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A note from haikuotiankong

Commit Log
2020.08.01:
 Interlude 4: Added new chapter.

Aurian watched the mysterious arrivals who sat on balcony of the inn known as The Second Fish with great interest but her focus was soon distracted by a long yawn. Standing on a street corner pretending to be inspecting the wares of a nearby merchant stall was not her idea of an interesting time in town but she was compelled by both her own curiosity as well as the request from Master Arbon. Actually, Master Obar as he was known in the outside world. She needed to keep that in mind.

"Ruciella," she repeated to herself own alias. She honestly felt that there was no need to have a separate name for her since unlike some of the masters, she was a complete unknown.

Master Arbon was rather insistent that someone observed the new strangers that he had just encountered. Both were fluent in the Divine Tongue which in this city might not be considered an oddity but was still considered rare. Anyone who could speak the Divine Tongue with such ease must have been blessed by the gods and to invite them to join the Club would be the wisest move. That was one of the few policies of the Galacia Club which Aurian agreed on.

Aurian glanced over at the wares again and tried to feign interest. She failed. The stall held shoes and other articles of clothing which was much too large for her. They were also exceedingly ugly to her eyes. She didn't feel that she was the best judge of fashion but she felt that anyone would agree mismatched tunics and wooden shoes were not up to par. She yawned again. Maybe she needed to walk somewhere else to draw less attention. The merchant was glaring at her probably wondering how long she was going to stand there taking up space. She shifted a few paces to the left to not block any real customers. The man's face relaxed and then suddenly brightened. There was a customer for him to attend to. A nearby corpulent fellow wearing a shirt much too small started to inquire the merchant on anything that would fit him.

Hearing their raucous haggling was annoying. There were plenty of people on the streets and she could fit in. She looked both ways and saw that there was a short lull in the wagons on the street. Quickly, she walked across and stood in front of the inn. She walked to a point right below the balcony and looked up. She knew that she was taking a risk but she felt that she was wasting time standing so far away. Standing here, she could not only have a better view of them but also hear an occasional word or two.

Who were these strangers anyway, she wondered? One of them looked to be of the Southern Isles with facial features that fit and a skin that was on the dark side of light. She didn't look like anyone from Tesia or here. The other was easier to identify and looked to be a typical Tesian with fair skin and wavy hair. The well-dressed ladies were still sipping their wine slowly and chatting. They looked like moderately wealthy merchants with the taller one wearing a green velvet tunic and the other wearing a plainer brown woolen one. Neither could be seen wearing hats or jewelry which led her to wonder if they were purposely keeping themselves inconspicuous. When would Aurian earn enough coin to afford even a basic tunic and pair of shoes was yet a great unknown. She would have thought that the most brilliant member of the Academy would be afforded at least a decent allowance. She wasn't too young to go on a secret mission but apparently she was too young to be paid any real money. The Academy certainly had a confusing set of rules.

From earlier when she was standing across the street, the most interesting scene she observed was the entrancing sight of a flying fish gorged by a giant seagull in the distance. The seagull looked clumsy walking on the rooftops but when it flew, it suddenly acquired such grace in its aerobatic feat in barely two seconds. It was hard to pull away from that and to actually focus on her real task which was far less interesting -- the most notable scene was the antics of the family of servants with the two ladies. Their children created a huge fuss and the youngest one banged the table with his tiny fist, presumably tired of sitting still for so long. Another started picking his nose and smearing snot on the table. Now, looking up, Aurian saw that the children and the servant woman had disappeared. The woman must have taken them inside to not further disturb her masters with the tantrum that was brewing. The man was still sitting there calmly eating his stew. She sniffed and salivated as she smelled the food. As if on cue, her stomach growled. She salivated again when she saw the wine the women were drinking. One of them was drinking fishblood wine, a local delicacy which she has only tried once and would remember forever. This was over a year ago. She hoped someone would replace her for the task here soon so that she could go back to their inn and relax with some good food and drinks.

But really weren't they taking the master's hospitality too far. Really, if someone paid room and meals for her, she wouldn't be taking full advantage of him and getting several rounds of drinks. Or maybe she would if it was fishblood wine and the two-headed fish dish? Her mouth started salivating again. Suddenly, she perked up. There was a lull in nearby street hawkers and passing wagons which allowed enough sound from the conversation to drift from above to her ears.

"You're saying Master Obar is not who he says he is?"

This was the Tesian woman speaking. Her name started with a L. The Divine Tongue was hard and she had trouble remembering the lady's full name. Yet, Aurian was glad that her long hours of diligent study have paid off since she could understand their words perfectly. Her adept aptitude with the Divine Tongue was probably why she was tasked to observe them. Either that or because she was given a pointless task to leave the adults alone. They were about to have serious conversations about monetary and political affairs which she was told that as a child she would never understand. At 16, she felt that she was by far more intelligent than anyone on the city council or the members of the local Galacia Club but stupid older people were the ones in power here; not even Master Arbon could gainsay their wishes.

"Did you finish reading the book?" the shorter one asked. By her brusque tone, she seemed to be the one in charge. Aurian had heard from the master that this lady had refused to join the Galacia Club -- a rather absurd decision in Aurian's humble opinion.

"I am sorry but I am slow at reading in the Divine Tongue," Aurian heard L reply.

"I understand. With an average reading speed of 300 words per minute and 13960 words, that would take approximately 46 minutes. You're not Kim Peek after all."

"Kim Peek?"

"The inspiration for the guy in Rain Man? The movie. Okay, sorry, I'm being confusing again."

"Uh..."

"Did you read the section on the Masters?"

"Uh no? I only reached the part explaining what daemons and spirits are."

"I knew it! I should have added an index to the book. I'll do that next time. You're not a computer and you can't search for words. What do you know about daemons?"

"I knew a little beforehand but the book was helpful in giving insight into what they are. They are lesser deities or guiding spirits."

"Yup, not the software process that runs in the background. Hmm, I wonder if syslogd is around on the System? I'll have to investigate later. Continuing on, have you ever encountered one in your life?"

"No, never. I have heard of others who have though I am doubtful of their accounts."

"Well, to just to get the point, I believe Master Obar is one of those entities. Of what variety I am not quite sure."

Aurian gasped. She had known the master during most of her short life and she has never suspected this. In a sense, it made sense though; this would explain much about the master's capabilities which even the other elders had trouble grasping. If true, she felt slighted that he never trusted her enough to tell her the truth. She listened more intently.

"Are...are you sure?" L appeared surprised as well.

"Well, the book doesn't explicitly state his name but I'm suspecting that's cause his name isn't actually Master Obar. It might be Master something else though."

"Are you sure? If it does not say his name, how do you know?"

"In the text I gave you, it does state that there were daemons compelled by the gods to help the humans in running the Galacia Club. They were placed in the highest echelons of the society and were given fake background stories of human lives. The document specifically mentions the Galacia Club by name so there's no probability of uncertainty there. Given what you told me about Master Obar's age and the level of authority he seems to carry here, I put two and two together."

"The most likely answer being that he is a daemon sent by the gods."

"Now the question is whether he's doing it for the sake of truly caring about the progress of mortals or whether he's just forced to do so by the gods."

"Should not the greater answer be whether he is an enemy or friend?"

"That's a hard thing to say. Daemons come in all varieties but since he has taken up as a role appointed by the gods, I would presume that he's doing whatever they consider appropriate. Does this mean that he's a friend of the gods or have to be on their side? I really don't know."

"It is said that daemons can live a long time but they may not be immortal."

"And that's maybe why he carries a Ring of Longevity. From what I see, that's not an easy artifact for a mortal to get his or her hands on. He probably got blessed by whatever god he's appointed to so that can he can continue his role here."

Aurian gasped again. This time it wasn't due to her discovering something new but her wonder at how could these two strangers could discover so much in such a short span of time. The various Rings of Longevity were only known to the most esteemed members of the Galacia Club and a few select individuals who were sneaky enough to overhear conversations they shouldn't have been privy to. Aurian knew secrets were important but some of these just felt pointless. Anyone with a brain knew that there was no possibility for any mortal to live for so long without being blessed by the gods. The rings the elders wore also appeared to glow sometimes. Overhearing a conversation was just a confirmation of Aurian's suspicion.

"What are you planning to do?" L spoke again.

"I was hoping that you could offer some advice but it looks like you haven't encountered them before."

"Unfortunately, no," L shook her head.

"Let's talk about it. I'm thinking that we should definitely understand more about the Galacia Club and this Master Obar before revealing our hand."

"Does this mean you are planning to join?"

"Not only that but I believe it'll be best for us to stick around here a bit longer until Master Obar leaves. Then, we can follow him."

"What about your, excuse me, our palace?"

"Yeah, that's gonna be hard to hide. I think you and the Gunders should stay here for the night so you can keep an eye on Master Obar. I have a suspicion that he'll be back."

"Will you be following through with original plan?"

"Yeah, I'll go back to the cloud and situate everything properly. I think I have an idea of how to keep it hidden without drawing too much attention."

Cloud? Palace? Now, Aurian was thoroughly confused. Did these two people delude themselves into thinking a god have given them a cloud palace? She remembered reading children's stories of some gods living in the clouds but that conception was all antiquated fantasy. Anyone with an education would know this.

"In that case, for the sake of time, should we head to the ---"

A loud cart rumbled by and demolished any chance that Aurian could of overhearing what was said. She looked and saw that there was a long train of wagons loaded with goods passing by towards the marketplace. She shook her head knowing that there would be a long break before she could hear any more of the conversation. On second thought though, she was glad that she had overheard some very interesting curious information. The question for her now was whether to disclose everything to Master Obar. Trust should go both ways and she now wondered if her master should know the whole truth.

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About the author

haikuotiankong

Bio: On the productive side, I mostly write poetry, science articles and code. On the consumption side, aside from paper books of the scifi and fantasy variety, one of my "guilty pleasures" is consuming prodigious amounts of online novels and occasional video game binges. The dream is to write a novel I would be proud of and that people would enjoy reading with plenty of science and interesting characters.

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