The Great Skype Hunt
Copyright © 2016
by Jandar Tyr
by Jandar Tyr
It was dark by the time they reached Maron's Hollow. Quynn set down to land outside the village and in the hills close by. After Ranjer scouted the area for Hobgoblins, they told Nym to stay and they started on the way down into the village.
The village of Maron's Hollow had been built in a square shape with a high wall around it. As Ranjer, Quynn and Mera approached, they noticed the village gates were open and there was no one on the wall or anywhere around on watch.
"Where are the guards?" Mera asked. "Shouldn't there be someone here on watch?"
"Yeah." Quynn said. "There should be. Should we go in?"
"We can do anything from out here." Ranjer said. "Mera, you have the best magic. Send in a probe."
Mera nodded and closed her eye and whispered a short spell. A small light sparked to life as she held out her hand and she sent it in to the village.
From the front gate, the probe went in and made a right. What once was a pretty little village with shops, a market place and homes and torn up. Windows were smashed, doors had been ripped open and the market place was in ruin. Almost every stall had been ripped apart and its wares were scattered everywhere.
"It looks like an Orc invasion." Mera said. "All the shops and stalls have been ruined."
"What about the houses?" Ranjer asked. "Do you see anybody?"
"No." She said. "Not yet. I'm heading into the housing area now."
From the blacksmith and stables, the probe headed straight out and pass the town hall. It was a small two story building with a sign that read Maron hall. All the windows were broken and curtains and linen hung out blowing in the wind. Straight on, Mera saw the first of a row of houses. The street was littered with trash and it looked like the door of the house had been broken down. Then suddenly something jumped out and grabbed her probe and everything went dark. Mera screamed.
"Something grabbed my probe!" She staggered back a few steps. "I saw them. Nasty little buggers. They're everywhere."
"What do we do?" Quynn asked.
"We have to get them out of town before midnight." Ranjer explained. "Or the village we be theirs permanently."
"What do you mean?" Mera asked.
"Hobgoblins are like ants." Ranjer said. "Once they burrow in, its almost impossible to get them out."
"What do we do?" Quynn asked.
"We let Mera handle this." Ranjer smiled. "How are you with illusions?"
Like insects, they where everywhere. All through the village tearing into everything. It started at night, a portal opened and they came scampering in. First they hit the market and ripped through the stalls like a vulture tearing through a day old carcass. Then they spread out into the homes and shops.
In the bakery, baker Colun was busy preparing the mornings bread and sweet buns when a strange noise behind him caught his attention. He wiped his hands and turned to see what it was. He thought maybe a mouse had gotten and and was trying to get into his flour again. At first he didn't see anything, then out of the corner of his eyes he saw something move. He ducked down to check the bags under the counter against the wall and something leaped out at him and cracked him in the head with a small club. High pitched giggling rang out as four small Hobgoblins dragged him out to the village square.
In the Atol's Retreat, Mila Popova was cleaning the table as her last guest had just finished eating when the door of her Inn suddenly flew open and a horde of Hobgoblins rushed in. She screamed and ran for the safety of the backrooms to try and hide. On the stairs, Agnar Elisson turned when he heard her scream. Unarmed he jumped from the stairs and grabbed a chair and started swinging. One after another he beat them back until he was over come by their sheer numbers and he went down and was dragged out of the Inn. Mila tried to hide but the Hobgoblins had a nose for the Human scent and found her in no time at all.
All over the village, in almost every house Hobgoblins attacked with their little clubs. They bashed their victims in the head and dragging them out to the village square where their queen sat waiting. Once all the Humans were gathered, the queen would use all her power to cast a spell that would turn them all into Hobgoblins to strengthen their numbers and make the village hers. All this had to be done by the thirteenth hour or she would turn to dust and the Hobgoblins would have to hatch another queen and start again. But that wouldn't end it. They would still have the village and the people. All they would need would be time for the new queen to mature enough to cast her spell and make Maron's Hollow forever theirs. That is unless Ranjer, Quynn and Mera could figure someway to get them out of the village.
In the village square, the crystal at the top of the time tower flared and glowed white to signal the midnight hour. Quynn stood watch over Mera as she sat and took a deep breath, then closed her eyes.
Ranjer quietly slipped into the village and hid himself in a place where he could watch the captives in the village square. From his hiding place, Ranjer watched as the Hobgoblin queen started her spell. She danced and leaped calling out something in some strange language that he didn't understand. Ranjer looked at the time tower and knew they had to act now before she was done and the village was lost.
As the queen danced, Ranjer concentrated and with his abilities, he called forth a vampire mist to spread out and cover the village square. It started as a gentle mist and as the seconds slipped by, it grew thicker and thicker until the square was thick with fog.
The Hobgoblins looked around confused, then they started hopping around the gathered villagers and the queen. Though the fog was frightening, the queen kept dancing. Her time was growing short. The thirteenth hour was getting closer and closer.
As Ranjer watched, a rumbling started coming out of the forest. The Hobgoblins stopped and turned to the gate chattering at each other in confusion. More Humans were coming, they got ready to attack. Then riding on their great avian trackers, a horde of reptilian Savonti warriors charged into the village blasting away with their staff weapons.
When the Hobgoblins saw the Savonti charging, they panicked and dropped their clubs and ran for it. Fighting their way through the streets they trampled the queen as they tried to get away. A Hobgoblin in the lead quickly conjured a portal and dived through leaving it open for the rest to follow just as the hour struck one, the thirteenth hour. Her time was up. The queen screamed as she burst into flames and burned down to a pile of ashes.
[That's it!] Ranjer sent to Mera and Quynn. [The ashes of a little queen, that's one of the ingredients.]
Quickly he ran over and brushed the ashes into the inside pocket of his coat, they buttoned it tightly closed.
With the Hobgoblins gone, Ranjer dissipated the fog as Mera opened her eyes and let her Savonti illusions fade away. Quynn helped her up as Ranjer went to the frightened villagers and held up his hands to show them he was unarmed and there to help them. Mera and Quynn came running in with Nym and they started to untie the villagers.
"Good idea using the Savonti." Ranjer said to Mera. "Scared them right out of the village. I didn't know your illusions were so good."
"You should see my brother's." She said as she helped one of the villagers up. "They're almost as strong as Cutter."
"You did it!!" Nym ran to his father and brother and hugged them. "Thank you so much!!"
"You're welcome." Ranjer shook hands with Nym's father. "Your village is clear of Hobgoblins. They're so scared they won't come back."
"Thank you for your help." He smiled. "How can we ever repay your bravery?"
"It's not necessary." Quynn said. "We're glad we could help. But we have to get going. One of our friends needs our help. Aiya."
They all waved as they left town. Once in the forest, Ranjer patted his pocket and smiled.
"I got the first ingredient." He said. "The ashes of a little queen."
Mera opened her bag and took put a small vial and gave it to Ranjer. "Put it in here and I'll keep it in my bag to keep it safe."
"That's one." Ranjer scooped the ashes from his pocket then corked the vial and passed it back to Mera. "We should get going. It's a long ride to Eventide."
By early the next morning, Ryel Eventide sat on horse back on the edge of Eventide waiting for Quynn to arrive. As he saw him fly in, Ryel sent out a greeting and a welcome to the children of his old friends. A few minutes later Quynn, Ranjer and Mera were on horses enjoying the ride back to the great elven tree city.
"So how's the holiday going so far?" Ryel asked as they rode up through the tree airway to the first level of the tree city. "I have a lot planned for the next two weeks. Its going to be fun."
"Sorry Ryel." Quynn said. "Our holiday is off. We're here on a mission."
"You sound serious." Ryel led them into a tree that was set up with lavishly carved furniture. There was a table set up with a breakfast for them. "What's the problem?"
"Somethings happened to Master Jeikor." Ranjer told him as they sat down. "We believe someone is trying to steal his soul."
"This is serious. How can I help you?"
"We were sent to find the ingredients for a potion that might help bring his soul back." Mera explained. "But we don't understand the clues. We thought you or one of your brothers or sisters might understand it."
"Of course." Ryel said. "If there's anything we can do, we want to help. What are the clues?"
Mera took out the parchment and gave it to him. Ryel took it and started to read. As he read, Aron Ryel's twin brother and his mate Elan Darkshade came in.
"Aron, Elan." Ryel waved them in. "I'm glad your here. Maybe you can help."
"What is it?" Aron asked after greeting everybody.
"Quynn and Ranjer need our help with a mission." He waved the parchment. "Have a look, maybe you can decipher some of the clues."
The two Elves came over and read from over Ryel's shoulder.
"Number three is easy." Aron said. "It's Aquilona. That shouldn't be a problem. Caldar is expecting us for a visit. One and two, I have no idea."
"I do." said Elan.
"You know where we can find a web from a cursed spider?" Mera asked.
"Yes." Elan nodded. "Silvermoon. When I was on my way back to Darkshade, I stopped to help the Satyrs my mother had attacked. Horrible things were done there by her warriors and Tyree cursed them by turning them into spider things. You should find their webs still there."
"And the spider?" Quynn asked.
"I'm not sure." He shrugged. "My mother's Imp kidnapped me so I don't know what happened. When I left, Braddoc and Pacius were fighting them. But I doubt Braddoc would have left Pacius alone with those things running around."
"The last two." Ryel sat back. "I have no idea. I'm sorry."
"That's ok." Ranjer smiled as he stood up to leave. "You've answered three, we can get the rest on our own."
"We're sorry we can't stay." Quynn said. "But we should hurry. Master Jeikor is counting on us."
"We understand." Elan said as they all hugged and shook hands. "Your mission is important. Its someone's soul after all. "Be careful and if you need help, you can send to us. We'll do whatever we can."
"And let me know how it goes." Ryel waved as they left. "Quel Fara!"
From Eventide, Quynn flew east over the Elven forest to the gleaming city of Dreesport on the shore of the Shyr. There they set down and made their way into Dreesport to meet Prince Haymar, youngest son of King Oyrm Dree. Dressed in sealskin trunks and a golden scale tunic, Haymar was a very handsome Coral elf with a bluish tan around the gill slits in his neck. He had black hair with a slight green tint, green eyes and pointed ears. He stood at the gate and waved as Ranjer, Quynn entered Dreesports. It had been months since the last time he had visited New Keanna and he was eager to show them as good a time as had on his visit.
He was just about to call out to them, when he saw Mera and his mouth went completely dry. All he could do for a few seconds was stare at her.
"Haymar?" Quynn waved his hand in front of his face. "Aiya, Haymar, wake up."
"Oh!" He blinked and blushed then hugged Ranjer and Quynn. "I'm sorry, Aiya! Welcome to Dreesport."
"Thanks." Ranjer said as he eyed Haymar who was still stared at Mera. "Haymar, this is Mera. Mera, I'd like you to meet Prince Haymar of Dree."
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Haymar bowed with a smile.
"It's nice to meet you too." Mera smiled back at the prince. "Dree is very lovely."
"It is." Haymar held out his arm for her to take, which she did. Haymar led her in through the gate and on toward the palace forgetting about Ranjer and Quynn.
"Now how about I get you all some swimwear and I show you the lagoon." Haymar suggested. "The waters warm and I can have lunch served. I hope you like seafood."
"That sounds like fun." Mera giggled blushing.
"We can't" Ranjer stepped in between them. "I'm sorry Haymar but we're here on a mission and we need your help."
"A mission?" He looked at Quynn and Ranjer then at Mera. "Dark Elves, Goblins, Orcs? What is it this time?"
"No." Quynn said. "Nothing like that. One of our Masters was attacked and we're trying to save him. Will you help?"
"That depends. How can I help?"
"We need to get something from Aquilona." Ranjer said. "Something very special."
"What do you need?" Haymar asked. "Maybe I can get it."
"We need the tooth of a royal." Mera explained. "A Mer royal."
"For that, your going to have to go ask the Dylani royal family."
"Wait a minute." Ranjer held up his hands. "Underwater? I thought maybe they would come to us."
"You want something from them." Haymer reminded him. "I could call Prince Bhari and ask, but that would be rude. If you want something from them, you have to go ask properly and show them some respect."
"I guess that would be fair." Quynn said. "But how do we get there?"
"I can take you in my ship." Haymar smiled. "Follow me."
Instead of the palace, Haymar led them down to the docks and to the last slip. Once there, he turned went down to a ladder and started down. Ranjer looked over the rim of the dock just as Haymar disappeared from sight.
"Where'd he go?" Quynn asked.
"No idea." Ranjer shrugged looking back. Then he heard a strange sound, almost like a deep growl. Ranjer stepped back as the dock started to vibrate and shake. Suddenly what looked like huge metal fish came sliding out from under the docks in the water, then turned back toward where they stood and stopped. Quynn was just about to shift and attack when something on top opened and Haymar's head popped up.
"Lady and gentlemen, this is my ship." Haymar called up to them. "This is Azrael's Dream. She can get you to Aquilona safely."
Mera stepped over to the edge of the dock and looked down on the ship. She had never seen anything like it before. She had seen ships before but nothing like this. It had no sails and it was metal instead of wood. She had no idea how it could possibly float. Metal isn't suppose to float unless its some kind of magic that she hadn't heard about, which was possible. But Haymar seemed to know what he was doing, and since it was his ship, he should know how the magic works. She hoped so, he was very handsome and she liked him, She hoped the others did too.
"This ship is amazing!" Quynn couldn't wait to get in and go. He had heard about Dree's ships from Haymar and his father Jandar when Haymar had visited New Keanna. Now was his chance to get to ride in one. He ran to the ladder and started climbing down.
"Wait!" Ranjer said. "That's not a ship. I don't know what that thing is!"
"Relax Ranjer." Quynn said eagerly. "Father told me about Dree's science. Its a different kind of natural magic. He said it was perfectly safe."
"You're sure about this?"
"Yes." Quynn said as he started down the ladder. "Unless you want to swim there yourself."
Reluctant, Ranjer helped Mera down the ladder then climbed down himself and followed Mera and Quynn onto the strange ship.
The inside of Haymar's ship was very small and kinda cold. There was four seats with straps to fasten one down in place and many levers and knobs with little lights by the main pilots seat. Haymar told them to have a seat and to strap in while he went and closed the strange round door they had entered though. Then he took his place in the pilots seat and pulled a lever at his side and the ship started to hum and move forward
In front of Haymar there was a big window, Quynn watched excited as they sped out into the bay at a speed almost as fast as Nautica, then dived down beneath the waves. Quynn smiled then looked back at Ranjer who looked absolutely petrified. He was as white as a sheet clutching the sides of his seat. Mera, who sat beside Haymar, seemed to be having the time of her life chatting and flirting with him.
Ranjer had better watch out or he would lose his favorite girl.
As the cabin warmed up, Quynn looked out at what Haymar called the main port and watched scenes of the amazing sea life deep in the ocean. He saw all types of beautiful colored fish flashing as they swam through the dark waters. Coral of amazing heights and color that housed many different things. As he watched, a small group of Mer children, two male and two females swam by playing with two blue dolphins. The two males were about seven or eight feet long with human parts from the waist up and scaly legs with fins and flippers on the lower half . One had shining iridescent blue legs and the other was more green but just as shiny. The two females had much brighter colors like a rainbow but instead of legs, they had fish tails. Quynn was exactly sure what their color was, but it was beautiful. As the ship passed, the four Mers chased after it and waved to Haymer.
Diving deeper, Quynn spotted the domed city of Aquilona far off in the distance. Its dome glowed with a golden hue, it looked like a golden half pearl on the sea floor. Quynn and Ranjer unbuckled themselves from their seat and came closer to the port to look at at.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Haymar said. "It almost fell during the war with Tayor Larin and the Darkshades. If your father hadn't brought the crown of Kearn to power the dome, Aquilona would have fallen."
"Yes." Quynn smiled. "I heard the story from Cutter. My fathers don't really like to talk about things like that, but Cutter teaches us about their old missions and the wars. I always wanted to visit Aquilona and Dree to see it for myself."
"Well." Haymar said as he worked to bring them down and around to an entry port. "Here's your chance."
Outside of the dome, the Aquilonians had all their undersea farming. They saw rows and rows of different sea vegetation being tended to. There was also a great deal of mining going on. They saw caves with a strange type on tracks running in with mining carts. Quynn was impressed.
As Haymar slowed the ship, he steered in to a round port and gently let the two ports kiss to connect.
He pushed two more buttons and there was a click and a subtle hiss as the air in the ship and the dome equalized.
"We're here." Haymar stood up and held out his hand to help Mera up. "Lets go see what we can do about that mission of yours."
Stepping to the back of the ship, Haymar reached up and turned the hatch wheel and opened the hatch. He grabbed the ladder and started up with Mera right behind him. Once inside the city, they waited while Ranjer and Quynn climbed up. They found themselves in a chamber that was round with one metal door. As Haymar turned and started toward the door, it slide open and a young man about the same age as Haymar came in to greet them. He was tall with short green hair and soft eyes. On his chest he wore a harness with straps shaped like a sun with beams that wrapped around his body. On his lower parts, he wore a gold and green kilt with a small triton emblem on it.
With a worried look, he hurried in to greet the visitors.
"Aiya Haymar." He shook his hand. "What brings you here, and with strangers."
"Bhari, these aren't strangers." Haymar said. "These are the children of our saviors. This is Quynn Tyr, the son of Jandar and Rage, and Ranjer here is Jandar's brother."
Bhari smiled and shook hands with Quynn to welcome him to Aquilona then reached out to Ranjer and stopped.
"Ranjer? I know you!" He said as he reached out and grabbed him in a hug. "We use to swim and catch fish in a lake in Tir Na the summer of the war. You use to call me Berry."
"I do remember you." Ranjer said. "You came with your mother and your brother and sister. Tof had me show you around all summer. We had a lot of fun, I wondered what had happened and where you had gone, but no one ever told me. It's good to see you again. Bhari, this is Mera."
"Pleased to meet you." He said with a smile and a nod. "Tell me, what brings you all down beneath the Shyr to our city?"
"One of our teachers is very sick." Mera explained. "We can help him but need your help to do."
"I'm not sure how I can help." Bhari said as the left the ships docking bay and entered Aquilona's ship yard. "But I'll try and do what I can."
Aquilona's shipping bay was crowded with many different ships, all underwater ships of different sizes. Quynn and Ranjer stared amazed at the splendor all around them. The shipping bay was built mostly from some strange transparent substances that was as clear as glass but hard as steel. Bhari called it shelium, he said it was made from a liquid milked from giant clams and strengthened by their chemist.
"They must have some really strange clams here." Quynn whispered to Ranjer. "The stuff is everywhere."
And he was right. The entire shipping yard had been made of shelium from the walkways to the nearly invisible docks that housed each ship big and small. Bhari explained the many uses they had found for the compound and how they were experimenting with in on small ships.
"As a matter of fact." He said. "My older brother Durlan is out right now on a test run with our first little craft. I wonder what's taking so long. He was only supposed to be gone an hour."
"How long has it been?" Haymar asked.
"Two and a half hours?" Bhari looked at the time piece. "I think it's time I check on him."
Bhari reached into his pocket and pulled out a message stone. He closed it in his hand and concentrated on his brother, then opened his hand. An image flashed to life. It was Durlan and he was fighting someone.
Then he was gone and the stone was quiet.
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