You hesitate before answering the Admiral’s question and try not to fidget with Masaru’s envelope in your pocket. “I’m a Chosen of Jupiter.” You say finally. You leave the envelope in your pocket and scratch behind Mei Mei’s ears. “Jupiter herself gave me this mission. There are children going missing and we have been sent to investigate.”
Admiral Mayim looks you over intently and you freeze. Did you do something wrong? Suddenly the admiral’s expression softens and sits down in a chair across from you. “Do you have a name, boy?”
“Svante.” Admiral Mayim repeats, trying to commit your name to memory. “I apologize if I am making you nervous. It’s just when a Sidereal shows up on my doorstep, I know things are about to get Wyld, if you forgive my language. “
You didn’t expect such honesty from the Admiral. He reminded you of Masaru. You relax a little and continue to pet the puppy.
“Do you know which islands the children are missing from?” He asks.
You nod and pull out your map, careful not to expose Masaru’s letter. After handing over the map, the Admiral leads you to the map table. You watch as the blue paint on the table shifts with the tides. Small ships sway in the non-existent breeze and a few airships float just inches above the table. In one part of the map, the water is colored silver and a small orca figurine menacing swims around the moon lit water.
“Is that where the Leviathan is?” you ask, amazed by the map. You have stories about the ferocious First Age Anathema.
“Possibly. The Anathema is difficult to track. My father spent a lifetime hunting the old man of the western seas.”
“What happened?” You ask.
“My father was killed by Fair Folk.” The Admiral says bitterly. He studies your map and points to a second of the western seas. “There are the islands. It will take you about a week to reach them via Brilliance Class Warship. “
“A week!” You are dismayed. “Who knows how many children the Anathema or Fair Folk could take in that time!”
“A Brilliance Class.” Wanahton sounds impressed. “Is Valiant Hummingbird in dock?”
“Yes. How do you know that ship?”
“The first mate did me a favor a while back. Did he ever get his promotion?”
“He is the Captain of the Valiant Hummingbird now.”
You wander around the office, bored with Wanahton and the Admiral’s conversation about the various ship of the Western Navy. Eventually Sasha’s caste mark fades and the Admiral leads you to the docks. You lag behind and ask Wanahton “Is there a way to get there any faster?” You ask in Spiritspeech.
“An air ship from one of the Yu-Shan gates in the area would be fastest, but your orders said to take transportation from here. “ Wanahton’s Spiritspeech is heavy accented.
“There must be a reason why Jupiter wanted you to take this way.” Sasha muses. “What do you know about Fair Folk, Wanahton?”
“Enough to know to keep away from them.”
“The Fair Folk have been attacking Creation ever since we overthrew the Solars. They mostly concentrate on the Western Seas. The Owl says that the Pole of Water is most like the Wyld, so their push has been from that direction. “ You recite.
Sasha is surprised. “Have you actually been paying attention to class?”
“Yeah.” You didn’t have a choice now that you were receiving personal tutoring from the Owl. He was more likely to notice the manga you were hiding behind your school books without the god blooded students distracting him.
“I think Jupiter wanted us to take the long way because we have a lot to learn about the Fair Folk. The Western Navy are the most experienced with the Fair Folk. The traveling via boat will give us time to prepare.”
“I also need to learn Seatongue.” You add. Masaru taught you some curse words in the language, but if you are going to find out what happened to the children, you need to understand what people are saying.
“To be a part of the Western Navy, all recruits are required to know Earthtongue and Seatongue. All officers are required to know the Old Tongue in addition.” The Admiral says in Spirit Speech. “You will not lack for tutors. “
All the officers speak Spiritspeech? You didn’t like that. You know that not many people in Creation speak Spiritspeech, so you often used the language when you didn’t want to be overheard. You wonder why Admiral Mayim mentioned this fact. Knowing an unexpected language is great advantage.
The Admiral seems to notice your unease. “Svante, we are not enemies. We should not be keeping secrets from each other. We both have the same goal: the preservation of Creation.”
You nod your head and when you put your hands into your pockets, you brush against Masaru’s letter.
The Valiant Hummingbird is a long ship with a haul made of a turquoise marble organic material. Orange sails flutter on the ships lone mast. On its front is a redheaded woman of unsurpassed beauty. Her long red braid was so long it reached her toes. She looked as beautiful as the day she was carved, though her clothes looked salt eaten and sun faded. The woman must have been clothed in nothing but her long hair before the Usurpation.
“Admiral on deck!” a sailor cries out. The ship’s crew stops whatever they were doing and stands at attention.
“At ease. You may continue what you doing.” The Admiral strolls across the deck, checking the ship with a keen eye. “Where is Captain Shen?” he asks. Captain Mayim Shen? You remember Masaru mentioning his brother when he gave you the letter.
“He is checking the manifest with harbor master.” You follow the sailor into the Captain’s cabin. The harbor master salutes the admiral and excuses himself.
“Sir, is there a problem?” Captain Shen is a tall, lean Air Aspect. His pale blue-white hair is shaved off except for the top, which is tied in the traditional Shogunate bun. The Captain considers you all, with his glaze lingering on Wanahton for a moment before returning back to his father.
“No, no. Everything is fine. Shen, do you recognize this man?” Admiral Mayim motions Wanahton to come forward.
Captain Shen leans against his desk. “I’ve been trying to place him since he entered the cabin.” He strokes his small beard as he tries to remember. “Wait. Was that you that Tanith Losa was after?”
Wanahton seems pleased to be remembered. “You saved me from his Wyld Hunt. What happened to the Earth Aspect?”
“Losa has been reassigned to the White Sea. I hope the idiot is freezing his ass off.“ The Captain crosses his arms. “Did you family ever remember you?”
Wanahton sighs. “No.”
Admiral Mayim changes the subject. “Captain Mayim Shen, there has been a change in your orders. You are to transport these Sidereals to where they need to go. Your new orders will not state that for obvious reasons, but they will give you reason why you have not joined the blockade as planned.”
Captain Shen does not look pleased. “How long will the Valiant Hummingbird be assigned to this mission, sir?”
“As long as it takes, Captain.” Admiral Mayim reprimands his son sternly.
“Sir, yes, Sir!”
In a more gentle voice, the Admiral continues. “Teach them how to fight Fair Folk and they will also need language lessons. “
“I have plenty of books on both.” Captain Shen indicates the small bookshelf in the corner of his cabin. You groan at the mention of books. This is supposed to be a mission, not school!
“Books. What are you going to do about your books if you ship sinks? Build a raft?” The Admiral asks mildly.
Captain Shen gives a long suffering sigh. “I’ll buy more books, sir.”
“I’ll send over a paper copy of your new orders.”
“Thank you, sir.” The Admiral and Captain exchange salutes and the Admiral leaves the cabin.
After the Admiral departs, Wanahton says, “He doesn’t want you on the Blockade.”
“No, he doesn’t. But I have to go sometime.” Captain Shen leave the cabin to make arrangements for your stay.
“Is the Blockade dangerous?” you ask.
“It’s safer to come with us.” Wanahton says. The last mission you were on was not what you call safe. “Admiral Mayim had twelve sons. Only eight are left living. The end of the Western Seas are a very dangerous place.”
As you lead Mei Mei out of the cabin, you take a closer look at the bookshelf and noticed that among the naval and Wyld books, Captain Shen has a well-thumbed copy of the White Treatise. Was the Captain a Sorcerer?
What do you do?
- Tell Captain Shen about your problems with Sorcery. Odds are he won’t even remember you asking him later.
- Ask Captain Shen about Sorcery in general. You are known for asking questions about everything, so it won’t see too out of character.
- Don’t ask Captain Shen about Sorcery at. No need to take a chance.
((Sort of a cop-out decision, but I don’t want to rush the next scene. ))