Alahna and Selene Travel To The Sleeping City
Selene and Alahna watched the rising tide roll in beneath the Riven Moon with its ruddy rings as their tired horses and the old mule plodded along anticipating bags full of grain and much needed rest beneath the great cliffs on the lee side of the Cape of Orion. A biting sand-ridden sea-breeze stung their bare faces while the smell of decaying kelp, sea wrack, and beach foam pervaded the whipping winds.
Uncovering the source of the mysterious Takings meant Alahna had to go deep inside the Almseeare hidden in The-Sleeping-City beneath the fabled Caverns of Orion. Hoping to activate the ancient eyes-in-the-sky orbiting Janaidar and search the entire island continent of Aryavartha for clues, she was also desperate that she not awaken an ancient, malevolent artificial-sapience known as The-Creeping-Darkness, for such a perfidious act was forbidden—a crime punishable with Death-by-Source.
Yet here she was, preparing to call on the WuShi to power-up the ancient, forbidden tech. As such, desperation and fear also rode with them. Her only regret was that sweet innocent Selene, her young acolyte, was forced to accompany her on this forbidden quest, for Alahna needed her help to survive the upcoming travail.
Selene raised her voice over the restless wind, “I’ll tether the horses to that scrub under the big overhang by the spring and unpack the old mule. Then, we’ll pitch our tent and get a fire going.”
Alahna and Selene Wait for the Guardian Dragons at Cape of Orion
With the adepts warm and safe inside of Selene’s sphere-of-power, Esau and the rest pitched camp in the same place where she and Alahna had done on that initial adventure, which now seemed a lifetime ago. The animals naturally gathered around the spring-fed pool beneath the hidden overhang to settle for the night. By late evening, the encampment was complete with tents snapping and billowing in the sea-breeze next to a large fire-pit of glowing coals. Esau’s mother had a huge cast-iron cooking pot hanging from a heavy iron spit with the savory smell of stew wafting through the campsite.
Deeply worried, Selene made her first order of business to get Alahna comfortable inside the big tent. With a chronic severe headache accompanied by complaints of weakness in her left arm, nausea, and frequent vomiting, Alahna awakened from the coma and seemed to be holding her own without improving. Selene knew enough to make her mistress drink tea and broth after every bout of sickness, but Alahna seemed dull and lethargic while complaining of blurred vision and stars before her eyes. Worse, she complained of tingling about her body here and there. Struggling to understand Selene’s questions and formulate cogent answers, Alahna blurred her speech. Sentences came in fragments.
Selene knew the signs of a severe concussion and reinforced her healing songs, which seemed aggravating and ineffective. With her eidetic memory, she might replicate Alahna’s Song-of-Opening in the Long Shai, but there was no one to hold a Sigil-of-Opening in place. Myrna and Teewan were untrained, overwhelmed, and both were as tired as she was. Worry ate at her resolve.
Thoughts rang in her mind. How can things get any worse? Once those accursed doors are open, then what? The damnable things fought me to exhaustion trying to close on their own. And I have never seen The-Sleeping-City. How would I know where to go? Shaking her head, she put it all out of her mind for the moment and attended to other, more pressing matters—matters within her control. Inside the tent settled and warm, Alahna faded in and out of consciousness in ongoing delirium. The girls bedded down either side of her and cuddled close to keep her warm.
The Dragon’s Breath Caravel Slips Past Bahndahn Towne
Down on the quarterdeck, Oren’s voice was low as he laid out his orders for the First Mate, “Unfurl yer foresail and the spanker, an’ tell the signalman to have the barge deploy their sea-anchor to keep the towline taught. Smartly now—mister! She means us to navigate through Bahndahn quiet as a seagull’s fart in a snow storm.”
Oren turned to the petty officer he sent for, “We’ll be runnin’ through Bahndahn on the quiet and can’t use the voicepipe whistles. They carry on the breeze. Take yer navigation flag and hang a lantern by the Bow Watch Station so we can see ya. I’ll place a watch relay for the helmsman. Keep at least 150-meters clear a’ the docks.”
The noncom said, “Aye, aye, sir,” and hustled to the bow.
As Selene’s summoned the wind from her sphere-of-power, it arose and blew counter to the natural nighttime winds, which caused the sails to luff and flutter in uncertain gusts till her powers dominated. The sails quietly billowed as the caravel’s rudder gained increasing steerage. The towline to the heavily laden barge lifted dripping from the water when the bargemen threw out their sea-anchor.
To Teewan, Selene said, “Can ye hum and carry a low pulse on middle-C? Teewan nodded. When Selene sang the Song-of-Sleep on Bahndahn Towne, a lethargy fell over the townspeople. Wherever they were, whatever they were about, they safely completed their work and fell into a deep slumber. An hour passed as the Dragon’s Breath and barge quietly slipped past the wharves and shipyard with nary an eye open to see. As the next hour passed, the signalman requested less and less breeze. When it got to where the sigil provided no help, the signalman released the need for their wind-song. A natural land breeze blowing downstream was fine.