New 15, 6105 RTR (16 Feb 2001) Elijah assists some locals who are attacked by strange "ice creatures".
(Airship) (Elijah's Quest) (Spheres of Magic)
Eternal Vigilance
In part a gift from the Knights' Abaddonian brethren, this airship departs from the old "ship and sail" design, instead sporting a central forest-green and amber zeppelin with an undercarriage and motorized propellers, with two additional floats connected by struts, one on each side. The undercarriage is salvaged from an old warship, modified only to fit the new envelope structure and to accommodate motors at the expense of cargo space, and it has a landing deck nestled underneath the central envelope, with wide openings on each side that can be blocked off to repel boarders, or opened to allow rakhtor riders and flying warriors free access. The front "shield" piece bears the old emblem of the Bounded Star and Anchor … except that the upward turning crescent to complete the "anchor" has been removed. The resultant symbol looks much like the "Bounded Star" of the Abaddonian Knights, only with a sharp point at the bottom, making the shape suggestive of an

Having left the Shard Cities behind once repairs were effected, the Eternal Vigilance continues southward, bound for the Sanctuary of Ice, with a new member of the crew: a wiry but still muscular saber-toothed feline by the name of Marduwel. He speaks hardly a scrap of Standard, and most of it consists of single words that he's picked up during the trip – barked orders more understood by context than anything else. At first, he seemed quite sullen once the ship departed from the Shard Cities, but his demeanor seems considerably improved now that many days have been put between them and Promethea.

Sukara has earned a few distrustful looks now and then, but whereas the cook could fill their bellies with something other than slop and crackers, she has proven her worth by assisting the ship's doctor in dealing with injuries and cases of frostbite. Plus, spirits have raised, at least for a little while, at the improved diet when the ship's stores were replenished by bargaining with the Prometheans – The Khattas and Wimmers in the crew seemed most pleased of all at the addition of fresh fish to the diet, and there's hardly any trouble at all keeping the stores properly cold, so they'll keep a little while longer.

The Captain didn't shove off precisely when he could have. Rather, he consulted his charts, and waited for the right moment to head out, based on the engineer's calculations of their likely airspeed once they got underway. As Captain Bevel explained, they've got a sky island to catch, and as the ship gets closer to the "rendezvous" point, he has every idle hand on the ship peering out windows, in search of the mysterious floating isle.

Elijah's feathers are fluffed out from the cold, making him look a bit thicker than he really is around his head and neck as he keeps his one good eye focused on the window. After seeing nothing but ocean and fog and ice for so long, an island, however cold, would make for a good change.

"Hey!" calls out a tabby Khatta. "I see another one of those icy ships!"

A Jupani grunts disinterest. "Just as long as it doesn't shoot anything at us."

The Vartan leans against the glass. "One of the Promethean ships?"

It looks like a spindly, wooden craft, with frost tinting every surface, and multiple leathery spheres holding isetis chunks, with shutters through which vapors escape. The septagram-shaped craft has what looks like space for its crew in its center, and large leathery bags that seep more mists – perhaps extra chunks harvested from the floating blocks, stuck in bags so as to keep them from vaporizing so quickly. The craft lists to one side strangely, and the Vartan's keen eyes can pick out what at first appear to be just glints of light … but it appears that there are small creatures flying around the ship – almost a swarm of them.

From here, it looks like, whatever they are, they're white, and they have no visible wings.

Elijah's eye widens at the sight. "Someone get the captain and have him fetch his spyglass! He should get a better look at this."

"Aye-aye!" The wolf dashes off, and in short order, Captain Bevel comes back. He looks through his spyglass … looks again … then hands it over to Elijah. "I've seen nothing like those before. No wings … They look like they're made of ice!"

The Vartan peers through the glass, studying it for signs of damage or any sort of flag or marking that might indicate where, or to whom, the ship hails.

When Elijah gets a gander at them for himself, sure enough … these creatures, whatever they are, look as if they're fashioned of icicles, with a head and large jaws, a "mane" of icicles sweeping back from the "face", and a couple of translucent stubby arms, and large, sharp-looking claws. The creatures zip about, leaving trails of mist in their wake. On the craft, it looks nothing like any of the heraldry of Promethea, or any of the airships he recalls seeing in the vicinity of the Shard Cities. But then, he had heard mention that there were actually, surprisingly enough, several sky islands out this way, some of them large enough to support small populations, and each of these populations were referred to generically as "fiefdoms". This particular craft flies a tattered, faded red banner with an emblem that looks like three crossed tusks in white. It looks like it's crewed by more of those saber-toothed felines, and they hurl sling-bullets at the swarming ice-creatures.

"Captain, we should probably notify the Lancers. If that ship is dropped in these waters, there won't be any hope of survival in this water." Elijah folds the telescope back up and hands it to Bevel. "Do we have any flares? Heat may cause them harm."

The captain nods, and barks out some orders. In short order, several flares are brought back – Since the ship hasn't had to spend much time down at ground level, most of them should still be in good working order. (Taking them down to the surface tends to break them down. These are of the "safety" variety of flare, courtesy of the Technopriesthood, which are designed not to automatically ignite just because the quantum uncertainty level gets too high.)

The Vartan sets himself to fetching his warmer clothing (the extra padding probably won't hurt against those claws as well) and his weapons as he prepares to fly out. "Keep some fighters outside the envelope if you can. They may decide to turn on us once we attack."

The crew rushes to battle stations, and one of the side panels on the landing deck is opened up for a defensive flight to take up positions outside, latching onto the rigging of the envelope, so that the craft needn't slow down and make itself any more inviting of a target to these strange creatures. As it is, so far, there's no sign that they have any intention of breaking off and coming toward the zeppelin … but then, it's not as if there has been much opportunity to examine the behavior of these creatures in any detail yet.

Once the Vartan is ready, he takes a moment to fetch Marduwel and brings him to the window to show him the spectacle outside. The Promethean might know who or what these things are and who they're attacking after all, even though he may also have a difficult time explaining it.

The Promethean's ears flatten back. He points out the window. "Bad! Bad bad bad! Bite! Kill! Eat … isetis!" He pantomimes, taking on a deranged expression, slashing at the air with a claw, and biting at an imaginary chunk of something.

Elijah nods. "Ship good or bad?" he scrawks in reply, making a clumsy representation of the three tusks by holding his fingertalons together.

Marduwel imitates the gesture, peers out the window … then, using one of the many wordless gestures he has quickly picked up from the crew … he shrugs.

"Dunno!" he mrowls.

The Vartan smirks and pats the Promethean's shoulder. "Good enough." He shoulders his blade and gets ready to disembark through the docking portal.

Outside, the ship can be seen more clearly even without Vartan eyes or spy scopes. Many of the creatures swarm near one of the outer "pods", and it droops noticeably. A single sabertooth in bulky furs and leathers daringly climbs out, swinging a flail at the creatures, and managing to knock chunks off of several of them, so densely are they packed together. Some of them, however, set upon him, and he drops the flail as he tries to fend off the blows.

Four Black Lancers, mounted up on Rakhtors, are ready to take flight, waiting for the signal from Elijah.

Elijah's wings shake as he tries to warm them up before taking flight, but as soon as the team is gathered, he waves his arm in a quick salute and drops from the hatch. "Try to hit them with your lances. A good heavy blow might shatter them and you won't have to get close enough to have those claws used on you. I'll try to help the fellow getting swarmed."

A cold blast strikes Elijah as he drops out of the ship, but this is nothing new to him by now, and the Lancers follow, two to each side, as he wings his way toward the other airship. There could be ten or so of the creatures at present. It looks like a second sabertooth is trying to crawl out on the framework to assist the first, but a couple of the creatures break off to harass him as well, and he retreats back into the center hull.

The Vartan whistles sharply to get the lancers' attention. He points to the airship and then holds up one hand in a balled up fist. With his other hand he makes a zooming motion underneath it. ( Maybe if we buzz them they'll get distracted and go after us, or at least confuse them enough to get them to lay off the Prometheans. )

The head Lancer waves his rakhtor's wings in acknowledgement, and with a renewed forward burst of energy, the rakhtors swarm over the airship, close enough to buffet it slightly with their wing-beats. Sure enough, the ice-creatures are stirred up like a hornet's nest by the passing, and several of them – five, it seems – break off to pursue the rakhtors. The rakhtors split up, and begin to circle, choosing their targets and preparing for the kill.

Elijah tries to take advantage of the thinned number of creatures and zooms towards the flailing sabertooth, his blade flashing back and forth to try and hack his way through like a machete. "You speak Standard? We're here to lend a hand."

*CHAK-CHAK* Two of the creatures are reduced to particles, and the remaining three at hand disperse, as they apparently realize that an actual threat is posed to them. The sabertooth looks up, his eyes obscured underneath his tightly bound, much-chewed-on hood, and he says something in a foreign tongue that sounds like the language the Prometheans have been using … Doesn't seem he speaks Standard.

The Vartan puts his blade in his belt and grapples the rigging of the ship so he won't buffet the feline with his wingbeats. He points to the Eternal Vigilance and then to himself, attempting to smile so he won't look too dangerous. He then offers the cat a hand to try and help him back into his ship.

The cat seems eager enough for any help. However, as he tries to work his way back toward the hull … his hand strikes a sharp portion of one of the fragmented creatures … he slips … and loses his grip, falling from the framework!

Elijah immediately lets go and drops after the cat, curling his wings around his body to try and help him drop faster and catch him before any more of the creatures show up. ( Don't use your claws when I grab you… pleeeease don't use your claws. )

The sabertooth cat yowls as he plummets, but Elijah manages to catch him … and the cat only uses his claws enough that he grabs into Elijah's heavy covering. Elijah can feel it, but nothing is bruised, and no blood is drawn. The important thing is, however … he's got him! However, the three formerly cowardly ice-creatures are now circling back, descending upon the Vartan. It looks like the Lancers are in the process of finishing off the last two of the five they led away.

The Vartan curls one arm around the feline and fishes out one of the flares from his belt. He angles his flight so the bolt won't hit either of the two airships and then takes a shot at one of the crystal beasts.

The blazing ball shoots over toward the two ice creatures. They are too agile to be hit – The aim was true, but they dodge out of the way – but the blazing flare has a definite effect on their flight paths. They dart far, far away, giving Elijah ample space to make a break for one airship or the other.

Elijah shoots towards the sabertooth's ship, figuring it to be the one that needs the most defending at the moment, and he can pop his passenger back home in the process. He draws out his blade and holds it at the ready just in case one of the creatures decides to fly at him again.

Indeed, it looks like that's their intent, but one of the Black Lancers breaks off from the frustrating task of taking care of those other two ice-creatures, and flies, luring away the two attackers in a chase. Elijah makes it to the hull, where a door of leather, bone and fur pops open, and several sabertooths help pull the fallen cat in. They cry out something in their tongue, but from their expressions, it looks as if they are hailing Elijah as their friend or hero.

"You're welcome," the Vartan scrawks in reply, grinning to himself. "I'll be back in just a moment. I need to help my men." He points to himself and then points after the crystal beasts, patting his sword to try and get his point across. He salutes and then drops from the ship, flying after the creatures.

The creatures are flying around in tight circles, vainly trying to chase after the rakhtor that is leading them away from either airship. Whatever these creatures are … they are not terribly bright.

Elijah decides to try and surprise them. He angles his flight upwards to try and get the sun to hide his presence, and then dives down like a falling bullet. His sword his held in front of him not to spear, but to knife through the creatures like a wedge as he braces himself for the impact.

*KRUK-KRUK* In a spray of misting chunks of ice-like material, the two remaining creatures are dispatched, and it looks like the rest of Black Lance is winging back over this way, having dispatched with their own pests.

The Vartan angles back up and puts his blade away, shaking bits of dissolving crystal from his feathers. "Go get Marduwel! He's the best we have to a translator right now. We should make sure our friends are alright." He salutes again and then heads back towards the sabertooth's airship.

The sabertooths open up the door again for the Vartan, repeating many of the same words they did before. Noticing, perhaps, that he doesn't seem to speak their language, they try saying words slower and more loudly. It makes just as little sense, though they seem grateful enough. There are five of them in the craft, in a rather snug little compartment, a great deal of the room taken up by what look to be ice-breaking tools, ropes, tarps, and other such supplies.

Elijah mouths an 'aaaah' and points to the tools. "Isetis?" he asks, wondering idly if these people are charged with going out and fetching the stuff.

There are several nods. "Isetis!" Elijah hears many times. A sabertooth pantomimes swinging something downward, and makes a *chuk* noise in his throat with each "hit".

The frame bobs again, and the sabertooths brace themselves. It looks like a rakhtor is perched on the frame, and a Black Lancer carefully dismounts, latching a safety-tether onto a piece of the frame, as he assists Marduwel over to the door. Looks like it's going to get more crowded in here.

The Vartan makes as much room as he can, hunching his back and trying to press his wings against his back as tightly as he can manage. He points outside and then makes a growling face, clawing his talons at the air as he pantomimes the motions of one of the monsters. He looks curiously back to the felines, wondering if they have a name for the beasts.

The sabertooths look to each other, and move a bit, as Marduwel squeezes his way in, bidding nervous signs of greetings to the other cats. The Black Lancer mounts back onto his rakhtor, and the airship rights itself slightly with the weight released. One of the sabertooths mimics Elijah's hand positions and hunches, and nods. "Vorkuk." The others nod. "Vorkuk! Vorkuk." A few more pantomimes. They say something about "vorkuk" and "isetis".

"Marduwel, they need help? Fly home okay?" Elijah whistles to the new arrival.

Marduwel nods his head a few times at Elijah, then engages in rapid conversation with the other sabertooths. He moves his hands around a lot, often hitting the sides of the small compartment, and Elijah hears a few familiar names mentioned (and mangled somewhat), as it seems the cat might be recounting his journey so far. At last, the sabertooths nod and speak back. Marduwel looks back to Elijah. "Broke. No go."

The Vartan taps his beak. "Marduwel, they have map?"

It takes a few back-and-forth exchanges of repeating "map", with a little pantomime, but at last he gets the idea. The sabertooths dig out a map on some leather. It doesn't look terribly old. But then, in this place, maps become useless pretty quickly.

Elijah points to himself, and then taps at the map, dragging his talon in the direction that the Eternal Vigilance is slated to go. "We go here. Where you home? You come with us?" He doesn't like the idea of abandoning the cats out in the middle of nowhere, but also has no idea how valuable the ship is to them and how they would react to the prospect of leaving it behind. If it comes down to it though, he's willing to lose a few days on his trip if it means getting the felines back to their homes and families.

It takes more back-and-forth, but Elijah manages to figure out that the path these felines are going is a little off the path that the Eternal Vigilance is going. It would most certainly cause them to miss the rendezvous with the sky island. However, the sky island wanders all over the southernmost areas, and the navigator should be able to plot another encounter, once they get the chance to consult the charts again.

"Tell them we give them pull home, Marduwel. We hook up our ship to theirs. They ride with us of they want." Elijah wiggles his shoulders in the cramped space. ( So we'll lose some time. It's not like the Captain is in a hurry to get back. )

Marduwel takes a bit to get the message clear, but whatever he tells the sabertooths, they seem quite excited about it. One of them wraps the Vartan in a bear-hug. Considering that the Vartan himself could probably hug a bear, it's not as bad as it would be for most people.

"Maybe we can stock up on a bit more fish." The Vartan chuckles to himself as he clumsily allows the sabertooths to thank him on their own way. "I'd best get the Lancers organized for the tow, and inform the captain. Marduwel, you stay here?"

Marduwel has managed to learn "stay here" as one of the first introductions to Standard. "Stay here!" he repeats, nodding.

Elijah grins and salutes and then squeezes out of the hatch, winging back to the ship to fetch some ropes and help get the link set up.

After a good bit of work lashing up the smaller airship to the Eternal Vigilance, and moving the crew over to the larger craft, Elijah and his companions have made a change in course.

They don't exactly have to worry about nightfall anymore. It seems as if it's practically eternal day. The sun just goes around in circles, occasionally dipping low toward the horizon enough to shadow the land … then coming up a few hours later. Right before the sun gets to this point of abbreviated night, however, the spotter calls out "Land ho!"

Sure enough, there's another sky island – a conspicuous patch of green in the midst of fields of snow-blinding white.

As the Eternal Vigilance approaches it, fields can be seen. This is only a fraction of the size of Rephidim, but a considerable portion of it has been devoted to fields and orchards, with only a few cottages serving as dwelling-places. In the heart of the island is a fortress built up of stone blocks, almost dome-shaped, as there's more concern with aerial attack than assaults by land.

When the airship touches down, dropping off its tethered cargo, the villagers come out to ogle at the strange, foreign craft, and the crew of the rescued vehicle head out, gesturing wildly, and it's almost certain that in their recounting of the glorious battle with the vorkuk, the ten have been transformed into at least fifty or so.

Elijah makes his way to the docking ramp. "Sukara, would you like to come with us? They seem to have fruit, and the thought of having actual grass under my hooves for so long makes my ears tingle."

The priestess bows. "I would be delighted." It looks like several other crewmembers are quite delighted, too. Captain Bevel is still a bit wary of possible conflicts in culture and language, but through Marduwel, he's been able to piece together that it's not all that alien of a place. The locals deal with barter, not any recognizable coin, and a number of crewmembers seem eager enough to swap off old items of clothing in exchange for the local fermented beverage.

The Vartan makes an exaggerated bow in return, dipping so low that his beak almost pecks at the deck. "I've sworn off ale, so I'll leave the crew to their fun and their bartering."

Sukara makes her way down the gangplank. She lifts her chin, closing her eyes, breathing in deeply. "Mmm. I can smell the orchards."

Elijah follows behind the Eeee. "Do you recognize the plants? I've never been much of a gardener."

Sukara mmms. "I see a few thistlebarks here. Those are lovan over there. And pala-fruit bushes! And oranges … It must not frost over here often, or they'd never be able to grow those. But then, most sky islands tend to maintain a fairly regular temperature. But most of the strains here … yes, these look like they're from the Savan."

"Thistlebark you say? Mmmm… " The Vartan stretches as he steps off the ship, unfolding his wings out and shaking the cold from them once he's sure he won't accidentally whack anyone in the process. "I wouldn't mind having a staff of the stuff sometime, although I'm not sure I've anything to trade. That's not all that dire, but I wouldn't mind an orange or six." He grins.

Sukara nods. "We'll have to track down Marduwel, and see if he can bargain for us. I do believe he has become quite popular." She unfolds her wings, testing them a bit, and glides down a short bluff toward a pool. She folds her wings back, then stoops down, cupping her hands together, and taking a deep drink of the crystal clear water. In this oasis of warmth and life within the cold expanse of the far south, grasses and flowers grow in abundance about the place where the airships are tethered, and iridescent insects buzz about, some skimming just over the surface of the water, darting this way and that.

Elijah follows suit, although not nearly as gracefully. "This looks like a good place as any to settle down until Marduwel finishes with everyone else, even though he might be on the last threads of his voice by then." He lies down on the bank of the pool and dips his fingertips in the water, curious if the warmth of the island might come from within, since there doesn't seem to be any signs of it outside. "If my son were here, He'd have done a belly flop straight into the brook after being cooped up on the ship for so long."

Sukara smiles faintly. "If I were still a child, perhaps I may have done the same." She looks away toward the village. "I gather there are several sky islands like this down here … each one fairly isolated from the next, only occasionally bumping into each other. Given that they wander off, never to see each other again, I suppose there's not much sense for any sort of larger nation to grow from it. Who could manage a place that cannot be mapped?"

"If they use the floating ice here for most of their technology, that probably keeps them all the more isolated. But if they manage and they do well then I see no harm in it. Sometimes people manage best when allowed to care for themselves in small townships or groups instead of having one great body on high looking down on them and letting some of the folks slip through the cracks." The Vartan yawns lazily and flicks a few droplets from his fingertips. "The fact that they move around is probably excellent protection in itself from any larger groups that might try to bully them around."

Sukara nods. "I suppose that is so, though I judge from the fortress… " She points to the keep in the center of the town, fairly modest for a "fortress" despite Sukara's identification of it. "… that this place still has its hazards. And we've witnessed some of that." She sighs. "I am going to remind myself to take back something for Thistletooth."

Elijah pulls out one of his feathers and sets it on the water, blowing on it and sending it across the surface like a miniature boat. "Who is Thistletooth?"

"The chef," Sukara answers. "The Skreek who is locked up in the brig."

"That is very thoughtful of you, Sukara." Elijah sighs. "I really hate having him locked up like that. Maybe we can give him double pay when this is all over with it and he turns out to be innocent."

Sukara nods. "Well, it is all perfectly understandable. I just do not think that will make him feel any better about it. I'm confident all will turn out fine." She stoops down, examining a few flowers, then looks over to Elijah. "Would you mind if I examine them?" She wiggles her fingers in a vaguely arcane manner. "No tricks, Sunala as my witness."

"Feel free, and thank you for asking my permission first." The Vartan folds his arms under his chin. "Are you looking for anything in particular?"

Sukara says, "I do not think that the plant life here has been often studied in such a manner, and I certainly doubt that I'll get another chance like this. In the event that some arrangement is made whereby I may return to my sisters, I would like to have some information to add to the archives. Perhaps there is something unique about the plants here. There may be something different about how they grow, how they adapt to the cooler climate here, different minerals in the soil of these sky islands … " She shrugs. "It's not an opportunity that I wish to pass up."

Elijah smiles. "You really should have become a biologist, Sukara. You have a certain knack for it."

"I suppose I already am one, in a manner of speaking," Sukara says, then settles down and digs through her robes, setting out a few stones. She spends a little while chanting, then, after a bit, seems satisfied. "Hmm. Definitely derived from the Savan."

"How do you suppose it got up here? I don't think Creens fly this far to be able to deposit any seeds, and it's probably too high for winds." He drums his fingers. "The inhabitants don't seem to be Savanite either."

Sukara shakes her head. "No theories on that just yet. Maybe these sky islands occasionally wander further north than just these isetis fields? The people here look a lot like the Norasha of the Himar Region. I've never actually met them. I've just read about them. They live in the colder portions of Himar."

Elijah mmms. "But Himar is quite a way north of the Savan. Maybe we can poke around in some of their legends, or when Marduwel gets a better grasp of the language he can answer for us. It's a shame we won't be going back this way. The idea of going island hopping is a bit intriguing."

Sukara nods. "Many things get spread by mysterious means. For instance, we have Creens on all the continents, although there's no evidence that they would be able to traverse the oceans. We can't very well just chalk it up to airship sailors losing pets. Creens have settled into a niche too well. They've been around quite some time."

"Do you hear any animals here on the island? Maybe there's a Creen or two living here now, and you have better hearing than I do." His muscles protesting a bit, Elijah slowly pulls himself up from his grassy mattress.

Sukara perks her ears. "There are many insects. I hear some birds chirping. Yes, definitely. I see no sign of large animals. The farmers must push the plows by hand. But, considering how strong most of these people are … "

Elijah's ears flick. "No Creens?"

Sukara shakes her head. "Not here, no, I don't think. At least not out right now. It is still fairly chilly here. They're more suited to warmer regions. You just don't find them much up in, say, Nordika, for instance."

"An interesting little mystery, although I'm very grateful that the islands seem to be so isolated out here, and the basis of their flight forces them to stay that way. It makes them less of a target for the greedy." The Vartan stretches his arms and yawns, popping his wing muscles in the process.

Just then, a Kavi comes scampering down the gangplank, waving a chart around in his hand. "Captain! Captain!" He sounds pretty excited. Even for a Kavi. he looks this way and that, but Captain Bevel doesn't happen to be conveniently standing nearby. Instead, he sets his eyes upon Elijah, and dashes up. "Sir, sir!"

Elijah coughs and turns around to face the Kavi. "Yes?"

The Kavi thrusts a chart underneath Elijah's beak. "See? See? The path of this island … and the path of this island … " He moves his fingers across the sheet, tracing far too many tangled lines. "… they're going to converge! So … we're really not far off at all! We can ride the island to here, then take a short jog over to … here! We can make up for all the extra fuel we burned up during that pirate attack!"

Elijah's eye glimmers. "Wonderful! We can save on provisions as well if the locals don't mind sharing a little or letting us fish in their waters."

The Kavi beams proudly. "I'll go tell the Captain!" With that, he sprints off toward the cottages.

Sukara sighs. "If he's right … we may well be to the Sanctuary in just a week, if I'm hearing correctly."

"Indeed." The Vartan tilts his head at the Eeee. "From your tone, you do not sound eager for that particular step on our journey. Is it because of the Knights themselves?"

Sukara shakes her head. "Mmmm-no. Just means we're that much closer to the part where you have to decide what to do with a Babelite spy, hmm?"

Elijah lets his breath out. "When we reach Rephidim or a busy enough port on the way back, I will give you enough money to pay for passage back to Babel. It disturbs me, but it disturbs me in the ground that I feel I am delivering a young woman into the arms of Sunala myself and not because you are a spy. But I am also not your father, nor your guardian. You must make your own decisions and I will not force you from that."

Sukara looks askance to Elijah. "I'm not making you commit an act of treason, am I? I'm not familiar with Rephidim law on such matters. Not to suggest, that is, that I have trespassed on Rephidim soil, or that anyone is at war right now."

"Bevel may be the captain, but the ship is pretty much mine to do with as I wish. Therefore what happens to and on it is my decision. If I say you go free, then you go free." The Vartan shrugs. "The ship isn't fully in the service of Rephidim, after all."

"Far be it from me to argue," Sukara says, with a hint of a smile. She gets up. "In any case, I shall go see if I can pantomime well enough to bargain for some oranges, before the locals start turning in for the … " She looks at the horizon, where the sun has dipped down, though not wholly disappeared. "… night."

Elijah gets up. "I might as well go with you. Once it gets dark I'll probably start bumping into trees and end up shaking down half of their grove trying to find my way back to the ship." He glances back at the lake. "If I said that I would be committing treason for letting you go, would you still go?"

Sukara smirks. "Oh, certainly I would." She winks. "I'd just make certain I escaped before you had a chance to let me go."

"I appreciate it." He kicks up his heels a bit. "Now, back home I've done a bit of haggling. Let's see if I can manage to get you an extra fruit or two in the bargain."


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 12 days before Landing Day, Year 24 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6123)