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Post  Admin on Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:45 am

Ahlissa instructs a nearby member of her crew (Tanith) to show Jillian to her private guest quarters. Tanith nods in acknowledgement and turns to Jillian. “Follow me, please,” she tells her.

“Thank you for accepting me,” Jillian says to Ahlissa and then she turns to Aidan briefly. “And thank you for placing your trust in me.” She then turns and follows Tanith down the stairway below the deck.

“Aidan ...” Ahlissa says. “Come with me. There is something we need to discuss inside.” She leads him to the airship bridge and then into the small room attached to it. Aidan cannot be certain, but he gets a feeling that she might be either concerned about something, or has been holding something back.

Aidan simply follows.

“Take a seat,” she tells him. “Relax. “ A crew member brings them a glass pitcher of cold tangy fruit flavoured water and departs without saying anything. The man shows no hint of emotion in Aidan's presence.

“So, how did your evening at the Broken Blade Inn go, aside from the new friend you have acquired?” Ahlissa asks. “Did anyone attempt to manipulate you prior to your meeting her, or solicit any information about who you are or your origins?”


Ahlissa seems relieved. Then she looks serious. “Did you realise that your departure from the inn with Jillian was noticed? My associates have informed me that, despite an attempt to intervene, the interference they employed was avoided. The three men you encountered – The Observers – are watching this airship now from a building next to the skybridge terminal. We will not confront them directly … I am reliably informed that they are working for both The Seeker and The Gatherer. They are also provided with backup support by The Sentinel in the form of members of the local constabulary. Suffice to say I have no intent to run foul of Gideon's authority.”

“Well … she is my responsibility and suffice to say, you don't know anything.”

“Really? What is it that I do not know?”

“I mean … that your storyline, if anyone asks questions, is that you don't know.”

Ahlissa smiles at that and replies “Naturally. That will not be difficult. We are all accustomed to denying knowledge during the course of our usual activities. The thing that disturbs me is how much influence The Observers appear to have gained in such a small timeframe. Tell me … did you observe anything unusual about them when you had your brief encounter? Did they have any obvious weapons?”

“No obvious weapons and I noticed their eyes were very black.”

“Nothing else about their demeanour or nature?”

“they appear to deliberately induce fear in those they encounter. Apparently one person tried to take them on and has subsequently disappeared. The thing I don't like is that the Seeker is using them.”

“Perhaps The Observers are possessed by something. If, as I suspect, they are searching for Jillian then they may be willing proxies acting on behalf of Reidran agents for The Dreaming Dark. This would make them very powerful indeed and very dangerous. I do not believe they are Inspired themselves, but these three men will certainly be sympathetic to their goal of subverting the governments of Khorvaire and identifying the Adaran separatists who have fled from their spiritual enclave to our continent. What we do know is that The Observers are operating from a secure compound that is located on one of the small floating islands above Gideon City. It looks well protected and we have not been able to infiltrate to get a closer look. Our Inquisitives have attempted to scry the interior of the location but that is blocked. This is not surprising as The Seeker may have offered support to counter such scrying, as he would normally employ that.”

“I still cannot believe The Seeker would allow people with such power in the city. There is something not right with that. Jillian does have a dragonmark.”

Ahlissa's eyes widen at that revelation. “Really? The Kalashtar are said to have never been able to gain a mark. This is because they have an unnatural origin, despite their desires to be closer to the natural races of Khorvaire. It seems unlikely. If this is indeed true then that would explain the unhealthy interest of The Observers in tracking her. The Inspired agents of the Dreaming Dark would never allow such a thing to exist, at least not without their control over it. Has Jillian described the power that her mark gives her?”

“No but she drew it for me.” Aidan shows her the depiction of it. “I suspect she has been ostracised by her own people for it.”

“Indeed … this gives me much to think about. In any case, be wary. We are now certain that The Observers are likely to be working for The Inspired, probably under instruction from the Reidran embassy. The fact that they have seen you in Jillian's company means they are likely to use you to get to her. Be prepared for that. We are prepared for them to try and get on board this airship. The time will come when they will undoubtedly attempt that. The most likely method they will employ against us will be stealth, most probably one of their Inspired Assassins. Look, there is something else I feel I should tell you … something you have probably been curious about and now I think it is something you need to know. You probably harbour some curiosity about who my 'associates' are, that I so often refer to?”

“Sometimes ...”

Aidan is getting increasingly curious about who is is that Ahlissa is affiliated with, controls or works for. It would seem she is pulling many strings but equally she may simply be a pawn herself. She mostly insists that she is an independent operator.

“Listen. I trust you enough now that I know you will keep this confidential. I work for an organisation that we call 'The Machination' and it answers to another group named 'The Glass Tower'. We are spread across Khorvaire. Predominantly our members are half-elven but from time to time we do accept and admit members of other races into our group. My airship, the Zephyr Breeze, is a mobile forward operating base of operations and, officially, it is designated with 'The Prism'. I think, for the time being, this is all you need to know about us. But be assured we are dedicated to a good cause, even if sometimes our unorthodox methods may cause you to question who we are.”

“So … I have your word then, that your organisation is not out to control like some other organisations are?”

“Not in so many ways. We like to gather knowledge and influence events where we can to ensure that a balance is maintained across Khorvaire so that we can prevent the Five Nations from re-entering another futile and bloody war. The Last War was very destructive and it changed the map. Cyre was lost forever in an inexplicable cataclysm, most probably an implosion of magic but it has resulted in a tormented place that no ordinary man would ever consider trying to live in.”

Aidan nods and says “Basically I will just stay on board and keep out of trouble. Same for Jillian. It's probably best for both of us that way. Undoubtedly The Seeker will have heard about me so if he wants to talk then he knows where I am. It might be nice to give him a lecture about the associates he has taken on.”

“Yes, it is interesting how that came to pass so rapidly. And not just him. There are at least two other members of The Thirteen who support his actions. Most troubling is that The Sentinel has lent such overt and direct support. For he controls the soldiers and is responsible for maintaining law and order across the city. It's quite possible that they came under undue influence through the recent diplomatic relationship they have established with the relatively new Reidran Embassy. This could be a sign of things to come, which The Machination is sufficiently concerned about to monitor more closely.”

“I think we need to inform the elven ambassador about this. That is, let him know about the Gatherer, the Seeker, The Sentinel and The Observers. Because in the back of my mind this is Zanarkand re-emerging. Councillors becoming corrupt with a known enemy behind them. This does have shades of Zanarkand written all over it.”

“Yes … I agree … The Dreaming Dark is a powerful force that is quite remote and alien to us. Perhaps it has been waiting until now, in a time where the city and its leadership has been weakened after the confrontation we faced when Izendraazt threatened our very existence. We survived that but at what cost? To face a new enemy that is more subtle?”

“To face a new darkness by a different name.”

“I will send a message to the ambassador informing him of what we have learnt. Then I will think more on this. Politically we must tread carefully and militarily it would not be wise to overtly confront the enemy at their compound. I will let you know in due course what action we will take. For the time being, feel free to make the airship your home, get back to your studies and of course, make our new guest Jillian feel welcome. We are about to embark on a new supply run so we'll going back to Taer Valestaes for a few days.”

Aidans takes his leave and thanks Ahlissa for her confidence. He goes below deck to the guest quarters and looks for Jillian to see how she has settled in. He finds her room is directly opposite his own. Her door is open. He knocks politely. She turns from the small window that she was looking out of and smiles.

“All is well I trust?” Jillian enquires.

“Yes. We are being watched and we will just remain on board. We will be leaving soon and we will be going to where I have spent my recent past, among those who consider me suspicious, one might say. They are a good enough people but they have this lifestyle of just breeding for war, which is not my liking. Ahlissa's fiance is one of their leaders.”

“So unusual,” Jillian remarks, “that you share their blood yet not their lust for combat. I wonder why why that is?”

“I am an orphan, I suppose, my parents were killed and I ended up growing up here in Gideon, growing up on the streets and was tere when that was destroyed and afterwards found myself with the elves where we are heading. I thought it would be home, but it is not. I am tolerated there. This ship is probably the only place where I have found sanctuary. You may even see the war band that I was a part of until I found the Le Shay sanctuary. They kind of did not want to know me after I began speaking the dark tongue of the ancient race that lived there. Which is their sad loss, not my own. It would seem that your opponents are gaining considerable influence here in Gideon and may indeed have three of its council under their influence, including the Seeker who the Observers work for and the Gather and the Sentinel, who controls the city guard. It would seem that since the embassy was established here that things have changed quite dramatically.”

“I am sorry to hear your past has not been easy,” she empathises and touches your arm lightly. Aidan feels calmed by that as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Jillian smiles at that. “I can sense the presence of the Observers as they watch us and I can equally sense that Gideon is again facing some difficult times. This is what the agents of the Inspired do. They infiltrate, they gain trust, they gain control. They are patient and will play the long game. Their power is over hearts and minds and ultimately they will spread the Dreaming Dark to every race in Khorvaire. My people do not want that to happen, so as Kalashtar, it remains my duty to kill every agent of the Inspired where it is in my power to do so. There are a few of us kalashtar scattered across Khorvaire. It is my hope that in the course of our travels that I might be able to identify them. I will know when we are close. If I can bring them together, perhaps under the banner of my dragonmark, then we can indeed thwart the current plot of the Reidran agents of the Inspired and Dreaming Dark and remove them from Gideon entirely.”

“Sounds a wonderful idea.”

“Yes, but that road will be long and difficult. I have no knowledge of where the other Kalashtar may be found. So the journey will be interesting.”

Aidan thinks of this and replies “Ahlissa is going to inform the elven ambassador of our concerns for it is best that someone in the city knows.”

“Yes, that it is wise and I hope it proves to be productive. The elves are older than man and so may be able to intervene and provide counsel where that is required.”

They stay together and chat for a while longer before Aidan escorts her to other open parts of the airship and introduces her to the crew members as a guest. He also shows her maps and explains where the races and major population centres lay. He identifies locations where he has lived and travelled, including the ruins of the Star Haunt that he has recently explored.

Jillian is very interested in what Aidan has shown her. “This ship is truly magnificent, if I am not mistaken this vessel includes additional construction that it not magical. It seems very unique in my mind to other forms of transport that I have travelled on. What is its origin? “

“I have no idea. This is the only ship I have ever been on. But yes, I suppose you're right. I have never thought it is different to any other.”

“I see … I have simply noticed its propulsion differs from the standard form of elemental magic that I have seen employed by other airships. And it contains things that are different, like the touch panel for activating lighting, for example. I am very intrugued by this and might like study it in more detail.”

Aidan simply shrugs for has never thought about it much himself.

The Zephyr Breeze flies south-east to Taer Valestaes.

It remains there for four days. Aidan disembarks and takes Jillian to his house, that was gifted to him by the High King. All is as he left it.

The Zephyr Breeze undertakes some resupply runs to Taer Valestaes.

Aidan learns that the war band, led by his martial lore tutor, Lorian Tiraleth, has met little resistance in the sands and has not uncovered anything more than another isolated yuan-ti hive in a small cave network.

Ahlissa does meet with her fiance Ivistar Immiar during their time in The Valenar capital. Aidan maintains his social distance from the war band leader, as their distrust and dislike for one another is clearly mutual. Ahlissa makes a conscious effort to ensure the two remain apart.

A report is received that suggests the mysterious large airship, dubbed Stormbringer, has been sighted twice in recent days during unnatural storm activities. The captains of the Zephyr Cloud and Zephyr Spirit have confirmed this and those two airships accompany the Zephyr Breeze on its return voyage to Gideon City.

Aidan is curious to know what Jillian thinks of the elven land. Jillian's impressions of the Valenar are that they are very focused, very strong willed, she can sense that it is difficult for them to be dissuaded from any planned course of action, dependent on strength of arms, xenophobic.

She thinks the people were amazed by her appearance among them, most people considered her to be just another pure blooded elf, but a few Keepers of the Past (spiritual leaders) appeared to recognise her true lineage and did not say anything to expose it. She felt welcome and did not feel in danger at any time.

She did not sense any other Kalashtar in the locations she frequented with Aidan.

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