Captain Gail Stormchaser stood by the wheel of the Queen of the Seas with Harold. They watched as their passengers circled round one another bristling like angry cats and dogs. “Well Harold, I hope we get home without incidents.”
The ship’s purser shrugged. “They all want to get to Silverton. And the followers of the new gods need to make a good impression. The other two aren’t fighters though I don’t doubt they can look after themselves.”
* * *
By the second day of their journey things had calmed down considerably. Harrassan stood by the lee rail with Horaxanna. “I had worried about you. Are you getting used to sea travel.”
Horaxanna gripped the ships rail with a fierce grip. “No! I still find it uncanny. The floor shouldn’t move around. But Avor and Essa found an effective potion to combat sea sickness.” She looked fiercely at the horizon. “They tell me it doesn’t work for storms. I hope there won’t be a storm.”
“Me too,” agreed Harrassan.
* * *
Deepsix watched as the specs of land climbed over the horizon, slowly showing themselves to be low-lying sandy islands. They had been in the dungeon’s domain for what seemed like hours. He was sorry the trip was coming to an end. Despite belonging to an hostile pantheon the crew had been surprisingly accommodating and understanding, reserving their real hatred for Vortexius Blackbeard. A point of view he empathised with wholeheartedly.
All too soon the ship was docked and they were disembarking. Harrassan arranged for lodgings in the Spirit Dolphin Inn, which occupied a peculiar half submerged building.
After Harrassan and Sreecator had gone to find Danilus Oakborn Deepsix went to sit on the beach so he could study the temple that seemed to be floating in the middle of the lagoon. He noted with some surprise that more and more children were starting to congregate in the port area. Then he spotted what must be a high priestess by her glow emerging from the lagoon. And he just knew that she was also a dungeon’s voice.
Deepsix stood then knelt in respect. “Pray excuse me lady, may I have the boon of your attention.”
Drina sighed in resignation. She flipped her wet mane over her shoulder and combed it out of her face with her fingers. Behind her Joy and Pounce dragged themselves out of the lagoon with their front legs. Their long serpentlike fish tails simmered and they were all cat once again. And clean and dry, Drina envied them that little bit of magic.
“Certainly, but please get up, do. We’re not much for ceremony here,” she squinted and grinned. “Well met o twiceborn wisp. How are you finding walking on two legs?”
Deepsix realised he was kneeling to a young elven girl wearing nothing more than a bathing costume that was cut in a way that left her gill slits clear. He almost felt silly, but he cold see her glow and that gave him caution.
“Please lady priestess. It’s important. My lady goddess wishes to meet with yours to discuss a way to save the worlds. It is really very important to my goddess, and to me.”
Drina cocked her head to one side as she considered Deepsix. “And who might you be twiceborn wisp, and who is your lady goddess?”
Deepsix almost despaired, he felt he was making a mess of things. “My name is Deepsix ... and my goddess is ... Azurea.”
Drina’s eyebrows almost disappeared under her fringe. “I will ask Mary, I can’t promise anything.”
“Please... My world... No, my former world needs so much help. And Azurea believes ... believes your mistress is one of the few who could help.”
« Drina love, keep him there for another few minutes. I’m sending you something for Mr Deepsix Twiceborn to look after. Got a persona non grata to get rid off an’ he’ll do nicely. As for meetin’ the Blue haired Cow. ’K, will do at our new temple in the deeps. Tomorrow noon. Deepsix will have to figure out how to handle that himself. If he asks – procrastinate, but allow everyone who arrived with him to come along. Oh an’ feel free to invite the other two seekers of knowledge. »
Drina flicked her eyes to where Tomcat’s welcoming party was congregating. She still had time. She returned her attention to the desperate looking Deepsix.
“Mother tells me she is willing to meet with the bl— Azurea tomorrow at noon in her deep water temple. You and the priestess that accompanied you may attend.”
Deepsix’s eyes flicked to the temple in the centre of the lagoon and his face showed a dawning hope.
Drina grinned, “No, that one belongs to Ocidon. Mother’s temple lies in a deep valley on the sea floor between these islands and the islands to the south.”
Deepsix looked stricken. “How?”
“Oh I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Get Harassan to help you out. Or your priestess. Don’t forget to let Azurea know.” Drina smiled, “It really isn’t that difficult Deepsix. Your problem isn’t unique. Lots of people have difficulty breathing underwater.”
Just then a young boy came running. He stopped next to Joy, scratched her behind the ear and smiled broadly at Drinna. “Hiya sis. Mother asked me to give you this, she tol’ me she’d tol’ you what she wanted done with it. Mother sent me through a portal. Oh wow, it was fun, one second I’m at the Manga dungeon watching Timothy and his friends getting trounced, and then I’m next to the well behind Tomcat’s house.”
Deepsix’s eyes widened in surprise; that looked like a dormant dungeon core.
Drina smiled, “Sounds cool Mar. So you gonna watch Tomcat arrive.”
“Oh yeah! You bet,” and with a wave Mar decamped to join the crowd by the harbour.
Drina looked down at the pale blue core, she handed it to Deepsix who almost dropped it in his surprise. “Here, this is Dr Lara Fisher. She was culled from Earth by the Frost King before he shattered and planted under the ice by Ice Heart as a dungeon. Tyler, Ava and Madison rescued her. She was comatose and close to total collapse due to having been placed in a totally inadequate location and then abandoned. Mother doesn’t like her and declared her Personna non Grata. Will you take her and see her settled somewhere she has a chance of thriving.”
Deepsix blinked away tears, moved by the tale. “I will be honoured to. So she is a former human from Earth like Frog, like your Mary. Is she still linked to her other self?”
Drina shook her head. “The Frost King unlike Azurea took all her soul. He killed her back on Earth. Oh and you might be happy to know that Frog has managed to free his mind and he and Strelitzia are now free of his captor. They killed him so in a way you have been avenged. And the Frog on Earth has his own dungeon and also has a competent companion.”
“Thank you. I’m glad. But why does Mary dislike Dr Lara Fisher?”
“Dr Fisher does not like children and made her feelings plain when Mary was indulging the islands kids with the kids dungeon. She didn’t hurt her. She just wants her gone.”
* * * EARTH – MARY * * *
Mary wandered into the kitchen in the morning. “Morning mama, anything you need today.”
“Morning sweetie, and sorry about your party. I hired that firm on Heather’s recomendation. I should have been more careful. I did tell them there would be a lot of adults.”
“That explains the rabbit food then. I had wondered.” Mary leaned over and kissed her mother, “No worries mama, love you, and it’s the thought that counts.”
Her mother gave her a fierce hug. “Love you too.”
“Hey, I had fun, spent some time on Parthia with Jerica while other me and Trish spent some time with you. Isn’t Drina cute?”
“Yes she’s adorable. Are you going to give her some ponies?”
“Gods no! Drina and her cats work fine, adding my little ponies...” Mary shuddered. “Not happenin’. An’ not puttin’ any on Parthia either.” Mary’s eyes lost focus and she stared into space for awhile.
“I know that look dear, what are you plottin’.”
“Just thinkin’. Maybe I could persuade one of those wierd guys that are all gaga over the ponies to become a dungeon an’ set up near disneyland or one of those movie theme park things on the west coast.”
“Don’t you dare Mary,” ordered Jane Rowley sternly, but then spoiled the effect by bursting into giggles.
* * * EARTH – IN THE NEWS * * *
Mr. Jacob Hennessy has founded the Adventurer’s Guild of North America today. Mr. Hennessy was selected to be the first Guild Master by the members of the new guild. Mr. Carlos Mendez is the new assistant guild master. The new Guild Offices are based in Erskine.
Despite being in existence for less than a day the guild has already been embroiled in controversy. Ms Henrietta Duvalier, citing sexism, has complained that they have not admitted any female members.
When asked, guild master Hennessy stated the guild would be happy to accept anyone who met their criteria. And that included women.
* * *
And here we have Seccotine reporting from Maui.
On the screen a pretty blond in a blue suit and stiletto heels is seen talking energetically into a mike as her ponytail is blown sideways in the wind. Subtitles are being shown to translate from the French.
“And today in Maui, the Comte de Champignac was arrested for attempting to leave the island with six viable dinosaur eggs...”
* * *
A reporter is interviewing a man outside a rather featureless industrial type building. “... Dr Meldrew, what can you tell our viewers about the rumours that NASA is testing a new anti-gravity device. That they actually have a functioning anti-gravity device?”
“All I can say is that the device we are studying here is interesting, and that the material in question does have some unique properties that could possibly be described as defying gravity. It is not the device but the material that has these intriguing qualities. And our institute is demanding access to more samples of this intriguing underwater plant.”