Image by Kunrong Yap
Leif, a gigantic, white-haired true-kin. Escaped servitor. Wields a dyad rifle. Owns a singing crystal that wails in cryptic song.
Snow Child, an ash-coloured mycomorph, constantly shedding spores. Saved from a tumblesnare.
Nullseed, “Null”, a floating drone-companion, known as a troton. Rescued from a lizard lion attack.
The Graveyard: Faulkner the New-Ibis and Symeon the Synth-Priest
The day dawns; it will be windy and there is the chance of dust-storms. Snow and Leif plod on into the monlith-strewn wastes, keeping an eye out for the great crystal with the tourmaline window–the landmark for their meeting with Amir Pallak. On their way, they see a large black and golden ibis soaring along the currents of the sky. Snow Child takes it as ill portent, but Leif smiles at the large bird and remembers his friend.
The travelers break for lunch, eating sweet-nuts and soured-strings. In the distance, they see a large crystal in the dusty haze. Only a few hour’s distance away. They drink water and continue in the garnet heat of the day.
Without warning, they run into an odd assemblage of synths. Several small, misshapen droids surround a centaur-shaped robot in drab, long-flowing robes. The centaur-synth’s face is concealed but his one eye gleams with a curious light.
“By the Dial of Kronos!” shouts one of the small droids. He calls for Snow, Leif, and Null to halt and declare themselves before the presence of Noemys, He Who Was Repurposed.
The travelers all give their names and announce that they are travelling to the meeting-tent of Pallak. The centaur-synth removes his cowl and his one eye scans Leif’s face with speed.
“Symeon?” asks the true-kin.
“Verily. But I am he no longer.” The synth walks up to Leif. “I was wondering if you survived the Cynosura. Where is Faulkner?”
“Taken from us, by that strange box of his.” Leif takes off his pack and looks Noemys up and down, smiling. “But if you live, I have faith that I haven’t seen the last of that new-beast yet.”
“What do you have with the Amir?”
“Pallak seeks our help to rid his trade route of the bandits at Bent Tree.”
“We shall join you, then! If for no other reason than to proselytize you.” Noemys says drily.
Leif and Snow laugh, glad to share the trail with a friend. Noemys introduces the four acolyte-droids: Kron, Hyper, Mnem, and Them.
At the end of a hard-won trek through the corroded rubble of monoliths, they reach the base of the giant crystal, which is floating. Nearby is a massive dunecrawler as well as several skiffs, sandlighters, and pack-animals.
Leif, Snow, and Noemys visit a loungeful Pallak in his cushioned chambers. He smokes from a hookah-synth and lazily pulls at his beard. His eyes have the subdued brilliance usual to those who eat the sacchar, a psychic gift-giving substance collected from Vaarn’s colossal sandworms.
They talk for long hours into the evening, about days past and days arriving. The travelers grow impatient, but at last, Amir Pallak brings up the prospect of Bent Gully. He intends to attack at dawn tomorrw. They will ride the skiffs and sandlighters before first light. He has a fast-hitting strike force to pummel them with frantic, drive-by attacks. Meanwhile Pallak’s two bodyguards, Zeeb and Zolphan, will take the travelers to a predetermined entry point, sneak into the bandit leader’s tent, and capture her alive.
“I need her alive. Or all of six hells will break loose,” says Amir.
“Are we bringing her back here?” asks Snow Child.
“No, we are taking her to the landmine field to the southeast.” The Amir tugs his moustache. “And from there, we will strike a deal with the outlaws. If they want to play tricks,” he made a long, downward arc with his hand, “then we kick her over the gunwale. Otherwise, they will see their precious charlatan returned without a having lost a single eyelash.”
Leif leaned forward, “And my book?”
“Oh, I know about your book.” The Amir smiled. “You will get to read your book.” He smiled, in a way that the others enjoyed little.
What is on his mind? [The Warrior – Honour, Violence; Exiled] Possibly he has visions of violence. I think that he might be an exile from some important group–maybe the water-chieftains? Either way, I believe it should connect to the Cisterns, because it is apparent that he knows about this book and its contents.
End of the ninth day.
Afternote: I’m excited for day ten. This is where we will see some of the traveler’s new gifts in action, as well as the dyad rifle.