Chapter 12: Claire's Dreams

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Kastali Dun

Reyr made haste on his errand, lengthening his stride as he walked through the city. He could have flown from the keep, or taken a horse, but walking felt good. As he went, he considered Claire's conundrum: She was having glimpses into Kane's mind. She was becoming Kane in her dreams such that her feelings and desires were his.

He was more alarmed about these dreams than he let on. He was also convinced that she was not having visions. There was something far more sinister taking place. A theory was quickly developing in his mind and he wanted to discuss it with her, but only after he completed his current task at hand. If he hurried, he could drop by Claire's apartments before the evening meal.

When he reached Kastali Dun's huge ports, which were filled with a frenzy of activity as dockhands went about loading and unloading cargo, he noticed that the late afternoon sun had already started its quick descent towards the horizon. He set off in search of the dock master who was overseeing the unloading of cargo. Once he spotted the man, he called out to him with cupped hands, "Master Arden!"

Arden spotted him and rushed across the maze of docks to reach him. They grasped forearms in a friendly greeting. "My Lord Reyr!" said Master Arden. "I was wondering when you would be back here. I assume you are looking for news?"

"Good to see you, old fellow. And indeed I am."

"Come, come! Let us speak in private." Master Arden led him through the hustle and bustle of carts and boxes hauled to and fro.

"How fares your wife?" he asked as they walked.

"Better 'n ever. She's due by the next full moon." Arden's jubilance at his wife's impending birth of their fourth child was apparent. Arden was a tall, lean man with a grizzly beard and sparkling brown eyes. His forehead had deep set lines and his skin was tanned from years in the sun, and though he wasn't much older than forty, he looked closer to fifty.

They entered Arden's office and Arden shut the door behind them, bidding Reyr to take a seat across from him at his desk. After Arden sat, he reached behind him and collected two cups and an already open bottle of hard liquor. He poured each of them generous amounts.

Reyr sipped his before getting to business. "When we last spoke, you told me everything was set for our...secret mission north. Is the mission now underway?"

The secret mission he referred to was one King Talon decided upon with the help of his trusted inner circle, his Shields. Each night they met to discuss matters of business. It was during one of these meetings in the not so distant past, that an idea was hatched that might save the kingdom from wild dragons. It was the king's idea, but they had all agreed that it was the best they currently had.

"Indeed, the mission is well underway. After we last spoke, I selected my best merchant captain. I briefed him privately. He insisted the mission be carried out with his current crew, so I gave him that."

"Good. When did he depart?"

"Little over one week ago. I s'pect he should be at the port sometime in the next week, collecting the precious cargo. After that, he will be havin' a dangerous journey home."

"Because of the pirate attacks?"

"Aye. It's getting bad, Reyr. Real bad." Arden took several sips before speaking again. "I consulted all the records"—Arden pointed over his shoulder with his thumb to the case behind him packed with stacks of parchment—"and there's only a few mentions of pirate attacks like these."

"I see. Any idea of what is behind them?"

Arden shrugged. "I'm inclined to go with the reference I found dating back some forty thousand years ago. Records tell of a time just before King Gallant and Queen Lena's time, when pirates attacked for over fifty years up and down the coastline."

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