02: Assessments and Decisions
Thanonal, Lake Imel
The Chimera sat on the sandy dirt-filled shore among the dried grass and struggling bushes. Rolland and Landis walked along the hull in the early morning light. Rolland carried a piece of chalk, marking a wooden plank of the ship where the new runes had burned away, leaving the hull with a small ashy hole. “Here’s another one. Thirty-six in various places all along where we added the new grace-powered runes and sigils.”
Landis also had his notebook out, writing down additional notes and formulating equations on the run design. “The original runes and sigils are fine. Our improvements need refinement.”
Rolland scratched another mark on the hull where a rune had burned out. “Thirty-seven. Materials. How often do you hear the stories where the magical devices of the gods are made of everyday material? It’s always something unique. God Steel, Holy Oak or some unique hard-to-find metal or a special process that is unbelievable hard to repeat.”
Landis looked at where Rolland made another chalk mark, “Credence to the stories. The amount of material to rebuild the Chimera to that specification even to reinforce where the runes and sigils would cost the same as income of a small kingdom.”
Rolland moved around to the aft exhaust port. He climbed up into the rune-filled metal cone, “Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, and forty. The metal burned and melted through while holding the majority of the exhaust port together. Your afterburner nearly shattered the aft exhaust port. I got a feeling the other one is the same.”
Landis’s eyes rolled, “Oh, now we are calling it the afterburner? What happened to Rolland’s Compression Speed Booster?”
Rolland slapped Landis’s chest, grinning, “This would never happen if we called it Rolland’s Compression Speed Booster. My stuff works.” He hopped down, moving past the lowered bay doors to the other exhaust port. Climbing up, he began marking more damaged spots.
Landis followed, “I am dreading looking into the Either drive containment. We added sigil runes inside there as well.”
Rolland checked off the last damaged point, “Forty-seven. I was thinking about that. I did do an exterior inspection earlier. We would know if the containment chamber had been breached, and I am sure a breach would have already happened. The containment chamber is very built to withstand a vast amount of punishment. I would advise against using the Afterburner until we figure a better way of making the runes more stable.”
Landis and Rolland hopped down out of the aft exhaust port and continued their survey of the ship.
The fish tried to swim away. The mighty dragon sucked in the water around him, gritted his teeth, and flushed the liquid back out. The smallest fish escaped by being pushed back into the lake, the largest ones unable to escape his teeth-like filter remained trapped in his colossal maul. Torac could swim as well as he could fly, though not as fast. He moved across the deep blue water, his blue scales allowing him to blend into the murky waters background.
Torac broke the surface sending waves, in all directions. He stretched his wings and flapped, leaping into the air. Water escaped in all orders as the dragon made his transition from the water into the sky. Moments later, he landed outside the Chimera. His towering presence left a shadow across the ship. He lowered his neck and opened his mouth. Fish and water fell to the deck. He gulped down the fish still trapped by his teeth. He craned his neck upwards and exhaled a bolt of lightning, sending a beacon of crackling light in the sky. In a booming voice, the sound of thunder, he bellowed, “Breakfast is ready!”
Bounding out of the lower deck, Grizz roared in delight. He could not stop himself from the full run that he had started. The bear slid into the wet squirming pile of fish headfirst. He quickly grabbed one fish at a time and began his breakfast.
Torac turned his attention elsewhere. He launched himself back into the bright morning sky. He decided to survey the area around the lake. He was sure to have a challenge with another dragon, for he was outside his territory. The beacon of lightning was his challenge to any nearby dragon.
A voice projected into his mind, “Torac, I can not contact Kate. Is she alive? How far are you from Durith? Are they ready?”
Torac scanned the horizon, looking past the hills and the thick vegetation surrounding the lake. “Master Jerilith, it’s good to hear from you, old friend. I think they are, but Katalina is severely wounded. She is asleep at this moment recovering.”
Jerilith projected, “How? So you are still protecting her?”
Torac replied, “Chizzit dragged the Chimera into the Shadowed Veil. I am no match for a god of her caliber.”
“The fight was glorious. First, these bands of survivors eliminated Chizzit. We burned her body with holy fire, they created a sun in the Shadowed Veil!”
“Ohh? They are that powerful?”
“I am sure they have the power of demigods, not mere blooded. In a short few weeks, they have come to learn how to harness the grace locked away inside themselves. Katalina’s mental abilities to share minds allowed her to pass her knowledge along to the crew. Each demigod has specific abilities, a forger, a healer, a chronomancer, a leader, and even death. ”
“This may be the start of the end for the Pantheon of the Spire. Good, they must get to Durith and soon. The spire has already made its move against Dunkir. Voloth mobilized a vast army and led the charge himself. He has brought many of his children to handle the Blooded. They even managed to immobilize Gul The Watcher. Dunkir will fall short. Voloth will continue to move onto Durith.”
Torac changed directions, turning back to the Chimera. “I will get us moving as soon as we can. But, unfortunately, the Chimera took damage in the Shadowed Veil.”
“The ship survived the transition to the realm and back?”
Torac projected to Jerilith. “The knowledge of the crew combined practical know-how with grace. They created a full shield around the ship in preparations for other situations. The vessel is worthy of the gods themselves. They forged their path back by creating three suns in that dark, dangerous void. They are the hero’s this world needs. We will be there as soon as we can.”
“I am preparing the defenses the best I can. We will be as ready as we can to face the might of the Spire. Be safe.”
Shaitar walked on the deck of the ship. He watched the waves gently slosh up and down on the shore. He carried a hot cup of freshly brewed tea. A number of the crew were now gutting the fish to be cooked and stored. The smell of the slimy fish caused him to winch a bit, but the food was food, and his crew did not have to go hunting for food today. He adjusted his cobalt blue commander’s jacket, a relic of his past, whispering the words, “Never surrender. Find a way forward to win.”
Torac shifted his size down to that of a horse. He landed, gripping the side rail so he could bring his head around to where Shaitar stood. The ship rocked a bit with the impact of the landing dragon. “Master Jerilith has told me that Dunkir is under attack. It cannot be a coincidence that we were just there but a few days ago. Jerilith informed me the Spire would be heading to Durith. Next, they have found a way to counter Gul The Watcher and Lug the Keeper. We need to get to the Temple of Ascension in Durith before the Spire does.”
Shaitar finished his cup of tea, “I knew time was short.” Then, he shouted, “LANDIS, ROLLAND!”
Moments later, the two emerged from the lower decks, “Yes, captain?”
Shaitar crossed his arms, “Ship assessment.”
Landis mulled, “She will fly. The auxiliary runes held the sigils together. Damage to all major systems we enhanced with grace empowered runes. Unfortunately, the material can not handle the magic. The shield will be recharged in about an hour or so but may not last all that long. So we taxed the system keeping the shield running for the day we spent inside the Shadowed Veil.”
Rolland raised his hand, “The Dragon is damaged as well. I can fix some of it up, but I burned her when I charged the weapon, and I only fired her three times. Once again, the materials the weapon is made of can not contain the magic we are putting into them.”
Shaitar nodded, “It will have to do, fix what you can. We are leaving. We got to make it to Durith before the Spire does.”
Rolland and Landis split and started gathering up the crew. Some were still outside, others doing duties elsewhere.
Shaitar worked his way down to the women’s quarters in the serpent hull of the ship. Then, knocking, he heard Maverick’s voice, “Enter.”
Pushing the door open, he could see the god all wrapped up in bandages. Maverick is sitting in a chair, just holding her hand, half asleep. Shaitar gestured with his hand, “Come.”
Maverick released Katalina’s hand, and she tucked her hand back to her side on the bunk. He got up and followed, leaving the room and shutting the door behind him. “Captain?”
Shaitar put his hand on his shoulder, “I want you to go get some rest. We are going to Durith. Torac received some information that Dunkir is under attack by the Spire. Durith is. Next, we got to get to Durith before they do. I need you rested and in top shape. Katalina will sleep. She’s going to be alright. Reeva said she would heal.”
Maverick looked back at the door, “Yes, sir.”
Maverick pushed past Shaitar and headed to the dragon hull where the men’s quarters were located. He turned back to see Shaitar watching him as he ran deeper into the ship.