106 - ONE NIGHT IN GIDEON

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106 - ONE NIGHT IN GIDEON

Post  Admin on Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:23 am

Aidan is shown his private quarters on the second deck of the Zephyr Breeze by one of the crew members. She is half-elven (her name is “Tanith”) and informs him that suitable attire and private facilities for cleaning himself are available inside so that he may prepare for his outing. “Have a pleasant evening in the city,” Tanith tells him. “It is good to have you on board with us again. Ahlissa is very fond of your company.”

Aidan thanks her.

Aidan finds his quarters consist of two rooms – a 7' x 7' bedroom, including a set of drawers, a footlocker and a wardrobe, and a smaller 5' x 7' shower / toilet area. The lighting in his room is controlled not by magic, but rather an alternative source and he can activate it by means of a small touch panel on the wall. He recalls that Zanarkand utilised it's lightning towers and steam engines to generate an energy form that the mages called 'electricity'. This energy to power the lighting seemed similar, but more self-contained. INTELLIGENCE CHECK 19. “Progenitor technology?” he muses.

This is probably quite a prized ship Aidan thinks. But then this is the only one I've been on, perhaps they are all like this.

Aidan washes thoroughly, the first time he has felt so clean in a long while. The wardrobe contains a selection of clothing but the most appealing outfit is a set of dark green leather trousers, a fine black silk shirt, a gold and silver embroidered waist coat with soft-soled calf length boots. He does see other flowing robes of various colours and a range of accessories, such as neck chains, broaches, headbands, belts, bracelets and other things. The clothing fits perfectly, almost as though it had been tailored for him.

Aidan makes sure his personal equipment and items are stored safely away. He uses the footlocker and can see that it has been provided with a special key. The key is magical.

Ahlissa is waiting for Aidan on the observation deck when he finds her. It is a calm night and the air is very warm. She looks resplendent in a flowing blue and white patterned long dress that hugs her figure nicely. She wears a thin gold headband with a small garnet set into it, while around her neck there hangs a fine long platinum chain on which an amulet, consisting of an amethyst gemstone surrounded by diamonds that are arranged in a star like pattern. She is wearing silver coloured high heeled shoes, quite a change from the boots he has always seen her in. She smiles and greets him warmly.

“You look stunning,” Aidan remarks. He blushes as he says so.

She smiles when he blushes. “I see you are revitalised after your exploits in the desert and have dressed for our occasion,” she teases. “You have chosen well.” Aidan senses she has approved of his clothing selection, which puts him more at ease. “We are going for an evening of dinner and dance at Gideon's famous Liberty Spire,” she tells him. “I think you will like it.”

INTELLIGENCE CHECK 20.

Aidan knows the Liberty Spire is a place where the rich, elite or famous will often go. It is quite an exclusive location, not a typical place for someone of his lower standing to frequent. And, given Ahlissa's roguish reputation, he is perhaps surprised she would go to such a place.

She smiles again.

Ahlissa laughs “Don't worry, you'll be fine. We are very welcome there. My business dealings afford me additional luxuries and I undertake work for a range of interesting clients.”

Aidan nods and says “I just hope I don't make a mess of myself on the dance floor.”

She replies “After a few drinks I am sure you'll be fine.”

From the airship docking station both Ahlissa and Aidan walk down a long flight of stairs and enter into the Commerce Quarter of the city. Even at night, trading continues and Aidan recalls his life in the city before he was discovered on the streets by mages and educated. Somehow, it seems to him, everything seems so much busier now. He realises he has been isolated with his books and his studies for a long time. “Penny for your thoughts?” Ahlissa teases. “You seem distracted by something.”

“Just remembering my life on the streets before i was found by the mages. It brings back memories. It is a totally different world than being a closeted bookworm as I have these past few years,” he says with a smile.

“I agree,” she says.

“So have you got another contract? Perhaps you'll get one when we go to the Liberty Spire.”

She looks at Aidan and smiles again. “All in good time,” she tells him. “Tonight is for pleasure and relaxation. Work comes later and don't worry, I do have a client or two in mind. I'll tell more later.”

“You look splendid enough to win anyone over,” he says with a smile and then takes her arm and they walk together.

They cross the Commerce Quarter and Ahlissa hails an air barge that transports them across rock islands and between the towers to the Pleasure Quarter. They disembark at a long wide platform that spans a massive gap between two towers and walk to the inviting entrance at the lowest level of the Liberty Spire. As they arrive, two door attendants greet them warmly and usher them in. They are dressed in black trousers, white shirts, white gloves and wear crimson coloured overcoats and top hats with gold trim. “Good evening, Lady Ahlissa, your table for two is prepared and waiting inside. It is so good to see you,” one of them gushes. “Is there anything further that you, or your companion may require?”

She regards the usher with a pleasant smile. “Hello Anders, it is so good to be back again. We are both fine this evening, thank you.” She replies.

Aidan walks with Ahlissa through a lobby area and they proceed along a red carpet down a long ornately decorated hall, and into a lavish ballroom and banquet hall. He sees a large central dance floor, a performance stage, a live band, a bar, a side kitchen, and a massive dining area. There is a side door that leads out to a second entertainment area and the signage above the door reads “casino”.

Aidan can see that many high ranking bearaucrats and officlals of Gideon are here and, while not too certain, he thinks he may see the occasional familiar face from former Zanarkand here too. Notably some of the younger mages that were being schooled by the ill-fated Arcane Council.

[PERCEPTION 28 ] He catches a fleeting glimpse of an older man with glasses, possibly his former mentor, Master Brevax.

[PERCEPTION 30 ] He is not certain, but it is possible that an alluring young woman with heavy makeup, dark hair, dark eyes and wearing a red and silver dress with silver shoes is staring at him from across the room.

[PERCEPTION 28 ] The Areni Elvish Ambassador is here. He is in the company of at least six other people, five are obviously elves from the nation of Aerenal (Ahlissa confirms this is the case) while the sixth is wearing a hooded robe and, curiously, Aidan notices, is not partaking in the consumption of any food or drink ... Ahlissa suggests the sixth member of the Ambassador's party may actually be a deathless representative from Shae Mordai, the City of the Elven Dead.

Ahlissa approaches the front of house attendant and he immediately recognises her. “Lady Ahlissa, it is wonderful to have you with us again.” He summons another attendant who escorts them to a private table for two in the dining area. It is positioned near a corner and offers a clear view of the ballroom, dining and bar areas. “A waiter will be with you shortly,” the attendant tells them.

“Thank you,” Ahlissa replies.

The attendant leaves and the waiter arrives, takes an order and departs. “You will be served within the half hour,” he informs them. “Drinks will be delivered very soon. As always, my lady, all is well. Everything has already been paid for.”

“Thank you,” she smiles and then she turns her attention to Aidan. “So, what are you thinking?” She asks him. “I imagine this is not the life you are accustomed to leading.” He gets the sense she might think he is suspicious about how well she is being treated by everyone.

“I am just surprised that you are so well known. You seem ... given your natural beauty ... walking in company like this must be quite the norm.”

She thinks for moment. “Let's put it this way. My business clients go out of their way to ensure that I remain well treated and ... comfortable. I know things ... they know I know things ... so we have an arrangement. This is one of the perks of being an independent airship entrepreneur and trader,” she tells him. “Look, some clients simply owe me a favour. Some want their secrets to be kept that way. This is an excellent location for keeping in contact and its also a fertile ground for identifying new clients. Plus I like the food and entertainment,” she laughs.

“and may I ask a personal question? Wouldn't people ask questions like who am I ... why is someone like me here?” he asks.

“Not at all, you are a fine young man on my arm for his delightful evening. Nobody will question that.”

Aidan makes mention of the alluring young woman who was apparently staring at him.

“Interesting,” Ahlissa replies. “Perhaps I am not the only woman who likes the look of you. Sounds like competition to me,” she teases.

The best quality wine is provided to their table and Ahlissa consumes several glasses, encouraging Aidan to do the same. He does so reluctantly, but is careful so as not to make a fool of himself. He wants to enjoy the atmosphere and company. After a couple of glasses of wine. He begins to feel light headed and there is a moment when he starts feeling overwhelmed by all of the activity of this place.

CONSTITUTION CHECK /FORTITUDE 21. The buzz of the place is very exciting and Aidan feels he can relax a bit more.

The food is delivered and it is very delicious. A range of meats and different dishes, some with exotic spices. They engage in small talk about her travels and his own.

“Time to dance!” Ahlissa exclaims, grabbing Aidan by the arm and leading him to the dance floor.

She is very graceful and a skilled dancer. DEX CHECK 19 – Aidan somehow manages to keep up, even if he is unsure of the correct moves and sequences in the dances that are performed.

The music and the movement of the dance is enchanting. One particular highlight of this evening's dance is that the dance floor itself becomes magically suspended above the main floor as the dance unfolds. It is quite a thrilling and exciting experience and the music itself shifts between slow orchestral romantic pieces and more upbeat rythmic tunes with unusual stringed instruments that offer deeper and more high pitched metallic tones. The band playing them, “Shift Onz” proves to be extremely popular.

[PERCEPTION 29 ] During the dance Aidan again observes among the dancers that one of them is the alluring young woman who was staring at him earlier from across the room. He sees that she is again watching him, perhaps scrutinising him for something. When she sees that he has noticed her she smiles and then looks away and he sees that she does not look at him again during the dancing.

As the music subsides and the revellers return to their tables for more food, drink and polite conversation, Ahlissa excuses herself from the table “I'll be back soon, I need to visit the ladies' room.”

Aidan rises as she leaves the table, just to be the gentlemen on the occasion. He sits again. There is plenty more food, including dessert available. More wine is offered. He takes some and makes sure that Ahlissa's glass remains filled.

Aidan finds himself alone, although the waiter does briefly return to refill the carafe on their table with more wine. “Is everything OK, young master?”

“Yes, I am just waiting for the return of Lady Ahlissa.”
“Indeed. I am sure she will be not long. Is there anything else that you require?”
“No thank you – your service and food have been wonderful.”
“Thank you ... you are too kind ... I am merely undertaking my duty. I am pleased you are having a good time.”

The waiter departs and then Aidan notices a familiar person waving out to him from a nearby table. It is Master Brevax! He sees Master Brevax stand and move over to him. He takes Ahlissa's seat in her absence. “Aidan ... my young lad, my, my ... it has been so long since I saw you! I always feared something terrible had happened to you ... the last news I heard was that you went back to the library ... before that THING arrived and destroyed everything that we knew. What happened to you?”

Aidan briefly informs him of the last moments in Zanarkand with Zanthar, Izendraazt and the Wasteland Druid. “What are you doing now? Hopefully someone has noticed your phenomenal skill with libraries and has given you such a position here.”

“That is most interesting indeed, young Aidan. I find myself these days helping the scholars and mages of Gideon City. I work in the Korranberg Academic Centre, it's sponsored by the famous Korranberg Library you know! I'm quite often tasked with research by the Seeker and the Gatherer, so it is very exciting here,” Brevax tells him. “I'm still very sad at losing what we had ... the library and the museum that we built together in Zanarkand,” Brevax says with a slight tear in his eye. “Those were good days, before the evil came. Mysterious days. I have to admit that your discoveries beneath the library did come as quite a surprise to me. A sentient space? I never would have believed it, until you described it to me!”

“I am quite prepared to detail the experiences I have encountered, if you want a record of them? After all I was the one who was there and closest to it.”

“Why that would be wonderful, if time permits you to do that then by all means, it would be a privilege to be given such writings. There are few who have recognised a half-elf from Zanarkand could have possibly been a witness to one of the most important events in our region's history. After all ... it's not every day that Mabar connects to our plane of existence and allows a demi-god from the void to step through. Yes ... your writings would be a fine edition to the Korranberg Academic Centre's collection.”

“I still have all my notes taken from that time and if you are able to provide me with ... perhaps an empty book and writing equipment ... I will do this as I travel with Ahlissa. And it will be exclusive with this one book, to you.”

“Oh ... that would be superb. I will have suitable writing equipment sent to you. The Zephyr Breeze – is that where my assistants can find you?”

“Yes. Another thing ... is there is a spell that will let me transcribe notes automatically as I read or write them?”

Master Brevax thinks for a moment and replies “I will have the necessary spell and components included with the supplies. I am surprised you don't know it already he says.”

“Yes, you are right, but I have always used Blue, so have not kept up with that knowledge.” Aidan says.

Master Brevax gets a serious look about him. “You know, boy, when the evil of Izen'draazt was sundered and forced back into the void it took a long time for the sands between Zanarkand and Gideon to recover. The process is still incomplete and much evidence remains of that disaster. I am planning an expedition. One day I hope to go back to sift through whatever remains of our old museum and library, to salvage what I can. If I ever do that then it is my hope that you might be able to join me. Would you be interested in that endeavour when the time comes?”

“Yes ... most definitely. Perhaps we could use the Zephyr Breeze to carry our supplies and stuff. I know Ahlissa would be interested.”

He smiles at that and says “That is good news, I will let you know when preparations are under way. It is too early yet but the day will come.”

Aidan leans forward and quietly asks “What ever came of Lord Khannay?”

Master Brevax again looks serious. “He was murdered. A team of outsiders attacked him in his private quarters when they broke into his tower. Nothing remained of him except an ash stain on his fancy carpets. The rumours doing the rounds imply that Lord Khannay was a vampire with connections to some kind of cult of demon worshippers. It was a tragic circumstance and his killers were never brought to justice as they fled the scene. The implication that he was a vampire was never proven and I was certainly unaware if that was ever true.”

Aidan tells him that he is “working with Ahlissa. I have learned more about myself but cannot tell you about that at the moment. There will be a day when i can share that. I find Ahlissa and the crew are like a home and family for me, something i have missed for a long time.”

Master Brevax pauses for monent and studies Aidan. “Is everything alright Aidan?” Master Brevax enquires. “You seem different. I can't explain it. You appear as I remember but there is something that has changed about you. Is something wrong?”

“- Aidan is just feeling the effects of fine drink and over indulgence in fine food this evening,” Ahlissa informs him as she returns to the table.

Master Brevax stands at the sound of her voice and bows graciously to her. “Lady Ahlissa,” he says. “So good to see you. Why, yes ... young master Aidan's constitution always was a little intolerant of alcohol.” he laughs and looks at Aidan. “yes, indeed, I do understand completely.”

[PERCEPTION 20 ] Aidan sees that Master Brevax looks at him oddly when he says this, stopping short of winking. He gets the feeling that perhaps Brevax suspects he not OK, perhaps under the influence of something more than what Ahlissa is professing.

Aidan shakes Master Brevax's hand. “All is well and you can trust me on that. I look forward to completingmy experiences on Zanarkand and getting it to you as quickly as i can..”

“Excellent! Yes, well, anyway it is good to see my favourite assistant scholar once again. It has been far too long. Nevertheless, I must be going. Good fortune to you both in your travels,” Master Brevax tells him.

“Have an enjoyable evening,” Ahlissa says. “So good to see you.”

Aidan notices that she is staring while he returns to his table. Is she suspicious of something? He muses.

Aidan stands as she seats herself. She looks at him.

“I am being cautious, Aidan, that is all.” Ahlissa says rather curtly. “Old friends and acquaintances may not necessarily be who they claim or seem. We have all experienced some dark times and this is now a time of renewal. But we must never forget that old alliances and indeed ancient powers still lie in wait across this land. Khorvaire is a melting pot of espionage and every group has planted agents everywhere. Who did Master Brevax tell you that he is now working for?”

“He is working for the Korranberg Academic Centre.” Aidan says. He tells her he is going to write a diary of his experiences of Zanarkand for him (not including anything that happened afterward). “He is looking at returning to Zanarkand in the future to find what remains of the library. If there is anything to be perhaps suspicious of, two things come to mind. Firstly he noticed there was a change in me, which you heard and secondly, he may have been under the influence at some time, of Lord Khannay, who I learned was a vampire and is now dead. I was careful to ensure that he knew nothing of what has happened recently.”

Ahlissa appears to visibly relax and then she says “ The very same Lord Khannay who was exposed as a vampire with links back to the bloodline of Vol and Cheliax, the enclave of demon worshippers near the border of Karranath? Now I am not suggesting that Master Brevax knew of Khannay's affiliations or true nature but quite unwittingly he did serve such an influential master. It could be again that he is working for people whom might use his good nature to learn more about you. You must be careful, I am very concerned for you. I hear what you are telling me, so that does allay some concerns. Do you wish for me to have his new role at the Korranberg Academic Centre investigated?”

“Yes, if you would not mind ... I respect fondly so, Master Brevax, and I would not like him to be used as the pawn in someone else's game.”

“i understand. My friends will be discreet in their investigation. Anything untoward will be revealed to us but will not be acted upon unless you tell us it is OK.”

“Perhaps you might want to find out, if you can, if his plan to go back to Zanarkand is his ... or is he being manipulated or directed by another influence to do so. If that is the case then there must be something there that needs to be recovered.”

“That could be true but rest assured we will learn what lies at the heart of that matter. Come now, why are we being so serious ... let us continue enjoying the atmosphere and finish our meal.”

They finish dining and then Ahlissa informs Aidan that they have a room waiting upstairs. “We will rest here this evening”, she informs him “and return to the Zephyr Breeze in the morning. Is that OK with you?”

“Certainly.”

They rise from the table.

[PERCPETION CHECK 29] The young alluring woman is watching Aidan and Ahlissa as they leave the room. She remains seated.

The lobby contains magical elevators that take them up to the 26th floor of the Liberty Spire. They are escorted to a magnificent room that has a balcony. From there the view is very inspiring. Aidan is very impressed.

Ahlissa prepares herself and goes to bed.

“Rest Aidan ...” Ahlissa tells him. “We will be travelling north tomorrow. I have a consignment to deliver within four days.”

Aidan nods and returns to the room. He thinks “where will I rest?”

“You look unconfortable – what is the matter? There is only one bed in this room. Don't worry, it's not a problem. We can share it. I won't bite.”

Aidan blushes and pauses. He climbs into bed but stays on the edge. “Sleep well, this has been a good night and she touches his shoulder affectionately.”

“It's been a beautiful night with beautiful company.”

“Good, Come now, rest. You need to keep your wits about you. My crew will say nothing of the time that we have spent together. I imagine you'll be wanting to get rid of any potential hangover.”

They sleep.

They rest, awaken and re-dress the next morning. Breakfast is delivered to the room, a choice of cereals and hot cooked food is offered. They eat at a small table on the balcony.

“Did you enjoy the evening we shared here last night?” Ahlissa asks Aidan.

“Yes indeed, ahhh ... look. I think you know how I feel about you so I was thinking last night, why me?”

She pauses and looks at Aidan “Because you are here, you are travelling with me and you are available. Also, you needed to relax and become familiar again with a large city. Granted, this isn't a typical city, but it is crowded and full of many different types of people all the same. I also had another motive ... I wanted to see if anybody recognised you from your previous times in the city when you first left Zanarkand. There was a price on your head. There is no longer. But you never know ... there may be parties still interested in you all the same. We will return from time to time. As I explained last night, this is also a place where I do keep in regular contact with a variety of my clients.”

Aidan thinks he was just being used

“Wait a moment – I know what you are thinking – don't think for a moment that I want something to happen to you. I don't ... I feel protective towards you. As it happens, nobody presented a threat and I doubt that any threat towards you exists any longer. “

“Except the woman who watched us both leave last night. And when I saw her on the dance floor, she turned away and did not look at me again. So she is no competition.”

“Indeed. Was she attractive?“

“Yes. But that is all.”

“Then why did you not go to her?” she teases.

“Because I was in the company of you.”

Ahlissa smiles. “I see.”

They finish eating breakfast and leave the room. In the corridor outside, Aidan observes that the young alluring woman who had been watching him the previous night is also leaving a room two doors down in the company of a young man with long blonde hair who is dressed in very fine clothes. They arrive at the elevator with Aidan and Ahlissa and all share the ride down to the lobby together.

There is an awkwardness. Aidan feels that the woman is still watching him and for a moment he feels the hair on the back of his neck rise, it is almost as though he can feel her breath on his skin. It makes him feel a little uneasy.

They exit the elevator and, as they do so, the young woman accidentally brushes by him.

[PERCEPTION 29 ] Aidan realises the woman has placed something into his waistcoat pocket. It is a handwritten note.

“Forgive me,” the woman says apologetically. “I'm sorry.”

Aidan nods.

[PERCEPTION 24 ] Aidan sees that her eyes are unusual. They are lavendar and slightly gold-flecked, or have some kind of similar oddity about them.

As the other couple go their separate way, Ahlissa says “What was that about?”

“Is there somewhere private we can chat?”
“Of course, we can go to a booth in the dining area.”

INTELLIGENCE CHECK 19 ... Aidan considers that the colouring of eyes are unusual but they are also familiar. While he hasn't encountered them directly before, he thinks that the woman may not actually be human. She may be a changeling.

They go to to the private booth and Aidan explains his suspicion of the girl to Ahlissa. He describes the eyes and informs her she gave him a note in his pocket. He reveals the note and unfolds it, to see what it reads (in elven):

“We share something in common. I know of the mark you bear and may be able to help you uncover its power. When you are next in Gideon you can locate me at the Broken Blade inn. Ask the proprietor for me and we can talk.

Jillian”


Ahlissa says “Well now ... isn't that curious? A changeling contacting you directly. I wonder how she knew?”

“How did she know about my mark, if it indeed so.”

“Exactly.” Ahlissa says. “We are new in Gideon and nobody could have told others to be expecting us.”

“Could it be possible, as the guardian knew me from being related to the race that lived at the ruined location, could it be that I am not the only one?”

“It depends on what that means. Are you suggesting that she thinks that you are somehow related to changelings? As far as we are aware your bloodline is not related to anything remotely like that.”

Aidan thinks back to the history he read of the LeShay in the ruins. Can LeShay change form? Yes they can. They can appear as anything they choose, automatically. He considers that technically, from a ppint of view, this means that LeShay might be considered as changelings. However from his readings, he knows it is not a racial quality that exists in the blood, rather it is a learned magical effect that the LeShay employ to conceal themselves.

“Her race came from another world. I am a lesser bloodline that is related to LeShay so my people also came from another world. I think we should go to this inn and talk to her.”

“I advise against acting on this now. I understand your enthusiasm but look at this from another perspective. Think about the world we find ourselves in. This woman – a changeling – could be working for another group with different motives to what you might assume. It could be trap. I suggest you wait before meeting her. I can arrange for some ... associates ... to have a look at the inn to see if there is anything sinister at play.”

“the note did say 'when I next return'. Perhaps I should write a reply note, to say ... in six days or similar?”

“If you wish to do so then that is your business. Do you wish for the premises to be looked over first?”

“Yes, for two reasons. One to check on how genuine she is and the second to find out whether she herself is being observed. We know the Seeker is hunting for another mark.”

“Yes ... another angle to be wary of,” Ahlissa confirms. “There is a group hunting for people with abberant dragonmarks. Their identities are unknown for they operate very discreetly. Of course, we don't know for certain that your chest pain is related to such a condition. But it is a possibility.”

“The note does reference a mark.”

“Yes, and the changeling's approach – while discreet – is also very direct. It implies she has a mark too. If that is the case, it is not knowledge that would be offered so lightly. Hence my suspicion it could be a trap to capture you.”

Aidan nods.

“We should return to the airship as we are expected and have an errand to run. The clock is ticking.”

“Let us go, you are the captain.”

Aidan does want the woman followed, if that is possible, and he does want the inn cased for any signs of danger. He leaves a note with instructions for it to be delivered to the inn that advises he will be at the inn in six days time.

Ahlissa and Aidan return to the Zephyr Breeze.

“We should get changed,” Ahlissa tells him. “Get into something more suitable for travelling and exploring. I will meet you on the bridge when you are ready. Don't be alarmed if we are already under way when you come back upstairs.”

Aidan changes into a crew member uniform.

Aidan goes to the bridge. The Zephyr Breeze has undocked from the airship station and has moved west of Gideon at low speed. The movement of the airship is so fluid and silent that Aidan is still in awe of its impressive method of propulsion.

“Ahhh ... Aidan,” Ahlissa addresses him. “I am glad that you have arrived.” She motions to a blank screen on the wall of the bridge and then touches a smooth control panel on the wall beside it. It lights up, revealing a colourful map with illuminated marks on it. “This is our position,” she informs him and Aidan can see that the Zephyr Breeze is represented by a green glowing dot. “This is our first waypoint as we head for our planned destination.” Aidan can see that a blue dot marks a location northwest of Gideon, in the desert.

“We have been asked to retrieve a consignment of artifacts from an archeological site by the Seeker and the Gatherer, who have recently become aware of some interesting activities there,” she informs him. “Suffice to say that it does involve what we assume may be items related to Progenitor activity a long time ago. And also some remains of an orc like creature have been found that they wish for us to bring back in due course. Our instructions are very simple – go to the location and uplift the packaged consignment. It's simple enough and I have asked no questions beyond that.”

Aidan does not recognise the location. “How long does this desert last? It seems to be the only thing I know.”

She laughs and says “It continues for as far as your eye can see and a little bit beyond. Don't worry we will venture beyond it one of these days.”

Ahlissa presses something on another panel that she slides out from the wall beneath the screen. A second blue dot illuminates on the screen. She draws Aidan's attention to the second mark and says “this is our second waypoint. As you can see, our journey is taking us to a location on the edge of Karranath. I have been reliably informed that a man named Mhorvaeus is expecting us to be there in no more than four days. We have a special consignment for him, while the boxes are marked 'fragile' and 'ornaments', I believe it to be Khyber Dragonshards simply because I have the necessary means to determine that with some accuracy. I'm not questioning it, or how they will be used, because at the end of such matters that is not my concern. My concern is that this Mhorvaeus will pay us. I may require your assistance in this should any end negotiations turn sour. Not that I am expecting that to occur.”

“In which capacity would you like me to act upon?”

“By simply listening to any languages they might speak around us, you will be able to decide if they speak the truth to us. If you like, having you with us is going to prove to be a very good benefit to this and our future expeditions.”

“I look forward to it, to helping yourself and the crew.”

As the sun rises higher above the sands the Zephyr Breeze gains speed and rises above the dunes. After an hour it desecnds and passes between several large sand dunes and arrives at the first waypoint. The very first thing that captures Aidan's attention is a large section of a metal object, possibly a ship that is sticking out from an embankment. The Zephyr Breeze hovers and lowers to the ground where a team of labourers is waiting with many boxes.

“Welcome to Site 41,” an archeologist greets them.
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