The Great Skype Hunt
Copyright © 2016
by Jandar Tyr
by Jandar Tyr
As the sound of Durlan's scream for help rung through the docking bay, Bhari dropped the message stone and yelled for the city guards. He ordered ships sent out immediately to search for Durlan. Mer men scattered and small crafts were launched out into the sea to search.
"Is there anything we can do to help?" Haymar asked his worried friend.
"Not unless you know a way to track Durlan and get him back safe." Bhari led them up into a small square carriage that carried them all up into the city. From there, he led them through the beautiful city and his own private little house on the palace ground.
Bhari's house was small but furnished very nice with elven furniture of shades of blue and green. It had a lounge and a dining area. It was just a place where he went when he wanted to be alone. As everyone sat down, Ranjer started to ask questions.
"What do you think happened?" He asked. "Who could have attacked him?"
"Not any of my people." Bhari said as he poured drinks. "Durlan is the crown prince, he rules in my fathers absence. Everyone respects him."
"Then who?" Mera asked.
"Aquilona has enemies." He said. "On land and in the sea. We are not the only Mer in the Shyr. There's the Sharkiods of the south and the Scaqi who live in the deep trenches to the west."
"I've never heard of the Scaqi." Ranjer frowned. "Who are they?"
"The Scaqi are a species of Mer that developed from cephalopods." Haymar explained. "They're dark and mysterious. Very deep in dark magic and torture. If they have Durlan, he's in real trouble."
The room was quiet and Bhari looked worried. Quynn wasn't sure what they could do, but he knew something had to be done. As a Dragon his protective instinct were urging him on. He had power so it was his duty to do something to save an ally of his clan, but what?
"How do we find him?" Quynn asked. "There has to be a way to track either him or the craft he was in."
"My warriors are out searching." Bhari assured them. "They will either find him or the craft. You're our guest. You just rest, if there's anything you can do, I'll come and get you."
Just then, there was a humming coming from Bhari's pocket. He reached in and took out his message stone and excused himself to answer it.
"He's scared." Mera said. "I can feel it coming from him. When Haymar described the Scaqi, his heartbeat doubled."
"I'm sure they do." Haymar said after draining his glass. "The Scaqi are ugly vicious things, both his people and mine tell stories about them. They're the boogeymen of the seas."
"How do we help them?" Quynn asked. "We have to help."
"By finding Durlan and bring him home."
Everyone turned as Queen Anemone walked into the room. Haymar jumped to his feet and went to greet his mother's closest friend. She hugged him then he walked her in to join the others. Queen Anemone was the complete image of the perfect mermaid. She had beautiful lite green hair decorated with shell and pearls and was dressed in a dressing coat of gossamer lace with and bodice and skirt of golden scales. Her lips were a lite shade of green and her eyes were soft and warm. But right now, they were wet with tears.
"Please." She cried. "I need your help to find Durlan and rescue him."
"Auntie Ane." Haymar took her hand. "Bhari doesn't want us to interfear. He said his warriors would find him."
"If the Scaqi have him, there's nothing Bhari can do." She said. "My son loves his brother and he is brave. I have no doubt he plans to go down into the Scaqian trench himself to search, but he is needed here. My husband is away on royal affairs, with Durlan missing, Bhari is the king. He must not be allowed to go there or Aquilona is lost. This is not the time for a war with the Scaqi."
"War?" Quynn said. "Its that serious?"
"I'm afraid so." Queen Anemone nodded. "The Scaqian trench is enchanted. If one of my people cross the border and enters the trench, they will know and attack."
"Wait." Ranjer stood up. "How long has he been missing?"
"Two day." She said. "He took the craft out two days ago."
"And how far away is the trench?"
"A days swim to the south." Haymar said." Why?"
"Because if what your saying is true, then Durlan can't be in the trench." Ranjer explained. "If he was, the Scaqi would already be attacking. I think we should look somewhere else."
"But that won't stop Bhari from going there to look for him." Quynn said. "And that would be bad. We would go search, but we can't breathe underwater."
"Yes you can." Queen Anemone said as she stood up. "I can help with that problem. I know a spell that will let you go search while I will keep Bhari busy here. But you must hurry, I can only distract him so long."
"We understand." Ranjer said as they all stood up. "We will bring him back."
"Follow me." Queen Anemone took them all back down to the docking bay and Haymar's ship. She led them all to the edge of the dock then stooped down and filled a small cup she had picked up with water and stood and faced them.
LUNGS TO GILLS.
AIR TO WATER.
TO FIND THE PRINCE.
BREATHE AIR AND WATER.
TO BRING HIM HOME.
MY TASK TO YOU.
TO MAKE HIM SAFE.
AND GET HIM THROUGH.
She dipped her hand into the water and sprinkled in each of their faces. Ranjer, Quynn and Mera felt a warm feeling spread all through their bodies and that was all. They weren't even sure the spell had worked.
"Now go." She said. "Bring him home safe."
"We will." Mera said. She went and hugged Anemone as Haymar, Ranjer and Quynn climbed back down into the ship. Once Mera joined them, Haymar secured the hatch and they were on their way.
From Aquilona they went out on the search. They first checked the mines and sea bottom fields where all the farming was being done. Then they headed further out and checked a set of caves Haymar remembered he and Durlan and played in when they were younger. The first two, Haymar explored and found they were empty. In the next one, he found three Munos warriors hiding out and called out to Ranjer and Quynn for help.
Unsure of exactly what was going to happen, Ranjer and Quynn stepped into the small air lock and set the controls to fill it with water. As the lock filled with water, Ranjer and Quynn felt a strange tingling all through their body. Ranjer looked down and watched as his feet widen and became flippers. Scales appeared all over his legs and as the water rose over their heads, gill slits formed in their neck. Ranjer exhaled and took his first deep breath of water and relaxed when he realized he could breathe.
[She did it.] He sent to Quynn as the lock opened to let them out. [I can breathe.]
[Then lets go see what Haymar found.]
Ranjer floated out of the lock and was shocked at how comfortable he felt in the water. As a Vampire, water was really not natural to him. He had swam before with Quynn, but deep water had never been his friend. Now here he was at the bottom of the ocean, some place he never expected to be.
Together, Ranjer and Quynn launched themselves out into the water and swam out to the ridge where the caves Haymar had been searching were found. As they swam up, they met Haymar hiding in the reefs. He waved at them frantically to get down before they were spotted and they lost the chance at surprise.
[I think this is it.] Haymar sent. [I found pieces of the little craft Durlan was in scattered beyond the ridge and Munos are in the cave here."
"Munos." Quynn frowned. [You mean follows of Munoecus? How can that be? Munoecus was killed by Maxius, he gave his life to defeat that monster."
[Yes.] Haynar sent. [But not all his Eelmen were destroyed. Some escaped and hid out in the deep trenches. The same trenches the Scaqi call home. The Munos are simple minded minions, it wouldn't be hard for a Scaqi lord to take control of them and use them against us.]
[Then you think Durlan is somewhere in the cave?] Quynn asked. [How can we be sure?]
[Easy.] Ranjer smiled. [Mera can scan the cave. She's better at it then either of us. Plus, we need to know whats in there before we go in. Mera, are you listening?]
[Yes Ranjer.] She answered. [Give me a minute and I'll have an answer for you.]
From her seat in Haymar's ship, Mera cast out with her mind. She saw the five Munos in the front of the cave tearing at the carcass of two dead tuna they had caught and dragged into the cave. The sight of them eating sicken her but sensing something deeper in the cave, she moved on. From the front chamber she moved further in. In the second chamber she found the rest of the shelium ship and two Scaqi studying what looked like a control console. Mera guessed they were trying to figure out how the ship worked and the secret of the shelium alloy it had been built from. At that point there was no doubt in her mind that Durlan had to be here somewhere.
As Mera slipped further back, she felt pain radiating out in waves like every few second. She strengthen her connection and deaden her pain receptors and moved further in. As she turned the corner, she found Durlan tied to a wall and a tall Scaqi lord standing behind him lashing out with his mind, beating him. Each mind strike was like a whip coming down and tearing into his back. Durlan flinched with each strike but refuse to cry out.
[Tell me.] It sent. [What is the secret of the dome? What is its power source?]
[Never!] Durlan screamed. [I will never tell you anything! Beat me all you want but I will never give you our secrets. I will die first!]
[You will die either way.] The Scaqi said as it struck again. [But first you will see your precious father chained up and sliced into pieces, then I will torture that sweet mother and defile your sister. And you will live to watch it will happen.]
[You should kill me now Zeliax L'ysos.] Durlan sneered. [Because I swear by Sazar's spear, I will kill you its the last thing I do!]
[Strong words from a helpless guppy.] Zeliax laughed and sent a searing blast at his mind. [I fear you will never leave this cavern alive. But I will give you a chance to change your mind. When I return, I want answers or your fate will be sealed.]
As Zeliax left the chamber, Mera reached out and touched Durlan's mind.
[Prince Durlan.] She sent. [Your mother sent me and my friends here to save you, if we get you free, can you swim?]
[Huh?] His head raided up and he turned to see who was talking. [My name is Mera Serban. I'm here with Haymar Dree, Ranjer and Quynn Tyr. We're here to help you. Can you swim?]
[Yes.] He sent. [I'm weak, but I can swim. Where are you?]
[Haymar and the others are right outside of the cave.] As she reached in and strained to touched the lock on the chains that held him. Durlan felt the lock check open and he shook one hand free. [You're to weak to fight. Stay there until one of us comes to escort you out,]
[Hurry, he won't be gone long.]
Drawing back, Mera pulled back until she was back outside of the cave with Haymar, Quynn and Ranjer.
[I found him.] She sent. [He's free but very weak and in pain. Your going to have to go in and bring him out.]
[How?] Quynn asked.
[One of you will have to slip in and get him.] Mera said frustrated, [I found him and got him free. You think of some way to get in there. I can't do everything. And hurry, that monster won't stay away long.]
Ranjer racked his brain for an answer. He could try slipping in as a mist, but he wasn't sure if or how that would work underwater. There had to be a way. Something some how. Could Quynn do it? No, his dragon form was to big and this had to be done quietly. Ranjer looked around them trying to find an answer, but there was nothing there but rocks, the reefs, shells and that purple striped seaweed. Then a memory hit him. Purple striped seaweed, Arrowroot!! Ranjer quickly reached down and grabbed the arrowroot and stuffed it in his mouth and started to chew. Quynn and Haymar stared at him like he had completely lost his mind.
[Ewwww! Ranjer!] Quynn sent. [What are you doing?]
[Going to get Durlan.] He grabbed more of of the weed and stuffed it in his pocket as he started to fade away out of sight. [Get back to the ship. I don't know how long this is going to last. Be ready to go fast.]
As Ranjer completely disappeared, Quynn and Haymar nodded guessing what Ranjer's plan was and took off swimming back towards the ship.
Swimming carefully, Ranjer swam in and passed the hungry Munos. One looked up and almost brushed against him but he kept moving on through the chambers. He passed three Scaqi in the next chamber and went in to the chamber where Durlan was waiting. As he approached him, he called his name softly.
[Prince Durlan.] He whispered. [I'm Ranjer Tyr. I'm here to take you home.]
[What?] Durlan jumped. [Where are you?]
[Right here.] Ranjer held out the visible arrowroot to Durlan. [Take this and chew it, It'll make you invisible.]
Durlan took the weed and put it in his mouth and started to chew on it. Seconds later it started to take affect and he became completely invisible.
[This is amazing!] He sent.
[We should hurry.] Ranjer said. [I don't know how long it will last.]
With Durlan at his side, Ranjer guided him out of the chamber and into the next where the three Scaqi were busy going over the remnants or Durlans ship. As the were about to past, Durlan stopped.
[Are you armed?] He asked Ranjer.
[Yes.] He answered. [Why?]
[Give me your sword.]
Ranjer looked over at the Scaqi, then handed Durlan his weapon. He had seen the marks on Durlan's back and didn't need anymore answers. Quietly Durlan floated up behind Zeliax L'ysos and raised the sword then slammed it down through his skull. Zeliax didn't have time to utter a sound or send a thought before he died. Quickly, Durlan yanked the sword free and stabbed the next Scaqi to death.
[This is going to be your only warning.] He said to the last Scaqi. [Trespass on Aquilona, or threatened any more of our people, and we will slip down into your waters and kill every last Scaqi we find and you will never see us coming. Now you and your Munos slaves get out of our waters!!!]
Like a frightened squid, the Scaqi took off out of the cavern. He gathered the Munos and in minutes they were gone and swimming back to Scaqi water. Ranjer and Durlan spit out the arrowroot and watched as they hurried away.
Thirty minutes later, Haymar steered his ship back into the docking bay in Aquilona. Bhari was there on the docks waiting for them. As Haymar exited his ship, Bhari stomped over to confront.
"You went out to search didn't you." He fumed. "Didn't I tell you how dangerous it was, You could have been killed and for what. You found nothing!!'
"Are you calling me nothing little brother?" Durlan said as he climbed out of the ship.
"You? How?" Bhari ran and grabbed his brother in a hug and buried his face in his chest and cried in relief. "Thank Rimnar your safe. We were so worried."
"Thank our friends here." Durlan said with a smile. "Not only did they save me, they showed me something that will help protect Aquilona, How can we ever hope to re pay you great deeds."
"I know how to pay them back." Bhari shook hands with Ranjer and Quynn and kissed Mera's cheek. "You will have the tooth you came here for and something else."
"We can't ask for anything else." Ranjer said. "We're just glad we could help."
"Nonsense." Bhari said. "I know Quynn likes Haymar's little ship. We will be building one just for you and sending it to the shipyard at New Keanna. This is so you can visit us anytime you want."
"Thank you!" Quynn jumped up and hugged the two brothers. "We'll be back after this is over for a longer visit."
"Now what next?" Ranjer asked as he pulled out the list. "We have the ash of the little queen and we have the tooth from the Mer royal. Where do we go next?"
"Elan said we should be about to find the web in Silvermoon." Mera said. "But that's all the way over to the west."
"What about the scale?" Ranjer asked. "Where can we find a scale from a snake that talks."
"A snake that talks?" Mera moaned. "I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier!"
[What?] Quynn asked.
"A snake with legs." She smiled. "You don't get it? A Savonti!!"
"By Rimnar!" Ranjer smiled. "You're right. One of their scales would be perfect and we shouldn't have to fight to get it."
[Bravosa it is.] Quynn did and flip and turned south to the Saprein ocean and the Andrake academy of magic. The trip took about two and a half hours and it was very nice. The sun was high and warm and the ocean sent cool breezes to cool Quynn's belly. They talked of the adventures they had so far and what might come next. It wasn't long before the shores of Bravosa were in sight and Quynn turned a little west for the island where the school had been moved to. As they circled the island, Quynn felt a familiar mind touch his.
[Is that my favorite Dragonwolf I see circling the Academy?]
[Uncle Insa!!] Quynn roar a greeting. [Permission to land sir.]
[Granted Quynn.] Insa sent. [It's good to see you.]
As Quynn dropped down into the courtyard, Professor Insa, head master of the academy and Zark, the weapons master stood there waiting for them. Ranjer and Mera jumped down from his back and Quynn shifted then ran to greet the professor with a hug.
"Aiya uncle." Ranjer waved and smiled then shook hands with Zark. "It's good to be here at last."
"You could have come here for school any time you wanted." Insa reminded him. "It was your choice to stay in New Keanna. All three of you. And don't think Shayn isn't keeping me advised on your progress. I know all about your day dreaming."
"Yes Uncle." Ranjer looked down. "I know."
"Tell me, why are you here?"
Ranjer told him about what had happened to Master Jeikor and their mission to save him. They told him about Maron's Hollow and Aquilona all they had done. Then Ranjer told him this had all been his fault for not paying attention in class.
Insa took Ranjer and walked him over to a bench and they sat down. "Tell me, what's bothering you?"
"I don't think I should be in school." Ranjer said. "Nothing is getting through this thick head of mine. Maybe I'm just stupid."
"Ranjer." Insa lifted his head to look into his eyes. "You are not stupid. You are one of the smartest young men that I know and this mission proves it."
"What do you mean?" Ranjer asked.
"Who's idea was the Arrowroot?"
"Mine." He answered.
"And who figured out how to defeat the Hobgoblins?"
"I guess I did."
"How did you know the queen had to finish her spell by midnight, or that arrowroot would make you invisible?"
"I learned about Hobgoblins from Cutter." He said "And Master Jeikor taught us about arrowroot,"
"Then I guess you were listening weren't you?" Insa smiled. "Not so dumb after all.
Ranjer looked up at Insa with a huge smile then he hugged the old smoke dragon. He was right.
"So I'm guessing one of the ingredient is what brought you here." Insa asked once they joined the others.
"Yes." Mera said. "We need the scale of a snake that talks."
"I see." Insa frowned. "And what does that say to you?"
"It says Savonti." Mera smiled. "And I know just the lord we need."
"Who?" Quynn asked.
"Lord Yaru." She said. "Unlike the other Savonti. He has more of a snake like body."
"Yes he does." Insa said. "How long can you stay?"
"Not long." Ranjer told him. "The longer we take, the less hope we have to save Master Jeikor."
"Then Zark will go and fetch a shedding from Lord Yaru while you, young lady will go see your brothers and sister." Insa ordered. "They will never forgive you if you leave without seeing them. Tored and Luke should be in fencing right now and Nysa will be in the infirmary. I'll call them and have them meet you there."
"And you two." Insa turned to Quynn and Ranjer. "You should get something to eat. I'll send a try for you, Mera to the infirmary. You can be on your way in an hour.
"Oh Uncle Insa." Quynn stopped him. "Do you know what a Skype is?
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