The tiered gardens built upon the exterior of the Palace of the High Prince in the city of Babel are a delight to the senses. Flowers have been carefully chosen from climates all over the globe so that, at any given time, there is always something in bloom, and the sweet fragrances are carried about by the breezes that waft about at this high altitude. Gentle melodies played upon flute, sitar and bells drift upon the wind as well, intermixing with the trickling waters of the artificial streams that irrigate this suspended ecology. Numerous sheltered benches provide some shade from the sun in daylight, and some protection from the chill winds at night.
In a wooden gazebo built in a style more appropriate to some of the Nordikan nations than Babel, some servants have set out some fruits, candied bugs and juice for the fennec doctor to enjoy. His relative solitude (not counting Savanite servants and musicians) is soon to an end, however, as a bat arrives to join him.
"Greetings, Doctor Roho," says the bat, thus allowing the fennec to identify him by voice as Grand Vizier Thath. The sounds of departing footsteps suggest that, at least for the time being, the bat and the fennec are alone … though the music can still be heard at a distance.
Roho turns, smiling, "Good evening, Grand Vizier. How fare you tonight?" He puts down the bug he was snacking on.
The Vizier takes a seat across from the fennec. "Much the same as any other. I have come to discuss the matter of a situation in which your skills and reputation may be of use, in the service of the High Prince."
Roho nods his head. "I would be glad to aid however I can for the Prince. What is the situation?"
"You have met the 'reborn' Mage Scarlet, of course," the Vizier begins. "Through means of ancient magic, she was transferred from an Aelfin body into the body of an Eeee. While these rituals are of ancient origin, they were always used for the transfer from one Eeee body to another Eeee body. There is no record of a transfer from one race to another … and the Aelfin and Eeee are not closely related."
Roho nods. "I had wondered about that. I've heard little about the rituals before, though." He listens to the Vizier, as he waits for the situation to unfold.
The Vizier says, "You are not the only one to wonder. The High Prince is concerned that the assurances of the mages of the safety of the ritual may be more out of a sense of trying to impress him, than out of genuine care for safety. As noble as it was to give the Mage Scarlet a new body, this was ultimately a political situation. Any political benefits would be lost and then again some more, if the mages were proven to be overconfident in their magic to keep the Mage Scarlet in good health in her new body."
Roho nods, scratching his chin. "May I be frank?"
"Certainly," allows the Vizier.
Roho pauses to think for a moment. "I noticed at dinner that Mage Scarlet and the mages who performed the transfer were very interested in the subject of the wand she had had. Could it be that they're using the political situation to their advantage, to try to get at it?"
The Vizier says, "There have been many tales coming out of Aelfhem about that wand. Considering how often Mage Scarlet has told the tale of the creation of her 'daughter', the three-headed dragon, and how the 'Guardian of Seasons' obeyed her due to another spell from that wand, it has been speculated that it gives her some sort of control over the beasts … and the other powers of the wand sound bewildering as well. It comes as no surprise to me that Mage Scarlet would want it back It has been suggested that her magical feats were only possible by means of this wand, and no actual spellcasting ability of her own. The other mages would have ample reason to want it for themselves as well. If I thought it possible to obtain it, I would most assuredly try to secure it for myself as well."
"… if for no other reason than to make sure it did not fall into the hands of someone else," adds the Grand Vizier.
Roho nods his head. "It is understandable." He tilts his head, "What is it you want of me, then?"
"I wish to see to it that a physician is on hand, in case Mage Scarlet experiences any problems outside of the purely magical realm. I know little of medicine and biology myself, but I would imagine that there may be physical implications of Scarlet's life force being moved to a new body. I am concerned that the mages may try to cover up any symptoms and put on a show that all is going well, until it is beyond the point of any recovery. That may very well not be the case … but I wish to take no chances."
"You," continues the Vizier, "have an excuse to accompany Mage Scarlet, since you have been a prior acquaintance."
Roho nods his head. "I can do that. I cannot guarantee that I will catch any and all ailments, as I'd imagine many of the complications would be of a magical or spiritual nature, but I can watch her for any physical problems."
The Grand Vizier says, "That would be all that is asked of you. There are many unknown factors here. Although you may not understand the magical processes involved, you are ideal for this situation since you have very little chance of being directly involved in any political entanglements. Therefore, your judgment can be trusted to be unbiased. As for the matter of where you will be traveling … that will be to Master Zahirinee's abode."
Roho's face betrays quite a measure of surprise. "Zahirinee! My. I visited him once before… Would this be related to the matter of repairing his pool? I thought Rephidim wished to attend to that."
"That is correct," answers the Grand Vizier. "Mage Scarlet is with the Collegia Esoterica of Rephidim. She is a Water Mage, and will be among the gathered Rephidimite mages working to restore Master Zahirinee's pool."
Roho ahs. "I see… Then her power has returned?"
"Yes," affirms the Grand Vizier. "I have been assured that her powers have fully returned. Although it would probably be most prudent for her to have a period to recover before joining in this ritual, she had been selected previously to take part in it, and it is most probably a political decision that she regarded as a hero to the Aelfin not be excluded."
Roho nods. "Well, I would be certainly pleased to visit Master Zahirinee again. Much has happened since I last saw him. I just hope such an important task so soon after … well … dying will not put a strain on Mage Scarlet's health."
"Well understated, Doctor Roho," says the Grand Vizier with the slightest hint of humor in his voice. "Will you be needing any special supplies for the journey?"
Roho thinks about this. "Probably no more than I brought with me. They should still be in my quarters; it would not take me long to gather them. When does this expedition leave?"
"In the morning," answers the Grand Vizier. "I apologize for the short notice … but final plans were not confirmed until very recently."
Roho nods, with a bit of a smile. "It is quite all right, I'm used to taking things on very short notice. Most patients in the hospital don't bother to plan their accidents ahead of time. Who will be going?"
"You shall be traveling alone," answers the Grand Vizier.
Roho looks surprised. "Alone? That … seems a little odd. May I ask why?"
The Vizier replies, "Fewer surprises to deal with. Do not be concerned. Your safety and comfort will be seen to."
Roho nods. "I hope so. That is not a short journey, if I remember rightly, and a lone blind fennec on the road could be a tempting target for brigands."
"That is why you will be flown most of the way, and then taken by coach for the remainder," answers the Vizier. "I do not mean that you shall be literally alone for the journey. It is just that there are no plans to assign anyone else to go with you to Master Zahirinee's."
Roho chuckles. "Ah, I see. Well, that certainly sounds somewhat safer. Have Mage Scarlet and the others left already?"
"The details of their departure and travel are being handled with a certain degree of secrecy," answers the Grand Vizier. "But it is expected that you should arrive at Master Zahirinee's before the mages do."
Roho nods. "Understandable." He smiles. "Well, it shall be an adventure!"
"Very good," replies the Grand Vizier. "Now then, I shall be seeing to other arrangements. I hope that you enjoy your evening, Doctor Roho." The bat rises to leave.
Roho rises as well, "Thank you, Grand Vizier. I hope yours is pleasant as well."
With a slight breeze caused by his wings, the Grand Vizier twirls about, and leaves Roho alone in the garden.
Roho stands for a little longer in the garden, enjoying the cool night air and the solitude. Then he heads back indoors, towards his quarters. He's got some packing to do.