Rappelz: Song of the Sirenby
The heavy thump of hooves echoed on the stonework as the large, bipedal, reptilian mount jogged across the bridge that spanned a tributary of the great river which surrounded the land bound village of Laksy's Anchor. Laksy's Anchor sprang up around the base of the magical anchor that held the floating city of Laksy in place high above. Several shops designed specifically to meet the needs of adventurers going forth to fulfill their quests had been built around the anchor. No one actually lived in the village. It was primarily a market town.
Lily reigned her Ornitho to a halt as it reached the far side of the bridge. The sight before her stunned her momentarily. The grass was not any of the usual shades of green here. The colors ran more toward blue. Part of this was in truth due to the large numbers of blue flowers that blanketed the landscape. Far too many to be a natural occurrence. Even so, the grass itself was a deep green that bordered on a rich blue color. There were several trees about with low hanging branches. Their leaves were as blue as the grass, and the flowers swarmed up their trunks on snaky vines. However, the thing that caught Lily Teatree by surprise the most were the large constructions which hung from the upper branches of the trees. These creations looked like lanterns of some type, and their color mirrored the flowers on the ground. At first, the flickering lights seen through the walls of these hanging creations convinced Lily that they were lanterns. That was when she saw a Blue Fairy fly out of a cleverly hidden opening. The creature's magical glow was what provided the light for its dwelling, for that was surely what the lanterns actually were.
"Wow," she breathed. "No one mentioned that Fairies had any kind of architecture."
Lily absentmindedly patted the beast that she straddled, then urged it forward into Blue Fairy country. She would have to be careful. Blue Fairies were known to be capricious and were rather touchy about intruders into their territory. At first, all seemed well. That changed when a nervous snort from her mount informed her that they were being pursued. A quick glance over her shoulder confirmed that a small party of angry Fairies was following Lily.
"Damn," she swore, "I don't want to waste time and energy fighting off a bunch of Pixies!"
In truth, Lily knew that even though she was strong enough to take on one or two Blue Fairies at a time, she would be foolish to take on such a large group. Digging her heels into the Ornitho's sides, Lily spurred her mount into a full gallop. The Fairies, realizing that they had been spotted, sped up their pursuit as well. With the Ornitho in full stride, Lily was able to span the distance to the far end of the Fairies' territory. She saw a regular dirt track flanked by ordinary bright green grass. A sense that something was close to her caused her to duck. The high pitch whistle she heard fly past her ear told her that she had just dodged an attack. Looking to either side, Lily could see more and more Fairies were joining in the chase. One had apparently thrown its dagger at Lily's head.
"Com'on, baby," Lily encouraged her mount. "We're almost there."
Indeed, the dirt track appearing the below the Ornitho's feet came as a bit of a surprise to Lily. She had been concentrating so much on the Fairy mob that she had failed to notice how far the Ornitho had traveled. Looking back once more, Lily could see the Fairies stopping at the edge of their territory, refusing to leave their homes behind.
"I hope you all are in a better mood when I come back this way," shouted Lily to the Fairies. She smiled at her own silliness. It was highly doubtful that they understood her, but it made her feel better. She reigned her Ornitho into a slow steady trot. "You did a great job outrunning those Fairies," complimented Lily. "We'll stop for a rest once we reach the Lake of Silence."
The Lake of Silence was not so much a lake as a large, shallow clearwater pool. The lake was filled with sandy mounds that rose above the water level. The largest mound was originally home to an ancient settlement. The inhabitants had built a series of wooden bridges that allowed travelers to cross the lake by going from one sandbar to another. The ruins of a massive temple still stood as a silent testament to human habitation in the Lake of Silence. Now, it was home to the warlike Lizardmen and the eldritch Sirens, all of whom were hostile to human trespassers.
The path that Lily followed continued eastward, though it tended to amble aimlessly in places. Up ahead, Lily could see a stone bridge that spanned a chasm. On the other side of that chasm was the entrance to the Lake of Silence. Lily's Ornitho trotted casually across the stone bridge, it's hooves clip-clopping noisily. On the opposite side, Lily saw a path that curved steeply north, heading up into the hill country. She idly wondered what that path led to as she continued east. The path took a slight left and angled down a slope. At the bottom of the slope, Lily could see the Lake of Silence spread out before her, the sandbars looking like sleeping creatures submerged in the water. She dismounted and led the Ornitho to the water's edge. Tall water weeds grew everywhere here, and after taking in a healthy draught of water, the Ornitho began to chew on the succulent grasses.
Lily chuckled to herself. "I knew you'd like this place." She unbuckled her two-handed war axe from the beast's side and removed the leather cover that protected the blade. After a few experimental swings that caused her Ornitho to fidget, Lily decided to scout around. She had not gone far when she thought she heard a queer sound. It was like a combination of a shrill bird call and the screech of a firework before it explode. The sound gave her the oddest feeling, and it made her teeth itch. Lily decided to investigate the strange noise. Following the cries led her across the sandy shoreline of the lake and through several tall stands of water weeds. As she burst through the final clump of weeds, Lily found herself stepping into the water. The lake bed was covered in smooth gravel which made walking without slipping into the lake tricky. The cries were becoming faint, but Lily could still tell which direction they were coming from. Finally, she walked around the edge of an outcropping from a cliff that ran along the lake shore and found a Lizardman warrior known as a Scalewalker Avenger standing over what looked like a child. The creature was a dark green-gray color and stood upright on two legs. It wore a grubby loin cloth and balanced its weight with a long extended tail. The vicious Scalewalker was hacking at the child with its blade. The strange cries were coming from the child as each swing inflicted a new wound upon it.
Seething with rage at the Scalewalker's cruelty, Lily reacted with the an attack spell she had recently learned, hoping to distract the Scalewalker from its current target. "SCORCHING FLAME!"
A tongue of fire shot forth from Lily's outstretched hand and slammed directly into the Scalewalker. With hate in its eyes, the creature turned toward its attacker, raised its crude blade and with a snarl ran headlong toward Lily with no care for strategy. Lily braced herself for the attack, gripping onto her axe as tightly as she could. She knew that using her regular footwork would lead to her death because of the smooth gravel on the lake bottom, so she stood stock still where she was. As soon as the Scalewalker came within striking range, Lily let loose with a wide arcing swing of her axe. Miraculously, the Scalewalker managed to deflect the blow with its blade. Even so, the force of Lily's attack sent it reeling back, and her axe blade chipped a piece out of the Scalewalker's weapon. Lily took the opportunity to use a defensive spell while the creature was still off balance.
"CHAIN SICKLE WIND!" chanted Lily with her hand once more upraised and directed at the Scalewalker.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew past Lily and seemed to encircle the Scalewalker. The creature snarled its defiance and fought against the wind as it tried to bind him to one spot. Using all its strength, the Scalewalker pushed back against the entrapping wind. Lily reached into her Yak skin belt pouch and retrieved what looked like a coin that had been made from bright red stone. "I swore I'd never use these things," muttered Lily, "but that kid's not gonna survive if I don't get a chance to perform a healing."
The wind suddenly faded out, and the Scalewalker was free to charge once more. With a flick of her wrist, Lily sent the stone coin flying through the air, hitting the Scalewalker in the chest. Once the coin made contact with the creature's skin, it was immediately enveloped by a magical aura that seemed to sap the Scalewalker's strength and agility. Lily immediately went into action, striking blow after blow, rending the Scalewalker's flesh. "See how you like it!" she roared. One of her swings cut off the creature's left leg below the knee, causing it to fall forward in agony. The returning follow through swing neatly decapitated the Scalewalker. As it's head sailed of toward the shoreline, the creature's body slumped forward into the water.
There was no time for Lily to celebrate her victory as she rushed over to where the Scalewalker had been attacking the child. To Lily's eyes it appeared to be a young girl wearing a light linen dress that seemed to barely cover her. Currently the dress was stained with the girl's blood. Her breathing was shallow and getting weaker by the moment. Lily pulled the girl from the clump of water weeds she was lying in and dragged her to the nearest sandbar. Then, kneeling before her, Lily set down her axe, place her hands over the unconscious girl, and cast another spell.
"RESTORING PURIFIED WATER."
Sparks of blue energy floated from Lily's hands and covered the girl lying before her. Lily pulled her hands back, but the blue aura that had been around them remained floating in the air above the girl, continuing to rain down its healing particles of light. The wounds on the girl's body began to slowly knit, and the bruises faded away into unblemished skin. As Lily watched her handiwork take effect, the girl's eyes suddenly opened. That was when Lily realized her mistake. The eyes weren't human at all. They glowed slightly with natural, wild magic. Lily was healing a young Siren. The devastating attacks of Sirens were spoken of with dread by many an adventurer. Their enchanted voices could disable even the most stalwart of warriors. Lily was frightened, but refused to let that fear show upon her face.
"Well," she said calmly, "looks like you had a bit of an adventure. You should be feeling better."
The Siren made no sound. She watched the glowing magic floating above her. Then, she turned her head and saw lying beside her the axe which has felled her enemy, its blood still coating the blade. The Siren's nostril flared at the stench. Lastly, she looked into Lily's eyes. It was all Lily could do to prevent herself from flinching. Those alien eyes watched her, but Lily felt no hostility from the Siren. Perhaps she's still too weak from her ordeal with the Scalewalker, thought Lily. Finally, the Siren closed her eyes and relaxed. Lily watched the Siren somewhat concerned. Was her magic not having a thorough effect on the Siren? No, that couldn't be it. The wounds were almost completely gone. Lily took a measured risk. She place a hand against the Siren's forehead. The eldritch creature's eyes snapped open at the touch, but her body didn't tense. The Siren's skin was cool to the touch. Because she was a magic user, Lily could feel the wild magic that coursed through the Siren's body. She didn't know how, but she felt that everything about the Siren was well. Lily removed her hand and sat back feeling relaxed. Perhaps my healing has made it trust me, though Lily with a sigh. The aura of healing magic that floated above the Siren finally spent itself and dissipated.
The sound of splashing footsteps behind her caused Lily to quickly turn and reach for her axe, but she stopped once she realized that it was her Ornitho who had finally decided to locate its master. It seemed to give her a reproachful look, as if she were an unfit Ornitho caretaker. Lily couldn't help but laugh at the affronted mount. The Ornitho turned aside and began to munch contentedly on tall water weeds nearby.
"Alright, you two," announced Lily to her companions, "we can't hang around here all day. That Scalewalker's friends might come along just to find out what happened to their buddy." As Lily stood up, the Siren scrambled up off the ground as well. Lily studied her former patient. "So, are you gonna be okay?" The Siren merely stared at Lily. "Well, I'm glad I could help," said Lily with a wave of her hand. She turned to round up her mount and start back toward Laksy. Before she could walk more than two steps, Lily suddenly felt a heavy weight latch onto her leg. Looking down, Lily saw the Siren clinging to her for dear life.
"Oh boy," sighed Lily.
* * *
It had been a very strange morning for Lily, and her return trip to Laksy was turning out to be no different. Lily Teatree had found herself walking alongside her rented mount as they crossed the stone bridge that spanned the chasm. She look up into the saddle of the Ornitho. Sitting there as if she were queen of all Deva lands was the small Siren. She was contentedly humming to herself, a strangely eerie tune that nonetheless made Lily feel relaxed and in a pleasant mood.
"You're doing that on purpose, aren't you?" asked Lily nonchalantly. The Siren paid Lily no attention. "You're humming that damned tune so I won't get pissed over the fact that I have to walk all the way back to Laksy's Anchor." She tried to glare at the creature riding her Ornitho but just couldn't find the state of mind to do so. With a sigh, she decided to give up. "Who knew you little vixens could be so manipulative. This is what I get for being such bleeding heart."
They were once again on the westward path that seemed to wander about in all directions except west. It wasn't long after the path seemed to make up its mind which way it wanted to go, that Lily saw the fringe of odd blue grass ahead. "We'd better keep on our toes," commented Lily to her traveling companions as she withdrew her axe from its resting place on the Ornitho's side. "Those Fairies were in a foul temper last time I was here."
Lily did not relish having to fight off a whole army of Blue Fairies, however, it was the only way for her to get home. She had unwisely left Laksy without any Return Scrolls. Such an item would have teleported the lot of them back to Laksy proper in the blink of an eye. Now, she was left to rue her unpreparedness. The Siren, on the other hand, didn't to seem to show any signs of being concerned about entering Blue Fairy territory. Perhaps because she had known no other place than the Lake of Silence, she was woefully unaware of the dangers of the wide world.
"Okay, you're going to have to stop humming, now," urged Lily with a hand on the Siren's leg. "I need to be ready to fight if we're going to get through this." They had just stepped onto the first patch of blue grass and were slowly treading further into Blue Fairy territory. Despite her warning, the Siren continued humming. "Terrific," muttered Lily. "You know, you and I need to work on our communication."
As they continued on their way, Lily started to get the warrior's sense that danger was lurking nearby. "Okay," she said to herself, "here we go." At first, nothing happened. There was no sign of a Fairy anywhere. After several more minutes of walking, Lily was beginning to wish the Fairies would attack already just to break tension. A sudden thought occurred to her. Perhaps the Siren's humming wasn't affecting just Lily. Perhaps the Fairies were being affected as well. Lily had a hard time imagining a Fairy with a mellow disposition. They were so widely known for being such evil little sprites. To have a Fairy as a pet meant that you went through hell to tame it. Lily recalled the one time she had tried to tame a Blue Fairy. It was a horrible mess of an experience. In the end, Lily had to kill the Fairy before it tried to kill her. After that, she was more than content to stick with her pet Tortus.
The adventurers had traveled for quite some time when Lily realized that the bridge to Yeti territory was just ahead. From there it, was a short jog to another smaller bridge that made up the entrance to Laksy's Anchor. "Hey, we're almost there," said Lily with a smile. Just as she said that, she knew it was a mistake. Moments later, swarms of Blue Fairies came pouring out from their lantern domiciles. "So that's why we hadn't seen any of the little buggers," cried Lily. "They've been mounting an ambush!" There were far more Fairies appearing before them now than Lily had ever seen present in the entire territory at one time. The angry, chittering mob of Fairies effectively cut Lily and her companions off from any chance of reaching the bridge and safety. At the same time, more Blue Fairies were closing off any possible retreat behind them. Later, she would wonder where all those Blue Fairies had come from, but for right now, Lily's thoughts ran down to just one. "We're gonna die."
The one thing that Lily hadn't noticed before, which became abundantly clear now, was that the Siren had stopped humming. She glanced at the creature in the Ornitho saddle. The Siren had crawled forward off of the saddle until she was just behind the Ornitho's head straddling its neck. The mount didn't like this alternate seating arrangement, but knew better than to make any formal complaint. Then, the Siren gripped the Ornitho's two horns and hefted herself up so that her head and chest were above the top of the mount's scalp. She looked at the swarm of Fairies with an expression that bordered on contempt. What happened next, Lily was sure she would remember until her dying days. The Siren seem to take in a deep breath. Then, it opened its mouth and let out with a screech. The sound was otherworldly and extremely painful. Lily found herself dropping her axe and clapping her hands over her ears in order to try and stave off the horrifying sound. She thought for a moment that her ears were bleeding, but it turned out to be molten earwax that trickled down her jawline.
Though the Ornitho seemed to be oblivious, the screech's effect was much more pronounced among the Fairies. Many of those in front simply dropped to the ground, and Lily was certain that they were dead. The other squealed and writhed in agony before flying off en masse to their homes. Once the mob of Fairies had completely cleared, the Siren stopped her screeching. Lily removed her hands from her ears and looked about at the carnage wrought by the Siren. She looked up at the Siren who had retaken her seat in the saddle of the Ornitho. She looked down at Lily with a triumphant grin.
"Alright, alright," Lily laughed. "I'm impressed."
Lily and her companions continued onward toward the bridge. After crossing, Lily could see Laksy's Anchor on the ridge across the river to her right. The magical tower that held the floating city of Laksy in place could be seen poking it's head above the village skyline, it's glowing spiral of magical energies rotating in the air. At the top of the tower stood an abstract statue of a naked Angel. Angels were creatures that lived in the hills far north of Laksy, and the Deva regarded them as symbolic of the God of Creation. Lily thought the statue was rather show-offish, but that was the way of the Deva.
To their left, Lily could see minor Yeti playfully romping about in the grass. Yeti were primarily short creatures with long white fur all over their bodies and short stubby horns on their heads. They always carried makeshift shoulder bags in order to carry whatever it was that Yeti thought important. Their faces were covered by masks fashioned out of tree bark. No one understood why Yeti covered their faces with the bark masks. However, between the masks and the bags, there was an obvious culture fomented among the Yeti. Often, Lily wondered just how intelligent many of the creatures in the Four Lands were. Near her own home of Horizon where the Gaia lived, there were creatures called Boarmen. They were smart enough to fashion crude clothing and weaponry for themselves. They understood battle strategy and followed leaders the same as humans did.
A sharp turnoff on the path led to the stone bridge that served as the entrance to the village. Many other adventurers were busy running to and fro collecting the supplies they needed for their quests, buying goods and renting mounts, their various armors and weapons glinting in the afternoon sunlight. On the far western side of Laksy's Anchor, Lily could see the recently built Auction House. It looked identical to the one that adorned Horizon. The odd architecture didn't fit well in either city, but it fit less well here. It's warm brown stone tended to clash with the cool gray granites and marbles of traditional Deva architecture. Just ahead of Lily at the base of the magical anchor was an area where adventurers were appearing out of and disappearing into thin air. The only one who remained constant amid the confusion was a young woman in traditional light blue Deva garb which primarily consisted of a fancy tunic with flared sleeves and a frilled skirt. She was constantly accepting money from adventurers who soon disappeared shortly thereafter.
"Hail, Teleporter Audrey!" called Lily while waving her hand.
The woman turned toward the voice that called her and smiled. "Welcome back, Lily. What did you think of the Lake of Silence?"
"Nice place for a picnic," said Lily dryly.
"Sure, if you don't mind inviting lizards to tea," laughed Audrey. She suddenly noticed the strange passenger atop the Ornitho. "Oh! You tamed a Siren. I guess the lake was good to you after all."
"Uhm, well, she's not exactly tamed," said Lily somewhat sheepishly.
Audrey blinked in astonishment. "It's still wild? Are you crazy? You can't take a wild creature into Laksy!" She paused for a moment. "Wait, if it's wild, how is it riding your Ornitho like that?"
"It's a long story," said Lily. "Suffice it to say she's gotten kind of attached to me."
"Huh," grunted Audrey. "That's definitely a new wrinkle."
"I'd like to have Breeder Andariel take a look at her," admitted Lily. "She was viciously attacked by a Scalewalker Avenger, and I healed her, but I want to be sure that she's okay."
Audrey placed her hands on her hips defiantly. "Okay, supposing I even allow you to bring it into the city, what are you going to do afterwards? Let it loose back at the lake?"
"If that's what she wants," shrugged Lily.
Audrey shook her head. "I swear, you Gaians love your animals too much." Lily looked up at the Siren who was contentedly humming once more. She was a creature of the wild, yes, but Lily had a hard time classifying the Siren as an animal. She still had the look of a child. Audrey sighed. "I must need to have my head examined for letting you up there with that thing. Alright, give me five hundred Rupees before I change my mind."
"What? But, teleportation to Laksy is free from the anchor," said Lily somewhat befuddled.
"Right, and I'm putting my own skin on the line for a crazy foreigner," snapped Audrey hotly, "so, don't you think I deserve a little remuneration?"
"Ah," said Lily with a smirk. "Right." She counted out the requested amount and placed it in Teleporter Audrey's waiting hand.
"Alright, off with you," grumped Audrey. With a wave of her hand Audrey teleported Lily, her Ornitho and the Siren to the floating city. Before they entered that bizarre in-between place that people go to when they are in transition, Lily could have sworn that she had heard a squeak of dismay from the Siren. She hoped it wasn't a mistake taking her into a bustling city, but it was much too late to reconsider her decision. In the next instant, Lily found herself standing on the lawn of the city's central mall. The place was crowded with adventurers running to and fro on whatever errands they were trying to complete. There were also many pets following their masters on those same errands. Tortuses, Panteras and Bloody Poultry were most commonly seen wandering about. However, there were also a smattering of Yeti, Orcs, Skeletons, Blue Fairies, and Hawkmen as well. Adventurers from all three nations and just about every profession could be seen. Asura Striders were seen flirting with Deva Holy Warriors. Deva Clerics chatted with Gaia Spell Singers. A Dark Magician traded Laks she had collected in the field for Boost Chips with Lak Trader Marine.
Lily glanced at the Siren who was still astride her Ornitho. Instead of being frightened by the cacophony of activity, she was busy twisting her body this way and that trying to soak in all the sights and sounds of the city. "Well, looks like you're a born urbanite," laughed Lily. "Come on, let's go see Andariel."
Lily headed toward a massive set of stone stairs which led to an upper level terrace within the city. The travelers were just about to begin their climb when a voice caught them up short.
"You there!" Lily turned and came face to face with a rather imposing figure in full plate mail. Behind him were two more Devans armored in identical fashion. "What do you think you're doing, Gaian? This isn't Horizon! We don't allow Ornitho mounts to run loose in the city! We like to keep Laksy clean!"
Lily had to take a deep breath and count to ten. It wouldn't speak well of her to get into a scuffle with the city guard. However, the type of individual it took to keep a city in line was usually the type of individual who held prejudices. "I'm sorry, sir. My Siren was injured," said Lily diplomatically. "I'm taking her to be examined by Andariel."
"Then why don't you place her in her card? She would be in stasis there!" shouted the guard. "I swear you foreigners are as thick as posts." Lily tried to not let that comment rankle her. "Just get that beast off the streets."
With that, the three soldiers continued on their rounds, the very idea that someone wouldn't obey their commands having never even occurred to them. Lily stared after the retreating guards and stuck her tongue out that them. It was a childish reaction, but it made Lily feel a bit better. A giggle from above her head told her that it entertained her Siren friend as well. Lily reached up and lifted the young Siren off of the saddle. "No point in getting ourselves into trouble with the law," she said to the small creature. "I'm pretty sure you can walk the rest of the way to Andariel."
Lily reached into her Yak skin bag and produced a small card. She held it aloft and spoke a short cantrip. Immediately, the Ornitho seemed to vanish as the card in Lily's hand glowed. The Siren's eyes went wide at the sight of the mount's disappearing act. She looked up at Lily with a questioning expression. Lily smiled and showed the Siren the card. On its face was a perfect image of the very same mount. "If you had been tamed, you'd have a card just like this," said Lily. "But I'm glad I didn't have to try and explain to those guards why you don't have one. Then we'd really be in a pickle."
Lily reached down, took the Siren by the hand and led her up the stone steps like the child she resembled. It wasn't a particularly long climb, but it did require them to traverse two sets of stairs. Lily kept herself between the Siren and the rest of the traffic climbing up and down the stairs in case the poor creature became frightened or angered by rude or inconsiderate adventurers. Once they reached the landing at the top, Lily looked about to gain her bearings. A large circular temple and its outbuildings sat to her left. A large aqueduct attached to the temple traveled across the carefully manicured lawn until it stopped at one of the city's outer walls. At the base of the aqueduct where it met the city wall was a small woman wearing the traditional armor of a Deva Breeder.
Lily led the Siren across the lawn until they reached Andariel's post. Andariel preferred to perform her study of pet well-being out in the open as opposed to in a stall or a shop building. All she had was a table to place all of her tools and potions and a bed of dry straw for creatures to take their ease while she examined them. She was just finishing up looking over a Pantera.
"He's in very good condition," said Andariel while playfully ruffling the Pantera's fur. "I'd say he's almost ready to evolve from Junior to Hunter class. When he's ready, bring him back to me. I can make the transition easier."
The owner of the Pantera was a Deva Cleric dressed in yellow and green armor. "Thank you, Andariel", said the woman. She recalled her Pantera into its card and hastened off. Lily led the Siren up to Andariel.
"Hello, what have we here," said Andariel with a bright smile. The Siren responded in kind. Andariel looked up at Lily. "You're very lucky. It's not easy to tame a Siren."
Lily cleared her throat. "Well, you see, that's the thing. I didn't tame her."
Andariel's breath caught. "She's wild? How did you get her into the city?"
"The usual way," said Lily succinctly. She doubted Audrey would ever forgive her if she let out that the Siren was admitted over a bribe.
"No, I mean, wild creatures can't stand human inhabited spaces," said Andariel studying the Siren closely. "She should be freaking out."
"Well, it was an unusual set of circumstances," said Lily. She then proceeded to explain to Andariel about the attack of the Scalewalker Avenger, and how she had mistaken the Siren for a human child and rescued it. She described how she had used her magic to heal the Siren, and about her later discovery that the Siren wasn't human. She then described her journey home, and her experience with the Blue Fairies.
Andariel ran a hand through her hair and blew out a breath in astonishment. "Wow, that's some story. I have to say I've never heard of anything like that happening before." She looked down at the Siren who seemed happy to just be standing next to Lily, holding her hand. "You seemed to have attained some kind of natural taming, but without a card, it would be dangerous to take her into battle."
"I doubt I could," said Lily. "She doesn't really listen to me, not that she can actually understand me, mind you, but I suspect a touch of bullheadedness as well. I had actually thought of returning her to the Lake of Silence, but I don't think she'll go."
Andariel nodded in agreement. "I suspect you're right. Like it or not, you're stuck with her. You should tame her properly. It would be in the best interest of both of you. Do you have a Siren taming card?"
Lily blinked in surprise. "You know, I think I do. After my fiasco with taming a Blue Fairy, I didn't want to bother trying for another pet."
Andariel smiled kindly. "Unfortunately, most taming attempts end in failure. For some reason, Panteras, Tortuses and Poultry are the most tamable. That's why they're so common. They're known as Basic pets. Creatures like Fairies, Orcs, Yeti and Sirens are rarer and are known as Common pets. Personally, I consider that a misnomer."
Lily nodded. "Well, there's a warehouse just across the lawn. Can you watch her while I go get the card?"
Andariel shrugged. "If she'll let me. I don't think she will. She doesn't know me from a Scalewalker." She said this last with a smile.
"Well, here I go." Lily started to walk away from Andariel's post and cross the lawn. Behind her, she heard a cry of dismay followed by the patter of feet on grass. Glancing down, Lily saw the Siren walking beside her, looking intently up at her face. With a sigh of resignation, Lily placed an arm around the creature's shoulders. After retrieving the Siren card from the warehouse, Lily and her charge returned to Anadariel.
"Here's the card," said Lily proffering the item in question. "Now, what do I do."
"You've tamed creatured before, right?" asked Andariel. "Just do what you normally do."
Lily looked at Andariel, her face a mask of horror. "I...I can't do that! I thought there was some special way of taming her since she's...you know, attached to me."
Andariel sighed. "Nothing like this has ever happened before. I have no experience to draw upon. You're going to have to use your Creature Taming skill and attack her with your weapon, the same as all taming is done." Lily looked at the Siren and felt sick to her stomach. Fighting a monster in the field is one thing, but this creature bore her no malice. How could she attack her even if it was to bind her to a card. Andariel placed a hand on Lily's arm. "I know what you're thinking, but you have to do this. There's no turning back. You were committed to this the moment you cast your healing spell."
Lily took a deep breath and nodded her head. She would have to screw her courage and get through this. Lily led the Siren a short distance from Andariel's post and slowly backed away from the Siren. She maintained eye contact the entire time so as not to give the eldritch creature the impression that she was being abandoned. Taking another deep breath, Lily muttered to herself, "Spirits of my ancestors, guide me." Then, she held out her hand toward the Siren and cast her spell.
A read glow appeared around the Siren. Almost immediately, the Siren's demeanor changed to one of hostility. Without uttering so much as a cry, she charged at Lily, who was awaiting her with axe in hand. However, the casting time of Creature Taming was long, and Lily could not attack nor defend herself until the spell had run its course. It wasn't long at all before the Siren pounced upon Lily, scratching and biting. Though her armor protected her torso, her extremities were exposed to the creature's abuse. Cut and bleeding, Lily maintained her stance with hand aloft while the spell played out. A crowd of curious adventurers began to gather once they realized that something interesting was happening.
Finally, the taming spell had spent its energy. Now, came the hard part. Lily pushed the Siren away with her free hand, then brought up her axe. She took the first swing and it cut across the Siren's arm. The cry of pain that it made nearly broke Lily's heart. She felt hot tears spill down her cheeks. The Siren regrouped and attacked again. Lily dodged and swung her axe around again, this time striking her legs. She quickly made a follow through with a return swing. Her body was moving automatically now, as her ingrained warrior's training made her step here, balance her weight there, dodge an enemy attack there. Each strike she successfully inflicted upon the Siren felt like she was the one being sliced and cut.
The Siren began to slow down from the loss of blood, and Lily automatically pressed her attack. Soon, the creature was too weak to move any further. "Now, you must end it," said Andariel.
"I can't!" wailed Lily.
"You must!" commanded Andariel forcefully.
The end of Lily's axe blade came to a narrow point, which allowed her to make stabbing attacks when there wasn't enough room to swing a two-handed war axe. She decided that was the best way. "Forgive me," she whispered. Taking a step forward with her eyes blinded by tears, Lily managed to thrust the blade into the Siren's heart. The creature gave out that same shrill cry that Lily had heard her make when she was being attacked by the Scalewalker Avenger. That was more than she could bear. With a cry of anguish she dropped her axe and fell weeping to the ground. Andariel came over and wrapped her arms about Lily shuddering shoulders.
"And now, we shall see," said Andariel quietly. For there was always the chance that the taming had failed, and if that was the case, then the Siren would be lost forever. The prone form of the Siren began to glow a bright pink, then fade away into nothing. Andariel looked at Lily's pouch. Sure enough, another glow was emanating from the open spaces around the flap. "I think someone is waiting to see you," said Andariel softly.
Lily raised her head. "You mean...?"
Andariel smiled warmly. "I had some doubts, but not many. The two of you were already quite close. I would have been surprised if the taming had failed." Andariel stood and stepped back from Lily. "Summon your new pet."
With a shaky hand, Lily reached into her pouch and pulled forth the Siren card. Before, its face had been blank, but now, it bore the identical likeness of the Siren she had rescued earlier this morning. Lily raised the card in the air and cast the summoning cantrip that would release the Siren from is stasis. A familiar bloom of orange light spiraled not more than a few feet from where Lily stood. When the effects of the spell had cleared, there stood the Siren, unmarked and smiling warmly at Lily. Lily cried out with joy and relief and scooped up the Siren into her arms, bearing her away in crushing embrace. The Siren returned the affection with a hug of her own. The throng of adventurers who had gathered to watch the taming and had remained silent up until now, erupted in a deafening cheer. Even their pets joined in with roars, snarls and squawks.
"Gaia's blood!" exclaimed one adventurer, a stocky looking Gaian Fighter, "It almost reminds me of when I tamed my RhoKia!" He wiped a tear from his cheek.
"And now you must name her," said Andariel.
Lily pulled back a looked at the Siren she held in her arms. "I will name her EuNia."
"Now that she's bound to a card, she will obey you...mostly," said Andariel. "More importantly, the binding allows her to understand what you say to her."
"Well, that will certainly be helpful," laughed Lily. She set EuNia on the gound and looked up at Andariel. "I can't thank you enough."
"Me?," said Andariel. "Ha! I did nothing. It was you and your Siren that made all the difference. I must say, you've had a very unique experience in taming. When an adventurer tames a creature to be a pet, he doesn't know anything about the creature other than it's about to attack him. There's no emotional investment. But you were already attached to the creature. You did possibly the hardest thing anyone could ever do. To end the life of someone you truly cared about."
"I hope I never have to do anything like that again," said Lily fervently.
"I sincerely doubt it," replied Andariel. "I taming situation like that may come about once in a lifetime. Maybe even less." She looked the two over. "So, what now?"
"I'm going to take her to her new home, back in Horizon," said Lily with a smile. "She's got a lot of learning to do."
Waving good-bye to Andariel, and occasionally thanking the other adventurers for their support, Lily took her new pet to the less traveled back ways of Laksy. Nestled on a lower terrace in the far north of town was a Warehouse, a Grocer and a lesser known Teleporter named Ruriel. She was dressed in traditional Deva garb of a bright, spring green.
"Hello, traveler," she greeted Lily warmly. "And where shall I teleport you today?"
"Horizon," said Lily.
"That will be five hundred Rupees, please," said Ruriel.
Lily counted out the money and handed it over to the Teleporter. Once Ruriel had stowed the money away safely, she turned her attention to her work. In a matter a moments, Lily and EuNia were on their way home.
E N D
Return to The Document Library.