I have stared into the icy end of the world. I was not frightened by the bleak emptiness…what pained me most was that you were not there to meet me. I expected as much, but hoped for more. Your face was not the first I saw when the black had vanished, and still I live. A new face was there to meet me, and I was not alone. Our time will come, Old One.
As I suspected, not all was well in preparing for the iron ship to embark. The Dockers, which I think you would have liked, stirred up more trouble than I expected. Their leader, Thames Grimsley, proved himself in the hour of attrition, however. He is a gruff human, but he displayed his character and honor during a small Docker uprising. I am not upset that I gave my word to send a message to the Governor for him- I do not think he is a violent man at heart, but he is not afraid of using it to achieve his goal of easing suffering and uniting his people.
Once all was at relative peace once more, your king and his retinue arrived. His litter-mate was with a fey-blood handmaiden; the king with his trusted advisor. And we were soon to join them aboard the colossal ship for a “party.” I cannot understand why your people enjoy these functions so- it is frivolous small talk and the various hoops of societal niceties. It is not to my taste…perhaps that was why you were so far from home?
The others with me took well to the environs, however. Caine navigated through the crowds with a high degree of success, maneuvering in the linguistic channels of the “upper echelon” far better than I could ever hope. Lysander met with his technology-enthused friend, who seemed more enthusiastic with the liquor. Vinoshae and Talmadge attended to the king’s litter-mate and toured the gullet of the monster ship. I imagine you and I would have sat quietly and simply observed…that is nearly all I did, for I am still apprehensive of these gatherings, where I am clearly out of sorts.
I got a chance to speak to the Governor, but I am not convinced that he will actually pay heed to the message I was to deliver from Grimsley. He seemed more focused on the ends and not the suffering endured to get there…even more because he had not worked himself and experienced the hardships of his people. I wonder if he ever ran from his enemies, carrying on his back the people who made his life what it is today. I will give the man some time, but I warned him that I would be watching him. I will not back down on my word.
Lysander helped my thick Beran tongue with the intricacies of your native language in preparation of the national anthem. I thought I saw you in the crowd- cloak splendid and new, smiling with pride at your pack leader. Reality snapped back in when Talmadge came to alert us of even more trouble- the king’s litter-mate had fallen overboard. We did not see her flailing forms in the swath the iron beast cut through the waters. Even still, duty boiled the blood in all of us, and our “team” sprung into action. While Caine and Lysander pushed their way through the prideful crowds in an attempt to mitigate the situation, Talmadge and I navigated the cavernous insides of the ship and found that accident had transformed into treachery.
Vinoshae was holding back a pair of seeming assassins, showing the bravery and calm of her people in time of crisis. We were in time to provide the assistance needed to win the day and save her life, but this was all a diversion. It reminded me of the mocking calls we made whilst in captivity…I should have known better. Once you know all the cons, you would say, you can never fall for them. I suppose that lesson was never fully learned, as our attention was in the wrong place. The heart of the beast was being sabotaged, and should it have stopped in the manner these villains were attempting, I believe it would have been the end for a great many on a day of celebration at this gathering of peacocks.
The fey-blood handmaiden seemed behind the plot I learned, once I could feel the heat from the beating heart. They shoveled into the beast’s core the crystal fires representative of their hatred in a twisted sacrifice designed to have the beast consume all that was within and without. Their actions confused me…but I know that we all have our reasons and we all choose the path to our own end in our own way.
I imagine they did not expect the chosen of your pack-leader to stand in their way. It was their last mistake, but very nearly my own. A twisted birth of fury and flames would have torn the beast apart, and with it the people that you so cared about. I would not let that happen, and I was ready to trade my life for those of your people. I still owe you that much.
Alone I was, waiting for the cold chill to envelope me and any who would dare threaten that for which you and your child fought so diligently to protect. But I was not alone for long- the team to which I was assigned would approach the heart, and each would do their part to end the threat. As the whining cry of a dying beast flooded our heads, all were in their place and all would do their part. Lysander and his mentor would calm the nerves of the beast, Talmadge would bring the forces of the world to bear even inside a metal shell, Vinoshae brought the swift justice of her eternal people, and Caine showed once again that human ingenuity and timing could sway the tide of war, as I imagined he showed time and again on campaign.
But my efforts were not enough. I would fall to the chill, and my time would end. I had done all I could, and rested only knowing I would meet you again.
And yet…your face was not the first I saw when the black had vanished, and still I live. A new face was there to meet me, and I was not alone. The battle had been won, and Lysander once again pulled me from the brink, postponing our meeting in a far more substantial way this time. He reminds me of Jannor, in many ways. I know that means a lot to you, but I am not sure if he knows exactly what that entails. I see my debt to him, and at the very same time, I have a feeling that he would say that it is not a debt at all. He is so very like the child who pulled me, and would have pulled you, from the clutches of dark men under the banner of your homeland.
Despite the victory, I think we all lost something that night. I cannot be sure, but I think this team was more impacted than we realize. Caine, the loyal patriot who would give his all to save his homeland…his pride in its advances may have been as wounded as the ship because of this act of domestic terrorism. Talmadge would wonder if we truly did all work towards the same goal, and wonder if the stars that would speak in obfuscated enigma would provide the answers he so needed. Vinoshae would stare into the mirror of her people, and fight at once with and against a shade of what could have been. And the shape of a broken, vivid red orb would reflect the spirit of my only pack-mate thus far. The glow of the moon was captured in the tears of this man, and as his pain mixed with the ocean below, I stood with him, he with his orb and I my cloak…so different our memories, but so similar the emotions they evoked.
I spent some time away from the office to collect myself. We met with your pack-leader, and he makes promises that I fear he cannot deliver. I made him swear that he would do all he could- I hope that in doing so he will honor a death about which he did not even know. I am sure you would have wanted peace…and I intend to make your pack-leader deliver. I fear neither Governor nor King, for I know that their true power lies in those with whom they surround themselves. I hope that he can prove himself worthy of the respect that you had for him.
We are soon off to another mission, I suspect. I hope that we are all ready to face whatever is to come next. My thoughts were with my pack-mate, and I gave him some of the minerals and ores that the brigands that kept us had stolen from my people. It is a memory I give away with those metals, as you know I have very little of my homeland left to provide me comfort, but I think that Lysander will not be whole without fixing what is very dear to him. I think maybe that the skills you gave to me may help the repairs along- who knew that tinkering inside of an old lock during the midnight hours with you might actually prove useful in providing comfort to one in need.
My time grows short, as our furniture-attacking leader has need of us once more. I will write again provided my time does not come in the meantime.
I will meet with you again when the time is right and the all-encompassing blanket of chill covers the world at last.
Yours until the end, always true to the cycle-