Beyond the Stars

A Chronicle of the Road to Power.

24th Flamerule 472KR, Hall of the Sunset, Kordova.

Calaith slept the sleep of the truly exhausted. Between his animated discussions with Cathrykan, multitude of interesting finds, the cuts and bruises from animated rocks and the incessant drumming in his head; the already thin elf had sunk onto his bed like a discarded leaf and immediately passed out. His last conscious thoughts were of the voice he'd been hearing, that incessant beckoning susurration in his mind that had begun when he'd picked up that damned staff. Why couldn't things just seem to leave his head alone… he needed rest…

Calaith floated above the main hall of the Sunset Wanderers, his friends misty and distant below as if the distance were far greater than scant twenty feet he could perceive. Light as a feather he wafted this way and that, curling upward towards the convenient iron door in the roof of the hall. He smiled a thank you to the twin bats that clutched his shoulders, flapping their leathery wings to direct him through the open door and into the bright purple sunshine of Kordova city. There below Calaith could see the people milling, playing out their morning in muted tones of strawberry and gold as they haggled, laughed and pushed their way through their lives.

His pace became more rapid and the bats redoubled their efforts, Calaith wondering at their strength and speed. The patchwork of blue fields and amber streams that made up the brief flatlands before the Firesteaps and the Northern Duskwood glowing with verdant life as they panned toward the tangle of the forest. Picked out in silver was a small cluster of glowing figures and sweeping low above the dense canopy of foliage he spied several forms that his flowing mind spoke to him of in familiar tones. Kennard… Arkaela… Young Flick… and Kenjii, the strange dwarf Istvaan and another figure, indistinct and not limned in silver like the others… Their campfire burned a merry pink and yellow amongst the vari-coloured woods. 

Before he could cry out a greeting, the air moved swiftly, and the bats pushed them onwards and upwards. Calaith took in the size of the creatures with some surprise, had they been smaller? "Hugin," whispered the one on his right shoulder. "Munin." responded the left in perfect concert, words seeming to blend almost as one. His attention distracted by this strange utterance, Calaith glanced forward again to the on-rushing foreground and gave a splintering scream that left motes of red and flashes of crystal against the purple sky. A vortex opened before him, surrounded by strangely humanoid stones, the eye of which blew a hot desert wind and obscured itself with driving sand curled in a helix of momentum. He felt sun-blasted heat and the sting of the tiny particles. Calaith screamed again as he was plunged forward into the pit, before a grateful oblivion took him and he remembered no more.

He awoke on his pallet bed in the Hall of the Sunset, sweat trickling down his shoulders and arms, staining his already dirtied under shirt. He was breathing heavily, and not just from the dream, or nightmare… or visitation. Atop his slight chest, his arm tucked protectively around it was a heavy and broken clay pot, inscribed simply with the word "knowledge". Talking staff momentarily forgotten, injuries unfelt, he examined the smashed pottery with arms extended. Who wanted a piece of his head now? 

The next evening Calaith sat at his writing desk in his study-cum-bedroom, his attention raised momentarily from an object beneath the bed to the simple furnishing and blankets themselves. 

"Why was it that Sharah had to have elaborate furnishings, not to mention clothes?" he thought idly, his attention wandering. "Probably women or some-such, not at all the realm of texts and tomes. Or research, now there was a thing," his mind refocusing on the collection of histories and battle lays organised on the surface before him. 

Calaith shuffled the papers carefully, his eye scanning, but his mind already drifting back underneath the bed. "Sod everything. How could a man resist such a mystery?" And he stood, pushing away the simple backed wooden chair, and reaching beneath the bed withdrew his prize. The polished sheen of the vari-coloured inlay still made him caress the top of the strange puzzle box each time he held it. Resins and lacquers applied expertly by the unknown eastern crafts-people responsible for its design made the interlocking and moveable parts of the design seem as one, shifting the eye to individual scenes or the fractured pieces of a larger image.

His fine elven features creased slightly in a smile as he remembered opening the last section of the box only to discover this layer beneath. Sure he was near solving the mystery of the device he'd almost been nicked by the vicious, and cunningly concealed, staple claws that had engaged from either end. A close call, for upon later inspection the minute and razor sharp claws proved to have traces of sticky residue along their hairline edges. Laying the box on the rough linen bedclothes he stood back for a moment, lost in thought, eyes playing over the intricate designs of the object he had been gifted by Dizraxalaikus. 

"Surely the Deep Gnome was not having a jest. He definitely had not seemed the type." Calaith's former good humor dissolving further into a penetrating scrutiny of the box.

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CHARACTER RESPONSE REQUIRED

Done and Continuing. Thank-you Aiidan.

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Beyond the Stars

The Destiny of Kord Khaz