Marai: The Long Dark

The Meeting

Book II: Introduction

The ancient dwarf reached his metal hand into the shallow sea, the icy waters sending a chill up his arm. Moving his hand around in the silt, he felt something clang against his thumb. Grasping the object more fully, he began to gently pull upon it, mindful of the delicate nature of it. The silt continued to move about as if complaining bitterly about losing its prize, filling the area in a cloudy haze. Finally, with a tug, the kanko wrestled the ancient lute, Bihai Ju-Long, from its watery grave. The carvings along the neck began to glow for a moment and two musical notes danced forth, causing what scratches it had suffered to fill and clear.

“There ye be,” Myrikin said to the lute. ”We’ll be getting’ ye back to ye master soon enough.” Lifting the lute into the boat, he clumsily followed, grabbed the oar and began to move towards the shore once again. As he turned his boat towards the shore, he could see a figure pacing; his green, leafy robes, whipping about in the chilled winter air. Myrikin’s metallic mouth attempted to form a smirk, as he had willed it to do so many times in the last century, but it remained unchanged.

“Ho, there! Thaenadir! What’s bringin’ ye out here?” Myrikin ran his boat aground, and leapt out to drag it further onto the shore.

Startled, the figure turned to focus on the metallic dwarf moving towards him. The green elf had enough in his facial expressions for both he and Myrikin, in his wrinkled olive tinted skin. He was older than Myrikin by several centuries, and reminded him of this fact often. Planting out his walking stick in the sand for better balance, Thaenadir, the Elder One of Nadradiss, shook his boney finger at him.

“You know perfectly well why I am out here, metal man. Kala is in the middle of her third attempt, and you have gone fishing! You are to be watching her, guiding her!” He ended his statement by pointing sharply at the ground.

Myrikin walked up to the man and looked up into his grey eyes. “And she’ll be fine. Right now she’s in meditation and I cannae be helpin her with that, now can I? Here,” he said, shoving the priceless lute into the hand of the elf, “take this back this while I go headin’ back out there.”

“Back? BACK OUT THERE?” The elf shouted. “When I agreed to this nonsense; in training Kala to perform this ceremony, in using my spirit house for your experiments; I expected that you would live up to your side of the bargain. Instead, I find you seeking trinkets in the waters. What is to stop me from putting an end to this right now?” The elf took a deep breath and released a quick sigh to emphasize his frustration.

Myrikin shook his head, realizing the elf had once again forgotten about things they had discussed only a few hours earlier. “Elder One, there be few people on this world that’re able ta decipher them runes. All of ‘em happen to be beyond the wall.” Sweeping his hand out, he pointed to the Black Wall, a monolithic barrier which stretched as far as the eye could see maintaining exactly forty feet from the shore. The Wall prevented passage of any sort, and every attempt to leave the island had failed.

Myrikin continued, “That bein’ the case, we be needin to bring someone who is not of this world into it. We’re needin someone who can read the runes. And if ye are ever able to perform the Nir’Sai, ye’ll need this wall to be broken so your spirit can be movin’ on.” Reaching out, he placed his metal hand on the arm of the elf and lowered his voice softly. “If ye people’re gonna be free, I need to be findin’ these things. Do ye understand?”

Thaenadir unclenched his jaw and began to gape out at the Wall. Sighing, he glanced once more at the odd dwarf. “I forgot again didn’t I?”

“Yes.”

A tear formed on the edge of the elf’s grey eye and dropped gently onto his bony cheek. “They’re coming more frequently. I’m not sure how much longer I can hide this from the Marshals. Kala has to succeed this time, she simply must.”

“She will, Thaenadir, she will.” Patting the elf’s arm once again, Myrikin turned away and shouted over his shoulder. “Ye best be getting’ that lute up to my hut. I’ll be returnin’ in a bit for the next phase.” He pulled the boat back into the water, climbed in, and began to row back to the wreckage.

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Noshmek Jenna

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