He was playing his tenth game when he noticed the sand storm on the horizon, it was midday so he could see for quite a distance and the sandy clouds were easy to spot. While he was no judge of such matters, Sten estimated that the sand storm would be upon them at about sundown. He had never worried about shelter in his younger days as he had always managed to weasel his way into someone's home for a night and thus had no idea how to construct a shelter, let alone a shelter that could withstand a storm. Rand did not look like he was about to help in the construction of such a shelter; he merely stared off into the distance. That was when Sten saw what Rand saw: shadowed figures were running towards them. Rand stepped back and took up a defensive position near Katt. Sten took out his knives and a slightly more aggressive stance, though in truth he was frightened out of his mind. The situation reminded him of the Goonheim War: they were outnumbered, the enemy was unknown and they could not retreat. He had survived the war by faking his death in battle, but there was no way out of this situation.
"I hope you're going to help me with this, Rand. Despite what the soldiers will tell you back in Highfort, I can't fight an army all by myself." He said nervously to his friend.
"I won't shed anyone's blood, but I'll make damn sure that no one touches Katt." Rand growled.
"I feel SOOOO much better." Sten said, his voice full of sarcasm.
The approaching group had stopped a small distance away from Sten and merely stood there and watched them warily. The were all dressed in a desert burnoose, with a veil covering their faces, some of them wore goggles and others carried weapons resembling the canons of a ship though they were hand-held. One of the group, dressed in white approached Sten.
"Drana ec y cduns uh dra runewuh. Lusa fedr ic ev oui fecr du ku du cyvado!" He said to Sten.
Sten looked to Rand and saw that Rand was as confused as he; neither had ever heard such a language before. The one in white repeated his speech with a similar response. He then shook his head and turned to one of his companions and spoke again.
"Vadlr dra kenm, fa tuh'd ryja desa vun dras du maynh uin myhkiyka. Yht caht vun dra tuk-syh, ra femm pa ypma du cruf dras fa sayh hu ryns." He said.
One man dashed off and disappeared over a sand dune. Another walked straight passed Sten and was proceeding towards Katt when Rand stepped in front of him and glowered. The man stepped back startled and began speaking quickly in a manner that suggested he was trying to appease Rand.
"Cunno, cunno! Bayla, E sayhd hu ryns!" He repeated over and over.
Suddenly the other man returned with Bow in tow. He looked a little shocked, though not by the people so much as Rand's actions.
"Hey, big guy! No need to get angry, these people mean us no harm!" He said as he placed a restraining hand on Rand.
"How do you know? And where have you been?" Rand said, a little pissed off, though glad to see his friend.
"I was hunting when they found me, they have been tracking us since we landed on this continent. Trust me Rand, if they had wanted to kill us, we would have been dead a long time before this." Bow explained in a frantic manner. "They can take us to a shelter, they can heal Katt, just trust me, okay?"
Rand reluctantly stood back and let the man pass. This one signaled to some others who brought a stretcher for Katt. The leader nodded and offered his hand to Rand.
"Trust." The man said in a heavily accented voice.
Rand took the man's hand and shook it solidly. He felt that, for the time being, he could trust this person. The group, now with Rand, Sten, Bow and Katt, who was lying on the stretcher, began to make rapid progress towards the northeast, toward shelter and food, Sten fervently hoped.
Gatz had known the storm would strike a long time before and he had planned to be long gone from the Outer Continent before it struck. However, things had changed and he had not left with the caravan on the Black Ship as he had originally planned. The first was that the boy, Ryu. He presented quite the enigma to Gatz, the firs of these mysteries being who the boy was and why he was here. The second part of the mystery was his miraculous recovery; the third day in Kombinat Ryu was completely recovered when he should have needed a month still to recover. Even though he seemed perfectly fine Jasmine still insisted he stay in bed for a while. That was another reason Gatz stayed behind, Ryu and Jasmine had become quite affectionate untoward each other and while Gatz had believed in love at first site, the timing was just far too coincidental for him. The final reason for him staying was nothing more than a feeling, in truth. Weeks ago when he had his Ceremony of Ascendance he came in touch with the Goddess and had, for a time been able to discern some of her desires in the waking world. However, that feeling was fading more and more each day. For the time being he could only follow his instincts.
For Ryu things had not changed much; he could still remember nothing other than his name and on occasion he would catch a glimpse of something that appeared familiar, but the feeling would rapidly fade and quickly be forgotten. He also discovered that despite Jasmine's insistence he stay in bed and get some sleep, he never truly needed rest. He would sleep and dream, but he never felt tired when he went to sleep. He had stayed up several nights in a row as an experiment and he felt just as refreshed as when he had last gotten sleep. He knew this was a strange trait and began wondering if he may have other abilities that he was unaware of. Not knowing scared him, something about him may have been dangerous to those around him and he would not know it until it was too late. It was his hope that the son of the elder of the neighboring village of Dragonia, an elder, a community leader in his own right, would know who he was or would know someone who knew him. In the mean time, he was discussing Urkan life with Jasmine in a one of the warehouses that was being used as an inn.
"What kind of name is Sudama?" Ryu asked as Jasmine began an explanation of the Urkan religion.
"Sudama isn't a name." Jasmine giggled, she had a pretty laugh by Ryu's estimation. "It's more a title that he takes for his name when he becomes the high-priest and leader of the Urkan people."
"Ok, what about the Goddess then. Does she have a name?"
"The Goddess has a name but we are forbidden to say it. She is a beautiful deity who wants nothing but peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the world. It is the duty of the Urkan people to enlighten the rest of the world with her teachings."
"Ugh... I don't know if I like this." Ryu said, making a disgusted face.
"Why not? It is a great desire isn't it? To help the world, to want to bring peace to it?" She asked confusedly.
"Well... It is possible that a deity could say that but really they just want to gain followers for a more diabolical purpose." Ryu said nonchalantly.
"H-how can you say such a thing?" She said, plainly shocked.
"I don't know... I just don't like the idea of forcing religion on others. That's all." Ryu said in an apologetic manner, defending his views.
"We aren't forcing anything on anyone! I'll show you how the Urkan religion works and you can decide for yourself." She said haughtily.
Just as Ryu was about to raise another argument a stranger walked in. He was dressed in a pair of knee-length trousers and a vest. He had long purple hair and dark eyes and a kind face.
"I'm sorry, am I interrupting anything?" He asked jovially.
"No, nothing. Can we help you?" Jasmine asked glad for a change of subject.
"Actually, I was sent here to see if I could help you... If the kid sitting on the bed is Ryu."
"Yes I am, that must mean you are Draigan. Can you help me?" Ryu asked eagerly.
Draigan looked at Ryu, examined him. Then as if deciding something he leaned back against the wall and sighed, obviously thinking about what to tell the couple.
"I don't know who you are. I know everyone who lives in my village and in the Skygarden above it and you're no one anybody would know... Sorry." He said sorrowfully.
"No one at all?" Jasmine asked.
"Well, there is someone who might, but when she doesn't want to be found she won't be found and this is one of those times. Again, I'm sorry." Draigan replied.
Draigan then left, leaving Jasmine and Ryu to contemplate what to do next. They had both decided that it would be best, if Ryu had found no one he recognized, that he should return with Gatz, Gaist, Garr and Jasmine to the city of Urkan.
The storm had struck mercilessly; even the dead would have had their skin flayed from their bones. It was, in fact, a legion of undead that were hiding in a limestone cave when the storm struck. Shax paced relentlessly back and forth in the cavern reciting theatrical dialog to a skull he held in his hand. The cave was mysteriously lit, so Shax never stumbled on anything as he paced. The legion was his captive audience in his little performance, though really the only thing that truly captivated this audience was death.
"To behead or not to behead. That is the question." He intoned. "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to do as we have done before and cut the bloody dragon-boy's head off, or to take arms, and legs, and ears, and other choice cuts off his body and by disjointing rend them."
Here Shax paused making a variety of exaggerated gestures as to what he would do to his nemesis once he caught up to him. After calming down, he took a deep breath and began again.
"To slay, to kill-to kill, perchance to maul. Aye, there's the fun stuff! For if I chop off a strategic portion of yon dragon-boy, might I not assure myself that he will be in extreme pain?" He said, as he turned to the 'crowd', finishing in a theatrical flourish.
He looked the legion over; neither zombie groaned nor skeleton rattled. Shax frowned and shook his head.
"Everybody's a critic." He muttered under his breath.
Suddenly a pure white light entered the cavern and a ghostly woman appeared. She was blond-haired with blue eyes and she had three pairs of inverted angel wings and was inhumanly beautiful. Shax merely smiled as he recognized who had come to visit him.
"Tyr! It has been such a long time. But I don't suppose you came to visit your loyal general, have you?"
"I wish to speak to Evans, Shax." She said. Every time she spoke a word it sounded like there was an echo just before she spoke.
Shax's body jerked suddenly, his limbs flailing as though he were a puppet dancing to a mad puppeteer's song. He suddenly became as stiff and as unmoving as the stiffs huddled in the cavern. He hovered a few feet off the ground and his neck seemed to stretch a few more millimeters more than appeared comfortable.
"Hello mother, how are you?" The voice was deep and hollow, it sounded as though the voice was of death itself.
"Evans, your follower has been killing my people!" She said calmly.
"You cannot expect me to have that level of control over one zealot in my current condition. You know how unpredictable the clans are, it is why we try to bring order to the universe."
"Never the less you must try to keep your people in line. Please, son, take care of yourself." She said as she faded away.
Shax dropped to the ground, his limbs completely under his control again. He gasped, breathing deeply though he did not really need to.
YOU HEARD HER WORM, SHOW A LITTLE MORE RESTRAINT. The powerful voice in his mind told him.
"How much restraint shall I show, lord DeathEvans?"
NEVER KILL IN FRONT OF A GUARDIAN, IN FACT AVOID THE GUARDIANS ALL TOGETHER, IF YOU. I DON'T WANT MOTHER-DEAREST TO FIND OUT MY PLANS YET.
"I don't understand her, what does she care that a few people were killed? She does get their souls into 'her afterlife', if I recall correctly."
SHE IS A GODDESS OF 'GOOD', THAT IS HOW SHE PERCIEVES HERSELF. A 'GOOD' GOD WOULD NOT DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO PRESERV THE ORDER AND PEACE OF THE WORLD. SHE WILL NOT 'BREAK A FEW EGGS TO MAKE HER OMLETT' AS IT WERE. SPEAKING WITH HER IS QUITE TIRESOME. I WILL LEAVE YOU FOR A TIME, BUT IF I FIND YOU NOT DOING AS I COMMANDED YOU, I WILL TEACH YOU THE TRUE MEANING OF PAIN.
Artificer Urza's Fanfiction