Torshael and Tayne's Story: A New God for a New Mission
Written in Collaboration with Dragonflight
There hadn't really been much unpacking going on the night before, as everyone was so tired, and no one really had much in the way of belongings. So, getting ready to go for Haiiro mostly consisted of splashing a little water on his face to make sure he was still awake, making sure his hair wasn't too horribly tangled, and hefting his pack in such a way that it didn't hurt his wings. Torshael took a little longer with a few minutes of intensive grooming, erasing what little sign was left of his own emotional turmoil earlier, so Haiiro, Tayne, and Tekasynos managed to steal a snack from the kitchen before he joined them and they all headed outside to join the rest. Jaliath had finished whatever his discussion with Ixin had been, and he was entirely happy to see Chi again.
::Why are you so enamored of the dragons here?:: Torshael asked as Haiiro crouched down to scratch Chi happily, for probably the fourth time now. The first time had been when he had caught him thinking again about the dragoness whose bond had died and her parting "words" to him; there had been at least twice at the Order headquarters in Cirni when he stopped to say hello to every dragon they passed, and now, here. His answer hadn't changed: he didn't really know, but he liked that he understood them-- and they understood him. Torshael, for once, needed no time to figure that one out. After all, after four repetitions, he ought to.
::I am sorry I don't talk that way,:: the supernal said, and he really did feel bad about their frustrating lack of silent communication. Haiiro send back understanding and a sense of improvement. Torshael was getting better, after all. He was rewarded for his efforts by his bond, still four-footed and largely shrunken down, leaning against his hip fondly.
"Everyone ready?" Tayne asked, apparently content enough to take the lead here. "How are we traveling? Teleport, I assume?"
"Good man!" Jaliath applauded-- faintly mockingly, Haiiro guessed. "I certainly won't be walking." Soul Catcher chuckled, though Tayne didn't look particularly amused at being made fun of. Oblivious, Jaliath threw a hand into the air dramatically. "To the ship!"
"Ship?" Torshael repeated blankly. But, before anyone could say anything more, whether to inquire further as to how one could get to a ship when deep underground and far from any ocean or river or to explain that very thing, he tossed something onto the stone ground and they were suddenly, with the sound like a bang, enveloped in thick, white smoke. Haiiro immediately fell to coughing-- unexpected mists and smokes did that to him; it was even worse when he was consciously testing his sense of smell-- and Torshael helpfully waved his wings around to try and clear it. A salty breeze did the rest, and as Haiiro recovered, Tayne let out a surprising little groan.
"High One, it had to be a boat...."
They were, apparently, on the floor of a ship of some sort; Haiiro didn't know anything about sea-faring ships, but he thought this one looked pretty big for a wind-propelled craft. Not only that, but that ship was out in the middle of the ocean. Not even Haiiro's sharpened vision, and he tested this, brought sight of land in any direction he looked. The crew was bustling about actively, and Haiiro felt a little lost in the middle of it all.
At least he wasn't looking vaguely ill, like Tayne was.
"Welcome to the Fallen Star," Jaliath said proudly. "It's a pity your visit will be so brief, but I suppose that's a good thing, considering that look," he added, with a look to Tayne.
As even Irithin moved surreptitiously out of his path, Tayne looked sour on top of ill. "I'm not that bad," he growled at the boy. "I can keep control of my stomach, thank you very much. Just won't feel like eating for a long, long time...."
"Just where are we going?" Torshael asked, looking around with interest. He was going to make the most of this rare trip on a ship, since it was necessary; Haiiro had never once been on one.
"We're already on heading," Jaliath answered. "It's really just a brief trip to one of the dream portals. We closed some of the easier ones to get to, since the haven is mostly unused now... but barring any chaotic acts of nature, we'll be there inside of an hour or two. As for where, exactly... you'll see," the man grinned. "In the mean time, make yourselves at home!"
And Jaliath promptly grabbed a rope and swung across the floor-- deck? didn't they call the floor of a ship the deck?-- to the big wheel at the other end, taking over for the sailor there.
"Make ourselves at home," Tayne grumbled. "Right. Where's the driest, darkest place on this pile? If I can't see the water, it's not quite so bad...."
And he moved off and disappeared below, obviously struggling to keep his balance on the moving deck, though at least he succeeded, even if it did require holding his wings out and throwing his tail around. Torshael was doing rather better, looking almost at ease as he paced around, investigating things curiously. Soul Catcher moved off on whatever business she had here, and Irithin hung on the rail eagerly, looking out over the water. Haiiro didn't want to try moving about, since he only had two legs instead of the steadier four, so he sat down on a nearby stair leading up to a slightly higher part of the deck and contemplated the myriad of ropes hanging everywhere. Chi settled next to him, which even gave him something to stroke absently.
Tekas, however, stood looking awkward, like he didn't know what to do with himself. "Sit down?" Haiiro suggested, scooting over on the step so there was room. "It's better than standing up and trying not to fall over, anyway, and it's out of the way."
The infernal glanced around, as if looking for anything else he should be doing, then shrugged and came over. " ... might as well." There wasn't much conversation between them, but that was all right.
After a few minutes, Irithin finally made his way below, whether to get out of the sun or to check on Tayne. Haiiro, with nothing else to do but watch Torshael nimbly avoid the crew while they deftly avoided him as he swarmed around the ship like an over-grown cat, dipped into their surface thoughts to do the latter, himself.
It seemed Tayne was all right, curled up on the bed of some below-decks passenger cabin with his head buried under a wing and a paw. He flipped his tail at the youth who poked his head in and sent, ::I'm fine, Irithin, just a little ill. Boats do that to me.... Thanks for checking, though.:: Haiiro felt bad for him: even his sending had a tinge of nausea to it.
Above-decks, they were hardly aboard an hour before Jaliath, looking up from checking his personal compass, shouted at the crew to trim up the sails and slow down. Confused, Haiiro looked around, but he didn't see anything even resembling land, no matter how far into the distance he peered. Was the entrance, the gate or whatever it was, underwater? Torshael apparently had similar ideas, for he leapt lightly down from the mast-support thing he'd been carefully balancing on, landing next to the wheel and Jaliath. "Are we almost there?" he asked, his voice drifting down the stairs to Haiiro, Chi, and Tekas.
Jaliath glanced up at the sun, said "Almost," then pointed out over the right side of the ship.
As if on cue-- or because they knew something was coming-- the bulk of the crew all paused in their tasks and grabbed hold of something. Haiiro took hold of the railing next to him, wary of what might be about to happen, and he was right to be. The ship rocked suddenly as the first of several small waves hit the right side. The sea out there looked like it was boiling for a moment, sending ripples that turned into waves and continued to rock the ship. Haiiro spared a thought to feel sorry for poor Tayne, but then he focused on the disturbance in the sea again as the water parted dramatically with the sound of a crashing surf, and something... rose... out of it.
It looked, at first, like some kind of island had sprouted where there had a moment ago been nothing. There was a building on it, a pristine structure of white and blue, with what looked like a garden spread out before it. Even at this distance, even with water rushing off the walls, it was an impressive looking building, like a small castle or palace, or a fancy resort in more advanced cities. But the island it was built on... looked strange. When it started moving, he realized why: it wasn't an "island" at all, but the dark, textured shell of a massive turtle. The creature it must have belonged to had to be a mile across, or more; Zu looked like a flea, compared to this.
Haiiro stood up to get a better view, as it drifted towards them and... stopped right next to them. Like it was waiting for them to do something.
Torshael, on the raised deck above them, was staring. "That's... what is that?"
"That," Jaliath said proudly, "is Zharr."
The giant turtle made a happy-sounding noise, echoing out of the water, pure and sweet. Haiiro wouldn't have imagined something like it-- him?-- making such a sound. He wished he could stick his head in the water and see what it sounded like below the surface.
"Zharr was created and designed by the Lunari to guard the Moon Gate, the oldest passage to Kynn's moons," Jaliath continued. "It's rarely used, even now, but we gave him more of a purpose when we added one of our own."
"Well, I'd say he's pretty effective," Torshael commented. "Is that building really built onto his back?"
"Yes, it is, surprisingly enough," came the answer, "The ancient Lunari made him one of a kind." Apparently Zharr was proud of that-- or else he was just happy in general-- for he made his pleased-sounding noises again. "Whenever you're ready," Jaliath said, "we'll head over."
"Let me just get Tayne up here," Torshael replied, looking dubiously at the deck, as if unsure whether it would reveal his brother, even when called. Haiiro was a little concerned, himself, actually.
Still, a moment later, the lion-formed supernal made his unsteady way up from the cabin he'd holed up in. "I hope to the High One wherever we're going is steady," he growled, mostly to himself.
Jaliath answered, anyway. "Unless Ishtar suddenly decided she prefers ocean to her blocks of ice, it will be."
"Good," Tayne said with feeling as he negotiated the stairs. Haiiro hurried to climb up ahead of him and get out of his way, giving Chi a scratch behind one ear before doing so. The little dragon fell in with Soul Catcher, who brought up the rear up the staircase, somehow alerted of their imminent departure. Well, really, it was probably obvious enough, given Zharr's presence and proximity.
As soon as the last of them set foot on the upper deck, Jaliath-- or someone-- teleported them across the brief expanse of water, to the entrance Zharr's little palace, or whatever it was.
"In we go," Torshael said brightly.
Tayne just looked glad that the ground no longer moved beneath his paws.