Junjokitsumi (Junjo)

The young woman had found herself in harsh environs.  How she came there, where she originated from, even what she was, all a mystery to her.  If someone were to scan her body mind and or soul, they would discover just one thing about her.  She was perfect.  She was beautiful but not supermodel beautiful.  She was turn your head, drop jaw amazement, you felt better about yourself just by her being there beautiful.  Everything she did was beautiful; The way she breathed in the world around her; The way she walked on bare feet, naked as the day she was born, just a little awkwardly as if she had never walked before, yet kept her balance with a natural grace; the way she investigated every cactus flower, lizard and bug she passed; and the way she smiled when she studied the most common of things, such as the way the sand rippled across the desert floor and dunes.  Where was she?  In Hassim, deep in its arid wilderness, but not far from one of the Twinstar's small caravans, led by Yorek.  They had received reports from Wyrvaust Aalamea of AoM recruiters in the area and were looking for them along the border between Amet Morgu, aka Kingdom of Fire, and Hassim.  It was a beautiful night, one might even say it felt like magic were in the air.  The sky was a deep twilight blue which the stars hung in like holes in a curtail of blue black shrouding a field of divinely brilliant light.  The air was an ideal blend of cool and warm.  The first moon had just risen and lit up the dunes to throw dark shadows across the sand valleys on the other side, yet the stars were still brilliant. 

Yorek was making the rounds, walking the perimeter around their camp, a small and little known oasis.  He was the first to lay his eyes on the nude figure leisurely walking across the desert as if she hadn't a care in the world.  A smile curled his lips when she paused and bent over to pick up a smooth rock the desert had polished and shaped into an almost perfect oval.  Her hair which had spilled over to brush the sand with its tips was almost identical in color to the twilight blue hue of the evening sky.  He could not tell what color her eyes were at that distance, but if he could have seen them they were the color of the ocean, yet at another time they may have alternated in hue from turquoise to a stormy blue-green-grey. Her immaculately smooth skin was as fair as the moon and as creamy as butter.  Yorek might have believed he was seeing an angel if he hadn't known angels only came in the male variety.  Only he was wrong about that.  Sephiroth, the Acheron born angels, could be female.  She did smell fantastic.  The light breeze which traveled around the area to cool the air carried her scent.  He couldn't describe it, only say it was intoxicating.  Delicate, sweet even, but not floral.  Even he was struck still with awe by the sight of her, and perhaps her presence as well which gave him a sense that she was a perfect innocent, but she didn't seem weak or helpless either.  She had already nearly passed beyond his sight when he regained his senses and went after her.  He walked silent as the ever moving sands and kept his distance.  If she had spotted the prince warden she pretended not to notice him.  Meanwhile his inner voice reached out to his father.   

"Lord Father... there is something here I believe you should see." He contacted Saeed and waited his reply, whether by manifesting by his side or thought speak.  Saaed was well aware that Yorek would not have contacted him on a whim.  Yorek was not a 'whim' sort.  No, that was more Corwyn's ballpark.

"As for the final issue at sea, I want them found and destroyed,  supremacy at Sea is one advantage we continue to hold.   We dare not let our guard down or let the tempo slip.  It still gives us a place to conduct our other affairs without hindrance or under observation. And movement free of the Ay-Oh-M's  arcane influences,  continue to pursue the dead realms avenue as well. These are your orders gentleman."  The King of Hassim glanced at the faces around him, most of them were identical or as near identical as made no difference.  The few that were different were older, but it made them no less capable.  Saeed watched a younger version of some of those with identical traits move pieces across the map, adjusting locations and flags.  A beautiful map featuring the world....around smaller table maps of specific areas.  This was the war room, deep in the wards.  The king lit a Cheroot, inhaling deeply; preparing to return to his quarters. It was into the night, sleep did not permit itself often, not that he needed much, not that he couldn't find ways around the need,  but sleep was nice and it seemed it would be a rare early night,  his family and friends were scattered and gone, attending to matters of state and war so there was nothing pressing above.

 So it was still when finally high above in the palace taking a stroll along the high promenade before turning in that he received the missive from his son, Yorek, hard at work securing the Kingdom's borders and outlands with everything from civic action and diplomacy to counter insurgency.  Saeed stopped and stared out over the city and across the city walls out in the dark empty beyond that was the desert night,  which he missed nights out in the open desert.  There was not time these days to simply just roam the land,  to camp, to live like the Neffari of old. A sigh and he turned to enter the palace and once inside he teleported to his quarters grabbing his desert cloak...a water skin and the ancient sword he favored completed the ensemble....next came his pouch which held but a few simple coins and another which held a pipe, tobacco and some matches,  "Yorek," he'd answered as he prepared... it is good to hear from you.."  He pulled up his hood and stepped through his closet door but rather then into the closet he appeared in the desert next to his son....without so much as a breeze, "now"  He said quietly as he hugged his son, "What is it I should see..."   Now that was a very curious scent in the air indeed,  very curious.. one which he was familiar with but indeed had not smelled in some time.

Why would Yorek call on the king of Hassim times as they were over a girl?  The answer became apparent to Saeed as he arrived and Yorek directed his attention by pointing with arm over Saeed's shoulder towards the dark haired creature as she stood comfortably naked not six yards from an eighteen foot tall elephant, a lone mature but young bull, her hand outstretched with palm held up and high while she cooed to it with a trill so pleasant to the ears she might have been a magical bird.  Though twilight had passed into darkness since Saeed had arrived the gibbous moons shone brightly on the desert to illuminate it with the guilelessly beautiful girl and elephant in soft filtered light.  The Mumaaqu she had approached was wild and as such among the most dangerous of the desert's mortal beasts and yet she stood unafraid in easy charging distance of the immense animal as it shook its head, curled up its trunk, trumpeted and flapped its huge ears at her.  Its smooth coat of mole skin soft fur was red, which indicated it had been dusting itself in a dried clay deposit.  Because its fur was so thin and soft, clay clung well to it, and between its short but very dense fur and the fine coat of clay dusting almost every inch of him, insects were unable to bite him. The animal WAS quite a sight to behold but getting close to any Muumaq was dangerous and a lone muumaqu at night?  Some might say it was suicidal, but after a few moments of facing off with the girl to make its warning display, it and not she retreated.  Yorek himself had gotten as close as he dared standing about ten yards west of the girl with the Muumaqu south of her.  She watched it curiously as it sauntered off going south, examined its footprints in the sand, then stood, whirled around half a dozen times with arms held straight out, and continued on her way, heading east.  She was smiling brightly and practically skipping as she walked because she was so happy to have met a Muumaqu.

"I am sure she knows we are here," he told Saeed.  Yorek had not exactly been trying to hide himself, only hung back and been unobtrusive.  "But she has ignored me and I have followed her for about three miles. She seems... like an otherworldly thing.  I thought you should be the one to approach her.  She has a rather... mesmerizing quality about her.  I am sure she could talk me into almost anything." He admitted with a chuckle. It wasn't that she was actively doing anything either, it was just something she gave off like the sun shed light.  She shed something akin to irresistible perfection.  All living things seemed to respond to it, like the insects and snakes he had seen her playing with, and the mastodon, a reliably and often relentlessly aggressive animal if one approached to within ten or twenty yards of it, had only mildly threatened her before ambling off.  He was walking now with Saeed as he spoke the two following her as she moved off.  "And can you smell that?  She smells like... well she smells like everything else about her... perfectly wonderful.  What do you make of her, father?  Is she some kind of Tsetar in female disguise?  I hear they are unclothed when they fall.  That could explain why she is naked."  Guesses were all that he had.

Yorek's camp was between Nadalac and Szaareabu dead in the middle of the Windswept Wastes.  His company was posing as brigands who were supposed to meet and greet the AoM recruiters Wyrvaust had chased out of his territory, but instead of going west until they had left the desert behind as Wyrvaust had commanded them to, they had gone west, then north into the Mudscorched Flats, then cut back east along the border between Adram, Marsol and Kassim territory where two of Wyrvaust's agents had found them at the Redlion Oasis near the Swamp Kingdom border.  Cevari and Gilriael of the Red Dragon tribe had posed as merchants, which Cevari actually was, and escorted them as far as Nadalac where Gilriael the weyrdragon bard had arranged for the AoM party to meet with 'trusted friends' at the Ivory Oasis, named after the Muumaqu graveyard just north of the oasis where the four tusked mastadons often went to die. Yorek and the Twinstar rangers were those supposed friends Gilriael had contacted.  The recruiters were supposed to arrive in two days at what time they would have found the 'brigands' with a load of ivory they had collected from the graveyard.  Yorek planned to talk to them then take them in to Saeed for questioning.  What Saeed decided to do with them after that was his own concern.  He could rely on his father to act on the knowledge that the faction they pledged themselves to, and had the nerve to recruit for in the desert, had torn Morendor apart with its war.   

"We are to be met at Ivory Oasis by an Army of Man party in two days by the way," he also informed his father as they walked.  "They are recruiters and scouts under the impression we are brigands out collecting ivory who will escort them safely to Inaaksu and guard them while they recruit along the way and in the city.  I intend to bring them to you, father," he smiled just a little.

The girl meanwhile had come to a pause under a rare bladder tree, thus called because of its rounded trunk which collected water, and the more it collected over the years or centuries, or ages even, the rounder its trunk's midsection got. The mystery around the tree was how fresh its water tasted and how cool it stayed within the trunk.  Tapping it was like tapping a fresh spring.  Its branches meanwhile spread out from the top of the trunk in dense layers where they separated like a wide umbrella in all directions creating wonderful shade during the day.  One of these trees was as good as an oasis for the occasional traveler or two for a few days.  When the trunks became thin it was because all of its water had been tapped out, and if tapped when thin too many times the tree would die. The bladder tree Junjokitsumi had found was as fat as a hogshead.  She circled the tree running her hand over the smooth ivory coloured trunk and at length leaned against it in what appeared to be a lasting embrace, with her cheek pressed against the trunk and arms wrapping as much of its pregnant girth as she could get them around.  She never considered trying to tap it though, she just appreciated it for awhile before moving on.  It seemed to Yorek she was finding every spot in the wastes worth knowing about, sites almost no one but the old nomads and locals were aware of.  There was not another bladder tree in fifteen hundred miles.

Saeed cast his glance on the object of his sons curiosity and matched the image of what he saw to the scent.  This brought a grin to the King's face,  which he quickly subdued...."I see.....no doubt she is gifted  can influence others around her, the sentient and beastly.  It's a gift of sorts. Ability. "  The King of Hassim said quietly as he watched her interact with the Wooley Muumaq. "You see how she is with the beast,  you know what it takes to even begin to try to domesticate one of those things, especially a bull. Yet she does have the presence to calm, even to influence. I myself can sense it.."  Observed Kassim to Yorek as they quietly walked around not making a sound in the Sand like the Neffari they were.   Saeed continued to watch in silence,  she was quite beautiful  even if she had not the pull of a Sephiroth she would have caught the eye in any crowd.  He reckoned she was recently freed,  or perhaps escaped,  maybe even planted,  in any case she was exploring like creation's child in the garden,  at least in so far as the creation myths would have spoken of such things.  An innocence that was the hallmark of her kind.   "I do smell that... quite a heavenly smell at that."  He chuckled softly,  she wasn't from Heaven or Haman. At least not directly,  histrionics aside.  "Yet no,  my son, she is not a Tsetar,  And they are sky clad when they fall,  bereft of garments,  that is correct.  But so are other beings.... that Yorek, is a Sephiroth,"   Saeed considered it and attempted to think of an example,  because come to think of it,  Saeed  held no answer as to why his son had never encountered one, on the other hand, he was hard pressed to conjure a memory of a time where such an encounter might have occurred.  "A Sephiroth.."  He continued... "An angel of Acheron, they are born as Man or Woman,  and you might well  do anything she asked,  anyone, especially mortals and unguarded could easily fall to that influence, that said, usually  they are benign, at least the young ones, usually.  It is also possible she may not be aware of the effect she has on man or beast, or at least would not recognize it as anything other then how things have always been for her. There are those that are not so benign, indeed even malevolent but as a general whole they tend to be likable.  For those in the know about them, they tend to try to trap them and enslave them.  Of course, like any other being, they have their temperaments and loyalties as well, like  I said, benign and malevolent are both possible.  AND she likely does know we are here as we are not attempting to conceal ourselves,  simply being non-intrusive. "   

     Saeed reached into his pouch and drew his pipe...which he packed with an aromatic leaf,  pleasant, not the heavy meditative blend he often smoked, instead something that was calming and pleasurable to the senses of most.    He used a match, rather then willing the flame,  mostly he didn't want to startle the girl,  concerned he was at such a rare visit in this place on this beautiful night,  especially given recent events, yet neither was he going to assume hostility,  so being unobtrusive and perhaps even hospitable was the order of the day at the moment.  No need to take her head just yet. Possibly not at all.  He inhaled deeply, letting waft the smoke, the scent of which seemed of cherry and vanilla which permeated well  as he exhaled softly. The smoke provided a nice counterpoint to the angels scent, if indeed this was some sort of trap.   "I guess in your travels you've never encountered, or perhaps never knowingly encountered one. Any time you've been to  Seumir  you did not spend much time with their Regent if any at all,  for she is one.  Although older I think,  in any case one who seems to have spent far more time here then this one.   She runs with that Ranger who also happens to be an Abyss Dragon,  they're married."   He laughed   "I really should have Sid offer them both a bribe to come work for us."    You'd have to be Saeed or Byron to appreciate that irony if such ever came to pass.    Sid had said Denveth was not guided by profit. Oh well.   "As for her before us though,  That, my son...is a Sephiroth. An angel of Acheron.  Question is, did she get out when they opened the gates ?  Was she let out during the lockdown? Or was she out previously and just wandering..until now.   Or does she come at the beckoning and bidding of others."    She was quite beautiful there in the moonlight, studying the rare tree.   "They are inquisitive too, especially when youthful or when newly released if they were enslaved or held a long time.  They too often appear as she does, without clothes.  Although that could also be from lack of experience as well or an Acheronian disregard for the convention.  That I don't quite remember."    Saeed studied her,  caressing the trunk of the Bladder tree.  It was a sacred spot, this tree was centuries old,  older even then Saeed himself.   He doubled down on his concentration, my but the woman was bewitching, there was no denying that.

He listened to Yorek describe the recruiters.   "Indeed?"   Saeed was smiling..."Indeed,  we may even allow them to think they've recruited me for a short while.  Beware arcane and dead realms tricks my son, these they used most effectively in Seumir and in Gothardda.  Granted neither battle went quite the way AoM would have wished completely but still.  that is their stock and trade.  Yes, bring them to me,  we'll have them,   we, Braemen and Sid,   whatever we can glean from them shall prove to be of use.   Indeed, bring them to one of the safe houses in the city, they won't suspect this.  We'll have them and turn them or destroy them.  I grow tired of their insipid war making, they've managed to damage more land and kill more people then any of the immortals they hate so much.  In any case, a recruiter perhaps gets us inside the army and closer to it's leadership.  I hope Eoghan  is well and meeting with success for that matter."  He paused briefly and placed his hand upon Yorek's  shoulder..."Good work Yorek, I am proud of you and your Wardens."  And he was.  It was a good learning experience for the Prince of Hassim, one that would prepare him to rule Hassim one day and while that day might be awhile if not long and coming, Saeed was sure it would come, yet this did not disturb him as it once would and had in the past.   The King of Hassim did not see an end or a death so much as he saw a day where he would wander forth perhaps.

"How is Corwyn?  How are my grandchildren?"    Saeed asked telepathically  glad for the moment of relative tranquility in an otherwise veritable storm sea of entropy.  Saeed would let the family catch up go for a while as they observed the angel into the event, the second moon rising....like an obverse version of the day,  things came to life in the Desert at night.  And this Sephiroth seemed to determine to get to know each one.   Indeed a Sephiroth Lady naked as the day of birth at night in a harsh environment like this,  one couldn't help but notice.  Eventually Saeed decided it was time to interact.  "Perhaps it is time to go introduce ourselvesf"  In the distance he heard the howling of the Desert wolf. "Politely of course."   

"Well there are  two  Banthas down there but I don't see any -  wait a second.  There's Sand People alright.  I can see one of them now."

Yorek listened to his father advise him about the creature they had found in the flattest part of the desert beyond the hot flats in Marsol territory.  Sephiroth... He had never met one or even heard about them.  It was not surprising that such a race had never been mentioned to him because they were uncommon even in Acheron.  Until now no one had ever informed him that Regent Elah was a sephiroth.  Eoghan had never mentioned to anyone that his flame Selena was a sephiroth in fact and neither had she.  It wasn't a secret it was just that no one had asked what she was.  Yorek took Saeed's word for what he believed she was, despite the fact that he found it hard to believe something so... innocent, came out of Acheron.  He didn't realize that not everything in acheron was corrupt, but Junjo, though all the observable or readable facts about her pointed to Sephiroth, was not in fact Sephiroth, nor was she a being of either Acheron, Haman, the Middle Kingdom or the Elemental Planes, and yet she was from all of them and everywhere.  Though she had more in common with the gods than the angels, she was not even a goddess.  The only thing powerful about her was what she embodied and personified her, so it was an easy mistake believing she was a sephiroth much as Sephiroth were often also incarnates of something.

"Acheron can produce something as pure as her?" Yorek was amazed. No one could fault Saeed for his mistake.  His assumption was as close as anyone could have gotten to the truth.  She was unreadable beyond the sensation of pure, unaffected, perfection her presence gave off after all.

Acheron had actually produced Sephiroth or even devils just as pure as Junjo before.  A few of them had even survived the ravages of time as an achonian with their goodness intact but it WAS extremely rare for that to happen.  Usually anything Acheron produced that was untained became corrupted in some way or another as time went.  How Junjo had been born into existance was complicated.  The genesis of primordials always was.  Acheron was sealed with the unknown exception of a secret key only Maelmorda and his wife knew about at the moment so no one could leave Acheron without that key unless they were summoned.  No seal could prevent a properly executed seal summons as Saeed informed his son, a fact Yorek seemed intrigued by.

"So... if someone was trapped in Acheron they could be liberated by someone summoning them?  Could we summon Shaithis to free him from that cursed AoM general Morgais Argeled? What could he possibly want with Shaithis anyway?  He has to know we would never pay a randsom in either gold or terms."  Yes, Yorek spoke of the very same devil who had contacted Saeed and invited him to come and go from his keep in Acheron as he liked to speak with Shaithis, as if Saeed would fall for such a tactic and let himself get trapped there IF indeed that had been Argeled's intent. 

Yorek did not understand that demons, devils and the like could not BE summoned unless such a seal had been burned into them as a sort of irreversible curse by the guardians of Haman itself.  Few vampires had ever been burned with a seal.  Valis Urik was one of those few.  Shaithis was not. Yorek did manage with his questions to raise a possibility no one had really considered as he continued.  "And if Shaithis cannot be summoned, could Lord Argais?" He actually could be if someone could discover the emblem of his seal and the rights which went with it.  Yorek was simply unaware of how summoning achonians and their seals worked.  Braemen on the otherhand knew ALL about seals, ancient arcanum, lost lore and the like.

When his father asked after Corwyn and their sons he smiled a little.  "We spent some time together about a week ago.  They are all very well and enjoying the palace of their favorite grandfather," he smiled a little slyly at Saeed.  Saeed had been spoiling them really, particularly when compared to how Yorek had been raised, spartan style with a little added toil.  Yorek and Corwyn with their sons had npt left Inaaksu for almost a year now.  When Yorek had learned that Seth had traveled overseas and of the threats in and around the entire western half of the continent, he and Corwyn both had agreed not to go back to Esscha Endor.  Yorek would have rather seen them in the Morning Star Palace in Acheron than at Gothtyrdan with things as they were.  "I heard they brought the cliffs down on AoM at Gothtyrdan yesterday.  Desperate measures defacing the earth like that to defend a fortress.  The Morning Star is not going to like it."  He knew enough about the Morning Star that he knew THAT to be true.  Maelmorda still visited his thoughts more often than he would like, teaching him mostly, about what he had made him and all which came with it, about his laws in land above and below.  Yorek couldn't really say he minded, the devil just tended to catch him off guard and enjoy putting some fear in him.

"I find it odd that no one has heard from Eoghan or been able to reach him, my Lord." He mentioned when Eoghan was brought up.  It was strange and even stranger that of all the people who had been able to contact him it was Galaxy.  That had been sheer luck really.  She had simply contacted him when he happened to be in a zone where telepathy could reach him freely. Eoghan had tried to contact Saeed on numerous occasions, as had Byron, both failing to contact him because of dead zones and other forms of AoM interference.  Part of their strategy was to interrupt communications.

Now not long after Saeed lit his pipe, the girl with the creamy skin and twilight blue hair sniffed at the air as the smoke was swept her way on that almost constant balmy breeze.  She sneezed a few times then turned to stare at Saeed and Yorek for a few moments before stalking right up to them, arms swinging at her sides like she was on important business, only it was the pipe and the herbs burning in it which had invited her curiosity.  She watched him smoke it for a moment then pulled the pipe right out of his hand and whiffed it.  Her nose curled then she tried puffing on it only to start spitting, coughing and blowing short little raspberries as she shoved the pipe back into Saeed's hands the she paced in front of them speaking a language which maybe two people on all Morashtar for that matter had ever studied.  It was an outland language... WAY outland.  "Eeztetmah emeth telcreeu! Et Gaht."  It was easy enough to tell by her face and tones that the smoke was offensive to her senses. Then she pursed her lips, folded her arms under her pert breasts which were neither large or small, and canted her head over.  "Ecsteen nah nu mey Junjokitsumi.  Hlel testamu."  She pressed her hands together with fingertips meeting her lower lip then tipped her clasped hands towards Saeed (as the elder) and then Yorek with a slight dip of her head.  Seemed she came to them instead of them having to approach her.  She then touched the pipe with

her index finger.  "Incendess etu.  Gaht?" She was very friendly but also quite forward, clearly not the least bit afraid of them when anyone in their right mind, especially a beautiful girl with no clothes on, would be at least cautious. 

There was nothing cautious about her.  No one had ever harmed her before.  No one.  The most evil of souls alone would ever WANT to harm her, and only because they were aware of the effects she had on them and could not bear having their desire to do violence or to serve their own self interests dampened by the likes of her... being someone who simply made even the most violent creatures have no desire at all to harm or upset her.  Upsetting her was not all that easy though.  If she got upset someone had to do something pretty aweful.  Such as crushing a butterfly just to watch it die.  But if someone ate the butterfly because they needed protein, well that was just fine.

"Yorek chuckled.  "I think she is asking why you smoke that stuff." He was clearly amused.  "Incendess, sounds like fire, eh?  That word Gaht, she said it twice.  Wonder what it means?"

"Etu, etu," she said, nodding her head. 

"Shee.  I wonder what language she is speaking?" to his father then he laid his eyes on the nude girl.  It was probably a good thing Yorek was gay... but his father wasn't.  Not even a little.  "A language barrier will hardly make this easier."

"Emyn Tokmemvshe?" She asked a little more seriously.  Emyn was an ancient word for Acheron but languages could share words with very different meanings.

"Acheron?" Yorek asked.

"Emm... etu... esh?" Yorek had understood one of her words but she did not want them to misunderstand the context.

Yorek folded his hands out, unable to understand and looked to Saeed.  "How will we be able to speak to her?" he asked.

"Be able to speak," she mimicked perfectly in Shaamaa. 

Yorek was speaking their native Shaamaa tongue the entire time.  He could speak some of the other native languages fluently, outland English well enough to get by, but Shaamaa was the language he used the most because he was born to it and to the people who spoke it.  "Amazing... she learns fast."

"I know they are above, but I seldom as of late get to spend very long above,  and when I do it's usually logistics and planning. I spend most of my time lately when not out scouting or evaluating,  down below in the wards, also in planning and logistics."  He smiled though,  "I do enjoy having the grand children around thouigh,  and I like to hear about them from their dads.   As for Acheron" he said, returning to one of the multitude of matters at hand,  "It can,  produce pure subjects,  pure in the manner of being uncorrupted by chaos or evil,  that is very rare though.  At least those that stay that way are exceedingly rare,  less rare are the ones born but they seldom stay that way.   It might be she is something else, Incarnated maybe  but if so I know not what, yet in any case  I'll wager she has some properties of the Sephiroth in her.  As for disposition,  creation for us, my son, can often equal intent.  Beyond that we have experience, intervention, intercession, domination, possession, creation,  conception, incarnation, siring, natural birthing,  time even.  Look at me and our family my son.  Time can be a huge factor, especially in the imposition of linear time. As well as it's inconvenience.  Consult your Father-in-law or my Lich Father.  I can hear him now,  "Our son, Time is such a Linear Concept, Learn that objects fixed as such will often be perceived as such. Perceive them not so,  bend them and approach them differently, conceptualization leads to change, investigation and discovery,  Bend the time.  Turn and shape it.  Infinite it is, never finite.  Finite is for the mortal and the sleeper.'  He could go on for days about that.  As for the aforementioned factors, time, domination, possession and so on,  any of these alone or in concert with one another can effect  the disposition of one.  Again, look to Solbaid,  listen to him when he rants.  It is, I suspect a product of the time' So Linear it is..."  Joked the King "when he was venerated as a god with multiple aspects,  toss in time, trauma and so on. Time.  This gives you  Solbaid who is at home posioning a city and curing orphan children of disease. He moves through the events almost as if he is time traveling and so I often wonder if he has not been doing so on the sly.    Time also gives us the likes of Eoghan."  Saeed refocused once more on the stranger, "for her, we can for the moment assume Acheron or perhaps even Haman  as she is unclad and appears to be female.  Any Mortal would have sought protection of modesty unless they'd joined a vestal temple or a brothel. Irony that.   She is likely Sephiroth and it is She,   If nothing else it gives us pronoun and adjective.  She might be a devil but  this as you know does not imply evil or a chaotic nature.  Doesn't rule it out either,  might also be she is something else then that entirely Given she hasn't left a trail of dead in her wake I don't think she's meant to be destructive.  Yet  Sephiroth is a good place to start.  I surmise that  she's learning here...and I dare say you are correct,  she is aware of us."   

He exhaled a smoke ring that slowly billowed off into the night sky as he observed,  she was still content to study the tree, the roots the rocks and the surrounding environs.  He observed a scorpion that raised it's pincers and stinger  at her and then turned tail and fled toward Saeed where it abruptly made a hard right scurried off in a different direction.    Kassim chuckled.   He still had it.  "Did you see that?  It avoided harming her.  I expected it to run from me,  but it reared up, seemed to think better and then took off. Between that and the generally pleasant want to be around her feeling she seems to exude,  there is more then meets the eye here.   As for Shaithis,  we might,   it would be worth a try,  as for that AoM general,  Shaithis is heir to a great and ancient power,  it may well be the AoM wants to exploit that,  it also helps to have a servant and aid as well as the son of two of Morendor's most powerful Kings and Kingdoms under their...if not outright control then at least being held. I suspect it's the power though,  these AoM didn't shirk from attacking Seumir or Gothtyrdan and remember we forestalled them on the opening day of the war out in the far desert.  Now we have not seen that particular group again  but I do not doubt that others would violate that ad hoc truce.  However,   for Shaithis,  I think this General  Morgais Argeled is interested in the power,  particularly some things Shaithis might have access too.  That would be my first assumption.  We will see if we can summon him.  Braemen knows this lore,   it is worth the try to free Shaithis,  and if not him, then getting an AoM General in our possession would be useful.   As of yet any mission to the dead realms thus far has not yet given us an opening or success.  We have Eoghan over there, and according to Sid there may be one other avenue,  Seumir may have managed a scout into the dead realms but again, no one has yet heard back.  We are going to have to take flight soon and try to establish point to point contact with our allies and friends. Perhaps a reconnaissance and raid of the fields before Gothtyrdan or the De Casey  Red Moon Chateau as it is still held by the AoM.  Nothing fancy,  a smash and grab of sorts,   do some damage, grab a prisoner or two,  perhaps while there we scout locations where we might reestablish communications.  This time we'll do a little dead realms of our own.  Braemen's going to earn his pay this month."  Saeed quipped.  "However, to complete the answer to your initial question;  the requisite to be summoned is thus,  they  need to have had a seal burned into them, that's usually done by guardians of Haman so therefore requires some know how to give one as the Outlanders say.   I doubt Shaithis has one,  but the general might have gleaned one.   Beyond the seal it's a matter of properly executing the summoning.  We shall consult with Braemen. See where this may get us for that.   It appears we are going to be well met."   

Saeed watched the woman approach and reach for his pipe.   Bold, an innocence, yet no harm or offense meant, that much was clear from the emotions she seemed to permeate.    "Why Hello there, traveler." The King of Hassim said in a genial and pleasant tone.  No need to antagonize the girl, no one would want to do that anyway,   even if she wasn't getting invited to the party.  "See the greeting to me the elder?  Much intelligence and understanding of customs.   We'll not spit water just yet,  she may not know that one.  Saeed considered it... "I think Junkokitsumi is her name. "  Saeed racked his brain,  "this is not a Morashtaran language. It has elements it would seem that appear in some languages we are familiar with, but I do not believe I have ever heard this one spoken aloud or written anywhere."    Saeed listened and when Yorek spoke of fire he agreed. "Incendiary, yes, a fire word.   I dare say you are correct...."   Saeed took the proffered pipe back.   "I am an old man and I like my smoke."  Saeed smiled.   He spoke to Yorek  "Gaht,  as she says it, it could be God,  it might also be good,  perhaps a form of greeting."    He spoke to the woman "I am Saeed Kassim,  this is my son, Yorek Kassim and you are...Junkokitsumi?"    He didn't tip his hand about who he or his son was just yet.

It probably was a good thing his son preffered the company of Men because she certainly was attractive.   Saeed considered his son's question.  "I think, given her friendly disposition and her inquisitive nature, the answer may present itself soon."   He listened to the words for similarity,  even summoning old memories as well as whatever linguistic abilities he could summon otherwise.   "She's agreeing that's what she was asking, about the pipe smoke I mean."    Saeed reached into his pouch and offered her the crushed leaves unsmoked if she wanted to inspect them,  elements of vanilla and cherry and poppy.   "Yes, Acheron,   but what of Acheron?"  He asked politely..

Yorek listened to his father raptly but in the end laughed at his own ignorance in wake of his father's exceptional wisdom and knowledge.   "There are times when you remind me of our lord grandfather and this IS one of those times," he mused.  He often felt inadequate next to his father and grandfather's intellect.

He had no idea of the power Shaithis was capable of wielding but had no doubt his father was completely accurate in his assessment of what AoM may or may not have been after.   Perhaps they wanted every layer they could carve from him.   Yorek was unaware that Shaithis had been well treated by Armais whatever else his intentions were.  He only knew that Shaithis was held by Armais and Saaed had been invited to visit Shaithis freely and safely.

"I only pray the general has a seal and that Braeman has the knowledge needed to call him.  Such a win in our favor would be one our allies could use about now." 

Yorek heeded his father's words carefully as he interacted with the young woman, paying as much attention to her as to his father.   He remained on his guard despite how her very presence compelled him to relax or even ignore any possibility of danger from her.  If anything, the very desire and urge to trust her so completely made him do the opposite because of not only training but forcing himself to consider every fact in his grasp over what he felt.   Yorek had always had a talent for logic which made him hard to love and easy to misunderstand.   Corwyn had seen past the logic which shrouded his heart to see just how deeply his love and emotions ran. 

Junjo waved her hand in front of her face almost as if fanning herself when Saaed mispronounced her name twice in a row as Junkokitsumi, and corrected him by speaking her name exactingly.  "JunJO-kit-su-mi," she said patiently.  "Sah mey Junjokitsumi, et Junjo, et Kitsu, et Sumi." Her explanation only furthered Yorek's confusion, then when Saaed asked her about Acheron she thought for a moment then answered.   "Saaed, Yorek Emyn memvshe?"

Yorek got what she was asking, or believed he did.   "I think she is asking if you and I are from Emyn." He wasn't sure how to answer that for himself.   Lucifer had remade him but neither marked him or taken him to the kingdom below.   So he shook his head at length.   "No.   I, Yorek, am from here, from the desert of Hassim." He answered at length on his own behalf, gesturing to himself then the desert around them.  Though his father and mate were of Acheron he did not count himself an Achonian and never had, perhaps never would.  When had Yorek NOT been caught between?

Junjokitsumi let Saaed take his pipe back without troubling him then accepted the gift of leaves he extended, offering him the smooth white pebble in her hand for trade, making it clear she had a sense of quid pro quo.   She sniffed the herbs then put them in her mouth to chew on them then spat out just the parts she didn't like as she first studied the scorpion then the two immortals as they responded to her reply about Emyn.   She regarded them each curiously for an interval before waving one of her hands once and launching her strides east.  "Tau," she bid amicably as she set off once again.  There was still so much she had to see.   

Yorek looked to Saaed.   "What do you think?  Was she sent by someone, did she just... land here, or did she choose to come?  Seems the answer ties in with what we should do about her if anything.   Should we assign someone to follow her?" He surely would not expect his father to traipse around the desert after her no matter how pleasant or interesting a prospect that might be.  "A pity it can't be you, father." He said with a smile regardless just because he wished his father would take such a sabbatical for himself.  "Maybe... you should," he then added after a little more thought just because his instincts said that his father really should.  Yorek felt they had discovered something important in the girl even if he couldn't explain what it was.

"Hmm"  listened the King, "A thousand pardons,  Junjokitsumi."   Saeed smiled and listened further...  "It would seem so,  and a rather odd question for a simple stranger to ask, alas no simple stranger.   In any case an odd question.   Of where you speak of is also a loaded question.  Why do ask?     As I am sure you can understand us,  the basic answer to your question is no, I was not born in Acheron.  Yes, I am of those that are from  place, thus making me of the place of which you ask,   I am of and yet not of. "  He turned to Yorek,  "Solbaid would love that answer." He gazed back upon the traveler, " I count among my family and friends those who are of those place.  As it happens,  I am also King of the land in which you now find yourself, The Kingdom of Hassim,  perhaps you already understood this,  so I am to wondering, why are you here?"    They were walking along easily of course,  following, the stars still in their courses burned brightly over the desert of fire as did the first moon.   Beyond the tree and the rocks and the scrub brush around in this area and it's small oasis,  the land once again gave way to dunes, seemingly boundless, stretching off into the distance beneath the moonlight.   Out from that distance came another wolf howl.  He undid the water skin from his shoulder and had a long cool draught of water... offering the same to his son and to "Junjokitsumi,  Water?  And may I call you Juno, or Juni or Junku or perhaps Sumi?  It would be simpler, unless you prefer Junjokitsumi?"   

Junjo was confused by most of what Saeed said but was picking up on small bits and pieces of their language.  She believed the word I had to do with what she was relatively sure were their names for instance, and the words king and kingdom were clearly related and had something to do with the one named Saeed, and Yorek gesturing to Saeed and the land they had both named as Hassim in conjunction with the word kingdom helped her to figure out that Saaed was most likely the Duvai or high sage of his land, which in her tongue was the closest thing to king.  "Ai! Nual zjekku un Junjo bet hlelalah Duvai et kin Saeed," she chattered excitedly, amazed she had met the world's leader so soon.  Yes, she didn't understand that there were many kings on the world she had come to where on her world there was only one Duvai and had been that way for as long as anyone could remember.  It was clear enough to her that Saeed wanted to know what to call her.  "Junjo et Jun," she told him.  "Et Kitsu, et Sumi," she added further options with a smile.  She left it to others what to make of her name.

Then, as she greeted Saeed she showed him the proper respect by her people's customs and had walked right up to him to caress his face lovingly and to kiss each cheek between pettings and end by kissing his lips to show her love.  He had earned it after all by being wise enough to be named King.

Yorek meanwhile was chuckling as he stood witness to the greeting his father received.  "I haven't the slightest clue what's got into her but she certainly seems to like what you said. And that word et, I am almost positive it means also or perhaps even or."  He then arched a brow as she clasped one of his father's hands and pressed it against the firmly rounded swell of her right bosom, which was where her heart was.  She was smiling at Saeed as she did so then embraced him tight before stepping back several paces.  Yorek was only glad she was focussing such attentions on his father.  It was rather amusing to observe and he was curious how Saeed would react to her.
"Uthume?" She then asked and waited, question was for what?

Actually, if she hadn't been a stranger or,  and if Saeed hadn't needed answers to questions he'd have killed her on the spot, or worse for touching him out of turn.  But she was foreign and for all he knew that was how her people greeted.  They probably didn't offer spit or water by way of friendly greeting as was the Neffari custom and the custom of House Kassim.   He turned to Yorek,  "Restraint I think,  this is not my first inclination as a Blackhorn or a Neffari."   He pulled his hand back gently and forced a smile.  "Junjo it is."    He pulled his water skin again and tilted it back, letting some dribble into his mouth. "Water," he said,  and did it again.....stroking the side and saying, "water skin"   and then offered her a drink,  in the custom of his people.    Canting his head slightly to Yorek he spoke to him telepathically,  if only to avoid confusion with the woman as having a language barrier, they were both on a steep learning curve.  'To answer your question son,  I know not, perhaps she was sent as a scout, or as a messenger,  I think that unlikely as she would have been more stealthy and as a messenger why someone who cannot speak Shamea, let alone any of the other languages we know,  Morashtaran or Outlander unless she was sent by someone who has not been here in some time or does not know our customs.  It might be she is an amalgamation and her presence here is because of the difficulty traveling what with the negation effects in so many places by the AoM.'   "I greet you fondly and well met."  He said politely.   Ahh,  Duvai Hassim,  Domeyl Hassim, Lord of Hassim.   Sahib Hassim,   Laird na Hassim..."    He continued on with a few other words he knew for King and Lord in various languages.   He peered at Junjo, waiting to see if she would drink the water, once she had or handed it back,  he would kneel in the sand and begin to draw a map....on that map would be the known world of Morashtar.    Once complete he would then fill in the borders of Hassim and Marsol's lands, as well as Seumir....even the great continent of Mephais Aendor divided betwixt East and West.  Once he had some of the countries drawn in, he would point them out,  Hassim.    Duvai Saeed Kassim of Hassim.    Duvai De Casey, Seumir,"  He would continue naming others up to Sammael and Maelmorda,  not sure if it would do any good.  But anything she wanted to point to or say, he would name,  and perhaps encourage her to do the same.

For the same reasons Saaed had refrained from penalizing the girl for being so intimate with him when greeting him, Yorek had not yanked her away from the king his father.  He was also relying on intuition.   She clearly meant them no harm.   Yorek smiled just a little when his father reminded him of the nature of his restraint.  "Indeed," he acknowledged.  He watched as water was offered to the fair skinned female and she accepted it with a light press of her hand to her chest in thanks then drank only as much as her body needed before handing it back.  Yorek listened to his father's speculations afterwards with his gaze drifting between Saaed, Junjo and the open surroundings of the wastes.  'I have no idea why she is here.   I believe we should take her back to Inaaksu however where a translator arcane or otherwise can be secured and she can be educated on the world she has come to visit.' His telepathic recommendation given he observed as Saaed began her education there with maps and leaders.

Junjo squatted down as the king began drawing maps in the dirt to outline the leader of each region.   People who looked after continents on her world were called something else more akin to the function of a chief warden, one who looked after a region.    "Anduel Saaed," she corrected herself and bowed her head in apology.  "Nual Junjo meun dis Saaed Sahib Saaed," she assured him.  She went with Sahib because it sounded more like the language they were speaking.   Her tongue  seemed to encompass a variety of sounds.  It sounded a little bit like all Morashtar, Earth, Tuathan, and Haman languages with something unique of its own.  She pursed her lips and pointed to each kingdom he had pointed out in turn.  "Sahib Saaed Kassim, uru Hassim." She pointed to Hassim on the map and motioned to the land all around them.   Then she pointed at the other kingdoms.  "Sahib Marsol, uru Ametmorgu.  Sahib Daycasey, uru Seumir.  Sahib Seraylus, uru Esscha Endor," she repeated, her vernacular making some of the names sound a bit different. She went on to name the other kingdoms and their leaders as well then gestured to the entire global map.   "Saumey Duvai?" She asked and it was clear she was asking who the world leader was.   

For an entire world to have a leader with continental caretakers a species had to be extremely advanced, very peaceful or both. Yet she looked humanoid enough.  The oddest things about her were her twilight blue hair, fluctuating sea-blue eyes, flawless milk-white skin, and her candidly fearless demeanor.  In all other ways she appeared human.   But as both Saaed and Yorek were well aware she was anything but human.   So why did she look human?   Yorek wondered as he watched his father interact with her and kept a lookout on their surroundings.  'Lord Kassim, I wonder at her appearance.  Does she mean to blend in?  Was she simply born that way?   Or could it be she can choose her appearance?' He communicated his considerations mentally.  'When an inhabitant of Morashtar such a notion begs to be questioned.  Is this what she really looks like?'

Junjo looked dead at Yorek.  "Saio omira detu," she stated whatever she said matter of factly.  "Pia nyendosang koto testamu miya." As she said this she gestured towards her head then between the two of them, then she shrugged and bowed her head to both of them.

That communication attempted she moved around Saaed's map to the left of it then began by drawing a series of distant solar systems around it then spiraling lines around the whole thing representing a galaxy.  Afterwards she began her map with a spiraling galaxy, followed by a number of solar systems then six Mercator maps of her galaxy's inhabited worlds, one of them with many smaller continents on it, others with larger land masses, naming each one as she drew them.   She gestured to the galaxy map she had drawn.   "Junjokitsumi," she indicated.

Yorek smiled.  "So that is the galaxy she is from.  She is an outlander of vast distances." Neffari had understood about star systems for thousands of years now. "Yet she looks like us for the most part."

Then she began naming off the leaders of each world, then the leaders of each continent on the worlds she had drawn.  Her people clearly appreciated an education.  Her entire map was quite large and the details quite accurate for a symbolic sand map.

"Eventually, we will.   However, a good get to know her a little first is in order,  especially given the political climate of late. Could be she's a messenger of peace,  could be she's the harbinger of all what manner of doom.   While I doubt the latter,  any other visitor who comes here from afar, must we know, travel by conveyance,  wether or not this is a gate or teleportation,    we know not.  It might even have been a ship or vessel or craft of some kind.   In which case if it were a craft, this could entirely be by accident.   The Morningstar took great pains to ward this planet from outside,   invention.  This has left us to try to contemplate and perhaps read and study whatever comes our way,  in any case, if it were a craft,  the planet has likely devoured it or hidden it by now or is in the process of doing so.  Unless she teleported.    She touched us, so I would surmise that our senses are not lying, unless she is a wraith of sorts, perhaps even a projection.  But I have never seen a projection quite like this,  in the  tech-no-logical.."  this from not often using the word in spoken conversation, " sense,  that I can remember, only  through a magickal manner, arcane or otherwise."  He considered it,  "and that with varying degrees of success. Her, I believe, not a projection.  We can feel her, smell her and sense her.   Indeed I think the pheremones are probably linked to how we feel an inclination toward friendliness and diplomacy. In any case, if the arrival signifies intention, then the intention is communication, reconnaissance.   Which begs the question to what end?   Aggression?  Invasion?  Diplomacy?   Curiosity?   Indeed, it could be as simple as Curiosity.   And if it was intent and not chance,   accident,  happenstance.  Then that is a realm advanced indeed that would be able to accomplish this."   He watched as  Junjo drawing her own map in the sand, quite detailed, he thought as he perused the results of her craft.

"It is likely...."   Saeed answered his son after a time,  "She looks like us, which is to say in this form, human...some of us having more then one form,  for three  reasons,   one her people look like us.  Witness the outlanders from Earth.   A second, perhaps she is a shape shifter.   Third, perhaps she was made to look this way in order to facilitate communication, understanding, possibly even acceptance.   This is why I do not often show the lich to the general populace.  Easier for them to see this then to stomach the other."  communicated in the same manner in which his son had posited the inquiry.  "And you are correct. when in Morashtar or Acheron and probably even Haman, one is right to ask,  and she did ask us about Acheron, at least in the sense of how if at all we were or might be related to it.  Still also as I said before, a loaded question. on this world," he added.

When Junko looked directly at Yorek and spoke,  Saeed chuckled and cracked a grin. "I think she can hear us and just told us her people look like us,  else she told us this form was chosen because it is what we look like, in any case this would confirm she is real,   she also drank water too."   Saeed considered this and perhaps more pertinent, the answer Junjo had given in response to what he and Yorek had been telepathing about.   "Try to think through what you want to say, not just the words but what the words represent,  this might get us farther..."  Saeed began attempting it even as he listened and spoke.    Saeed pictured in his mind, himself wearing the crown of Hassim and Yorek's mother and then Yorek being born, as a toddler, as a young child, a young man and now the young adult he was.  Perhaps Junjo might understand that, and could show he and Yorek the same,  or at the very least maybe she would make a crude sketch of it.  The maps were clearly of worlds and star systems so the notion of it possibly having been a ship that got her here was not necessarily unfounded, silently Saeed reached out to his forces, 'Search for any odd craft or vessel be it on land, air or sea, do not attack it, do not board it but guard it until your King can come and inspect it,' assuming it was a ship and the planet hadn't done the aforementioned chow down and Copperfield on the alien tech.  Saeed set to agumenting his own map,  drawing in the arcane levels of Acheron and Haman,  and the solar system of Earth, the one they had the most knowledge of here.  Saeed labeled it Sol, Terra, Earth.   Once Junjo finally got around to asking who was the Overlord of Morashtar, well that was a tricky one.   God in Haman would have considered God's self the uber master of all,  but Morashtar was the domain of Domeyl Maelmorda Argyle.  "Domeyl Maelmorda,   mostly. " He said and thought. "King of all..."  and he indicated all  Morashtar.

"Indeed an outlander from afar.  I think she might be a visiting messenger perhaps,   if the name of that world is the same as her name,  perhaps she speaks for that planets leader or is that worlds Leader. Or else is just telling us those worlds and galaxies are where she hails from.  It is likely if she has traveled here then she or her people travel freely betwixt those worlds. " 

Yorek's dark blue eyes journeyed across the moon and star lit skies as they walked and his father spoke of the reasons she might have come to their world.   "I suppose the possibilities are as vast as the black ocean of stars," he reflected in response then examined the landscape around them again noticing that the girl was heading dead east now instead of walking southeast towards Inaaksu.  "I wonder if she knows where she is going," he mused.

When Saaed's dispatch searched the general area where the girl was first sighted they would find something.   It was a metal box the size of a jack-in-the-box with intricate symbols stamped into the metal which looked like antiqued copper only the metal was not tarnished but its grooves stained by incredible age.  It appeared to be seamless without an opening and quite heavy for its size indicating it was not hollow or was made of a very dense metal.   It was Mog who had found it with his quick eyes and had rapped on it with his knuckles to find that it was indeed hollow at its core before one of the men in the party who considered himself more trustworthy snatched it away from the beqidum possessed elf.  Mog smirked and warned the young man not to take his hands off of the thing until it could be... oh well, he didn't even finish his sentence when the more inexperienced of the two (but to be fair, let's face it, few had as much experience as Mog) put the box in a leather bag he produced from the pack he was carrying.   Not five minutes later as they continued their search the same Neffari soldier found the object missing and fixed an accusing glare on Mog whose person he grabbed and shook, demanding him to give it back.

"Give what back?" Mog sneered dangerously, but even if he did want to rip the man's face off he couldn't.   Saaed had him on a very short leash.  When the young man showed him the empty bag Mog smirked. 

"I tried to tell you but you wouldn't listen to your sublimely more competent reconnaiteur.  You never put a strange object covered with unknown writing or symbols in an unwarded bag.   You have just lost your king and father a potentially vital piece of evidence.   Whatever he is looking for that may have been it, foolish boy." 

That 'foolish' boy lost his temper and tackled Mog who was cackling deliriously when Raafi plowed him into the sand to land on top of him and was laughing harder still when the fallen Prince punched him in the face.  "Foolish boy indeed, piling stupid on top of more stupid!" Mog taunted him with every word.   "It's no wonder you have fallen so... uhng... low in disgrace... arr-bastard... and so far from your father's favor!" He howled triumphantly between blows which bloodied and bruised his handsome face. 

Raafi howled with fury, punched him once more with brutal force to break his jaw, then heaved himself off of the demon to stand over him.   Two of the other men meanwhile came running over to seize Raafi even as he kicked Mog for good measure and pull him back.

"Prince, Raafi, I advise you cease this violence." One of them suggested.

Raafi jerked himself free.  "Unhand me!" He demanded and the two threw their arms up and backed off.

Mog scoffed.   "The truth hurts him far more deeply than he can ever hurt me."  The beqidum sneered as he was helped up by the third who arrived, Nisaame, one of the sons of Braemen who turned out to be bigendered to the point he looked female, gorgeously so in fact, though he was equipped as a too greatly hung male with all the female parts as well.  Not uncommon for demons but he was the only one of Braemen and Saffiel's sons who was like he was.   Dressed in light Neffari armor he could have looked male or female but looked far too beautiful and female to be assumed male.  Nisaame looked a great deal like his mother in fact.   Mog desired her for that reason, and only ever thought of her as a female because that's what Nisaame chose to be.

"Whatever the truth he is your prince, Lord, and you must show him the proper respect." She advised.

"Thank you for helping me up, darling, but respect has to be earned, no matter how insufferably superior one misapprehends themselves to be." He expressed with all the earnestness of his detest for assholes who held themselves too high.

Nisaame chuckled though quietly.  She couldn't say she disagreed with him but there was a time and place for such talk.  "I understand you, Lord, but he IS Prince and as such could have your head for insulting him." She whispered this in his ear and he trembled slightly at the closeness of her.   He wondered as he all too often did if Saaed would let him marry her if he ever proved himself worthy to him.

"It's exactly because I acknowledge that fact that I didn't hit him back." Mog assured to Nisaame's satisfaction.

"Just watch yourself around him, Lord, and don't confuse his fall from grace as any advantage to you."

Mog bowed to her.   "Excellent counsel.   I shall heed it," he appreciated and clasped her hand to kiss her knuckles.   She smelled like a field full of wildflowers.  He smiled as she pulled her hand away because of her reluctance to do so and because she blushed.

He was then jarred by a vicious shove from Raafi.  "That is my niece you are slobbering on, slave!   Don't let me catch you touching her again!"  Raafi had no idea she wasn't completely female and it probably wouldn't have mattered.   He meant to put the demon in his place, which was ironic because Mog intended the same for the Prince.  He suspected that was the very reason King Kassim paired them together for various tasks, making grunts of them to dampen their pride aside.

Mog balanced himself and shot daggers at the prince.  He would bet it was the first time he had called Nisaame his niece much less acknowledge her as family, and he was right.  "Your temper is your worst enemy, Prince Kassim.   It has already led you to the precipice.   Never think yourself above becoming a slave.   I am your father's better in Acheron but here I am." 

"This is not Acheron, Mog the Betrayer.  You have no power here," Raafi sneered and to make his point he nodded to the three soldiers who drew their weapons, Nisaame included.  "If I command them to cut you to ribbons and carve out your tongue for your many insults they shall obey me."  All three of them raised their weapons in readiness to strike.   "Prince above slave no matter his fall from grace.  Father would not have let me out of my cell if he did not trust me not to repeat past mistakes and to know when I can kill or punish.  Do not insult me again, slave, or you SHALL be punished."  Or perhaps he had paired them together to teach them both a thing or two.  Saaed was nothing if not wise.

Their argument now having run out of steam Mog contacted Saaed by mind speak to inform him that an object had been found, he described it, but then lost.  Rather than blame Raafi he accepted full responsibility since he had been the one to find it.   Mog was not the kind to curry favor or pass blame.   He should have never let Raafi snatch the object from him.  His mistake. 

Junjokitsumi looked thoughtfully inspired when Saaed introduced the suggestion of mental imagery by example then she stood and raised her hands out to the star lit heavens like the top of an awesomely beautiful hourglass open to the firmament of space, and as she did king and prince received all the knowledge of her their minds could process at once.   In imagery which first carried their minds' eyes in flight from the very spot where they stood to the stars and past planetary bodies, their asteroid belt and all the other solar systems in their galaxy, then beyond the magnetic dustfields of prismatic color to their galaxy's outter rim and across the great expanse of empty black between the galaxies, and through all the seven galaxies which lie between theirs and hers to the plane which was her home.  She was not the leader of Jaffa, Pentassi, or Gaoa, the three worlds she had mapped out and drawn, and which in their visual journey they passed by, but a watcher over the heavens, which she signified in her gestures by lowering one of her outstretched hands to visor her eyes then raise it again in that supplicant pose she had struck which was actually intended to indicate an all encompassing meaning.   Their flight carried them finally through interstellar ether and to the plane she inhabited which spread out over a vast scape of scintillating forests, bodies of clear pure water and floating islands which fantastic waterfalls poured from, where all life they swooped past was willowy and ethereal, adapted to the low gravity of that plane.  It was like a faery land, a place of imagination bearing little resemblance to reality in the peacefulness and harmony of that realm she called home.   There were no structures which nature had not built to shelter the thriving beings there and no sign of sickness or overpopulation.   It was a true paradise.  Then she carried them from that plane and across time to worlds, some war torn, others so overpopulated people lived like rats while others lived locked up in palaces, worlds where plagues thrived and the living barely hung on, worlds where pollution had made cesspools of once verdant landscapes, and even well tended worlds, and king and prince saw Junjo there, speaking to people of all walks and species, and some of those worlds improving, others declining to the point of desolation or even destruction as no one on those worlds listened.   Through all that she gained as much an understanding of the languages they spoke as they did her native tongue.   She knew too many languages to share them all with them.

"Long has Junjo sought Eos, since two Eos became.  Warned Eos Junjokitsumi did that once one was two, most dangerous and unpredictable becoming one is again." She spoke fluent Shaamah and freely of all things including it seemed of matters most sacred and secret to Acheron.  She did so with purpose, not because she was unwise, but just the opposite.   Fortune had shown her to those who might help her voice reach the right people.  "Help Maelmorda in this task Junjo must." A very dangerous declaration to make in the wrong circle but she felt Saaed was the circle she was meant to find.  Problem was, Sammael was part of that circle and would he ever be willing to get onboard? Unlikely, but unlikely was what Junjo often did.  "Junjo chooses Saaed to be emissary of good faith.   Will Saaed do this?"  Words like he, she, her, him, I and a for that matter were not used in her language but the actual names spoken.  She would adjust to their language given time though.  "If such ... tsodao... thing asked..."

"Request," Yorek helped, though staggered she could now speak their language as much as he could understand her words now.  Hell, he still felt like he was weightless after that amazing journey she had taken them on.   It had felt so real and yet like millennia had passed in that bodiless experience in mere moments.   The moons had not seemed to  move any distance in their positions, if at all that was easily measured.

Junjo smiled, "If such request is too forward to ask, forgive Junjo?  Has King Saaed another to entrust in this task for Junjo?" She was showing him a great deal of trust but also asking a great favor of a king, and recognized the fact.

Yorek arched a brow and his gaze locked on his father.  "This outland guardian asks a king to be her emissary?" Yorek noted to Saaed then leaned his eyes on Junjo.

"What exactly does an emissary of good faith do?"  He wondered if Saaed could even fit such a role if it was what it sounded like?

"Same as friends.  Keep trust, tell no lies, help, introduce to other friends."
She explained.

And that object Mog spoke to Saaed of losing?   It appeared in Junjo's left hand.   She was holding another sand polished rock in her other hand!

Yorek chuckled and looked to his father.  "The guardian of galaxies wants to be your friend."  He could have died laughing then and there just because the whole thing was so absurd, but all he did was chuckle softly and shake his head.   If only Corwyn had been here!

"Two dozen lashes to both of them for behaving like idiots unless they can come up with an overriding reason as to why I should be forgiving.   And a half dozen more for being outside city limits without permission since clearly they can't behave in public.   Remind my second son I'm a bit shady on why he's loose in the first place as I don't recall releasing him.   I may have,  but I can't recall it. I'm a King, I get busy. In any case,  they'll kiss the missileer's daughter before dawn. I'd tell them myself but I'm a bit disgusted.  And discontinue your search, the item in question has been recovered."   Saeed spoke to the retinue,  having witnessed what they saw first hand,  Saeed was none too pleased with the behavior.   At least he'd refrained from an outright execution. 

Saeed strode across the sand at an even pace.... at the moment with no particular destination in mind.  "To unite what once was separate. Hmm that's a tall order Junjo,   what would be the net effect of such a union?"  Saeed asked,  curious. 

Nisaame was young, like all her siblings, still in training, but she meant to serve Saeed and his kingdom with all the heart and wits she had.  When she was informed of the orders to lash Mog and Raafi, she was surprised, and contacted her father, not Saeed, she would not dare contact the King directly, she didn't pull that kind of rank.  She reported everything that had happened in detail, and then asked if Mog really needed to be flogged since he seemed to have acted responsibly, simply taking what the prince had dished out and not even tried to lay any blame on him.  Braemen told her to just stay out of it since no heads were being divided, but he would relay the report to Saeed, and would at that time also ask Saeed when Raafi had been released.  It was the first Braemen had heard of it.

No one had released Raafi.  He had released himself.  Raafi was a fool and ill tempered, far too impulsive and still quite mortal, but he had learned a great deal and made some deals since discovering demons were REAL.  The demon he had made a deal with was NOT of Acheron, but Annwn, a Fomor demon named Balor, Tuathan Demon of Death.  There was a strange coincidence in that, because in the kingdom neighboring Saeed's there was a priest whose guardian Memnoch had made an enemy of Balor by simply trying to escape him.  Balor had summoned Memnoch to begin with.  It was complicated.  Whatever the case, by striking a deal with Balor, no magic required, only the demon's name, Raafi had secured his escape.  So why had he not fled?  He would rather die than ever betray his father for one.  But mostly because he was trying to show his father something.  A) that he could be of use. 

B) that his wards COULD be escaped.  He had shown him a hole in the wards his father could now try to find a way to close.  Raafi didn't quite grasp his situation or the fact that Powers that proved 'absolute' could bypass any wards. 

C) that even in prison he had power.  Initially the power to make choices, good or bad.  And the power he would soon gain by making those choices.  Raafi no longer wanted to be a mortal surrounded by immortals.  He wanted to make himself into something his father could be thankful for.  He did not quite get that he was insane and had a temper that only ever spoiled any hope he had to prove worthy to his father.  He did not get that whatever power he was bestowed would come at great cost and was only granted because of certain ties he had... to Solbaid, to the son of Solbaid, to the desert where his pet had escaped to.

Now had Raafi spoken to someone knowledgeable about Balor, such as Solbaid, he might have been told that anyone with a flick of sense did NOT get involved with Balor.  Balor was the God of Death in Annwn for one, and had no respect for anyone who had not died and proved themselves worthy of his almost impossible to earn respect.  Raafi had read in a common book, a lame one none the less called, Demons are Real, that 'It is said that in Annwn there are demons, such as Balor, who can bestow great power and geists.'  That was all the book said.  The book had not mentioned that he was a god, that such powers came at great price, or that he was the Tuathan god of death.  The book had been so innocuous and unimportant in fact that it had easily passed muster for prisoner reading materials.  So Raafi tried to grease a lot of palms to get more books, important ones, and was brought nothing of any value to him... Then he remembered something he had heard.  Speak a demon's name and they can hear you.  It was not true of all demons, just the deific ones, but he was unaware of that.  So... every night he had spoken the demon's name, night after night after night.  Then... Balor answered, only not so much as a voice, but more of an impression... an inner voice but which was NOT Raafi's own.  Like thinking thoughts to yourself only you aren't thinking them.  It was a test of self-assurance really.  If you knew yourself incapable of that KIND of insanity, because let's face it, Raafi was insane, then you would know someone was speaking to you.  Raafi knew right away it was not his own thoughts.  He KNEW it was Balor, that Balor had finally answered.  It said... "You have shamed the word wisdom and called winter's hallowed name.  Tell me what it is it wants and it shall have it for all which we shall ask in return."  Then Raafi told him everything that he wanted. And just like that the deal was sealed.  Raafi found himself standing in Inaaksu's square and bullshitted his way to the place he now stood.  He was free, if Saeed had not freed him he could not BE free, so no one doubted him when he claimed to have been released and that his father had ordered him last minute to join Yishima's company (Yishima had been in charge of the search).  Raafi had just run into them in the court square where they were gathering to leave.  Because he WAS the Prince, and because the mission was a simple artifact search, Yishima made the call not to bother the king to second guess Raafi.  Few really knew why the Prince had been imprisoned to begin with and Yishima was not privy to that information. 

It had been Braemen who had offered Mog to the search.  The dull, tedious, mundane tasks were what Braemen assigned him to.  Mog had shoveled his share of dragon, lombra, elephant and horse shit.  Mog knew even less about Raafi than the others did.  What he knew about Raafi was that upon meeting him as a search party member he detested him, and would have LOVED to teach him a lesson as he taught them to upstarts.  Mog had mocked Raafi, true, but only because he had deserved it.  The entire party would have said the Prince had it coming if they were to lower their professional masks to declare an opinion.

Now when Raafi found the tables had turned and himself suddenly seized by the men and women he had amused himself with trying to order around (which he never would have gotten away with if Yishima had not still been a few hundred yards off before the search had been called in) he struggled against them but only to insist he would come along without a fight.  They held onto him regardless, because by this time Yishima had returned and ordered them to drop down on their knees and bow to the salt there on the flat they stood upon.

Junjo in the meantime tipped her head over as Saeed asked about the consequences of joining darkness and light.  "Many believe that if darkness and light become one, the one and all become none, but would they who are now named Maelmorda wish nothing on all?  Junjo does not believe Maelmorda has such an intention.  Does King of Hassim?  Does son of King Hassim?" she asked the two.

Yorek scratched his chin then gazed out over the desert for a moment before his indigo eyes glanced his father and the girl again.  "I can't presume to know Saezar Kilcanoragh's mind."

The corner of her lips curled into a beautifully crooked smile.  "Junjo thinks Yorek has an idea," she seemed very sure.

Yorek's lips pursed slightly.  "I do not think he would." He felt.

"No one knows exactly the outcome with the possible exception of chaos.  What Junjo believes is just a guess..."

"A guess you seem reluctant to impart," Yorek noticed, swapping glances with his father before focusing on her again.

"Junjo will leap at faith..." She decided after gazing at each of them for a prolonged duration.  She showed some small signs of being nervous though.  "Junjo suspects that when the sons of chaos become one, their kingdoms also become one... as Acheron and Leviathan join, the Upper and lower kingdoms join."

Yorek's brows creased. "What would that mean for the spirits, the demons and angels..."

"All under one roof if Junjo is not mistaken." She theorized with a faint smile.  "All things spirit there pulled because of the spectral mass."

"Gods are ethereal..."

"Yes," she seemed excited that Yorek and Saeed seemed to understand.  "Gods, demons, angels, all are ethereals.  Pulled away from the middle kingdom into the great spectral plane that would then surround the universe like a bubble of spectral energies.  This is what Junjo calculates will happen."

"So he is... trying to separate the ethereals from the mortals?" Yorek asked.

"Possibly," Junjo refused to be certain when she could be wrong.

Yorek looked to his father.  "Is that... good or bad...?  What would happen to you?  What would happen if others believed as Junjo does?" Even as he asked it he could only imagine war... Acheron divided, Haman being forced to take sides in an unimaginable holy war.  "I understand now why you were afraid to tell us," he acknowledged, his gaze locking on Saaed. 

"The wrong ones can never know... Junjo feels Saeed and Yorek must know.  Junjo's heart guides her."  She could only ever hope her heart did not lead her astray when she needed to rely on it most.

Northwest of them Raafi and Mog were getting flogged as ordered.  Raafi took it with courage.  He had his merits.  Mog?  He laughed each time he was struck, goading Yishima to whip him harder.  He felt pain as hotly as anyone, he had just learned to laugh in the face of it ages ago, albeit frantically when the agony bit deeply.  Each of them had received their thirty lashes, enough to kill some mortals. Nisaame meanwhile hid the tears she shed when the Prince and Mog were flayed, She was still as tender in her age as her heart. Now while the borrowed body of Mog bled profusely, Raafi did not.  Yishima contacted Saeed telepathically.  "Eas Shaadu... the Prince does not bleed," he informed him. After thirty lashes there was not a scratch on him, which had made Yishima strike him ever harder, that and the fact that Raafi had lied to them about his release, and he could tell Raafi was feeling the agony of the blows.  Raafi had always loved to one up Yorek, and it seemed he may have done just that.  Yishima forced the two to their feet in the meantime and forced them to walk southeast while communicating with his king.  He would call on a gate if Saeed commanded him to take them back to Inaaksu. 

"Upon further thought Braemen,  teach every foul lesson possible to Raffi.  NO.   Wait,   instead, Execute him without warning or hesitation.  We don't need his shit today. Belay the flogging of Mog. Stop if you've already begun,    And not just because that rhymes or sounds like a nasty euphemism for masturbation.  Flogging the Mog.   Next time ask the boss before you take his pets for a walk.  Seriously though.  Raffi.   He his disowned and must be made dead.  Make sure it is permanent.  Eliminate anyone who helped him escape his vessel prison.  Forthwith."       Of the days annoyances counted the King.   For once he'd almost made it a week without ordering anyone Killed.   At least he hadn't personally had to kill anyone lately.  Progress,  he sighed to himself and turned his attention back to Yorek and unto the traveler, at least until they told their Sovereign about the individual's inability to bleed.   He was no longer a prince.    "IF Raffi doesn't bleed?"  He answered....stab him through his open mouth up into his brain or down into his heart.  You may even impale him through his anus up though his mouth on a steel spike if you must. Braeman, assist them if needed.  And just so we're clear in addition to being dead, he's no longer a Prince. Little fucking bastard.  He's the son a of a used Dromeddai salesman."   The King smiled and turned his attention back to his son and the traveler.

"Indeed my son,  my sentiments exactly."  He mused to Yorek's observation about Junjo's repeated assertions about it being a leap of faith and that like as not, only Chaos would or could likely guess the outcome.   Saeed mused over the notion in any case.  "To be sure, Junjo, I do not believe any one could speak for Domeyl Maelmorda save for Maelmorda himself.   The powers of this planet are shrouded in ancient relationships, arguments and events, both union and  schizem   alike.    Mael  would certainly hold an opion,  and an idea,  but as to which?  Who could say.   We would not speak for him.  We could not, lest he gave us leave to do so, I can speak only for my house and for Hassim.  I might have counsel and some sway with the house of DeCasey, beyond our borders in Seumir,  but again, Lord Byron's counsel and choice would be his own.  He is however married to my daughter so we have familial ties and trade, as well as some legal and military exchange.  I might influence Solbaid,  but his choice would be his own.  There is Sammael, but none of us could speak for him.  True Maelmorda is also family,  many of us here in Morendor,  this continent,  this land mass upon this planet, have....familial ties,  through creation,  through family, through culture and in some cases language.  But the overlords rule their lands. Some of the elder might hold sway with the other, but choice is their own.    As for wether they would want a joining,  there are likely many who would not absent some notion of what such a union might hold.  Others, would embrace the discordance inherent in the anarchy.  Some might see the shadows and the light, the refractions and the reflections,  the totality of the whole and the singularity of the uniquely individual attributes. The infinite multitudes of the many and the one."   

Saeed considered it.   Both as a King, as  Demon and a Father,  his children clearly all ethereal,  most anyone he regarded as friend, even mere acquaintances,  the mortal notwithstanding, were all 'Ethereal' as Junjo had put it. What would it mean to join, would simply be the barriers between all the worlds would be removed?  Or would everyone's existence cease as they knew it. "A joining of worlds might be many things, what concerns us,  what is of grave concern,  what becomes of our people, our land, our homes here? Destroyed in the union?  My son does not want to forget he is Yorek.  I do not wish to forget I am Saeed.  As for our spiritual components. The Ethereal, that is a bit more complicated, likewise for the Angels and Demons and Devils and so on. What of the non corporeal beings? There are many things that give one pause, not the least of which, we are a world already at war, this, opening everything would tend to make matters even worse.  Likewise there are many mortals,  MANY who would object to any potential outcomes from this....What else might you tell us to describe this Junjo?  And if as I suspect, might also be the case, this great spectral plane is like another prison,  many in heaven or hell would be reluctant to shed one for another.  Better the devils and dungeons you know."   

Eoghan had been gone sixteen months tracking and infiltrating Dreward"s camps then escaping only to track the well guarded man again, and not until the sixteenth month after his third and final escape from yet another camp was the Anduain able to locate Dreward and his officers in a place others could find and reach when reported to them. The first time Eoghan was imprisoned he had joined Dreward"s ranks only to be treated cruelly and thus declared he could never join an army who behaved far worse than they accused their enemies of being. One of Dreward"s own officers had helped Eoghan to escape. Eoghan had seemed to get away clean from the hidden camp in the plane of verdure and made it to northeastern Morendor to the Greenvale River where he accidentally on purpose stumbled across a large encampment which he pretended to try to sneak his way around when he was captured again. He divulged candidly that he was on his way to speak to Treborn, King of the Cliff City, but Dreward"s men tagged him as a spy, which was fair enough being he was a spy though not entirely. He had never not once lied to Dreward or his people but failed to mention he had let them capture him that second time.   

Eoghan did not allow them to put him at the same disadvantages the second time however. Their attempts to weaken him failed against the defenses he raised. In that interim he asked the commanding leader of the capturing legion why he was so afraid of letting him speak to king Treborn who not only was Escion and a true believer in human independence, but one of their greatest allies. "I intend to place myself at his mercy as I tried to with Dreward and pray he IS worthy of serving. I keep telling ye people I came to join thee. But ye keep treating me like a hated enemy."

"You are an enemy. You serve a demon."

"A demon who I quit so I could serve humankind in this war. A demon who proved himself honorable and a good leader to his people, a demon who was instrumental in driving back the legions who spilled out of Acheron not too long ago. I was there and we as his wardens fought them until the gates of Acheron could be sealed shut again. The people ye make enemies of are only thy enemies because ye declared war on them. Ye have enemies, REAL enemies, I know because I have fought them for ages and will continue to do so, but thy leaders are fighting the WRONG people, made enemies of people who now ARE a threat to thee because ye forced them to be. If ye continue this way ye WILL lose this world to them. None of thee truly understands what thou art dealing with."

"And you do?"


Then to prove Eoghan wrong they struck Eoghan with a massive telekinetic force which knocked him face down into an iron box which appeared within a ditch it was sunk into at the moment Eoghan was struck. The heavy hinged lid banged shut as he was swallowed by the box, locking as it closed him in. A voice muffled by the three inches of iron between them informed Eoghan of his peril. "We received information from the main camp that you fair very poorly in enclosed spaces. So... welcome to your new home. I hope you find it comfortable, Bel of Tuatha."

Eoghan recognized the voice straight away. "Dreward, ye deceitful snake! Ye are making a terrible mistake," Eoghan warned the Namas.

"The mistake was yours for ever coming here," Dreward assured.

"Why are ye so afraid of letting me speak to Treborn? Ye afraid he will listen to me?" Eoghan challenged only to meet with silence as Dreward walked away, his chain maille jingling and footsteps crunching against the pebbles covering the ground by the riverside.

Eoghan could hear the sound of camp being broken immediately after Dreward had taken his leave with his best sorcerer through a gatekey portal and himself being moved shortly thereafter via a triangulated gate with the officers. Had he not felt the shift he never would've known from the sounds. They were still by a river, the ground once again covered with sand and river tumbled pebbles. He tried to remain calm despite his tremendously claustrophobic space through which he couldn't so much as breathe or smell the fresh air just on the other side of his coffin-like prison. Eoghan wasn't worried however. His first brush with AoM had taught him what he needed to do when he encountered their people and was captured again by these people who were all too certain that he was their enemy. If he panicked he was giving them what they wanted. If he let them see him suffering he was giving them the advantage. So how did he escape a second time? It was actually dumb luck but by the time that stroke of fortune happened, Eoghan was in aweful shape. He had been in that box nearly four months, the camp moving roughly every two weeks by Eoghan's best guess. No one was allowed to speak to Eoghan unless either Dreward or one of his inner circle's best officers was present because of how persuasive Eoghan could be, and for a month he was allowed neither water or food. Dreward wasn't taking any chances after Eoghan had turned one of his most trusted officers. After one month of privation locked away from fresh air and the world without; sliding panels were lifted to expose rows of slots which swords had been inserted into like some magician's box only Eoghan was impaled by 32 blades all at once, eight on each side and the top, and four at each end. And so the torture to keep him incapacitated once again began, only they had customized their methods to be efficient against him and they assumed many other immortals. They had waited a month to be sure he was weak enough to risk exposing the small gaps of air between the slots and swords. Eoghan was pretty sure they meant to kill him this time. They might have succeeded if not for what happened a week and a half after the fourth month. The camp was attacked by troops out of Seumir supported by Hassim allies. The camp was wiped out, and for the first time since Eoghan had embarked out of Hassim, he was able to pass on all the intelligence he had gathered without returning to Hassim and in his mind losing ground. He was able to tell them about six different sights in the outer planes they had made camp and drew them a map of the planes interconnectively, marking the locations of the main camp and the order they had moved it in case a pattern could be found. Patterns could be found even in random events, he explained and suggested they find a priest of chaos to help them identify the pattern of the base camp's movements. The map was not exact but accurate enough to find each encampment site by.

Though Byron and Saeed's people tried to convince Eoghan to return to Hassim or Seumir with them, Eoghan refused because Dreward and his retinue had escaped and Eoghan declared he wouldn"t rest until Dreward was either captured or dead. He admitted he was in dire straights but assured that with fresh air, the food and water nature provided, he would recover quickly. They had left supplies with him to get him started. Eoghan was in the process of that recovery in the mountains when Galaxy had contacted him about meeting she and Maladin and because he was on his way to Cliff City, he was not too far from the Lake of Shadows, where she wanted to meet.

Eoghan was late meeting Maladin who had been at the Inn for six days already.  Eoghan had forgotten how much his son looked like him. It was like looking at himself when he was in his early twenties. The two sat outside at one of the soapstone tables by the lake. Eoghan ordered a pint of stout and told Trey to keep them coming. Maladin ordered Blacklion Lavot, their version of Merlot. Though Maladin was not as outwardly resentful as he used to be, it quickly became apparent that he still carried the same rot in his soul, he was just better at concealing it, which in Eoghan's opinion made him even more dangerous. 

"I was sure you wouldn't make it," the Mordim stated hollowly.  Maladin had one devil of a hangover.

"Why wouldn"t I?" Eoghan made the mistake of asking.

"Oh, because something world changing came up. Because someone captured you. Because you forgot I existed. To name a few of your usual excuses." Maladin replied in droll tones.

Ouch. Eoghan remembered enough to know he was a terrible father. He used to believe it was because he couldn't help that so much happened to him, but had come to admit to himself that it was because of the life he CHOSE for himself. He was so often a target of misfortune because he endangered himself with his choices. "The life I have chosen for myself is full of unpredictable perils," he felt he should admit to his son.

Maladin stared at him some moments then shook his head. His eyes then winced and he drew in deep breath which rushed back out as he swore passionately that he was trying to overcome the malice which had built up in him age after age like sediment in a river bed. "I know I am broken... and that darkness fills the cracks in me, but I want to be washed clean of it, I do!" He swore. "But I need my mother and my father's help getting past myself," he then implored in desperation. "I heard that you and mother are together again. Is it true?" There was something in his eyes... Eoghan could swear it was hope.

"Yes it's true... but not as lovers. We are taking things slow as friends and associates. But I will be leaving the company we serve together when my present task is done. I am going to ask her to come with me, but she may choose to stay with the wardens."

"Then... when I can get away... May I stay with you and mother?" He asked, the insecurity he felt painfully obvious to Eoghan.

"We won't have a home.  Not at first."

"I don't care," Maladin stated strongly.

Eoghan exhaled deeply. "I will speak to thy mother when I return to her and contact thee to tell thee whither thou should meet us."

Maladin smiled just a little. "Thank you, father."

"No need to thank me. I look forward to getting to know thee."

"Father... I am sorry for what I did to you and mother."

Eoghan gazed at him. He had no idea what Maladin was talking about, that Maladin had seduced Selena while masquerading as his father after capturing and doing his best to kill and replace Eoghan. Maladin had been a very sick puppy. Question was, was he still? His twin sister Elsbeth had turned out quite well on the other hand though she was marrying a horned demon named Solbaid with a wicked reputation that was well earned, but then the devil had designated the future as a time of change. Eoghan was unaware that Maladin planned to travel to Solbaid's kingdom with a vampire named Marcus and visit his sister there as soon as possible.

Eoghan decided that it would be best if he asked Selena about what their son had done.

"Let's just keep the past buried and make a fresh start, son. How does that sound?"

That was when Maladin figured it out. He had inherited his father's intuitive knack. "You don't remember, do you?" He accused. 

Eoghan sighed. "I am afraid I don't. I don't remember any of the children I have been told I have, and until thee, have only met two daughters named Arilwen and Elsbeth."

Maladin's eyes rounded when he mentioned his twin sister. "Elsbeth? You have seen her?" Maladin grew excited.

Eoghan nodded. "I met her at the only Inne in Szaaraebu. She may be living in Gothardda though. She is to marry the king there if she hasn't already. She will probably stay at Inaaksu when her husband visits there."

"Wait... Inaaksu? Then her fiance or husband has affiliates there?" Maladin asked.

"His name is Solbaid, little known as Eireamhon, father of King Kassim."

"I know, I heard.  I am surprised you let her marry a demon," Maladin was clearly upset by the fact.

"I am uncertain how ye know her but..."

"She is my twin sister!" Maladin lost his cool.

"Oh, then ye should know that she is a woman of her own mind. I did try to sway her away from such a match, but she loves him, Maladin. She could not be persuaded to abandon him. Who am I to ruin her happiness?"

"And mother? What is her opinion?"

"Much as mine." Eoghan divulged.

Maladin shook his head. "Neither of you should allow it."

"She follows her heart," Eoghan said plainly.

Maladin just shook his head. He was always at odds with his father. Would that ever change?

The two parted ways on fair terms regardless. Eoghan left the Inn the following morning. When he got around to contacting Galaxy he would speak to her then of how things had gone and thank her for arranging the meeting. He was only sorry he had missed her.

With the bedroll Byron had given him (a fine one of bear furs with a thick mastadon pad) a new horse and an infinite backpack full of provisions all purchased at the Inn (Eoghan summoned his money, never traveled with more than a pouch of coins) the Anduain headed east from the lake for the mountains which he reached in five days. He took care to avoid enemies this time, hiding his camps nightly with ancient sidhe lore. He carried the rune scored stones with him because they were time consuming to make. By the time he left the Greywold behind him and crossed the mountains his strength had nearly returned, and by the time he had made his way through Greenwood and up the wending path to the plateau above he was at his best in mind and body. Not once had he tapped the arcane along the way and to blend with the natives he had shed all that was supernatural about him to become mortal as he approached the Cliff City some called the City of Man. When the guards at the gate plied him for what his business there was, Eoghan answered quite simply that Belorian of Tuatha was there to see the king. As expected, Eoghan was seized and taken to an isolated prison cell deep in their warren and there remained for three days before king Treborn came to see him. How did Eoghan escape his third and final capture by the Alliance of Man? He didn't. He was let go. As Eoghan had suspected Treborn was displeased to hear of Dreward's exploits. How he had commandeered Morgais' army and ignored the Elorendor king's commands and started a war with the army against people Morgais never intended to declare war against, and how he threatened the kingdom of Seumir, killing thousands there in the process, just to lay his hands on a dangerous artifact he barely knew anything about because it was simply too complex and enigmatic for anyone but its maker to understand without first unraveling all of its secrets and solving all its puzzles. Eoghan convinced him that Dreward had to be stopped before Acheron was unleashed to put an end to his catastrophic foolishness. 

For all of Eoghan's troubles and suffering Treborn gave the Anduain two of his stable's finest horses to speed his way home after making him a freelance officer in the Army of Man so that Eoghan could travel to any of their camps and locate any of his fellow officers including Halen Dreward. On the very day Eoghan located Dreward's wilderness camp the pretender very foolishly commanded his most expendable mage to activate the sceptre so many had lost their lives for him to claim. That mage happened to be one of their very own wardens, Kaeom Cage, whom Dreward's forces had captured and through invocation enslaved. Eoghan left the camp WITH a hog-tied Kaeom on his spare horse once he had identified the camp as Dreward's, even as hundreds all over the encampment began to vanish as they were vanquished to the worlds and planes of their origins, some disappearing right in Eoghan's path. His eyes burned deeply but his face was otherwise expressionless. He was going home. With his stallion's lead in hand he mounted his mare and rode with his bound man at arms until he cleared the dead zones and had unbound Kaeom from the enslaving curse over him and from there passed through an archway of vines he had raised and into the desert of fire a mere stone's throw from the Twinstar's main camp.

They were in the north central expanse of Hassim. There was a ruckus at the camp over what to do with one 'escaped prisoner' named Rafee when Eoghan rode in and dismounted. He listened to them talking and debating as he helped Kaeom down and untied him. At that point Saeed had not yet extended orders on what they should do. Eoghan looked over at Selena, who in her usual form stood indistinct, just listening and watching for the time being. Eoghan smiled at her as he removed the light-weight gauntlets he wore. His eyes then deviated to Rafee whom he gazed at intently for a time before looking to the others. "He is an illusion. Which raises the question who created him and why?" Moments after he said it so plainly at that, the illusory version of Rafee began to unravel and become translucent and then fade. The real Raafi?  He was dead asleep in his cell.  Practically comatose.  Balor had kept his promise and freed him, made him indestructable, as a phantasm.  Rafee had even experienced his moment of 'freedom' as the Twin Star and young Inaaksu soldiers had witnessed it. 

"But we beat him!" Khemset cried out. "I felt his meat n bones neath my knuckles!" He disbelieved... at first.

"Living Phantasm," Eoghan went on to say as he walked over to Selena. "Did no one check the Prince's cell?"

The rangers just looked at one another. Their ward for the moment Mog looked positively bent out of shape. He had taken a very convincing beating from the little illusory bastard. He felt as silly as the rest of them, especially when Imaru chimed in with, "I am surprised you didn't mark it for what it was, Mog, being a formless one and all."

Mog sneered. "Like the rest of you mundanes it never occured to me that he might be a fake." The fallen one admitted in mildly disdainful tones.

Eoghan meanwhile hugged Selena, lifting her off her feet as he did and kissed her rather passionately for a 'friend'. "I missed thee all these months." Months which had added up to a year and four months.

While Saeed contacted Braemen who wasn't even aware of the whole Rafee incident, to give the execution orders, and Braemen gathered the information needed from his offspring in the field so that he could try and explain the insanity that had just happened out there TO Saeed, several of the rangers hooted. "Do we get hugs, Eoghan?" Imaru asked with a dazzling grin.

"Yeah, didn't you miss us?" Cass joined in the teasing when the lot of them crowded together around them to lift them both up in a boisterous group hug! There was some amount of bruising involved.

When they broke it up Eoghan was laughing breathlessly and hanging on to Selena like he was afraid she too would disappear if he let go of her, and he wasn't really aware that he was being clingy. Only when Imaru and Khemset pulled him towards the camp fire did he realize how unwilling his hands were to let go of her. He rather hoped she would come along with them so he wouldn't have to let go or... just try to keep hanging on. 

"So what happened out there, Eoghan, that kept you away so long?" Cassien asked.

"And how is it Kaeom returned with you?" The lovely Affrittis asked. 

Eoghan had a few questions of his own, such as why Mog was there, and what they were up to in the northern end of the desert. But what he really wanted was to just curl up next to Selena in their tent and speak to her privately.

"Selena is getting gods damned good with daggers and light swords," Imaru thought he would want to know. "She has become an excellent scout too. You are one sneaky sister," he went on to say, elbowing her. He had been doing the most training in and out of the field with her. Imaru was probably the most unvampire like vampire Eoghan had ever met.

Eoghan's lips curled as he looked to her. "That is wonderful to hear. I suppose you have become very attached to our comrades this past year." He fished and beat around the bush in one stroke. Then he was goaded by the wardens to tell his tale and so he did in a nutshell. He was tired and distracted. Cassien saw to the horses for him which he was grateful for.

He left off the part about Maladin in the telling for the time being.  That was a subject better spoken of in privacy.  As for announcing his plans to leave; he thought it best to wait for morning.  The wardens were angered and outraged by the way Eoghan had been treated by AoM and he hadn't even gone into detail.

When Eoghan got to the part in his story about Ckage, the badlands demon spoke for himself.   "They invoked my sire Behethsma and instructed him to enslave me to Dreward.  Halen needed a skilled while expendable mage which he made of me.  He believed the sceptre he stole from Lord Decasey would banish all the hellions, planars and immortals from the world.  I warned him the outcome was uncertain but he commanded me to activate its banishment sequence. People began vanishing all over the place, none of them hellions that I could tell.  But then there were few Achonian in that camp. Unfortunately Halen Dreward was not among them.  The scepter of Arasgal has a tile puzzle around its shaft that triggers various effects depending on the images the tiles form." He explained then pulled the very artifact itself from beneath his robe. 

"You sly fox!" Imaru crowed!

Eoghan examined it when Kaeom handed it to him then slid it into his pack.  "I will return it to its maker," he resolved.  He was confident that he and Mael would meet up again before long.

"So ends the tale of three boxes," Eoghan concluded.  He stood then and offered Selena his hand.  "Shall we retire to our tent and speak in confidence?" He offered a warm smile with the invite.

Braemen in the meantime had emerged from the ether to stand silently apart from the twinstar.  He'd had nothing to do with Rafee being there, had no idea Rafee was in their company, until Saeed's communication to him compelled him to join his 'daughter' and sons in the field where they had met up with the wardens.  Braemen gathered as much information as he could as quickly as he could before responding to mind to mind with Saeed.  He laughed at the flogging the mog comment.  "Good one, eas Haraad.  I just arrived at the scene, My Lord.  According to Nim (his nickname for Nissame) and Imaru, Your eldest won't be bleeding at all.  Or dying for that matter, not here at least.  He could not be harmed because he was a phantasm it turns out, which Eoghan, who has just returned by the way, exposed for what it was. It raises many questions.  Who released the illusory doppelganger and why?  And is Rafee aware of it or party to it?  I just came from the wards and Rafee was in his cell, and to be sure, just had the guards there check in on him.  Rafee IS there, asleep they reported.  I can tell you this, whatever phantasm it was, it packed one devil of a punch.  Mog looks like he tangled with a dragon.  It is rather extraordinary.  Everyone here attests that they were completely fooled.  All but Eoghan that is.  They say he even smelled like Rafee," He informed.  "That would explain how the security measures in the wards have not been tripped.  He never actually escaped." Braemen went on to assess.  Though Balor, the demon they weren't aware of yet, might have been able to bypass the wards anyway by heeding the conditions of demon invocation, he hadn't even bothered, much as he had fulfilled the conditions of Rafee's commands via deceit.  It was what the disgraced prince got for messing with Sidhe demons.  They were legendary for being tricksters.  All sidhe were, the Blackhorn included.  "Shall I pay the Prince a visit in his cell and 'disown' him there pending an interrogation?" The demon asked his leige.

Junjo agreed that Mael or anyone for that matter could only speak for themselves, and she nodded.  "Truly Lord Kassim is correct.  Junjo can only guess to the possibilities."  She listened in fascination as Saeed spoke of heirarchies in their lands, absorbing most of it, distracted from some it by a lizard here, a cacti flower there, a desert butterfly of extraordinary color flitting on the hot currents of air.  The way Saeed spoke fascinated her, so much so that she stopped chasing the butterfly and turned to stare at him curiously as he addressed his more serious concerns.  He was both riddling and poetic to her senses.  "Change is the stomping ground of chaos and the thing most feared by people, even immortal ones.  Those who do not fear change are unique.  Chaos by Proxy does not fear change so it begs the question, does it matter to him if most do fear it?  If Junjo were aware of what will come of this melding the girl she is might not be here.  At this moment she contemplates the myriads of what might occur should the event come to pass, and Junjo believes it might.  The potential outcomes are so many and so perplexing, some disturbing or even terrifying, that the girl clings to the hope that the Torch Bearer, even in spite of the fallen one's reputation for evil and ruthlessness, has no desire to make its children suffer or to bring them to harm.  Junjo has been led to believe by some that Acheron and its true proxy has no care for anything but its own agendas and desires. That if it wants something it will pursue it regardless of the cost to others.  That claim portrays the Morning Star as truly evil.  But if that were so, why fear what could not come to pass if that WAS true?  The incarnates of chaos and order, dark and light as some presume, cannot join unless each has a great deal of the other in it.  If Acheron, its proxies, are too evil, Leviathan would not be drawn, would never unite.  As Junjo understands it; It is this corruption of the pure form which draws them to each other and makes the union at all possible to begin with.  This is clearly already underway.  It is the outcome Junjo and others are concerned with.  If like magnets they are drawn, have THEY any choice in the matter, or do they just think they do?  Perhaps it can be prevented, by purging them each of the corruption, but at what cost that?  Junjo only wishes to help... to help keep safe this world and its people and figure out the best way for all to do so.  She requires help in this endeavor, help solving this great puzzle." She smiled a little.  She loved puzzles.

"Perhaps the greatest question all may ask is whether or not the Morning Star can be trusted?  Can this... event be trusted?  It has happened before, before there were angels and demons as Saeed knows them to be. But what happened then may not happen now, and if it does, this world and the universe survived it at least once that Junjo knows of." she speculated.  The girl then ambled back over to the bladder tree and suddenly plopped down naked on the sand to sit crossed legged in its secluded island of shade.  "It's very hot," she finally seemed to notice.

"Scorching," Yorek agreed with a chuckle.  Even for the desert it was an unusually hot day.  The prince then looked to his father.  "These tidings she brings us are a lot to contemplate.  Should we take her back to Inaaksu?  And forgive me for prying, but I sense you are on edge, father.  Is there something else going on I should know about?"

"Alright Braeman,  just so long as Raffi is in his place for real,  he can live. But he's still disowned and I still want whoever created his doppleganger dead.  Likewise figure out if anyone communicated with Rafee if anyone  and ward against that accordingly.  We cannot let him grow a powerful brainstem now.  That boy is on lockdown so far I don't want him to even remember who the hell he is by the time I'm done with him.  That said if he appears out of sorts or poised to get out, kill him forthwith. as well  if he ever does magically appear outside his cell again then again, Kill him on sight.   But at least today I don't have to order the death of anyone of import.  Except his doppleganger. Once you've questioned and interrogated and tortured then dispose of it.  In any case, to even smell like him?  That boy was forever avoiding the baths.  What a detail. Yes,  as ordered, interrogate.  We can't let any breach go unanswered no matter the gravest to the slightest.   As for Eoghan. Excellent."  This excited Saeed for it had been long since Kassim had received news other then the allied contingent that had encountered him in their raids.  "That is great news, I began to wonder,  I will hear his debrief as soon as he's rested unless he has something pressing to pass along forthwith.  We have a bit of a situation out here in the expanse.."   Saeed continued, then informing Braemen about what Yorek had called him out for,  from the offworld origins down to the possible union and the complications.   "I think we're going to get her some clothes, Yes stark naked as a jaybird and not harsh upon the eyes either, so before one of the caravans or local yokels tries to grab her,  we'll get her kitted up  and get her back to the palace, at least before we burn much more  daylight this morning.... as the weather mage says scorching for today."  Quipped the King, since they never remarked on the heat so much internally, it was so common and anyone who was Neffari or who had lived among them or in Hassim or anywhere in the desert for that matter didn't pay it much mind. Now when it rained or unusual sand storms and hurricaines and the like from the sea,  That was worth remarking on, a flame broiler of a day on the dunes, not so much. 

  "All good questions Junjo and no, if Domeyl believes that to bring this union about is for the better result then he'll set his mind to it. Evil is relative. Balance is not quite the mode either, it's more like, a bit of net imbalance, teetering back and forth, enough to sustain chaos and growth yet not become unmanageable.  Although that's merely an observation. A pattern of things if you will."  Solbaid was nothing if not a stickler for the use of powers of reflection and observation, extroversion and internal perspective, but then he'd wanted his masterpiece to be able see the paths and intersections of things.  "And they may not have choice, they may be drawn, some of them are merely the disparate parts of beings that were once in union as one.   I know not what Leviathan would do,  that is a name we do not speak often. Whilst we are contemplating this puzzle,  please, come with us home."  'Indeed Yorek, we should get her out of here before she burns or others less savory come across her.'  He communed to his son telepathically,   " We need to get you out of this heat and sun.   A day in this with no protection can harm even the most robust...please..take this cloak and cover yourself...from the sun...even if modesty is not among your customs...let us refresh and repast within the cool walls of Inaaksu....Please...come....."  He gently led her back toward the way they had come...heading first to shade...and then to a portal if she was willing to come with. 

To Yorek he continued quietly.."Eoghan has returned.....and Rafee, or rather a shade manufactured to look like him appeared in the palace and went out on the search party to find that certain object that has...of course,  been lost, due in no small part to said Shade's interference....Braemen is going to interrotgate, we will get to the bottom of this..." 

Braemen was amused because as bizarre as the situation was with the fake Rafee, he doubted somehow that it being a phantasm would save the fallen prince.  "I shall use my best judgment in the matter until it just won't do," he assured his leige on the matter of sparing Rafee's life. He would only kill the prince on Saeed's order whatever else the circumstances were barring an outright attack or escape attempt as indicated BY Saeed. "I shall interogate Rafee, his shade however has... dissipated." As phantasms often did once made.  The hellion then listened as Saeed filled him in on Junjokitsumi.  "Her name is quite a mouth full..." He was walking the perimeter of the Twinstar camp as he spoke.  "She has picked up the desert tongue already?  Interesting." He chuckled when told about the state of her dress.  "Now I wish I had been invited along.  Much as I would love to see her bare assed, I shall send some clothes your way."  Following a quick relay to retrieve a simple dress, sarong and sandles from Inaaksu he sent it to Saeed by gate, thus she had the clothes requested shortly after Saeed asked for them.  The dress had been picked out by one of Braemen's servants. It was pretty and very light in colour and weight, almost sheer with a satin shift to wear beneath.  It was a very pale shade of yellow with small pink rose buds and green leaves and sleeveless with a full mid-length skirt.  The shift was white and the matching sarong a deeper shade of yellow with attractive Neffari pictograms decorating it.  The sandles were a tan leather and laced up to just below the knees.  "We shall definitely have to keep an eye on her purpose here," Braemen mentioned as Saeed received the things neatly folded and stacked.  The light colours would compliment her ivory skin and twilight blue-black hair, and help to reflect the desert sun as it rose to spread its heat quickly over the desert. "I agree she should be taken to Inaaksu.  We should learn as much as possible about her.  So is she a guest or prisoner, eas Shaadu?  Do we let her leave if she wishes it?"


Junjo seemed sensitive to the heat which broke the cool night air rather dramatically with the dawn sun, but she was just adapting.  Where she was from it was neither hot or cold though she was unaware of that.  The box had shown her where she was from just as it had shown Saeed and Yorek.  It had unlocked knowledge of her purpose and of the Morning Star to her.  Everything she seemed to 'know' was stored in that box and shared with her as she needed it.  It was also how she had traveled to Morashtar.  The rest was merely a blend of her intuition, speculation and logic.  The same small metal box with all the elaborate writing on it, which had appeared in Junjo's hand the same time it had disappeared from Rafee's belt pouch, was the single possession she had brought with her.  She could also leave it anywhere and call it to herself by simply needing it. It was tuned to her brainwaves and vice versa.  Though she couldn't remember it, she was also a traveler and had been many places with a wide spectrum of climates. She would grow accustomed to the heat rather quickly. In fact, when Saeed offered her the light cloak that had come with the clothes he had ordered, she bounced to her feet with a smile, dropped the metal box on the sand,  and snatched the sarong from him.  She smelled it, then rubbed it against her milky skin, then tried to figure out the best way to wear it.  She did quite well after various failures and draped it over her head so that it formed a hood around her face and fell around her shoulders like a cloak.  Then she saw another lizard and took off after it, and the second her fingers let go of the sarong it fell off of her.  Yorek snickered as she pivoted between catching it and chasing the colourful little lizard which skittered across the sand seeking the shade she had just given up.  By the time she caught the wrap, the lizard vanished on the other side of the bladder tree's bulbous trunk.  And so she ended up playing a game of hide and seek with the lizard.  After awhile she gave up.  She could have charmed the reptile with her voice but where was the fun in that.  "Home?  That is the place you call Inaaksu?" She asked and when affirmed, she rolled her hands, her version of a nod, and followed the two men, the wrap back in place in one hand and the two rocks in the other.  The box she left sitting on the sand, seeming utterly unconcerned with it.  That was because it would come to her from anywhere whenever she needed it. The box had told her so.  Yorek picked it up for her.

Hearing of Eoghan and Rafee Yorek pursed his lips, not sure whether to smile at the news of Eoghan or grimace to the report about Rafee.  "I should go back to the Twinstar then and get a report from Eoghan," he decided and would do so unless Saeed ordered otherwise.  "This box... it's odd."  He shook it and tapped on the seamless box lightly.  "Did you see her find it?  Maybe she found it laying around while both of us weren't looking?" He would have remembered seeing her pick up such a thing.  But they had not been watching her every second.  "What are those strange symbols on it I wonder?" It was nothing he had ever seen before, but his father's knowledge of language and runes was far more broad than his own.  "And this metal... looks like copper but I don't think it is.  It's not tarnished at all but the etching is well discoloured as if by age." He handed the box to Saeed.

The portal confused Junjo.  She stood eyeing it suspiciously, hands propped on perfectly shaped hips.  Then, she stuck one hand in it.  She recoiled it quickly because it felt odd... tingly with a strange heaviness almost like a vacumme to it.  She had obviously never encountered anything like it before.  Her mode of travel had been a teleporter which was probably a lot MORE dramatic, but it was very different. She regarded Saeed and Yorek for a moment then inhaled a deep breath and stepped through the portal quickly.  She staggered coming out the other side and swiveled to watch them (unless Yorek stayed behind) come through after.  She liked the way it refracted, as if they had stepped through a pool of water tipped on its side.  "Thoos mi emet meksutah?" She asked, forgetting herself, then translated.  "How is this accoomplished?" She corrected, poking at it few times before it shrank from sight.

"An enticing moon shot it is old friend, I know not if they make them that way where she came from or if they gave her a shape that would please. Yes, as for language she picked it up in at most a few hours,  probably less time if it was only after I arrived that she set to picking up the language. Curious and interested and patient.   It should be noted that  I think perhaps  whatever else she may be,  her information on us is Somewhat detailed yet also remains a bit scattered at best. Like watching something from afar and knowing there is interaction and communication,  indeed....dare I say, civilization, yet no knowledge of the subtext.  I think it possible her kind are incredibly advanced by our reckoning, yet extremely simple in nature.  Able to bridge worlds, possibly bending planes,  yet, unable to understand the concept of modesty,  or perhaps they no longer concern themselves with customs and conventions of that sort.  Be that as it may,  she is a guest for now, if she wants to leave on her own we'll dissuade her, at least until we know what it is this joining could mean for us, absent that we'll try  accompaniment,  I believe it may well be better to have a seat at the table then to be left out,  as much as I am ambivalent about what such a move might mean for us, for our family,  for the nation.  For this world even.  To that end  presence and a possible say would be the better option and I think she might not be able to reach her final destination without us.  It has been a most curious evening and morning for the nation. Oh yes, the box and item they were searching for,   never mind, we've recovered it here,  or more appropriately, she seemed to need it or think of it and it came to her.  Much the same way we ward our weapons and objects, gate rings and the like.  I'll let you tend to Raffee,   Thank you in advance  for the clothing,  even if it is a shame to cover that up,   but we'll introduce you two shortly.  "

Saeed chuckled, an oddly pleasant sound despite the source it emanated from,  as he watched her attempt to figure out the sarong and then watched it gracefully part Junjo's grasp and  fall to the sands as she darted after the lizard.  "Yes, Inaaksu,  by the sea.  The city is home.  Inaaksu is home."  He answered,  although dividing his attention betwixt her and his son.  "Prudent,   after we escort her home, make for the Wardens camp and see to needs,  Eoghan will likely have something to share,  but first no doubt, he's....getting reacquainted.  He would have reported directly if there was anything posing an immediate concern.  But as senior and the liason as  it were, you are correct to make an appearance.  It shows leadership and attentiveness to duty. "  Saeed watched Junjo playing hide and seek with the Lizard,  seeking to understand it. Once Yorek had the box,  Saeed took it from him as it was proffered.     He held it to the light, the vast spreading morning heat that came with it.  It was an audible breath as he examined the ornate script on the otherwise seamless box.  "I believe,  Son, that this is the box item of which they were looking earlier, no wonder it disappeared, it came here, to her. We have seen this among our our own have we not?   Weapons and items and even beings warded and imbued to appear at a summons from their owners or masters and creators...As for the script...that is something it has been a very long time since I have seen....."  He turned his inner eye and his powers upon it,  not to break it or force it,  but simply to understand it..."Hmm not copper.....and old..... it also bodes well that it allowed us to touch it. I believe it to be a tool, like a gate ring,  only this one likely has multiple functions,  do not judge it by the small size but this may be the source that helps our guest figure things out,  or helps put them in perspective..."   Saeed's fingers traced the delicate line markings on the box, they were familiar, and the more he studied, the more he seemed to catch glimmers and thoughts, like pieces of a puzzle falling into place.     "Yes, let us go,   and likewise Junjo looks like she might enjoy the fountains and the shade. "  He was memorizing the lines....they were more then simply decorative yet they were that as well.....  He handed the box to Junjo as the portal opened. 

He nodded to Yorek and let her step through and then Saeed and Yorek followed,   next came a guard who had kept a discrete distance.  Saeed chuckled as he  watched the guests reaction... "It's safe...I assure you...."  The King reached through and pulled back his hand before it closed.  When she asked how it worked Saeed said  "Portal,"  and then went on to explain in the most technical way he could,   "It is possible to generate a stable portal betwixt two points,  in essence we open a hole within two fixed points, all we have to do is simply ride, walk, swim, fly or dive through and so on. It's a little different then teleportation.  If you want the techno babble as the off worlders say,  well, that would take a bit longer, it shall suffice to simply say,  that there are those on this world who see that and believe it magick.   To others it appears a skill,  on some level it may be both,  but it's safe and possible in more then one way here,  that was a personal portal, one I and others of this world can generate, summon, call it what you will.  There are other ways but enough of that for now....please...go with these...they will see to your needs,   join me in awhile for some refreshment....  Teazja, please see to Junjo."  Saeed was pleased to see that the proper clothing promised by Brae had been provided.   Teazja was more then capable of seeing to the guests needs.   In the meantime, the king took the large crystal tankard of chilled water that was offered and set off to find Braemen, where they discussed findings and developments until time for the repast and or Yorek,  who would be off shortly for the Wardens camp, returned with news.Title: Re: Junjokitsumi (June or Junjo)
Post by: JD on November 11, 2016, 01:45:37 AMSaeed's description of the girl sounded like something Braeman had encountered a few times when he was a part of Gabrian.  "It sounds to me like you are describing a child deity, My Lord.  An advanced child as it were.  Knowing and yet unlearned, innocent and curious.  If I am correct, you might know her origins by the fact that ethereals of the upper realms show interest in the living and protection, while those of the lower realms tend to be fascinated by death or mischief.  The most dangerous kind are those who associate with, well... everything.  But those are rarely ever seen."  Mael was actually such a being though few were aware of it.  "Hmm, this box you speak of sounds fascinating.  I would love to examine it if you can arrange it, My Leige." Then to Saeed's dismissal.  "It was no trouble at all," to his thanks. "I look forward to it, val (which meant majesty)." He assured when told he would meet the girl soon.  "Until we meet again," he then bade and split the folds of distance with a quantum step which delivered him to the corridor just outside of the wards where he walked the remaining distance to Rafee's cell.  The boy (in Braeman's opinion) was still sleeping.

Yorek regarded his father curiously as he focused his powers on the intricately inscribed box then described what he had discovered about it.  There was nothing concealing the powers of the device and Saeed could detect a massive amount of energy contained within the center of the box.  There was no real signature or pattern to define what that energy's purpose was other than it being attuned to Junjo's brain waves, something that was recognizable by arcane identifiers and probes.  Saeed had seen a glimpse of the relationship between Junjo and the power of the box nevertheless and had made a sound speculation on one of the ways Junjo could manipulate the forces concentrated within. It was a compelling start to unraveling its mysteries.   "Whatever its use she is very cavalier about it.  She clearly has no concern about losing it and I wonder if perhaps it's because that's not likely to happen. Either she can't misplace it or she doesn't care if she does." He did a little speculation of his own.

When Saeed handed the box back to her she smiled a little and continued forward through the portal.  Once on the other side she listened to the King's instructions.  "Por-tal.  Junjo sees.  It is like scrambling is for Junjo."  Scrambling is what her people called teleportation.  "It seems that with portal, space is affected rather than the traveler's molecules.  Junjo is certain there are dangers in portal, as there are in scrambling.  Nothing can be foolproof, can it?" She was rather sure of that.  "Madjuh... Mad-jic... Magic." She repeated the word then tapped into the archives stored in her box in search of knowledge.  She raised a brow.  This magic interested her.  "Junjo would like to learn portal." She announced, because clearly it was a skill since Saeed had made it appear.  Junjo however was completely resistant to the arcane. Like any mundane, she was unable to tap the spheres of the elements and arcane with her mind or spirit. Her power lie within her physique, her mind, and the box, which had a name.  It was a metropholes, which translated to chronosphere, a great archive of data held within a sphere of energy which could be implemented in many ways from its data bank as Junjo accessed it.  Junjo had to learn from it along the way as it instructed her to.  Despite all the knowledge it contained, there were also huge gaps in iits information thus much still to be learned by her.  The box was just one teacher in the institute that was Morashtar and the universe. Junjo didn't even remember her own world.  All that she knew was taught her by the chronosphere.  She was indeed, as Braeman had put it, a child, one who had been born when she arrived in the desert only hours ago.  In a sense the box was her mother for it had gathered the genetic material and knowledge necessary to create her.

Junjo was watching the other people who they arrived among like a hawk and when Saeed had taken his leave and Teazja came forward to help her with the clothes, Junjo waved her hands adamantly as she cried out. "Iya! Iya!" and yammered "Junjo bek iya dokfah um dutshah!" she spoke with quick passion.  Then remembered herself and used their tongue.  "Junjo may trust only the ones she chooses.  Junjo shall explore until called by the duvai or his son."

Before Teazja could respond Yorek, who had decided to stick around for a few minutes glanced at Teazja then moved towards Junjo, offering a kind smile.  He held the clothes up that he had not handed off to Teazja yet.  "It is our custom to wear clothing.  It is unsafe for you to explore nude."  He said.  Junjo nodded after consulting with the box to discover what nude meant then took the clothes.  She looked to the people around her to figure out how to dress herself by how they wore their clothes.  Yorek helped her by removing his desert tunic then putting it back on for her.  She followed his lead and slipped into the simple but pretty dress provided.  Yorek tied the ribbon which gathered the dress in the back for her then offered her the sandals.  She balked at them as she put the two rocks she held in the dress pocket. 

"Junjo must feel the earth beneath her feet."

"There are places where the ground is sharp and can injure your feet," Yorek explained. 

"Junjo can protect her own feet," she insisted.

Yorek was uncertain what his father wanted to do with her if she was determined to wander around alone.  "I am uncertain how my father feels, but I believe it is unsafe for you to explore alone.  You seem... innocent to me, and there are some who would take advantage of that."

Junjo pursed her lips.  "Then she will stay with Duvai Saeed or Prince Yorek," she decided.

"We have our duties to attend..."

"Junjo will help," she volunteered.

Yorek exhaled deeply.  "You must trust Teazja to see to your needs.  She will only keep you safe.  It is our custom for guests to be served in such a way," He promised.

Junjo shook her head.  "Junjo respects this kingdom's customs but Junjo's heart is Junjo's own and will walk alone until called by the Duvai or Prince." That said she walked off.  Yorek heaved a breath and jogged after her while informing Saeed of Junjo's reaction to being placed under Teazja's care. "There are places in the palace and city you cannot go," he explained to her in the meantime.

"What places?" She asked.

"People's homes, private rooms... private property."

"Private?  What is private?"

"Anything people wish to keep to themselves and do not share with others."

"The people here do that?" Junjo seemed amazed.

Yorek was amazed that she was amazed.  "Yes, commonly." He stressed.

"Does that not promote bad feelings, quarrels and a precarious sort of curiosity?" she speculated by merely imagining what such a state would result in.

"I... Maybe... But it is what it is."

Junjo walked fast.  She was across the plaza already and heading down broad street.  "Believing what is to be what is must make progressive change difficult," she thought.  She saw a colourful store and bolted towards it.  She read the sign on the door which read OPEN FOR BUSINESS.  She clapped her hands and walked in through the door which hung open. 

"You must have money to pay for that," Yorek informed her as she picked up a pinwheel. 

She consulted her box, which Yorek was holding again because she put it down when she picked up the pinwheel.  She found the paper it was made of beautiful.  Yorek blew on it to show her how it worked.  Her face lit up.  "How much?" she asked the clerk offering him one of her rocks.  The cost was five copper pieces.  Yorek paid for it then out the door she went, waving the pinwheel in the air to make it spin.

"I need to return to my camp," he told the girl.

"Yorek tells Junjo this why?"

"Because Junjo needs to trust Yorek and Saeed and let Teazja look after her... you." Yorek wished Corwyn were here.

"Trust moves two directions," Junjo reminded him.  "Junjo can care for herself.  Besides, she has her metropholes to keep her safe."

"Your what?"

"Metropholes, Chronosphere in your tongue.  The box."

"Oh... Did it inform you of the store and money?"

"It would have, if Junjo asked.  If it fails to know, Junjo will proceed with precaution.  Junjo is not a nince."

Yorek chuckled.  He liked the word nince.  It needed no explanation did it?  Not wishing to bother his father with baby sitting issues, Yorek decided to take Junjo with him, excusing Teazja who was relieved to tell the truth.  She would of course report to Saeed.  "Fine then, come with me," Yorek prompted and took her hand in his to planeswalk her to the camp.  She found that experience a little more disturbing because Yorek botched the first attempt!  They were both knocked flat on their backs as they collided with spectral energies but after helping Junjo back to her feet and trying again, he walked her through a spectral phase and into camp.  She didn't like the falling sensation and chill as they dipped in and out of the spectral realm in stride.  The same thing happened when traipsing through the shadow realm. But despite knocking the breath from her and making her cold they arrived safe and sound. She warmed up quickly in the desert heat, and was even wearing the sarong like a hooded cape to protect her face and shoulders from the sun.  Yorek asked Junjo if she would take care of the horses, instructing her in what she needed to do, then went to talk to Eoghan and the other wardens in the summit tent where they all mustered.  By the time he had gathered all the information he needed, including a letter of resignation from Eoghan, and returned to Junjo, she had groomed, watered, fed and given every horse her attention.  She loved them and it was obvious.  Yorek introduced her to Mudngis and she adored him. He had sired a new generation of champion race horses for Saeed.  Yorek had hand raised and trained the horse as part of his own training.

Yorek had tried to talk Eoghan out of leaving but his mind was set, and Selena was going with him, which surprised no one.  They had joined together and were leaving together.  He wondered how his father would take it.  Having given his orders, collected every report, and seen the camp was in order, Yorek returned with Junjo to the White Palace.  She was awed by the structure as they proceeded to the victuals hall.  The size of it pleased Junjo who walked from table to table introducing herself with rolls of her hands to introduce them to a new custom, because she believed it was always good to learn something new.  Besides she was not sure spitting at everyone was a good idea.  Foreigners could be present.  She would spit at Saeed's feet when he arrived however since learning it was the custom in Hassim.  She also intended to present him with another present.  The pinwheel on the pretty reed palm stick.  A blessing was written on it in the Shaamah script which read, "Take only what is needed and the sands shall bestow great rewards."  The local church of chaos was using the pinwheels among other crafts and produce to raise funds.  Their walls needed repairing, some of them still damaged from the last dragon raid.

Braeman had met with Saeed after waking Rafee up and interrogating him. His sleep had been unnatural and he had been difficult to wake.  Braeman had to backhand him several times to rouse him.  The prince was clearly shaken by something which under many a threat,pulled ears, bitchslaps and a very nearly broken arm, he finally confessed to.  Braemen was scowling at him when they were done.  "You really imagined that your father would be PROUD of you for... finding a way to ESCAPE?  For calling on a powerful and dangerous demon to make you IMMORTAL and help you ESCAPE?  I always knew you were a hopeless fool, Rafee, but I never realized how pitifully STUPID you are!" He roared at the Prince who looked sullen, shaken and mortified. Braemen almost killed the prince then and there when he corrected his grammar.  They scuffled, more like Rafee cowered while Braeman beat him and shoved him around the cell, Braemen making it clear this would be the last time he spoke down to him.  "And the fact that what mortifies you most is that a Fomor Demon TRICKED you??!!" Braeman then jumped right back on track.  "That's what they DO, boy!  What they EXCELL at!  If this isn't the end of you I will stick my head in a dragon's mouth.  I may just beg Saeed to spare you so I can torture you for a thousand years.  It's what I do best!  That way, if it turns out this demon of yours, Balor, is in the territory making trouble, I can show you what worse than  death MEANS.  Do you realize what you have done, fool?  You have in all likelihood unleashed a foreign demon who doesn't play by our rules or give a nit's shit for our laws, here or below!" That said Brae pivoted and left him, slamming the cell door after him several times because it kept bouncing back instead of latching he swung it so hard.  When it finally did latch, thereby locking and engaging the wards automatically, he stormed out of the wards, but cooled himself down before meeting with Saeed to tell him the news. 
When Braeman did convene with Saeed, he began their conversation by saying, "Are you certain you would not rather wait until after dinner to hear what news I bring?  It is sure to ruin your appetite, your grace." He warned.

"Soon old friend."  He spoke to Braemen by way of farewell, dismissal, see you soon and continued his conversation with his son.  "Agreed, that is likely an astute observation.   She is cavalier with it at least as we would reckon it,  given the possibilities of that object, and it is as I suspect, warded and attuned so that by that virtue or even  in lieu of warded, attuned to her, it will then, always come to her if needed. It likely contains power.... if we accept that the ability to hold vast amounts of information and learn at will is power.... I dare say that little box is a part of her, or she of it. It is likely the box would only ever answer to her will.  Or perhaps even she to it, but I believe the relationship to be more symbiotic."  The King of the Far East answered his son, continuing his ruminations on the subject even as he moved to step through into the city.    "Scrambled?  I certainly hope that is a mere description Junjo and not an effect..."  Saeed smiled once they were all in the city.  "A good analogy might be to take this piece of fabric...."  And Saeed held out part of his cloak and held it taught,  "To move across is to have to move that entire distance to get from here.." he tapped the fingers of his right hand...."to here.." he tapped the fingers of his left hand,  "that would require walking that distance....what we do instead is bend it and create a tunnel...if you will," He pushed together the fabric of his cloak and pierced his finger through an old unmended hole, "Thus we cross instantly."   His hands took in the expanse of the city. At least that was what happened when you did it,  making it happen was something else.  "Welcome to the city of Inaaksu, Royal Kingdom of Hassim.  It is also Hassim's first city.  Our capitol, our home. It is by size this worlds second largest city."  He stood and looked.... "This way is the palace,  here is the city,  My family and entourage will welcome thee.  Teazja here will conduct you through the city or the palace... or you may tag along with us,  but you have to go or be accompanied with someone your first time here.  It is.... it uncomplicates things. Also you will have likely observed by now a custom of spitting by the feet of one another, you will also see some pouring a libation of cider or water by a door before entering a home or business... this is a greeting, not an insult, do not spit or pour directly upon a person... if they have a receptacle for the purpose you may use it,  it's meaning is simple yet deep and important for those of us who call this climate home and whose ancestors have done so since time out of mind, and that meaning is thus;  It shows you are willing to share your precious liquid,  fluid, drink with another.   A rule of hospitality in this realm.   So again....Welcome....heed what I have said."   And that was all the King would say to that so in the event she chose to follow Yorek,  that was fine. 

       Saeed in the mean time went to the palace and took up the mornings routine that had been interrupted,  reports from his generals and admirals and his city's engineers among others, handling the myriad of tasks that needed to be carried out to run a Kingdom and a City and fight a war and so on. Reports of every kind, everything from refugees and traders on the highways to wells and cisterns throughout the kingdom, tax rolls, casualty counts,  intelligence repots, a victory at sea, a sighting of a wanted criminal or perhaps the apprehension or conviction and sentence of same, finally late in the day a bath was drawn and the King retired to his quarters to refresh and meditate, the evening found him in his day room adjacent the grand hall enjoying a drink, while awaiting dinner and the reports of Braeman and Yorek.  He was already aware that Junjo declined Teazja's escort,  Teazja tagged along anyway keeping a discrete distance when they explored the city.  The Wardens would look out for all whilst they visited that camp , point of honor,  Saeed had no fears or reservations.  So it was he awaited there,  for dinner, for the returns and later reports.  When Braeman did arrive and forewarned his sovereign about the potential of upsetting the evening repast,  Kassim chuckled and answered thus:

"Well Braeman,  I am certain that my appetite is already in distraction, so perhaps your bad news will put things in perspective or nudge the palate back into gastronomical bliss."   

Junjo had soaked in all the information Saaed fed her like soft bread in broth.  She laughed when he said he hoped she wasn't literally scrambled.   "Well yes, but then we are put back together by a three dimensional molecule printer built into our teleport receivers, which are part of our hand held landing device, or HHLDs.  They allow off planet communication, scanning, replication, holographic imaging, so forth, See?" She held her hand out but nothing appeared.  She frowned and then heaved a breath, dropping her hand.  "The metropholes won't let me show it to you.  Is calling it impromptu protocol.  Says you haven't reached a complete evaluation.  I suppose it doesn't trust my judgment being so young and unenlightened, but I would trust you and your son to examine it," she told the king with a smile sweet as honeysuckle dew.

Whatever Yorek had been about to say to his father? Junjo sucked it right out of him.  It wasn't important anyways whereas all those things she just said were.  Next thing you know they were parting ways.  No doubt Saeed was processing this new information anyway.  To some it would sound like craziness, but not to him, Yorek was sure.  And not to Yorek only because he had come to realize little WAS impossible.

While in the camp of the Twinstar Junjo studied the language of her desert friends between exploring the orderly tents and meeting the people there.  She found Eoghan and Selena most intriguing, and between what her Chronosphere told her of them and the impressions she gathered from them, she thought Eoghan quite the nomad and Selena terribly lost, and in her usual forthrightness told them so.  Selena though slightly less amused than Eoghan still found humor in the girl's lack of delicacy.  She also met the other Twinstar and was amazed that a dragon rider was among them (Imaru) who was teaching Yorek the discipline, which only those born to it, or in Yorek's case, reborn to it, could ever even accomplish.  They required a touch of the dragon in their blood, and even with that not all were accepted by a dragon.   Evidently, Yorek was well accepted, and even the Hellraptors which had generally engaged in hostilities with Saeed exhibited a natural trust in his son, otherwise, Imaru's dragon Llom would never have tolerated Yorek on her back.  A fact which not even Yorek was fully aware of as yet.

Because of Saeed's instruction Junjo offered spring water to the pretty vessel by Saeed's dias in the banquet hall on their return from the desert, pouring from an attractively tooled chalsedium canteen Imaru had provided her as a gift. It was imprinted with dragon and flowering cacti impressions that were coloured with lasting metal stains, the natural copper colour of the chalsedium colouring the dragons.  Then when Yorek led her closer to Saeed by her arm, she knelt down and placed the pinwheel she brought him at his feet.

Now they had met again in the Horned King's court, she said, "I, Junjo have made closer study of this desert language so by substituting shorter words for names I may make more correct speech.  It seems effective enough if not sometimes more confusing."  She said with a smile.  Yorek could be heard chuckling where he seated himself near Saaed at his father's table.  Junjo waited for a place to be offered and seated herself where indicated.  The girl's agile attention was then drawn as a very handsome black haired fellow who smelled like berry blossoms approached the king in the escort of six guards, who, making him out as a tsetar by the smell and attractive looks of him, didn't trust him in proximity to their king without an ample security detail. 

When the guards announced the angel by his one name, Magrymed, the fellow knelt, placed a bladder of the best water in the country if not the world on the step he perched on, then held out the leather cylinder containing his lady Arilwen's letter, his head deeply bowed as he did so and waited for the king to take it!  "He comes as a courier from his master Wyrvaust Aalamea, who he says is the ruling regent of the Desert of Fire by Lord Marsol's command." The guard went on to relay.  The letter inside was sealed with Marsol's official dragon stamp in red wax.

The angel who could pass for a young Neffari if not for his scent had just enough demon blood in him to keep him obedient to Wyrvaust, though in time Wyrvaust would release him, when he was ready to BE free.

Junjo was curious about this new person and consulted her box about beings who smelled like flowers, gave off peculiar but powerful auras, and acted as couriers.

The letter as written by Arilwen read, 'Greetings and blessings to you, Lord Hassim,

We trust that this letter finds you and yours in health and happiness. We are reaching out to you across the sands of our shared region for two reasons: a congratulations and an invitation. Recently your daughter, Queen Saffiel DeCasey, has come to visit us. Just last night, she birthed a healthy son and our household rejoices for her. We typically would leave the announcement to Lady Saffiel herself however, we wanted to extend an invitation to you in a secretive manner in order to surprise her. If time and circumstances will it, we would love to have you and your entourage visit the Sapphire Canyon soon. It would provide opportunities to meet your new grandson, visit with your daughter, and perhaps step away from your daily duties for a respite of sorts.

We would also like the chance to sit with you and discuss the current events of surrounding lands and speak on the matters of how we can best keep our lands safe and guarded together. Our humble home is quickly expanding and we would certainly be honored to speak on your own practices of defense and monitoring so that we may better assess our own conditions.

We appreciate your time and consideration. If you accept, please send count of your crew so that we may ensure that we have comfortable quarters for all of your men and women. We hope to visit with you soon.


Lord and Lady Aalamea'

"Alas it would appear your device guards that information.  One gets used to that,  the same way they won't let us share ours.  A common factor around here, planetary wards, as well as individual wards created by sovereigns,  entities and beings with the ability . Many such around the planet.  In fact if you had arrived in a conveyance, perhaps a craft or ship, the planet would be eating it about now."  Morashtar would probably ask for salt & pepper and ketchup.  One would figure that out eventually.  It hadn't yet attempted to eat her Metropholes so it may have passed muster,  or perhaps the planet was just deciding best how to digest it.  In any case the King had other matters to consider.

Later before  dinner in the Palace Saeed  had gathered seated at his throne upon the dais making small talk, receiving such news and intelligence as needed to be passed.  Those whom would be dining with the King were all seated around, drinks and some amount of light hearted banter, the curiosity was on the girl from the desert and on what had transpired with Rafee.  Saeed smiled and clapped his approval, thumping his chest where his heart would normally have beat in a distinctly Neffari sign of thank you as Junjo made her offering of water.  "Merry met and well Received Junjokitsumi.  Water is Life. May the makers bless your cup."  He also accepted the pinwheel,  an interesting but welcome gift.  And a useful one in the desert as the rise and fall and shift of the wind could be told with a pinwheel.  "I thank you,"  The king set the gift onto the throne chair's back where it could be seen.  Nearby they could settle near the throne Yorek in his prominent place as Son and Heir and Junjo as an honored guest, allowed a cushion beside Kassim.   A similar arrangement would ensue at the dinner table.   Everyone else awaiting  the prime delicacy of Roast Beast was offered, along with many fruit and vegetable based dishes in case their guest was a vegetarian.  Once the meal would arrive everyone not at the table including the King would go to their places and await to be seated, those seated would stand and await Saeed, the pageantry and ceremony of office.  Saeed in the mean time spoke to Yorek and Junjo,    "Did you learn much today?" He would ask.....and answer her observations and perhaps proclamations such as her noting the learning of word substitutes and shorter ways of speaking, "There are many layered nuances to language,  shorter and more direct can help alleviate at least some confusion.  Sometimes however, it is all in the reception, other times interpretation, even when one understand the language."  He smiled at Junko while asking Yorek silently, anything to report from Eoghan?  How fair the Twinstar?'  Eventually in the midst of all this they would move to the table. 

    They had begun to gather and take their seats continuing their conversation as Saeed gave his blessing for everyone to be seated and for the meal to begin.  "For food for life for reinment, blessed are the makers."  It was then the messenger of Marsol and his regent arrived.  Saeed could smell the Tsetar and he noted the caution of his house guard and that of the ward troopers of the Hassim Imperial Guard that quietly lined the walls.  Saeed nodded to the guard that had somehow appeared unobtrusively at his side and he leaned forward off the raised dais to take the message, there was no trap or poison sensed or smelled or felt so the message was read aloud to the King of Hassim and then given unto him to read.  "Magrymed,  welcome to my home and Hassim.  Your gift honors us.  Merry Met and Well Received.  May the makers likewise bless you. An awkward position for spitting at ones feet to return the favor, instead the King took up a glass of water from the table and poured a small libation on the floor and nodded to the servants who would present Magrymed with a tall tankard of cool crisp clean water.  "Rise,  and be seated, we are about to have our evening repast, do join us,   I regret I cannot leave this immediate instance but I am glad to hear my daughter is doing well with yet another heir to the De Casey clan..."  Kassim couldn't keep track of them all although this one being out of Saffiel would by his reckoning, make at least two De Casey children that were also his grand children. "I am willing to make the time soon to gather and open a wider dialogue.  We do acknowledge a shared stewardship and security concerns over the region we inhabit and the borders we share with our neighbors, likewise in light of.... recent developments, friends and those who would prefer peace, are assuredly welcome.  Truth though, I was not aware my daughter had traveled,  but our news is sporadic, most of what we receive are front line reports from my forces deployed abroad, most notably assisting in the defense of Seumir and protecting our trade and supply routes.  So,  Magrymed, how are  Arilwen and Wyrvaust and has my grandson been given a name yet?"

Junjo's 'alien gadget' was so closely integrated with her that it didn't so much agree with the planetary wards' palette as it was granted a reprieve by those powers.  The Chronosphere granted her access to the historical and certain memory archives of her people by feeding knowledge to her as needed.  It had and still could provide her with a safe means of travel, and had pretty much acted as her mother, among other things which she had yet to discover.  Braeman was running diagnostics on the intricately runed box from a distance in the meantime, discovering what he could remotely until a time, if it ever came, he could study the metropholes itself.  As before in the field he learned little other than identifying it as a source of fantastic power. Indeed the amount of energy stored in the box made the thing highly dangerous by Braeman's judgment and he communicated as much to Saaed telepathically when his probe was completed.  "Majesty... that box of the girl's greatly concerns me.  I advise against just letting it lie around at random as she does.  Its power is immense and its purpose beyond what she claims is unclear.  I really don't care for it being in your kingdom at all to tell the truth." Is what he reported telepathically when Saeed opened his mind to his hail.  It was Braeman's job to trust no-one and nothing, protect his king and solve arcane mysteries, but the device was not arcane, it was highly technological.  "I recommend you place the device in the hands of a technomancer or quantum scientific engineer to unlock its applications for it's beyond my fields of expertise." He added.  But could the alien device BE placed anywhere? Braeman had no clue but he was willing to find out.  At least one question about the thing would be solved.

Junjo smiled brightly at Saaed when she was offered a seat at his side and fluffed her cushion with a series of punches before springing lively atop the pillow, her yellow dress billowing out around her then settling against her slender figure as she did.   She clapped her hands as the bounty of food was served and proceeded to taste everything as soon as Saaed and Yorek had both broken bread.   She lowered the delicious kabob in hand as the king asked if she had learned very much.   

"Oh very much.  Junjo agrees that language has many qualities and that its interpretation is as much in inception as articulation.  But Junjo has learned very much about it and so many things indeed since born here in the desolate yet teaming beauty of your desert!"

"Wait... you were born here?" Yorek interupted to ask.

"Oh, yes," Junjo confirmed.   "Very near where we met."

"But that is in the middle of nowhere.  No one lives out there," the Prince disbelieved.  "You cannot have lived out there for... what...? Seventeen or twenty years without us knowing about it."

"Five days," Junjo corrected.

Yorek pressed her with a dubious look.  "But you said you were born there.  Do you mean arrived?  Or given birth to... as a baby?"

"Yes," Junjo replied easily.  "Junjo was born on the warm sand in the shade of the fat tree.  The Metropholes took care of Ju-- me, and taught me what it could.  As it does still." She explained.

"You claim to be five days old then?" Yorek wanted to be sure he understood her correctly.

Junjo smiled.  "Yes."

"That is... stunning." To him at least.  Few actually had heard of such things though they did occur among immortals.  His own children aged quickly but hardly as rapidly as that!  "Are you... reborn...?  You spoke of being from another world..."

"Mm-MM-mm," she shrugged.  Then; "Mm, hmm," her beautiful face was stuffed full of fried bean fritters at the moment.  Then after swallowing, "But Junjo was born here.  I- was born only once that Junjo is... I  am? aware of.   The Metropholes taught me about where I was from."

"Do all your people age so fast?" Yorek was full of questions.

"Mm-mm," she was chewing on more pork-kabob now.  "It takes my kind one hundred years to reach adulthood.  Junjo's... My aging was advanced to aid in my survival." She said after swallowing.

"By the box...?"

"Mm, hmm," Junjo confirmed.  She was certainly enjoying the meal, trying everything.  If she put something in her mouth she disliked (only the olives and salted fish) she spat it back out, then tried something else.  Nothing the Chronosphere had helped her find to eat or replicated for her had tasted as wonderful as all the amazing foods Saaed provided (the super salty foods aside).

"One hundred years," the Prince warden uttered.  "Who takes care of you for all those years?"

"On my people's world their families and communities.  Here?   Junjo knows only her own experience and feels quite content with her circumstances." No doubt the Metropholes has seen to that. 

"Are you some kind of immortal?" Yorek asked in more intimate tones which still compelled a cutting of Junjo's arms,  an obvious protest. 

"Such a question should not be asked of one so young as I, if at all.  How should Junjo know the answer?  How can anyone until they know?"

Sometimes she confounded Yorek, even when she was easily enough understood.

Yorek meanwhile addressed his father telepathically about Eoghan.  ~"He passed on his intelligence to us about the pretender Lord Dreward then declared his plans to leave us in two days.  I think, father, he experienced quite a lot of trauma, and was even possibly turned by this nation's enemies.  I am wondering if he should not be detained?  It could be he is just ready to move on, or it could be something else.  Should we not investigate the matter before we let him leave?  The intelligence he delivered does seem solid nevertheless.  Half of my men have been dispatched to Dreward's last known coordinates.  They were reminded to be wary of traps, just in case."~

Magrymed looked up to meet the gaze of the king with a cat-like perk of his head and exacting shift of his turquoise eyes.  "Uh-er..." he had to access an answer to Saeed's inquiry about his newest  grandchild.  "Maxentius," he answered after the brief pause in which he had contacted Wyrvaust to ask the name much as he hadn't been present during the naming of the newborn.   Having been possessed by Wyrvaust for such a long time and then bound to him as a black minion, he and his chosen master's minds were practically joined.  "An earth name of their Roman era I believe." There was a shy, twitchy, yet seductive quality about the black haired khorumal that was as feline as the way he moved.  Youthful and with looks that could pass for an exceptionally handsome Arabic descended Neffari, his 'off' personality detracted from his attractiveness.  The pair of light weight swords he had reluctantly turned over to Saeed's guards were unnaturally sharp, recallable heritage swords which could only be taken from him if he allowed it.  They were haman forged of a little known metal called rialumite, a metal even stronger than diamthril.  Magrymed wasn't yet hell fallen, but was well on his way as a result of the demonic taint in his blood which bonded him to Wyrvaust and held him in demon infused limbo as all black minions were.  "Hopefully the king of Hassim will be able to visit us in the Desert of Fire soon.  The Sapphire City shall welcome you and bask in your company on that day."  He smiled a little.   "Until then, the hours keep you in hale health and contentment."  He raised his glass and drank to him. 

"Well then Braeman,  I suggest then..."  The King replied as he sopped the gravy from the plate with bread, "We do just that,  I'll have one sent up from the Wards, if nothing else we'll get a good look at something far in advance of anything we've seen or made here, probably even more advanced then anything the Trecouri could make. We'll have them follow her about and pick it up anytime she leaves it laying around, that, I am afraid will end badly should the wrong people get a hold of that.  There is also the notion of technology vs. biology to consider.  It's very possible these advance technologies if not all then at least some, were made to counter the likes of us. If that is indeed the case then she and that box must be guarded.  Of course, given that the planetary wards didn't destroy her or the metropholes or cast them away or into the depths of Acheron or any place else, then it would seem at the least then the Planet doesn't hold a grudge, nor has Domeyl come visiting to inquire about our visitor, of course, he hasn't made his presence known or felt for some time, what with the war and the AoM." 
"Alas, we shall take precautions and have a technomancer look at it.  I do understand your concern about it's presence and her presence Braeman, I am also concerned about what happens to all of us if we just let her run willy nilly about the planet and let her run smack dab into oh, I don't know...Domeyl, Sammael without which their is no warning or understanding of her purpose.  She seems innocuous enough yet she may not even understand the potential danger to her or to us, likewise any possible beneficent qualities this...visitation represents, the list of possibilities goes on"  Saeed reached out to Teazja who was hovering in the corner with some nondescript looking ward troopers who were simply milling about as extra security.  "Dear..."  said the King  "Do be a sweetie and summon Benjimin from the wards,  we will have use for his skills..."  The King tuned his attention back to Braeman, "We do know it arrives whenever she needs it or summons it, so it is unlikely we would be able to sequester it from her, lest we sequester them together." 

The King nodded to a serving girl who poured him more tea, of the chilled kind with mint and honey.  "And Junjo, are you enjoying your meal?  And did you enjoy your time visiting today?"   Saeed reached out to Yorek and Braeman as he had been listening to the exchange between his son and the visitor. "Accelerated Growth, no thought of modesty or deception or concern for her safety. I would assume the device is set to protect her as well as raise her.  It might also explain how she got past the planet's wards. As for her age, there are insects that are born,  grow old and die in less time, so five days time should not surprise us, what is rare is to see a being so large, grow so fast absent immortal physiology, yet, she may yet have that and not know it, one hundred years to reach adulthood is not unheard of for some of our native peoples.  For many humans that is a middle age on this world.  If the box grew her rapidly to aid in survival then the question about at least one of it's purposes I would say is answered; it truly must be designed to protect her as well as educate her."  He surmised in the telepathic manner to Braeman and Yorek.  "Yet by her own admission she knows not if she is immortal.  I wonder if that is meant to help perception, rather to insure she does not become complacent, intellectually or perceptually stagnant."   Saeed considered it,  "Yes our technomancer will see what he can discern.  As for Eoghan,  call him forth to the palace and we shall interview him before we bid him farewell."  If they bid him farewell, there was always the off possibility Saaed might need him to stay but by all accounts Eoghan had done the best he could and the intelligence he had provided previously had helped shut down and disrupt the AoM.  "I do not believe he would betray his trust to us but I am curious as to what it is that draws him away.  Pass along the orders this evening after this repast my son." 

 Saeed smiled at Junjo and spoke out loud  "So what kind of foods would your people enjoy, on their own world?" He asked... noticing how pleased she seemed to be with food and drink and dining as well as the ornate tiles and decor that made up Inaaksu's  Grand Hall.  Saeed divided his attention to Magrymed  "And to you and yours, maybe the desert bless the passing of you and yours, a gift of water from the sacred springs for you when you return, to take to your master.  I do hope all was well with my new grandson in the birthing,  you said birthed a healthy son, so no complications for young Maxentius I trust?  As for your realm, any trouble with the....AoMalcontents?"   By malcontents he meant the Army of Man of course.

"Your wisdom proceeds you as always, Eas Shaadu," Braeman responded to Saeed with gravity hearing his assessment of Junjokitsumi.  "And before I enact the deed, are you certain you wish your eldest son to perish by my hands, haraad?  Is such a privilege to be handed to one such as I?"  No matter how powerful Braeman became he always counted himself amongst the lowest creatures.  He counted all who were killers at their very core among the low.  He was quite aware of how loyal he was to Saeed though.  Only by serving him did he raise himself above the baser things.  If Saeed validated his blessing, Braeman would be on his way back to Raafi's cell in the wards to deliver Raafi to whatever Hell awaited him.  Killing the son of his dearest friend and king was something he'd not take lightly.  Raafi had disappointed him deeply indeed for Saeed to let anyone but himself kill his own son.

To the rest shared also with Yorek Braeman said, "We shall remain vigilant whatever she or her device intend, majesty.  I shall reserve my opinion for when I am better informed."

"I for one am curious to see what she becomes, intends or means," Yorek shared with the two.  "She seems quite taken with you, father."  One could almost hear him laugh through their mental net for as he spoke Junjo had reached across to play with a stray curl of jet black that spilled loose from his temple.

Junjo laughed happily when asked if she enjoyed the food and her visit. "Most truly Junjo enjoys king Saeed's wonderous city and nourishments. Junjo is unsure what her place of origin provides for sustenance as she has never eaten food there. I will ask metropholes." And as she did the ornately pictographed box appeared in her lap. She looked thoughtful for an interim, then her expression went through a range of  expressions from delighted and pleased to displeased and even disgusted before she looked again upon Saeed again. "The sphere describes a bounty of nuts, shoots, grains, herbs, seeds, roots, and all manner of vegetarian nutrients. Among them are many which taste like and even resemble animal flesh when prepared." Junjo put down her half eaten boar kabob as the device informed her of the reason. Then with further information she tipped her head back and forth (a type of decisive shrug) and picked the meat back up. "Evidently my people don't eat flesh, but I am to try experiencing your ways of life and try to understand them, though Junjo must also balance on my moral scales based on what I know and feel. It makes no sense not to finish this," she waved the kabob around then went back to eating it.  Her linguistic tense was improving rapidly but she still muddled it occasionally as she tried to find a happy medium within herself. And where the shisskabob was concerned? She had already eaten six of them as the bare sticks on her plate indicated.  When she had added a seventh stick to the count she explained a little more about her tutor in a box. "The sphere can only try to make Junjo understand why people of this and other worlds believe it is alright to kill and eat animals, or why others believe it is wrong to kill animals and eat their flesh. I must decide what is right to me." She nodded decidedly at that and patted the metal box in her lap as she did.  "So why do your people eat animal flesh?"

"Because it's so delicious!" Morgrymed exclaimed in a cheerful manner, waving his own boar kabob around in the process.

"Because of that..." Yorek included, "but also to suppliment our diet with important protein." He added more logically.

"So do you also eat each other?"

"Not usually..." Yorek began, thinking of the Vengoath he had learned about but never seen because the desert was the last place they would be found and of the rather widespread rumors of Morgrym's master being a diehard cannibal.  Which brought to mind that many demons practiced that savage custom.  Junjo was staring at him with curiously concerned askance. 

"Though there are a few who... consume their enemies, or even hunt strangers... few cultures practice cannibalism.  As a whole it is a criminal and broadly unacceptable act."

"So... killing animals is acceptable?"

"Among most cultures, yes."

"By cultures, you mean rather than seeing things as one whole, you are many smaller parts?" She was trying to understand, because though born worlds apart the metropholes made her understand that she was as one with the people she had come from who were as one mind.

"I suppose so, yes."  Yorek had never tried to imagine all of Morashtar kind being of the same conscience, law and customs.  It was unthinkable to him.  Yorek was very human whatever else he was or wherever he had come from.

"I don't understand, Junjo.  Are you saying your people are as one mind?"

Junjo nodded.

"How is that even possible?" The Neffari born demon kin wraith asked.

Junjo just shrugged and popped a grape in her mouth, then when she had eaten it and he was convinced she didn't know, she said, "Everything becomes as it should some day.  Their many became as one while being many.  We all of us meet with our developmental zenith just as each species or even individuals reach evolutionary peaks.  Just as each thing will meets it's lowest point."

"And did the metropholes also teach you this, Junjo?"

Junjo blew a humorously scoffed raspberry.  "Pfft, Junjo decided this by seeing how things are.  The metropholes refuses to loan me my people's opinions, says Junjo... says I, must decide things for myself."

Yorek stared at her for an interim then looked to his father.  "Father," He was using telepathy again.  "I think I may know what she is now.  "She is a researcher, gathering intelligence, basing opinions on her research."

"She sounds more like a probe to me," Braeman said, still linked to them.

Saeed Kassim answered his oldest friend, counselor, minion and chamberlain's inquiry about the wayward Prince Rafe. "I can think of no reason to leave him alive since he is a threat to other members of the household and his loyalty is questionable Braeman.  Likewise wither a shade or no,  an ability for him to slip his confine wither on his own or with outside assistance is not to be countenanced.  I see no alternative to his execution unless any of the three criteria about safety, loyalty and or confinement can be met.  I  do not take giving that order or asking it of you lightly.  Find me an alternative or a way and I will consider it.  Otherwise,  I see no other way."

"As for her," He shared with Brae and Yorek  "You are correct, that is absolutely what she is.   Her purpose is to learn and to observe.   A scout of some sort.  The question is for who and to what purpose, or rather, to who and to what purpose, this, joining she spoke of."  Saeed noticed on the periphery a man dressed with a flare for the fine but subdued.  Dressed like a Neffari. all though his eyes were offworld blue and his hair had long been bleached out and faded by the sun giving it that streaked appearence with a touch of what may have been blonde or white at the temples.  The Kind of man you would see and forget.  Common a billion times over in a billion different places.   "Welcome Benjimin, no doubt Teazja has briefed you in, observe, learn what you can, shadow, see that the device doesn't get picked up by anyone unruly, and that she doesn't leave it laying willy nilly. Report to Myself and to  Braeman anything discovered."  A simple look of understanding from across the room was all the reply Saeed needed and it was all he received.  Saeed continued talking to Brae and Yorek. " She does indeed seem to be taken with the customs and food... but a scout, and or an ambassador must be the purpose.  I'm of the opinion it's entirely possible that on her world, her people look different than us, perhaps even built different.  Who can say, but the possibility exists."

Saeed watched.... he spoke to the manner and preference of herbivore, carnivore, omnivore.  "That is a choice the people of this world make for themselves Junjo.  It is as my guest Morgrymed and my son say,  for taste, for protein,  for choice and habit.  There are those of this world who eschew the eating of flesh consuming all plant based foods be it from field and forest or the sea,   but things such as plants, roots, nuts, fruits vegetables and berries.  As a general rule,  most of the cultures of this world do not consume one another..."  Except in bed during foreplay or for kink he said telepathically to Braeman with a chuckle.  "A culture of tribals called the Vengoath is one such exception.  They do eat human and other sentient flesh, what of it there is that is edible, they are also known to consume their own in religious offerings and ceremonies."  Saeed offered, as the conversation would progress he carried on the dialogue with his son and his friend using the subtle and pleasant past time of dinner talk as a means to cross examine the new comer without having to be belligerant about it.   When they got to the notion of minds....   "Perhaps she is speaking of a hive or collective conscious.  Interesting,  keep probing.  If she does indeed come from a culture or people with true collective consciousness then it could well be one of that boxes other functions is to transmit back what Junjo learns in her observations of places and customs,  the box itself serving to implant or impart the information into the group collective."

Once Saeed was done eating he called for his pipe and drink... desert would come when everyone was ready for it.  "I believe the metropholes merely records and guides but does not necessarily interfere unless it sees a need... interesting.   Fascinating as well that it lets her form her own opinion as opposed to telling her how she should think or feel or react to a situation."   

Braeman had already considered the possibilities where Rafee was concerned.  Short of enslaving him to keep him in line he saw no reasonable solutions.  Keeping the son of Saeed as a whipping boy until he learned to be a propper man wasn't something Brae would suggest out of respect to Saeed.  Then again, there WAS Saeed's father.  "We might offer him to Lord Solbaid.  Rejecting that Solution I shall end him at your command.  I assume you want his soul either imprisoned or obliterated?" To insure he couldn't be resurrected. 

Then on the subject of Junjo.  "The intentions behind her, yes... Determining that the girl is a scout and observer is easy enough, knowing if she does so for a curious, neutral, ambitoous, or hostile entity is another.  She seems benign, but that insures we accept her and lowers our guard." The fallen proxy of Gabrien speculated.  "Indeed.  Her independent nature and her appearance may also be a part of insuring she blends in here and it might even be important to them that she forms unique opinions of our alien cultures."

"Or it could be far simpler.  Maybe it was the only way they could place an observer here," Yorek suggested on the same mental channel they shared.  "I do wonder what she really looks like though."

Junjo was fascinated by the information Saeed shared with her
It amazed her how many flavors and textures food came in.  "Food appears to hold a high place in your cultures, especially sentient flesh if entire rituals surround its ingestion." She imagined.  "Junjo will reserve her opinion of sentient consumption until a clear understanding of the custom is achieved."  She did nonetheless leave off eating more meat for the remainder of the meal out of personal preference.  When asked about it, she confided that she had found meat very tasty and satisfying but decided not to involve herself in the killing of the planet's animals unless it became either desirable or absolutely necessary.

"How might you achieve a clear understanding of Vengoath cannibalism?  By sitting down to dinner with them?" Yorek joked.

"If opportunity permits," Junjo replied, not getting that he was kidding.

Yorek arched a brow.  "I doubt that would be possible from what I have read and heard.  They would be more likely to hunt and eat you than share a 'meal' with you.  And would you really eat human flesh?"

Junjo regarded Yorek curiously.  "Perhaps they are dangerous.  But perhaps your people are dangerous.  Junjo... I do not fear what I do not understand.  Worry not, Prince Kassim, I will not be harmed." She promised him.  "And whether I try sentient flesh or not depends on the situation.  It would never be a habit, I assure you of that."

"So you are willing to experience almost anything to gain understanding?" Yorek explored.

Junjo shook her head.  "I am willing to experience and learn anything that interests me."  She jumped to her feet then landed crouched behind Saeed whom she hugged tight while kissing his cheek with deeply warm affection several times.  If the guards closed in on her she seemed not to mind them.  "Duvai Saaed interests me.  There are many wonders and so much good inside of him, so much he wishes for but denies himself.  He above all others I would experience and learn from without restraint.  The rest is well and good but stands second to him." She returned to her seat, folding her legs up beneath herself nimbly before settling on the pillow in good posture.  Not long after she indicated to the wine steward that she wanted the same drinks Saeed, Yorek, and the strange fellow Morgrymed were drinking.

Yorek didn't know what to say so he simply gazed at his father wondering what the great king of Kassim would do now.  Yorek found Junjo leaving him speechless a little too often. 

Braeman, who was still having a snicker fit over the foreplay joke from Saeed meanwhile was laughing himself silly inside. "Perhaps you should try out some of your kink on her, My Lord." Now how could he resist?  "She seems smitten with you.  An alien child god falling in love with you. That IS what my scans of her indicate.  She is a goddess.  Of what I have no idea. It could only happen to you, My esteemed Lord." 

 'Rafee,  well,  loathe though I am to order an act of incesticide,  turning over new leaves and such,  I'm afeared he's left us no choice, although, as you suggest... enslaving him by the ancient way   and also putting him under Solbaid's tutelage,  with my father having permission to end him if he does anything untoward,  I shall ask my father.... in the meantime, we shall enslave Rafee for safe keeping until I can get a decision of acceptance by Lord Solbaid.'  For his next he opened again including Yorek in the discussion,  he hadn't kept Yorek out of the discussion about Rafee for any reason other then he considered that would have been awkward given Rafee had tried to kill him.  Something Rafee would be expressly forbidden from doing to anyone or anything under enslavement via Saeeds orders  and Solbaidian custody, pending the Blackhorn Dynasts aforementioned approval.    To include Yorek  with Braeman "As for our visitor, there is much wisdom in what you say, my son.  For starters I think the notion of scout or observer is a given.  We must assume it, prudence if not also experience dictates it. That said it still brings us to the question, for who?   As the merit of being an observer for someone holds value, the question naturally is for whom?  Or what?  Or if she is here to observe on her own, then perhaps to what purpose created her? I do not believe it is from the providence of God, by which I mean the entity-ruler of Haman, nor do I believe it the provincial creation of Domeyl Maelmorda, were it so and were it the unification of all realms,  he would not have had to send her to us, unless I miss my mark. One day maybe we shall be able to ask him. Until then, We continue, with caution.   I must note that so far, none of our contacts among the allies nor spies among the enemies have reported any similar entities elsewhere, yet or so far,  she is it."   

      Saeed studied Junjo...his eyes glanced about the room as they usually did,  his glance gazed over Benjimin, the technomage he'd summoned from the wards. The King stroked his beard, an imperceptible nod to his agent who sat in benign observation. Saeed didn't mention it but he also noticed other observers of his,  gathering about.   Saeed didn't acknowledge them, he assumed Braeman was likely doing the same.   Kassim then spoke again to Braeman and Yorek, "Benjimin has made a suggestion, mulling it as have we and as he tends to work at problems from the other end hence why he's so useful at his job, I felt it worth mentioning immediately, even if we have already trodden across the idea which is  in short, he opines that the metropholes not only explains things to Junjo, which we know, but also is able to record what her mind and body experience. Perhaps it's even the transmitter. Back to where and whom sent her.  It's possible it may require another device or individual to recall, but it being able to do a multitude of such  tasks is likely, and not without precedent,  witness the unique  devices that sometimes fall through.  The planetary ward eats most of them, on occasion we are able to recover or at least make an examination... information and observation storage and retrieval  seems a predominate purpose among many items.  So assuming all that to be true, which is likely, how exactly can one access it, would it even allow us to do so? Rhetorical, perhaps, in any event on the surface it would seem unlikely the device would allow that.  Maybe she would let us.  Maybe the device would stop her from allowing us.'  The King rinsed his fingers with the soapy rose water a servent held out to him and he then dried his fingers and hands with the towel.  He took the offered cheroot and lit it,  a mellow scent of cinnamon and vanilla a hint of licorice and coffee in the air.  'It still comes down to as Yorek suggests  as far as an Observer.  That still leads us again back to for whom.  I think your notion of having her blend in lends much creedence.  It could be they want that as they do not want to seem threatening to us, which means they either are but do not wish to alarm us in advance, or they mean no harm and do not wish to provoke an untoward response and feel that an observer who looks, speaks, learns and participates among us will form and give them the best opinion as to when and where to make contact, perhaps if we're even worth their trouble.   Another fork in a road of choices frought with wonder or with much peril,   as to which, For that we must allow time for discovery.' He told them. 

     Saeed listened to the exchange between his eldest son and the 'visitor.'   Indeed down in the very nerve center of the Kingdom of Hassim, that was in fact how she was being listed,  as a 'visitor'.  Visitor in this case a euphemism for someone from 'away'.  Away in in this case meaning someone who was from far far away.  Like a another world.  Crafty euphemism for Alien.  It most often fell on confirmed individuals from Earth. Once in a great while there were individuals or items from..'elsewhere'.  Hence 'Away.'   Saeed spoke aloud, "I would hope not to have any opportunity to dine with a Vengoath, visitors among them usually wind up the main course."   He said politely.  "The Vengoath,  have certain beliefs concerning the power of what they conceive and perceive to be the soul or spirit, as an essence and source of wisdom and power, Junjo.  While most cultures and indeed the religions have some similar notion and ideas, the Vengoath are unique among humans of this world in that they  believe the consumption of said sentient flesh, grants and bestows these qualities, wether it is an honored fallen enemy, an ancient elder, or a stranger who accidentally wanders in among them.  Sometimes they've been known to consume their own infant children, believing also that sacrifice curries the favor of their gods, thus providing them with....victories over an enemy,  a successful hunt,  bountiful gathering and rainfall.   In any case, most of the cultures and nations, if not, virtually all,  have some form of etiquette and ceremony assigned to a meal."  confirmed Saeed.   "Among my people, the evening repast is usually a time for gathering the family and friends, the tribe, the clan and sharing a meal, sharing news and stories of the day, as a King my courtesans maybe present concerns or question in a light atmosphere as opposed to an official sanctioned meeting of government.  Likewise I can dispense ideas and concerns, orders and judgements in a lighter and more diplomatic way.  Dinners among the Neffari are also used to bring people together, we can talk,  many rents and disagreements have been brought to mutual satisfaction over a fine meal.  Sometimes our meals are more personal, smaller crowds.   It is also a way to become reacquainted with family and friends not encountered or kept close company with for long passages of time.   In some more formal settings there are many courses to a meal, even an order in which it is served.  Dining and travel are one way to experience a place and the people." He smiled and finished his cheroot.   

It was then things shifted and she had risen and come around to hug him,. the hug was unsuspected,  not that Saeed wasn't a hugger, he hugged his kids, he hugged his wives, the occasional hooker oh who are we kidding, he's Saeed Kassim, he could charm the knickers off a nun, there was Teazja and Yveline, the girl from Iphenina  or some damned place who went walking and there'd been Mum.  Probably a demoness or a couple dozen or more as well as Solbaid's bath girls... well okay, so that was a dead line of thinking,  Saeed was actually a hugger when he wanted to be.  this was a bit by surprise,  the kisses tingled anyway.  The king found himself with wood. Of the hard scepter kind.  In any case...he reached out with his mind immediately and forestalled his guards, all of whom would have taken the girl's head without so much as batting an eyelash if the king hadn't stopped them.  "Braeman, I think I've just been propositioned."  He noted there was no ill intention in the hug either,  if there'd been his wards would have dumped her in the bay with the sharks.   He placed an arm around her and half returned it before letting her return to her seat.  Telepathically,  he said.  'Well that was unexpected.'   He gazed at his son  and smiled, "I know, that could have been unwell,  but I sensed no ill intent or deception, that said, she intrigues you, she's not like any woman you've ever met.'  Which was saying something given Yorek's proclivities and relationships.  As for you Brae, you may be right, maybe she is a goddess, not something we've seen  much of in Hassim or among the Neffari for that matter, in a very long time, the elders favoring the Gods, masculine mostly although there are a few keepers of the Night Queens, the moon sisters,  the twins, youngsters, mothers and crones.  Not sure I would lump her in with that category. She has assuredly made an impression.'   

     He studied her as he allowed a server to top off his goblet, refilled now with a stronger drink and  a course of fruit, vegetables, cheeses, breads and crackers were brought forth and set upon the tables. Another server came forth garnered the Kings attention and leaned forward....The King smiled and approved.  On the edge of the room serveral well but not ostentatiously dressed individuals took up seats, in their hands were instruments.  Music would be played, tonight a selection of Neffari folk and classic tribal tunes and musical lullaby, played on strings and wind instruments native to the Neffari ancestral lands.   'You know, you two...'  He said telepathically,  'I'd be careful with that notion, the one about sampling experiences.  I'd dare say she would try anything once just to experience it. Remember the outlander story of the Knights and the temple and the peril.  Also She was unclad by clothing when Yorek  found her.  She would have remained so had we not suggested clothing would be a good and safe idea.  Interesting that as an observer whoever designed or created this, or for that matter gave birth, certainly made one who was attractive, I would wager that's probably part of the design of things.'  He heard the musicians tuning up.  "Next we shall have music.."  He told those gathered.  "Be careful Junjo, the King warned with a smile, what you're drinking is rather strong, it may go to your head.."  There might well be table dancing and lack of clothing, at the very least dancing,  Neffari music was good for that sort of thing even without alcohol or other intoxicating factors. 

"Hmm maybe I should." Laughed the King.... not every day one earns the favor of or beds a goddess. She does seem smitten, on the other hand, ask my other wives..'  he quipped,   'She may be smitten but once she gets to know me she'll get over that.  In any case, I would let her discover more,  you see it is the child thing that concerns me, it is one thing to be an observer, to have the eyes and ears of a child untainted by adult or immortal perceptions, but is that purer or is it perhaps an innocence that might overlook more logical conclusions? If a goddess of some sort,  then one perhaps derived from this world?  An avatar of creation?  What say gentlemen?' He studied Junjo. 

"Braeman, I think I've just been propositioned."

"I imagine Solbaid might rather enjoy shaping his misguided grandson.  In a twisted way Rafee has attempted all along to be loyal to you, My Lord.  He is simply a sociopath who is unable to recognize his own faults.  After careful observation of him, I believe he seeks to make you proud through proving himself capable of great evil and cunning.  He truly fails to understand why you didn't congratulate him for almost killing Yorek or for showing you that if he wanted to he could escape even your wards.  He could not see past his own ego to the danger of invoking a Tuathan deity, or to the possibility that you and he might be on different pages.  All sociopaths suffer from an extreme case of narcissism and he is no exception.  He might be groomed into an exceptional assassin or body guard if his ego can be crushed.  Solbaid has a knack for such things.  And speaking of the being he raised... it concerns me that there has been no sign of him.  My studies indicate that Balor, the shadow kingdom god of death, is a law unto himself, and I wonder if Solbaid has had any encounters with him.  Surely he answered Rafee's call for more than idle amusement."  Good news, hurrah.

"As for Rafee, perhaps Lord Eremon can break his warped ego and if not use him as he pleases.  Or... you could just let me keep my promise to him and break his sorry ass." 

All seriousness out of the way; Braeman was just about laughing himself silly, which was a rare event, over the whole Saeed being hit on by a goddess and his remarks on the fact.  The prisoners in that dungeon which could have competed with the gloominess and creepiness of hell's purgatories were staring at the demon as he hit an algae, moss, lichen and slime covered wall with his back cackling like a madman.  The dank effect was for the prisoners benefit.  Saeed really was the only person who could make him laugh like that.  "Well..." He responded after catching his breath.  "You should give her all you got seeing how keen she is to experience Saeed Kassim."  His amusement over the situation evident in his voice. 

The devil proxy wasn't sure if Saeed had ever unloaded his entire purview of sexual command on anyone outside of the occasional demon whore.  But then Braeman had never really pried into Saeed's love life other than to have walked in on him incidently a few times and to exchange banter.  He did wonder about things though; like could he have sex in his lich form being an undead sorcerer?  Many kinds of undead couldn't get it up such as zombies, unliving vampires, and most liches. But then maybe the demon part of him overrode the undead part of him on demand.  Like devils, demons were very malliable after all.  Braeman could have just asked but never bothered Saeed with his curiosity unless it was something he needed to know.

Yorek was rather shocked at how uninhibited the girl was with his father, and was about to pull her back when the guards backed off.  He knew his father had commanded them to stand at ease.  Yorek felt that if Saeed did return the girl's advances that she had no idea what she was getting herself into.  There was a part of Yorek that still feared his father.  He wasn't one hundred percent certain about just how Saeed had changed his ways, or just how much he had changed. 

The young prince had an idea when Saeed asked he and Brae what they thought she might be. "We could just ask her," he suggested after all their private discussion about her. "She seems forthcoming enough.  We should just ask her whatever we want to know about her."

Braeman snorted.  "Could work.  We can guess all day and get no closer to the truth.  My guess?  Her arrival is related to all the shit going on."

Junjo was very happy when Saeed let her show him affection.  The stars themselves seemed to shine in her eyes and warm her deliciously inviting lips.  Her long locks of twilight blue hair spilled forward as she shot up from the floor only for it to tumble over her shoulders as she straightened then raced to the open floor near the musicians and started to dance.  Rhythm came quite naturally to her as so many other things and she danced like a wild thing holding nothing back in her enjoyment of the wonderful sounds filling the hall.  It touched primeval chords in her and unleashed the sexiest things about her in spades; the way she moved, the talent she exibited in the athleticism and artistry, moreover the fun she had dancing.  She acted out the notes and let the music tell a story through her movements. There was not a shy bone in her body.  She didn't even understand the concept of being bashful.  Men were ogling her and even drooling over her though, and when she noticed how many males were devouring her with their eyes, it did startle her.  It was after the forth song, the fifth just starting when she scurried back to Saeed, and half holding onto him, she plopped back down on her cushion.  "Are those men cannibals?" She asked, pointing to the men who had been undresting her of that pretty yellow dress with the blue flower buds with their eyes.  "They look like they want to eat me.  What should Junjo do?"

Yorek couldn't help but snicker.  He thought it as good a time as any to try out his theory.  "Could we study your metropholes?  Discover what we can about it?" 

Junjo shot her pale lavender eyes on him.  She was still worried about the hungry men.  "No.  The sphere is for Junjo alone.  It can be held by others but never tampered with or claimed."

"What would happen if someone tried to take it apart or keep it?" Yorek plied.

"It would displace." Yorek looked askant so she gave him more information.  "It would go away and appear elsewhere, with me if Junjo needed it."

Yorek nodded.  So far, so good.  She might even be more open with Saeed.

"I imagine Solbaid would.   I tell you what Braeman.   Break him,  Break his sorry ass  then give him to Solbaid to break some more.  I think my second son could benefit from receiving several points of view toward clarity of the mind, unity of purpose and most of all,  to understand when the King gives you an order,  it's absolute.   I will then claim him.  TO make sure he understands and so that there is no mistaking my intent. If he fails then at  this I will expunge him permanently.   He will learn from my father to control his actions, obey his King and above all to become more then just my second son. He could become a keen observer,   an assassin.  If he took to his school lessons as he took to violence,  he might make a fine officer in the army one day.  For sure he his no leader, he hasn't my charm nor has  he even Yorek's guile, gumption or wherewhithal.  Look at Yorek, I am certain he had doubts about me, us, this Kingdom from time to time.  But he does his duty and hasn't stepped on it.  I meant it when Intended to change some things around here hopefully for the better.  So it comes down to this, we will give Rafee one more tightly controlled chance to become greater then what he already is. No strike that, greater is a misnomer in this case,  I mean to say that he'll have the chance to outgrow his constituent existence or he will die trying.  He will learn.  If he deviates, well,  he'll not have the chance to regret it if he does.  I suppose on some level if I'm willing to let Yorek live and be who and what he's turned out to be, then I owe it I suppose to Rafee to present the opportunity to improve himself to the same ends.  Even if it means enslaving him."  Saeed shrugged,  "I will claim him in the ancient way tonight."   That was all the King had to say about it.  What else could be said?  Except that Rafee was one lucky son of a bitch who'd probably piss away the opportunity and wind up dipshitted on a toilet of doom somewhere.  "As for Balor, perhaps he wanted to communicate with us. I could think of easier ways but perhaps he wanted something quieter and more subtle?"

"You know Yorek, that's a good idea.  She hasn't after all, punished or fled or retaliated in any way if she did not like or did not understand any question.  She would probably be very forthcoming,  Go ahead and ask. You're probably right Braeman,  after all we've not seen Domeyl, we have not seen Sam or anyone.   Just alot of battles in alot of places against alot of mortals who want people like us dead.  One wonders the sanity of some who want people who are already, strictly speaking dead, or whom have died, dead.  But there you have it.  In any case as for our visitor It probably does have to do with all that's going on.  For all we know maybe he wants to unite the Kingdoms himself.  So go ahead, son, ask her,  be forthright, but polite.  I bet that the answer to being able to examine that box will be in the negatory but still, ask." 

"Those men?  Cannibals?  No they're not cannibals.  Not in the way of the Vengoath.  Those men are lusting for you Junjo,  they find your looks, your manner and your qualities in general, attractive.  They are wealthy men and members of the court,  tribal chieftains, judges,  ministers, soldiers, others.   They are stirred by you.  They will not so much as lay a hand upon you in my house lest they lose said hand.  You also intrigue them.  You are new here.  These  men once were used to having their way unchecked.   Then I was King,  now they come to beg and curry for favor, others wish rewards for work done, be it lands, riches, marriages, mineral rights.  As King I am bound to protect and steward all that is within my realm.  In any case, they would strip you if given a chance probably.  Not the flesh from the bone my dear, no, they would strip you of your clothing and indulge their dreams and fantasies or at least attempt to do so.  Eating in the manner of slang for certain sexual acts.  As for them I dare say your metropholes would probably protect you from them as they make you uncomfortable.  But they will not touch you whilst you are under my protection. They fear my punishment and my wrath.  Some of them fear their wives,  especially the ones that owe their wealth to their choice of mate."  He poured her some chilled spring water with a slice of lime and some cherry juice added.  "Water, with a fruit and a sort of berry juice.  Is very refreshing."   He poured himself one.   "As for what you should do,  you can and probably should decline any invitation they make toward you to visit them later tonight, you can also decline any dance should they ask you to dance."

Saeed nodded to a servant who spoke to the musicians, the leader of which smiled and bowed and got his troupe to continue playing, more drinks and deserts, fruit and cakes and nuts and berries, local and from around the world were served.  Even fresh coconut and pineapple from the islands.  Saeed smiled as Yorek asked his questions, Using the telepathy, to his Son and Braeman he said "Well, those were as suspected,  but it is good to have it confirmed."  Saeed sipped his water, savoring the fruity tones and the coldness of the drink on his tongue.  "Junjo, I have a question for you, what manner of being are you?  I'm a curious individual. Like you." The King smiled. 

"Wise of you, as expected, Heraad.  Your will be done... but... I must wonder if it wouldn't be more prudent to delay enslavement of him and make him prove his loyalty and obedience genuine." Braeman answered to his king's command.  He would never say it out loud but torturing Rafee for failing Saeed so spectacularly was something he looked forward to.  "Yes, Yorek has proved himself an asset in spite of his reservations."  He agreed.  And for Balor... "I can't pretend to know what a deity of your father's realm hopes to achieve.  Perhaps either Lord Eremon or Eoghan could shed some light on Anwnn's god of death being they are God's of a sort themselves of that land.  I mean, for all I know he's just bored and answered a fool's knock." 

With the click of a lock and key that was as much arcane as intricate craftsmanship he opened Rafee's cage with a wining growl of heavy steel.  Before Rafee knew what hit him Braeman grappled his upper arms from behind and scraping him up against every rough or jagged rock surface he could find along the way strong armed him into the depths of the wards to the gloomiest torture chamber available to him.  "The Army of Assholes will be the end of man on this sphere if they aren't careful.  Like most fools I doubt they can see the likely repercussions of their folly." He didn't miss a beat as he continued to converse with Saeed while attending to his duties. Rafee struggled desperately and futilely against Braeman's hold as his flesh was scraped off against the rugged walls, grains of loose rock getting stuck in his meat.  By the time they'd reach that room far below what skin he had left on his face and lower limbs would be hanging off of him in flaps, and the once handsome prince who had tried so hard not to cry out would be groaning pitifully.  He could not hide his terror, though he tried, when Braeman lashed him to a raised slab of stone with blood grooves around the edges.

Junjo did her best to follow Saeed's explanation of those men and after conferring with the metropholes a moment as it appeared to her she believed she understood well enough.  "So what has them suddenly wanting to breed with me?" She asked with such candor that between their king holding nothing back and the amazingly pretty girl replying just as openly those that weren't averting their eyes in embarrassment or shame were bowing their heads apologetically to Saeed.

"Probably the dancing," Yorek inferred tonelessy though his eyes shone with amusement.

"Oh... so dancing is a mating ritual among some people as it is with birds?"

"In a sense... Yes," Yorek supposed.  "Though dancing is also often for enjoyment or entertainment.  Your dancing was certainly the later." He looked to Saeed with a smile that surely meant he was laughing inside.

Junjokitsumi's pale lavender eyes swept over the mortified faces of her admirers.  "It is not Junjo's wish to make sex with any of you," she let them know, only wanting for them to know what to expect and not wishing to mislead anyone with her dancing.  "I dance because I enjoy it," she added to her announcement.  She just felt she should be honest with them. Her hand then squeezed down on Saeed's wrIst.   "She has only carnal interest in Lord Majesty Kassim." She added with a cheeky grin.

"Even if he is married?" Yorek asked her after getting over the initial surprise of her unfiltered statement.

"Married?" She asked.

"Yes... When someone has a life mate.   My father has two. They are Paalaana and Nibetu.  In our culture multiple mates are acceptable." Yorek thought she should know.

"Oh..." Junjo said quietly.

Yorek had tried something simple out on Junjo asking about the metropholes to be sure and was curious how she would answer his father. 

Junjo already had a contemplative look which became even more thoughtful as she considered what she was. "I am the thought vessel of the Elemandramides as the All is the author and the chronicle of the Gingkaihigari or galactic expanse your people call the planes.  The Elemandramides or Sudoshi were once the first elemental primordials whom each engendered a region of the expanse and eventually became flesh embodiments as you are.  Then came a time that the many they became evolved enmass quite rapidly into mind beings who all eventually came together as Sudo, the one who is the All.  I am their thought child.  They... thought me into existence.  I am the daughter of the All by your language."  She explained as well as she could.

Having answered that, Yorek asked her a few more questions.  "Why are you here?"  He was already amazed by what she shared with his father.

"To understand and gather knowledge by learning what I Junjo want and need to know."

"Are you disturbed that my father is married?  You seemed different after I informed you of that."

Junjo met Yorek's gaze then.  "It was not disturbing to know as much as it was... I don't know, it was a new feeling I am uncertain what the word is for.  This deep sinking feeling because Junjo needs to be her chosen one's only one and they hers.  Her people know enough about loving and being with many.  Not only that... but what I begin to feel for Saeed I have no desire to share.  She can choose to become many things the Sudo are not. Selfish about the one thing that is hers alone, that being what makes her spirit rise, is one of those things."

"What do mean by make your spirit rise?" Yorek asked.

"I think she means love," Braeman interjected as he pushed a clawed hand inside of Rafee's gut to encourage a blood curdling scream from the disgraced Prince.  He was keeping him alive with a healing miasma in a life and death exchange.

"I think it might be what is best about many living things... love," Junjo confirmed what Braeman had said to them privately. Her eyes then locked on Saeed and she smiled softly.  "Junjo is happy Saeed has much love to give and receive though her spirit weeps that she cannot hope or aspire to be a part of it.  Does Saeed love his wives with much deep swelling in his chest?"  It was how she felt for him so figured he felt that powerful almost painful way for them. 

"How are you not laughing yourself silly, My Lord?" It was Braeman again.  "I am," even as he was pulling Rafee's intestines out like sausage links. "...And also thinking you should fuck that pretty little thing senseless."

Yorek meanwhile thought it best to change the subject.  He really wasn't comfortable with how smitten she was with his father.  He wasn't sure it was in her best interest.  "What happens if your people don't like what they discover about us?"

She held a hand out to Yorek telling him to wait, then only after Saeed answered did she meet Yorek's gaze to answer him.  "Junjo doesn't know..." So she laid her hand on the Meridian Sphere until she had her answer.  "No answer to that question exists as yet."

Yorek arched a brow.  "I see... well let me ask you this... Are your people hostile towards those they disagree with?"

Junjo shook her head.  "No, only towards those they are threatened by."

"So you are here to learn... but why now?" Yorek covered some of the quandary he and his father shared.

"Because of all the comings and goings to the expanse from this world.  It is unprecedented."

"But why us, then?  We are neither affiliated with the Army of Man or under siege by them?"

"Exactly." She said with a grin as if Yorek was supposed to understand.  He only shook his head.

"Oh he's already claimed.  Can't have him attempting to slip away now. You make sure he bears his beating like a good desert son.  Someday at the end of this I may let him take his journey in the desert again to prove himself.  See if he can do it without cheating this time.  As for Balor, Solbaid might be able to say, could be he could say but will not.  Perhaps Balor did it for amusement.  In any case Anwnn's business can hold for the moment, we clearly have enough here.  If the Kingdom's all become joined, then it will be something of a moot point anyhow.  As for the Army of Man I suspect that much of this war is not going the way they expected.  For most of them it has become nothing but cold lingering death and far too long away from their hearth and homes for empty promises from leadership most of them have probably not seen in ages now since the war began."  "Rafee,"  He included his son in the next missive,  "You will bear this like a man, fail me not, for you will answer the contrary at your peril.  Proceed Braeman."  He turned his attention outward to Junjo and Yorek.

"Far be it for my son to speak what is in my heart, for I am the King of Hassim. It is the provenance of the young to speak brash and out of turn.  If you lust for me,  that is a topic worth discussion Junjo,  you should know I am not like mortal men. My appetites in that regard are, at turns quite taciturn, yet at others extremely savage.   Deeds and wants to bore the pervert and abilities and desires to tickle the senses and titillate the imagination, to drive hearts desires and minds inner eye beyond insanity.  But I do not bed just anyone, nor do I, despite the wishes and rumors espoused by some, bed for pure sport.  Perhaps when I was young.  As for my wives, I have no great desire for them,  nor they for I.  They are held in deference as they are the mothers of my children.   I wouldn't touch them for want of desire to do so.  Nor they I.  They comfort themselves with each other, or whom ever among the guard they may wish, so long as they do not embarrass me or flaunt it, I care not who they bed.  As for dancing, it can be for fun, for ritual, for religion, for courtship,  as a prelude to sex.  It can also tickle and provoke the senses, that is why some of these men who would lust after you have taken such a keen interest in dancing. You are quite stunning and striking, that is complimentary and nothing to be ashamed of."   He listened further to the exchange about her creation, marriage, et al. 

Rafee did his best to withstand the horrors Braeman all too expertly visited on him.  He really did, but there were very few who could suffer that much pain and terror with the will and courage not to scream.  He never begged though.  Not even when Braeman dangled his intestines in front of his face and squeezed sections flat in his strong hand.  Not even when he stuffed his mangled guts back in and snapped his cock in half, and not even when he pulled off those loose flaps of skin the devil had scraped off, skinning him of large patches of flesh.  When Rafee had quieted enough to hear him speak, Braeman asked him if he understood why he was being tortured.  When Rafee said he didn't know?  Braeman burned one of his pretty dark teal eyes out.   After stuffing a rag in his eye and waiting for his sobbing moans to quiet again, Braeman asked him again, why? 

"Be-be-be-caw-caws... I tried to... to escape..." Rafee stammered, his pain astronomical.

"Try again," Braeman encouraged, holding the glowing rod he still had in hand close enough to Rafee's cheek that he could feel the burn.

"Because I... I disappoint him... I failed him..." He stuttered as quickly as his chaos torn mind let him.

Braeman put the rod in a bucket of water with a hiss of steam.  "It CAN learn," He said with dry sarcasm.  "And how might you claim his approval?"

"I might reclaim it by..."

Braeman ticked his tongue and backhanded the prince to snap his head around and split his cheek.  "You cannot REclaim what you never had to begin with."

"I... may claim... earn his faith... buh... buh... by..."

"Buh buh buh by what?" Braeman mocked as a warning.

Rafee inhaled a deep breath to steady himself.  "By... being obedient... following orders..."

Braeman jerked a dagger from his belt and swung it around quick as a blink to impale the table between Rafee's legs, just barely slicing his inner thigh.  The knife guard came down resting on his balls.  "Don't quote the company line, boy.  You start by admitting that you have NO clue HOW to earn your king's respect and by begging him, or him through me to tell you how. THEN you fucking DO it.  Whatever IT is." He lectured. 

Yorek had spoken out of turn and only realized it when Saeed pointed it out.  He bowed his head deeply to apologize.  "Forgive me, father.  I forgot my place." As always he was sincere.  Yorek never said anything unless he meant it.  He still had an innate tendency to protect others from his father. He was trying to get over it but slipped now and again towards old instincts.

Junjo pursed her kissable full lips as Saeed spoke of his needs.  "I am unsure what any of that means..." She admitted easily.  "The way the Metropholes describes intimacy it all seems so... mechanical..."

Yorek bubbled up with cackling laughter but quickly stifled it.  He cleared his throat and tried to get a grip.  "Sorry..." He found himself apologizing again... and so soon.  For him sex was a very private thing and to hear her speak so candidly and in such an odd way about it cracked him up.  Listening to his father reply just as bluntly on the other hand was uncomfortable for him for many very personal reasons.  Yorek still had issues he was working through.  "Lord Father... May I take my leave?" He thought it might be for the best but if asked to stay, he would.  If allowed to leave, he'd waste no time doing so, but would kiss Saeed's hand before retiring.

Junjo looked between son and father but when the matter of the prince staying or going was resolved, she looked back to Saeed with a beautiful smile and brushed back a few stray twilight blue locks.  "If Dovai Saeed... if you come to believe you could choose me as your one, I would be happy to find out what pleases you, not just to have children or out of duty, but because it would lift my heart to do so." She smiled sweetly.

"Let me know if you don't wish to bang that, My eminent Lord," Braeman snuck in, still there because Saeed had not cut their mental network yet. 

"All half kidding aside, My Lord, I wonder if her attraction to a powerful king she barely knows is part of her programming or if she is genuinely smitten by you.  If her people arranged this and you share any real interest in her, you need to know.  I get the feeling however that they made her quite independent, and if that's the case, her feelings, however sudden, are sincere.  If so... what kind of children WOULD you have with her?" And he went right back to kidding around... sort of.  If Saeed made a claim on the girl it would bring an end to the guy talk about Junjo from Braeman.  He knew when the line was drawn.

Kassim chuckled a the mechanical description,  understood his son's laughter at that.  "You may go Yorek,  I will see you in the morning unless you're going to bed among the wardens this evening in which case I will see you probably tomorrow evening.   We will meet and share out what new things we may have learned,  Rest well."  He turned back to Junjo. Motioned to a servant to refill his goblet and allow for more fruits and nuts to be brought forth, the band would continue,  even well after the late hours. Hours that were many in the way off.   Saeed sipped at his drink,  most thought it some exotic liquor or cocktail, it was in fact chilled water with a lime and mint.  He studied Junjo for a moment and then laughed softly.

"I must say Junjo, it is good to see someone so forthcoming and open.  You would be correct, the downright jist,  the nitty as it were, the so called...mechanical usage of natures gifts are just that,  mechanical.  If you want to see the mechanics in action, that can be arranged in a pleasure den.  But that is the simple mechanics,  mind you Junjo that those acts, are not without their pleasure for both the giver and the receiver but the mere act itself is just that, the act, it imparts pleasure and a certain level of satisfaction, but it is not necessarily love.   Love often includes the.... rutting.  The pleasure,  however, the pleasure does not by itself imply there is always love.  You certainly stir the imagination.  Love however?  That would take time, but then what else do we have but time?  Perhaps you would like to see if such things are of a comfort to you first,  I would show you,  if you were willing. Perhaps you would like to see the lunar rise from the observatory? Perhaps you would join me for drinks upstairs, maybe you would like a bath, or perhaps you would like to see a pleasure house.."   He couldn't have said why he thought he'd give it a try, the truth was that for many years, Saeed was looking to set up Inaaksu and Hassim to make them survivable, viable and after a fashion, immortal, once accomplished Saeed actually had the notion of simply disappearing into the desert and walking the planet, perhaps returning to his beloved Neffari homeland after a long absence, or if the Kingdom needed him. Not thoughts he'd share with his son or his best aids and friends like Braeman and Siddiq Al-Jinn, they both would have defecated  golden wan-tans probably, but Saeed was on a journey himself, Paradise on my right, Hell on my left and the Angel of Death behind,  he thought of the old quote.  'You are Neffari, you are a prince. Make your own path and to hell with the gods and to hell with fate.'  He remembered his own father's teaching.  A father dead and long since moldered away centuries ago.  He turned again.  "I would try,  but first I would get to know you, I would see you, for if you would have but one and no sharing then you understand when I say that I do not share either.   As for children, perhaps,  but I already have some, so they are not of prime importance. That's what I say on the matter, so what say you?  Want to explore?  Or retire..." 

To Braeman he simply  'I will get to know her and perhaps woo her.  Should that prove successful maybe love will follow.  If it doesn't, we can always unleash her on the army of man.  However I think it might be all the action here that has drawn her peoples attention, this may be the means toward divining their intention. Truth be told old friend I do not believe they wish us harm per say, I believe an apt analogy would ring thus:  We may well be to them what say, the Vengoath and the Island Vengoath have been to us.  The point is if they intended us harm they likely could have and would have wiped us out already. "

Paradise on my right, Hell on my left and the Angel of Death behind.

"You know, walk the Earth,  like Caine in Kung Fu."

Receiving his father's instructions Yorek dipped his head to signify he understood.  "I will speak further with Eoghan and get back to you.  He is mapping the planar camps he visited from memory and a decent cartographer."

Junjo smiled at Yorek as Saeed excused him and stood up with him to up-nod and cross one arm over her chest in gesture of farewell.  "Until we meet again," she bade then when he was well on his way she danced thrice around Saeed's table to the wonderful music then sat back down, still bouncing in rhythm to the upbeat tune playing at the time.

The girl with the twilight blue hair and lunar skin giggled at Saeed's own explicative of Thrust. Stroke. Lick. Suck. Repeat.  "Perhaps the heart makes it less technical and more fluid," she imagined with a pleasant smile.  She nodded as he defined the divide between love and sex.  "Of course.  All physical acts can be both separate or an extension of the spirit... of emotion and mind." She had a very natural feel for heart, mind and body. "She... I also agree that we should enjoy coming to know one another."  Her now lavender and violet-blue eyes (they were shades of blue and green when she was outdoors) lit up at Saeed's suggestions.  "Junjo would love very much to do all those things!  She can show Saeed the Sudonese star cluster nearest the Stargate from which she came."  In her excitement she reverted back to the tense of her people's vernacular.  It felt more natural to her.  Speaking of one's self in the third person was an extension of their nature to put others first instead of the me and I id of self and self concern.  "Hmm... explore or retire... Can we not do both?" She grinned, exposing straight white teeth with rather long canines.  Fangs to be sure.

"Tsentsu Yorek mentioned the Eoghan person making maps of the Galactic Expanse?  The metropholes can provide detailed maps of most places, including any of the Gingkaihigari regions.  If it pleases Saeed, she will ask her sphere to generate maps of any of the regions he requests."  And so Saeed discovered one of the ways Junjo could prove quite helpful.  The maps the metropholes could produce were replicated in thin died leather of high quality and clarity with map keys and landmarks that were easily followed.  They were also beautiful maps.

"Junjo has never tasted the food from her people.  If Duvai Kasim recalls, Junjo asked the chronosphere what her people ate and it described all manner of fruits, vegetable matter and nuts.  They refrain from eating flesh, though they do gather eggs, milk and nectar from animals, but only farm them as companions or to aid in their survival.  They also collect their fur when it grows over long and their sheds.  They strive to live in harmony with nature and not against it, even when protecting themselves from it.  They seem very wise to Junjo and willing to share that wisdom.  The metropholes tells me people of this world live with nature better than some others."

Junjo polished off her second glass of cherry lemon water and smacked her lips.  "That is so refreshing and delicious." She lauded.  She loved the delicate flavor of the cherry and the way the lemon slice crispened its taste.  While the flavor of the cherry juice was crisp, it was subtle and didn't overwhelm the freshness of the water.  "Your water here is amazingly good.  Where does it come from?" She was a bundle of curiosity.

Braeman smiled as he cleansed Rafee's wounds.  It felt right that Saeed should find someone he could consider being interested in.  Had Saeed ever actually loved a girl?  Braeman couldn't really say, and if he had it was a long, long time ago.  "I hope she is the one for you, My Lord.  Or as you say, at least a valuable ally."  Because Rafee had proved himself willing to learn, Braeman was done for the night.  He would start fresh with him tomorrow.  "Rafee asks you how he may please you and earn your respect, My Lord?" He had done so only moments ago.  Whatever Saeed said Braeman would repeat back to the prince word for word.  It would be up to Rafee to heed those instructions.  When the time came, however, Rafee would then insist on hearing those instructions from Saeed himself and would only accept Braeman's words as his father's own if Saeed commanded it.  Rafee wasn't what you could call the trusting kind.

"Very well,  those maps will be useful, we must be sure to thank Eoghan for his excellent work in that endeavor, dream well, journey better my son.."   He smiled at Junjo, when she reseated herself and said,  "That is the idea dear, make of it what one will,  but the mechanics of pleasure are much easier then love. Pleasure, not to be crass,  but that is easy to come by, especially for one in my position. love on the other hand, love, is a much harder treasure to find and far more fickle.  I will show the stars as we see them, as we have observed them, see the chaos inherent in the order and the divisiveness that breeds the randomness."  His desert blues twinkled,  "We are a people with a root in our past and a grasp for the future, always reaching for it.   For knowledge you have come to the right place,  we are  among the finest libraries in all of  Morashtar, certainly Morendor,  you are in the second largest city, and I believe and feel you are in the finest city of all this world for beauty. The hanging gardens and the fountains alone.  Hmm and TO see the suns rise and the suns set,  the lunar rise.  People assume a desert is barren,  I can assure you it is quite the opposite.   I can tell you that like you we are curious about our world and our universe,  we attempt to learn and glean as much as we can about geography, history,  the healing arts, science,  technology,  literature,  even art and household craft work teach us much about others  And I do recall what you said about food,  we have many fruits and nuts and vegetables here,  eggs as well.  I wonder, do you have cheeses?"  He leaned back in his seat,  "So it would seem we are both full of questions,  The water comes from many places, as far as sources go,  we import some in trade from areas where it is more abundant,  my people place great store in the sharing of water because of the time when it was so scarce here, that said most of the water in this city comes from great reservoirs below ground, as well as cistern throughout the city, being coastal the city receives rain water,  but yearly during the rain season our great aquifers,  and moisture stills,   as well as solar stills,  do you know moisture stills and solar stills?   Those gather moisture, what little can be had year around,   but the great aquifers and cisterns are filled during the rainy season,  we have built vast ones underground, the rain falls,  is filtered through stone and sand and drains deep underground into enclosures, that help prevent loss via evaporation,  although we do channel some back out where the suns can take their cut, as the ancients would have said, helping preserve the cycle of nature.    We also have more then one oasis fed from great springs replenished in the rain season, many in the deep desert.   We've also dug wells in key locations, for the weary traveler,  and the supply of the army and the trade caravans.  So I guess the simplest answer Junjo is that it comes from multiple sources.  The water you are drinking now comes from an oasis in the deep desert,  it is something of a delicacy,  the fruits you are tasting in yours come from the fruit of the cherry and the lime.  Both of which are born of trees.  I have lime, which is of a tree,  mint, which is of a herb, we grow them here in the palace.  Space is not wasted,  nor water.   We've even found ways to make sea water drinkable by extracting the salt,  we then use the salt for seasoning and as a preservative and even for it's potential medicinal qualities. You will find alot of our desert customs,  revolve around water,  from greetings, to even hygiene and the making of love.   As for the water we trade for, that is often used in ceremony or bestowed as gift.  Likewise we sometimes receive water as gift.   One of the gifts bestowed upon the people of Hassim is that King allows the villages and districts to keep their portion of the water tax,  in ancient times they had to provide their chiefs and in turn their sovereigns with supplies of water.  That law still exists but we let them keep what they gather.  I hope that answers your question,"   

 He took a cheroot offered by a servant,  along with the dried mushroom, which he ate and then lit, taking tankard of water he rose,  "come with me, let us walk....and talk,  up we shall go, unless you wish to enjoy the music awhile,  but I tire of the crowd and why handle tonight what business will surely rear itself tomorrow?"  He chuckled...growing somewhat meditative,  but then the cheroot and the mushrooms were good for that sort of thing.  "If we go,  I will show you the observatory,  where we watch and track the heavens,  we log each new body we sight,  we note every mobile object,  as well as those things that are not known or scheduled, as it were.  We already knew we weren't alone,  that is to say that we are not the only world,  world being planet,  but what also fascinates us is that it is so very hard to depart this one.   Imagine if you will being able to achieve a high state of knowledge and ability, but being unable to advance because simply, you cannot go."  In the event she wanted to go see the observatory now,  Kassim led her off away from the crowd, leaving the courtesans to mingle and party late into the night,  conducting business and gossip and art. 


Once moving  Saeed continued the thread,  "Your metropholes for one, truly remarkable,   often the most advanced items the planet will absorb, although not always,  especially if the planet, which is alive in it's own right,  senses somthing is a danger, it will do it's best to exorcise it, although  we do recover things or fragments of things from time to time, some things we see and catalog before they disappear.  As I said, like you we are curious what's out there.   Visitors are always welcomed and rewarded for sharing knowledge,  science,  even lore and stories.  But I prattle.  If you're going to be here a long time, then you will learn  Yes, to answer you  I would very much enjoy seeing your maps and showing you our observatory and our art. Our music you are already enjoying.  "  Stargate.   The King filed that one away as a juicy bit of intelligence. "Your stargate sounds similar to our own internal gate system here....convenient indeed for travel, although sometimes I do prefer the journey, the walk or the ride or the cruise,  even the flight is preferable to the simple gate.   Useful....but,  I've always been a bit of a romantic philosoph of these things, even in the olden days.  Can I ask,  fangs?   I am curious,  do all your people possess fangs?"

Saeed, busy as he was entertaining and wooing the lady reached down to Rafee. 'My son, you have always had but one simple task. Do what the fuck I tell you to fucking do when I fucking tell you to gods be damned fucking do it.   Hit him Braeman, take a sledgehammer to his balls.  SO while your nards are creeping up into your stomach know this.  I own you.  You are claimed, that cold feeling deep in your heart and that burning sensation in your soul?  That's me.  You now have nowhere to run Rafee.  SO From now on you accept instructions from Me, You accept them from Braeman.  You take your fucking instructions from your Grandfather because he has permission to tear you limb from limb and eat your soul if he desires.  Remember the tale of your Aunt Devonna,  don't be an obtuse moron.  I'm ordering you not to be, fail in this and you will suck the shit from a dead man's rectum and dry hump cactus before I grow tired of you, So do what Braeman tells you or what he relays from me, to you.  Oh, try to kill your brother or any other member of this family or try to escape from me again and I will punch you a one way ticket to some place worse then then abyss. Do not nod your head, do not chant the party fucking line.  Just know this.   I will return you to my trust,  I  and I alone,  when I think you are ready. A year or a hundred thousand, it matters not.  A minute or a million.   It will be only when I am ready."

Junjo marveled at all the ways they came by their water.  "Saeed has answered the water question quite completely." She lauded with a graceful rise of her hand which was meant as an applaud.  "I wish I could see the world my people inhabit.  Metropholes teaches that it is lush, covered with plant life and much water sustaining the botanicals and wild life.  There, all animals are wild, even the companions and those receiving aid.  My people are the only people there, and yet though they live on this one world, they are from many worlds and yet from none.  Junjo does not quite grasp what it means... As I understand it, they are beings which embody many different things... the elements, emotions, thought and will.  All which is engendered them, who made many places, who evolved and united and became many who are one." What she was describing was a large population of primordials which had merged into one collective being.  "Their all conceived of Junjo as a single embodiment of them, but without predilection.  Junjo is merely their child.  In body I don't know what I am, but this which Saeed sees and feels.  Junjo thirsts, she hungers, she feels.  Perhaps she is very like the mortals of this world.  She doesn't know what harm can touch her.  She does not know her purpose beyond living and learning."  That may have been her purpose.

When Saeed suggested a walk, Junjo shoved her metropholes onto the table and shot to her feet.  She preferred being active.  "Junjo has had quite enough of wonderful food and music at this hour," she promised.  But when Saeed received that roll of Inaaksuan tobacco and a mushroom, Junjo grabbed a fistful of the dried fungi and shoved them in her mouth.  She made a disgusted face as she chewed the woody yet tender mushrooms.  "Urr... thss tst erfl..." She chewed them up as quickly as she could and swallowed, then stuck her tongue out, curled under.  "Ek!  Saeed eats these why?  The brown things are aweful!"  It was the worst tasting thing she had tried yet.  She grabbed his tankard of water and chugged it.  A nearby servant quirked his brows and fetched Saeed a refill.

"Hehhh... That's better."  She started to hand it back to Saeed but the servant gently pushed it back as he handed Saeed his replacement.  Clearly his guest was thirsty as well and happily kept what remained, sipping it as they walked.  "Not able to go?  Junjo can't believe that.  There is always a way. She'll ask the chronosphere..." Her hands opened and pop, there it was.  She rolled it around in her hands as they walked then dropped it on the floor for lack of a better place at that very moment.  "There are ways.  By starship, by interdimensional or interplanetary travel, by teleportational bounce, by something the metropholes calls Arcanum." She shrugged, she knew nothing about demon summoning through seals. "The barrier metropholes describes is limited to blocking travelers from specific places. The Leonese system and Acheron.  Go elsewhere and embark from there.  Simple." As if intergalactic travel was ever easy.  For her people it might be easier.  Or not.  The metropholes had just made it sound simple to her.  "Just like you can bounce a gate, wormhole or teleport path off of one of your system's other planets or moons to bypass the Morashtar gate barrier." She went on to enlighten.  She saw the glint on Saeed's eyes and paused to cradle his face sweetly in her hands.  "No worries, Duvai Saeed.  Junjo only tells these things to you.  She sees your wisdom and the goodness in your soul."  She kissed him tenderly on the lips then bounced off a few feet and continued walking.  She was like a puppy full of bounce, playfulness and curiosity.  A puppy in a gorgeous package. 

"Junjo is grateful for her metropholes.  Perhaps the planet allowed its passage because it is part of Junjo.  It tells her it cannot be separated from her.  Your planet guards are smart.  But why allow Junjo at all?  She is willing to share what she knows, with Saeed anyway.  Can it know Junjo's intentions?  That she doesn't plan to overshare?" The Metropholes had no idea.  It's knowledge wasn't limitless.  The question about her fangs had her exposing her teeth in a wide grin after saying, "Yep."  The fangs were shaped like a big cat's.  "For eating meat, or drinking blood, or eating fruit, or biting in self defense and while mating." For any reason fangs could be needed for in other words.  The metropholes had engineered her to fit in.  There were a lot of fanged humanoids on Morashtar.

Braeman hammered Rafee in the nuts right on cue, selecting an blacksmith's iron mallet from his tray of instruments.  He swung HARD.  There was a crack and Rafee's voice turned inside out.  He said nothing to his father.  Only listened.  Listened as well as he could through the swooning pain and soul strangling fear.

Junjo paused quite a lot as they traversed the palace halls.  She stopped to inspect just about everything; the paintings, sculptures, plants, reflecting pools, tiles, mosaics, figurines, bugs that had got in, pets, people... One statue in particular caught her attention.  It was Saeed's father.  She studied it closely with her hands and eyes then went to stand beside Saeed.  "Saeed is a better man than his father was.  This is good." She looked to him then.  "Some believe a son carries his father's sins.  For awhile you did.  But you do no more.  This is a good thing." She smiled then grabbed Saeed's hand and ran.  "Race you to the end of the passage!"  And it was a long corridor.

"The beings of your world, that created the being that conceived you, or perhaps conceptualized you would be a better word, so when you were created you were sent here,  there was no adolescence? No childhood? They created and deposited?" An interesting combination of motives, purpose and Logic.  "Thus you have never seen your...."Homeworld",  that is the world of your people in person."  He contemplated that as he took another mushroom from a passing servant.  Primordials, the King was sure he had an idea what that was, the oldest and longest evolving. Old and powerful enough that they would seem as "God" or "Gods" to those who came along far far later, but in this instance it seemed the population of her world had evolved and moved on.  "I would say your purpose is probably to do what you are doing now, to understand us and how we live.  Probably as a prelude to contact."  At least contact felt right,  an invasion wouldn't require quite the same approach.

Right after Saeed grabbed a second mushroom from passing Servant he turned, noticing what Junjo had just done.   "You know.....Oh No Junjo,  I wouldn't...." oh shit, "eat that..."  ohh my,  "quite so many of those..."  oh wow..."at once.... uh,  I  eat those because they have certain metaphysical properties,  they aid in meditation,   they tend to....how did an outlander once put it,   Squeegee the third eye.    You may find yourself seeing visions, perhaps naked and even dancing on the odd table, maybe even a pole.  You might find you want to one day follow me into the desert.....Hmm yes, let us go and be elsewhere,"  preferably before another religious awakening occurs or Solbaid shows up and throws a shroom induced Orgy, he thought, the court was still recovering from the last one.  "To answer your question,  I consume those to help with meditation and to relax. They might make you a little sick, to consume that many at once,  the water will help.:  He nodded to the servant with a shrug and a nod,    Water and liquid refreshment would be available steadily throughout."

Leaving the great hall he led her out through corridors, taking her out onto the palaces lower promenande,  quiet but still busy at this hour,  fully manned as it was given the state of heightened defense that was prevailing on the world at the moment.  "It is more like the powers that be limit travel,  there are certain entities,  as well as items that it is felt,  would probably be better off without access to things from other places.  It is also a matter of the state of technology,  in some ways we are very advanced, in others,  no so much,  in some ways we have the knowledge and the idea,  yet lack the capacity or access."   Starships, gotta have Starships he thought wistfully.     But then she said bounce a gate and immediately the King began running the numbers in his head and grinned.  Hmmm emphasis and possibility in depth.  Well most things were done that way around here,  it was the only way to cover the myriad of possibilities one wanted to either protect, avoid or accomplish,  gate travel wouldn't be any different. "Thank you Junjo."  Out over the city dusk had fallen, but there was a  plethora of sound and light far below,  lunar rise would come soon,  although the faint glow of the second sunset was still visible far out over the desert,  at the edge of the horizon.

When the subject of Fangs and the Metropholes came up,    Saeed offered "I think the Metropholes is remarkable, it must have been designed to answer only to you, as to why our planet guards allowed it?  I imagine perhaps they could detect no fundamental harm from it,  it's no different then one of our items, keyed, warded,  arcaned or otherwise 'enchanted'  as the common folk might say and ergo keyed to a particular person or mind.  Likely not a weapon, otherwise they would have barred it and you from passing.  As for those fangs,  you won't need them here in this city.  He led her along, reentering the palace,  they could have cut through inside but Saeed liked the walk and into that long corridor with art and tile and reflecting pools.  water was the height of luxury in this place...when she stopped to observe the statue of his father.  Saeed nodded,  "Thank you.    As for him,  he was a very hard man,  ruthless and cunning, he raised me to be the same.  Were he alive he'd probably wished he'd taught a little more about love and respect then his fanatical devotion to strength, power and real politic.  He could rule but only one way. My immortal father thought different."   Which was the next statue along with some paintings, of Solbaid.   "Now there is a man who is many minds and thoughts about many a thing and often the one.   Just as yours evolved to be a....consciousness of many,  so has he evolved and survived to become or embody,  more, in his own way.   That and to be honest he's a bit batshit crazy as the humans say," The King chuckled..

"It's all fun and games until you consume the spice and then it's really about Shai-Hulud and crafting a geo political galactic religious experience.  Or just getting high and popping shrooms with a demon King which is kind of the same thing. From a certain point of view."      :Coolness: :SmileyCrossbones:

Junjo shook her head when Saeed explored her conception.  "Junjo was born... an infant, and then grew into a child, and then a juvenile and then as Yorek found her, a woman at the height of her growth and aging.  She was then three days old.  I recall little of being an infant other than floating in a warm dark place where lights twinkled all around like stars... perhaps they were stars... until I felt even warmer, soft sand beneath me.  I rolled in it... got it in my mouth, it was gritty and I cried a little, crawled and then walked in it.  The deep sand cushioned me when I fell.  My hands clapped in cool water... amazingly cool, and I napped in the shade of tall fern trees and giant grass..." She was describing an oasis and it's palms and bamboo.  Yorek had been about three days out from Redlion oasis in Marsol territory when he had spotted her.  "Bugs bit me and I ate them.  I rolled in mud like the elephants and they stopped biting me.  I splashed in the pools to get clean.  I remember eating ripe fruit where it had fallen on the sand, and bamboo shoots, all kinds of grubs and grass heads.  Junjo cannot remember what she ate as an Infant.  As she grew Metropholes taught her things... how to survive, then how to speak, read and write in various languages, to move, defend, to behave around humanoids."  All in three days.

"Oh," she said about the mushrooms, which she only understood about half of.  Then she brightened like a supernova at the part about following him into the desert.  "Oh yes!  Junjo would love to do that!  Shall we go now?"  She did and didn't have a grasp on politics.  He was king so he could assign someone to look after things while he went into the desert where he needed to be, right?

"Metropholes teaches that this world may be one of if not the most advanced in channeling, what the Sudoshi call the harnessing and command of the spheres, but that most of its highly advanced technology is hidden or its use is limited.  Fusion generators have been detected in three major cities, one Inne, strangely enough, and one hold.  Its use is fairly recent but its invention quite ancient and once widespread among a race called the Tsularian, who Metropholes tells became rare because of a great genocidal war in ancient times.  I suppose their technomantic practices disappeared with them, which makes sense since they would know how to build, maintain and operate such machinery."  She had just given away the fact that the Metropholes had gathered a great deal of the world's history already, or had it been there before?

She smiled when he thanked her for the gate bouncing ideas.  After a moment she plopped down on the palace floor.  "Ugh... Junjo's stomach feels wobbly..."  She laid down gazing up at Saeed.  "Junjo is surprised Inaaksu of all places has no fusion power station.  Perhaps she can help Duvai Saeed acquire one.  They are extremely dangerous under special circumstances... but Metropholes says it can stabilize them to eliminate any chance of implosion if allowed access." 

The chronosphere appeared hovering above her just then and she frowned.  Since she felt better anyway she sat up and shoved it away.  It was no longer a cube but a sphere now, some of its complex etchings glowing blue as jets of air vented from small holes that had manifested in its present underside.  The air pressure varied to balance it and the number of vents increased along the sides to steer it as it moved out of Junjo's way.  Yet aside from air moving there was no energy emitting from it whatsoever.  Its energy was internally self contained as Braeman had said.

"There is no such thing as over sharing with Saeed, Les."  She called it by the name she had given it as she actually spoke TO it for the first time in Saeed's presence.  It was a drastic abbreviation of its trade name, keeping just the last three letters les (pronounced leez) in metropholes.  "Junjo will keep nothing from him." The metropholes sank against the floor and reshaped into a box again.  Its lights going out, its surface solid again but bearing the same complex alien etchings.

It was about then she laughed happily, danced round and round Saeed with the sexiest kind of happy bounce, singing melodiously in her own tongue, then embraced him to kiss his lips and ran ahead to the lovely gallery where she stooped down to drink from one of the reflecting pools like a beast might.  Soonafter she found the statue of Saeed's Neffari father.  After speaking to him of his father she moved on to the next statue.

"The metropholes is wonderful.  Its uses are many to be sure.  What it is, it becomes as needed.  It is a sort of fluid extension of my people I suppose.  Perhaps the planetary security didn't know what to make of it, being that what it is alternates according to my needs and requests and what it thinks my needs are.  Maybe it simply was what it was to Morashtar's probes when it arrived.  Maybe it seemed like a meteor."  She was quite forthcoming, obviously immune to the idea of withholding information or speaking untrue to Saeed.  She meant what she said to the chronosphere.

 Junjo didn't realize it, but she had come to stare at the sculpture of Solbaid as she spoke... this well after feeling his likeness up all over quite thoroughly, before she ended up with her hands planted on his stony shoulders and her head rested brow to brow with him.

"Whuh... ooo... oh..." She tried to regain her bearings after realizing she was gazing deeply into eyes of stone.  Solbaid would've been amused.  She pushed herself off the statue but was still staring.  She shook a finger at Solbaid.  "So you are the reflection chaos sees when he looks in a mirror.  You are not bat shit anything... your mind is just filled with more chaos than most!" She laughed, patting the statue's shoulders then started walking with Saeed again.  "Junjo feels funny..." She said with awe then cackled when Saeed said that would be the mushrooms.  "I feel really really funny," she went on to emphasize.  "Can we get lost in the desert now?" She smiled and it was obvious that she was high as a kite.  "Junjo likes the mushrooms... I get the third eye reference now."  She was still beaming at Saeed, her eyes shining on him like a pair of stars.  Then, quite suddenly, the world shuddered beneath them, or had it, and she grabbed onto Saeed to keep her balance.

"Already?  It's happening already?" She looked puzzled and a little disgruntled.  "Junjo hopes the universe doesn't unravel... hopes Emyn knows what it is doing..."  When Saeed asked what she was talking about she covered his eyes as his wards did what they could just before a flash of blinding ultraviolet white light passed through the castle windows, through the entire country, all the world, though it faded to a mostly harmless state when its ultra radiance passed beyond Morendor's borders.  A voice reached all in its path like a vanguard ahead of the flare warning as Junjo had with her hands to "Close your eyes!" It was a voice unfamiliar to most.  The voice of Memnoch.  It was heard by Saeed like a male echo of Junjo's more physical alert. 

Because all of Inaaksu's wards were anchored, ie its powers radiated from locked, physical sources as opposed to unattached fields of energy such as Wyrvaust had used, Inaaksu's wards were not shattered as many other wards across the continent were.   Unattached power had its advantages.  It could only be destroyed by shattering each layer of power by a greater power, it could quickly be modified or repaired, whereas anchored powers could only be broken by destruction of the anchor, often a hard rune or ward stone.  Byron used anchors as well.  They took longer to raise but were more stable. Anchored wards didn't shatter from the light of Eos.

The metropholes took off spherical again and flew out of the nearest window the instant the light flared up.  Once outdoors and above the wards it would shoot towards the upper atmosphere like a shooting star in reverse.

Anyone in Morashtar who was exposed to the light and failed to cover their eyes would go blind, those in the desert so close to ground zero permanently.

"The fusion has begun," she said calmly then peeled her hands off of Saeed's eyes and cupped his cheeks.  "Now where were we?" She grinned, seeming unconcerned now.

"Much nutrition in bugs, a simple way to survive in the desert,  eating the things that slither, buzz and crawl.  It sounds as though you landed or were brought into creation at an Oasis.  One not far from our border with the nation of King Marsol perhaps,  given where Yorek was when he spotted you.   He in addition to being my son and a Knight of Hassim, is also a Warden, they patrol the borders and out lands of the kingdom helping enforce laws and looking after the needs of the people and infrastructure. I believe you met some of them when you accompanied my son.  "How man times did the suns rise and set, do you think,  before you met us?  My son and I, that is.   As for wander in the desert, not yet I'm afraid,  A camping trip perhaps or a long hike,  but to wander the desert and the world, not yet my dear, far too much work to be done first."   Stabilize the Kingdoms and win the damn war or at least neutralize Dreward,  then perhaps wander the Desert,  maybe even fade into myth.  That would be a discussion to have with her at another time, she grew fast and learned fast.   "Elephants, magnificent creatures they are. Much can be learned from them, let me know if you start to feel unwell, water can help with that."

"As for your spheres,  for most of us this occurs as what many offworlders refer to as biology or even bio chemistry and bio technology.  Skills and abilities so advanced that those endowed with them never even consider it was a piece of technology.  Certain kinds of technology have long been forbidden or sequestered, especially industrial based technology, lest it pollute and destroy the natural harmony of the world.
Most of it that is seen does not have a negative, destructive or otherwise deleterious effect on the environment. Your metropholes for one,  certain kinds of creative instruments,  firearms,  weapons and the like, on the other hand,  an 'automobile' or an 'intercontinental ballistic missile' would not be tolerated by the planet.   It would be eaten.  Probably with salt and pepper a bit of garnish and a side of potatoes. "   He studied the movement of the metropholes as it steadied itself and considered that.  "Powered Flight.   Flying Junjo, is a skill given over to some of us on this world,  those of us that do not have a natural ability toward it, often have access to the means to make it happen or to creatures,  that can bare us forth.  Ships on the other hand,    that would be something useful as well.   "Fusion generation could be allowed, but the design of the device must be highly dependable and failsafe, as well as be in a well warded position in order to prevent accidents and pass the planetary wards muster.  We've been working on a water based system,  no luck yet, as for the lights you see,  bitumin, charcoal and indeed an alchemical combination of slow melding compounds that break down and give off light without pollution or explosion seems to get us by so far.  Simple batteries in some sectors as well. BUT Fusion generators, "I would be delighted to build and harness the power of one,  I have no desire to use such as a weapon,  but to bring running water and light to my people,  would....appear to them as a miracle.  I must tread carefully however,   I have built much here,  I must preserve it to pass on...acquiring one or more would be most beneficial,  any help in stabilizing said devices would also be most welcome.   We know unchecked they are most dangerous..."  Where to go,  his mind was moving faster then light....

He slid his arms about her when she kissed him...and returned it.  The girl probably had no idea how much that move cost the King and how much history had been broken with it. When she was drinking from the reflecting pool Kassim coughed politely... "You can have as much fresh water as you like to drink Junjo,  however the reflecting pools are just that, the water is clean but it is not... fresh."   He noted the tiny fish in the pool taking refuge beneath the floating plants, glad they weren't on the lower levels with the ocean pools, some of the creatures within those pools weren't so much elusive and cautious about the two legged land dwellers as they were actually stalking prey; two legged land dwellers and looking for a bite or perhaps even a snack.  "They are also, depending on the pool,  inhabited by creatures large and small, with teeth."  He hooked his fingers together to create the upper and lower mandibles of creatures with large canines.   

The King hadn't  ignored anything about his father,  neither did he talk about him.   It was complicated,  most of those relationships usually were.   Saeed didn't miss him much, it was a curious relationship, the man had taught him how to be ruthless and decadent, things anyone with access to power and money could be. He had taught him the customs,  the math, the philosophy, a first rate education,  something that was useful to Saeed, but had been lost upon his father, He had even told him how to charm, how to win the hearts of the Neffari leaders of the Desert tribes of the Kingdom,  nor how to read the nuanced body language of the dancing girls in the court.  (Other then that it was for entertainment and so long as Saeed didn't poach on his father's favorites, he could have any girl he wanted at any time to do with who and whatsoever He pleased no matter how diabolical or pleasurable or both.  If Kassim had wanted to sodomize one, he did it.  If he wanted them to perform together, they did that.  If he wanted to watch one squirm from the flame of a torch,  he could do that.)  It never occurred to his father that he was sealing the seeds of his own undoing by indulging the young sociopath that had been Saeed Kassim, crown prince of Hassim at the time. had not told him however, to read the swirls in the sand and the movement of the stars,  not in any way that mattered, Saeed had learned much by observing Those things he'd learned on his own,  then later from Solbaid,  who had eventually come to be the one he considered his true father.  From Solbaid he had learned the other things, perhaps even the important things that had brought him to where he was now.  He had also instilled in Saeed an appreciation for things Entropic and Chaotic.   Stand in one place and look one way and see nothing.  Stand in one place and look multiple directions and stand in others and do the same and see the whole.  Eventually you begin to perceive a wider whole.   

Junjo was looking at the bust of Solbaid now. "Yes he is that,  he is been many things to many people,  so much so his mind began to change,  he things of himself as a We as opposed to an I,  something that disconcerts most people,   But I know he's speaking from his hearts and minds as he is of more then one about anything.  Most people do not choose to embrace such a path, hence their belief he is insane.  Crazy, a loon.  Batshit crazy.   He may be those things but he is likely the sanest man I have ever known.  Most people believe he is an agent of Chaos, a gambler even,  he may be those things on some level,  but I know he is also prescient.  He can see the lines and the reflections and the tableaux of reality.  He sees art and beauty where others see naught but ugliness and strife,  where one can see kittens and flowers and green fields and an orderly way,  He can see the way such possibilities have of sapping the soul and mind of their vitality.  He  is Solbaid,  he is Eremon,  once a god even to his people,  it is said that many their still worship him.  HE IS  the order in the chaos and the chaos to the order,   If one wants to study order and chaos,  one needs to know both.  To him I owe my life and my allegiance,  feared and hated though he is by many.  Stay here long enough and you'll meet him eventually.   Above all I owe him my life,  such as it is.  He took a chance and a path no other would have taken."

He watched her, "That could be the mushrooms, you may also be tired or both,  as for lost in the desert, not yet,  but it is a goal." HE looked, he could feel the palace and city wards activating,  could feel "The Wards"  far below locking down, he pulled Junjo close and shielded her eyes,  along with his own,  he reached out giving  simple orders,  "Guard your eyes, Brace,  Go To Ground."   It was too late for some he was sure, but many more might make it through or survive...   

He held her hands atop hers..he shook his head slightly,  "This may not be a good thing that has just happened,  I rather think it may turn out the opposite... come..."   He took her with him,  continuing up to the observatory,  he wanted to look out on his city and his Kingdom, as he did so he was already reaching out to various individuals and commands,  "I need a report from all commands....now, Braeman, Lock Rafee  down for now,  he's claimed, he can't go anywhere. I forbid it."   He reached down and told his Son the same..      He turned to Junjo, "Are you alright?"   He reached out to Yorek, "Father?   My son,  are you alright?  If you are,  Gather your wardens,    they have have just tried to unite the spheres,   things may be,  changing.'  Some days you just needed more drink and more smoke.   

"We are Here My Son...." He finally answered,  "Landunder is secured,  Is Inaaksu well? I know not of the land above as yet.  Unifying  the worlds,  someone has attempted...."

Junjo's head shook slowly beneath Saeed's hands, even as her hands at the same time were held firmly against his face where they shielded his deep blue eyes.  "A good thing perhaps not... but possibly necessary." She said quietly.

Juno collected herself and her thoughts after the shockwaves of celestial light had passed.  Her legs, though they felt strange now, like her bones had tured into mud, moved along to carry her forward with Saeed.

There was the slightest waver of anxiety in her voice as she answered to some of Saeed's prior inquiries and present dialogue. "The sun it rose thrice and set twice when Junjo was found by Yorek the son of Saeed.  Eoman?  No... wait... Imen...? Djaad."  She smiled as she recalled the correct syntax for a prince.  "Djaad Yorek.  I do hope he is unharmed..." this concern expressed even as Saaed touched base with his son and other personages.

"I... I think I am alright, father.  What the curses was that?  It was blinding even though my arm was jammed against my eyes... and even through my godsdamned arm I thought I saw something... some vague image of some kind of bizarre mixed up titan... like a motley of diverse creatures melted together.  Dragon... elf... fish... bird... fuck..."  Yorek rarely said fuck.  "Before I could even make out all of its features it... just... spread beyond perception... while that light grew just unbearable.  I was sure it was going to burn right through me... I still can't see very well.  It's like being dune blind multiplied by... dashing infinity."  Yorek had been at the wardens' base camp outside the city when it happened.  He was outdoors and because of what he was he was sensitive to light, especially of the divine variety.  The damage to his vision was actually permanent in that it wouldn't pass by itself, but they had Eoghan.

"Some of the men were just too hell's blamed curious.  Their eyes were burned right out of their sockets and the burn went deep in Imaru..." being that he was a vampire, something the good hearted Astraeus true born tended to forget.  Young and dumb and he was very young... not quite three years old. "But Eoghan is handling it.  I think all this has changed his mind about leaving... Selena however... it has her desperate to leave.  She is packing her things as we speak. Those two know something and after he's helped who he can I will question him and then send him your way if it pleases you."

Then there was Braeman.  "On it my lord."  He was already in the process of doing everything Saeed asked even before he asked it.

Saeed's insistence that there was too much to be done begged an intense look from Junjo's now very caribean blue eyes.  "Is there not always work to be done?" She asked curiously.  She was walking along casually with him now though she remained watchful.  If they came across any injured people she would do what she could to assist them, which in truth, wasn't much.  Metropholes on the otherhand had located the source of the disturbance and on its way back also detected people in need whom it went to aid.  Saeed would receive reports no doubt, and not everyone helped by the levitating sphere (or cube when it landed) and its various regenerative beams knew what to make of it.

"And with all that is going on in the world, is not now the best time to be out in it?" Junjo went on to converse.  "Perhaps Junjo does not undetstand, but it seems the best way to gather knowledge is to go where the activity springs from.  Les says, the beginning of things is often the best place to start.  It is why we came here, to Ametmorgu.  It is where many things began.  The war with the Tsularian for instance.  It began here though its end came in Andorath.  Perhaps Saeed is here only as a result of that ancient and terrible war.  Who is to say?" She shrugged. 

"This new thing that has happened... it may not be for the best... but it may be what must.  Perhaps it will help Auros Emyn understand that all that comes from trying to force a pyramid into a round hole is two warped shapes.  This he attempts can only fail and in that failure the universal fabric of the planes under and over shall be severely warped as the two parts resplit into Acheron and Leviathan all over again in a most violent way.  Here it shall only be felt as tremors, the wake of a sea serpent partIng the waters.  There?  The all too rapid reshaping of galaxies.  Reverse mitosis just isn't possible.  Not even for the 1st gods.  Helping Auros to accept that may be difficult."  Was that perhaps her purpose?  Mael though would refute claims of the feat being impossible.  It was only unlikely because the will that was Leviathan's wouldn't capitulate to the reunification.

"This planet's people balance on a pendulum between shadows and light, kindness and violence, generosity and greed, the center it all balances on need.  This is what my people call Roh, only for us it is Pah, the necessary and unnecessary balanced on logic, the necessary being what is for the best, while the unnecessary should be avoided, though our scales may have teetered on need once.  They are closely related after all.  What is needed relies on logic to resolve.  Logic relies on need to define what it is for.  The Elemandramides do not believe in good or evil.  They believe in reason and the unreasonable, the necessary and unnecessary.  What your people call evil... we would probably call senseless, without balance or logic.  This is why the Morning Star and his people fascinate us.  So many name Emyn evil, but we have found much evidence to the contrary.  There is much reason and even heart in what he does, what his people do, what Saeed does... even those acts many would declare evil.  We do not judge as the Hamanites judge.  Our resolve is achieved through deduction." She smiled, happy that she could help Saeed to understand her people and herself better.  "Emotion we save for love, for wrath, for hope, for joy and despair, for the sake of the feeling itself.  Setting the spirit aside when logic is needed is something all Sudoshi learn to do.  Metropholes taught me this discipline from the moment I achieved consciousness and teaches it to Junjo still.  Perhaps Emyn is a far more emotional being than anyone realizes.  Perhaps he can benefit from our council.  For the Sudoshi if we cannot separate our emotions then we must restrain resolve until our minds are freed from our spirit.  Is it not the same for Saeed, or does he act on emotion?  Is there logic in basing resolve on emotion?" That was not something the metropholes could answer for her.

King Saeed Kassim reached out to all units, stations, consulates, bases, allies and so on, "All Hassim stations, all units, this is your Sovereign,  an event has just occurred,  by all points of information which is scant but coming in, it is large, it more then likely spans Morashtar as a whole.  Someone has attempted to unite the planes, the very spheres.    Those of you physically unaffected, assist the others, help will be coming from Inaaksu, in the mean time, maintain security, be prepared to receive refugees will likely be arriving.  Beware desperate and disparate units of the AoM, they may attempt attacks out of fear or to seize the opportunity, offer them one chance to surrender, if they take it not, destroy them. To our Allies,  Hassim stands tall and ready to Assist, we can receive refugees at Inaaksu and Tzaaraebu as well as border crossings.  Flash blindness as well as accidents caused by same will be rampant, be vigilant."  He continued on his way with Junjo and he looked at her, he smiled,  "It may not matter to some... will matter by others,  we can be sure there's likely  to be blow back one way or the other.." Even then he was reaching out to other commands and outposts, the other major city and towns and villages of Hassim.  He was listening and sorting replies, even forwarding some.  It was like having a networked computer in the brain, Saeed would have done the Cylons proud if he'd had known what a Cylon was.

"Prince Yorek has answered,  he is alive, the light has at least damaged him, he is seeing to the Wardens along with Captain Eoghan."  Even Saeed could still see discolored spots in his vision.  He answered Yorek, doing it out loud as well as Telepathically. "Good my son, we're going to have a lot of scared and frightened people out there, I am dispatching reinforcements, healers and soldiers as we speak...Good. Eoghan's skills and knowledge will be indispensable. You may have to bandage your eyes and grow accustomed to the dark for a while.  Do not fret, I know we can heal you, of that I am sure. Although I am afeared that if you and the wardens had been any closer, you might well have all burned..."  Could it have been an ancient stone burner?  Atomics even...the King wondered, at any rate he was grateful it was just the eyes,  those could be repaired if one knew the path. He'd once brought his son back from the brink of death, actually after Rafee had very nearly succeeded in killing him,  Saeed could fix this.  He had the material, the knowledge and the right people.  At least he hoped, but there was no room for doubt.  There was a way.  Or one would be forged. "Let us keep everyone in the know, in the loop as it were.  Also be mindful, I think you may have been very near the epicenter of all this.  Indeed, but keep working at getting as many of yours back into fighting trim as possible... wait... wait one..."  He nodded, "My son,  a squadron of cavalry out of the wards are en-route to your position. They should be coming over the dunes from the direction of the city momentarily. Similarly we are reinforcing where we can,  Units arrayed along the way in the direction of the event have probably taken the brunt and like you, will be blinded, some, mayhaps permanently. We may need to deploy the gollum. Yes do send Eoghan once he's finished, if I have not arrived among you by then."  He reached out to his Generals and his Admirals passing orders and recommendations that would then be passed down the ranks .

He turned to Junjo, "I was speaking of leaving behind this responsibility and wandering the world, Junjo, not something I could do without reaching certain goals, as for this here, yes, this, attempted joining and the light, this will have to be investigated from the site near as we can find it."  To Braeman alone  "Very well, I believe the epicenter was in the desert here, I've not yet heard from Seumir or from Marsol.... nor Sammael. Domeyl Maelmorda as well, but then he has been silent since before the War began so this is not surprising.'  He looked at Junjo,  "You speak wisely,  I have a duty to my people to secure them first, then I shall go look at the center of this... event, and see what has been wrought upon this world. As for the War of the Tsularian, that was many many eons ago, faded to legend for most of the peoples of this world, though it may be why we are all here now,  most have in the many generations since forgotten the root causes of that war if they even know about it at all. 

"My Lord,  Are you alright?" Asked Khaled and Khaabir as they rounded the turn,  "Master Braeman sent us to ensure you were unharmed..." Khaabir had been inside, probably in the palace offices that served the King's Guard so his eyes appeared to not have suffered much if at all in the way of damage,   Khaled on the other hand hand had a bandage over one eye..   

"I am well, just some spots, let me see your eye Khal," He touched his,  well, actually Khaled was young, but he was family, even if he didn't quite realize the extant of his closeness, a Grandson of Saeed, but a great great great grand son of an earlier son long passed on.  "You were on the lower battlements watching the perimeter." The soldier nodded.

"I'm still able and ready for duty My Lord,  I can still serve... I'm only down one eye... the beneficent one granted me two Sire."  The soldier smiled, putting on a brave face.

"Not to worry good son, I know your value, your quality and your loyalty.  Your attention to duty and detail is an example for others to follow... "I can fix this... allow me.."   Saeed gently cupped the young soldiers face...carefully sliding the bandage to the side... the king laid his hand over the eye and closed his eyes, reaching in, probing the wound with his mind, tracing the burn down to the nerves and through the pupil that had been burned.." This is going to hurt, and there will be blood... do not be alarmed...."  Saeed studied the wound... his hand would have seemed to radiate heat to anyone not familiar and via his abilities, he severed the optic nerve and then scraped away the portion of the pupil that had been burned, he then using the same method reattached it and began promoting growth and generation.    "Close your lids and keep it covered for a few days,  I mean that, do not expose it to bright light or remove the bandage,  what I have done was taken the eye, removed the damaged parts, and have begun it regrowing.  Your eyesight will return,  it will just take time.  You will return to full duty.  In the mean time we need to start gathering those affected and get them set to rights..come."   

He took up Junjo's hand and continued onward.  "Well Junjo..."  The King picked up the thread,  "We are all here, in some way or another, because of who or what went or came and  occurred before.  The way IS often best traced from the beginning, that would even be logical, but sometimes one needs to account for the fall out first.  The consequence and logic of responsibility."  He was taking to her,  all the while still giving orders and fielding questions as they came in, 'Yes get them airborne, I want the epicenter scouted, yes, if those AoM sailors want to surrender by all means do it, they can volunteer for the Royal Hassim Navy, if they still wish to fight it out,  then sink, burn or take them a'prize'. The King stopped and placed an arm over her shoulders, with what felt like a woosh they were atop the tallest spire in the palace, it was breezey, high enough to be cool but the suns still shown bright, looking Down Saeed took in the city. No damage to the walls or the defenses, however there were throngs of people, and animals, that were all scared and disoriented, even from up here some of them looked blind.  Saeed reached out to the constabulary and the city watch calming nerves, giving instructions. "It's interesting, Junjo, that you should ask of logic and emotion, that you should ask a Blackhorn about such things.  Although not surprising."   A smile... he motioned her to come closer... and he stood over and behind her his hands gently on her shoulders as he surveyed the city and the surrounding Environs, distantly he saw three shapes climbing rapidly into the sky. "Just as my father is the reflection of chaos, so too is he it's antithesis, hence thought processes and ideas that lead to the assumption of many that he is insane.  The process of reflection is so much more intricate then a mere mirror image repeated.  Often, it shows the viewer the opposite, or the expansive, if they learn how to view it.  So you ask us about logic,  and talk of balance and Pah as you call it. Indeed my father, and myself as well, do on some level, consider logic the counter balance of chaos, perhaps your... "Les" chose me for your beliefs on logic and necessity as opposed to an over simplified definition of good and evil are similar to my own.  Oh I believe there is necessarily some things that ought to be labeled as evil, certain crimes and such, but as a rule, I do not accept the notion of a universal good and evil.  I have seen plenty of... pointless and non... worthy acts,  as it were, The creator knows I've committed more then a few in the past, rationally, all I can say is that there is no easy answer.  I have operated in intellectual areas of pure logic, I did for a long time, but the benefits of acts I committed, at least some of them will lever look like anything but amoral and evil, especially to those who suffered by them.  On the other hand, I built things like schools,  universities, one of the greatest libraries on this planet, roads, the Hassim Highway system and the Royal Inaaksu Turnpike, I rebuilt our navy and merchant fleet from shallow water coastal vessels to true deep blue water organizations, I have made improvements to city infrastructure, continue to make them and so on,  these are all things I would consider positive, or good.  Yet there are detractors who would have us believe said things do not matter when compared to the wages of.... 'sin'.  In any case, emotion does sometimes, and I suspect for most, often plays a part. When to decide if you love some one?  Or dislike a food or the company of someone?   Living things had to have some way to propel the species, to move it along,  love, hate, anger, wrath, envy, sorrow, without these emotions, one could not judge an act, event or thing to place it in a context.  Context may well be the provenance of logic, but I find that without being able to adequately weigh both or understand both,  one would not be able to interpret either.  To form the idea or notion of the destructive, senseless, pointless, evil VS constructive, sense, poignant and good of a thought, deed or action.  I grant you this can leave much room for ambiguity but then perspective is always important.  What is beneficial to me may be destructive to another.   I may have a longer term view of something, then say the pig farmer living down there in West End shoveling pig shit everyday reeking of manure, yet his toil and work serves a purpose and feeds a populace. Same with the mushroom gatherers who wander the oasis and the aqua ducts gathering the edibles to sell at market,  or those who make a living from the sea, to say nothing of the other professions and levels of society.  I have the power of law, the power of life and death over these people, but they have the power of civilization and community.  What manner of logic or emotion combined with education keeps it going?  So many variables, yet here it is Junjo, tooling along as it did in the time of our ancestors. I see that and I feel alive.  I want to make this place better for all of them.  But better ascribes to a certain notion, defined by many as good, although I could also say, beneficent and constructive, with purpose as it improves things.  So on that level it could be the true power of logic and emotion is in it's ability to help tame each other, lest we become extremists,  which I too have been.   But then I have time, to learn and to grow, I am immortal. I am well over six centuries old Junjo,  others here, friends, some even family, are many eons older then that.  The mortals, they have perhaps on average 75 to 200 years depending on their species, 200 years will seem like a long time to one who isn't looking down the road of a thousand, or a million, or a hundred thousand.  Indeed, Domeyl Maelmorda moves in purposes different to what most people understand, he, and he is more of an appellation as Domeyl is a multi faceted being, it's a wonder he doesn't speak in the third person as my father does.  Seriously, it's as though personal pronouns would kill the man, it's never I,  my, myself, my own and the like, it's always we, our, ourselves, us and so on.   This does give him a curious perspective on reality and reflection and the multiverse. He can walk in more then one.  Perception is... astounding with him.  I digress,   however.  Back to the notion of logic and emotion, I have spoken more words consecutive about this then any other topic in years."

The King chuckled and got back down to it. "I believe there is merit in learning to divorce the two,  yet  I conceive and believe, feel even, that the other is no less valid, as most people learn to get along with both.  I think the pitfalls there are that people have learned to confuse opinion and emotion with disappasionate logic. As for Domeyl, I do not know how he will feel about this, I am of an opinion, based on the facts and history I know of him, that he may well dislike this, not for the sake of disliking it,  but he has always championed free will, nor does he like it when others try to decide the fates for him, or for this world."  His ancient tattooed hands slid down to her sides and his chin rested gently atop her head.  He was reading the chaos and still communicating out world.     "You know, another thing about logic?  It can help you access the right emotions and knowledge to make a better decision.  I would love to just leave and wander the desert with you. Make love at the drop of a hat, watch sunrises and sunsets. always a double feature on this world" he quipped,   "things I want to do,  but I am also the King of this land. These people need leadership and right now, they need help..."    He leaned to the side and pressed his lips to her skin,  tasting and drinking in her scent.  He canted his head... 'It is time we wade in, the people will need to see me, see me they shall, as we travel out to the desert.  But we must make a round of the city.    "Khaabir, Khaled, have the horses readied, also we will begin passing out water and food rations to anyone hard hit who cannot make do on their own because of blindness or loss of animals to this event..."  He took Junjo's hand... "Come dear, see how I use logic to stoke the sense of duty and calm the flames that can ignite bonfires of fear and discontent.."   
The more Junjo came to know about Saeed, the more her heart swelled for him.  Whatever deeds of the past he alluded to she saw and felt only the Saeed of here and now.  If all the past had built such a person then she understood the reason for immortality.  She herself was an immortal being.  She had no power as mages did, but she was powerful in other ways.  She was telepathic, highly so, to the point she bridged the telekinetic.  She had such an intrinsically calm and understanding presence that she soothed the hearts of the wildest of beasts and most people as Saeed and Yorek had already seen for themselves with the Mumaak bull. A bull named one tusk with a reputation. 

The desert mastodon had been alone for a reason.  Not even the herds wanted him though he followed them at a distance and even guarded them.  He was a tormented animal that had gone mad, but had survived so many attempts to take his ivory that he had won the awe, respect and fear of people. He had one full massive curving tusk, two even larger ones that had been cut off near the base, and one that was broken off half way.  His hide also bore many scars, the worst of them on his face.  The fact that two had been cut off proved that he had been alive when the poachers had taken them, and that had happened on two separate occasions.  The first time, they had simply started sawing the first lower tusk off before he had fully expired expecting to leave him for dead only to have him roll furiously back to his feet and kill all but one out of seven of them.  The 2nd time had been an insane poacher that after failing to bring him down when he’d pierced him with a dozen spears, jumped on the beast to cut off his other lower tusk while riding a crazed elephant.  The third tusk had been broken off when angry villagers had ganged him with three other trained elephants in an attempt to kill him with Mumaak power.  He had destroyed their crops eating them and trampling what was left.  So naturally he HATED people.  Yet he had not tried to harm Junjo who had stood mere feet from him.  Saeed had ended up with all of One Tusk’s ivory, even the broken tusk.  All three of them were massive.  Of course Junjo knew the entire story.  One Tusk had shown her with his tattered mind.

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