Our Solar System: Haven of the Angels (Part 2)

Haven of the Angels, Part 2

Description (continued):

The ancient text tells us that there is a pause of several weeks in this entry before it begins again. This break in the recounting provides an opportunity to answer a simple question that deserves explanation. The question pertains to the manner in which the accounts of this traveler, and others like her, are attained and retained so that they could be put into the ancient texts of the Elzheni Astromentists. To express the question more plainly; how does the Astromentist take this journey, in their como-induced state, and at the same time document it? The Elzheni give us the answer elsewhere, in other of their docs. We do not need to include all of that here as it contains extensive detail of the Elzheni science. Instead we will provide a simple explanation which should provide the reader with a sufficient understanding of the process the Astromentists used. Each Astromentist’s journey actually includes two participants. The first is the traveler, the Elzheni who imbibes the como and falls into a deep state of affinity with the tendrils of Mental Energy that permeate the world. This is the Astromentist who takes “the journey” and they are known as the Caller. The other Astromentist is a companion to the Caller known as the Listener. It is the job of the Listener to maintain a connection with the Caller’s mind, the Mental Energy contained within them. This connection allows the Caller to transmit an account of their journey as it takes place, and it allows the Listener to immediately transcribe that account into a written form. Given that many Astromentist Callers do not survive this journey it is a great benefit to have a strong Caller-Listener bond so that, even if the Caller is lost and unable to return, the precious knowledge they gain has already been collected. The Caller and Listener are often Elzheni who have worked hard to form a particularly strong bond between their Mental selves, but that is another story.

Having elucidated the Caller-Listener mechanics we will now continue with the next part of the account from Eharria, the ancient Elzheni Astromentist.

“I cannot tell how long we have been traveling since we left the Fekxtah planet Chayffen behind us. My Energetic companion, the shard of pure Mental Energy that has no name, has been a welcome partner to me on this journey. It has been useful and steadfast during our time together. However, it seems to be weakening in a way that I do not understand as we travel further into the deep darkness. It seems as if I detect fear. But that cannot be. A Mental Avatar is not the same as an Emotion Avatar and cannot experience feelings. Or, so we believe. I am thinking this may not be entirely true. Perhaps the great corruption of the True Elements, that led to the creation of the Six Energies, did not divide these Six as neatly or as cleanly as we have believed. It is known that Emotion Energy and Mental Energy are the two Inner Energies so perhaps there is a connection between them that we do not yet understand.

I think of this and other things during our long journey, and I try to bring comfort (if there is such a thing) to my companion. The darkness and emptiness that surrounds us is so complete and so limitless that we may despair, or, I should say, I despair and I worry that my Avatar companion may become infected by my own feelings as well as the endless darkness. I fear that if it weakens it may decompose into nothingness, and leave me drifting aimlessly in a cosmos too vast to comprehend.

I send these thoughts to you, darling Estellannon, my companion and Listener, but I can no longer feel your presence. I have sensed some things, but they were distorted and so fragmented that they were incoherent. I am not now sure if they were real or if they were no more than fabrications created within my own mind. I fear for my sanity in this bleak black. It is almost unbearable when I think of how far I am from home. I take some small comfort in knowing that I have traveled further than any other Astromentist, but will any know of this? Are my thoughts carried to you dearest Estellannon? Do you Hear me? Are you Listening?”

Over the next week the Calls from Eharria were infrequent and intermittent, and comprised only fragments of thought and cries for help. The notes from Estellannon say that she detected fear and desperation from her Caller, and was concerned that Eharria was losing her mind and that her companion may have dissolved into nothingness. Then on the eighth day since her last coherent transmission there came this.

“I see something but what I see cannot be. The Mental Avatar that has been my constant companion for these many days (months? years?) has faded almost into nothingness. It is but a wisp of Energy that I comfort and feed with my own Energy as best I can. But, it is too weak to confirm whether what I see is something seen or if it is unreal and no more than a sign of my own mind’s deterioration that leads to my eventual evaporation into the nothingness that surrounds me.

I don’t know if you can hear me, Estellannon, but I must tell you what I see, or what I believe I see. There is a field of objects before me. They are of every imaginable shape and size and are scattered without sense throughout this dark space so very far from Oma. I seem motionless and, from this distance, lifeless, like dry detritus, desiccated debris that is ancient beyond description or understanding. How I know this I don’t understand, but I do. They continue as far as my mind’s eye can perceive, extending ever away from Oma, but instead of a plane of them, like the orbits of Oma’s children that circle around her, they extend above and below. They seem to form a great sphere that contains all of Oma and Her Family as a womb might encase a life inside of it.

I draw closer and as I do, I think that it sings to me.”

The message stops here and continues hours later.

“I have reached the nearer of the objects, Estellannon. I can now see that they are real, and not my imagination, and I was wrong; they do move though almost imperceptibly. They seem to all be adrift, uncontrolled without direction in the endless space. They are dusty, rocky shards, and cold stone that forever circle around their center, which is without doubt Oma.

But, there is more. My Avatar companion has revived. It seemed to gain sustenance as we entered this field of broken debris. I believe that the objects here have healed my Energetic companion in some way. This is only a guess for I have no proof, but it somehow seems right to me. And, I myself feel uplifted. Perhaps it is simply that the burden of endless emptiness has been lifted from me and hope has returned.

Now we will rest and continue to float into the vastness of this place, and I can now hope, Estellannon, that you may yet hear me.”

Our Solar System: Haven of the Angels

Haven of the Angels

Our Solar System: Haven of Angels

Mean Distance from Oma: 118,000 to 226,000 WA

Orbital Period around Oma: N/A

Diameter: N/A

Length of day: N/A

Gravity: N/A


Far beyond the last Fekxtah planet of Oma’s Family lies an enormous globe of celestial objects that surrounds Oma and the entirety of her children. This is the Haven of the Angels. The nearest parts of its physical extent begin further from Oma’s furthest planet, Chayffen, than Chayffen is from Oma, and its end reaches that far beyond its start. It is a magnificently vast area filled with celestial objects beyond count. They are formed from loose entanglements of rock, dust, and ice, and in some cases shards of one or more of the Six Energies. They vary in size from no more than a small boulder to the size of large moons.

The Haven of the Angels was first discovered by a small coterie of eccentric Elzheni scientists who were characterized by their peers as little more than religious zealots since they did not follow the fixed, methodical processes adhered to by the broader Elzheni scientific community. The members of this sect called themselves Astromentists since they considered their abilities to be an extension of their highly developed affinity with Mental Energy. Their peers called them the Como-ists, since they made heavy use of a powerful drug made from the como plant to trigger their “explorations”.

It would be impossible, and perhaps unjust, to present the story of this small sect without using their own words. Their writings convey not only their goals and achievements, but also give a proper portrayal of the mindset that drove them to explore the extreme distances far beyond the influence of Oma. It also reveals the manner in which they achieved their goals which is certainly outside all credible bounds of scientific thought.

The reader might be asking why we would include mention of such a strange group of Elzheni in this document. The question is well warranted, and there was much discussion of this among those of us who are responsible for the creation of this summary of ancient Elzheni knowledge of the greater Fekxtah world. In the end, two arguments convinced us to include the Astromentists in this brief tome. The first was that the Astromentists had persuaded a number of the most prominent Elzheni scientists of their day that their explorations, or “journeys” as they were fond of calling them, were true. How they validated their knowledge to their colleagues is unknown. The ancient texts contain no account of the discussion, or, at least, none that we can find. We felt that the judgment of these ancient masters could not be discounted regardless of the opaque quality of their decision. By itself that was sufficient justification to include the Astromentists’ experiments in this document.

That said there is a second argument which is also compelling and worthy of our attention. It centers on a strange, and unexpected, event. In the year SP~5,019, only five years before completion of this document, the Guild Division for the Science of Oma and her Fekxtah Family (SOFF) was confronted by a living entity, sentient in its nature, that claimed to originate from the Haven of Angels. At first the members of the SOFF believed the creature to be no more than an individual of a race from our own world that we had not yet discovered — it is accepted among current Guild scholars and scientists that there are many such unknown, and undiscovered, creatures living on and inside of Ethem. However, as Guild scientists interacted with this creature they discovered that it had knowledge that could not be known to any other than those who had studied the accounts of the ancient Astromentists. This could not be, though, as the ancient tomes are unknown to those outside the Guild, and, even within the Guild, are well-protected from any who have no compelling need to read them. When the Guild members confronted the creature with this unassailable reality, it calmly countered with information about several of the Astromentists mentioned in the ancient texts, and claimed to have known them. What it said was in keeping with our understanding of that time of the Elzheni in every respect and in great detail. It was, of course, an astonishing turn of events; one which we could not, in good conscience, disregard, and we were left in the precarious position of being unable to refute the thing it claimed to be.

With this short introduction we believe we have properly conveyed our rationale for inclusion of the passages below. It is now up to the reader to judge for themselves whether the excerpts here are believable or no more credible than the wild tales we tell our children at bedtime.

Below we will use several quotes directly from the Astromentist books of the ancient documents. These quotes are from an Elzheni Astromentist whose name was Eharria.

“I begin. The taste of the como is fresh and clean. It stings my tongue with its strange bitterness, and comforts me as I recognize my body’s familiar response to its effects.

I close my eyes and my inner eye opens. It shows another world to me, one that lives within the known world, but a world that reveals much more than our physical senses can detect. I am surrounded by tendrils of Energy.

At first I do not see them. I simply know they are there. I am patient, a patience I have acquired from much practice, and after some amount of time (a thing which is always hard to sense in this state) they become visible to me. Their tendrils writhe in constant motion, vibrant in colors of scarlet and gold and others I cannot name.

I reach out to touch them, to caress them, and then to gently hold them. They accept me and we embrace. I feel their cool grasp as the distinction between my own being and theirs disappears. We become a single entity, a wisp of life that is not bound by the physical, only by the boundaries of thought.

They carry me forward and we lift ourselves away from our home, my home, the Fekxtah planet Ethem. Soon it is far away, a tiny globe that sits in the vast space that fills the void that separates all Fekxtah from each other.

We travel in the firmament and beyond it.

The direction of our flight is sometimes my decision and sometimes theirs.

We rush through, and quickly pass, the floating shards of Seekrem’s Halo. As we go I see Ethem’s sister planets, Aldrem and Harrayem. They are far away, but are also near enough I can sense them and the life on their surfaces. Distance exists, but not in the way it manifests for physical creatures. The boundaries of distance are overcome.

We continue moving away from Oma. We glide past the small Fekxtah Illidreth and soon pass the great giant Dra Ag Ahaggalla and its many moons. We fly through the other Far Fekxtah of Oma; Moralastalla, Yunah, and Mammarrell. I recognize them for I have visited them all on previous journeys. Then there is a pause as we pass through a great emptiness.

We reach the Very Far Fekxtah. We pass the orbits of Cantoss, Tor, and Melladdin, and, at last we reach Chayffen, the most distant of Oma’s children.

We stop and with our Energetic limbs we probe what lies beyond. We, the Elzheni race, have no experience of any worlds beyond Chayffen. It is for us nothing other than a vast expanse of darkness, space filled with profound emptiness.

I have been this far before, but never further. I feel fear rise in my own self and this causes the connection with my Energetic companion to weaken, but she senses this and pulls me back into her embrace. He assuages my discomfort with her own sense of safety. He (for my companion is both he and she, and neither) can touch the Energetic sinews of Chayffen which lies nearby, and this gives her the satisfaction of having a familiar place near to us.

The moment of fear passes and we probe the darkness before us. For long minutes (or perhaps hours or days) we allow the deepness of this space to encompass us, and then we sense something. There is something there. Or do we believe that something should be there and only imagine it? Perhaps it is only the hope that the world cannot be entirely empty of the Energy that creates all of the living beings of the world.

I search my Elzheni self for long enough to remind us of our charge — to discover what lies beyond Oma’s family. I perceive a sense of delight that comes from my companion; an unusual thing to experience. It was almost as if she were a physical creature, at least for an instant. The sensation was of real, palpable delight and then it receded to a memory, but it was enough.

As one we arrived at the belief that something was there, waiting for us.

We launched ourselves out beyond Chayffen and flew into the unknown.”

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: Leaving Berimandry

Dollano 35, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

Leaving Berimandry

Before sunrise we had left. Donnessling thought it was best to “go without saying goodbye”, as he put it. I can understand why. Olladdawa had stolen the white stone, the Eye of Dey, and now he kept it by holding Sheshoffiss’ life as ransom. Donnessling called him a thief. I would call him something much worse. It is true that he had saved Sheshoffiss’ life, but only for his own selfish gain. I looked at Donnessling’s grim face and chose not to remind him of what he already knew.

Note to Self: Once I’m out of this mess, I’m going to find out more about Olladdawa and his gang. The story I print will not be a pretty one…for him.

For the next hour we made our way along many streets, wide and narrow, and through a variety of neighborhoods. We stopped in an alleyway not far from the docks. I could see the first light of sunrise over the bay. Donnessling gathered us around him and looked to either side to make sure there were no folk nearby who might hear us. Then he spoke, saying:

“We cannot trust Olladdawa. You already know that much, my friends.” He hesitated to let that sink in. Then he went on, “Neither can we trust the Berimandry Sorcerers. They have shown themselves to be a craven group no better than the beast who chased us through the caverns below the mountains, who wounded Sheshoffis.”

I saw Sheshoffis’ head lower. I’m sure he felt ashamed to have been the cause of so much trouble.

Donnessling continued.

“I know this because of their betrayal of our trust and their theft of the Stone of Dey, but there is another reason that is even more convincing. Three of them had hidden themselves outside our quarters during the night, and were conjuring a spell to kill us in our sleep. However, we struck them before they could finish their crime. We dispatched them immediately, and quietly.”

He glanced at Tollerring who nodded in assent, tapping the hilt of his blade.

“By now their sorcerer companions will know that their friends are dead and that we are gone. They will be looking for us even as I speak, and they have many allies in this city who are happy to serve as their spies. Even the birds overhead and the rats in the streets may be in their service.”

I looked at the nossring around me and saw their grim determination. They showed no sign of fear or unease. The only thing I could detect was an unswerving loyalty to Donnessling. Once again, I was moved by a folk who ask so little but give so much!

“The sun has risen and the city wakes, so we must now walk in silence until we are beyond these streets.”

He nodded at the nossring standing next to me, Eshtelling, who reached out to pick me up. I jerked my arm away, but before I could do more I heard Donnessling’s firm voice calling me, “No, my friend, this time you must do as I say.”

I could see in his eyes that he was sad to ask it of me. I don’t like being needy, and he knows that, and I know he knows. I couldn’t give any less than they would. I could not let my clumsiness put their lives in jeopardy, so I set aside my pride and with my shame well-hidden allowed myself to become Eshtelling’s burden.

With another glance to either side Donnessling led us forward at a slow run. Not a sound did we make…just amazing!

We headed toward the docks, but just before reaching the broad open area next to the sea we turned into a narrow passageway between two tall warehouses. From there we made our way through backdoors and vacant buildings, over wide roofs and, finally, through an alcove that led deep below ground into ancient sewers.

The sewers became ever smaller and closer to the surface. Eventually we found ourselves in the dark, fetid basement of a dilapidated farmhouse. The walls were stone held together, just barely, with a roughly applied cement that dissolved into dust at our touch. Tollerring uncovered a hidden doorway that had been disguised as a part of the rough wall. The opening led into a brick tunnel that we followed for what must have been several miles, always ascending.

At last we emerged into daylight on a rocky bluff above the sea. Eshtelling set me down. I thanked him for his aid, which, of course, he acknowledged with nothing more than a polite wave of his hand.

Here we took our rest. Several miles to the east we could see Berimandry laid out along the coastline. I had not realized how beautiful the city could be.

To the north were the flat plains that extended across the middle of Shawmancer Island, and to our west stretched out the uneven coastline as far as we could see. We knew, though, that in that direction lay Partameer and our way home.

Our Solar System: Chayffen, the Planet that was a City

Chayffen, the Planet that was a City

Chayffen, the Planet that was a City

Mean Distance from Oma: 16,200 WA

Orbital Period around Oma: 531 years

Mean Diameter: 102,400 miles

Length of day: N/A hours

Gravity: 4.2 Ethems


Chayffen is the fourth, and outermost, of Oma’s Very Far Fekxtah. Chayffen is the name that is given to this Fekxtah planet, and also to the city which spans the entirety of its surface. It was known to the Elzheni as the “planet that was a City”. The Gollanir called it “the unending house”. Each name was equally apt.

The other notable fact about Chayffen is that it is a frozen world. By that we mean that this world goes far beyond cold. It is wholly without heat, other than what is brought by those who visit. Gollanir believed that at one time the planet Chayffen had been a world of warmth and abundant life. They believed that something, perhaps some ancient being of the wide universe, occupied the core of Chayffen, and that this ancient thing created its own heat, that in turn produced an atmosphere on Chayffen that nurtured a rich abundance and variety of life, including a brilliant race of creatures called the Ultar who built the great city that occupied their planet.

According to the Gollanir (and the Elzheni concur) the ancient Ultar were the first sentient beings to populate any of Oma’s planets or moons, and they appeared long long before any the sentients of our own planet Ethem. In our accounting of the Ages of the World we would mark their beginnings at some time late in the The Fourth Age of the World which was the Age before our own. The Fourth Age of the World was known as the Time of Energies. The Six Energies came into being at the beginning of this time period and the Age ended during the ascendance of the primitive, but powerful, beings known as the “Energy Avatars”, each of which embodied in a living form one, and only one of the Six Energies (Emotion, Mental, Body, Physic, Mystic, and Shadow). If this account of the Ultar is true then it brings into question the veracity of the document we hold so very dear to our science; namely, The History of the Created World. This document, which was written by the ancient Elzheni and came down to us from them through the Heolas race, claims to be a record of all creation since the world began. Current scholars simply do not believe that any contradiction to this tome can be true. Many Guild members, and their powerful leaders, believe that it is nothing less than blasphemy to speak of it. Because of this kind of disapproval (and, we daresay, condemnation), there are very few Guild scholars who are willing to consider this alternative account. They have theorized that the Ultar were a race whose origins were from outside of Oma’s Family, which would imply that there are other (perhaps many) other races and creatures in the distant world of the stars and the Great Universe. To our great disappointment (and the joy of Guild Leaders) these scholars have offered no substantial evidence of this, and so is considered nothing more than pure speculation.

Whatever their origins, the Gollanir spent many years investigating the history of the Ultar since they rose to prominence on the planet Chayffen. According to their accounts the Ultar lived for millennia in peaceful co-existence with the other living things of their home world. They were curious about the world around them and were constantly learning about Oma and her Fekxtah Family, and even about the world beyond Oma. They created devices that allowed them to see clearly the smallest niches of distant planets and even planets and stars far away from Oma. It was said that they could even detect the movements of the Walkers, those creatures who had lived since the beginnings of the Created World and could move to all places in it. In addition, it was believed that the Ultar had created chambers of special material that allowed them to travel inside of Oma herself. These were virtually indestructible vehicles that could withstand not only the immense heat of Oma, but could withstand the Energy storms that constantly thundered throughout its interior.

The Ultar lived in this manner for thousands of millenia when suddenly disaster overtook them. The fire that had burned in the center of Chayffen, the ineffable flame that provided life-giving warmth to Chayffen throughout its long existence, suddenly, without warning, was extinguished. The cause for the catastrophe was never found either by the Gollanir or the Elzheni, but its consequence was indisputable and fatal. When its inner fire died, Chayffen no longer had protection from the cold cruelty of the space that surrounded it. The deep atmosphere quickly dissipated and was soon utterly swept away leaving no air to breathe or warm airs to keep living beings alive. In a matter of months Chayfeen and all of the things that lived on it had died or were frozen in place. Soon after the mass extinction of all of its life the Fekxtah itself died. Bombarded by the cold force of deep space its rotation slowed and, eventually, stopped altogether.

Some scientists speculated that at least some of the Ultar must surely have survived. Perhaps migrating to one or another of Oma’s Fekxtah to start over again. We can only guess, but there is general agreement among current scholars, and the ancient Elzheni, that the catastrophe must have been so immediate and profound that none could have survived.

For many thousands of years Chayffen, the city and the planet, lay desolate; a dead world continuing to circle Oma, but with nothing breaking the stillness and its unchanging cold.

Eventually the Gollanir found their way to the frozen expanse and empty buildings of this world. When they first arrived they were in awe at the enormity of the endless city and the immensity of the structures which populated it. Over time they discovered the libraries of the Ultar. They discovered their name and translated the relics left behind by this ancient, powerful civilization. As the years passed the Gollanir learned more and, as they did, they began to understand the magnificence of the Ultar and the enormity of their tragic extinction.

Eventually the Elzheni joined the Gollanir in their quest to uncover all of the secrets of the Ultar and that mutual effort was mentioned even into the final documents written by the Elzheni before they, themselves, were destroyed.

Fekxtah Station #15:

Shortly after they began inspecting Chayffen the Gollanir established outposts for their investigators. Since many of the structures built by the Ultar were still standing and sturdy, the was no need to build their own homes. They simply selected Ultar buildings that appealed to them and added the necessary accommodations. Many of the outposts were situated in tallest buildings, some of which rose miles above the planet’s surface. From these vantage points the Gollanir could view miles of the cityscape below them or look out far over the oceans. Other outposts were constructed at the surface level of the planet to make expeditions easier, and still others used places that the Ultar had built deep below Chayffen’s surface. Over time the Gollanir refurbished hundreds of structures to serve as outposts.

It was a simple process, when the Elzheni joined them in their explorations, to share some outposts and to give the Elzheni the freedom to construct their own within remaining structures. The ancient texts handed down by the Elzheni tell of three outposts they had created for their own, with others shared with their Gollanir colleagues.

Hallsassring’s Journey: The Story of a Nossring

Chapter 6: A Walk to the Park

Shwolan of the Zweyjen race

To her surprise, Hallsassring discovered Shwolan to be good company. He knew Tarnath well and its inhabitants even better, and he was happy to talk about it all in great detail. Hallsassring appreciated the avalanche of information. The more she knew, the better were her chances of saving Alliss and inflicting vengeance on those who took her.

Shwolan frequently interrupted his strolling soliloquy to nod to a passerby or stop for a quick conversation. Hallsassring was amazed at how effortlessly, and consistently, polite he could be, and how carefully deferential folk were to him. They always gave him a respectful bow, which Shwolan returned, but never quite as deep. She also noticed the eyes that flitted past him to take her in. Everyone seemed curious to know who this stranger was that Shwolan had at his side.

He did not introduce her during any of these encounters; however, after the conversation had concluded he would often provide Hallsassring a quick rundown on those they he had just met. He was careful to be polite, and complimentary; no gossip or untoward tales. However, he frequently included their place in Tarnath’s society, a subject that seemed very important to him.

As the two of them continued their stroll, the streets changed. Where they had first met (a neighborhood Shwolan called the Western District) the streets had been rough and dirty, as if the soil from the nearby farms was slowly  invading its neighbor, leaving its dark brown smudges on its buildings and a covering of thick dust the cobblestone streets.

The streets quickly became cleaner and more polished. Where earlier there had been butchers, fishmongers, smithies, and coopers, there were now weavers, clothiers, bakers, and fancy pastry shops. When they stepped in front of one of the more elegant clothing stores Shwolan excused himself and slipped through its front door. In a few minutes he returned carrying a package wrapped in light brown paper and string.

“Just a small something I am picking up for my sister,” he said, before Hallsassring could ask. She just nodded her acknowledgement, but knew there was more to the story than what Shwolan had offered.

A few doors down Shwolan pointed to a tidy, old stone building and told Hallsassring that this was a part of the ancient, original town. He explained that long ago Tarnath had been only a small, insignificant village here in the Sessmaryth Valley, and that it became something much larger due to the ambitions of an ancient ruler named Samron. The instant Hallsassring heard that name she spat on the ground and cursed. “Monster!” she cried, loud enough to be heard by those nearby.

Shwolan stopped, shocked by her unexpected eruption.

Hallsassring was equally surprised by her loss of composure and her inappropriate outburst. The Nossring Nation had known Samron’s savagery and his lust for power only too well. Even now, centuries after his downfall, his name was an obscenity on the tongue of every nossing.

She looked into Shwolan’s eyes and said to him, “His crimes cannot be forgiven, and I will not apologize for cursing that name!” She could see an understanding grow in Shwolan’s eyes and perhaps even approval.

Returning to his usual imperturbable self Shwolan reacted in a calming tone, “You are not wrong, my friend. We can call him nothing less than a ‘monster’ for what he did. For the atrocities he committed against your kingdom and mine, and so many others.” He leaned down closer to Hallsassring’s ear and in a softer voice he whispered a warning, “There are those, however, even on these civilized streets, who look back with fondness on the Tyrant.” Looking closely at her he added, “I am not one of them.”

As quickly as he had spoken that confidence, Shwolan righted himself. Several massive creatures were approaching and had hailed him. He instantly transformed himself into his charming, gregarious self and left Hallsassring’s side hailing them with a chipper salutation.

Hallsassring was still upset by the mention of the ancient Tyrant Samron, and so was not paying complete attention to the creatures with whom Shwolan was talking. A quick glance, though, told her they were of the Human race. Three of them. Nothing out of the ordinary, though they were well-dressed.

Her mind was still filled with the atrocities committed by Samron as she had learned in her youth. His hunger for power and willingness to do anything to achieve it. He had hunted down and destroyed entire races of folk and many creatures of the world. The worst, of course, was his decimation of parts of the Nossring Nation. The suffering that Samron inflicted on the Nossring had not been as horrific as what he had done to others, but it was nonetheless severe and the memory of it lasting.

Hallsassring pushed away these thoughts. She must stay focused, she told herself, and must not allow herself to be distracted.

She turned toward the group that Shwolan was talking to. Several dwarves had joined the discussion and the volume increased noticeably. She was just sizing them up, focusing on what they wore and how they spoke, when Shwolan conveyed his good-byes and returned to her.

“Folk who work at the City Council,” was all that Shwolan offered in the way of explanation. He seemed reluctant to say more, and changed the topic to some of the unusual architecture in this part of the city.

They walked and talked for a while longer, and the tour resumed its casual tenor. Before long, though, Shwolan delicately turned the conversation back to the ancient Emperor, not using his name this time. He glanced at Hallsassring to gauge her reaction, and seeing that she remained unperturbed he continued.

“You clearly know the story of this evil…” he hesitated, “…creature. As we all know he nearly came to dominate the entirety of our beloved Tamarran Continent.”

Hallsassring nodded in assent, and remained staring ahead. This seemed sufficient for Shwolan who went on. “And, of course, we all know that he was the one who established the Central Guilds to control all Tamarran folk, by misusing the abilities of the Guild Channels to manipulate and control the Six Energies. Most folk know this. What is not as well-known is that he also had a very special house built, here in Tarnath, for each of the Guilds, and he arranged that they would all be built in the same area of the city, the place we call Guild Square.”

At this Hallsassring glanced at her walking companion. “I knew that the Guilds were allied with him and that they did his bidding,” she said, steadying her voice. “I also knew that he had houses built for them. They were to provide a place where the Guild members might live, under his control. It must have been very expensive to provide such a luxury to his obedient servants.” Her animosity started to show as her voice started to tremble as she finished.

“A life of luxury certainly helped him gain the loyalty of the Guild Channels; however, that was not the main purpose of these Guild Houses,” replied Shwolan.

Hallsassring tried to interrupt, but Shwolan held up his hand and resumed.

“Yes, the construction was indeed elaborate, and it was indeed excessively luxurious.” He paused for effect. “The more important purpose, however, was for each house to serve as an Energetic fortress. The eloquence served to disguise, and so hide, their various Energetic weapons and guards. The armaments of each of house, of course, corresponded to their type of Energy: Emotion Energy for Charismatics Guild; Mental Energy for Mentarchs; Body Energy for the Somans Guild; Physic Energy for Evokers; Spirit Energy for the Mystics; and, of course, Shadow Energy for the Umbrists. Some of the defenses were a part of the construction of the building itself. Other powerful artifacts were inside the houses. Some were hidden in plain sight and others were simply hidden. Some are known to those of us who study these matters. Many, though, are closely guarded secrets known only to the highest ranking, and most powerful, members of each Guild. And, we suspect, though this is only a guess, that there are many that have been forgotten even by their own Guilds.”

Just as he finished describing this bit of history, the two turned a corner to find themselves at the edge of a large open plaza. There, before them, was the Guild Square that Shwolan had just introduced. His timing was impeccable.

The Square was awe-inspiring in its beauty. Six streets converged around a large hexagonal park that formed the spacious center of their intersection. The park was filled with a panoply of flowers and trees, and in its center was an immense statue of six figures, dressed in great flowing robes and holding what looked like devices of power and, no doubt, prestige.

From where they were standing Hallsassring had a clear view of the entire square, and, judging from the distinct architecture of each house, it was not hard to guess which one belonged to which Guild.

The sight was overwhelming, and Shwolan was clearly pleased to see how struck Hallsassring was by the grandeur that lay before her.

“Yes, it is the most beautiful place in any city of the Tamarran Continent,” he said. “Even finer than any of the architectural wonders of Naldrin City and there are many such wonders in that place.”

Hallsassring looked over at Shwolan. He was not looking at her. His gaze was fixed on the square. Though she could not see it, her innocent response had renewed his own sense of wonder.

Shwolan sighed, and looking down at Hallsassring he announced, “Here is where we part, my new friend. My destination is there beyond the Square,” he said, pointing to a place on the opposite side of the wide hexagon. “And, yours is just down this street.” He pointed to the street to their right. “You cannot miss it. It is well-marked and you will see many folk who are, like you, making their way there.”

Before Hallsassring could respond, Shwolan inserted his farewell. “Hallsassring, I have found you to be a good listener, a talent whose benefits are not always appreciated.” She got the feeling he had experience with this. “I am sure that we will see each other again. Until then, enjoy your time in our great city, and may good fortune walk with you.” He gave a short, courteous bow which Hallsassring returned with her thanks for serving as his guide.

He waved that off as if it was nothing of consequence, and proceeded with a final thought, “If you like, you are welcome to mention my name to Bill. You might find that helpful, and so might Bill.”

With that, and a last elegant bow, Shwolan departed.

Hallsassring watched as he walked away, tirelessly greeting many of the folk he passed.

She then turned to her own destination. It had been an interesting day and there was still more to come. Much more.

Rhonda Floam’s Diaries: The Price

Dollano 34, SP~4,909

Rhonda Floam

The Price

It’s been two days now since Sheshoffiss’ healing; a successful healing, I would add.  Sheshoffiss is still tired, as would be expected, but we think he’ll be able to travel soon, so that we can at last leave Berimandry. Donnessling’s plan is to make our way to Partameer City where we can find a ship to get us back home.

I’d noticed that things were tense between Donnessling and Olladdowa ever since the healing ritual.  As a good reporter, I had to find out why, and earlier today I found my opportunity. I saw Olladdowa heading up to the top floor of the house, to his own private workplace. I followed a few minutes behind him (no one else was around) and hid in a large hall closet that was on the other side of the wall to his room.  I was hoping to listen in (as I had done several other times), but he’s a very quiet worker, so I had gotten basically nothing from these clandestine sessions. This time, though, I got lucky. Just a minute after I hid myself away I heard another set of footsteps approach Olladdowa’s room. I heard a knock and then Donnessling’s voice asking to come in. I heard something like papers moving and a desk drawer closing. A moment later Olladdowa called out his permission to enter.

The conversation started quietly, and politely. Donnessling expressed his thanks for the hospitality. He places great value in adherence to the courtesies.

Then he thanked Olladdowa for saving Sheshoffiss’ life.

“It is our mission, to help those whose bodies have been afflicted with the worst the world may offer,” was Olladdowa’s response. As best I could tell from the other side of a wall, he seemed pleased to be thanked, and even more pleased to be praised.

“It is now time to return the Stone of Dey to Sheshoffiss and complete the healing.” With this Donnessling’s tone changed subtly; more firm and direct.

“If only that were possible,” was Olladdowa’s response. “I am afraid, my dear friend, that the white stone is now beyond his reach. The ritual has changed Shesshoffiss’ Energetic composition. He can no longer channel this artifact.”

“Then you must redress this mistake.”

There was a delay in Olladdowa’s response as I assume he digested the insult.

“There was no mistake, my friend.” The response was cool and fixed.

Donnessling’s voice rose and he asked, “Then it was done deliberately … my friend?” 

Olladdowa’s response was now fiercely plaintive, “It was the only way to save him!”

“You lie!” retorted Donnessling with ferocity.  “I saw you plant the Kurn marker during the healing, after the danger had passed.”

Olladdowa was shocked that his treachery had been revealed. He was clearly rattled and his response lost its prior finesse, “There is no such thing! Kurn markers are a myth. Only old tales not worth telling tell of them. Those stories are fantasy, not sorcery!”

Regaining his composure at least slightly, he continued, “You must not believe these fables, my friend. They will lead you only to delusion, and potential harm.”

“Threats will not benefit you, Olladdowa! At least not with me. Here is the marker.” Donnessling must have shown something. “And, I saw you plant it in his chest.”

There was no longer any attempt by Olladdowa to control his voice. He shouted back, “We heal in whatever way is effective!”

“You severed his connection to the Stone of Dey!”

“We did what was necessary.”

“You did what you needed to make the white stone your own! And, now you will return it.”

“It cannot be done. It …”

“No! It can but you refuse. You will restore his connection or I will bring this to the Council.”

“Perhaps you will change your mind if …”

“Nothing, other than restoring the connection will change my mind.”

“Perhaps the life of your friend will!”

There was a profound silence. Then Olladdowa continued, but now his tone was more comfortable, as if he had control of the situation. “The kurn will remain, and, since you seem to know about them, you know that it cannot be removed without great care and by those that fixed it in place.”

Another pause. My guess is that Olladdowa was giving it time for his threat to sink in.

“The kurn will remain, but will do no harm to its vessel as long as the white stone remains here with us.”

Heavy footsteps crossed the room. Then I heard the door jerked open and quickly slammed shut. Negotiations seemed to be over — at least for now.