Ch. 65. One of Five Threads

On the Wolf

Ruili Windwolf’s eyebrows inched upwards as Y’lanna Sparti rattled off her list of questions.  Likewise, the eyebrows of the scholars.

“Pardon, but did you say you had a ship that flies in the void between the stars?” one of them blurted out, his hand resting on a charred shard of metal about the size, though not the shape of a book.  “How fascinating.  Pray tell us what that’s like?” as he and his colleagues leaned forward eagerly.

Ruili raised a restraining hand.  “First things first, gentlefolk.”

Though if he were honest — and he was, notably so — he would admit the thought of this pretty creature flying through the night sky held a certain romance for his sailor’s soul, and it heightened the foreignness of the obviously foreign being sitting before him in the cabin, hemmed around by the bowed wooden walls and cabinet fronts that covered the stern lower ballista wells, and the racks of scrolled charts and oiled leather logbooks all around them.  The captain on his ship was the master of all he surveyed.  Had this delicate lady lately been master of her realm as well?  He could not help but imagine it.

“I shall endeavor to answer all your questions, milady Sparti,” he said, smiling warmly at her.  “I hope I heard them all a’right.  Do feel free to ask more as we go.”

“First, as I said earlier, but which I’m sure you were in no condition to note, this ship is the war-sloop Wolf, flagship of the Sovereign Navy of the Grand Navigators.  I am her captain, Ruili Windwolf Ereonis of the House of Ereon, Lord High Admiral of the Sovereign Navy, Lord Protector of the Sovereign Duchy of the Grand Navigators, Paladin of Lyr, Earl of Isolla and Malmesia, and a deal more beside.  My card, milady.”  He took a visiting card from his cream and gold waistcoat.  He had changed clothes for this meeting and was attired quite nattily in the suit of a commander of the Navigators, the red and gold coat vibrant over the warm cream waistcoat and britches that made his caramel skin and blond hair glow in contrast.  He leaned across the table to lay the small, ornate card before Y’lanna.

“Ah, one moment,” he said.  Reaching to the sideboard behind him, he brought round a small box from which he pulled yet another pendant.  This one was a lens of clear quartz set in a delicate frame.  “An Amulet of the Dragon’s Eye to add to your necklace,” he explained.  “Just view the card through the lens, and you should be able to read it.  The Dragon’s Tongue worked well enough, no reason the Eye shouldn’t do the same for you, provided you’ve none of those — oh, what are they called?  Electro-something-or-others?”

“I believe your lordship is thinking of the electromagnetic aura disruption effect,” suggested one of the scholars.

“Yes, that’s it, thank you, sir.  I discovered the ruddy thing, you’d think I’d remember it.” Ruili returned his smile to Y’lanna.  “Well that’s your first question answered.  Now for the next, the fate of your ship.  I fear I must inform you, milady, your ship was destroyed in the passage through the vortex.  We have been salvaging all we can of it, but we have so far found no other survivors.  It seems, however, to have been a relatively small craft.  Were you alone, by any chance?”

After a brief pause for that rather sobering question, Ruili carried on, so as not to lose his place.  “Next I believe was location and date, yes?  We are on the Sea of Lyr in the northern hemisphere of a world we call Aeldreth.  You came here through a inter-dimensional tunnel.  I’m sure we would all be very happy to hear how you came to enter the vortex and what place you came from.  Oh, but the date.  Today is the third Aldamna of Viriye, which puts us in the first half of spring, in the year 10,975 of the Second Age.”  Ruili had met beings from the other ends of vortices before and was not sure what use the date and year would be to Y’lanna, as she most probably lacked any common point of reference between the Aeldrethian calendar and the one she had left behind – but she had asked, and so he gave the answer.

“And finally, what will happen now,” another gentle and reassuring smile from the Lord High Admiral of the Navigators.  “Now you shall be taken to our country, the Sovereign Duchy of the Grand Navigators.  We will set off as soon as the salvage is complete, quite soon now, and should arrive in the Port of Plesz within two days.  There, you will be entered as a foreign visitor under the protection of the Duchy and, well, you may do as you wish after that.”

“If I may,” interjected another of the scholars, “a great many scholars and officials will likely wish to speak with you, and I am sure assistance may be provided to meet your personal needs.”

“Yes, yes,” Ruili agreed.  “You’ll have no dearth of company and conversation, and of course, the Dukedom will provide housing and so forth to get you settled.”

There certainly was more to Y’lanna’s immediate future, but in life as on the stage, Ruili believed in letting information emerge naturally through dialogue and action.

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