Book V Chapter 2: First Class to Aensdoun
Violet skies and streaky orange clouds painted a fairytale panorama outside the windows of the Graceful Dancer as it soared over the Chimri Wilds, sunlight setting the crystallized forests aflame with dazzling color far below.
The grand cabin was the largest room on the zeppelin-- ovoid and furnished to resemble some noble's well-decorated lounge, covered in plush carpeting, patterned wallpapers and rich burgundy curtains.
The entirety of the expedition team now stood within, listening intently as Na'than Silvermane paced slowly before them.
Several snow-white lapsworgn lay nearby, watching the proceedings with vague disinterest as their handlers stroked their heads.
"Welcome aboard, everyone. As I certainly hope you know by now, this is a research flight is en route to Aensdoun. Anyone who was hoping to stop by Jetersborough for some R&R, you're on the wrong airship. Sorry," Na'than began with a wry grin.
"We are here for two reasons. One, to explore Aensdoun and turn up more information about our planet's former inhabitants, the Elysians, and anyone who might have existed alongside them. That is our primary directive.
We will not be alone, however-- the Court is likely to be in the area as well. Don't exchange information with them, don't harass them, don't get in their way. Leave it to your superiors to make contact if necessary.
As for the second reason..."
Na'than adjusted his glasses.
"What you are about to learn is confidential information of the highest degree. As members of the Rose Organization, you are expected not to share what you learn with us with anyone outside of your class and rank at any time. We understand that everyone makes exceptions for a friend or family at some point during their career.
However... in this case, breaching your confidentiality agreement is punishable by social death."
Gabriel swallowed nervously.
"Now that you have fair warning..." Na'than smiled.
"Our second directive is to seek out the ruins of the Aen'och Trior-- that is, the Chapters' ancient tribal grounds and the birthplace of the Fatis Mirajin.
We have reason to believe that there may be artifacts belonging to the Dreamwaker that can be salvaged. In addition, the area is considered cursed even today, and unnatural creatures and phenomena abound.
We will be assigning special temporary dreamshards for exploration in that area. Even so, you may not be able to remain there for any great length of time. We expect that to be the case, and so you will be assigned to one of several rotating teams to ensure the least exposure possible."
"Aensdoun is the most pristine continent on Valenth-- and by far, the most dangerous. There will be hostile natives. There will be hungry beasts that will see you as a free meal ticket. There will be exotic insects that may give you equally exotic diseases or bites and stings so nasty your insides turn into soup. As co-head of this expedition, it is my job to make sure you don't die.
In order to do my job, you need to not be an idiot. That means a few simple things. Number one, from the moment we touch down to the moment we take off to head home, you are under my command. You will do as I say, as soon as I give you an order. You will stay with your designated group. You will not touch any native wildlife unless you are instructed to do so. You will not provoke the natives."
Narrowing his eyes and folding his arms behind his back, Na'than gazed carefully over the group.
"And above all else. You will never. Ever. Come into my quarters at night.
That would be the single biggest mistake of your life," he said softly, a hint of fear in his eyes as several people exchanged nervous glances.
"That concludes your briefing. If anyone has any questions, I will be available during daytime hours only. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you all."
As the group slowly dispersed, Gabriel caught Na'than's gaze.
Offering a friendly smile, the Aeneski gently placed a hand on Gabe's shoulder.
"You look tense. Why don't you come back to the bar with me and have a round?
Doc Gaunthier, right? The Master's told me so much about you."
Wide-eyed, Gabe nodded quickly, his tongue caught in his throat.
Somehow, that didn't ease his nerves much.
Next Chapter: Book V Chapter III
Category: Book V | Story