Beddigan stood at the bow railing of the ship and smiled at the salty spray of the sea tickling his whiskers. He had never liked sea travel; didn’t have the stomach for it. But this voyage, from the Empire of the Lions to the country of Ehl-Indrah, on the far side of the Bintack Oceania, the Rams domain, was unlike any sea travel he had experienced before. The small ship cut through the water with superior grace, making for a much more even ride, with nearly none of the choppiness usually felt as a boat battled with the waves of the water below.
After a long trip by carraige from the Capital which sat far inland in the allied lands, he and Ragnon had reached the coastal city of Utinnah and left the Empire aboard one of the fleet’s specialty transport vessels, manned without traditional captain, and powered by a combination of wind and Mage. It moved much more quickly than a traditional ship, and had the added benefit of a more smooth and stable ride. These ships were reserved for diplomatic missions, with regular tall ships serving for general trade and transport. Mages were in short supply in the Empire, so only few were trained in the arts of navigating these vessels through the ocean. Continue reading
Shianne awoke with a start, sending herself careening over the side of the narrow cot she had been given to sleep on in her makeshift cell. She landed with none of her usual grace, but instead in a heap on the cold, hard-packed dirt floor with a bone-jarring thud. She snarled and pushed herself up into a sitting position, groaning at what would surely become more bruised muscles by morning.
It was dark, and aside from the rhythmic breathing of the other two prisoners, each in their own little cubicle made of wood and irons bars, all was quiet. Night still then, she thought, rubbing her paws over her face in an effort to scrub away the weariness. It had been several days since she had been drug down the stairs into the cellar below the Inn, where Commander Rollstad had set up his makeshift prison. She had been relieved to find that he hadn’t killed the councilmen and councilwoman that had been abducted, but disappointed to find that former Council Elder Elgress was not among those captured. There was a slight chance that the Former Council Elder still remained free and had taken off somewhere on his own, but it seemed most likely that he had simply been killed because of his influence in Katheyra. To Shianne’s cynical mind, it made sense that the Wolves had had the elderly Badger removed from his rooms in the Council House and secluded somewhere off-site, to make the Badger’s assassination easier. After all, it was difficult to murder someone in a governing office. She should know having done that job more than once. Continue reading
Shianne leaned back against the damp, exterior wall of the Council House, with a deep sigh. It had been a long, drizzly night and her patience was wearing thin. It had taken a great deal of persuasion on her part to get Councilman Lerke to agree to play his part in this ruse. Not that it surprised her at all that the Badger had needed convincing. It was never easy to get someone to put their life on the line, even if it was for the greater good of the whole of Katheyra.
She had sat with the Badgers and talked late into the night, the day she had approached them in the Council House after the quarterly public forum; just moments after Councilman Björn had officially become the Council Elder. Their distaste for their new leader had been her foot in the door to figure out what was really happening on the Katheyran Council, that would allow a tradition of steadfastly refusing any advances the Wolves made into their land could so easily be broken. Continue reading
Beddigan awoke with a start when his Page knocked on the door to his room the next morning. He had slept fitfully, his brain overloaded with all of the new information that he had learned from the Lord Regent of the Empire of Lions.
“Come!” he called, and the Page entered, bringing with him a steaming bowl of washing water and towels. The young Tiger bowed stiffly and said,
“Breakfast is nearly ready, my Lord.” Beddigan nodded and waited for the boy to leave before he jumped out of bed and stripped off his night clothes to give himself a hasty, but thorough wash. The palace was chilly in the mornings and the hot water felt wonderful against his fur. He dressed quickly and made his way down the corridors to the dining room. This time he was the last to arrive, save the Lord Regent. Much smaller fires burned in the room, and the casement windows were unshuttered, letting the morning sunlight stream in. William nodded to him, looking well-rested and Ragnon lounged in his chair looking ill. Beddigan grinned at the Wolf, Continue reading
The silence of the nearly empty room was filled by the crackling of the roaring fireplace,s that lit the room with their amber glow. A large table dominated the space, with a fireplace in the centre of each of the three closed walls, with massive double doors on the remaining wall, which served as entrance from the drafty corridors of the palace. Beddigan sat quietly at one end of the table next to William, replaying the events of the day in his head.
He barely remembered what he had said in his hasty explanation of sorcery and crystals fromthe lands back home, but it must have been informative or intriguing enough because the Lord Regent had nodded along and dismissed them when he was finished with an offer to continue the discussion over dinner. After that, Serina passed them off to some other aid who assigned them each a Page to show them to their guest rooms, so that they may rest before the meal. Continue reading
Beddigan stared out the window of the carriage at the countryside rolling by. It was beginning to look much less like desert tundra, and much more like the rolling plains of his homeland; the landscape dotted with farms of wheat and barley, and vegetable patches as large as he had ever seen. Next to him on the bench seat was William, taking up a great deal of the space, with Ragnon sitting across from the Bear. This left their new companions, Serina, Mage of the Pantherlands, to sit directly across from him.
After the momentary weirdness at Serina’s home, where he had found himself revealing much more than he intended to the Feline, he hadn’t felt any other sense of unease, and she had actually turned out to be a quite gracious host. They had rested for several hours at her place after their talk, and then ate richly at an establishment devoted to variety of food service, with lists of items that could be ordered, unlike anything the trio of companions had ever seen. Serina had informed them that the place was called a restaurant and that they were very popular in the Empire. Continue reading
It occurred to Beddigan, that the scale of the map may not have been very accurate, as he and his companions trudged through yet another broken, heat-blistered piece of tundra towards a bare horizon. It had been several days since they had departed the City of Light, and from what they had thought after viewing the map in Karrinah’s library, they should have reached the border of the Empire by now. It was possible that they had passed the border without knowing it, but it seemed odd that there should be no marker, or guard post of any type.
Beddigan pulled his compass crystal out and held it up to the light. Despite the capital city of the Empire of the Lions being almost exactly due North from the City of Light, they had been steadily angling northwest towards the Bintack Oceania, for no other reason than to get closer to the cooling breeze off the water, in an effort to help cut through the oppressive heat of the desert. Continue reading