Tal hesitated, his knuckles inches above the wooden door. He did not want to give the pair false hope but at the same time, Taliah did have a prophetic vision of a possible connection to their homeland.
I can only offer them the facts that were presented. It will be up to them how they face it, whether to believe or doubt is really their individual right.
He straightened his shoulders, confident in his decision and how he would proceed. First, he rapped on Scars’ door. There was no reply or sound. It was approaching late evening, perhaps the Flohki retired for the night.
The door abruptly opened as if the halfman had been there all along. “Master Tal?” His voice was a smooth tenor.
The half-seagull and half-man creature eyed him standing in the faint candlelight. His white feathered head was marred by a scar lacing down the right-side and his beak broken off at the tip. In striking contrast, his chest, arms and shoulders were a complex pattern of scars, thus how his name was inspired. He had never talked about his past or how his injuries came about, only that he was a tested, military veteran for his kind.
“Scars, I am sorry for the late hour, but would you mind joining me for an important discussion?”
He nodded and joined Tal immediately in the hallway. They walked silently together down the corridor. The Flohki was not a talkative type, down-to-business and never hesitant to assist. Master Tal liked him very much and appreciated the character he had. It was likely a part of the militant-upbringing of their kind, but there was added a quiet nobility about the creature. He was proud, yet humbled and earnest. Sometimes, Tal even sensed a shadow of shame.
Something behind his eyes shows me quiet courage and accepted guilt. An odd pairing that bears learning more of one day. Yet, he is not ready to reveal that.
Bare light illuminates around Ama’yen’s door. She was another half-man creature but also had a subtlety and grace about her. Half-feline and half-woman. She was said to be a powerful sorceress in her home world of Aberrisc.
Ama’yen came to the door, wrapped in a light yellow cloth, semi-transparent in the light from her room. Her long black hair was swept over her slightly pointed ears and braided on one side. A circlet of silver and emerald gems on her forehead brought out the majestic green of her feline eyes. Tal was a bit thrown off by the sudden attractive creature standing before him and her attire did not necessarily mean she was retiring for the night.
“Uh…sorry, I do not mean to disturb you, but I have important information. I have learned of some points of interest for the two of you. Were you in the middle of something?” He asked, averting his eyes carefully from the form beneath the yellow wrappings.
“Nothing of importance. May I fetch a robe first? Are we going somewhere or do you wish to enter here?” The Yuul woman asked. There was no embarrassment in her voice.
He tried to match that. “Once you are ready, could the three of us talk in your room?”
She agreed and shut the door. The pair of men waited again in silence in the hallway. The compound was quiet in the evenings and for the most part there were very few sounds echoing in the halls.
“Please come in.” The voice muffled by the door.
Ama’yen was now clothed in a gray and white robe with thick fur lining the edges. She swung the door open, welcoming them to enter her small but charming room. A lit fireplace warmed the chamber. She ushered them over to a wooden, round table that sat four in one corner. On it, a historical tome was laid open before one chair.
“I was reading and studying a book from your downstairs library. It has maps of the continents surrounding Tayneva. Fascin-cintaring.” She stuttered on the last word.
Tal helped her with it. “Fascinating.” He smiled, hoping she would understand he meant to help and not mock her.
“Ah. Thank you.”
“You are a quick learner and you have already developed a large vocabulary.”
She pulled out the two chairs for them before returning to her chair.
Tal started. “Last night Taliah, our Blood Seeress, entered a Seyde. A Blood Seyde. It can be tricky and taxing on her physically, but we both felt it was a necessary gamble. We wanted to see if she could learn more information on what we can do to stop The Bleeding Crown. That artifact’s power has grown immensely and I feared we were running out of time.”
“Letandra may also be facing a dire outcome the longer it has control of her. When The Bleeding Crown abandoned Chroyanne she disintegrated,” Scars interrupted.
Tal nodded in agreement. “Indeed. The Seyde proved me correct, we are in a race against time. However, it also revealed some incredible predictions to her. Per her vision, The Bleeding Crown is somehow preparing to call forth from the expanse of the In-Between, the Etohlosii. These are artifacts similar to The Bleeding Crown. They are imbued with the latent remains of an ancient eldritch god known as ARa Etohl. If the hosts owning the three other Etohlosii reach our plane and reunite with The Bleeding Crown, then ARa Etohl will be resurrected. This cannot happen or all life on every plane of existence will be extinguished.”
While Master Tal could not read the Flohki’s reactions well, he could see that his information had Ama’yen’s rapt attention.
“Several names were given to us through her vision in the Seyde. These are individuals that will help us in one way or another rescue Letendre from The Bleeding Crown and stop her from reuniting the Etohlosii. We do not have all the details of who they are or where to find them yet, but she is confident of at least one name. Someone known as Khedarr of Aberrisc.”
Ama’yen gasped, her eyes bulged.
“How is that possible?” Scars blurted.
“We are not sure, but Taliah said that some of our answers lie in Aberrisc and with this person known as Khedarr.”
The Yuul stood, backed away from the table, shaking her head. “No! We are locked out. Cut off from our homelands!”
“Taliah was told that a key connection was to locate something known as Mescarne. Somehow and in some fashion, this Mescarne exists on all planes of the In-Between. If you find it, then you can cross over to any world at will.”
“That is why you come to us?” She stiffly faced the fireplace, her arms folded tight over her chest, trembling as if the fire was no longer capable of warming her.
“Yes. First I need you to think of how we — or perhaps the two of you — might locate this Mescarne. Second, if you can go back, you would have the best chance of finding–“
“–Khedarr is a necromancer!” Her words were low but hit Tal like a hammer.
“A MAGE OF DEATH?”
She nodded glumly. “He was ousted from our lands by my father for his tainted practices. However, we did contact him when LLasher was near death. His ungodly skills have greatly improved. I still do not condone his research into the forbidden sorceries of the dead.” Ama’yen looked back over her shoulder, locking eyes with Tal to judge his reaction to her words.
Scars added, “He might even be dead by now. When we had to ask for his help with Mending LLasher. He only agreed if we took him back to her homeland, the Fhey Ras Isles. The Quietus had his wife and children enslaved. Khedarr swore he was somehow going to rescue them.”
“When Chroyanne left, who assumed power until she returned?” Tal asked.
Scars shrugged. “However, in my opinion, in contrast to his questionable research, this Khedarr did seem of honorable intent. If Taliah has received credible knowledge from this prophecy, then I would not suspect it would send us to look for someone who was already dead, would it?” Scars asked Tal.
“It does not seem likely that it would. The whole thing is moot if we do not have a way to find Mescarne. Have either of you been to the Mescarne in your world?”
Both shook their heads. Ama’yen said, “I have heard of the continent, but few have found their way there and even fewer return.”
They sat together, wrestling with the possibilities in their heads.
“If I remember right,” Ama’yen started, then paused in thought. Finally she said, “I believe Letandra confided in me that Taihven believed he had been brought to Mescarne. One time in one of his episodes. Yes, in fact, I remember now that he had gone back and was able to speak somehow with his dead father!”
“Did he give you any details about the land?”
“I am trying to remember now. It has been some time. Sorry.”
She crossed back to the table but continued to stand, a finger tapping at her chin.
“While I am not recalling any solid details, my knowledge of your language may be hampering me. He might have mentioned a temple. A temple of stone at the heart of a desert. I think…” She tapped again at her chin with her finger. Tal noted that each painted and jeweled fingernail was filed to a sharp point.
“Yes, yes. I think I can.” Mostly she spoke to herself, but then she faced Master Tal. “If this temple and Mescarne are in each of the planes, my guess is that the Lei Lines all intersect there.”
“Lei Lines?” Scars asked before Tal could.
“Powerful waves of magical energies that crisscross every plane. In my world, I had an acute sense of them and their location. Perhaps it is due to my heritage, but in Aberrisc we studied and used the Lei Lines to increase our powers and spells. Here I definitely sense the Lei Lines but not as clear as when I was home. If we could track one of the major branches of Lei Lines, I trust it will take us to Mescarne.”
Scars studied the Yuul. “Do you have any sense of how far away they might be?”
She closed her eyes and placed her hands on the table. Her breathing went deep and slowed down into a rhythmic even pace. A soft purring sound came from deep within her chest.
Moments later. “Several lines are near to us, but a major vein as I am wanting to follow is quite the distance away and…deep into Tayneva.”
Tal nodded. To be discovered or captured on the continent would mean arrest and possible execution since they were labeled traitors. As he considered the weight of the mission, Scars interrupted his inner debate.
“When can we go, Master Tal?” Scars asked.
“Would you and Ama’yen then agree to find the temple? I know I am asking much of you. It may mean possibly your lives or possibly the only way back to your families and kind.”
“This fight is ours as well. Not just for the fallen king, our friend and his sister, but for the expanse of the In-Between!”
“Alright. Gather your items and what you want with you for the trip…home. In the morning, I will have Master Rivyen and Lyndasia go with you. If we can validate that part of her prophecy then I have faith you will find Khedarr alive and with our answers on how we can save Letandra and stop The Bleeding Crown.”