As he got to his feet, Parts assessed the man standing above him. He was powerfully built and wrapped in lines of magickal energy. I hope he doesn’t take this the wrong way…
“I’m afraid I’m not your cousin. I’ve been assigned his form to act as the Nnn… erm, Lifegiver’s voice on this world. Your cousin has important work that can’t be interrupted,” Parts said with false confidence.
At least I hope his cousin is doing important work, or really, any work. More likely he’s been tossed aside like a bad appendix, nothing more than a potential problem for this form’s function, Parts thought glumly.
“The Lifegiver is truly great! Glory unto Him! It is an honor for my cousin to be in His service.”
“Um, yes, the Lifegiver is very powerful. I was instructed to meet with Odronosco?”
“Odronosco is our clan leader. I’ll take you to him, but first I need to show you the wheylanni so that you understand the scope of our needs. I’m Dantabo.”
“Of course, please lead on,” Parts replied.
With that, Dantabo closed his eyes in concentration and a broad glowing disc appeared at the limb’s edge. He gestured for Parts to precede him.
Obviously untaxed by the effort of controlling the spell, Dantabo maintained a running monologue about the politics of the world and the cruel reversal of fortunes that had befallen the A’anoye clan throughout their descent. Though Parts knew nothing of the other parties involved, he got the sense that the A’anoye had once been very powerful but were now reduced to near irrelevance, living on the fringe of society at large.
“So you can see, with the Lifegiver’s aid, sorcery will once again eclipse the lesser arts of enchantment and alchemy, thus restoring the proper order of things,” Dantabo concluded his rant.
“Erm, yes, the Lifegiver is always happy to see his… allies… obtain a place above other factions. He will be very pleased with your improved station,” Parts agreed.
When they reached the ground, Dantabo dismissed the disc and started to make his way over the tangled roots and shallow pools of water at the base of the tree.
“The flyer is this way.”
Parts followed in his footsteps, trying valiantly to keep up without landing face first in a tidepool. His new form was quite graceful in this environment but Parts was still inexperienced with its reflexes and found the rough terrain to be quite a challenge. After about 30 minutes of stumbling over roots and pushing through stands of lesser vegetation, Parts finally struggled free from a large patch of reeds to find himself looking out over a vast sea of unbroken water.
Dontabo was already hip deep, untying a strange craft made from the shell of some enormous aquatic mollusk and Parts found himself staring at the vehicle. Its nose spiraled to a sharp point and the back had been shaped to form a passenger compartment. There were two pairs of dragonfly-like wings on each side of the craft that appeared to have been made from some form of tough cellulose. It was a marvel of occult engineering and he’d never seen anything like it.
Mistaking Parts' hesitation, Dontabo hurried to offer reassurance as they climbed aboard, “Don’t worry, I know she’s an old model but I keep her in tip top shape. It’s shameful to waste a valuable resource.”
They sped along in the flyer, skimming just above the waves, the cool sea spray a relief from the stifling heat. Parts marveled at the vast scale of the planet and the endless sea, its blue green surface only occasionally interrupted by a small island or stand of enormous trees. After several hours, Dantabo slowed the flyer enough to be heard over the wind of their passage.
“We’re almost to the hunting grounds. We need to ascend in order to spot the wheylanni, but we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves,” Dantabo shouted. “Keep an eye out for other flyers.”
With that, Dantabo brought the flyer into a steep climb until they were circling several hundred meters above the waves. Once they’d achieved a suitable altitude he set the controls to perform an automated search pattern.
“Two underwater mountain ranges come together here to form a shallow channel. This forces the wheylanni much closer to the surface as they move to their northern feeding grounds. It shouldn’t take long to spot one this time of year, but we must take care not to be seen. The effete clans in the Assembly spit upon tradition and will harass us if they think we might be preparing for a hunt,” he explained.
While Parts scanned the sky for other flyers, Dantabo studied the water below, looking for signs of their quarry. First one hour passed and then another. Parts’ anxiety increased as he scanned the sky for other flyers, uncertain what to look for and what the consequences might be if he failed in his task. He felt immense relief when Dantabo tapped his shoulder and pointed at the sea below.
“There, just to the south! Do you see it? That’s a big male, he would be a great prize for our clan’s hunters!” he shouted.
Parts peered down, trying to locate the source of Dantabo’s excitement.
“I’m sorry, I don’t see it. Where is it in relation to the eastern tip of the mountains you were talking about?” Parts queried.
“Those mountains *are* the wheylanni!” laughed Dantabo.
“Now you know why you had to see them! We can’t just pull one up in the shallows and bring the whole clan to dress it like in the old days. Even the blind city squatters from the Assembly would notice something that obvious. As we said in our petition, we hope the Lifebringer can give us the means to process them discreetly.”