New 21, 6105 RTR (22 Mar 2001) Elijah squares off against the enemy in the Sanctuary of Ice.
(Airship) (Elijah's Quest) (Spheres of Magic)
Sanctuary of Ice
An absurdly large tower fashioned of Sifran crystal and stone, this ancient structure has a wide and open central shaft that descends into mists, wherein can be seen glimpses of a marvelous garden of greenery and ice-sculpted versions of the same plants. Around this shaft are ringed walkways, with chambers and tunnels that radiate outward, with walls that seem as if fashioned of ice, in places translucent enough to serve as windows and to allow in filtered sunlight. Access between levels for those without wings (or not wishing to use them) is possible by floating crystal discs that hover off of the walkways, taking one up or down. The air is crisp and just a little too cool, though much preferable to the frigid expanse glimpsed outside.

Elijah has managed to avoid encountering any of the monks during his roundabout journey back to the lower levels. Although this tower has quite a system of passages and chambers, its radial design makes it fairly easy to re-orient oneself to the ever-present landmark provided by the central shaft, and the bounds formed by the outer walls. Although sunlight still filters through the tower walls, his own fatigue suggests to him that, in actuality, it is very late, sometime in the evening … and, given how long he has been making his way around the corridors, perhaps even past midnight. This far south, and in the closest this region comes to summer, the sun doesn't truly set.

The Vartan's fatigue is further fueled by an unpleasant heavy sensation in his belly. Although it doesn't yet impair his abilities, it would seem that he has taken ill, and it is most assuredly something of a magical origin.

Still, the sense of danger helps to stave off fatigue for now, and just as well: Although he lacks the expertise to diagnose precisely what ails him, his training with the Knights Templar suggests that a magically-induced ailment is less effective against those with sufficient will to resist … and often more effective against a subject that is unconscious. Thus, what would be recommended for a mundane ailment – rest – is precisely what he shouldn't allow himself to have too much of, if he can help it.

After considerable working around, Elijah manages to make his way back to the shrine that serves as the Champion's laboratory. At present, the Champion of Ice is not here, and it is untended, though there's no telling the schedules of those in the Sanctuary. All manner of liquids are stored in various containers, a great many of them unlabeled, or marked with some scribble that probably would only have meaning to a dedicated mage. (And, as much as Elijah knows about magic, he hasn't mastered all of the particulars.)

Elijah hunts through the lab, rubbing his stomach to massage the muscles as he checks for signs of a journal or any notes that might give clue of what the Champion's experiments might entail. He also keeps an eye open for a sink.

Yes, there are several basins, and one has a little trickle of water going through it – a miniature fountain, though it appears to be utilitarian, not decorative. With some searching about, Elijah finds several tomes that no doubt contain extensive notes. No doubt, some sort of journal is included here.

The Vartan grabs two large bottles and fills them with water. He corks one and keeps it in it belt while another one he sets on a burner to warm up. As the bottle sits, he starts flipping through his pile of notes and tries to find anything out of the ordinary. Curiously, he also checks to see if Isetia might have a book of notes or two herself.

It takes Elijah several minutes – though it's impossible to tell just how long – and a great deal more than he'd likely be comfortable with, but at last he finds a leather-bound tome that appears to be some sort of journal … one that goes back many years, and might very well be just one in a volume … though other members of the same volume are not immediately evident.

Elijah takes the first bottle off the burner and pours some salt in, swirling the mixture around until it dissolves and then repeating the process until the water is saturated. Then, wincing to himself, he swallows down the mixture and tries not to retch at the taste. It makes him all the more thirsty, but it's his stomach that he's more concerned with at the moment.

The concoction feels somewhat disagreeable in his stomach, but at least it doesn't seem to be adding to the "heaviness". The Vartan's ears pick up some shuffling steps outside the laboratory.

Muffling a hiss, the Vartan quickly sets to cleaning up his mess and finding a place to hide away. ( What I wouldn't give to be a few feet shorter right about now. )

As if it were tailor-made for a Vartan to hide in, Elijah finds a large wooden locker that has, for the moment, been mostly emptied, showing signs of some rearranging having been done in the laboratory and left unfinished – perhaps due to the surprise arrival of an airship and a dinner guest. It looks like Elijah could squeeze himself in there, without disturbing anything further.

Elijah snuffs out his burner and fans his wing slightly to clear away the smoky smell before ducking into the locker with the journal under his arm. He closes it most of the way, leaving enough of a crack to let in enough light to read and see outside by a hair.

Elijah catches the distinctive, semi-translucent form of Isetia walking into the room. She seems quite recovered from her earlier emotional outburst, and headsover to a work desk, looking through the tomes. In Elijah's previous search of that area, he found nothing particularly enlightening – at least to his eyes – just a bunch of diagrams and arcana.

Breathing softly so as not to make any more noise then he must, the Vartan quietly watches the girl.

It looks like the girl has picked up one of the books that was of no particular interest at the time – a book on methods of training oneself to be resistant to magic (a topic Elijah is already quite familiar with, and a cursory scan indicated that the methods were nothing new). She sets the book down, and flips through the pages, looking intent as she scans the book herself.

Elijah frowns to himself. ( She's looking for a means of bypassing me, I'll bet. ) His hand drops to his sword as he continues to watch.

Isetia continues to go through the book, then stops on one page, spends some time reading it, and then her expression becomes more serious, until finally she slams the book shut with a tinkling growl, and roughly shoves it back into its place, then turns about, walking toward the exit of the laboratory.

( I'm just going to get weaker the longer I wait. As much as I'd like to find more about this before I act, time is not on my side. ) He gulps down a breath and leaps from his hiding place, intent on tackling the girl and holding her before she has a chance to react.

The element of surprise is on Elijah's side. She reacts a little too quickly (Perhaps she saw a glimpse of his reflection on the crystalline walls?) but the Vartan still plows into her, knocking her light form to the floor. In a testament to the magical nature of her construction, she doesn't shatter upon impact, but she lets out a loud cry of surprise and anger.

"Disappointed that I've not been added to your menagerie up top? You will tell me why you put an enchantment on me NOW or I will smash you into a million pieces. And if I feel you use your powers, I will pull your head from your shoulders." The Vartan keeps a hoof planted on the vixen's chest, hoping that if she decides to make herself spiky his hoof can handle it better than his hand.

The vixen's pretty little face manages to contort itself into a wicked-looking sneer. "'Twas not I that put an enchantment on you, warrior, but my 'father'." She says the last word with as much disdain and distaste as can be packed into the word, robbing it of any trace of honor that might be afforded to one's supposed "parent".

"Did he tell you to wait in the hallway for me and blubber like a baby as well? I have been a father long enough that when a girl cries in the path of someone, she's doing it to get noticed. What is going on here and why is he trying to dispose of me?" Elijah growls, trying to keep his voice down as much as he can.

"What is going on here? Oh, if only you would ask him," the vixen says. "He thinks he's saving all of his kind, making them able to 'survive' in the frozen regions. If only you'd have flattered him just so, and asked him the right questions, I'm certain he would have spilled it all out right off, even before he got you under his control. But now I suppose it's too late for that, isn't it? You've got it all figured out."

The Vartan breathes out sharply through his nostrils in one hot puff. "Or you're setting me up to kill him for you. What is your part in all of this, then?"

The vixen's eyes narrow. "Me? Surely that is obvious. I am an elemental, bound to the service of the 'Champion of Ice'. If you should slay him, then I will be free to leave his service."

"He's not the real Champion, is he?" The Vartan flexes his wings, trying to keep his blood flowing. "What are his plans, then? And why kill his lance?"

"He's a sorcerer," the ice-vixen says. "His Lancers let him get away with quite a bit, since he was their leader … but he went too far. When they confronted him, and his 'reasoning' would no longer suffice, he dealt with them in the brutal manner that his sorcerous powers afforded, then continued on with his plans, unopposed. He even spoke to their frozen corpses when it was done with, pretended that they were still quite alive and that they finally understood … as if he had persuaded them of anything."

"Does he know I'm loose? And why haven't any of his monks done anything to stop him?" Elijah scrawks.

The vixen laughs. "Oh, they did, they did. You haven't gotten a very close look at his monks, have you?"

The Vartan hefts his blade. "Can't say that I have, although after observing one, I noticed that it seemed none too bright. Are they golems?"

"They're what's left of the monks," the ice-vixen says. "They're what you are going to become, when that elixir works its way through your system. Normally, you would be asleep now, undergoing the transformation. That is why he has taken this time to retire, trusting you to be taken care of just now."

"How do I stop it?" the Vartan hisses.

"Free me from bondage, and I give you my word, I will tell you. I would have nothing to gain by breaking my word," the ice-vixen says.

"Can you produce proof other than your talk? I won't play assassin for you." Elijah drops the journal next to Isetia.

Isetia looks askance to the journal. "Read the entries for yourself. Or allow me to pick out the best ones for you, if you feel you haven't the time." There's a jabbing edge to the last word, and Elijah's stomach churns in remembrance.

"Then show me." The Vartan pulls his foot off the vixen's chest to let her stand.

Isetia rises to her feet, taking up the journal as she gets up, and sets it down on a desk. She flips through the pages, and finds a section with ink faded by time.

… Marvel of marvels, but this is indeed a place that the First Ones have indwelt with Their power. The Star shines brightly for me, as my studies are blessed, and my experiments enjoy greater success than ever. The currents of magic flow strongly through here – Indeed, could it be that they originate here, this focal point of the southernmost tip of our world?

The 'isetis' that originates here is a solid manifestation of magical energies, blurring the distinction between spheres, though it is particularly malleable to my own concentration and, I suspect, that of the Air as well.

It is not merely magical, however. It is, indeed, alive, in a magical sense, and spawns all sorts of curiosities, such as the 'frost imps' that annoy the Yverneti. I hope to capture some with their help, for further study…

… I have done it! It has taken me great pains, and the subject only lasted for a few seconds after formation, but I have managed to replicate the process that produces these 'frost imps'. With further work, I think I can induce greater stability, but, more important than that, I see a framework that I can build upon. I am not confined by the arbitrary shapes imposed upon these forms by mere chance and the whims of magic. Life spawned from isetis can come in many forms, and I intend to see just what many forms may be possible…

… My most magnificent creation yet … born from hundreds of 'sparks', nay, thousands, fashioned with a complexity far more than any of my plants or imitations of sea creatures. I think it only fitting to name her 'Isetia', for she is the embodiment of the very spirit of isetis. …

… How can they question me? How can they question the will of the Star, of the First Ones, that we come here, and take into our hands the tools that have been left for us? Do they not understand the gravity of our commission? We are on the threshold of a new era … a new step in our evolution, as sapient beings, regardless of species! How can I make them understand, to put aside their antiquated notions about magic and spirits? …

… They understand. Yes, they understand at last. It was necessary, this first step in our transformation. My brothers, they are all as one now, and at peace. They have been the first to be transfigured, to take on the holy and pure form of isetis, free from decay, free from disease, free from filth and impurities. Would that I join them in this holy progression, but I must keep one foot still in the material realm. I must keep this frail husk a time longer, as my work is not yet complete. I must strive to find a way to break the barrier about the southern realms, so that we may spread forth into the world, and share our word with the others, to bring them all to ascension. …

"Need you more?" the vixen says, looking coyly up at Elijah. "Or must I do a song and dance?"

Elijah sighs. "Where is his room? Star … this feels as though I'm having to cut my own arm off."

"His room is an easy thing to find," the vixen says. "It is on this same level. You need but to traverse the ring to the other side, directly opposite from the laboratory. And there you will find him, sleeping. He has not bound me to warn him should you be unaffected by his potion – that was an occurrence he had not even thought of, even with his experience with the Knights Templar. He is so set upon his ambitions that he hardly considers any opposition."

"Are there any traps?" The Vartan's tail lashes. "You seem awfully free willed for an elemental."

"He has put a great deal of work into me," Isetia pouts. "You could at least be a little impressed. And, yes, there are many traps. But what concern is that to me to learn of? I am immune to them all, though I cannot raise a hand to harm him. As much as he purports to love me as a daughter, he is not so blind as to leave out that possibility."

The Vartan shrugs. "I've seen gods made flesh and ghosts and golems and even an elemental or two in my time, although mostly against my sword." He frowns. "I apparently have little choice. But just to sweeten things for you, if you turn out to be truthful in the matter, I shall do my best to have you relocated or allowed to stay here, whichever you wish. In return, I'd like for you to help free the rest of the monks if such a thing can be done."

The ice-vixen grins at this. "Ohhh. Yes, that should sweeten the pot nicely. Consider it done."

Elijah starts looking around for a stick, and gathering up a few random bottles of chemicals that might be useful to use as thrown weapons in a pinch. "Any more advice you can give me? Besides 'don't fall asleep'."

"Don't spend any longer in there than you absolutely have to," the ice-vixen says. "He's not entirely mortal anymore."

The Vartan nods. "Then when we next meet I'll either be picking up broken shards of glass from the floor or the deed will be done." He makes the sign of the Star against his chest and slips out through the door, heading towards the Champion's room. His stick taps on the floor as he creeps along, wary of any magic or other dangers.

As Elijah makes his way through the misty lower level of the Sanctuary, he passes around the "garden" in the heart of the tower, with its intermixing of plants – real and fabricated – which grow more thick and congested toward the very center, to the point that whatever is in the heart of the garden cannot be seen. It has the added side effect of limiting line of sight, such that, even with the open expanse of the center of the tower, Elijah has little trouble keeping out of sight. (The monks are neither fast nor particularly alert, it seems.)

At last, Elijah makes it over to the doorway directly opposite the laboratory. The door has a thin seam of ice on it, serving as something of a seal, though it doesn't look as if it would be particularly difficult to break open. (At the very least, the Champion of Ice must be able to do something with it, or he'd never get through.)

( No time to be subtle. ) The Vartan remembers the sanctuary of his predecessor and wonders if he could force the door open with his hands, but figures he'd make as much noise smashing the door in as he would shoving it open. He hefts his gunblade and slams the blunt side against the door.

There is a shattering of ice as the seal breaks, and the door swings open. Beyond is an antechamber with an icy, frost-caked floor, with long icicles hanging from the ceiling, and rooms radiating off from it. Straight ahead and back is a bed chamber with a four poster bed – fashioned of ice – upon a raised dais, glittering with light refracted through crystal windows. Upon the bed lies the prone form of the Champion of Ice, reposed as if a dead warrior laid out on a bier.

( Like a sacrifice just laid out. I feel about as honorable as killing a sick animal. ) Elijah prepares to take a step in and instead opts to fetch one of the beakers he rescued, sticking one of his feathers into the cork and rolling it down the path.

The beaker rolls across the floor, tinkling to a stop. At first, there is nothing … but then, after a moment's pause, just as in the Lancers' vault, ice quickly forms on the feather, encasing it.

( So I can't go in unless I want to get caught. ) Elijah stretches an arm into the room, trying to grab oneof the icicles sprouting from the chamber.

With a crack, the icicle comes free. It does not appear to be endowed with any great, magical strength, even though it is as thick as Elijah's arm. Nonetheless, his muscle is stronger than long, tapered ice, and he has the piece in his hand, a process that takes but an instant. The snap echoes loudly, though the Champion still does not stir.

Aiming the icicle like a lance, he points it at the figure in the center of the room and then throws it with all his might. He would throw his sword, but he'd rather not completely disarm himself if this turns out to be a trick.

It's an expertly thrown projectile that spins through the air, a javelin of ice … but it suddenly and violently stops at the open doorway to the Champion's bedroom, impacting an unseen obstacle. It shatters upon impact, raining icy shards to the floor, and a few particles slide down a sheer, nearly transparent sheet of perfectly formed ice filling the doorway. At this, the form on the bed begins to stir, and a white-furred, gaunt muzzle rises from the bed.

Elijah quickly whips out a handful of his collected bottles throwing them all at once towards the barrier in the hopes that one of them might contain something to melt a hole through the wall.

Several bottles smash against the unseen wall, painting it with various fluids, some of them inert, some of them steaming, one glowing upon contact. There is a sizzling sound, and then, sure enough, at least one of them (or perhaps a combination) has a dissolving effect upon the barrier, as it begins to melt, then to fracture from the stresses of its own weight and the dwindling support. Even before it melts but a portion of the way, the structure collapses, raining ice particles to the floor. The mage on the other side lets out a yelp, and fumbles for his robes hanging to the side of the bed, throwing them on. "What is the meaning of this outrage?" he cries.

The Vartan lunges for another icicle, this time a glimmer of an idea forming in his mind. He rapidly spits on the end of it and then rips out a handful of feathers from his neck, pressing them against the ice to freeze them in place. Then with a lunge, he heaves his bolt at the Champion. ( Let's see if my feathers will freeze while lodged in his body… )

Though yanking out that many feathers certainly stings, Elijah has his projectile readied in due course, by the time the mage is just able to come to the doorway and give the Vartan a sour look. Before he has so much as a chance to utter an incantation, the bolt is underway … and the javelin hits its mark. Whatever the Champion was going to say is abruptly cut off by the force of the impact, and the piercing of his torso … and then, there is an audible crackle as ice starts rising from the floor, focusing on the feathers, and then spreading outward. "Nooooo… " the Champion rasps, looking past Elijah.

"Join your Lance, traitor," the Vartan growls. Nervously, he glances over his shoulder, just in case the Champion's gaze was focused on a hidden figure behind him. He doesn't completely trust Isetia just yet, after all.

Isetia is behind Elijah, a triumphant smirk upon her face. She swaggers toward the doorway, as the Champion drops to his knees, slumping to the floor, slowly becoming encased by frost, as his haggard vulpine eyes begin to lose their luster.

Elijah pulls his sword out. "There, it's done. Now can we cure me and the monks here? This spectacle sickens me, as I've just killed one of my brothers."

Isetia steps forward, as if to enter the chamber, but stops when Elijah blocks her way. She turns to frown at him. "There is just one more matter to be tended to. Surely you won't deny me a chance for a parting word to my 'master' who has imprisoned me all these years?"

"I see no reason to gloat." The Vartan feels his stomach lurch, and this time not just because of the poison. "And if he truly did create you, you should at least grant him less of a shameful death. Now … the antidote?"

For a creature of ice, Isetia's eyes certainly seem to burn. "I have waited for too long! Do not rob me of this moment! Stand aside!"

As the fox mage slumps, a thin, wispy vapor escapes his mouth, slowly dissipating into the air.

"NO! I get the feeling that you intend to do more than gloat, Isetia." Elijah glances back into the chamber, and then whips his wing out, fanning the vapor to help it dissipate faster. "Stealing his spirit, or soul, or power … was not part of our bargain."

"NOOOOOO!" shrieks the ice-vixen, and she takes on a more wild demeanor, her features distorting, becoming far less petite and pretty, as her hair spikes out into a wild, barbed mane, and her fingers extend into claws.

( Maybe I can make it back to Sukara in time… but if I don't… ) The Vartan slices his blade at the creature to knock it back, blocking the doorway with his body. "What is it you intend to do, Isetia? Suck his power for yourself?"

The ice-vixen seems more solid than she ought to, but Elijah's blow is still strong enough to send her sprawling. She looks even more wild now, as she looks up at Elijah, speaking as if with a chorus of voices, "With his power, I shall be complete! You shall pay for opposing me!"

Elijah's feathers fan the air behind him, trying to stir the mist to vanish faster. He smiles and hefts his sword. "I've not had a good fight in weeks. Let's see how easy you are to shatter." And with that he lunges in, slamming his blade down towards the creature's neck.

Isetia lets out an angry shriek … which quickly dissolves as her form shatters into countless pieces, which explode outward like icy shrapnel, a few of them stinging the Vartan, though not enough to do any serious injury to the hardened warrior. At once, the monks all about the complex stop whatever they're doing, and stand up and straight, waving about, wailing loudly.

Elijah lets his breath out and all but drops his sword. He takes a moment to pluck out a few of the ice fragments, his wings quivering in case he needs to bolt from an angry mob.

The monks begin slumping over, as wisps of mist lift out of their mouths, and drift toward the center of the tower … toward the tangled center of the garden.

The remaining mists coming out of Ice's mouth, however, dissipate into the air, and fade away entirely. At last, his body slumps down, and is fully encased by a solid layer of ice.

The Vartan swallows and gets a better grip on his sword as he hesitantly walks towards the center of the garden to see what the wisps are flying into.

Several of the icy plants crackle and twist, blocking the Vartan's way. Sharp "leaves" close in on him, threatening to slice at him.

Elijah frowns and slices his sword at the plants, preparing to hack his way through if need be.

The plants are no match for Elijah's swordsmanship, and his Abaddonian blade still retains its effectiveness against constructs of magic, which these most assuredly are. As he hacks his way through the plants – magical and mundane – he catches a glimpse of something in the heart of the icy miniature jungle … a large mass of ice, complex in a mazework of faults within its shape, glittering in the refracted sunlight. Within the depths of the ice, it seems as if something stirs … something insubstantial, misty, but resolving into some sort of form, vaguely Yverneti in proportions, but reminiscent of … a frost imp?

"Oh Ice… what have you done?!" The Vartan holds his blade at the ready, waiting to see if the creature bursts free or if it won't be able to function without the missing bit of power from the Champion.

The creature seems to gain some solidity, and it turns to focus its baleful gaze upon Elijah. A faint, grating, choral voice echoes within the solids of the ice, as more of the leafy vines close in on Elijah. "Pathetic … creature … I am no mere … elemental! I am … ISETIS! … I am countless sparks … formed … given mind … given WILL! What are you … compared to my … magnificence?!" And it moves toward the edge of the ice, mists coalescing as it seems to be trying to push itself out of its prison, slowly slipping out and into the air, the mists forming into its body as it does so.

"I," Elijah replies, "am the one with the explosive rounds." He points the barrel of his gunblade at the creature and fires.

The creature opens its fang-lined mouth in a shriek that reverberates through the chamber, though it is quickly lost in the deafening explosion that follows, as the garden is soon consumed in a flash of light.

Some time later, Elijah awakens, finding himself lying on a cot in the sick room of the Eternal Vigilance. He feels very weary … but his stomach doesn't feel quite so heavy as it did before. A Skeek physician and an Eeee priestess look down on him. "He's awake," they both say at once, and then there's a pause, which the Skeek breaks first. "How are you feeling?"

"I blew up again," the Vartan replies, looking down at himself and taking count of the damage. "Where did you find me?"

"In the middle of the tower," Sukara says. "It was a real mess, but the captain allowed me to make a prayer to seek out any signs of life. I found only a few weak signs – the plants – and yourself. I found traces of many un-living creatures, but they must have been recently dispelled. We're not sure how long you were out." The Vartan sees that he has bandages over a great portion of his body, and the rest is covered by a heavy blanket.

Elijah's hand flies up to his eye. "Thank you. Everyone there was dead. I figured I was going to collapse the whole thing on myself, but I couldn't let it escape. I don't quite know what happened. I think the Champion went mad and let himself get manipulated by an elemental he created for companionship."

Sukara nods. "Something powerful was there … but whatever it is, it's gone now. Not long before the Outpost came back to the Sanctuary, we were attacked by swarms of frost imps, but … suddenly, they broke off, and hardly seemed interested in us, and went off to devour some floating chunks of isetis instead. We only suffered minor damage, praise Sunala."

Whitewhisker grimaces at Sukara's praise, then adds in, "I'll be wanting to keep you under observation for a while. Just so you know, the same team that found you also found supplies … including some fuel stores. We should be able to limp our way back to the southern tip of the Savan, at the very least."

"Were you able to dig out my gunblade?" Elijah winces and tries to get used to seeing out of two eyes again. "Keep any books you find under lock and key. I think the Champion was trying to make the isetis sentient, or create an isetis elemental that apparently took control of anything associated with it."

Sukara frowns at this.

Whitewhisker nods. "I'll make certain the captain is duly warned. As for your weapon, it has been recovered, though it will need some attention. They also found what they take to be the remains of the Ice Lancers, and their armor … and the armor of the Champion of Ice."

"Thank you for digging me out of there." The Vartan nods tothe Eeee. "And you, I apparently owe my life to. I am very grateful, Sukara. How long until I'm able to get out of bed and walk around again?"

"Let's give it a few days," Whitewhisker says. "You're a hardy fellow, that's for certain, and between the two of us, we think we've dealt with whatever it was in your stomach, but I'd feel more comfortable keeping a close watch on you a little longer. I'm always a little extra wary whenever magic is involved."

Elijah puts a hand to his stomach. "That was going to be my next question. I think I was poisoned, something that would turn you into an ice zombie while you slept… although if I've been unconscious and didn't change, I can assume that you managed to stop it in time." He looks at Sukara. "Will there be any lasting effects from that?"

Sukara shakes her head. "Whatever was in you wasn't mere alchemy. I reason that it was fed by some sort of spell … something since broken, and I'd wager a guess that you could thank whatever explosion you caused. It still did a number on your insides, and you may need to go light on your food … You may have trouble keeping things down for a while, but it shouldn't be anything permanent. I'll do what I can to help you recover. I predict you'll be back to normal well before we get back to civilization."

"As long as my beak doesn't turn to ice or I melt once we reach the Savan, I'm quite happy." He rubs his bare eye. "I was trained to not hesitate should I ever have to fight a brother possessed by the dark, but this put my oath to the limit. I don't think Ice was malicious … but I don't think he was able to cope with his isolation very well. Maybe we shouldn't open the sanctuary again."

Whitewhisker sighs. "Well, I'm not the one for you to talk to about things like that. I'll go fetch the captain and tell him you're awake, if not up and about." He steps up and patters out the door, Sukara turning to watch him leave.

Elijah leans back into his pillow. "So do you like me better with or without the eyepatch, Sukara?"

Sukara smirks. "The eyepatch gives you a certain 'distinguished veteran' look, I think."

"Could you see about getting me another one? I … I know this is an odd request, but if you could make me a new one, preferably out of cloth of your own, it would mean a great deal to me. I'll buy you some new clothing to replace any you shred in the making." He smiles. "I am a collector of tokens, albeit odd ones."

The bat laughs lightly. "Or a personal effect of mine to use in magic-working if I ever run afoul of you, eh?" She smiles. "You'll have your token, mysterious warrior. Who is to understand why Sunala repeatedly refuses to take you away from this world while She has so many opportunities? Perhaps you have Her blessing, or perhaps She despises you. Who can say?"

"I give you my word as a father, a warrior, and as your friend that I would sooner pluck out my eye than use something of yours against you, unless you were to suddenly go insane and try to kill everyone." Elijah shifts in the bed. "I will simply miss your company when you leave, and having such a thing will remind me of when I took this voyage and met up with you. the shape of the token will remind me of who I was during the trip."

"Sentimentalist," Sukara says, in mock disdain. "I hear the captain coming. I'll let you explain your marvelous adventure to him now. Rest well." And then she gets up to leave.

The Vartan folds his arms behind his head, yawning to himself. "If you have a moment later, bring me some fish soup if the cook has any … just as long as there isn't any snark in it." He grins and waves the bat off. "Good night, Dikara."


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 7 days before Day of the First Ones, Year 25 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6124)