Parts sat in quiet contemplation, reviewing the Necromancer’s proposal stored in his brain, as Dantabo flew them back to the A’anooye village. It appeared that the Necromancer was familiar with the characteristics of the wheylanni, or had at least taken the term “megafauna” more seriously than Parts. Everything should be simple to implement as long as Odronosco agreed to his terms and it seemed best to finalize the matter as quickly as possible.
“The Lifegiver wishes me to speak with Odronosco and the other elders as soon as possible,” Parts called over the rushing wind. “He believes it is important to get this concluded so that you may begin the harvest”.
“Of course! The elders will want to meet you as soon as we touch down and I’m sure they’ll be happy to proceed quickly if that’s the Lifegiver’s wish! ”
As they made their descent, they passed over a long sandbar filled with drying racks covered in fish and seaweed. Parts could see members of the clan, bright plumage dazzling against the sand, busily collecting the finished food stuffs and replacing them with a fresh catch.
Seeing his interest, Dontabo commented proudly, “We may not hold the place we once did, but we can still make sure that everyone is well fed. Many of those city squatters can’t say they provide so well for their people.”
They soon touched down in a crystal blue lagoon shadowed by vast trees where they were greeted enthusiastically by a group of young clan members. The youngsters dove into the water and swam out to the flyer, chattering non-stop as they guided the bobbing aircraft over to a small pier.
“Are you the Voice, the Lifegiver’s Voice?” one girl shouted.
“He’s come to elevate the A’anoye!” another adolescent called excitedly.
Dontabo leaned in to say, “You’re something of a celebrity! If they’re bothering you I can send them away. They won’t be allowed in the clan hall for your meeting regardless.”
“Uh, no… no, I wasn’t expecting to be a celebrity, but I don’t need them to go,” Parts replied in a slightly dazed voice.
Once the flyer was tied up, Dontabo led the way, following a raised path made from planks of hardwood sealed against the wet with some sort of hard resin. Their colorful entourage grew as they progressed, joined by people of all ages excited to see the Lifegiver’s representative.
As they reached the foot of a wide, spiral staircase that wound around the trunk of one of the vast trees, a young woman with shocking neon yellow and hot pink plumage pushed her way through the crowd to address Parts.
“Please! Representative! When you have time I would very much like to talk to you!”
“Erm, yes, who are you?” Parts asked uncertainly.
“She is no-one. Just the woman we send to ‘represent’ us at the Assembly so that we know what those fools are plotting. The clan hall is this way.”
With that, Dontabo interposed himself between Parts and the crowd and urged him up the stairs. As they began their ascent, he hissed back over his shoulder at the Representative, “This doesn’t concern you! Remember your duties!”
As they circled up and up around the tree they passed residences and small shops selling crafts, fruits, and other delicacies. After climbing several hundred feet they came to an ornate archway of woven limbs. Two guards, stood to either side of the entrance, crossed ceremonial spears blocking the way.
“Who comes before the elders of Clan A’anoye?” one intoned formally.
“Dontabo of the A’anooye brings the Lifegiver’s Voice to share his wisdom and guidance!” replied Dontabo with equal formality.
“The wisdom and Voice of the Lifegiver are always welcome in the halls of the A’anoye!” the guards answered in unison, as they uncrossed their spears and bowed deeply.
“Erm, yes, the Lifegiver thanks you,” Parts said weakly, unsure of how to respond.
Whatever they may have expected, this seemed to satisfy the guards who straightened and marched through the archway into the room beyond. When Parts hesitated, Dontabo gestured him forward. As he crossed the threshold he stopped dead in his tracks, stunned by the beautiful filigree of interlaced tree branches that formed the hall. Sunlight and fresh air were allowed to pass gently through the lattice of living wood and leaves, creating an expansive space filled with gauzy light and soft ocean breezes.
Adjusting his sight to view the subtle planes and the influence of magicks, Parts could see the lines of energy used to shape and control the space. The care with which they were maintained was obvious, but the enchantments were very old and starting to fray. Fascinated by the craftsmanship, Parts maintained his enhanced vision to continue these examinations as he stepped fully into the chamber.
The right hand guard’s spear echoed loudly throughout the room as he rapped it three times against the hardwood floor.
“The Voice of the Lifegiver has come!” he announced with obvious pride.
Seven young and vital looking men stood and approached the new arrivals with smiles of welcome.
“Glory to the Lifegiver! Welcome to his Voice! The elders of the A’anooye greet you and bid you enter our hall!” they said in unison.
With some difficulty, Parts pried his gaze from an enormous shell mounted on the far side of the hall to focus on his hosts. He nearly gasped in surprise when his occult sight revealed that these young men, younger even than Dontabo, were wrapped and permeated by a complicated web of enchantments and magickal energies. He recognized the Necromancer’s style in the bindings, but it was an ancient work, and far less elegant than his current mastery would produce.
Looking deeper, Parts traced the patterns of the enchantment, wanting to make sure he understood the implications it might have for his negotiations. After some moments he felt he had at least a basic understanding of its function. It wasn’t anything like the biological manipulations that Parts had expected, their bodies weren’t magickally self repairing, nor were any of his master’s other rejuvenatory techniques in evidence. It appeared their youth was maintained through the rather blunt means of looping their essential nature back upon itself to create a permanent stasis in which they did not age because they simply did not change.
How do they have any knowledge of the present at all! As tightly as they’re bound, absorbing new information must not be easy, Parts thought in wonder.
Parts was startled from his reverie by a tentative query, “Is everything alright, your eminence?”
“Hmm, um, I was just admiring the beauty of your hall,” Parts extemporized after a brief pause to process what had been said.
The elder beamed with pleasure, “Oh yes! We are very proud of it. In fact, it was crafted over five hundred years ago to provide a space fit to present our petition to Lifegiver during his last visit.”
“We maintain it exactly as it has always been, though it gets more expensive every year. Sorcery has become sadly undervalued and we don’t have sufficiently skilled enchanters of our own and must barter for the work,” another explained.
“Which brings us to our current purpose. As the other clans have hemmed us in and harried us in the pursuit of our traditions, we have not had the resources to train our people in the menial arts, such as enchantment and alchemy. Now it seems almost overnight we can no longer hunt and harvest the wheylanni at all! We find that to keep our heritage alive we need those skills to extract and store the essence of the great beasts. We must humbly ask the Lifegiver once again to aid us in our plight!”
“Of course, the Lifegiver is always glad to aid his loyal allies. Which of you is Odronosco? I was told to address my master’s proposal to him.”
With that, introductions were made and negotiations began. After several hours of discussion the details were all but finalized.
“So let’s make sure everyone is satisfied, none of us want to disappoint my Master.”
“In exchange for 10% of the Lifespring harvested, the Lifegiver will provide you with a suitable place in the Darkrealm to process the wheylanni and the skills to store their essence. You will be responsible for maintaining the portal and the actual processing. Is this fully agreeable to you?” Parts asked.
“Of course! The Lifegiver is very generous! Glory to his name and his family!” replied Odronosco.
“There is just one last thing…” Parts added somewhat hesitantly.
“There is a group of outsiders that have recently arrived on O’ooryu. They have meddled in my master’s affairs before and he doesn’t want them to interfere with his interests here. They call themselves the Para Initiative and they have some treaty with the Assembly. To seal this agreement, their influence must be removed from this world, by whatever means you find most convenient.”
“Of course, we would be honored to assist the Lifegiver with these foreigners!” Odronosco vowed.
After a celebratory feast and more attention than Parts was comfortable with, everything was finally concluded. As Dontabo loaded travel food and gifts into the flyer, Parts tried to find relief from his pressing admirers in a secluded spot at the far end of the lagoon. Just as he was starting to relax, he was interrupted by a tentative greeting.
“Please pardon my intrusion, honored Voice. I wouldn’t bother you but I have an important message for the Lifegiver.”
Searching for the speaker in the dark, he finally spotted the brightly colored plumage of the Representative who had approached him at the stairs.
“Erm, sure, I can take a message for you, but I can’t promise anything will come of it,” Parts sighed somewhat dolefully.
“Oh! Of course! I would not dream of imposing upon him! I just know that he is great and wise and would wish to know the true state of things here. Our clan Elders, who’s leadership has guided us for these many centuries, have not adjusted well to the changes wrought by the unification of the Clans.”
“The Assembly isn’t perfect, but there are factions working to make things better for everyone and their skill with enchantments has created opportunities that our clan can’t even imagine! I’ve heard rumors that Odronosco wants to restart the hunts for the wheylanni. The other clans will not stand for it and I fear the A’anooye will be broken up or pushed even farther into the margins. Please, ask the Lifegiver to intervene before it’s too late!”
“Um, ok, I will make sure this information is passed on, but I still don’t want you to depend on the Lifegiver’s involvement. I recommend continuing to do what you can. I’ve found that when it comes to the Lifegiver, those who work to help themselves get the best results.”
As he flew through the night with Dontabo, Parts compiled his reports on the events here. One for the Necromancer, and another very secret and secure report for his only friend, who might be able to help the A’anooye and needed to know about the threat to the Para Initiative.