By EM Malachi
The moongate opened, and a mage stepped through, carrying a heavy picnic basket with both hands. A few gargoyles in the settlement waved to her, and Mariah put down her basket to wave back. Mariah had taken to visiting Naxatilor every few weeks for tea. While the seer would share Ter Mur delicacies like grilled skree or salmon and thistle tart, the elder gargoyle had developed a sweet tooth for pastries from Moonglow’s bakery. Today, Mariah had also brought along spiced dates from Nujel’m for the two to share as they discussed history and arcane lore.
As she came into view of the seer’s home, she noticed two armored gargoyles standing guard in front. When she got closer, they nodded at her and moved their pikes out of the doorway. Inside the stone house, her friend was lying unconscious on a futon, his entire body trembling with fever. Zhah, queen of the gargoyles, sat beside the seer, holding his hand and looking very worried. When Mariah was noticed, Zhah turned to her. “Mariah of Moonglow. I’ve been expecting you.”
“Naxatilor collapsed in the midst of an intense vision. Something he experienced so affected him that this happened.” Zhah pulled back a sheet to reveal that the old gargoyle’s wings were badly mangled, as if they had been slashed and burned. “This has never occurred before.”
“Will he recover?”
“I do not know. He is the last of his generation and the oldest of us. My best mystics have not been able to do much more than help him sleep.”
“What happens now?”
“Now, I will have him moved to the Royal City to keep him safe. Whatever did this may try again. You must deliver word of these events to your king.” Queen Zhah handed a scroll sealed with her mark to Mariah. “We all must be ready for what is coming.”
Bundor Bard unpacked a box of quills as he watched the movers put the last of the furniture into place. The rented room was small, but it would do nicely for what he had planned. He nodded to the workers as they left and continued to unpack his writing supplies. On a desk nearby, a magic quill continued to make copies of a sheet of paper.
After a time, a woman dressed in the finest silks strode into the room and sat in a chair across from him. She played with an ink bottle and stared at him.
“You look like you want to ask me something, good lady.”
Lady Machiavelli gave a laugh. “You really are serious about all this? Getting the old gang back together?”
Bundor handed her a piece of paper, a copy from the enchanted desk.
She glanced at the paper. “That colloquial misspelling always did make me want to cry. Still, I do miss the excitement. Very well, I have a scoop for you.”