Turning to talk to Hydra, I saw Dahlia sitting behind her.
"Hiding this morning?" I teased.
Dahlia smiled, "No, just admiring Hydra's lovely shield. How are all of you today?"
"Good, but Artemis says you have to keep your job." Lady Thalia grinned.
To my surprise Dahlia didn't reply, she merely frowned then with a shrug got up and went to the front of the room. I noticed that she had more reports than usual.
"Have there been more strange events in other cities?" I asked concerned. "Or of the old man you told us of?"
"What of word of Evidias?" Lady Thalia added.
Dahlia nodded. "Speaking of that odd bugger, he'd been spotted around Trinsic and Fire Island. We sent people to check out the area, but nothing yet...
"Hum so Trinsic might be the next city?" I wondered why that city seemed to be targeted so much of late.
Dahlia shook her head. "Not exactly...A merchant traveling through Vesper earlier today noted someone delivering a large crate. But he hadn't heard any gossip about it. It was a very large crate too."
"Governor Jahajx Jov will be glad to hear that." I said just as he walked into the room.
"Glad to hear what?" he asked moving to a spot close to her.
"Hail Governor Jov, Dahlia was just telling us news about your city." I explained.
"Trinsic is perfectly fine, perfectly..." Dahlia's voice dropped to a whisper, "For today."
When she shuffled her reports, I saw her put one about Trinsic on the bottom.
She cleared her throat, "Ahem, about Vesper."
I remembered she said something about a crate. "The large crate...large enough to hold what?"
Noticing Governor Jov looking at her intently, Dahlia paused.
"Well, large enough to hold a lot of things. He said it was the size of the whole back of the horse cart carrying it. But no one had any news of delivers, or shipments." Dahlia explained. "I believe the man, he's a well connected merchant from Yew."
I frowned, "Not good."
"Ya, Trojan horse scenario." Val added. "We open it up out pops hundred thousand orcs."
Dahlia sighed, "I'd actually hope you were right. That would be better than what we've been getting lately Val."
"A Pandora's Box?" Vixen Sonoma suggested?
Dahlia shrugged. "We won't know until we find it."
"Did your spies learn more about what was going on in Ocllo?" I asked. "Could that fake spy Thistle have something to do with this crate?"
"So far we've been unable to discover what that was about in Ocllo." Dahlia replied. "However she's been spotted several times, In Trinsic, Yew, and Serpent's Hold, posing as a beggar."
I wondered why I hadn't caught any rumors in the taverns. I listened as she told of a guard's encounter with her.
"One of the guards tried to drop a few coins in a tin cup, but when she asked what all the noise was about in the Barracks, he thought it suspicious and tried to arrest her. So she pushed him down the stairs and ran." Dahlia told us.
"So he knew right away something was odd about her." Dahlia paused, "Anyhow... I just came from Vesper and haven't been able to find hide nor hair of this giant crate. I figured I'd come gather a few more sets of eyes. That way we can fan out a bit and get through the city faster."
Picturing Vesper, I puzzled, "Where could you hid that something that big?"
Dahlia nodded at me in agreement. "Indeed, that's what bothered me. I should have been able to locate it rather quickly." Dahlia motioned for us to follow. "Make sure we stay in touch."
Arriving by the graveyard, we split up. I began my search by the bank working down to the docks. While others started in the towns outskirts west of the graveyard.
"Nothing around the Vesper Museum. " Dahlia shouted at me as she ran by.
Not soon after a town crier found me. "Sphinkter has found red monsters west of the graveyard.
I began running...slowing down when I approached the Counselor's Guild. Seeing no sign of trouble I hurried to the bridge. There I found Raven, Lady Thalia, Val and Dahlia.
"They are at the Ironwood Inn." Raven was telling them.
"There at the guard tower. " Lady Thalia added.
Dahlia started at Val, "Don't tell me it's Orcs."
"No," Raven shouted. "The Sunless!"
Following them, I arrived at the battle, indeed there were strange dark creatures. Trying to get a closer look, taught me how deadly they were.
Finding a healer, I hurried back to find Dahlia. She was looking at a large yellow stone.
"How did they manage to lug this huge this around. Without anyone even noticing they were doing it." She asked me pausing to fight off one of the Sunless. "Any ideas, Lady Tamais?"
I moved behind her for protection. "That is a good question...perhaps by keeping us distracted? It would have fit in a wagon." I watched Lady Raven walk up and touch the stone. Suddenly she was gone...then back.
"Touching the stone sends you to Felucca!" She laughed "I think."
"But with what... there are no drag lines in the dirt, no sign of horse shoes." Studying the ground, Dahlia pointed out. "It sends you to Felucca?" Looking at Raven, she touched the stone and disappeared. Looking at each other, several of us followed her example.
Dahlia looked around at the few shady people. " They must have brought it through Felucca, and gated into Trammel. That would make more sense."
"That was a good catch for sure, Raven." I told her.
Dahlia noticed the clock at the same time as I did. "What's this... a clock...?"
"I'd not touch that." I cautioned. "Interesting that the stone on this side is black instead of yellow." She nodded in agreement...disappearing again when she touched it.
Feeling uneasy, I quickly followed her. Back on the other side, I wondered allowed why King's Mages' wards hadn't warned us. No matter my healing spells were needed. Hurrying to the battle I tried to cast...to my surprise and distress, I found my self calmed. A quick check with other mages confirmed that something was preventing us from casting. I began looking for Dahlia. Finding her back at the inn, I told her about the calming.
She tried casting a spell but couldn't. Neither could she open a magical gate. "It's those creatures... No wonder the magic set down to detect unwanted Felucca gates, isn't working. Those creatures are stopping it...disrupting the magic set in place by the King's Mages." Hearing the sounds of battle begin to quiet, Dahlia looked around.
"Cut it down quickly, that's why we were unable to track it." Dahlia commanded. "We need to check out the other side, everyone touch the stone pillar."
Jahajx Jov looked around, " Interesting that they act as teleporters from Tram to Fel."
Dahlia nodded. "Not just teleporters, Jov. They seem to be linking the two places."
Seeing the clock hands were frozen, I had a feeling that was a good thing. "I do wonder what the clock is for. Counting time down for what?"
"I'm afraid the clock must be to activate these... or something else." Dahlia frowned. "But it seems like the hands are... stuck."
"So we're in a moment in time?" Lady Thalia asked.
Not answering, Dahlia reached for the clock.
"Don't mess with the clock." I advised. "Never a good idea."
"Hm, nothing happened, but the hands are moving." She rubbed her arm. "There was... a bit of cold but. Doesn't anyone see anything?"
We shook our heads no. "Only the clock and pillar." I told her.
"I see a clock and a darkstone." Lady Thalia agreed.
Dahlia turned back to the clock listening.
"No," replied Raven. I nodded in agreement.
"It's okay, we're returning to Trammel. This side seems... empty...
Dahlia: We should return then." Frowning Dahlia stopped, "Be careful when you go through to Trammel! It did do something, just... not in Felucca."
I arrived just in time to hear Raven shout, "Ambush!"
I healing by Lady Thalia, when she shouted to me. "Tamais...up on roof. Someone watching...."
Turning I saw a figure in flaming gold. Thinking at first the Fiery Lady had joined us, I moved closer. I found Thistle the fake spy instead."
She was watching the battle with a puzzled look...as if wondering where the creatures had come from. "We meet again." I bowed.
Startled she turned. "What, no, who are you?" Before I could answer, I was attacked, a Sunstruck had followed me.
I returned in time to her say, "How did they bring it through Trinsic... maybe the other side."
"From Trinsic?" I asked.
"Hey... don't eavesdrop!" She shouted, pushing me away to ran off again.
I chuckled ,"It's my job." and left to find Dahlia.
Dahlia was surrounded by battle weary spies. "Alright, I think it's a good idea to leave that clock alone...Like you all said. We'll just... quarantine the area and get some guards down here. Please, no one else touch that clock in Felucca. Couldn't help but fix the brother hand on it." she muttered.
"Tamais, who was up on the roof?" Lady Thalia asked.
Vixen Sonoma came over. "Who was on the roof with you governor?"
"That fake spy." I explained, "Now she is calling herself Thistle the golden.
Jahajx Jov nodded. "Someone by that name was over looking the battle...from the store house to the west"
Dahlia frowned. "She sure gets around. Do you think she did this too?"
I shook my head. "No, she seemed puzzled to find them. But she did mutter something about them bringing it through Trinsic."
Dahlia sighing, looked at the paperwork, putting it away for later. "We still don't..." Turning her head as if hearing something, she suddenly ducked behind Jov. "It wasn't me!?"
A movement caught my eye. Looking over I saw The Woman in White. I wondered if she was looking for who had fixed the broken clock. Seeing us, she promptly used the pillar and fled to Felucca. Hurrying after her, she disappeared through a gate.
"Don't touch the clock!" Dahila shouted behind me.
"I turned, "I wasn't going to...we were following a woman in white."
"A woman in white...white clock." Dahlia stared at the clock.
"Access point for an invasion." Jahajx Jov suggested. "It's almost like someone's own personal moongate network."
Dahlia looked over at him. "You came to the same conclusion I did, Governor Jov."
Governor Jov frowned. "Aye, if you have information regarding the safety of my citizens, I must insist you tell me what you know."
"If there's something to this report... Governor Jov." Dahlia replied. "You should see that the cities' Guards, and Paladin keep an eye out for more of these...." she pushed the paper aside again. "We'll speak of it...later."
Lady Thalia spoke up. "It could be setting up a network in all the cities for simultaneous entries...with perhaps the clock as the starting timer?
Dahlia nodded, "If you all would do me a favor, keep an eye on these in the coming weeks. They don't seem to be... activated..." she glanced at Governor Jov, "We'll speak of the Trinsic matter soon"
"Later, Govenor Jov." Dahlia seemed distraught. "Perhaps another time would be better."
"I ask only for the strength to defend my citizens." Governor Jahajx Jov seemed puzzled by her actions. He wasn't the only one.
"Later would be better, in private." Dahlia didn't meet his eyes. "If that is all, I have a meeting with the King."
"Evidias?" Thalia asked concerned there was no mention of her.
"Dahlia looked at Thalia and quickly disappeared into the shadows, muttering. "I'll be late for the King's meeting at the point..."
"Well that isn't good" I said
"Curious." Jahajx Jov added.
Lady Thalia frowned. "She avoided the whole Evidias topic."
I nodded. "I noticed...worrisome "
"I will need to speak to Lork Blackthorn." Governor Jov prepared to leave. "Something is amiss."
Puzzled by Dahlia's actions, I returned home. What made her reluctant to speak of Evidias and Trinisic. Deciding going to the taverns a waste...people weren't talking...I began to compose a ballad. I had a feeling I'd be needing a stirring one...one calling for heroes.
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"A merchant traveling through Vesper earlier today noted someone delivering a large crate." Dahlia told us. "But no one had any news of delivers,...