To Chaos: Journey's End

They sail onward through Shadow, seeking an Amberite’s vision of a Chaosian dream of home. Skies flicker and change above, while the seas carry them ever forward toward their goal. Margot takes care not to touch her lover or the ship beyond what is necessary, merely a hand to steady her and her feet upon the deck. Conscious of, though not quite understanding, the discomfort she caused with the flow of her energy, she sets herself to quickly find the reality that Kendall described with the utmost detail.

Day or Night? she wondered. When would it be best to arrive? Dangers surround a border at any time, and the borders to Chaos held more dangers than most. And as they near the end of the journey, ships break surface on the horizon and dance over waves in quest of easy prey. Streaks of color on the water reflect the blood red sails of the small corsairs left here to guard the Black Zone, predators waiting in eternal vigilance for any who might venture near. Those who fell before their assaults would not be missed in Chaos, where weakness was never rewarded.

The Rhercyn could fight or run, as Her Master willed, but both took time and resources he had no interest in spending without need. The princess still sought the destination he described, but her strength had waned over the course of the journey. She held to her task with a single-minded determination that denied any physical weakness, eyes squeezed tightly shut against all distractions. She would soon succumb to exhaustion if they did not remain true to their course. But beyond those considerations, he cannot deny the surge of anger towards those who sought to keep him from his much longed-for home.

This close to the Courts and the influence of Chaos, it was a simple matter to bend Reality for the display of power he desired. He gives a gesture, and the word he speaks is not one that could be formed by a human tongue. Instantly the green flames of House Chanicut erupt before him to spill across the exposed deck of the Rhercyn and coat her with sorcerous fire that warmed but did not burn her. Over the ship's sides and down to the water, the flames spread over the waves like a blanket towards the small predators that sought to harm his ship and those in his care.

Margot's eyes fly open at the sound and feel of Chaosian sorcery, and she gasps at the sight of green tongues of flame licking the Rhercyn and water beyond. She snatches her hands from the rail out of instinct, quickly checking her skin for burns. Only then does she realize the flames, though warm to the touch, had not harmed her. Eyes filled with questions go first to her lover’s face, and then follow his gaze to see the small ships that had turned to flee the emerald flames racing towards them. Predators suddenly turned prey, their crews easily recognize a much greater power.

Their shapes flicker as they begin to slide through cracks in Reality, hoping the wolf they had awakened would think them too small to chase them down. Not all would escape intact, however. One not quite as quick to turn and run is overcome by the green conflagration. Margot stares in horror as the ship and crew burn, but Kendall's expression remains cold and implacable, lips pressed into a firm line while he stares with remorseless gaze at the wreckage. And though he allows the others to flee, he makes sure to head Rhercyn well away from the burning remnants of the victim corsair, lest any survivors seek refuge on his own ship.

He relaxes once the survivors wink out of sight, and hands return to their clasped position behind his back while green fires die down and then fade. He breathes deeply and then looks at Margot. "An unfortunate interruption, but easily remedied. Shall we continue?"

Margot twitches when he breaks the silence, eyes blinking rapidly as her mind scrambles to make sense of what had just occurred. All she could manage was that Kendall had deemed those ships a danger, and had dealt with the situation with swift, unwavering, and exacting force.

"Y- Yes… of course," she stammers. She clings to her composure as tightly as she now clung to the rail with a white-knuckled grip, feeling terribly young and unprepared to deal with people who could simply utter a word and have a conflagration destroy everything in its path.

He nods, still serious though the icy chill had faded from his demeanor. He does not demure when she takes up her task once again, though she is obviously almost spent. Yet he does navigate close to a known shipping route when it becomes feasible, as a backup in case Margot does push herself to collapse. Perhaps he gives her free rein out of recognition of her need to "succeed" in this endeavor — though she had already succeeded and had no more need to prove herself — though probably it is more because of his own impatience to reach their destination.

In any event, the shadows nearer to Chaos become more wild, changeable, and difficult to pin down and hold steady as they proceed. Colors swirl above in wild abandon before sliding beyond the horizon, only to bleed into sight once more through tears in the white sky. Sights, sounds and odors mingle and change, so that Margot can smell the green of Kendall's robe next to her, and hear the sky above.

Yet through it all, the princess holds to her purpose of knitting the shadows together into the one where they were destined. She clings to the voice next to her as to an anchor, even when his words are felt through her skin rather than heard through her ears. Even though she feels at times as though she might sink through the deck of the Rhercyn like a stone, or that she could float high into the air above and lose all connection with the land. Still she clings to her stubborn purpose. Until suddenly, it dawns on her that they have arrived.

The adjustments are so gradual, so difficult to hold firm in her mind, it is almost a shock to release her hold on the Pattern. And when the energy finally slips beyond her mental fingers, she feels a wave of weakness sweep over her and her sight briefly fades behind sparkling stars. Her energy reserves all but depleted, Margot breathes deeply and leans on the Lord’s strength, grateful for his support and stability.

Ahead, she can now see an orange-streaked volcano of massive size, though the eruption seemed somehow distant and silent, and the lava flowed with sedate slowness. As they traveled across choppy sea, the light from the moons above bathed tall rocky cliffs with yellowish light which glinted from glass and glittering metal. Carved deeply into the cliff face, the manor of House Chanicut is a spider web of windows and balconies that overlooks the crashing surf below. There was no way to dock there, of course, but Kendall still navigates past the manor to give Margot a good look at where she would be staying.

"We made it…." she whispers in awe.

"Indeed," he agrees. Though the response seems normal on the surface, a vast pool of pleasure, excitement, and anticipation bubbles just behind the single word. A pause, and then he adds, "Thank you, Margot."

Their trip past the cliff face takes enough time for the image to be impressed in the mind — a long moment of rest and reflection before the ship approachs the dock on the far side. Activity explodes, and Margot returns to the role of pampered guest rather than working crew. The princess, the two Chanicut lords, and their trusted servants debark first. They ride in the roofless gondola tethered to a thread of shimmery red silk, up past the rippling cliff face to the sheltered entrance to the manor.

Grand, elegant, enormous. Yet, strangely familiar, as well. The main entry is recognizable to Margot as an entry room, with doors and curtains leading to the rest of the manor. The floor is carved from the rock of the cliff, with segments dyed like tiles in a dizzying parquet pattern and burnished to a shimmering brilliance. Though no art objects hung on the walls, gold and red lava streams twist and flow into abstract images and shapes.

In the main hall, a line of servants stands at attention, bowing to their masters and offering greeting to the lady presented as Lord Kendallarithan's companion. Suspicion ripples through the hall when Lady Dara's presence is revealed, but orders are given and accepted. Duty would prevail. Then Margot and her entourage are led away to her chambers while Kendall attends to the remaining details of ship and crew and Countess.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
In Silver: Home at Last

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