Mar. 23. The Distant Star encounters a "Flying Khattaman".
(Airship) (Armani) (New Character Arrival) (Paradys Lost) (Roho) (Wynona)
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The Distant Star
This trans-continental class airship is about as fine an example of airborne travel as one could find, short of personal transport for the most wealthy and mighty. The decor is by no means lavish, as the emphasis is on function rather than form, but it is in top maintenance, any patches in the cloth being so finely meshed in as to be only noticeable upon close inspection (and, for most, close inspection is just not possible). A single large balloon (sealing several smaller subcompartments) dwarfs the gondola beneath it, and sails radiate outward, long and sturdy. Along the hull, the lettering reads clearly, to be read from a distance, "The Distant Star".

The airship has reached the eastern shores of Ur, and is now drifting out over the seemingly endless sea, blue meeting blue in a way that is disorienting, making it hard to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins … except for the hint offered by clouds in the distance, and the pale white glow of the Procession that arcs along the sky, like a trail paved with precious stones for the craft to follow all the way to Rephidim.

A pair of large, tan ears poke up from the hatch leading belowdecks, followed moments thereafter by the rest of the fox. Roho emerges onto the deck, sniffing the sea air…

A flight of sea-creens sweeps by the airship, a clue that the craft hasn't gotten THAT far out from the mainland just yet. They cree and trill, the white winged lizards making a full circle around the craft.

Roho sits on a low seat by a railing, letting the breeze catch him head-on.

A white bat stomps by, looking disgruntled. "Of all the … OOOO! I mean, I AM of the Sphere of Air. And I'm on an airship. You'd THINK that would be fortuitous, but … no!" She steams, then walks over to the railing and looks out across the ocean.

Roho grins, and walks up behind Wynona quietly. "Maybe if you hadn't told them about the sneezing… "

Wynona sniffles. "There was no avoiding that."

Roho pats Wynona's shoulder, "Well, maybe they just want a nice, leisurely flight… "

Wynona blinks and turns toward Roho. "Roho! Oh! I've been in my room all this time … well … sneezing. I didn't realize that it was YOU coming aboard! And who's that girl with you?"

Roho grins, "Hi, Wynona! That's Maza, my involuntary assistant… "

Wynona says, "Oh. I see. So … how did your mission turn out? And why are you on this airship? I mean, we're going all the way to Rephidim. That's a bit out of your way, I think, for a house call."

A golden vixen head peeks out behind Roho. "Not true! I volunteered, I just didn't know what I was getting into." She grins.

Roho shrugs, "Not too badly, I guess. Banishment and exile."

Roho grins at Maza, "Yeah, but you're still sore about the 200 gold shekels… "

Wynona smiles and waves to Maza. "Wynona Windcaller, at your service!" she says with a slight bow. "I'm a journeym – " She blinks at Roho's answer. "Banishment and … exile?"

Roho nods, "I picked a bad time to offer my services. Got tangled in palace politics."

Maza mock-grrs at Roho. "You could almost buy this whole ship for that much, you know that?" She flicks her ears, looking to the side over the railing at the infinite sky. "Well, I guess it was too good to be true."

"Buy a whole ship?" Wynona squeaks. "What on Sinai are you talking about?" She gets a wistful look in her eyes at the notion.

Roho rasps, "Well, my cures were working on the Sabaoth. My reward if I was successful was to be 200 gold shekels. Could probably buy a ship for that, though it wouldn't be much good without crew… "

Wynona belatedly registers, "… two hundred gold shekels!" She gulps. "Oh my! Well, if you had a ship of your own, I'm sure you could arrange SOMETHING useful to do with it… "

Roho chuckles, "Oh well, too late now… at least I kept my head… "

Maza looks dreamy. "We could call it the Golden Vixen and have a crew of all my relatives and… " She shakeshakeshakes her head. "Well, that's bygones. If wishes were raindrops, I'd be drowned." She pats Roho's shoulder.

Clouds roll by. Not that Roho can see them. But the smell of dust in the air hints at their passage.

Wynona says, "Well … what will you do when you reach Rephidim? I've got my plans pretty well figured out. I have to report to the College, after all. And … well … I'm a bit further away from paying off my tuition now – That's for sure," she adds with a sigh.

Roho shrugs, "I'm not really sure. I guess wandering is a little out of the question on a floating city… maybe I'll try to open a practice. Never thought I'd say that… "

Maza's little tummy rumbles. "I'm going to find some breakfast," she says chirpily to the others.

The golden vixen scampers off to pester the cooks.

Wynona smiles and waves. "Ah, yes. We're getting away from the shore. I can't just fly out and grab myself a bit to eat. I'm not really used to that – I never was assigned to trans-continental flights. Well, ONCE, but we … err… well, that's a long story."

"Ooo! Look! There's a – Oh. Bah. Silly me," Wynona giggles.

"It's a Flying Khattaman. I've heard about those before. Never actually have I seen one, though. I thought they only happened when you had storms, though," Wynona muses.

Roho chuckles, and pokes his head over the railing, "I don't see it!"

Roho rasps, "Khattaman?"

"Not down THERE, silly!" Wynona giggles. "Out THERE. Oh, pooh. I wish you had eyes! I'd say I wish you had ears like mine, but that wouldn't help you. A ghost ship. It's not REALLY there. It's a reflection … but … hmm … that doesn't really look like our ship at all. That's odd."

"Oh, pooh! It disappeared in the clouds again. I wonder if anyone else saw? Wait – It shouldn't disappear into the clouds… " Wynona begins looking around. "Hello? Did anyone else see this, or am I just out in the sun too long?"

Roho blinks, "Should there be another airship so close?"

*clangclangclangclang* The ship's alarm rings out, and the ship hands scramble. The ship begins to turn, sails shifting directions to catch the artificial gusts of air generated by the chanting air mage in the rear of the craft.

Wynona squeaks, "Oh my! THERE IT IS!"

Roho thinks perhaps now would be a good time to pick a spot to stand no so close to the railing… he moves in a little…

The ship tilts away more fiercely as it turns. The rushing of air hints at something very large passing uncomfortably close by, and its sails flutter, disturbed as they pass through the magical gusts bearing the Distant Star along.

A nearby red-golden saluki dressed in a desert-khaki safari outfit says, "I suspect so." Her voice is cultured with the sound of nobility. She holds onto the railing and looks through the clouds, hoping to catch another sighting of the airship.

Wynona eeps! "It's too close! It's caught in our stream! I've got to get the mage to stop – If he tries to help us maneuver, he'll just push the other ship, too!"

The deck rocks a couple more times, and there are more buffeting noises. It's certainly a good time to find something sturdy to hold onto.

Roho grabs hold of something. When it shouts, "Let go!" he quickly finds a more stable handhold…

"Oh my! There's … I can't see anybody on the other ship!" Then there's a sound of cloth brushing against the railing … and no more sound from Wynona.

The flop-eared canine, startled by the sudden lurching of the deck, nearly falls off! She clings to the railing with fervor and tries to shinny her way back on, not helped at all by the fierce air.

Roho grabs hold of a railing and hangs on tightly, ears flattened in fear… this is certainly not how he pictured an airship journey…

She yelps involuntarily and then calls to Wynona, "Whatever you are going to do, you had better do it quickly!"

Wynona squeaks and flaps along, whatever it is she's doing not evident to Roho, of course.

There are more sounds of wingbeats – some heavy, most light – as some others take flight from the deck.

Roho quietly mutters to himself, "Okay, yes, good, it's nothing serious, we can just fly away. Oh, wait, the fennec has no wings."

The saluki looks after Wynona disbelievingly. "But why are you… " She lets her voice trail off and concentrates on shinnying up over the railing, her struggling evident to Roho's ears.

The deck sways a couple more times, but not nearly so violently as before. After what might be seconds or minutes, things seem to be calming down somewhat.

Except, that is, if you happen to be dangling off of the side of an airship.

Roho doesn't notice the canine dangling over the side of the ship… he relaxes his death-grip on the rail…

The saluki closes her eyes for a minute, and then opens them again. "Excuse me, sir, would you kindly lend me a hand? I seem to be hanging on for dear life to the uncomfortable side of the railing, and the wind makes it difficult to climb back in. If you can spare a minute." She chuckles softly, trying to bunch her muscles and pull herself farther back in.

There are several squeaks being exchanged between the ship … and some location off port. (Roho – and the saluki – are currently on the starboard side.)

Roho's ears swivel forward, "Ack? Why didn't you say something sooner!" He grabs the railing tightly with his left paw, and starts fishing around with his right, wrapping his legs around a wooden post, "You'll have to grab, I can't see you… "

The saluki latches onto Roho's hand. "Pull quickly," she urges. "If the wind shifts, there'll be two of us wishing for lifelines."

Wood creaks ominously.

Roho tugs hard, ignoring the protests from his shoulder. He leans back, and when it becomes possible, adds the other paw, holding on with just his feet.

"Hey! You over there! What's – " The voice breaks off, followed by several footsteps running across the deck, toward Roho and the saluki.

For a moment, both Roho and the saluki are in an uncomfortable state of free fall as the ship bucks… Then the deck rocks back and she scrambles on board with the help of the fennec. "Merciful First Ones," she murmurs. "Thank you, friend."

Roho pants, "My pleasure… I'm sure… " His ears look whiter than normal.

The wolf and a few Savanites head over well too late to be of any assistance, other than to help the fennec and the saluki back to their feet.

"Please, your pardon, m'lady," the wolf gruffs, dipping his head. "I didn't see … "

Roho chuckles and mutters, "Neither did I… "

"I'm Lady Armani of house Finnegan," the saluki says introducing herself to Roho and holding out a hand. "Please consider me in your debt." Then adds to the wolf, "Oh tish tosh, Pavel, you cannot be everywhere to watch me. Accidents will happen."

The wolf swallows his words, and starts again. "I think they have the other ship taken care of … for now. It's a derelict. Some of the bats with that prince have headed over, though they're not exactly ship hands. We're in trouble if that turns out to be a plague ship, though," he gulps.

Roho smiles and bows slightly, "I'm Roho of Himaat… and I don't normally collect debts."

Armani notices Roho's failure to take the hand. "Oh my!" she says, blushing in her ears. "I'm sorry, I hadn't noticed that you were blind. But please call upon my estate when we return to Rephidim. Perhaps I can treat you to dinner somewhere; it would be a small enough recompense for timely aid, I'm sure."

Roho smiles, "It would be a pleasure!"

The saluki looks over to Pavel. "A plague ship?" Nervousness sounds in her voice.

Pavel nods, his shaggy mane rustling as he does so. "We're not really equipped to know for sure, though. I gather some special arrangements were made in choosing the crew by – er – political considerations more than anything else."

Armani nods to Pavel. "I see… But if it is a plague ship, perhaps they should have taken a healer along to examine any bodies found? And prescribe treatment?" She frets, but moves to take Roho's hand. "Perhaps we'd better go inside before we tempt the Hekoye's Matu's attention by remaining at the railing, yes?"

Roho chuckles, "Well, if they need a healer, I should probably stay above decks… "

The red-golden canine raises an eyebrow. "Are you a healer? Perhaps you should see the captain then; he will appreciate the assistance, I'm sure."

Roho smiles and nods, "Probably… I'm sure we will meet again sometime later, it's a long voyage and a smaall ship." With a little bow, he heads off towards the bridge.

"You had better," the saluki says with a grin evident in her voice. "I owe you dinner!"

At the bridge, Roho finds the Eeee captain, squeaking exchanges with some others, also bats.

Roho . o O ( Great… I'm sure they trust me as a healer, after I got banished by the Sabaoth. ) He steps forward anyways, "I heard on the deck that the ship found may be a plague ship… "

There are some high-pitched whispers, and then the captain says, "You are Roho, yes?"

Roho braces himself for the insults, "I am… "

"If we may ask, could we bear you over to the other ship to examine it? Our options are greatly limited … " the Captain trails off.

Roho nods, "I came to offer my services."

"At once, then!" the captain calls out, and Roho is quickly ushered along and … led to a chair?

Roho sits in the chair, "Umm?"

A couple of straps are put around Roho's waist and across his shoulders. "Hold onto this," he is told, as his hand is led toward a wooden pole that seems like some sort of supporting structure.

Roho takes hold of the pole, and says a silent prayer… or something to the effect of 'Don't let me fall to my doom'.

There's a jolt … and it seems Roho is airborne … along with the chair and the poles he's holding onto. By the sounds of flapping wings, it would seem he has an escort.

There's a soft *thump*, and the arrangement lands on the deck again, and the straps are loosened.

Roho stands a little shakily…

"It's safe to get out now," a bat says. "We're on the ghost ship. We haven't found any bodies yet, though."

A low chanting can be heard off in one direction … whether it's fore or aft or port or starboard is impossible to tell just yet, until the fennec can get his bearings. But by the voice, it must be Wynona working on some sort of spell.

Roho moves in the direction, but then stops… Wynona's spells have a habit of backfiring even without fennec intervention…

The fennec steps on some foliage – vines and leaves dried out from the sun. There are more examples here and there, scattered on the deck.

Roho blinks, and picks up a leaf. He breaks it under his nose, and takes a careful sniff…

A type of sky garden, no doubt – especially given the location. Probably a bubble berry vine.

Roho drops the leaf with a shrug, and starts prowling around, sniffing for any signs of things out of the ordinary.

The fennec's nose doesn't pick up any of the cues he would associate as accompanying various plagues. Lacking any traces of scent (except from hints of where the bats have been roaming about, searching), it would appear that this ship has been abandoned for a very long time. That it is still afloat, however, makes it a curiosity.

Roho hms, and wanders in Wynona's direction, not interrupting but trying to figure out what she's trying to do…

Wynona would appear to be … chanting. Not being able to see anything, it's hard to tell if she has candles set about her, any magical circles that shouldn't be trod upon, or that sort of thing. Nobody has shouted or screamed yet, though, so he must not have disturbed anything.

Still, there is a smell of incense and a hint of smoke, so there must be some candles sitting about here somewhere. Best be careful.

Roho stops where he is.

There's a familiar, faint scent of oil, and then, "Roho? Have you found anything?" It's the voice of Boghaz.

Roho turns and shakes his head, "Nothing… I don't smell anything. Not just plague, but no trace of people, either."

Boghaz hmms. "Well … that would be good, would it not? Perhaps this ship is merely abandoned … though for what reason, I could not surmise. It does not fly a flag, and the style does not look like any I know from these parts."

Roho rasps, "Strange thing is… I don't know much about airships, but from what I do know, it seems that a ship would stop floating long before the scents of its crew faded… "

Boghaz says, "A very good point. Here … let us move a bit further away from the air mage so we do not disturb her. It is fortunate that we had a spare on board. I've not heard of that being done before. They are generally in very short supply."

Roho chuckles, "I don't think they knew they were getting one with Wynona… do you know what she's casting?"

Boghaz shrugs. "I've no idea. Magic is not my specialty. I would guess it might have something to do with why we are now flying alongside the Distant Star rather than ramming into each other again."

Roho nods, "I'd guess… has anyone checked below decks yet?"

"In any case, if you believe that there is no sign of disease here, I shall tell the others," Boghaz says. "They will be greatly relieved. The belowdecks have been searched as well. There is some sort of cargo, but no bodies. And the perishables, of course, are beyond salvage."

Roho nods to Boghaz.

Boghaz marches off, and then breaks into flight, leaving the fennec on the deck – a bit further away from Wynona now.

Roho stands on the deck, looking totally out of place. He decides now would be a good time to sit and think.

Boghaz marches back. "Well! This is fortuitous indeed! We have an airship, flying no flag, claimed by none. I have hereby claimed it as the first vessel … for my personal air fleet." His grin can be heard in his voice.

Roho smiles, "Congratulations! Now… would your flagship be needing a healer and his assistant? Never know when they'll come in handy… "

Boghaz hmms. "That is a very good point."

"We will be sailing on for Rephidim, regardless. This ship will be needing some refitting." Boghaz pauses. "But for the journey there, most certainly, if you would be offering your services – and then, if this is to your liking, perhaps after that… "

Roho nods, "I haven't made any plans yet for Rephidim… what happens, will happen."

Boghaz claps Roho on the back. "Very well, then. I'll see to getting some stronger hands over here to help man the ship, along with an assistant for you. And then we'll see about what can be done with the quarters for the ship's healer… "

Roho grins, "Oh, I already have an assistant… you remember Maza? I think she would prefer it here as well… "

Boghaz laughs. "I had none other in mind. I will send summons for her at once."

Roho smiles, "I think she will agree readily… "

Roho looks half joking, half serious, "I'm starting to think the gods wished this to happen… though it was painful, you now have your love, an airship of your own, and I am on my way to the most wondrous city on Sinai."

Boghaz pauses, pondering this for a moment. "The ways of the gods are mysterious indeed," he muses, then heads off to tend to arrangements. By the sounds, it appears some others have been ferried over to the craft as well, in addition to the bats.

A voice squeals. "It's a ghost ship! The ghosts are going to eat us – oh, hi Master Roho – let go of me already!" That must be Maza. Funny, she never seemed especially superstitious before.

After a while, Boghaz walks by again, holding his dearest by the hand. "There is the matter of what we shall call this ship. Sarai, have you any ideas?"

Roho waves to Maza, then whispers quietly to her, "A newly found airship… you were speaking of it earlier, and now you want to get away?!"

Maza says to Roho, "Who knows what happened to the people who used to live on this thing? Maybe they found something that can't be spoken of!" She struggles with the bat warriors trying to help her to the deck and then hides behind Roho. "Maybe it's not a plague ship but have you looked everywhere already?"

Roho rasps, "I've not been everywhere, but I can't even smell the crew. If they did die of plague, the plague would disappear from the ship before their scents did… "

Sarai ponders for a few moments, looking about the airship, then back to her beloved.

Maza looks suspicious. "Come on, I won't believe you if we don't look absolutely everywhere," she urges of her 'master'.

Boghaz smiles. "Of course, there's no rush in such things. We have all of the voyage to Rephidim before we can hire someone to paint a name on the side. It seems that tradition was not followed before with this vessel."

Roho sighs, "Okay, fine… but you're coming with me! I don't want to get lost down there, and have them find my remains in a century… "

"All right," Maza says brightly. That didn't take much persuasion.

Sarai chuckles and smiles up at Boghaz, remaining near to his side.

Roho leaves Boghaz and Sarai to their decision, and heads belowdecks with Maza…

Belowdecks, it's very dark. Not like that really matters to at least half of the persons down below in this area just now.

Maza looks around with curiosity. "It's… " Perhaps she's trying to come up with words to describe the time-hallowed depths of the belowdecks, the way that the years seem to pile up everywhere, the sense of ghosts hanging nearby… "Musty. Phew! We'd better open some portholes."

Roho pads slowly around the musty belowdecks… he grins and nods, "Perhaps you're right, I can't smell anything down here!"

Maza starts with the Captain's stateroom. "Now you'll protect me if some horrible monster jumps out, right?" the golden vixen asks Roho as she puts her hand on the doorknob.

Roho chuckles, "I'll offer you all the moral support in the world!"

Maza grumps. "Some master I have."

Maza pushes open the door and then jumps back.

There's a dry, dead smell to the air, here, not quite so musty. This door must have been closed for a long time … and no doubt it was not searched by Boghaz' men.

Roho walks carefully into the Captain's quarters, sniffing intently…

Dust. Something aromatic that might be cigar smoke. Perhaps a faint hint of flowers.

Roho rasps, "Maza? You see anything in here?"

Maza looks inside, over Roho's shoulder. "I don't think Cap'n Boghaz is going to want to sleep here without bringing some new furniture over… " She darts in to try and find some light valuables that might have survived the test of time. "There must be something… " she grumbles.

"Anything? Well there's a bed if you can call it that. Books on the library, a nice old desk, too bad it's hard to smuggle one of those off without someone noticing, I bet that ink's dried in the pot… " Maza's ears perk. "A log book! Bound in… Ooh, brass."

Roho erps, "Wait, don't touch it!"

"Maybe it says something about what happened to them. It could have a treasure map," Maza says excitedly, her tail swishing. She begins to approach, then freezes.

Roho grins, and nods, "I'd rather read it first, and find out what happens. You can have the brass later!"

Roho chuckles, "Of course, I guess you'll be doing the reading… "

Roho rasps, "I just hope it doesn't fall apart to the touch… "

Maza looks dubious. "If it does, I'll say it was an accident." She tiptoes closer, then fiddles. "Dagh. It's locked. Close the door and open the porthole please? Interruption we don't need… "

Roho closes the door, "Where's the porthole?"

The golden vixen looks up. "Right in front of you," she says. "You'll have to reach over the bed though, Master."

Roho stands on tiptoes, and reaches up over the bed, fumbling for the porthole… he unlatches it, and lets in a little fresh air.

Of the bed, there is naught but a frame, really. What more there is crumbles to the touch. At least the porthole opens without any real effort.

Little scratching noises indicate that Maza is busy with what sound like thin bits of wire being used to poke inside a lock. *click* *click* *Bing!* Maza perks up as she flips the clasp open and opens the book. "Wow… This is really crackly paper," she says as pages rustle. "Maybe it's vellum."

Roho chuckles, "You make a good assistant, all right, but I think healing isn't what you're a good assistant in… "

Roho rasps, "Can you read anything?"

The golden vixen smiles over at Roho. "Why thank you!" She leafs through. "Umm… Err. No, but the maps are real pretty. I'm not sure what language this is. Maybe someone would… " Her voice trails off as she realizes that showing this to someone nearby might lead to confiscation of this little bit of treasure.

Roho grins wryly, "You can hang on to the book, Maza, and not find out what it says… or we can get Boghaz to look at it, and see if he can figure out why this is a ghost ship. You would like to know why, yes?"

"Actually I just wanted first dibs on the neat stuff," Maza says with a grin.

Roho chuckles, "Well, I think Boghaz probably wouldn't be too selfish about that… I hope… "

The golden vixen adds, "But it's not Eeee, anyway. I recognize the way Eeee write – like the letters are hanging upside down." She grins and closes the book again. "But you're the master. If you think we should show this to Boghaz, all right."

Roho hms, "Not Eee? What do the letters look like?"

Maza thinks. "Like scratchy squiggles."

Maza looks indecisive. "So what do you think we should do?" she asks of the blind fennec healer.

Roho hmms… "I think, for now, we'll hold onto it ourselves. There is little chance Boghaz will know it if you don't, and there are some people aboard who owe me a favor… perhaps we should ask them."

Maza bings! "Sounds good! Maybe they found the legendary island of Paradys." She picks up the heavy book. "We should find the doctor's quarters next so we can hide this… "

Roho chuckles, "Of course… "

Roho leaves the Captain's quarters, and heads off down the hallway further, sniffing…

An ever-so-faint whiff of alcohol… perhaps that's it.

Some clinking sounds suggests that Maza is taking the opportunity to lift a few more things from the cabin before continuing after Roho. She murrs… Then goes "Achoo! Oh no, I'm going to be as bad as Wynona, that air mage, before we finish this trip out."

Roho winces at the sneeze, hoping it's just the dust… he sniffs some more, trying to find where the alcohol smell is coming from…

The smell seems strongest – though hardly "strong" – where Roho goes to … and finds a door.

Roho opens the door.

Roho's fine-tuned nose is assaulted with an array of smells that have been trapped in this room for who-knows-how-long. Yes, this would seem to be an infirmary.

Maza looks after Roho. "Eww! What a smell. There aren't any dead bodies in there, are there, Master? Please, say there aren't?"

Roho shakes his head, "No… just smells like medicine gone wrong… "

A cot is nearby, along with some cabinets, the doors of which have been left open, or perhaps which came loose at some point by jostling of the ship. The cabinet doors swing and clack on occasion as the ship shifts gently.

Roho starts poking around the room, looking for anything that might still be useful…

Maza peeks in cautiously. "I don't see anyone on the beds, so I guess you're right… Aha!" She scampers in, opening portholes as she goes, before getting to the cabinet, in which (after clearing away vials and bottles) she tucks her ill-gotten loot. "I think you're going to have to ask for supplies. I wouldn't use these bandages on my worst enemy… Well, maybe I would." She grins.

"That is, if I had a worst enemy," the golden vixen admits candidly.

Roho chuckles and sniffs at a bottle. He looks about ready to pass out, "Erf… or the medicines… "

There are numerous vials and bottles. Some have burst their seals long ago, the contents evaporated or dried out.

The multiple portholes are doing wonders for airing out the room, however – and making a cloud of dust as some crumbling papers are reduced to less by the disturbance.

Roho ulps as the papers dissipate, "Quick, find any papers that are still whole, and put them in the cabinets!"

Maza eeps! "On it, Master," she says as she scrambles to catch parchments and store them out of wind's harm.

Unfortunately, trying to catch the parchments, for the most part, is like trying to catch smoke. Any investigation of them would likely be destructive even without the wind's intervention. But at least a few scraps are retrieved that, for one reason or another, survived the ordeal … at least for now.

"I hope you have a use for these," Maza says with a small sigh. She looks around the infirmary and tries to envision a week in these quarters. Her ears wilt a little.

Roho investigates the supplies while Maza catches papers. He finds one bottle that he recognizes the contents of. He turns to Maza, "I wonder what they why they kept vials of this disease, that's dangerous!" He turns to put it away, and then stumbles and spills a little on Maza.

Maza goes "AHHH!" and tries to scrape it off with some of the parchment scraps.

Roho giggles and winks at Maza, "Gotcha! It's a wound cleaner… long since turned back into plain old water."

Roho puts the last bottle away, "Not much here that hasn't gone bad, or dry, or fuzzy… "

"Ahhh – " Annoyed, Maza tugs on one of Roho's excessively large ears. "That was mean!"

Roho chuckles and erfs at the tugging, "Yeah, it probably was… anyways, I hope you're not too attached to these quarters, I think I might find us a different place to set up shop until these air out."

Maza agrees readily. "I mean, I don't think we can expect them to give us the makings for that many beds, right? Just a prize crew."

Roho nods, "I'd think… " He starts back out into the hallway, sniffing for anything else out of the ordinary…

Some time later, the night finds Roho in a stateroom, having a nice meal with Lady Armani and with a certain golden vixen.

Maza delicately MUNCHEATGOBBLEDEVOURchewchewYUMs on the food.

Roho eats slowly, enjoying the fine meal.

Lady Armani smiles at Maza. "It's nice that your assistant shows so much enthusiasm for life," she says to Roho. "You two must have many interesting stories to tell about your acquaintance." The red-gold long-eared canine displays fine manners, her table set with no less than two different forks and spoons, though only the two-tined fork is really necessary for the sauced broiled crustaceans.

Roho blinks as an errant chunk of flying food lands in his lap from Maza's frenzied eating. He gingerly picks it off and places it on the floor.

Roho smiles, "Well, we've not been partners for as long as it might seem… but we have had some interesting times."

"Indeed? She mentioned that you served as a physician to the Sabaoth himself. That must have been quite exciting," Armani says. "I understand that the Sabaoth and his son, Boghaz, have had some disagreements."

Roho nods, "They have… and I did. I hope I did enough for him… " He picks at his food.

Roho reaches under his chair, drawing out the book, "Milady… I was wondering if we could even the debt tonight. What languages do you know?"

Maza rubs her slender muzzle with a napkin. "Num! Thank you, Lady Armani, your chef is wonderful! I've never had such wonderful Estahkean curlups in my life before." She whispers to Roho, "I've never had curlups before either… "

Roho whispers back, "From the way you were going, one might think you'd never eaten before… or were worried it might escape!"

Maza whispers to Roho, "Hey! I was slowing down to be polite."

Armani smiles to Maza. "You're welcome, lit'un. Ah, languages?" The saluki tilts her head curiously, her ears coming forward over her shoulders like tresses. "I'm familiar with the Vartan and Jupani speeches, I know some Eeee, Kavi, and even a bit of Savanite sign. If that fails, perhaps I could ask the College Esoterica for assistance… Did you need something translated, my friend?"

Roho nods, "We found this on the derelict airship… we were hoping it might give an idea of what happened." He carefully hands the book to Armani.

Armani's eyes widen. "Ah! A log book." She looks at Roho and then Maza, who has the grace to look guilty, then smiles. "Privacy is a small enough gift I can give you, my friend. Let's see… " She opens the book carefully.

"It is Vartan," Armani says with surprise. "I've never heard of a ship with a Vartan captain before. This says that they departed Elamoore in the fifteenth year of Kephren the Fifth… "

Roho blinks, and listens…

"They dealt in zolk, spices shipped from across the Himaat, some dried dreamgrass packed into bales… " Armani pages through the book. "Here are maps that describe the cities they visited, including some of the smaller villages where they traded for provisions on their long runs. They did some heavy trade with a village near 'Smoking Mountain' – I read here that they purchased goodly amounts of 'black shinies'… "

Roho chuckles, "Obsidian, I guess… Vartans love it."

"I suspect so." Armani's tail wags with her amusement. "Ah! The last few entries and then the rest of the pages are blank. They say that they passed no less than three sky gardens in the span of a week, which ensured the crew was well provisioned with fruit. They saw an island and decided to approach it… "

Armani translates the last entry. "Island very pretty. Golden trees. Looks like buildings made of glass on it. Incredible how the sunset hits it. Shiny island… Could it be Paradys? There may be enough treasure to make my crew legends over all Himar. We'll have to have mile-long tails to wear all our jewels! We should be within easy flight range by morning. The crew is excited and no one wants to sleep tonight."

"And there's nothing more after that," the saluki says quietly.

Maza gets stars in her eyes. "An island made of gold and diamonds!"

Roho blinks, "That leaves one of two possibilities… "

Roho rasps, "They found Paradys, or something like it, and didn't need their ship anymore, casting it adrift… "

Roho rasps, "Or they were taken by something on the island."

"Does it say where they found it?" Maza pesters Armani for more information.

Roho rasps, "Maza, I think perhaps we should bring this to Boghaz's attention after all… "

Armani nods to Roho's thoughtful analysis. "Either way, I can't tell." She laughs softly and pats Maza's hand. "Dear, islands move."

Maza's ears wilt.

"If you wish, I will bring this to Boghaz's attention," Armani says gently. "There is very little that he probably would be able to do about an island that was seen by this ship nearly a hundred years ago, however." She twitches her nose at Maza and continues with laughter in her voice, "He might be somewhat annoyed that you brought the book to me first as well, friend Roho."

Roho chuckles, "Perhaps… since it doesn't tell of any plagues that struck the ship, maybe we should just return it to where it was for Boghaz to find. Still doesn't answer how a ship is still afloat after a hundred years… "

"Do we have to?" Maza pouts. "This might be worth a lot to someone… "

Roho chuckles, "Maza… we can bring it to Boghaz, tell him you found it. Once he learns there's nothing terribly important there, he may let you have it."

Maza grumps as she realizes big sad vixen eyes don't work on Roho… "Well, all right, Master."

Roho sighs at Maza's tone, "Or, maybe there was no log there to begin with." He grins lopsidedly.

Roho rasps, "That is, if our hostess hasn't seen one, either… "

Armani claps her hands. "Come, my friends. Shall we have dessert? My chef makes an excellent cheese cake." She winks, "What log?"

Maza goes *bing*. "Thank you, Master!"

Roho smiles, "That sounds delicious!"

And so slices of cheesecake are brought in for the delectation of Lady Armani and her guests, the crusts of thick-ground grain baked with a berry sauce just beneath the cheesecake. Maza goes *EATmunchmunchDEVOUR* and finishes her slice in less time than it takes to blink, then looks at the rest of the cheesecake.

Roho eats his slice slowly, chuckling at his vacuum partner.

Armani beams at Maza, then entertains Roho and his lovely, if hungry assistant with stories about Rephidim the city. "I think that Captain Boghaz will be wanting to dedicate the ship soon as well," she murmurs. "I imagine that there will be a long and dreary speech to go with it, so we may as well eat now and digest during it." She winks.

Roho laughs, "Oh, undoubtedly!"

Roho listens to the stories of Rephidim with rapt interest… he's never been to such a large city before…

Armani smiles gently. "It's been wonderful visiting Ashdod, but it will be good to get back home. I wonder how my father is doing with his experiments."

Maza urps! then covers her mouth with her hand. "'Scuse me," she says in a small voice.

Roho makes pleasant conversation with Armani, inquiring as to what the experiments are, as the evening rolls by…

Later, on the deck, Boghaz indeed gives a very long (and ostensibly poetic) speech rededicating the new ship, to the applause of those gathered.

And so, the Distant Star sails on across the ocean, accompanied by the Freedom's Dream, formerly Shokaz' Silver Bell.

---

GMed by Greywolf

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