The adventure begins here!
Marcel stepped away from the broken shard of mirror that he had attached to the side of the control panel of his ship, inspecting the closeness of his shave contentedly. The darkened chill of the Lysin winter had made his beard a welcome friend against the cold. However, with the warmer season upon him, shedding the extra weight was liberating. He pulled his white linen shirt from the line where he had left it to dry, and enjoyed the coolness of the fabric against his skin. Securing his bracers and running a hand through his thick dark curls, he checked himself in the mirror one last time. He wondered if TriAnna would like him without his beard and his blue eyes sparkled as he imagined her surprise.
It had been weeks since he had dedicated any time to repairing his marooned vessel, choosing instead to enjoy TriAnna’s company. Their limited ability to communicate had blossomed into rich and interesting conversations and Marcel was ever impressed by the speed of her comprehension and wit. He could not recall a single person that he had ever enjoyed speaking with as much or as often.
He turned and took a moment to straighten his room within the Auric Rectifier after his grooming routine, and to observe the gauges on the ship’s control. One in particular had been concerning him since his arrival. It read a steady increase in atmospheric tension that, if the gauge were not impaired, could signal a most intense and dangerous storm. He observed the reading, pursing his lips thoughtfully before shaking the speculation from his mind and returning to his preparations.
TriAnna would be here soon and today would be a special day. She had promised to tell him the story of Dagur and No’tt. The story had immense significance to the people of Lys and much of their culture and traditions, even their seasons, derived from the tale. He had made certain to dress and present himself with care, a sign of respect for a part of her life that was deeply spiritual and important to her.
He hurried outside hoping to have a moment to put the shine back into his boots before she arrived.
Stepping out into the clearing where he had crash landed he couldn’t help but smile. The silver light of the Lysin sun shone through the alabaster petals that erupted from every tree. The air was sweet and crisp and Marcel could not remember ever feeling as alive. As he reached for his boots, enjoying the cool, damp feeling of the moss between his toes, he felt a sharp, blunt assault upon the back of his neck.
An obscenity escaped Marcel’s mouth his hand reaching back to sooth his head.
Abruptly he turned his head to see a dozen figures moving around him cautiously. All wore robes and strange masks that completely covered their faces, except for their eyes that burned with a golden fire. Several of the party wore swords or daggers at their hips; one carried a bow and quiver. They were purposed and skilled in their movements, and Marcel sensed that they were a military unit, not just a random band of thieves.
Marcel’s assailant was the tallest of the figures and who loomed over him menacingly. The apparent leader, he wore a dark cloak emblazoned with the image of two dragons circling one another, the sigil of the Kingdom of Lys. The long staff that he had used to hit Marcel was pointed aggressively, warning him not to make sudden moves.
Marcel realized that his options were limited, and dropped his boots.
“I’m sorry. You startled me. What can I do for you, um, gentlemen?” Marcel asked, regretting that his Lysin language was not as acute as he would have liked given the situation.
The leader of the group pointed with his staff, signaling for Marcel to stand.
Marcel did as he was instructed, raising his hands before him in a display of non-aggression. As he stood several of the hooded figures moved closer, surrounding him on all sides.
Since his arrival in Lys his only personal contact had been with TriAnna and the tiny flames that he called Trixie and Nimble. He had assumed Lys to be a peaceful place and had foolishly allowed himself to believe, as lovers often do, that he and TriAnna were alone. He was suddenly acutely aware that he had been terribly wrong.
“I don’t want no trouble,” Marcel said hoping that one of the people would speak and tell him what this was about. In the back of his mind he called a warning to TriAnna, fearful that she would arrive unaware of his situation and find herself in danger. He knew that she could hear his thoughts when they were together, and he hoped that she could sense him now.
“Silence your mind,” the cloaked leader hissed in Lysin, “You will come with us.”
Walking in his bare feet was painful and occasionally Marcel would stall for a moment when a sharp rock would find its way underfoot. His captors were silent and swift, the person behind him poking him impatiently with the hilt of a sword when he faltered. The team seemed to move as one entity, their steps in perfect cadence, each anticipating the movements of the leader and staying in unbreakable formation.
Marcel kept his hands raised and made constant pleasant chatter, hoping that one of his guards would break the command and speak, perhaps giving him an idea of where he was being taken and why. The only real effect this seemed to have was to cause them a vague annoyance, and though he was disappointed with his failed tactics, he had to internally admit that their discipline was remarkable.
Marcel walked, surrounded and perplexed into the nearby city. He had seen the place from afar, but had been cautioned by TriAnna never to approach it without an invitation. He had taken her words as a lesson in social graces, not a warning of unfriendly inhabitants.
The majesty of the city caused Marcel to gape in wonder. Spires of twisted ivory and obsidian reached into the rose colored sky. The three azure moons seemed to mark direction like a heavenly compass rose with every street and building in precise alignment. Granite paths reached out like spokes from the center of the city, all of which came together at a central building. As regal as any palace, this building was twice the height of any of the surrounding structures and was guarded by twin serpentine dragons carved in topaz, their bodies entangled. Walking between them created in Marcel a sense of awe and wonder that overcame any uncertainty or fear.
At last, he was lead into a grand chamber hall filled with people. The ceiling was high and painted with a celestial scene and great burning urns sat on either side of two crimson thrones. The room was as silent as his entourage, and he could feel every eye upon him as he was escorted through a corridor of agate pillars to the front of the room.
As they approached the thrones, the armed guard that escorted him halted, knelt and averted their eyes. Marcel, observing them, went to his knees as well hoping not to offend his host. He could sense movement and strained to keep his eyes lowered in his uncertainty.
He thought for a moment about TriAnna, and he lamented that she would have arrived to find his home abandoned on a day when they had something so special planned and he worried again for her safety.
The hundreds of people filling the room all knelt behind him and he could hear the opening and closing of a massive door. Footsteps echoed through the marble hall and Marcel’s heart raced. He could not imagine what might be ahead, but he reminded himself that most cultures as advanced as the Lysin were at least reasonable if not hospitable, and he gathered his courage. A man in his position need only be honest, if that were not sufficient he would accept his fate.
“Rise!” A voice thundered, the room responding without hesitation.
Marcel returned to his feet, apprehensive. He watched the people around him carefully, hoping to mimic their behavior and avoid insult.
Upon the throne before him was a beautiful woman. Her dress was the color of a ruby and it draped around her body gracefully. Her auburn hair caught the light and seemed to burn as it fell in ringlets upon her bare shoulders. Atop her head sat an elaborate argentine headdress caste in the visage of the Lysin dragon. Her eyes were completely hidden from him by the ornate helm, but her scarlet lips were bent into a smile that he could neither mistake nor fear.