Part 65: Boys

13 to Wakening Sun, Inalis – 47 days remaining

What a lovely day! I don’t usually do my writing this early in the day, but I’ve been feeling very good. It was absolutely wonderful to see Azorius and Dygo again. They both seem very well. Dygo has been moonlighting as Azorius’s assistant enchanter, and now that Steros is there, Azorius really seems happy in the forge. Cindra looked tired, but she’s been working very hard. The Steelleaf dwarves from Altea spent much of the morning helping restock our ship at Azorius’s orders.

Speaking of Steros, he and Azorius presented us with the repaired Antikythera this morning. With this, Actaeon can help us navigate through the seas much easier. I suppose I haven’t ever written much about the Antikythera before, so here’s what I know: it’s a mechanical device that functions like… I guess it functions like a compass? Clio tried explaining it to me, but I’m afraid it went mostly over my head. The device looks at and locks onto the stars, and Actaeon uses that to know which island we need to visit. Certain islands are aligned with certain constellations, and the Antikythera lets us see how that all works. Or something like that. But anyway, with the Antikythera working completely, we can now safely navigate the Forgotten Sea. Azorius warned us that we may find monsters or other nasty things out there, though.

We bade our friends at the Mithral Forge farewell and began making our way through the seas again on the Gjallarhorn. Under the guise of training, we all met in the training room to discuss our plans – telepathically, of course, so no one would be able to eavesdrop. We’re heading to Talys, the island of the Amazons, and we need the Lady of Coins to help us get there. She says she knows a way onto the island that can get us into the main castle or temple or whatever it is. There, we can depose the Queen and put the Lady of Coins there instead. But our plans are different! We instead are going to look for the Princess of the Amazons, the true ruler, somewhere in their prison.

To clarify our reasoning for it, we don’t want the Lady of Coins in charge. She plans on remaining neutral in the war with the titans, something that will not work in our favor. Without the Amazons, I truly fear for our ability to fight the League of Storms and whoever else aligns with them. We hope to convince the Princess to join us instead. I just hope it doesn’t come down to a fight with the Lady of Coins.

And on a more personal note, I don’t care for thieves. People stealing from other people is wrong. After a bunch of thieves took you from me, I can’t say I have much sympathy for them. Then again, my black and white thinking has become very greyed and nuanced since that time, Heath. Maybe the Lady of Coins isn’t so bad after all. I dislike judging people rashly. Maybe there is redemption for thieves like her. I can only be hopeful.

After our meeting, Shadow brought the Lady of Coins into our navigation room so we could see what her plan was. She was in possession of a map of Talys, one of the few in existence, and pointed out what we should do. Tribal Amazon camps cover the flatlands of Talys, and they communicate via magical torches. Approaching from any side of the island is likely to alert the entire population of our arrival within a few hours. Instead, the Lady pointed out an underground passage from the main island to an islet on the north shore. That islet is the location of the temple of the Amazons – the Queen will be there, along with her guards.

This is our plan, then: Rendu will conjure a storm of clouds and fog and we will anchor the Gjallarhorn far on the northern side of Talys. From there, we will row small boats and land on the shore. The Lady will guide us to the underground passage. We enter the temple and free the Princess (the Lady doesn’t know this), then move on through the rest of the temple until we can depose the Queen.

Something that seems weird to me is the idea of “breeding chambers” that the Lady of Coins mentioned. Realistically it makes sense. The Amazons are all women, so in order to have children, they need men. Men are very lowly in their society, such that physical pairing is meant purely to procreate. How disappointing! But at least they have mated pairs between the women. While there is no love between an Amazon and a man, there is love between the Amazons themselves, and I think that’s a good thing. Their society is so very strange. Should we get through this war, I’d like to learn more about it and-

ACH! Briar lowda ve!1 Why?!

Augh, there’s blood in my book now. I guess that’s okay. It’s been damaged by water, fire, ice, and everything else, too. If anyone in the future ever decides to read this thing, good luck to them.

I wonder why she did that? My finger hurts. She said, “Leef, give me your hand” and pulled a knife on me! She healed me right quick, but the pain lingers. She got my blood into a little cup and walked away. That was mean, Briar!

Anyway, back to the day. I’ve decided I need to work more on some of my studies. I remember one of the books you stole from the temple library when we were little. Remember the one you thought was a spellbook? It was a writing book instead. I still remember most of what was in it, and I’m going to try to write up some scrolls for casting spells later. I think it might be useful for us to have a few extra options. But wow it’s exhausting to do! I’m trying to create a magical essence, similar to those I recovered from some things in the past. I got a primal essence from the elemental that killed all those soldiers the other day. If I can make some divine essences, I should be able to scribe some scrolls.

There’s an odd smell coming from down the hall. Briar went to the kitchen to do some cooking, and I saw Father in there while I was passing by to visit with Leo. Maybe they’re making something good. Whatever it is, it smells strangely like copper.

12 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 46 days remaining

Oooh, Heath, something else very exciting happened yesterday! I didn’t get a chance to write it all down because we were all so thrilled! Clio used our magical crown to bond Actaeon to his egg. They did a lightning thing on it with the incubator, and BOOM! Malkarion hatched! He’s a very dapper little bronze dragon. Dragons are so interesting! He already speaks, and he’s really quite polite. Malkarion keeps asking about weaponry and tools and things. Very inquisitive! He and Actaeon are absolutely attached to each other, which is adorable, but Actaeon insists that this isn’t a pet-owner relationship. He explained to me that dragons and dragonlords are bonded partners. Neither owns the other as they are companions for life.

We’re all very excited to see if we’ll be able to find more eggs soon. Briar quickly put her egg into the incubator and put some magic into it to start it’s hatching too. Her egg requires heat and fire, and the egg is giving off an enormous amount of heat now because of it. I set Leo to watch over it and warn me if anything happens to it.

Today’s a new day and I’ve already exhausted myself trying to make my divine essence again. I’ve made progress. The essence right now looks like a liquid, bright and sparkly. That means I’m on the right track! I still need a few more days and to put more magic into it, but this is working! It smells of sour milk, which is the wrong smell to have. I will keep working on it later.

Oh, weird thing. I heard noises in the training room. Clio was doing some kind of pretty yoga-like movements. I’ll have to ask her to teach me that. But Torag was also doing some fighting stances at the same time. Somehow that turned into a dance off between the two, and I don’t think they knew I was watching. It was… I mean, I couldn’t really look away. It was hard trying to stifle my laughter. What if they heard me and stopped? It was so funny!

11 to Wakening Sun, Inalis, 45 days remaining

Ugh, this plan is awful! We’re leaving the Gjallarhorn right now. It’s so early, the sun hasn’t even thought about rising yet! I’d much rather go back to sleep…

I ought not to complain. This is the best time to do this. We wanted to do this under the cover of night as best as we could, but we had to rest and prepare ahead of time. We switched out some of our equipment for different things, and Actaeon spent the night instructing Malkarion on how to infiltrate an island and depose a wicked Queen. Well, I wasn’t there. I don’t actually know what they were talking about.

The hard part will be trying to hide from the Amazons. Visitors to the island aren’t a new thing, but for those in the party that are girls, it will be much simpler to try to convince them that we’re just visiting. For that reason, I’ve put myself into the Flee version of myself again. And immediately, I regretted it! My undergarments just don’t fit right! After this, I’m going to go for a genderless form. That way I don’t have to worry about what I look like anymore. Father, Actaeon, Rendu, and Torag are going to have to be extra careful because they will be captured or killed on sight, no questions asked. Because they are boys. But Briar and Father seem to think they have a plan for that, and they passed around a few cookies to the guys. I didn’t get one, I guess, because I’m girly now.

Then again, the cookies aren’t really appealing. They have chocolate nibs in them, but they smell like copper.

We are all as prepared as we can be. The Lady of Coins has a few weapons on her, and we spellcasters dug through our books and things to prepare ourselves for the day. Not much else to do other than get in the boat and get going.

I’ve got but a moment to write. Talys is a beautiful island! Rolling hills, grasslands, trees here and there, and there are large and friendly dinosaurs roaming the countryside. We saw a few Amazon warriors hunting them with large basilisks. It was a little frightening, but we were never noticed. I had a few tricks up my sleeve to help us see around while he stayed low and hidden. At one point, we came upon a group of manaeds getting physical with some drunken men. A quick debate occurred: should we rescue the men and slay the manaeds? They’re sure to get intimate with them and then eat them, but we cannot risk being seen out here. It stings to leave them to die, but like Actaeon said to me long ago – sometimes we have to make hard decisions. I have to tell myself this daily. We won’t be able to save them all.

We found the tunnels that led to the passage underground. It was black as pitch here, and Leo told me, “One will be your eyes” I just let him lead me around while I tried to listen to the world around us. We came upon the door, the entrance to our passage way. But as Actaeon and Malkarion tried to open it, various marble statues around us suddenly sprung to life and began attacking. All I heard was the commotion around us before Leo took me into the passageway.

More continued in next episode…

1: Draconic: Briar attacked me! (profane)