Jun 9. Zoltan and Roho find their way into the tower at the center of Paradys.
(Paradys Lost) (Paradys) (Roho) (Zoltan)

Back at the Freedom's Dream, Markov has been bedridden since passing out upon returning. It seems he took quite a pounding during his ill-advised (but necessary) flight from the … the … whatever those things are.

The fennec, on the other hand, fared significantly better. For one thing, he had a cushion to absorb the collision with the tower. Too bad he can't describe what all those creatures looked like…

Zoltan rushes up to meet Roho. "what happen? You alrights?"

A few bats mill around under the airship, where a camp has been set up, using the moored vessel as a canopy to shield from the elements. The strong wind has returned, making flight highly hazardous above the tree-line. Still, given that there are hostiles about, many of the crew prefer to shelter in the airship rather than on the ground…

Roho nods, "Yeah, I'm fine, a little banged up. I think I fared better than our bat-friend… " He walks over to Zoltan, "Pardon me, but… " He sniffs thoroughly, looking thoughtful.

Zoltan blinks and sniffs himself. He thought he took a thorough enough sandbath this morning…

Roho steps back, "Well… that cinches it. I'm fairly sure I was flown by a Vartan."

Several bats cry out, in unison … "A VARTAN?!?" Well, not entirely in unison. "A horse-bird-cat-thingie?" "Like Zoltan?"

"… You think Shokar is still alive after all these years?" "Nahhhh. Can't be!" "Maybe his GHOST!" "I don't believe in ghosts." "Speak for yourself!" "I did."

Zoltan winces. "Hr… maybe someone did survive Shokar's ship… " the Vartan muses to himself.

Zoltan ducks away from the crowd to head to the sickroom. Perhaps he'll be able to get answers of a more visual nature in there.

In the sickroom, the bat, Markov, has been laid out on a cot. The bat is bandaged up roughly, awaiting further attention from Roho.

The Vartan takes a nervous peek into the room, and then kneels down by Markov's bedside. "Hrr… sorry for bothering you. You mind if I ask you couple of things?"

The bat mumbles incoherently. Doesn't sound like a "no". Not exactly a "yes", either.

Zoltan sighs. Well, better than nothing. "Did you see what creatures look likes? They really Vartan? And you see where it goes?"

The bat mumbles incoherently again…

Suddenly, the bat's eyes snap open. "AIEEEE! THEY'RE GOING TO EAT ME!!!!" He shoots up, shrieks, then falls back down again, his eyes closing. He breathes heavily.

Zoltan lays his ears back, then JUMPS back, feathers bristling. He nervously approaches the bedside again. "Who? Vartans? Spotted cats? Who goings to eat you?"

The bat shudders. "Spotted cats! SPOTTED CATS! They're going to EAT ME! And they ate your brother. Wait. You aren't Zoltan… " His eyes are still closed, though they move about rapidly under the eyelids.

The bat mutters, "Bloody Savanites. Never trusted 'em. Cannibals! CANNIBALS!"

Roho walks into the room, carrying herbs from the ship's hold. He walks over to Markov's bedside, "Don't get him too worked up, Zoltan… "

Zoltan hisses, cannibals indeed. Explains where the rest of Torr went. He places a hand on the Bat's chest. "You alrights now. Please… where did Vartan go? You see where he go when he leave?"

The bat's tone of voice sounds confused. "But … Savanites can't talk… And they're too big. They look like … like … JANUS! AIEEE! He's ONE OF THEM!"

Roho answers for the bat, "It seemed that he flew right to the top of the stone tower… "

( I've got to find these Vartans, they're the closest thing to allies we have right now, ) the hippogryph thinks to himself. He looks back to Roho, as if noticing him for the first time. "Can you take me to where this happen?"

The bat mumbles some more, "… eat their own … pelts … savages… "

The bat stops muttering … and starts making a high-pitched sound – a bat snore.

Zoltan sighs. "Poor Markov… hrr."

The bat stops snoring after a bit, and sleeps quietly.

The bat mumbles some more in his sleep, then quiets again.

"… the tower," the bat mutters. "… how'd he do that? … "

Zoltan growls and heads out of the sickroom, determined to find out for himself whether there are truly Vartans on the island or not. And if so… WHERE they are.

A bit of hacking through the jungle later, Zoltan reaches the base of the large, solid stone tower-come-mountain that stands at the center of the sky island. Its surface is smooth and unbroken by seam or crack.

With a bit of checking of the disturbed underbrush, the Vartan is able to discern what is quite probably the site of the "landing" of the bat, Roho, and his unidentified companion.

Zoltan places a taloned hand against the rock, looking upwards at the top of the tower where the flier left.

The smooth, sheer surface of the tower stretches upward, breaking free of the jungle. The vines which grow against it close to the bottom barely have a hold at all, sliding free at the Vartan's touch.

Zoltan casually clears away a few more vines, also stopping to examine the ground for any shed feathers or hoofprints. If the Vartan launched himself there should be a spot on the ground where he dug in before leaping up.

The Vartan indeed finds such a spot. However … he does not find hoof-marks.

Whatever this creature was … it had claws on its feet.

Judging from the damage done to the ground, and a bit of educated guesswork, it would seem that the creature was of comparable strength to Zoltan and his kind – not particularly more so, nor less.

Zoltan's ears splay. Unusual. He stands where the flier was, and looks back up to the tower. ( Somehow you flew away in this wind. I'm beginning to wonder if the tower has anything to do with it. Only one way to really find out… )

Zoltan crouches down, preparing to leap up and fly the length of the tower… and hopefully not get himself smashed against it by the winds.

The sheer surface of the tower extends upward, no features visible along its length … ending abruptly at the top. … Except that, as a cloud breaks for a moment, letting a sunray strike the top, a glinting flash catches the Vartan's eyes … just a flash, and then nothing.

Roho emerges from a nearby bush, "Hello, Zoltan… I got Markov stable."

Zoltan's eyes widen at the glint. Even more of an incentive to see what's up there. He exhales sharply at the sound of the fennec. "Yaiee! No sneak up on Zoltan likes that!"

Roho jumps! "Oop, sorry… didn't mean to. What've you found?"

Roho walks to the base of the tower, and sniffs… "Whoever it was, he's been back here again."

Zoltan squawks, "Nothings yet. I going to fly to top of tower. If that where fliers go then I go there too. I can carry you with me, but you going to have to ride on back, need to stay streamlined."

Roho thinks for a moment… "Do you think it'd hurt your chances for reaching the top?"

The Vartan ponders for a moment. He holds up a hand and tests the wind, and also keeps in mind the weight of the fennec.

The wind buffets strongly against the tower. It shouldn't be easy pickings getting to the top … but then … there seems to be some sort of pattern to the gusts.

Roho snuffles around a little more, finally stopping at a spot at the base of the tower…

Roho considers the spot… "His scent's strongest here. Maybe he waits here, until the winds are right for an ascent?"

Zoltan stands at the spot and unfurls his wings so he can 'feel' the air a bit better.

The spot indicated seems to be in the middle of a tangle of bushes.

As Zoltan steps into the indicated tangle of bushes, he can be pretty sure it's not a very good place to take off from.

There are some broken branches that indicate someone else has been plowing through here before, though.

Zoltan growls and extracts himself. "Is think it more like landing spot." he scrawks, pausing to look inside the bush for anything that might be interesting,

The bush is fairly thick and tangled. Trying to peer into it to find anything is a fruitless endeavor.

the Vartan goes back to his previous point, the spot where the footprints are and unfolds his wings again.

The previous point does seem like a better location to take off from, even if the winds make any spot less-than-perfect.

Roho nods, "I don't know much about flying… "

Zoltan smirks. "Maybe bush is cushion for when wind no work right." He returns his gaze to the top of the tower, hoping to feel a gust that pushes upwards towards the top. He also watches the treebranches to see where the wind pulls them.

The branches move in regular gusts … It appears as if there are "waves" rolling upward in some spots … and downwards in others. Zoltan's position would seem to put him in line to catch one of the upward "waves", if he manages to catch a trough instead of a crest.

However, it would seem that the full force of the wind would not apply until one breaks free of the tree-line.

Zoltan continues watching the branches, waiting until he's got their pattern memorized. "I think I can carry you alrights… I just need to switch pack a little bit and you can ride on back. Done it before in Rephidim."

Roho nods, "Okay… " He clambers up onto the Vartan's back, "Is that okay?"

The pattern does not shift, but remains steady. So far so good.

Zoltan squawks, "Put arms under straps of pack and then grab around neck. If this no work is going to get bumpy."

Roho nods, looping his arms through the pack straps and hanging on tightly…

Zoltan crouches down, waiting for what he hopes is the right chance, and then launches himself into the air!

Perfect! The Vartan feels himself pushed upward by a rolling wave of air, upward … upward … perf – OOPS! *WHUMP* A rolling wave of air forces the Vartan against the tower … but he manages to recover, without losing his passenger.

The rest of the journey goes swiftly, toward the gently tapering top of the tower … which is still fairly massive even at the top, from what can be seen here. And what can be seen here is a ring-like platform that runs around the rim of the structure.

Zoltan straightens himself out as best he can, still heading for the top. He tries to slow his ascent to land on the platform.

Just as the Vartan levels … He's hit by a blinding flash of light, as he crests the rim of the tower's top! Several waves of air buffet him mercilessly.

Zoltan screeches! He tries to straighten himself out and land on where he remembers the platform to be.

*WHUMP* The Vartan ALMOST remembered right where the platform was. As it is, he makes a landing … just a fairly rough one. At least he's on solid stone now. And the fennec is still on his back.

The Vartan's eyes are still recovering, as he hears a chorus of squawking, agitated voices.

Zoltan lays on his chest, panting. He blinks… waiting for his sight to return.

Zoltan's ears perk! He raises his head and squawks back excitedly.

Roho rolls off of the Vartan's back, blinking and sniffing…

A spear tip pokes against the Vartan's chest. Another prods at the fennec. More squawking.

The voices stop, then begin scrawking to each other, excitedly. The spear tips pull back.

Zoltan rubs his eyes. Blasted light.

Roho blinks at the spear, holding his arms up in what he hopes is not provocative…

No spears thrust at fennec in response, so perhaps it's not taken as a threatening gesture.

A single voice scrawks loudly nearby, in that unintelligible tongue again.

Zoltan elbows Roho. "Can understand them!" he whispers excitedly, and then squawks back to the others.

Roho whispers to Zoltan, "Can you under… oh?"

In response to Zoltan's speech, the other voices scrawk excitedly amongst themselves.

Zoltan pulls himself up to his hoofed feet, rubbing his eyes a bit more and trying to make out the figures. He scrawks something in response.

The Vartan's eyesight slowly returns. He can see several winged figures standing about on the stone platform rimming the tower.

Zoltan amends what he just said with another squawk.

The Vartans are REALLY scrawking loudly to each other now.

And then they get very quiet.

Roho mutters quietly, "What did they say?"

Zoltan looks very closely at the figures. Are they really fellow Vartans?

"They excited to see me… I hope," the Vartan whispers to Roho.

Strong hands reach for the two new arrivals, the scrawking voices a bit lower and more calm, as they seem to be leading the visitors along.

Zoltan tilts his head sideways curiously, and goes where he's led. "It alrights, Roho. I think they know we friends."

Roho follows along after the Vartan, "I'm glad to hear it… "

The indicated path takes the two visitors in through an open portal in the side of the tower, along the rim. A flickering light that blinks out on occasion emanates from within.

Zoltan scrawks something to one of the fliers near him.

"They look like Solus… but talk Vartan," the hippogryph whispers to Roho.

Roho whispers back, "Solus?"

The Vartans scrawk again, and as they lead along, the passage widens into a larger chamber … or, more accurately, the expanse of the interior of this great tower.

Or, that is, the "not-quite-Vartans" – But they seem to call themselves such.

The tower, it would seem, is built much like a colossal smokestack. The top is open to the sky. Through its center, a crackling of energy runs in a beam to its depths, back down to the surface of the island, and possibly below.

Zoltan looks about in awe. He squawks something to one of the other fliers, a tine of excitement and apprehension in his voice all at once.

Within the hollow of the tower structure can be seen many platforms and ramps, and some enclosures that are sealed off by glass or some similar substance. It would seem there's a colony of these creatures living here, flying from ledge to ledge … but noticeably keeping well clear of the sparkling "shaft" of energy forming a column within its center.

One of the creatures hisses back at Zoltan something that sounds as if it has been insulted.

The body coloration of these creatures varies greatly. However, at least one particular coloration is not to be seen in entirety – that is, complete black, such as Zoltan.

Zoltan tries to describe the place as best as he can in hushed whispers to Roho. He shrinks down at the hiss and replies something in a softer keening voice.

Before the creature can answer, a white "Vartan" flaps up to the ledge, scrawking something in a loud voice.

Roho wrinkles his nose slightly, as he keeps his ears on Zoltan's commentary. Pheh.

The fennec is carried up by a pair of strong arms, accompanied by more scrawks.

Roho blinks as he's hoisted, "Umm, Zoltan?"

"They taking us to see someone called navigator." Zoltan whispers to the fennec, then jumps as he's hauled up. "It alrights!" he replies. "They just goings to carry you."

Roho relaxes slightly…

The flier leaps off of the ledge, bearing the fennec in strong arms, and circling downward. As the flight path comes a bit closer to the glowing column, the fennec's fur stands on end … but the flight path takes them just as quickly away again.

Zoltan peers around, odd that he's seen no black furred fliers. But then again, complete black is rare in his species.

Zoltan clip-clops to the ledge and jumps off, following Roho and his flier.

The fennec's carrier at last touches down on another platform … far enough away that the fennec's fur settles down completely again. There's another scrawk, and then it seems that the footpads are leading away from the center of the tower, toward the outer rim again.

Roho shrinks away from the center shaft, his nose wrinkling more fiercely and his fur crackling.

Ahead, there are scraping and creaking noises, then a *THUD* which echoes down what must be a long corridor.

The hippogryph zeroes in on the landing platform, his own fur and feathers standing out on end as he touches down.

The flier that carried Roho stops walking, turning around, and scrawking impatiently.

Zoltan makes a squawk of surprise, then rushes up to join Roho's side.

Roho whispers, "We follow?"

Zoltan places a hand on Roho's shoulder. "Guess so. What air smell like here? We on another platform, mist coming out of big door." He looks back to the flier and squawks something to him.

Roho sniffs at the mist, trying to clear the scent of ozone from his nose…

The creature scuffs its claws.

Zoltan nods and gives Roho a gentle push on the shoulder. "I think it be alrights. If they want to kill us they could have done in easier ways than this." He slowly starts to head towards the open portal, squinting as he tries to make out what's in there.

The creature leading them proceeds through the corridor … which continues, passing a four-way intersection, and over a grilled floor, with sounds that suggest they've just crossed a bridge over a larger chamber … then into another corridor.

The trip is not terribly long, really, before it comes to an end … in a small, featureless cylindrical chamber. The creature leading them stops and turns to face them.

Zoltan squawks, "It's huge… "

The chamber at the very end, though, is not. It's probably large enough to hold about six passengers, Vartan-sized, comfortably.

And, by the shaft above it and below it … and the sounds … there is the distinct presence of machinery that can be heard.

Roho blinks at the sounds, staying near Zoltan…

Zoltan blinks at the chamber. He points to it and squawks something.

The creature scrawk-growls something back.

Zoltan hurries forward, leading Roho. "We goings in small chamber… saw one like it in temple once, but it was broken."

The winged creature in the chamber taps his clawed foot on the smooth, cold floor impatiently.

Once Roho is inside … there is a sound of hissing air, and a door sliding shut.

Roho jumps slightly at the sound of the door… he's a little nervous, by all appearances.

The chamber jerks violently, accompanied by screeching noises … and then the platform drops at a fairly fast rate.

Roho actually grabs on to Zoltan for a moment as the platform drops, before he realizes that the fall is controlled. He lets go, looking sheepish.

The "ride" down is fairly smooth … except at a few points where the chamber begins vibrating violently, accompanied by worrisome rattling noises. But that passes quickly.

Zoltan gently takes Roho's hand and places it on a rail. "It alrights. I getting used to that. Least you no use claws."

At last, the chamber slows … then stops … then jerks again downward, and stops again. The winged creature growls, banging on something, until the chamber finally comes to another stop.

Roho clutches the rail, up until the moment the chamber stops.

There's another bang, and then the door slides open again, with another hiss.

A constant hum can be heard, its reverberations felt through every solid surface.

Zoltan places a hand on the fennec's back and slowly leads him forward. "We no stop level to floor, careful… is couple feet down on first step." As he eases out, he squawks something to the flier.

Roho padpads tentatively with his foot, until he finds the drop, then hops down, a little less nervous now to be on solid ground.

Once the "passengers" are out, the flier leaps out as well, then goes into the lead again, heading down the corridor.

Zoltan hurries after as best as he can. "Is some kind of tunnel… blinking lights. Very strange… " he murmurs.

Roho hurries along after Zoltan, picking his steps carefully.

The corridor ends, at last, in a larger chamber. It is by no means as colossal as the interior of the chamber, though there is more than enough room to accommodate the visitors and a small mob – if there were one to be fit in here.

The humming grows louder toward this chamber … then gives way to silence once inside. The interior is lined with all sorts of strange machinery and conduits, intermixed with glowing crystalline growths that pulsate at different intervals.

In the very center of the chamber, a transparent tube runs the height of the chamber, ringed at points, with crackling energy visible running inside, downward to a complex array of gizmos that look in some ways like that in the Temple … but the crystalline structures are certainly something else entirely.

Zoltan continues describing the room as best as he can to the fennec. Making a point to really describe those shiny crystals.

Roho hides a smile at the lavish description of the shinies, nodding at all the rest of the monologue.

There are some structures which look like, for lack of a better short description, chairs or thrones, attached to more complex machinery and gizmos. One such throne sits on the near side of the cylinder, and is currently occupied by a pure white … gryphon.

The gryphon's leonine mane stretches down underneath his beak, forming a wispy, stringy beard that would likely reach his feet, except that he has decided to turn it into a belt, tied around his waist.

Zoltan quickly bows to the figure, trying to contain his excitement at seeing SOMEONE here who more resembles a Vartan… except for those strange feet, like a feline.

Roho stands as he was before, unaware that he should be bowing, or indeed reacting at all.

The gryphon scrawks something in reply to Zoltan, then, with a grunt, pulls himself up from his throne, supporting himself with a cane studded with all sorts of shiny baubles.

Zoltan raises his head. He gestures to the fennec and squawks something in reply.

"He look more like Vartan, except with feet and tail of Solus. Name is Kryago." Zoltan whispers to the fennec.

The gryphon hobbles over, closer to the fennec and hippogryph. He inspects the fennec curiously, squinting with his glittering eyes.

Zoltan squawks something to the gryphon.

Roho stays very still for the inspection…

The gryphon breaks from his inspection, exchanging words with the Vartan.

Zoltan squawks, "I introduced you to Kryago, Roho. Guess he never see Zerda before."

The gryphon scrawks again, but, as per usual, it doesn't mean much to the fennec.

Roho bows a little in Kryago's direction, unsure of what the proper gesture of respect is… though bowing seems pretty universal.

Zoltan scrawks a response.

The gryphon hmms, then rattles off something in an unfamiliar tongue.

The gryphon pauses, then smacks himself on the forehead! "SCRAWK!"

Roho's ears flinch backwards…

The gryphon pokes his beak up close to Zoltan's, and scrawks some more.

Zoltan tilts his head sideways.

Roho's ears perk at part of the dialog… he decides to try, "Can you speak this tongue?"

Zoltan makes a noise that sounds like, "Rrrephidim SCRAWawK!"

The gryphon looks back to Roho, then scrawks, "Yes, I can."

Roho blinks, startled… "Oh, er… "

Zoltan grins. "Hrr… that make things bit easier."

Roho chuckles and nods, "At least for me… "

"So … you a Healer for Silver Bell?" The gryphon looks Zoltan up and down. "If you not told me you Zoltan Cambio of Shadow Mountain, mebbe I think you for Captain Shokar returned from dead."

Roho rasps, "So Shokar was here… "

The gryphon scrawk-laughs. "Course! We sons and daughters of Shokar's crew. So, you bring Silver Bell, ah?"

Zoltan squawks, "I saw picture of Shokar. Too bad was faded so much, would have liked to know what color eyes he have. I been mistaken for his ghost more than once."

The gryphon hmms, pondering. "Blue or purple."

The hippogryph winces. "Bell is sort of back. Has been renamed to 'Freedom's Dream'. But is still beautiful ship. I make sure Shokar's cabin no gots changed.

Roho nods, "The portrait of Shokar still hangs, they tell me… and the figurehead is unmistakable, even to the touch."

The gryphon hrms some more. "But you get in. How you get out again? Ships come. None leave."

Zoltan suddenly inhales sharply and stumbles back, almost tripping.

"The sirens, they call the sailors in. My father silenced them, but yet your ship still comes. Did the sirens charm you?" the gryphon scrawks, then looks worriedly at Zoltan.

Roho rasps, "How did the Fr… Silver Bell get out in the first place?"

Zoltan puts his hands to his head and hisses something sharply in the Vartan tongue.

The gryphon scrawks, "The Silver Bell never land here. Shokar's crew hit bumpy airs. Every one left ship back to scout, find shinies. But they no get back out."

The gryphon jolts a bit, then scrawks something angrily to Zoltan, bopping him on the head with his cane.

Roho nods, "That explains much… who are the sirens? We weren't drawn by them, we came seeking the island."

The flier near the portal starts suddenly, but stops at a hand signal from the gryphon. The gryphon backs off a couple of steps, his feathers slightly ruffled.

Zoltan growlsquawks something back to the gryphon.

The gryphon looks between the fennec and the Vartan, then scrawks, "The sirens – singing trees of gold." To Zoltan, he scrawks something in the Vartan tongue again.

Roho leans over and whispers to Zoltan, "You okay? What happened?"

Zoltan blinkblinkblinks…

Zoltan squawks, "What… machine… ?"

The gryphon gestures about the room. "Father send sirens away with Dreaming Machine. Also swallow up magic of the felines so they no cast spells at us!"

The black Vartan starts breathing a bit more steadily now. "How this thing do that? I know what I sees, spent many nights thinking I was going crazy. You say there something that cause this?"

Zoltan whispers to Roho. "I tell you abouts it later… you deserve to know truth."

Roho blinks… then nods slowly.

The gryphon scrawks, "I know not what you talk about. You only dream with helmet." The gryphon taps the golden helmet-sized dome hanging suspended over his throne.

Zoltan frowns, then sighs to himself. "What of blue orb? One that take magic from people?"

The gryphon scrawks, "Ah! It come back? More magic to swallow, then."

"My grandfather study Paradys and this tower. Long ago, it was built by ancients – then more built. Ancients knew wisdom, yes. Magic is evil! The tower drains magic, focus into energy!"

"Is there way to gets it back?" Zoltan scrawks.

"Back?!?" the gryphon scrawks. "Hope not!"

The gryphon hmphs, then hobbles over to a large table, upon which sets a thick tome. "Here. You wish learn of Shokar's legacy? Log of my grandfather, the first Navigator." He flips open the cover, which contains zolken pages … just like the construction of Shokar's log in Zoltan's possession.

Zoltan sighs. "What happened to all of you? Is island changing what you looks like?"

The gryphon looks to Zoltan. "What you mean? I look same as always. Only older with longer mane!" He scrawk-laughs.

Roho takes a seat on the floor, while the two talk.

Zoltan jerks again, but goes to examine the book. "Others, they no gots beaks, and you no have hooves on feet."

The gryphon hmphs. "Bah." His wings shift.

The book is in, near as can be told, perfect condition – That is, the pages at least. The cover itself looks fairly worn and aged, and the bindings may have been repaired and reinforced at some point.

The book has a clasp, though it is not locked.

Zoltan gently opens the book and begins to read. Perhaps he can get some answers from here.

The first page identifies this as the personal records of Shurgar, Navigator on the Glorious and Incomparable Silver Bell, under the Flawless Leadership of the Bright-Eyed Captain Shokar, He of Countless Shinies in his Long Tail.

Zoltan smirks. Yep, this was written by a Vartan all right.

The earliest portions of the book are … typical for a navigator of a ship, if filled on occasion with especially poetic accounts of shinies discovered in various lands.

It takes quite some time before the first mention of "Paradys" is found, and even then, it's only by mention that the Captain has taken up an interest in some information he found about the island, though no details are given. There are some illustrations on this page as well that make this page easy to find by simply skimming past the relatively mundane parts – Included amongst some of the sketches is a diagram that looks like an oval – or a stylized, pupil-less eye – with a single line going up vertically from it, and three going down.

Zoltan squints at the diagram. Same one from the City of Hands.

Some more accounts of trading routes follow … and then mentions of Paradys grow more frequent. Entire pages are taken up with maps and complex equations, astronomical diagrams, and all sorts of jargon that would take a scientist to truly appreciate.

Eventually, the entries come to parallel some of the accounts mentioned in Shokar's log of the discovery of Paradys – except that instead of ending with Paradys in view, the log continues. By the date, the next entry is much later, however – a year after.

Zoltan starts examining the log much more closely, hoping to fill in the gaps.

Shurgar tells a tale of the Silver Bell being allowed to drift while a scouting party went to investigate the island … and then a frenzy sweeping the whole crew as they were too impatient to wait behind and let someone ELSE investigate the shinies themselves! When the entirety of the Vartans reached the island … they were caught by fierce winds. Before, Shokar had heard melodies coming from the island, and ordered his crew to plug their ears with wax, but here, even that could not keep the sounds out. The Vartans found themselves trapped on the sky island, with no apparent way out.

The crew soon took to fighting amongst themselves, especially when it seemed that the island wasn't a perfect tropical paradise, and that the golden trees were unapproachable, given that they were the sources of this haunting, mind-numbing music. The writer theorizes that its constant, mesmerizing music, ever-changing, drove many of the Vartans to madness, as its song penetrated even their deepest dreams.

Zoltan's ears shoot back again, and the feathers on his neck bristle. He reads on.

The Vartans found, however, that they weren't the only ones on this island. They found some spotted cats that they initially mistook for Savanites … though they proved to be quite strong and fierce – and more savage than even the tales of wild Savanites would suggest. The Vartans fought now not only amongst themselves, but with their hostile neighbors. Some found a way into the central tower, and found refuge, where the felines could not reach.

What became of Shokar, the writer does not say. No mention is even made of him once the entries begin again. The Silver Bell is only mentioned in passing, that it is long gone, left behind.

The log is not continued on a regular basis as it was before reaching Paradys. The entries skip days, weeks, and even months. At one point, the author mentions an airship being drawn into the sky island, and crashing. All hands on board were killed … or else the wounded were finished off by the felines who reached it first, and who exhibit cannibalistic tendencies, even feeding upon their own kin, and wearing pelts skinned from their brethren and unlucky Vartans alike.

Meanwhile, during all this reading … another one of the inhabitants of the tower comes in, this one a female. She brings a wooden tray, bearing some cups filled with juice, and presents them to the visitors. As her tail swishes, it jangles slightly, being adorned with rings of cord strung with shiny beads.

Roho accepts a cup gratefully, smiling thanks…

Zoltan looks up from the book for a moment and manages a smile to the feline.

Continuing in the book, it appears that at some point the writer must have acquired a wife. Either that, or he's miraculously given birth to a son by himself. No mention, however, is made of his wife. His son is only described as being named "Kazark", and that he is of a gray coat, with bright eyes and a fiery mane.

After that, there are only a few entries concerning astronomical events of minor note, and then no more by the original writer.

However, after a few blank pages … there can be found a jumble of charts, diagrams, and scribbled words – in Rephidim Standard as well as Vartan – covering several pages.

One of the diagrams shows something resembling a tree … a very alien-looking tree … a very familiar-looking alien tree.

Zoltan peers at the diagrams, scratching his chin with a talon.

Under the diagram can be found a series of numbered "steps", with some odd phrases of technopriest-babble, along the lines of "Maintenance override," "Retract stabilizing vanes," "Seal storage access hatches."

The gryphon peers over Zoltan's shoulder. "Pity. Very wise, my father. But he go mad from the Dreaming Machine. Very rare do I wear the golden crown."

Zoltan rises and looks at the gryphon. "I would like to use machine myself. with you permission?"

"I willing to take any risk there is," the Vartan adds.

The gryphon hrms. "You may see. But if you spend too long, I will pull you out. Some who use it lose mind. Not made for Vartans, I think."

"Tell dream that you have emergency, or else it wake you up right away," the gryphon says.

Zoltan nods. ( I'm already going crazy… what else have I got to lose? )

The gryphon sighs, and gestures to one of the thrones. "Take you pick. All the same."

Zoltan looks at the thrones, and goes to one that seems to be in the best of shape out of all the others.

The gryphon walks over, and slowly lowers down the golden helmet that is suspended over the throne. "Do not fear. Vision go dark, then change. Not magic. Machine of ancients."

Zoltan nods and grips at the armrests of the chair.

Meanwhile, back in the room, the winged feline who brought in the drinks also brings in some soup for the fennec, but holds off serving the Vartan, since he's obviously occupied.

The golden helm goes down around the Vartan's head, enclosing it with space to spare, shutting off his view of the room. All goes dark.

The Vartan gets a mildly shocking sensation, then senses/hears a voice chiming, "Lingual compatibility established."

Roho drinks the soup quietly, not wanting to interrupt what seems to be a serious affair.

The Vartan tries to keep himself relaxed. "Hello?" he dreamspeaks. "There is an… emergency."

"Warning," the voice intones. "Neural matrix profile not registered. Prolonged usage of this interface may result in irreparable psychic damage."

"State the nature of the emergency, or initiate control sequence," the voice continues.

Zoltan blinks… this thing speaks like Envoy. "Explain control sequence?"

Outside the helmet, it doesn't seem as if anything terribly special is happening. The Vartan is, by all appearances, completely silent. Just taking a nap.

There is a pause, then a number of flashes. "Indicate the nature of the emergency for assistance, or state the commands to be executed."

Strangely, the voice sounds like Jezebel's. But then, given that Jezebel doesn't speak…

"My ship is trapped. I need to free it from the winds," Zoltan finally says.

The voice responds, "The repulsor system is not functioning properly. Replacement of the tertiary focal units is required in order to initiate a parameter reset and diagnostic test, which is the recommended solution."

An image appears, floating before Zoltan, of a many-faceted crystal, surrounded by a jumble of lines and measurements and jargon-laden terms and specifications.

It looks exactly like the crystals that Zoltan saw stolen away in his dreams.

Zoltan squawks, "But how do I do that? This makes no sense to me."

Zoltan flinches just a tad in his seat, then relaxes again.

The voice continues, "The focal units have been removed not in accordance with proper maintenance procedures. Their whereabouts are unknown. Replacement part inventory is not verified. Location of replacement part storage is displayed… " A map of the tower and a network of corridors appears … imbedding itself in the Vartan's memory.

"And do you know why I am seeing strange things in my dreams?" the Vartan asks the darkness. "Are you the cause?"

"Of course I am," comes the voice. "Warning: Psychical imbalance in user detected. Immediate ejection recommended."

Zoltan squawks, "Wait! Wait! Please! How do I restore the magic of the wind mage?"

"Restoration of default energy flows and extension of stabilizing vanes is recommended for normal functioning of thaumaturgic phenomena in vicinity," the voice intones. "Zoltan, what are you doing?"

Zoltan forces himself to relax. "Restore… how? How?"

( If I start jerking around, they'll yank me. Not now… Dagh, now not! ) Zoltan thinks fiercely to himself.

"Warning: Psychical damage detected in user." … The voice then rattles off a list of steps that mirror some of those listed in the book. "Do you wish to re-extend stabilizing vanes? Proper functioning will not be fully restored until proper maintenance is attended to."

Zoltan squawks, "Extend? Vanes? Do you mean the golden trees?"

An image appears of the vanes – the trees. But the appearance of the vanes triggers a flood of memories of Zoltan's bizarre and disturbing dream. He finds himself awash, struggling to separate the present from the dreams he remembers. Thunder rumbles, and lightning flashes angrily, as Jezebel rears back her head in silent laughter, Rephidim visible in the distance.


Zoltan SCREAMS!!!!

The image flickers and flashes, a voice interjecting, "Request permission to extend stabilizing vanes. Please indicate 'yes' to proceed, or 'no' to abort."

Meanwhile, outside the helmet, Zoltan's scream is quite real. The gryphon almost falls of his cane, as he reaches for the helmet.

Zoltan squawks, "AAAAH! No! Dagh no! Not now."

"Procedure aborted. Session terminated." **BLIP**

The helmet lifts off Zoltan's head, revealing the room, awash in wild colors. Everything looks … tinted with red.

And blue and green and … several colors that aren't colors.

Zoltan looks around, gasping. He looks up to the gryphon, squinting at him to make sure he's real or not.

The gryphon scrawks, "Foolish," and lets the helmet slide on upward a short distance, back toward the ceiling.

Zoltan squawks, "No… no… Just… was unique." He looks around. "Colors… ""

Zoltan can see the Zerda over to one side, having some soup, tended to by a female one of these … flying felines … with a spotted coat. In fact, she looks exactly like Jezebel, except with wings. The gryphon, meanwhile, looks severely at Zoltan. The leonine one who led the two to this chamber remains at the door, not having budged from his position even with the screaming.

Zoltan pulls himself up. "I sorry if I startled… hrr… think I found way to get us off of island. There a map of this place anywheres?"

The Vartan rubs his eyes, he stares at the spotted flier for a few hard moments, then looks wide eyed back to the gryphon.

Even as Zoltan asks his question, a map flashes in his memory, as if someone had just thrust it into his face.

The spotted flier blinks her three eyes back at Zoltan, then looks askance to the gryphon.

Zoltan blinkblinkblinks again.

The spotted flier looks back to Zoltan … then walks right over to him, and behind him, and starts massaging his shoulders.

Zoltan quickly spins around to face the spotted flier. He squawks something to her.

There's nobody standing there.

Zoltan goes over to Roho and promptly sits down, shooting nervous glances everywhere. "Can see why you no do that very often… "

The gryphon scrawks, "You are seeing things, yes? You no fly for a while. Very dangerous."

Roho finishes his soup, having missed much of what happened. Most of it.

The winged feline girl takes the bowl once Roho is finished. She's still standing by Roho. She does NOT have a third eye. She doesn't really look like Jezebel, though she does have rosettes on her golden fur, instead of spots.

Zoltan concentrates on that map picture again.

When Zoltan concentrates on the map … it rushes on him, overwhelming his senses of the room about him. It's as if he's suddenly IN the map … soaring through the tower, ignoring such trivialities as solid walls. He senses his location in the tower, roughly at ground level, slightly below.

The chamber with the replacement parts would be a couple of floors below.

Zoltan squawks, "It ask me if I want to raise siren trees or not. I tell it no. But it tell me how to make winds go away so the bell can leave island. I need to replace… something." he rubs his temples as he concentrates on the map. "Know where it is.""

The gryphon scrawks and nods. "Ah. The shinies. Stolen away, they were. Lost somewhere on the island long ago. I have only found a few."

In fact, lying on the armrest of the throne right beside Zoltan is a shiny just like in his dream.

The gryphon looks to Roho, then scrawks, "You look tired. You want room to rest?"

Roho blinks, "No, I'm fine, I think… er, yes, that would be nice… " He looks a little unsure of how to act here.

The gryphon nods, then scrawks some directions to the winged feline standing right next to Roho. She nods in response, then motions to Roho to follow … then stops when she realizes that Roho isn't responding to her motioning. She scrawks questioningly to the fennec.

Roho stands patiently, waiting for some sign of where to go…

The female walks back to Roho, and starts leading him by the arm, toward the exit and the corridor beyond.

Roho follows the feline, yawning toothily as he walks out the door…

Zoltan shakeshakeshakes his head. He points to the crystal on the armrest. "You mind if I take this? This it part of what I need to make wind stop." he runs a hand through his tail (which has accumulated many new shinies over the past few weeks from skeletons.) "I leave you shinies of mine so you no think I just trying to steal."

Zoltan squawks, "Seeya Roho!"

The gryphon scrawks, "Take with you? The Dreaming Machine cannot be moved."

"No… not machine." Zoltan taps the crystal with a taloned finger. "Just one shiny piece. Or you have one like this Is can use?"

As Zoltan taps at the crystal, it bulges then POPS like a bubble.

Zoltan jerks his hand back. "What?!?!"

The gryphon looks at Zoltan, furrowing his brow. "You no take pieces off Dreaming Machine. Very hard to fix!"

There's no sign on the armrest that anything was there at all … other than Zoltan's own arm, previously.

Zoltan rocks back and forth nervously. "Can you take me to storage room? Is below us… got picture of how to get there stuck in head. I want to see if maybe shiny still there."

The gryphon nods. "Of course. But no more shinies in storage room. That where I find spares."

"Or, not enough," the gryphon corrects. "But you see."

"Can you show me spares?" Zoltan scrawks.

The gryphon walks toward the doorway, then scrawks in Vartan, "Bah. Now that the Zerda is gone, we can talk in Vartan again, yes? Rephidim Standard is a pain for beaks."

Zoltan chuckles. "Habit from living in Rephidim… "

The gryphon nods, then heads on out into the corridor, back to the elevator. The winged lion walks alongside him, going ahead to the elevator. The elevator door is closed, and it takes a while before it opens again … this time a little closer to matching the floor level, though not perfectly.

Zoltan struggles to his feet and follows as best as he can.

Inside the elevator, the gryphon scrawks, as the door closes, "The other shinies are in the possession of the cannibals. They do not appreciate shinies as we do, but the wretches realize that they were of importance to my father and grandfather before me."

The elevator jerks a bit, after the winged leonine presses – then pounds – a button on a panel on the wall. The elevator descends, taking a fairly short trip before the doors open once more. This time, at least, it meets the floor level and flush.

Zoltan squawks, "What do you know of the cannibals, Kryago?"

The gryphon grimaces, then says, "I not sure if they reached Paradys before or after Shokar's crew." He steps out of the elevator, walking down a corridor much like the first, except that the lights do not run – just flicker on occasion. He squints a bit, then his speech gradually becomes a bit more composed. "I presume they came on an airship that crashed here. There were others on this island as well, time ago, and sometimes others have ended up here. But now, only the Vartans and the felines live on this island. The rest … many of them ended up in feline bellies."

"They are carnivores," Kryago continues, "not vegetarians. If it were not for the occasional Creen or other flying beast that would be blown here, they would have devoured all of each other or starved by now. They raise a few beasts of their own to eat as well, but this island is not much for grazing."

Zoltan slowly steps out of the elevator. "I would like to ask you this again, even if it seems to be a subject you'd rather avoid. But what is happening to the Vartans here? Why are they changing? Have the dreams given you any answers about that?"

Kryago turns toward the winged leonine, and scrawks, "Wait for us here." He then walks toward another portal ahead, and presses a panel. He has to hit it a couple more times before the door slides begrudgingly open.

The gryphon steps through the doorway into another chamber, and gestures for Zoltan to follow.

Zoltan looks at the gryphon for a few moments, as if waiting for a reply. Then when he realizes that he's probably not going to get one he growls and walks into the chamber.

Only once the door closes behind Zoltan does the gryphon answer, in a loud whisper, "Shokar's crew did not only fight the cannibals. They took some of their women for wives." His feathers ruffle at this admission. "Do not speak to make any think they are less than Vartan."

"… least of all ME," the gryphon adds, waving his cane to emphasize his point, and eyeing Zoltan with a piercing glare.

Zoltan nods understandingly. "You are all Vartans." His voice lowers. "Was afraid island was turning you into spotted cats."

The chamber is that indicated by the map, though it doesn't look as well-defined as the upper levels of the complex. It is hewn out of stone, with veins of glowing crystals providing the faintly pulsating light. A solid cylinder runs from ceiling to floor, positioned no doubt exactly below the matching cylinder in the chambers above. Here and there are many crates and containers, many of them open and empty.

The gryphon walks along, gesturing to some of the objects which could be charitably called "junk". "There were many before us. It was hard to learn from the Dreaming Machine. My father and his father before him paid dearly for its knowledge. And I have not come away unscathed. You know of the First Ones, yes? They are not just fables."

Zoltan sighs at the sight of the empty containers. "Hope I no have to get part from cannibals." he grumbles to himself in Rephidim standard. Then falling back to Vartanspeak, "I know of the first ones. They speak of them quite often in the Temple on Rephidim, some of the things here are similar to what I have seen there in fact."

The gryphon nods. "Well, much of what you see here is not of the First Ones. This tower was here before the Dreaming Machine was built. And much of that, I cannot learn. 'Restricted access,' it tells me. BAH. Or, 'Corrupted block of memory'."

Zoltan laughs wryly. "Maybe it not only damages the heads of others, but also has damaged its own."

The gryphon smirks at Zoltan's remark. "But, as for the First Ones, here they were, I tell you." Kryago taps at a glowing crystal growth. "And the 'First Ones' were not here first, either. This island is not merely a sky island. It is a great machine."

Zoltan peers closely at the crystal.

"… a great … broken machine … " the gryphon adds with a grumble, as the Vartan inspects the crystal, which glows with a life of its own.

Kryago says, "Many came and learned of Paradys' mysteries … and added more mysteries to it, in an attempt to make it work as it should. The ancients were wise, but not perfect."

The black Vartan raises an eyebrow. "The sky gods?" He speaks of the race of brings that Vartans once believed they were slaves to at one time.

The gryphon finally reaches a large ceramic chest with a jumble of faintly glowing shapes on the front. Kryago whacks at the shapes apparently randomly with his cane, and then is rewarded as the top of the box slides open, revealing several glittering crystals inside that shine too brightly in the reflected light of the veins running along the walls.

Zoltan eagerly looks inside the chest. Hoping beyond hope that the crystal he needs is in there.

Kryagos nods. "Yes. The sky gods, if you call them so. But they were not truly gods. Of that I am certain. Nor are the First Ones. Bah. Pity Rephidim, that they should worship the dead."

There are eight crystals in the container, just like the ones in the dream. Unfortunately … in that main chamber, there are twelve empty receptacles.

Zoltan rubs his temples again, sinking to the floor. "There is no other way… I'm going to have to get the rest from the cannibals." He looks back up to the gryphon. "Do you know where they might keep the crystals they looted?"

The gryphon sours. "If they could eat them, in their bellies." He grumbles, then says, "I know nothing of their camp, save that they live amongst the ruins of several crashed airships, near the old fortress. I would suppose they keep them with the rest of their grisly trophies."

"They may pass hands from time to time. The felines fight amongst themselves, after all," the gryphon adds.

Zoltan flicks a taloned hand. "Then you will have to tell me everything you can about them." He pauses, a flash of an idea forming in his head. "Or maybe we can send a spy to root out what we need… "

The gryphon scrawks, "A spy? I'm not about to ask one of mine to tear off his wings… " He shudders at the thought.

Zoltan looks up. "There is one on our ship who resembles them. His name is Janus… an exile by his claims. I don't trust him completely, but it might work. We also have many Savanites on the ship… but they may not do as well."

"Their tongue, I only partially understand, that passed down from my father. We do not have dealings with them." The gryphon peers curiously at Zoltan.

"Without knowing their language, I am sure that even if one looked like them, he would be in trouble. They are brutal even to their own, and I know little of their ways," the gryphon says, then sits down on a crate, deep in thought. "But we may have some jewelry of theirs, and could perhaps make a costume such as theirs … Bah. Savages!"

Zoltan pulls himself up to his hoofed feet. "Hmmm… so their minds are not so far gone that they have no language. If I bring Janus here, could you teach him what you know of the language?"

"I NEED those crystals if those of us in the bell have any hope of leaving here." the hippogryph's shoulder slump. "And I would like to get them with as few casualties as possible."

The gryphon says, "I can try. But I must warn you, I am generous to call it a 'language'. I could not converse with my … mother." He frowns. "To say something such as that I loved her would be too complex."

Zoltan contemplates a bit further. "Were the crystals gone or broken when the Vartans first came here? I would also like to avoid the siren song… it is my hope that by having all the crystals in the right places will keep that from happening… but if it was that way when the bell arrived, hmmm… " ( Might have to take some extra precautions. That is if this whole thing is of any use at all to begin with. )

The gryphon says, "Of that, I think you need not worry. The crystals are all the same. The ones I have here are spares. There should be another twelve somewhere on the island, provided none fell off the edge."

The door to the chamber jerks open.

Zoltan's ears perk?

A spotted feline head pokes into the room, long dark hair spilling over the shoulders just below that head. Two eyes look at Zoltan, from underneath a woven leather headband.

Zoltan looks back at the feline nervously.

The gryphon's ears perk as well, and he turns, looking to the doorway, scrawking questioningly.

The feline looks just like Jezebel. She signs to Zoltan, "Master! Are you all right?" She looks about the chamber, from her position in the doorway.

Kryago looks back at Zoltan, furrowing his brow.

Zoltan's ears splay. "How you get here?" He signs back.

Jezebel gives Zoltan an annoyed look, then quickly recovers, signing, "I flew."

Kryago squawks, "What's with this finger-wiggling?"

"You grow wings when I not looking?" Zoltan signs back. He looks to the gryphon, "Savanite sign… er… there is a Savanite in the doorway, right? Or am I seeing thing again?"

The gryphon looks to Zoltan, then back to the doorway. "Savanite?" he scrawks.

Zoltan makes a whimpering noise and looks back to the doorway.

Jezebel looks at Zoltan with a "Well?" look on her face, as she crosses her arms.

Jezebel uncrosses her arms, and signs, "Master! Tell them I am with you!"

Zoltan signs, "Nothing… nothing… I just going crazy. So how you doing?"

The gryphon looks at Zoltan severely, his feathers ruffling. "You are not doing some sort of magic with that finger-wiggling, are you?" he scrawks agitatedly.

Zoltan shakes his head. "No… just talking to a mirage. That's my Savanite over there, her name is Jezebel."

The gryphon mouths a wide "Ohhhh," and looks faintly bemused.

The gryphon turns to the door and nods. "Let our Savanite come in, so I can meet this 'Jezebel', yes?"

The cheetah lets out a long sigh, then comes through the door, walking up to Zoltan. "Thank you, Master," she signs. "All this pantomime was driving me crazy."

The gryphon looks to Zoltan. "Mirage, eh? I think you are going to be second-guessing yourself for a long time to come. Now you see one reason I let the Dreaming Machine be most of the time."

"Anytime… pantomime? Oh… I guess the other Vartans had some problems understanding you." Zoltan nods up to the gryphon. "It's alright. I'd been dreaming about all this long before I cam here… I just see it when I'm awake now."

Zoltan signs, "You want to go see if the spottycats here have any crystals? They probably won't notice you," he signs to Jezebel.

"Other Vartans? What are you talking about? Well, there's THIS fellow, but he's … They're all half-breeds, aren't they?" Jezebel signs.

Jezebel hisses. "Spottycats?" she signs. "I'm never going to let Speaker within a mile of me again. If it weren't for your friends here, I … well, I won't imagine."

Zoltan reaches out and tries to give the Savanite a poke with the blunt side of one of his talons.

The cheetah blinks as Zoltan pokes her. "What are you doing?" she signs.

The gryphon looks a bit annoyed. "You don't have to keep any secrets from me, you know," he scrawks.

"Seeing if you pop." He grins at the Savanite, violet eyes focusing in and out.

Zoltan squawks, "Secrets? What would you like to know?"

The cheetah just blinks several times, and then looks over to the gryphon as if for help.

The gryphon waves to Zoltan. "That hand-sign thing you do with your little feline." He clicks his beak annoyedly. "Hmph. So, did you take yourself a spotty feline bride, too? I do not feel so ashamed now."

Zoltan signs, "He can't see you… you just a mirage." He suddenly blinkblinkblinks, spinning to look at the gryphon. "You can see her?!?!"

Jezebel signs, "Some day, I want you to teach me Vartan."

"Of COURSE I can see her!" the gryphon scrawks. "Why else would I let her in? I'm not in a mind to play games when we're discussing serious business. Is she the 'spy' you had in mind?"

Zoltan erks, and begins signing a flurry of apologies to the Savanite. "Er… no. The one I speak of resembles the cannibals exactly. I don't know if I could risk Jezebel with them."

Jezebel plops down next to Zoltan, and leans against him. Upon closer inspection, it looks like she's taken a few scrapes.

Zoltan signs, "They put me in dream type device. I been seeing things that no there for real, thought you was one of them."

The gryphon nods. "She wouldn't pass for one of them. Her legs are not right, and her face markings – and her spots. She's too scrawny, too. … and her hair … " The gryphon waves a taloned hand dismissively. "They would attack her on sight."

Jezebel looks back to Zoltan, then signs, "I'm real. I promise." She grins wistfully, as if realizing the absurdity of the logic of such an assurance.

Zoltan squawks, "She understands Rephidim standard… but is mute, like all Savanites. I use the handtalk out of convenience for her." He repeats his words in handsign for the Savanite as he speaks. "Sorry if I made it seem as though I was concealing something."

The gryphon hrms, then nods his head. "I have not seen her kind before. But then, I have lived on this island all my life. I realize there is much to be seen beyond. … Your airship … If it still flies, and we can find some way to escape this island … might you be willing to take some passengers?"

Zoltan signs to Jezebel, "Did a Vartan fly you? One of fliers?" Then to Kryago, "We will take as many as we possibly can. I know many of you must be anxious to leave."

Kryago nods. "Yes. To be in the open expanse … where we can fly without bounds!" The gryphon looks positively wistful … as if he were describing going to some wonderful place … like Paradys.

Zoltan smirks. "With your knowledge, you could probably get a job with the Temple easily."

Jezebel signs back, "I tried to follow you. But the savages found me. One of the Solus rescued me and flew me up to the tower. But once they did, I think they were arguing over me. I look much like the savages … enough to bother the Solus, but not enough to fool the savages, it seems."

The gryphon hmms, but says, "I should like to see the lands beyond Paradys, but I will come back to here, I think. This has been my life, as keeper of this place. I wish the freedom to go where I please … but this is still my home."

Zoltan gently rubs a wounded spot on the Savanite's arm. "You lucky you survive. Savages are cannibals."

Jezebel winces at the notion.

The gryphon slowly stands. "Well. You are welcome to read the log further at your leisure. As for the Dreaming Machine … I think it should be left untouched for a time. It may be useful, but it is quite dangerous as well."

"We may have go after the cats with force." The black Vartan sighs. "If Janus fails… and he might, it may be our only option."

The gryphon nods. "The felines are fierce fighters. Our advantage is that we can fly … but with the winds of this island, we can make use of that only at certain times, and the felines know then to hide. It will not be easy. But perhaps now is the time to rid this island of this menace, once and for all."

Zoltan squawks, "I will tell my captain, those on the Bell will be willing to fight as well, and we have weapons."

The gryphon's gaze passes over Jezebel, his look hinting at a lack of full trust in the spotted feline. "I will see about finding you a room as well, unless you wish escort back to your ship immediately. We have two fliers in our custody, as well. Perhaps you might know them. Their wings are broken, or else they could fly."

"I think I have found something that might restore your… dance." Zoltan signs to Jezebel. "But it might mean a fierce battle. Would the Savanites on the ship be willing to fight?"

Jezebel nods confidently. "Yes," she signs.

Zoltan squawks, "I think I shall stay here for tonight. I also should let Roho know about the Eeees. He is the healer, after all."

The gryphon nods. "Very well then." He goes back over to the ceramic chest, and whacks on the panels with his cane again. The lid slides shut, sealing in the crystals.

Kryagos walks to the door. "When you are of a mind to retire, let Pathos know. He will assist you with the lift, and to find your room." With that, the gryphon departs, leaving the winged leonine standing just outside the chamber.

Zoltan looks to Jezebel. "Did you see anythings that might be useful when cannibals try to capture you?"

Jezebel signs, "The winged one who took me away looked particularly useful at the time."

The cheetah pauses, then signs, "They use bows and arrows, as well as spears. At least they don't use poisons on their weapons." She indicates some of her wounds.

Zoltan laughs out loud. "Yes. But, we looking for crystals, like ones that were in box. Can use them to fix machine and stop winds… I hopes."

Jezebel shakes her head. "I saw nothing like that." She smirks. "If I had my magic, I'd work on a ritual to send out a spy. But then … if I had my magic, we wouldn't need this, now would we?"

The cheetah looks puzzled, then signs to Zoltan, "Why are you interested in getting my magic back? I thought you hated my magic."

Zoltan shrugs. "I have no love for it, but you says that you no can live without… so I try and get back. I probably no like someone taking important thing like that from me either."

"TRICK will be getting it backs… without killing all peoples." Zoltan signs.

Jezebel looks at Zoltan for a long time, then leans forward and kisses him on the cheek.

Zoltan manages to smiles a bit at the kiss, although it's a smile that's obviously forced.

Jezebel signs, "Thank you. I'll make it up to you and then some." She smiles and purrs.

Zoltan brushes himself off. "As long as we make it off island… with few people dead as possible from cats, then I happy. I hope Janus no go knife crazy again… at least, not until he gots crystals first." He looks to the flier at the door, "I am ready to go to my room now." He offers a hand to the Savanite to help her up.

Jezebel takes the proffered hand and gets up as well, holding onto it as she follows Zoltan.

The winged leonine nods to Zoltan, and leads the way out of the chamber.

Zoltan sleepily clip-clops after his guide. ( I hope their floors here are soft… )


GMed by Greywolf

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Today is 15 days after Candlemass, Year 28 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6127)