The storm triggered my Elven senses.  It was not a natural event.  Who caused it is a question for another time.  The important thing now is that it has happened, and Elves have long memories.

Unless the storm’s creator had a serious-and-most-unhealthy grudge against the jungle flowers and edible tubers that made up the bulk of the ship’s cargo, there was little question that the storm was directed at me, though whether it was intended to kill or strand is as yet unknown.  All I know is that the fact of the storm triggered an inquisitive impulse in me.

No doubt, depending on what my inquisitive impulse uncovers, some stronger, baser response might ultimatley be called for, but again, that’s for later, and I have resolved to study the matter with an open mind.

I washed ashore within sight of the rescue effort in progress, though with no means of contacting my would-be rescuers to let them know I was waterlogged, but otherwise relatively unharmed.  I was not sure if I wanted to do so in any case, as it occured to me that the spell’s caster could have been among the “rescuers,” either to finish the job in the event that the storm did not, or to verify that I was, in fact, no more.

In either case, I opted to keep the fact of my continued existence hid for the time being.

Instead, after watching the earnest-seeming efforts to rescue me from the watery deep for a time, I made my way overland back to the outskirts of the City of Kell, in Velociryx’s domain, where I installed myself in one of that city’s least glamorous drinking establishments.

No reason in particular, save for the fact that I was deep in the grip of that strange impulse now, and determined to see where it led, which is the way of my People.

I’m glad I did, although what I discovered by pure happenstance raises yet more questions in my mind.

Velociryx is surely not the only Lord to have disguised himself and slipped quietly into the dark corners of his own Realm for various purposes.  My own Grandfather was known to do similiar to sample the delights of the various low born Elven Maids who…but alas, that’s a story for another day.

In any event, it is by no means unusual for a Lord to do such things, so although I was surprised to see His Lordship when he entered, I took advantage of the natural shadows that my corner table afforded and hid my surprise to watch the comings and doings from a distance.

Velociryx met a rugged, rough-edged human of rather slender build in the corner opposite from the one I was skulking in, and again, my Elven sense served me well.  I heard the Lord address him as Felestro, and that name gave me pause.

I know of only one Felestro in these parts, and him, I know only by his fearsome reputation.

The same man then, or a pretender?  Or a code or alias of some sort?

I did not know.

The subject of their conversation was most curious, and I scribed it word for word.  Rather than offer up any embellsihment, I simply present it here for your consideration:

Velociryx:  ”What news, Felestro?”

Felestro:  ”The Men of the Company are ready.  When the first of the Chimera are born, we will give them a worthy trial by fire.”

Velociryx:  ”Excellent.  I wish it were not necessary, but these are dangerous times we live in.  They must be ready.”

Felestro: “No worries there.  The men of Bad Company will….”

(At this point, Velociryx shocked the entire bar into silence by backhanding the famed killer with such force that I feared for the man’s safety.  The blow seemed designed to take the man’s head off.)

Velociryx:  ”What is the first rule of the company?”

Felestro (shamed and a bit crestfallen): “You don’t talk about B…the Company.”

Velociryx:  ”The Company does not exist.  Say that name again and I wil kill you where you sit.”

And in that moment, despite the fact that during my entire stay with him earlier, I had never heard him raise his voice, nor say an unkind word to anyone, much less resort to any sort of physical violence, but….I believed him.

More importantly, Felestro believed him and merely bowed his head in submission.

“What of the other matter?”  Felestro asked in a moment.

At this, Velociryx threw up his hands in frustration.  ”I was delayed.”

“Your guest?”

He nodded, and I immediately realized they were referring to me.  ”My guest, yes.  Nice enough fellow for an elf.  I wished him godspeed and safe journey, then wasted no time in reaching out to K…tried all day, but to no avail.  Every time I proposed to eliminate a barrier, he’d raise another.  Bottom line…he’s either not ready, or not willing to deal with us.”

“So we still need another Master Tradesman.”

“Gods yes we do…it’s all I can do to handle the daily business of the Alliance.  I can’t take on that and the duties of the Master Tradesman.  And lead the Chimera project, And see to the formation of The Legion.  And lead the company-we’re-not-supposed-to-talk-about-cos-it-doesn’t-exist.”

“Can you keep it together till you get him on board or find someone else?”

He shook his head.  ”I know when I’m overmatched.  We’ll have to simply let some projects idle until we get more people…till we reach critical mass.”

“But you said that if we didn’t create a functioning system from whole cloth that…”

I know what I said!”  He roared, and I feared another backhand might be coming.

Felestro seemed to fear it too, for he actually flinched away.

“I know what I said.”  Velociryx continued more calmly.  ”But if he’s not ready to deal, then he’s not ready to deal.  I would rather assemble our engine piecemeal than risk the whole project, even if we might have to recussitate certain bits later.  It is unfortunate, but…”

“We could threaten him.”

“We will do no such thing.”  Velociryx said evenly.  ”And I’m within my rights to kill you for even sugessting it.”

Felestro said nothing to this, and the two men held one another’s gazes for the longest time.

“We’ll not be threatening him, or anyone else.  It is not our way.”

“Understood.”

I did not like that word…’understood.’  There were undertones of nastiness in it that disturbed me.

They spoke about mundane topics for a few moments, then parted ways, and left me in my corner to contemplate all that I had learned.

Apparently, there are more projects planned than just The Chimera project, and at least some of them are interconnected.  Interrelated in some way.

The Chimera Project.  Something called ‘Bad Company’ that’s not supposed to exist.  A trial by fire for the Chimera when they are born.  Some scheme involving trade that requires the presence of a dedicated Master of Trade (probalby related to the topic Velociryx and I discussed during our interview (“Hubs are one of the keys.”).

So….many interconnected pieces to the puzzle, but what does it all mean?

I am not sure.

My gut is telling me that the impression I got of Velociryx during our interview was correct.  That he is, at the core, a compassionate reformer, but he’s a more complicated figure than I first reckoned, as this second (much more candid) look reveals.

There are lots of initiatives going on, and he seems to have a council of advisors outside normal channels.  These advisors include at least a few less savory types, and therein lies the question.

Am I being duped?  If I am not, does this good hearted reformer run the risk of being corrupted by the less savory types he has at least some dealings with?  Does he run the risk of disagreeing with his cutthroats once too often and falling victim to them, or can he keep his various factions of supporters more-or-less allied with him in some common purpose?

Are there any darker overtones to any of the projects I’ve heard whispered?  If not, why the secrecy?

As I see it, there are two basic courses of action open to me.

I can ride into Cerilon and announce my miraculous survival (based on the conversation I overheard, I do not believe Velociryx was in any way involved with, or responsible for the storm that has marooned me here), and ask these probing questions of the man direct, or, I can keep my presence hidden for the time being, and see what else might be gleaned by keeping an ear to the ground a while longer yet.

For now, I send this, and drift off to a restless sleep, uncertain of what my future holds.  Uncertain when I’ll see my homeland again, or even if I want to.

There is something both strange and compelling about this land and the story I have stumbled into…

~The Blind Scribe~

* Mr. Ghent…do not publish this on my behalf until you have confirmed that Velociryx and his minions do not read our publication.  It would be tragic –and possibly life threatening–if he discovered these words.

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