We left our heroes having just concluded a diplomatic crisis and an unexpected moving day at Vinyagarond. They finished up by tucking Daewen into bed, in the tent in the pantope, next to Tom. A few hours later, Tom woke to find Daewen dozing next to him with two guns, an empty box of chocolates, and an opened bottle of champagne.
Tom feels sure he'd remember a party like that. What has he slept through? Stepping outside the tent, he sees a large trestle table, several lesser tables, a lot of potted trees (from Daewen's arboteum), and much-trod carpeting. He is pleased to notice an absence of shrapnel and infers that someone recently opened the pantope and passed a large number of people through it.
He hears, in the middle distance, the homely sound of Dafnord sharpening Umbra, and soon locates the others. "Who drove?" he asks. "Me," Kate tells him, and they soon put Tom abreast of the situation. Tom now notes cart tracks and hoof prints on the carpeting, and admits it was nice of them to think to spare the pantope's deck. Emerald is a soft stone.
Tom decides that, since we're moving to Lanthil, it's time to put into action a plan of his own. He steps out onto Jumping Jacks ground shortly after the battle and places an order with Eldacur Technologies, by secure communications channel. He then fast-forwards three weeks to "now" -- that is, about as far into the future as we've yet got in this decade. He opens the pantope onto his Pericles apartment.
Which is devastated, as you may recall, by a bomb attack, done by Ms. Yanova back during the recent misunderstanding. Poking about with arcane senses and the Map of Here, the party soon determines that there was probably a door here, like unto Runyana's door from Vinyaraond-now to Lanthil-later. Probably this was Runyana's, too. Some retrocognition reveals that the bomb that blasted the apartment was delivered through a small dimensional gateway, a trick we knew Yanova could do.
Tom then goes down to the superintendent's office, to pick up the package from Eldacur Tech, which should have arrived by now. It has. But the super is both glad and anxious about seeing Tom. He's glad that Tom is all right, but anxious about the state of Tom's apartment. He hasn't been in, but the neighbors reported a loud noise and a lot of HEAT. The super says they almost had to have an inspector in, but he resisted, knowing how Tom values his privacy...
Tom thanks him, makes sure none of the neighbors was actually hurt, absolves him of all blame, apologizes for the fuss, and says his apartment is "being taken care of" (i.e., it will be put back right at the expense of the Rainbow people). He then collects his package and hustles out. He has to fend off the well-meant curiosity of his neighbor down the hall, apologizing for the way the heat made her paint peel.
The package contains a set of clocks. High-precision, partly magical clocks. Tom figures that, since time-travel is going to be a mainstay of Lanthil's power, the place really needs a good chronometric system, just for temporal navigation. He dials the pantope back to its very first incursion into Lanthil, very near the creation of the place after the battle with the Lilim, and starts the clocks. He then hides them down on the coast, where the castle is going to be. He'll present them to Daewen after she moves in.
There. That's that.
Daewen wakes and fills Tom in a little further. Tom recognizes the names Eldamanion and Lumatar as more strictly titles or epithets -- "elf-hill man" and "time lord." They are, she tells him, Lords Marshal of Faerie, who have held their offices for the whole 24-million-or-thereabouts years that Faerie has existed. Tom's very glad they didn't get as annoyed as they easily could have.
Tom also offers to help complete the move. He'll help with packing, gating, and lubricating Time where necessary. Katrina stays, too. The rest of the party head off for Elvencrown again, to confer once more with Attalais, the Elyssian ambassador.
We ride off in a pair of coaches, pulled by elfbred horses this time, not Marcher ponies, and arrive late in the day at the Inn of the Dancing Bear. It's been a couple of days since we were there last. We're greeted courteously and shown to our former rooms. The dragon is taken to special stabling, and there's a plinth for the gargoyle. We pass the night.
At breakfast, we are observed closely by three uniformed elves. Well, rather odd-looking for elves. Might they be some of the Queen's Own Goblins? No, but similar. We wonder if they're of the Unseelie party. Salimar stares back at them. Daphne suspects they are a lesser order of guard goblin, not Unseelie. Finally, she strikes up a chat with one: "Are you guys watching us?" "Well, you're the most unusual folk here," the fellow replies. "Oh? Are you watching us for the King and Queen?" "Well, we work for the Crown, sort of, but we aren't watching you for that reason." She invites them to travel with us as far as our paths lie together, thus getting us a free and semi-official escort.
We press on, with the goblins. Shortly after parting company with them, we re-locate the bed-and-breakfast run by the little old giant lady. We stop there for the day and send ahead to the Embassy, asking for permission to drop in. During dinner, Callais comes in. (He's a nephil and was our guide to the Embassy last time.) He remarks that we're back sooner than he expected. Puck and "his boy" were hear only two days ago. We can talk to Attalais late tomorrow morning; it's a busy time just now, due to all the diplomatic furor arising from Lanthil's founding, and the attendant mess with spies from Patala.
Next morning, Daphne gets impatient of waiting and flits on to the Embassy. There, she blithely zips by the guards at the gate, but is soon noticed by some winged watch-beasts. They seem to be griffinish things, about the size and disposition of Dobermans.
She hails them in friendly fashion, but they don't talk. She asks after the Gray Piper, and they look unhappy, so they may understand her. In any case, they don't seem disposed to let her out of the tree they've cornered her in.
Back at the inn, Callais comes for us and says that Attalais is going to be busier than they thought, but we can speak to an assistant named Thaddais. Okay. We set off, the gargoyle winging ahead to locate Daphne. He finds her and, after a little skirmishing, takes her place as the thing the griffins stare at suspiciously. He stares back. In a staring contest, bet on the guy made of rock.
Daphne meets with the rest of the party. We're ushered in and met by Thaddais, who looks as large and heroic as most Elyssians we've seen. An underling comes in to report the behavior of the griffins. Daphne offers to help get the gargoyle and griffins sorted out, and is sent off, escorted by a faun. She asks after the Gray Piper, and learns he's rather a V.I.P. among fauns; her guide couldn't get her an introduction.
After we sort out our livestock, Daphne returns to the diplomatic side of things. There, she's very useful in explaining the plight of the Destino nephilim to Thaddais, since she starts from much the same viewpoint as he, when it comes to things like planets ("big floating islands") and the history of the Destinos.
We need the Elyssians to tell us how to get the Destinos to the Plains of Penance, via the "Great Mountain" on Earth. Does Thaddais know? No. Do they have a library? Yes. Can we use it? We can ask the Ambassador. Who is busy.
We are sent back to the bed-and-breakfast, to wait.
©1984, 1994, 2005 Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.