Not use to early meetings with Dahlia, I was thankful for the strange brew called coffee. No one knew where the plants had come from but the drink quickly had become popular for us night owls.
Dahlia on the other hand was wide awake. She quickly filled us in on the news from Paupa.
"Good Morning all. I hope you are well rested." she greeted us.
"Good my lady, " I replied.
"I guess you spy in the daylight too. " Lady Thalia smiled. "I'm well and you?"
"Good also, but the last few days with the King and Captain Corian have been interesting." Dahlia returned the smile.
"Oh?" News from Papau?" I asked.
"Well, the conclusion is that while the King fully believes us about the situation in Papua..." she paused shaking her head. "Neither he, nor the court mages, can see the blasted creatures."
"So why do we?" Lady Thalia asked.
"That is a good question, one I don't have an answer to. " Dahlia acknowledged. "We were exploring possibilities but none make sense."
"Perhaps because we saw the Weld Vision? " I suggested. "Hum, Evidias couldn't see them either...perhaps they are creatures from her dreams."
"Yes, she had mentioned maybe Marouk might know something." Lady Thalia added.
I glanced at Lady Thalia as she sighed at the mention of the Fiery lady. Then turned my attention back to what Dahlai was saying.
"Corian brought several guards, but there wasn't much they could do." she was saying.
"Wow, you would have thought they would want the guard there." I said surprised. "They aren't usually a distrustful lot."
"I agree Tamais. Normally they might have allowed it given the situation..." Dahlia explained." But as I've said, Papua's people have been behaving strangely."
"I wonder if they can't see them. " I mused.
"They cannot. "Dahlia confirmed. "Likely do to the effect of whatever is happening there."
Puzzled, Lady Thalia looked at me. I shrugged as puzzled as she was.
Dahlia nodded at Thalia, "As stated before, bitter rivals have found themselves working together... and then not remembering how or why they were. Some sort of...calming effect floods the whole town."
I thought the new ambassadors, "We should send both the new ambassadors there. I laughed. "They need to work together."
Dahlia smiled. "If only we could. They refused to go." She looked down at her notes. "It seems to be growing stronger by the day however. And... spreading."
"Spreading? Where to?" I asked worried.
"So just in the lost lands so far." I said.
"Yes," Dahlia affirmed. "But the weirdest report so far, is several creatures not attacking each other."
"We have any combat planned?" Flaps el Unicorn asked eagerly.
"I expect Marouk will need your help, Flaps." Dahlia told him. "He is currently on his way to Papua and we'll meet him there."
"Wow," Thalia exclaimed. "It is rare he leaves the Weld these days."
"Indeed," Dahlia agreed. "But, he said he needs more information."
Dahlia sighed, " I still have to have more words with the Ambassadors. They're both refusing to come to Papua and see if they can aid us."
Thalia held out a dagger jokingly.
"Tempting Lady Thalia," Dahlia laughed, "I doubt the King will allow that...yet. Anyhow, I'll send you all on your way." She lead us outside and opened a gate.
We arrived in the middle of Papua and found Marouk the Black studying one of the strange white creatures.
"We noticed that also." I told him. "And they don't seem to be aware of us."
Startled, Marouk the Black turned around. "Ah, I recognize most of you. He walked over to it trying to catch its attention. "You're correct, they do not."
Marouk the Black laughed, "It was amusing watching her fractically put it out."
Remembering other times she had started fires, I giggled. "Not the first time that has happened."
Smirking, Lady Thalia noted. "It is always amusing to see the Fiery Lady humbled. It has been some time since we met away from the Weld."
"It is my job to lead now...as Evidia's before." Marouk replied. "Little time for anything else."
"I know." Lady Thalia agreed. "Which why this is serious if you have left the protective area.
Marouk nodded. "Now to the matter at hand."
Not waiting for us, Markouk walked off. Hurrying after him, we found a small group of Hyptoniq Harbingers. After clearing them,I wondered if they were ones we missed before or a new invasion. I stayed close to Marouk as he drew a picture of the creatures.
"Is that one of those strange things you saw before?"
I nodded. Marouk looked at the creature again. "Not what I saw in the woods." he told me walking down the road. I followed close behind. Rounding a bend, I was attacked by a Tortured Spirit. Hearing my call, the rest rushed to help.
Again he began drawing and studying the creatures. Putting away his drawing, he stopped to listen. "Hm, does anyone else hear that crunching sound? It's coming from this way."
Walking with him, I thought to myself...crunching sounds, those are never good. Leaving the road to follow the sounds, we found ourselves in a small valley. It was filled with weird creatures that lost no time in trying to kill me.
Marouk watched with interest. "I think these are in the archives, just some drawings." he paused taking out his sketchpad. "There was some wording on it though...I'll have to look it up later."
Holding up his hands, I saw they were covered with paper cuts. "I've been working my way through our oldest texts."
He stopped writing. "Did it just...divide itself? That is interesting."
I began watching the creatures. Marouk was right. The creature, about to die, created a copy then tried to run off and heal. I saw Lady Thalia had also noticed.
"Any suggestions Marouk on how to stop it from dividing?" Lady Thalia called to Marouk.
"I'd suggest you stop it so it can't move." Marouk shouted.
Nodding, Thalia took out her spell book. "Paralyze them?"
Marouk nodded, "That will be helpful to remember. If you see those, try to paralyze them before they die." He wrote the information down.
Following Thalia's example I quickly found the paralyze spell and began casting. It worked and soon the Corpse Devourer were cleared. We paused to catch our breath, heal our wounded and ressurect our dead.
Seeing Marouk listening to something, I stayed close in case he wandered off again.
"Do you hear crunching and...flapping sounds?" Marouk looked around hopefully. Nodding, I snuck ahead. Rounding a corner, I found beautiful purple dragon creatures. I hurried back to the others. This time we were ready. The narrow road, flanked by trees, forced the creatures to attack singly, We easily defeated them.
We followed the road clearing the Wanderlust Souls as we went. Just before the City of the Dead we were once more attacked by Tortured Spirits. Unlike the ones we had encounted before, these were vicious and deadly. Even killing them one at a time was difficult and soon the skeletons and death robes build up.
Marouk joined me where I was healing. "I went ahead to the City of Dead. "he told me, "It is full of these creatures."
I sighed. The fight was not going well...trying to fight in the city...
"Any opinon on the matter?" Marouk asked us. "Deal with it ourselves? or leave it for the Royal guard.?"
"Fight in an opening and spread out." Restless suggested. Others nodded in agreement.
"Unless they have a leader we can kill...leave them. "Kanalit added.
"Wise advice." Marouk said thoughfully. No leader in sight...they are wandering almost aimlessly.
"That sounds like a good plan." I replied, the others agreeing.
"Good, once I have something concrete." he put away his sketchbook..stopping to pull out a note he found. "Oh, Time Without Dreams wanted me to inform you. Evidias's dreams are worse. But she is speaking to him about them now.
"Are we sure these aren't related to her dreams?" Thalia motioned to the dead creatures. "I've seen some of her dreams before."
Marouk shrugged holding up his palms. "I'd be more useful on the matter, but I remain out of the loop. I have enough on my hands with the Weld wondering why they can't can't travel all over Britannia yet. I am trying to temper their impatience, so they learn how to behave around the cities."
"I can see why they would wonder that." I said. "When I met with the King again, I can suggest it. Perhap if we let them enter the lands in small areas at first. So the citizens use to seeing them."
Marouk smiled, "Now that we have removed the curse...most refuse to take on human form, even though it would make the matter easier.
"Still even if the King doesn't have an issue, I fear they would misbehave. Marouk sighed. "the chore of being a rule...I don't know how Evidias manage.
He opened a gate. "I must begin my research." He stopped before entering. "I just remembered the King would like to speak with some of you. Something about Govroment? he shook his head, "The word is foreign to me."
"I'll pass the word." I assured him. "There were a few former Governors who wish to retain their governorships."
"I must study that later." Marouk nodded and went through the gate.
I also left to tell the others about the King's request. I only found Governor Garion.
We met with the King at Jhelom where he was reinstated as Governor.
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A Walk In The Wilds Of Papua
Dahlia had requested we meet with Marouk and help him with his research. Research...such a safe sounding activity. We quickly found out that...