Search for Dimlai
Week 2, Meeting her Ladyship
The search for Dimlai continues...
Ashleigh, Glorian, Kate, and Alag (still in djinn form) are still receiving the hospitality of the Her Ladyship Salindera (Dimlai's aunt.) A light dinner--every meal is a light meal in this climate--is served and small talk is exchanged between Her Ladyship and the Young Ladies until the dessert course. An expectant silence falls. Salindera and the Young Ladies smile at each other over the fresh fruit and dessert wine for an almost painful amount of time until Salindera clears her throat and returns to what seems to be an uncomfortable subject: the relationship between her, Dimlai, and Telmeric (the Black Mage).
She relates that Dimlai (whose name she pronounces "Dinlai") was fostered to her by her parents, a custom in this region of Hreme, when she was fourteen. This was unusual for two reasons: it was rather late in her life, she was in her twelfth year--near marriageable age, and she is considered a bit of an outsider by the rest of her family. This was offset by Dimlai's magical aptitude; fostering Dimlai to the most advanced sorceress in the family, who was also geographically isolated, unmarried, well-mannered and would provide strong oversight, satisfied every concern for developing her talent and strict chaperonage, allowing her family to politely ignore any other family issues present.
Dimlai studied the Pink and Green magics known by Salindera for about a year, and was competent, if uninspired. Salindera, realizing that Dimlai wasn't particularly interested in that path, contacted Telmeric, imposing upon their long friendship. Telmeric was quite flattered to find a student--a pretty, young female student at that--who found his discipline fascinating!
And there lay the seeds of the delicate matter: Telmeric being both male and the acknowledged master magician in her area of interest, Dimlai naturally developed quite a crush on Telmeric. Telmeric was to come more and more often to visit Salindera and Dimlai over the next several years.
(Kate bursts in at this point: "Ah! Was he thy lover, then?" Ashleigh discreetly kicks Kate's ankle, albeit too late, while Her Ladyship recovers from her sudden blush and makes a brief nod.)
Fortunately, as her studies intensified, Dimlai's feelings toward Telmeric developed into a more avuncular affection and professional respect. She began to realize that Dimlai's interests truly lay more with the magic than the man and, when Dimlai requested that she be allowed to travel to Telmeric's castle to advance her studies, she agreed to let Dimlai go.
This situation continued until Dimlai's seventeenth year, Her Ladyship fabricating the occasional half-truths to her parents, hiding any potential scandal, while Dimlai's talents grew. But then, about a month ago, came word that she was betrothed to Count Riotri of Marlin. Salindera, trying to keep the several guards and escorts occupied, quickly sent word to Telmeric to have Dimlai returned. Soon after that, the party left--Dimlai in a sprung carriage and several guards on horseback--the deception apparently still undiscovered.
Her Ladyship ends by saying that she believes that Dimlai is now well as the Countess of Marlin. She adds that she spent considerable time telling us the tale not only because we seemed to know some of it but also to not let the story slip in the future. (The apparent success of the deception explained Her Ladyship's astonishment that Ashleigh and Kate knew of the relationship between Dimlai and Telmeric.)
In response to a few discreet inquiries from Ashleigh, Salindera lets on that she is a little concerned, as there was some sort of rivalry or political problem between her family's lands (the Viscounty of Kelmerian) and those of Count Riotri. None of the details are known to Her Ladyship, having been isolated and otherwise ignored by the rest of her family for these several years. She does know that there is occasional conflict between Marlin and Kelmerian from time to time: Salindera's father was involved in one such conflict but was apparently disgraced, leading to her current state.
Her Ladyship also tells us that Dimlai has a younger brother, by about one year, of who she was quite fond, and drifts off momentarily into memories of the rest of the family. Ashleigh interrupts, politely offering Salindera a trip to the wedding.
(There is immediate consternation on the net--many of us believing that this is not a good thing to reveal. This leads to a brief discussion of when exactly we are, after Dafnord confuses Cantrel with the word `contemporaneous'. We are currently a few objective weeks after the Alag, Ashleigh, and Cantrel left Hreme for the first time and nearly an objective year before we arrived to seek out the Black Mage to build our Pantope.)
(In the meantime, ) Salindera considers the offer but turns it back upon Ashleigh asking after our interest in her. Ashleigh lies smoothly, claiming that it involves prophecies and foretellings and that we believe that we have been thanked for help for a reason--we believe so strongly that we need to seek out Dimlai and help her, even though we haven't yet been asked.
Her Ladyship falls for it, since it supports her concerns, and begins to think aloud on the various problems in leaving on an extended sojourn--mostly the problems with maintenance of the spells in and around her demense. The Young Ladies offer instead to investigate and report back to Her Ladyship if there is trouble. Salindera agrees and writes a letter of introduction to Kumner, one of the old, reliable servants who she believes is still there. Ashleigh, Glorian, and Kate thank her very graciously.
Baths and accommodations for the night are offered graciously, and equally graciously accepted by the Young Ladies. (Ashleigh finds a bottle in her room but it wasn't for Alag--he's given a Spartan room of his own.) Salindera also gives us a general map of the area to guide our way. The next morning, while preparing to leave, Ashleigh suggests that we bring a gift from Her Ladyship to the bride. She nods and says that she has a small spell of scrolls, which she could wind on a nice spindle to make an appropriate gift.
After a good breakfast, Salindera hands the group the letter of introduction and a hastily, but nicely packaged scroll. Thanks for the gracious hospitality, assurances of discretion, and fond farewells are given. As a bit of flourish, Alag rolls out the magic carpet--to Her Ladyship's delight and astonishment-- and the group travels away to the pickup point.
Back on Fast Times, details are exchanged and we reach a quick decision to drop back one objective month to track Dimlai's carriage in real time. Realizing that many of our artifacts are detectable as magic on this world, we first proceed over a stretch of ocean, where Alag uses the Hremish detection magic he knows on our various portals and doors.
Alag is able to determine that Pantope doors are strongly and distinctly detectable as a magical artifact. Omniport doors have a special `ookiness' [note this technical term; the quiz will be later] about them and a project a non-specific but strong presence. With this information, we decide to come upon the carriage discreetly and physically. We first try sending Alag through an Omniport door, invisible, to track the carriage.
Alag easily finds the sprung carriage, escorts, and a sufficient number of outriders. Alag notices immediately that the nearest outrider is clutching something beneath his robes and staring in his general direction. Clearly, he has detected at least Alag's arrival. A few evasive maneuvers later, the outriders actions seem to be one of caution and uncertainty--he doesn't seem to be tracking us but he may be that good! Alag tries the far-seer, which makes that outrider perk up again, but we can't be certain that he is not tracking Alag. With this uncertainty, Alag heads back for the rendezvous and we consider a more physical means of pursuit.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.