Morning dawned as Reniko awoke, confusion in her mind off-setting the peace that surrounded her. Her dreams had been marred by visions that were not her own, incomplete flashes of memory with nothing but images attached to them. They just couldn’t help themselves, she sighed as she remembered the council meeting. I wonder what makes them think they have a right to bring memories to my mind for their pleasure. Because you can do a thing does not mean you should do it. Reniko shifted the covers off her form and noticed Rimca lying comfortably beside her. She reached out and touched her shoulder; Rimca stiffened under her touch and woke immediately.
“Reniko? Are you all right,” Rimca asked sitting upright as she spoke.
“I’m fine, just a little too sensitive.”
“It’s because of your connection with Orric,” Rimca stated with finality. A discussion I was not privy to? Rimca noticed the look on Reniko’s face and explained herself. “I talked with Queen Ulee and King Hibron after you collapsed.”
“Was violated,” Reniko corrected. Rimca glared at her.
“They don’t usually do such things without consent, which is almost always given, especially to our King and Queen.”
“Well you didn’t seem to think it important to ask me the first time either,” Reniko replied.
“I didn’t think you would have let me,” Rimca said downcast.
“Of course I wouldn’t have. No one should be allowed that privilege.”
“Don’t talk morality with me. You’re not from here. I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
Reniko placed her hand on Rimca’s shoulder and sighed, “I understand, but it doesn’t make it any more right in my eyes. It’s too intimate, not something that should be used lightly. Something reserved for close companions.”
“Ulee gave me permission to come with you to Tordaskar,” Rimca said.
Reniko was dressing by this point and didn’t comment until she had made her way to the door of the room, “I know.” Rimca stared after her retreating form in horror. She can’t have found out. Not like this.
Reniko found Malik out with Orric. He was packing the new provisions that Rimca’s family had given for their trip. When he saw Reniko he gave her a smile.
“Glad to see you awake,” Malik said.
“Were you and Rimca going to leave without me?” Reniko asked.
“Of course not. Orric said that you would be fine by the morning.”
Reniko nodded. “When do we leave?”
Malik looked at her puzzled. “Anxious to leave this place?”
“Truthfully? Yes. The Le’a’to seem nice, but their morals seemed to have slipped if they were ever there to begin with.”
“What happened at that council meeting, Lyss?”
“A serious invasion of my privacy.” Once was enough, a second round felt no better, damn Rimca.
“I’m sure it was not intentional.”
“I wish I could believe that it wasn’t, but… I find it hard to believe that these people would have so little self-control. Can we not talk about this? Let’s just go.”
“When Rimca gets here we will leave.”
“I’m here,” Rimca said as she came out the front door followed closely by her family.
“Your hospitality was greatly appreciated. If ever I can repay you…” Reniko said.
“I’m just glad that you harbour no ill will toward our species,” E’tane said.
Reniko’s eyes flashed with anger. “That remains to be decided, however, actions of a few cannot attribute the many.” Even if the few happen to be in power. “I harbour no ill will toward your family in any case. You’ve been nothing but kind to me in every way.”
“May your journey be safe. You always have a place to come back to here. You are welcome to come and go as you please in the domain of the Le’a’to. Queen Ulee sends her blessings, as well as her apologies. She meant you no ill will, Reniko, she was merely curious to know.” In the fastest way possible, Reniko suddenly realized.
“I’m sure…” Reniko was suddenly unable to think of something to say and instead turned away from the group and looked instead at Orric’s hulking frame.
“In time, I’m sure things will mend themselves,” Orric said to no one in particular. Reniko looked at him with a sigh. Why are things always so confusing? Malik and Rimca joined her on Orric’s back after their own farewells had been made and they left as abruptly as they had come.
A few hours into their journey, when no one had spoken, Reniko decided to speak. The mountains were looming into view and the city was far behind them when she had compiled her thoughts enough that she could speak.
“You know it was odd, when we were in Reflaydun and the hologram was scanning our brains I had strange dreams. I think I saw images from the cities archives, but when I woke, I couldn’t remember them. The same thing happened when the Le’a’to high council lost control. I had strange dreams of strange places that I couldn’t remember upon waking.”
“It sounds to me to be a residual side effect of your connection. Random information surfacing and being filtered out. Hopefully you never encounter those conditions again, but if it does, just use the same principle you exercise when you engage me. I’m sure that would filter out the feedback,” Orric said.
“You make me sound like some sort of computer with white noise,” Reniko said.
“I don’t know what either of those are,” Orric replied.
“Of course not,” Reniko said.
“Are you curious to remember what you saw?” Rimca asked.
“Sort of. But really, what would it do but create more confusion. It’s not like I would understand incomplete information from another person’s mind.”
“It’s an art, no mistake about that.”
“Something that I don’t have. I can only feedback from it.”
“I see your point.”
“You have to admit though, there is a connection,” Malik said suddenly, his mind seeing something that no one else in the group seemed to grasp.
“What do you mean?” Rimca and Orric both asked; Reniko remained silent.
“Well, if Reniko can tap into both Teoko engaging and Le’a’to sight, then doesn’t that make them similar processes?”
“Maybe not similar processes, but they at least have to function in the same part of the brain,” Reniko said.
“Even so, Orric and I can’t interact on any level,” Rimca said.
“Maybe all you need is a conduit. Something that will connect the two processes. Kind of like the corpus callosum connects both halves of the brain. You know I bet with the right materials we could figure out what centres in the brain cause these abilities, maybe even stimulate it in others. I mean Engaging could be quite useful as a communication tool,” Reniko rambled on while both Rimca and Malik stared at her dumbly.
“I think you must be talking Latin too much Reniko, I have no idea what you were just talking about,” Malik said.
“Well maybe not Latin, but might as well be to you, eh? Sorry, I got a little caught up in implications.”
“I thought you didn’t like the idea of Engaging?” Orric said.
“Well, it’s growing on me,” Reniko said sheepishly. “I’m allowed to change my mind aren’t I?”
“I think you’re right Reniko. Given time, it’s something to look into,” Orric said. He knew what I was talking about? Reniko thought surprised. Orric knows more than he lets on. I wonder what the Teoko know that the humans don’t. He knew about the Levanith being the goddess, what’s to say that he isn’t keeping other things from them as well. But to what end? Reniko puzzled over this for a while before speaking again.
“I’m no scientist. It was just a thought.”
“You have the great makings of one. Who knows what the future holds,” Orric said. I have a feeling you do, Orric. Orric glanced back at Reniko and grinned. I wonder if he heard that, Reniko couldn’t help but think.
A day and a half later, the group had reached the other side of the mountains where plains stretched in every direction as far as Reniko could see. They camped at the base of the mountains, using a large group of bushes to conceal themselves. As soon as they had landed, Malik and Rimca had decided to scout the area for the Rük. Reniko set up camp with Orric while they waited for them to return. As the sun was setting, Rimca and Malik returned, their faces grim.
“We have a serious problem,” Malik said as Reniko dished him a bowl of stew.
“Serious, as in we can deal with it serious, or serious in we have no chance?” Reniko asked as she helped herself to the meal.
“The Rük have amassed a huge army. When we checked over the rise, all I could see was Rük right to the edge of Ocean’s Wall. Tordaskar has to know they are there, but it doesn’t look like either side is doing anything. The Rük seem to be biding their time, but I don’t know what they are waiting for.” Malik said.
“Well, it’s not like they can breach Ocean’s Wall. They would have to suddenly sprout wings,” Rimca said.
“They must have some plan or they wouldn’t be waiting here,” Reniko added.
“Maybe they don’t want to cross over Ocean’s Wall,” Orric put in.
“Maybe they are waiting for something,” Rimca said looking at Reniko.
“How could they know? How could they get here so fast? You don’t really think that they are all here waiting for me?”
“Well we do know that Orborok has one of those devices that you have Reniko. What if he contacted the gray, Morgoth, here on Mo’an Delar?”
“Morgoth?” Reniko asked.
“He’s the ruling Rük of this continent,” Malik said.
“Well whatever happened, it doesn’t change our situation,” Reniko said.
“We fly at night,” Orric said.
“Will that be good enough? I mean, it’s another day and a half to get to Tordaskar. That’s a lot of Rük in between here and there, and the last part we won’t have the shadows to hide in, not to mention any place to land. Besides, the paralysis drug they have is deadly to you. One shot and –” Reniko stopped; she didn’t like this situation at all.
“We have to take the chance Reniko,” Malik said.
“Do we?” Reniko slammed her bowl down and stood up, pacing the length of the fire.
“What are you thinking?” Rimca cautioned.
“I’m thinking that if it’s me they’re after then maybe I should give them what they want. I can’t risk all of you getting hurt just because of me.”
“There is no way I am letting Orborok lay a hand on you ever again Reniko,” Malik said. “We are together in this, to the end, whatever that may be.”
“It’s not too late to go back to Corbasin,” Reniko said to Rimca.
“And hide behind those stone walls for the rest of my life?” Rimca said gesturing to the mountains. “I don’t think so.”
“Well, can we remain here until tomorrow night?” Reniko asked.
“I think our position will be over run before then. We go tonight or not at all,” Malik said.
“Then let us go,” Orric said.
“I have a feeling we are all going to regret this,” Reniko said.
“Orric, we have to move faster, daylight is coming,” Reniko whispered.
“I see Reniko, but I can’t, I’m so tired,” Orric said.
“Malik hand me my bow,” Rimca said.
“I don’t like where this is going,” Malik said as he tossed Rimca her bow and quiver. Rimca positioned herself at the back of Orric and took aim.
“I don’t think I’m going to be able to fight them all off,” Rimca shouted. Reniko glanced over the edge and looked at the ground below. A shout was going up and all the Rük in the surrounding area were waking to it, preparing to take down the intruders in the air. Reniko sighed and grabbed the bow that Rimca had brought for her. She was taking aim when a thought struck her, and instead of shooting her arrow, she released the tension and thrust the bow into Malik’s grasp.
“Good as time as any to learn how to use a bow,” Reniko said. “Hold the arrow like this, pull it taught, aim, and fire.” She instructed showing Malik the motions quickly.
“Reniko, you’re the better shot, why are you giving this to me. This isn’t really time for lessons.”
“I have an idea, and I’m really the only one that can do what needs to be done. Trust me Malik.”
Malik looked into Reniko’s eyes and smiled, “I do.” Taking the bow, he went to Rimca’s side and began defending their increasingly dangerous position.
“Orric, I don’t know if this is going to work or not, but I have to try,” Reniko said taking a deep breath. Remember Jekkah, remember the energy. She Engaged and focused. Please let it work this way. Orric who was confused by the sudden Engaging began quickly to understand as his tiredness fled him.
“Hold on everyone, this is going to get a little bumpy,” Orric said. Malik and Rimca barely had time to register Orric’s words before they had to abandon their defense and cling to Orric for their lives. Reniko sat, her arms clutching Orric’s back, her eyes closed, as Orric dogged and weaved through the missiles being thrown.
“We’re almost there, hold on, I’m going down,” Orric said. Reniko opened her eyes at the same time she heard a massive roar of water, almost deafening. Before her, she saw Ocean’s wall. It was incredible, breathtaking as the light shone on it. A river was boiling into the mirror that was now under her. She watched the water of East Eco mix with the waters of Ocean’s Wall and suddenly found the source of the deafening roar. A cliff face was rapidly approaching and the frothing water that surrounded the edge of this cliff was boiling over almost in an unbroken sheet. She felt her stomach lurch as Orric followed the water over the cliff and down. Suddenly, for a small instant, she felt a prickling at the back of her neck and involuntarily glanced backward and saw the silhouette of a single Rük standing at the edge of the water’s surface staring after them and he was gone swallowed up as Orric descended into the abyss.
Reniko looked behind as Orric flew watching the water breaking from an even sheet as it flowed down the cliff face, bumping against the uneven surface causing mist to spray up, rainbows forming as the sunlight hit the water. She watched it flow down until all she could she was black emptiness.
“Is everyone okay?” Malik asked.
Reniko nodded her head and glanced at Orric. “Are you going to be okay to get us to Tordaskar?” she asked.
“That energy boost you gave will get me there just fine. How are you feeling?” He replied.
“A little taxed, but otherwise fine,” Reniko replied and looked down into the bottomless void below. “How far down does that go?”
“Anyone who has had the misfortune of finding out has never returned to tell the tale,” Malik said.
Reniko looked back at the receding cliff face, the water falling down steadily. “The Levanith must have built that,” she said.
“What makes you think that?” Rimca asked.
“Well it had to be made, it’s not natural. The lip of the cliff is even as far as I can see. The water falls everywhere at the same time, I’ve never seen anything in nature that does that.”
“I think you may be right,” Malik said looking at the falling water as well, “I’ve never really taken the time to notice. It’s been so long.”
“Are you afraid, Malik?” Reniko asked.
Malik did not reply and Reniko didn’t press him. Instead, she looked forward toward the cliff face that approached them. “Did anyone else see that Rük at the edge of Ocean’s Wall?” she asked.
“There were a lot of Rük,” Rimca said.
“This one was different,” Reniko replied.