old wounds or grudges. We want to help them, give them a chance to make a better life for themselves and give them what they need to become better. And for that we need to ask you to do something. Crazy, unique and only something you can do.” She had her apprentice’s attention now. “While Charisia sleeps I want you to fix her leg or change it or replace it or whatever you want to make it work like the good one does. It would make up for a mistake from years ago.”

“Charisia? Seriously? I still think she is the south end of a northbound mule.” Tar Di grinned at that one having heard it from one of the escaping slaves on the beach a while back and wanting to use it herself. Though Hikari knew that the chance to actually use her magic would change the young girl’s mind. And sure enough she grinned and shrugged. “But I think I might know of a spell that would work or something-ish.”

Hikari sighed and nodded, “Great, and try to remember what schools of magic will work best with what you are doing as even though it is chaotic in nature your magic will still want to follow the paths of least resistance.” That got her an eye-roll. “Once that is done we’ll head to their equipment and see if we can’t fix a few pieces for them now and the money Thorbil is bringing should take care of the rest. And Tar Di?” A wary “yes?” was her response.

“When we get back to High Port we think it is time we set you up properly for our adventures and travels. We’ll go shopping for equipment and supplies. You need to think of what weapon you want to be trained in so we can purchase a good one while in High Port.” Hikari paused once more and smiled, “And we think we have a much better way of helping you train that might not be so boring. But you need to figure out what kind of person you want to be. What do you want to do with your magic? Help yourself or help others?” Hikari held up a hand, “Don’t answer now. Give it some thought and get a little sleep. I’ll wake you when they’ve gone to bed.”

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When we Arrive Pt 1

Please Listen While Reading

The thirty-three or so former citizens of Glenrummy sat in the little room on the Champions Fist in a crude circle. Some sat up on the bed, but most were perched on the floor. Thaden, Aury Cat and Icarus stood in the middle of the circle address in the crowd.

“Good People of Glenrummy, we have traveled far, and our journey approaches its end, soon you will be safe, free and prepared to start a new life where you can grow and live without fear” the Guard Mouse said solemnly to the assembled crowd. “Once you are established in Lyithalus Icarus, Aury and I will be departing…” he paused to the gasps and outcries of

“You can’t leave us” or

“Who will protect us?” and

“won’t you think of the children?” or

“but you’re our leader”

To all of these Thaden put up calming hands, Aury could tell he was influencing them with the weave, to calm their concerns and have them listen to him

“My friends, and I now consider each of you as a friend, I have led you, and protected you, but I am not your leader, and I can’t be your protector… you will be safe on Lyithalus, there are elves, and Lycanthropes there that will know of you and will aid in your safety, but more importantly, you have trained and worked, part of freedom is knowing that you are able.” He paused for a moment letting his words soak in. “The work of the Guard is never done, and the road Aury and my Clavan cousin walk is one that I would not wish for any of you. Stay here in safety and allow the spirit of Ashla to guide you to peace and prosperity” he paused again, slowly turning off the spigot of the weave to allow them to absorb the meaning uninfluenced before continuing on “You have concerns, and one of you will need to step forward, one as a leader to communicate with the BIGS, and to assure that until the town is established and Alder Council can be set in place, they will make the decisions to assure your longevity. It is written well in the chronicles of the Guard, that a Guard Mouse cannot interfere with selecting rulers of any kind; this I must abide these rules, and so I leave it in the hands of Icarus, to oversee a fair election of your new leader. However it is decided, it will be decided within the next two days to assure Aury, Icarus and I have enough time to impart key information to your new leader.” He turned to Icarus “I leave this in your hands Cousin” he said clasping the Clava on the shoulder. With that he turned to Aury and nodded his head towards the door for them to take their leave. The two left into the hallway and as they did Aury could feel an intense sadness radiate from him

“What is wrong Thaden? They will be taken care of on Lyithalus, I am sure” she said nuzzling him with her head, he stroked behind her ears and gave her a big hug

“I will miss them… Goodbyes may be hard, but they are the life of a Guard Mouse… and something tells me deep inside, some glimpse of the weave perhaps, that once we leave the elven realm… I will never see them again” he hugged the kitten who could do little more then snuggle him and try to let him know, that no matter what, he would not be alone.

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An Unexpected Journey Home Pt 2

22nd of Reaping 383 ONT, Al’Callani Estate outside of High Port, 2:50pm

The shimmer disappeared as quickly as it began and the slight disorientation of travelling like that disappeared leaving Tar Di blinking and looking around in the dim light of the main hall. Lazy afternoon light left puddles of vibrant green carpet and warm polished wood amidst the shadows. At the back a small fire popped and crackled in the fireplace. The wood of the walls were carved in amazing detail and depicted scenes that she could only guess were either the histories of the elves or fables of some sort. A great table ran lengthwise in the main hall decorated with no less than four flower arrangements and had a small burbling fountain in the centre. On the far wall hung four portraits though one was covered with a thin black cloth.

“If you’ll excuse me, Miss Hikari, I’ll summon my parents and we can give you a proper welcome.” Tar Di noted that the lippy elf girl was acting a lot more humble now that Hikari had shown off some power and watched as Charisia gave a better curtsey before limping away and leaning heavily on her cane. So it wasn’t for show, hmmm.

She looked to Hikari and was surprised to see her close to tears. Tar Di did not understand. If anything she should be annoyed or smug about putting the elf in her place. More so given that Hikari had shared how she had been pushed to leave at an early age and all but disowned by the family. Hearing Charisia calling out for her parents, Tar di had to ask, “Why are we meeting them? We’ve, well you’ve done more than you needed to and we can go back to the palace at any time.”

“I did that to her,” Hikari responded, “It was my fault she has to use that cane. I wasn’t watching her close enough.” She looked down at the arachnid and touched it gently on the back. “No, we are still us and we will not forget that.”

Her mentor was strange enough before meeting and joining with the arachnid. Tar Di was still mad at hikari for not letting her go along into the temple. It sounded like they had a lot of fun down there and came out with some new abilities. Though losing her eyes was not something Tar Di wanted to experience. The problem was that just like when Paprikka had become Hikari and changed so too had she changed from her experiences in the temple and Tar Di was still trying to figure her out.

“So? That was Paprikka’s past and not you and it doesn’t mean we need to stay here any longer than it takes for you to recite that spell again to get us out of here. She’s rude, stuck up and way too elf for my taste. Her parents are probably the same.” Annoyance crept into her voice as Tar Di poked one of the carvings in the wall. Maybe she could make them move and enact the scenes so she’d know what the story was.

Hikari sighed, something she did a lot around Tar Di, and shook her head. “No, we will stay for a while. There is something that we need to do before we leave here, something that might help things change.”

“Change? These are minor elven nobles. They are set for life. What needs to change here?”

“Watch, listen and look closely Tar Di. Things are not as good as they appear.” Great, now she’d gone off being cryptic again. Why couldn’t Hikari be more direct and fun? All these rules, all these stupid tasks that she made Tar Di have to figure out on her own. Well maybe she would enchant the walls then just to… Wait? What was that?

Tar di spun around and looked towards a darker corner and froze a chill running up her spine. Shadows and shapes moved where none should move and clung to the wall. Faint purples, and reds much like auras but not on people slipped from shadow to shadow. Looking around she felt like this place, this estate was close to being a house of ghosts. But as soon as she tried to focus on one it would disappear on her.

Large doors on the other side opened and two elves, slightly older looking than Charisia to Tar Di’s eyes came through dressed equally as fine as their daughter had been. They smiled and gave the proper bows and greeting which Hikari returned in equal measure adding in the ‘we’ and her title for good measure which made them much more pleased with her presence. To Tar Di and Thorbil they barely glanced and she could tell they thought she was nothing more than Hikari’s servant or some such. Well that just meant she didn’t have to listen to the boring conversation they were going to have.

“…would be honoured to stay for dinner and spend the night. The Archmage is a busy man and would not miss us for an evening.” Wait what? Damn it all. She was seriously going to have to talk to Hikari about her ideas of fun and a good time. This just wasn’t right. Then she noticed Charisia standing off to the side and the youngest Al’Callani had a strange expression on her face. Looking back to the other two she noticed that both Liliahna and Etheronim were not as happy about it as they appeared. So why were they staying? Hikari wanted her to figure that part out. Well she wasn’t going to play along. After all how often did one get to explore an elven mansion?

A few servants began to move around cleaning and clearing things off and Tar Di was allowed to wander off with Hikari and the elves moving off to something called a solarium. For her part she was curious about the shrouded painting and moved over to it. Lifting the sheet she saw it was a picture of a youthful and happy Paprikka and she looked to be only a few years younger than Charisia was now. Well that was boring. Dropping the sheet she proceeded to wander off and made her way to other rooms in the house. But if there was something to be found beyond a dozen or so empty bedrooms and storage closets and only a half dozen servants quarters that even looked possibly occupied Tar Di was not seeing it.

Dinner was good, not Hikari cooking good but better than most places she’d eaten at and Tar Di did her best to be polite and behave mostly to avoid a lecture later. After dinner they were shown to a set of rooms that had been hastily cleaned and many apologies were given and polite conversation before they were allowed to close the door and get ready for bed.

“So, did you figure it out yet?” Hikari asked through a yawn.

“No,” Tar Di shrugged, “It’s just an old house with a lot of rooms and a few elves and halflings in it. Lots of it is unused but there isn’t anything wrong with the house or the people.” Tar di paused, “They still have a picture of you in the main room, which was odd.”

“I noticed it too,” Hikari nodded. “Was that all?” Tar Di nodded and Hikari sighed and shook her head. “Sleep well then. We will leave at first light.”

That bothered Tar Di. She’d missed something or managed to disappoint Hikari and she didn’t know how or why. Maybe she could ask Thorbil. He didn’t speak much and had a strange need to call Hikari Mistress but he was a good and honest sort. Wait, where was Thorbil? Thinking back he’d disappeared sometime before dinner and had not returned. Hikari wasn’t concerned or she would be taking the place apart piece by piece to find her friend so he wasn’t in danger. But where was he then? And where had the stuck up Charisia gone? She’d barely eaten anything before running off. This had to be related to what Hikari was talking about. Stupid Hikari and her stupid cryptic-ness.

Tar Di wasn’t going to get to sleep thinking about this and rolled out of bed. “Have to pee.” She told Hikari and slipping on her clothes left the room.

The shadows she’d seen earlier had disappeared or hidden with the arrival of Etheronim and his wife but now, with the estate once more quiet they were moving about again. Tar Di hated this, hated being able to see things like this and how no one else ever could. But they seemed to be rippling and moving in a particular pattern tonight and finding a bit of courage Tar Di followed after to see where they led.

Out of the guest wing and away from the Al’Callani side and out the back door. Slipping from the mansion she followed a well-worn path towards a small side building. Light blazed from a partially open doorway and odd sounds came from within. Tar Di approached cautiously trying to make no sound and stepped up to the door to look in…

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An Unexpected Journey Home Pt 1

22nd of Reaping 383 ONT, Streets of High Port, 1:12pm.

They left the pastry shop with Tar Di and Thorbil happily eating their purchases and Hikari with a greater understanding of a few new baking techniques for a couple difficult dishes she’d wanted to try. As promised, Hikari was showing Tar Di around High Port and by extension her dwarven shadow and the Tukin Knight for good measure. She was fairly certain Dallan had been here before. She didn’t mind the company and it was fun showing them where Paprikka had spent a good part of her life when she wasn’t back at the Al’Callani Estate. Even Phobia was interested in exploring and seeing for herself what she’d learned through Hikari’s memories. For her part, Hikari was getting a new view of the city with her magicked eyes and a new understanding of how and why buildings and streets were the way they are.

It was also nice to be out in the city without actually being on an errand or important mission or worrying about anything beyond finding the best vantage points to see the sights. A welcome bit of relaxation away from the others and the problems of the world that always found them. It felt like the list of people and places they needed to save or visit or complete a task at were growing with each new stop into port. But today was for forgetting all of that and just enjoying the good weather and good company.

“Why you stupid, good for nothing lawn ornament! The contents of that jar are worth more than you’ll make in a lifetime.” The angry words floated down the street and Hikari’s group all turned to look as a young elven woman berated a Halfling servant who was trying desperately to find something to scoop up the powder that was now all over the cobbles. Young, light hair, expensive and stylish clothing and an ornate cane which she had raised as if to strike or at least threaten the Halfling with it made Hikari freeze in place. She knew that woman, knew her as well as she knew herself. Even after being apart for almost twenty years she would never forget her cousin and onetime sister. Charisia Al‘Calanni, the only daughter of Etheronim and Liliahna Al’Callani and the only family Paprikka ever knew.

The rant continued though she did little beyond waving her cane around. Beside her and the Halfling was an overly large pack bulging with various bottles and jars. Hikari was moving before she even realized it. Getting close she saw the silvery contents spread amongst the glass and cobbles and sighed. It was one of the ingredients they used in the weaving process of their silks, one that helped strengthen the fibers from wear. She turned and asked Thorbil to purchase a new jar from the merchant dropping a few gold into his hands before looking back to Charisia.

The elven woman moved to block Hikari’s access to the powder and glared at her. “Keep moving half-breed, I’ll not let you take what is mine. Not without paying me for it.” Pleasant as always, Hikari sighed and shook her head. The Halfling woman still kneeling in the street picking out shards of glass from the silver powder was also known to Hikari. Mavis Thistlewood was a quiet woman whose family had long served the Al’Callani line and should have retired years ago. For her to be out with Charisia was not a good sign.

“We’d like to help you, my friend is going to purchase a new jar and we can…”

“How about no. I’ve a rule about trusting people wearing carcasses.” She sniffed and looked over Hikari’s shoulder at Tar Di, Dallan and the returning Thorbil. “And given the company you keep I’d say mercenaries at best and adventurers at worst. What? Couldn’t shake down some poor sod on the road for their hard earned coin so you came to the city to cause trouble?”
Hikari took a deep breath feeling Phobia’s unhappiness and knowing the others were wondering why she was even trying. She didn’t want to do it but with Charisia’s upbringing it was going to be the only way to get her to listen. She showed off the broach from the archmage. “That is no way to treat those who are guests of the Archmage. We would expect more from you Charisia Al’Calanni or have your manners devolved to match those of the wild elves? Don’t be foolish and turn away help freely offered.”

Hikari watched as her cousin’s face went through a range of emotions from surprise to anger before settling on grudging respect and burning curiosity as she recognized the symbol. She gave the barest of nods and stared closely at Hikari, “My most sincere apologies.” Hikari doubted that. “It has been a day of frustration and I’ve now lost both my ingredients as well as ride home. Anything you can do to help would be appreciated.”

“Tar Di, hold the jar close to the powder. Thorbil, can you see to Mrs Thistlewood please?” Both moved to do as directed with her apprentice glaring at her cousin. A few incantations later and the powder was collected and resealed with the broken glass removed from the street.

“Thank you, it is better than nothing I suppose.” Charisia eyed the mostly full jar doubtfully. “Though I’m curious as to how you knew my name and that of my servant.”

“We know much about your family Charisia and would help where we could despite or because of the past we share.” Hikari’s answer did nothing beyond annoy Charisia and she shoved the jar back into the large pack. “But talking in the street is probably not the best for this conversation. So we would suggest a more comfortable place to discuss things.”

“I am certain my parents would welcome someone who has the favour of the Archmage under their roof and they would show you every courtesy including a wonderful meal. But it is a bit of a journey and I am sure the Archmage would rather you be nearby.”

“It’s not an issue. We can help you get home much faster than renting a carriage and we can all go at once if you are done here?” Charisia gave a slow nod of acceptance having deduced that Hikari meant to use magic.

“I can send her where she belongs. I have just the spell that should work.” Tar Di pipes up and for the longest of moments Hikari actually ponders letting her do it. It would be interesting to find out which plane or place her one time sister ended up.

“Not today Tar Di. Today we will just make sure she gets home with a simple teleport spell.” Hikari motioned for them all to gather close so she could cat the spell and bring them all to the estate she grew up at.

“Teleport? How boring. I had this really interesting idea about an inter-planar worm that makes holes you can travel through and go anywhere in the blink of an eye. Wait, don’t you have to be familiar with the area to get close to where you want to go?”

Hikari nodded impressed that Tar Di remembered that much at least, “We have more than a passing familiarity with the place.” Charisia gave her an odd look obviously not recognizing Hikari but nodded a little less sure but wanting to return home hours ahead of her current schedule was enough for her to take the chance. “Dallan, could you let Thalion know I’ll be away for a day or so please?”

He nodded, “Of course Hikari. Though Ze might want to know where and why.”

“Home, we go to Paprikka’s home.” She grinned, “And Ze can wonder all Ze wants about that.”

Hearing no disagreements Hikari motioned for those going to stay close and cast her spell. She pictured the entryway of the estate with a clarity that surprised her and the magic pulled them through moments later leaving them standing in the estates main hall facing the entry way…

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Pegging Alignment Pt 2

23rd of Reaping ONT, the Illustrious Gardens of the Sun Priestess, Highport, Elven Court, 3:54pm

Erindale met the steely stare of the Knight of Quenya and slowly inhaled a deep breath, stiffening his back as if summoning some inner power or strength before rearranging the laws of the universe to have significantly less Thalion in them.

“Are these words true Sir Thalion Alfrin of Lyithalus Vineyard? Do you speak to me with the strength and certainty of moral superiority? Or are these just the words of a coward who fears being caught and so wets himself before slinking away into the night?” Thalion shook with anger but knew better then to threaten or strike a mage.

“I assure you Arch Magus, I am no coward, and my word speaks only truth” he said invoking the ancient creed of Calaquendi. The Arch Magus nodded once, simply and complete.

“Good.” He said

“Good?” that was not what Thalion had expected, he cocked his head to the side, but already the Arch magus was stepping into the clearing, in nine quick steps he was at the now vacated mating grounds and stooping to examine stool left nearby, Thalion hurried to catch up

“… someone has been feeding the Pegasus middlemist buds… perhaps it was not our good unicorns fault after all…” the mage mused as he rubbed the stole between his fingers

“What do you mean good?” Thalion asked, Erindale looked up from his crouched position, wiping his hands together and magically cleaning them as he stood

“I mean good; you passed the test… we can now work together in earnest” he said leaning to the left and right to gauge which direction the Pegasus might have trotted off in

“the test? It was a test?” Thalion asked, still confused but quickly growing annoyed

“Of course it was a test… I have to say, you had me worried their for awhile… Killing the Speaker of the Sun… Ha, like I would ask a Knight of Reeve to do such a task…. Your friends appear a little blood thirsty, but morality is an elven gift, so as long as you keep the gripplie in check I can hardly place to deep a blame, all creatures must act within their nature, no matter how violent or depraved we believe it to be” the Arch Magus took off down the left most path, ushering the Knight of Quenya to follow.

“So you are not going to kill the Speaker of the Sun?” Thalion confirmed following after the wizard, who made it maybe two dozen paces before stopping at a purplish bush

“The only one who is going to die is the Steward of this Park for planting a red middlemist bush in a unicorn mating circle” the Arch Magus said with a menace in his voice. He examined the bush for a few long moments before turning back to Thalion, his dark expression turning to a jovial smile in an instant “but no, of course we are not going to slay the foundation of elvish culture just because it annoys us. You are a good man Thalion Alfrin, a little slow, but good none the less. If we want to save our people in earnest we have much to do, and I feel we can work well together… head back to your ship, good things are coming your way, and once they have we will have much to discuss”

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