Fetiss Sky Island
Surrounded by a thick veil of cloud, this saucer-like sky island wanders across the surface of Sinai, its center a "mountain" that is hollowed out, with a bowl-like valley in its center. It is covered with vegetation … much of which is faintly luminescent upon nightfall.
The Vykarins have been restless. Their "Sky God" is not as omnipotent as they'd like. They've wandered back and forth, scouring the earth with their hooves, but there is only so far to roam.
The bodies of the dead Eeee warriors have been buried long ago, leaving Bassai with an airship and only a few Eeee prisoners to contend with.
It's positively unusual, how the vegetation has spread out so quickly after the departure of the "Visitor" (aka "Uncle Agnes"). There are many flowers, many varieties of grass, but also many edible grains, vegetables and fruits as well. It would seem that "Uncle Agnes" carried through on its promise to bring food. There are even a few berry bushes that were planted … once some of the seeds were "recovered".
Fenter pokes at a small plant sitting in a large Vykarin shell bowl next to him. He's been babbling constantly to it, telling it about how he's saved the world several times and how he's a respected mage back where he's from.
Now, it's daytime, early morning, the mists still swirling about in the "bowl" of the island, the "second sunrise" for those inside the bowl a few minutes away yet.
The plant's "big grin" has retracted, making it look like a perfectly ordinary (if large) flower, although its "face" swivels to face Fenter, wherever the Rath'ani moves to.
Bassai has been watching the returning plants with some curiosity, as well as the growth of the small plant given to him by the visitor. He shakes, cold in the morning mists.
"I still feel odd talking to a plant, I hardly talk to Tekki, and certainly don't make small talk with him," Bassai confides, though he has been trying to give the plant attention.
Fenter makes a face at the plant. Bleaugh!
The plant doesn't talk any more than Tekki does. Tekki gives Bassai a worried glance, another to Fenter, then moves along, tending to a garden he has started, to keep himself busy.
The plant "smiles" again, then mimics Fenter's "tongue-sticking-out" expression … in a weird, vegetable sort of way.
"That's a good little fellow." the raccoon grins. He looks up at Bassai. "You know, sir. I've had a jolly good time up here, and it was really nice of the fellows to make me a sky god and all that… but I'm starting to feel homesick for Rephidim. I've not been lectured for months now and I'm starting to miss it."
Bassai examines his own plant, flicking out his tongue and looking for any change in it's flattering mimicry of his colours, or in general.
A group of Vykarins clop toward Fenter, in a solemn procession.
"I see, I'll attempt to lecture you more often then." Bassai replies, "Still, you have a point."
One of the Vykarins is bearing in his stubby paw-hands what looks like a shell necklace, bringing it to Fenter, stooping his head lower than usual, in the Vykarin attempt at a bow.
The archeologist examines the offered necklace, "What does that symbolize?"
"Er… " Fenter answers and takes up the necklace, examining it carefully.
The Vykarin begins to click-pop-rawrf at Fenter.
Fenter squints at the bauble. "It says, 'Beasts hate dumpy stupid body, devil of the ear-'… oh WAIT… I had it backwards."
Bassai gives another glance at his plant, looking for some sort of reaction to his presence, then slithers closer to Fenter.
"Sky God, Spirit of Sacred Mountain, Honored by Vykarins. Ohh… very nice." The Rath'ani puts on the new trinket. He grimaces a little at the noises of the Vykarins.
"Very complimentary. Does a request accompany their gift?" The Naga inquires.
Fenter says, "Yessir. They want me to make the edges of the island go away."
The raccoon bark-pop-growls something to the bearer of the gift.
A few Vykarins walk by not part of this group carrying several rocks.
The Vykarin gift-bearer pauses a bit, then click-pops back.
Bassai bobs his head, "I can think of two methods of accomplishing that. It is perhaps time to attempt one of them."
The Vykarin exclaims something, and several of his companions tail-wag in agreement.
Fenter pauses to think, and then barks something back.
"What else, and where are those others going with the rocks?" Bassai asks, watching the second group.
The Vykarin makes a confused whine at Fenter.
Fenter says, "They're going to toss them over the edge to try and fill it up."
"Oh, I see." The Naga flicks out his tongue. "Tell them that will not be necessary, and that you do not wish parts of your mountain thrown away. We'll find a way to make the edges disappear for them."
"Should I tell them to get you another pink wriggly thing for you to eat while I'm at it, Mister Bassai?" Fenter asks.
*CHIREEEEEE!* There is a shrill cry from above, and a flash of color as something zips past.
Fenter's ears perk!
Bassai slithers over to his plant. "You know, I am starting to wish I had thrown Eeees over the side, with requests for help pinning their wings together. We might have received assistance sooner." Turning back to the Rath'ani he replies, "No, that will not be necessary."
The Naga's head flicks up, "What was that, a Creen?"
A feather-winged, serpentine lizard-creature zips about, well over the heads of those gathered, and alights upon a small (but amazingly quickly-grown) tree, helping itself hungrily to the tiny berry-like fruit growing on its branches.
Fenter jumps up and tries to pounce the Creen. "My berries! Mineminemine!"
The Creen lets out an alarmed cry and flutters into the air, whipping back and forth, smacking the raccoon a couple of times with its fan-feathered tail before zipping skyward.
"Fenter, you scared it off." The Naga watches the disappearing lizard, "I recognize that breed. It's a Chireechiree Rainbow Berry-Snatcher. Not only are we over land, that Creen tells me we are over the southern Savan!"
"Well I won't let it snatch *MY* berries." Fenter splutters, pulling himself to his feet and shaking himself off.
"Fenter… " The archeologist rests his hand in a consoling fashion on the Rath'ani's shoulder. "Unless that Creen is a straggler, it is the advanced scout for a swarm of hungry berry-snatchers… I'm afraid there may be a shortage of your berries."
Fenter aieees! "NOOOOO!!!!!!!"
Bassai watches Fenter's plant during this outburst.
*chiree* *chiree!* *flapflapflapflapflapflap* *chiree chiree* Spots of color can be seen bursting through the veil of clouds surrounding the island.
Fenter's plant pops straight up, its leaves flapping about like wings or wildly-waving arms, and then it shrinks down into its "pot".
"A Net! We need a Net!" The Ringneck hisses suddenly. "Tekki, see if there is something we can catch the Creens with."
A swarm of happily-chireeing Creens sweeps over the sky island. The Vykarins start barking and bellowing, some of them immediately curling into armored balls, while others flail wildly with their tails and stubby arms. Quite probably, none has ever SEEN a Creen before.
"You want to catch them, Sir? With pleasure!" The raccoon starts barking and howling at the top of his lungs.
Tekki pauses a bit in alarm, then bows his head and dashes off to the supplies to try to procure a net. It may take a while. There hasn't been really a NEED to get one out as of late.
Several of the balls immediately unroll, and several confused Vykarin "rrrrs?" are heard. The Vykarins start jumping up and down, trying to catch the Creens. About all they manage to do is to stir them up a bit.
"Creens are believed to be helpful spirits among the Naga, messengers or guides." Bassai starts to lecture, "This is just a young wriggler's tale, but we may be able to use them in a more literal sense that way. It certainly would be no worse than sending Eees over the side."
The Naga looks around at the fruitless efforts of the Vykarin, "If we can catch some that is. Fenter, tell them to settle down. The Creens are more likely to land on something that seems friendly. Then we can grab them."
Ibis, who has been diligently writing in his journal during this entire episode, is unfazed as a rainbow-colored Creen alights upon his head, and cranes its neck around to look, following the Savanite's hand-movement, as if it could read what was being written. Ibis reaches up to scratch his head, but the Creen shuffles to a new position, avoiding the hand.
Fenter frowns. "They seem to think that my berries are rather friendly right now."
Bassai slithers over to one of the berry trees, takes one of it's fruits, and stands in the open holding it in the air. "Ibis" He hisses in an even tone, "There is a Creen on your head."
Most of the Creens gorge themselves on berries. Of those, the ones that got there first seem to be adding to their girth considerably. A couple fall out of the tree, and waddle about on the ground, flapping their wings in a vain attempt to become airborne.
The raccoon bark-pop-clicks something and then rushes up to the potted plant given to him by Uncle Agnes, if he can't save his berries he can at least save his little Junior.
Ibis looks up to Bassai, smiling, then flattens his ears in alarm as a Creen-face presents itself right between his eyes. He stares cross-eyed at the upside-down Creen-face, as it flicks its tongue out at him.
Some of the Vykarins look to Fenter, then to each other … then promptly dig into the ground and roll up into armored balls.
Bassai tries not to flick his tongue out in amusement at the Savanite's difficulties. He slithers closer to his own plant, coiling protectively around it. He keeps holding his hand up hopefully.
A Creen flutters down toward Bassai's plant … but the plant's maw snaps out at the Creen. With a cry of alarm, the Creen shoots back up again, and several of the Creens scatter … giving the grinning snake-colored plant a wide berth.
"Very Good." The Naga congratulates his plant, "You've learned the most important lesson first, fighting back."
Tekki comes back with a tattered net retrieved from the grounded Eeee airship. He weights the corners of the net, then flings them at the berry tree!
Fenter hides his eyes. His berries… his wonderful berries.
The net snares several Creens, who take a while (still happily nibbling) to realize that they've been trapped. Shrieks of alarm ring out, causing the rest of the Creens (at least, those not waddling on the ground) to join in the alarm and flutter into the air, scattering in all directions!
The overly-stuffed Creens just flap their wings and hop up and down, skipping away at a not-quite-so-rapid pace.
Bassai pursues a few of the closer, heavier looking Creens that pass near to him.
The Creens flap their wings and make quite a fuss, but they don't stand a chance against the Naga.
Holding them as gently as he can, Bassai slithers back to the Tekki and the net. "Take these please."
"I used to make hats out of those." Fenter remarks.
Ibis is now holding a box, working with Tekki, the latter reaching into the net, wrestling with frightened Creens … then popping them into Ibis' awaiting box. A few get away in the process, and Tekki gets himself quite a few scratches and bitemarks, but soon the box is full. Ibis closes the box, then gets another to put Bassai's catches into, with Tekki's assistance.
"Were they popular?" The Naga asks, as he waits patiently to be relieved of his catch.
Fenter says, "One of them bit me. I think the fad died after awhile."
Bassai's Creens are put away. By now, the Creen cries have begun to die away, as most of the Creens just collectively sulk.
Fenter pthbbts at the Creens! "Nyaaah! That's what you get for eating my berries! You have no idea what I went through to get that seed."
Tekki's ears blush, and he looks away.
Bassai nods, examining the catch. "Sometimes they learn a few words, and will repeat them back to you." He leans closer and hisses loudly to them "Bassai!"
The Creens just shrink back into the cage-like fruit boxes (liberated from the Eeee ship, of course). They don't seem to be eager to speak all that quickly.
"Fenter… " The Naga just cautions.
"Well," Bassai says, taking out a notepad and starting to write. "We might as well make some notes to attach to them."
Some time later, a cloud of rainbow colored Creens disperses from Fetiss Sky Island. The overstuffed Creens will just have to rejoin their companions later, once they're light enough again to fly.
Fenter grumbles at his now barren tree and leans up against a rock. Well, it looks like a rock, except that it has a bright green shell.
There's an echoing, muffled "Rrrrr?" from inside the shell.
"There will be more berries Fenter, perhaps even tomorrow; there is a strange rate of plant growth here." The Naga hisses, examining his own tree, and then observing his plant again.
Bassai's plant sways back and forth in the muted breeze, 'smiling' at Bassai.
Fenter peers down at his own Plant. "How are you doing, Junior?"
"Junior" swivels to look back up at Fenter, its petals changing color at the same pace as Fenter's eyes.
The Archeologist sways back and forth in response, flicking out his tongue. It is expression enough for a Naga.
"Soon we will see the Empire." Bassai hisses, to his plant, or Fenter, or Tekki, or perhaps no one. "It will be just a little wait."
A few days later, all the Vykarins are gathered at one side of the island, all of them peering over the edge. Occasionally one drops a rock … and then they all are deadly quiet, turning all to the right, to cock one ear downward, listening. Nothing. After a while, someone drops another. No sound. So the ritual continues.
"I think it is time to negotiate with the Eeees." Bassai hisses, "The Creens seem to be less helpful than myths would suggest."
The Vykarins drop another rock. Time passes. *CRUNCH* Alarms ring out.
"At least the fat ones made more berries grow around the island." Fenter remarks. He jumps at the noise.
The Vykarins look to each other, and click-pop-confer with each other. They shake their heads, and look for another rock to drop.
Bassai flicks his tongue out, "Stop them Fenter!"
Something stirs in the veil of clouds that surround the island … something dark, which is breaking through!
Fenter runs to the edge of the island and peers down at the shape.
The Naga stares at the dark shape, searching for a recognizable symbol.
One of the Vykarins "rrrrs?" in alarm at Fenter's running … and snaps on the raccoon's tail, grasping him firmly!
"Tell them you have summoned it." Bassai hisses, slithering closer. "They will accept it better."
The dark shape arises and comes closer … forming into the more recognizable form of an airship … one that proudly displays the emblem of the Golden Serpent!
It also displays a swarm of rainbow-colored Creens on its decks … and, not so proudly, a hole in one of the observation decks.
"The Empire!" The archeologist hisses, swallowing at the obvious damage to the ship. He quietly adds, "Perhaps I should have said something about their game… "
Fenter attempts to say something, but just can't quite get the words out. Pain has a tendency to disrupt one's ability to talk sometimes.
A gong resounds, and several Savanite slaves can be seen rushing about the ship staying clear of the conspicuous hole. The airship is most certainly approaching.
"Fenter, have them withdraw so it has space to land." Bassai orders, slithering out of the way.
The Ringneck Naga gestures at the Vykarin in the vain hope that they will obey him.
The various Vykarins let out sounds of surprise, then awe, then alarm … and begin to alternately curl up into little colored balls or gallop away in fear. The one holding Fenter's tail opens his mouth, then gallops away as to run, but begins to curl up at the same time … and ends up ROLLING away for several paces, before colliding with one of his already-half-buried brethren.
Fenter winces and almost tumbles from the edge of the island as his tail gets released. He starts barking to the Vykarins while clutching his tail in one hand.
Bassai gestures at the Savanite's on deck, pointing at some land not occupied by half buried Vykarins, "Over There."
Fortunately, the sky island, despite the scattered Vykarins, still has ample space, even for a Prideship such as this. Such a vessel is meant for patrols and appearances and not for long range journeys. It maneuvers over the island, and begins to descend. Some Naga crewmen (as Savanites are not quite to be trusted with such equipment) utilize what looks like a cross between a ballista and a harpoon gun, firing mooring lines into the earth.
The raccoon winces a little. ( A Naga ship. That means I'll beeating nothing but yiffles again for awhile. )
"Rescue at last." Bassai hisses to himself, composing an appropriate greeting as he watches the airship descend. "It's about time."
The ship lowers, as the mooring lines are cranked in. A loading platform is dropped, with several Savanites and a party of Nagas, most of them large (by Naga standards, which IS large), though one is "smaller", about Bassai's size, though slightly longer (if not quite so "tall" with the segments held upright).
Fenter scoops up 'Junior' and ducks behind one of the Vykarins… just in case the darts start flying again.
"Fenter," Bassai hisses, watching the platform descend, "Try to get some of the Vykarin uncurled, we need to make a good impression. I recognize that Naga, he is more than a ship captain. He is Prefect Sssarkan, governor of the Ring Valley Territory. That is somewhat west of Nagai."
"Is he gonna eat us?" Fenter ask, peeking out.
"We must present ourselves as the rightful overseers of this Island, a good show from the Vykarin will assist in that." The archeologist shakes his head, "Not if he thinks we are strong."
Bassai watches the approaching group, "At least try to have them line up."
The ornamentally-attired Nagai straightens up a bit, as his party slithers off of the platform Slither, that is, save, of course, for the Savanites, who walk in the normal fashion. A garter scoots out from the midst of the party, holding a little gong in one hand and a mallet in the other. He bangs it, the clash ringing out, and he begins to shout in Imperial, "Behold, Prefect Sssarkan of Ring Valley, he of many coils, respected in the Court of the Emperor, who treads upon those lesser than he!" Unfortunately, he stands in place while making this address, and, true to his claim, the Prefect slithers right over top of him, prompting a hissing squeak of dismay.
( I'm dead. ) Fenter thinks to himself. He barks a bit more, although his voice is slightly muffled from his hiding place.
"Announce me." Bassai whispers to Fenter, "as governor of this island, respected archeologist, and anything else you can think up. Make it impressive."
Several click-pops and questioning "rrrrrr?"s, muffled as they are, echo amidst the colored shells. One by one, they unroll, revealing a number of Vykarins that loll their tongues and wag their tails respectfully.
Tekki and Ibis stand to each side of Bassai but behind as well their heads bowed appropriately.
Fenter scrabbles up on a Vykarin's back and shouts to the snakes. "Er… Welcome to Fetiss Island! This is mister Bassai, governor and respected archeologist. I'm Fenter Nu-… er Fenter, Sky God in residence."
Tekki holds Bassai's potted plant in both hands. The plant, sporting the same colors as Bassai's scales, comes up to just below Tekki's chin, a couple of petals occasionally brushing against his nose, prompting Tekki's nose to wriggle a bit in protest.
Ibis blinks incredulously.
Bassai slithers forward and proclaims loudly in Imperial; "I have delved the secrets of lost cultures, wrested knowledge from Sifras sites, and claimed, and defended this Island for myself and the Glorious Empire. Welcome."
The Prefect pauses in mid-slither, to the dismay of the garter who is still gasping for breath beneath his coils. He flicks his tongue, regarding Fenter with an unreadable expression, then turns toward Bassai. A wide grin crosses his face. "Bassai!" he hisses, using Imperial (as would be appropriate). "Yes, I remember you! So long it has been. And what is this?" He gestures to the island. "Have you brought a whole new, uncharted sky island for the Emperor? I have heard incredible things about you, but this surpasses them all!"
Fenter frowns a little and looks in the direction of the Eeee ship.
The Eeee ship is securely moored, all banners of the Sabaoth appropriately lowered or removed entirely. Some netting and mats have been draped over the "Eye of the Sabaoth" on both sides of the primary envelope.
"It has been many years," the archeologist replies. Fenter's look is not lost on him. "Yes, I have many stories to tell, and some questions."
"Like when are we gonna go home… " the raccoon mumbles to himself through gritted teeth.
The Prefect smiles, bobbing his head, and slithering forward. The garter makes some choking noises, then luxuriously takes in breath again, just lying there on the ground for a bit. The Prefect hisses, "We gathered a few Creens with what I presume were your notes on them, and tried to discern from whence they had flown. We detected that this was not a cloud at all, but a sky island. We almost did not arrive, for a piece of the sky island broke free and smashed into the starboard observation deck! We didn't lose any crew, thankfully."
The archeologist nods, "The formation of this Island was an unbelievable sight. From what I saw, it is no surprise that a few pieces of it are still dropping off. You were most fortunate a larger rock didn't fall."
The Prefect nods, smiling, not immediately letting Bassai's words sink in. "Well, yes, I suppose so. But … " Then it dawns on him. "FORMATION? You mean to tell me, you witnessed the FORMATION of this sky island?" He looks about to his guards as if they might verify what he has just heard.
Bassai nods, "Yes, my expedition was in the Northern Wastes. I was examining a restricted Sifras site. It was overwhelming, I will try to capture it for you. First though, I wish to know. What has happened with the Empire's Enemies, are Rephidim and Babel at war?"
"There were just rumours when we left." The Ringneck gives a hard glance at the Sabaoth's ship, "Though we have received stronger evidence since."
The Prefect nods. "You must have been away for quite some time. The Babelites have struck the Rephidim Docks some time ago, but more often, they have contented themselves with striking airships. All doing business with Rephidim have been forced to devote more resources to protecting their cargo vessels." He frowns. "The Babelites cannot ultimately win, and I think they realize this. The Eeees are crazed. They have a deathwish."
"So I have observed." Bassai agrees. "This island was held with some difficulty. I will spare you the details for the moment. Do you wish to see some of the marvels here?"
The Prefect straightens up just a bit, increasing his height by little more than an inch in reality. "Indeed, I would wish to see whatever you have found!"
"Do you want to eat a little pink wiggling thing? I can get one of my worshipers to fetch you one to eat." Fenter adds, trying to sound helpful.
The archeologist flicks out his tongue, straightening. "Yes, you should try some of the native species. Quite intriguing."
The Prefect seems to find the prospect appealing, by his expression. "Quite so! A … ah … 'pink wiggling thing'. How quaint. Yes, I do think I would like to try one."
Fenter howl-click-barks something and points to the Prefect.
Several Vykarins scamper off, some promptly digging in the ground. It does not take long before several little pink wiggly critters are thrust in the Prefect's direction. He hisses gleefully … and swallows a couple.
The Vykarins all watch in rapt fascination as the lump goes down the Prefect's gullet…
Bassai remains expressionless.
The Prefect gulps, then hisses, "Ah … Is this a custom of theirs to … stare at me like that?"
"They like to watch the lump go down." the Rath'ani says cheerily.
The Prefect hisses, "Oh," in the Naga equivalent of a tone that would usually accompany a blushing of ears in certain species Nagas not being one of them, given their lack of visible ears.
"I have not observed it before." Bassai hisses, "but I have found the Vykarin to be intensely curious."
The Prefect nods to Bassai, apparently liking (and trusting) the archaeologist's answer more. "Ah. I see. Yes, that sounds reasonable. Now then … about that tour… "
"Of course, come this way. I'll show you the berries we cultivated and used to attract the Creens, then some of the unusual flowers." The Archeologist leads the Prefect around the Island, trying to regain the composure he has let slip, and demonstrating his skill, in a figurative sense, of walking over others.