In their way North to find Helii in the northern deserts of Tyla, the group is slowed down by the merciless sun, with Sana unable to take the heat due to her Dah'kin blood, they are forced to stop. However, they spot what seems to be a city in the middle of the desert. As they try to locate it, the city disappears into thin air, leading the pary to believe it was a mirage. Unfortunately, they have little time to ponder on their discovery, as they are hit by a massive sandstorm, which blows Celena away and almost kills the rest of the party. Minutes from death, they are rescued by a group of desert dwellers who call themselves Searchers and taken to the mysterious city of Hidden Dune, only to find they will never be allowed to leave.
Part 1 - Chapter 1 Desert Camp - The voyage to the temple
Part 1 - Chapter 2 Desert Camp - Lizardmen and Dooner dung
Part 1 - Chapter 3 Ajdanen - Heartaches
Part 1 - Chapter 4 Ajdanen - The Three Cats
Part 1 - Chapter 5 Ajdanen - Ari'ael
Part 2 - Chapter 1 Ajdanen - Shoppaholics
Part 2 - Chapter 2 Desert Camp - Ghosts of the Flame
Part 2 - Chapter 3 Desert Tomb - Bleda of the Flame
Part 2 - Chapter 4 Ajdanen - The Burning
Part 2 - Chapter 5 Tyla Desert - Digger's Grave
Part 3 - Chapter 1 Hidden Dune - The Searchers
As the temperature stars going up, the party slowly rises, Torren still vigilant next to the door. The group tries to remember the events of the previous day. The guardhouse is located within the northernmost wall of Hidden Dune, to the left of the group there is a small window which looks upwards, however right now it just looks as a reflecting glass, part of Ur-Atum's powerful enchantments which prevent anyone fromn leaving while Hidden Dune is cloaked. To the right there is another, much larger windows where the party can see the inside of the town. To their surprise, Hidden Dune's inside looks like an idilic, tropical town in the middle of the desert, though the streets are of white sand, there are fruit trees, crops and even many fountains streaming crystal white water. The people of the town go on with their own business, ignorant of the newcomers inside the nearby guardhouse.
Time - 9:00 AM
"uhm..." moaned Sana
lightly as she woke up, she felt kind of sore and had sand in her hair, but other than that she was faring ok. "Wha.. where are we?" she asked bewildered as she saw the verdant town outside the window. "Guys?" she asked the others as they were too stiring from their sleep.
opened his eyes slowly, bringing the room around him into focus. Carefully, he shifted his weight. His entire body was a little stiff from the previous day's exertion and from sleeping while sitting all night. He could see that the others were beginning to stir as well. Full alertness took ahold of him when he saw that the Dah'kin, who had been unconscious until now, was stirring as well. His voice was low as he addressed her, "Please, stay where you are, Dah'kin. You are not safe here." His hand tightened lightly on the hilt of his sword that still rested hilt up against his shoulder. He doubted that there was any cause for concern, but he didn't want to be caught off guard either. "You are in a guard tower of a very well protected city in the Tyla desert. Your friends are here with you as well. My names is Torren Rumani and i'm your guardian for the time being. Please, stay within the tower. I can't guarantee your safety if you leave." Soft eyes considered her, awaiting her response.
's purring softened until she stirred and stretched, wiping the sleep from her eyes. "Sana! You're awake...conscious!" Her smile was bright and thankful. She crawled to Sana's side and helped her sit up if desired. She glanced around the guard tower room. "Hey Tyza, Mela, Maura...Sana's up!" She glanced at Torren and smiled, and for being with them, lipped 'Thank you'.
Torren smiled back at Ryoko and nodded a 'welcome'. He stayed where he was as the rest of her party stirred and the happy reunion with a conscious Sana began.
Tyza's eyes flickered open in an instant, the slight joint ache not troubling him as he stirred and got to his feet, stretching. After all, over the years he'd spent many a restless night in full armour. Looking over at Sana, Tyza smiled, "Are you okay? You looked a little beaten up yesterday."
"Just a few more minutes..." Maura moaned but got to her feet anyways and stretched with her hands reaching upwards. After she was done she turned to Torren. "So when are we going to settle the issue of us being able to leave the city?"
Torren looked to Maura, his face stoic and tone even. "I don't know for sure. All your questions will be answered as soon as my superiors return." He looked about the room slowly, taking inventory of everyone's mood and condition. "Is anyone hungry? If you are, i will go and retrieve breakfast. Take it from me, the food here in Hidden Dune is very good."
"yeah, I always wanna try some new food. But i don't eat much", said Mela trying to make friends with Torren and possibly have him say more than he wants.
Maura groaned. "Yes, i guess i'm hungry..." she looked away.
"Wha..?" replied Sana, very fuzzy about the events last night, and surprised by everyone's reaction at seeing her up. "Where you not expecting me to get up?" she asked sort of scared now. "Who are you? Where are we anyways?" she asked Torren, whom she did not recognize.
"I believe you wont like his answer." said Mela to Sana.
Ryoko nodded in thought of Mela's response and went to sit over by Torren. "Can you take us to the head council or leaders yet?" Her tail twitched and she turned her eyes to the other in the room. "I'd like to get out of this room..."
Disreguarding Mela's comment, Torren looked to Sana first. She must not have heard him when he spoke the first time as she woke up. "As i said, my name is Torren Rumani. We are in a guard tower of a very well protected and concealed city in the Tyla Desert called Hidden Dune." Turning to the rest, he nodded. It seemed that they were all hungry, including himself. "Very well, instead of me going to retrieve breakfast for all of us, why don't we go and get something together?" Torren turned his head and smiled at Ryoko. "After breakfast we can go and speak with my superiors." Slowly he stood up and fit his swords back into his belt, then offered his hand to Ryoko. "I must ask you all to stay with me while out in the streets. There are guards everywhere and they will attack if you cause trouble of any kind. Also, i must ask that you leave your weapons. If you agree to these terms, then please drop your weapons on the floor. You will get them back after we've spoken with my superiors."
Mela frowned and looked at the others to see weather they were going to listen to torren. Her hnd wason the belt to do the thing he told them to if the ohers listened. "Its not like we are going to attack anyone." she said to Torren
Sana carefully folded her Dragon Fan and placed in the floor. "There." she said with a smile, not sharing her friend's disposition. "Well we ARE strangers, and we're near Skarrad, I don't blame them for not trusting us..." then something seemed to hit her all of the sudden, she stood up and turned to Torren. "Uhm.. excuse me? What did you say this city was called? I've lived in Tyla all my life and I had never heard of a city by that name, let alone in the middle of the desert..."
Ryoko bowed her head in thanks and used Torren's extended hand to heft herself to her feet. To his request, she gently set her two scimitars and whip down upon where she was sitting. "Guests should not have a threatening aura...even if we do feel more comfortable with them on our person. I will respect their wishes. It's not a good idea to get off on the wrong foot... especially in someone else's place." She stood at Torren's side and awaited the others in the party to respond accordingly.
Maura clamped her teeth together but had to admit that Sana and Ryoko were right. "You promise we'll get them back?" she growled to Torren. "Nobody is going to come in here while we're away and take them?"
Torren turned to Sana. "This city is called Hidden Dune. I have no doubt that you've never heard of it. The rulers go to great care and pain to make sure it stays hidden and unheard of. People go their entire lives without ever hearing so much as a word about this place." Upon seeing Ryoko put her weapons down, Torren smiled and walked to the door. He peered out and up at a sentry. Using a series of quick hand gestures, he signaled that he was taking their guests out and that he wanted two guards to shadow them, but out of sight. He didn't think that the guards were nescessary, but he didn't want to get in trouble for breaking regulations. He was in enough trouble already with Mazon. When he was done, he turned to Maura. "I assure you that no one will take your weapons. This tower is under heavy guard at all times. As i said, you will get them back once we've spoken with my superiors. For now, however, i think we could all do with a good bite to eat." Clasping his hands lightly behind his back, Torren waited for Mela, Maura, and Tyza to comply.
Tyza lifted his hands into the air, as if signifying consent, "Seeing as I don't think I have much of a choice, I guess that means I'm in, doesn't it?" He flashed a grin at Torren, along with a cheeky little wink.
Maura grunted and followed the others and put her weapons down on the ground.
Ryoko nodded to Torren's statement and laughed as her stomach made audible its want for food. "Well, we haven't eaten since before the storm. Water is hardly something to quench our appetite. Some food would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. We follow after you, Torren." Ryoko purred absent-mindedly and went to stand by the door.
Mela nodded and said :" Well I have to comply as well."
She put her weapons under Torren's legs. "Here."
The two guards, who weren't really guarding the post, but the gate, looked at Torren and nodded. They found the whole thing odd, however, as the normal procedure was just for newcomers to be taken to the Ruling Council and then they could become established in Hidden Dune. After all, it was not like anyone could leave town with the invisibility illusion up, as it was coupled with a barrier.
Once everyone had set down their weapons, Torren nodded his approval and pushed the door to the guard tower the rest of the way open so that they could all exit. He had seen the accepting nods of the guards outside and knew everything was fine. Once they were all in the streets, Torren closed the door behind him and headed down a broad, main street that lead, eventually, to the center of the city. They wouldn't be going that far yet though. At the moment, he was looking for his favorite eatery.
As they all walked down the street, Torren kept silent and let everyone take in the sights and sounds of the city. When they finally found the eatery he was looking for, he smiled and pointed. "Here we are. This place has the best food in the city. At least i think so." Once inside, Torren looked around and waved his arm, trying to flag down a waitress. He was starving and hoped that they could all get seated and get something to eat soon. Afterall, they did have other business to attend to.
Mela followed Torren. AT the time, she felt little hunger, although she usually could stay days on little food. It looked like the desert storm took most of her strength and she wanted to recooperate it with some food.
Ryoko walked just behind Torren's right side and by Mela. "How incredible is it to have such a vast city completely shrouded and invisible to the world? I mean, the architecture...why would you want to hide this place?" She questioned softly. Her voice was calm and even, though growing a little excited upon the prospect of food. It had been a few days, since their rations had been low from the storm. The only thing they had had since was water.
Sana walked quietly hidden behind Ryoko, dodging off glances from the townsfolk, overhearing the conversation, she couldn't help but noticethat Hidden Dune was not really a vast city, from what she could see it would qualify mostly as a large town, probably not a quarter of the size of Ajdanen. But city of town, it didn't matter, Ryoko's comment wasn't any less truthful, it was surprising a town could be hidden in the middle of the desert. "Where do you get all the water?" she managed to mumble, being more familiar with living in a desert city than the others, she knew water was the absolute lifeline of any settlement.
Torren hailed a nearby waitress, a caerhamian girl not past 14 years of age, her name was Mianna and she was the proprietor's youngest daughter, who helped around in the small inn/tavern. They seldom had much business, since travellers never really visited Hidden Dune. But the tavern was a popular place for searchers, Torren partly hoped he would run into Mazon, so he could ask for advice as to how to introduce Sana to the Ruling Council. "Oh, Hello Mr.Rumani, what can I get you?" she asked. Searchers alwaysate for free, the council paid their expenses, since they were what could be called government officials.
Torren looked up at the young waitress and smiled. "Hello, Mianna. How are you today?" The question was more rhetorical than anything. He asked it every single time he came in and it had become habit. "I'm in the mood for something mild but filling. Is there any way i could get rice or noodles? Just a big bowl of either would be great."
"Ok then" replied cheerfully Mianna as she noted down Torren's order. "Uhm... will your friends be eating from your, uh.. tab? She asked, not quite sure how to phrase the question. Then as the girl noticed Sana, she mumbled something and looked away, trying not to stare, after all, it was the first time a pureblooded Dah'kin came to Hidden Dune.
Tyza looked around the small place, smiling in spite of himself. This reminded him of so many places he'd been in his life. He thn noticed the girl's glance at Sana and quirked an eyebrow, saying nothing but suddenly thinking it wasn't a good idea for him to have surrendered his weapon. These people could react any way to Sana, and there wasn't much he could do without his katana.
Torren smiled up at Mianna and nodded. "Yes, they will be eating on my "tab". I hope that won't be too much trouble?" Torren always felt a little bad that he always ate for free. Yes, he was a government official because of his Searcher post, but he hated to be a hinderence.
"Yeah.. Hmmm, Torren, considering we don't know what kind of food do you eat over here... could you order for us, or if they wanna order for themselves- for me ? Ssomething you know is good and some water. The climate over here is killing me." said Mela
"Oh, no problem at all." replied Mianna, then, turning to Mela, she answered her question to Torren. "We have mostly Caerhamian and Catfolk food, Roasted Newt, and even redclaw, we don't get much meat though, but we have all manner of fruits and vedgetables from the fields. Oh, we also have Dooner meat and Dooner Milk, which is very good for thirst, better than water if you're dehydrated, our breads are good too, and Dooner cheese!" said the little girl sounding a bit overexcited, but after all, they didn't get new people in Hidden Dune very often.
Ryoko smiled brightly to Mianna and thought for a moment. "Dooner milk? You don't say. I was fortunate to try that once upon a time. It's sweet as I recall, it hit the spot. Would it be a trouble if I asked for some of that, and possibly an assortment of fruits?" She could feel her mouth begin to salivate and tried to maintain composure while respectfully asking.
Maura's ears pricked up at the sound of meat and milk. Grinning she spoke up. "Yeah, i'll have some Dooner milk too and some meat, doesn't matter what, you can pick." she said not caring, just as long as she got something to eat. "and i guess some fruit to."
"Uhm... just some fruit, please.. I don't have much of an apetite." Sana found herself saying in an apologetic tone, though she didn't think she had done anything wrong. The stares of the people in the small pub felt uncomfortable, but Sana detected no hate or resentment in them (most of them anyways).
"How about you?" asked Mianna, speaking to Tyza, who seemed concentrated on something else.
Tyza, who actually hadn't spoken because he wasn't sure what to make of this young girl, simply scratched his head for a few moments, then attempted, rather awkwardly, a smile, "I'll have a plate of roasted vegetables, with a glass of dooner milk, if you don't mind lass."
"Ok then." replied the girl as she wrote down the last order. "Please have a seat while I get your food." she said cheerfully and then darted off towards the kitchen.
"Well, on behalf of the group of us, Torren, I want to say 'thank you'." Ryoko turned to face him as her tail swayed back and forth through the back of the chair. "I think food will hit the spot well, and then we can get things in order about what we're supposed to do. How far of a walk to the Ruling Council?" She questioned curiously.
"You are most welcome, Ryoko. Please, all of you, eat as much as you like. Then, we'll be on our way." Lowering his voice a bit, Torren turned back to Ryoko so that he could address her personally. "This place is the Searcher's Tavern. The ruling council is about a twenty minute walk to the north-east. Not to worry, the walk isn't difficult at all." Smiling, Torren sat back in his chair and waited for Mianna to return with their food.
"Hm, Torren, while we're waiting,can you tell us what to expect from the meeting? I guess you don't have a lot of those considering our whereabuts. And, if fobidden to share those infos, tell us how you came here?" said Mela and stretched her hands, considering to askthe waitress where she ould wash herself before mel and also see the surrounding although she doubtd it would be of help.
Maura looked from Mela to Torren. "I'd like to hear about what's going to happen with the meeting actually." she said, picking up intrest from Mela's first suggestion.
Ryoko looked up from Torren and parted from conversation. "Well, actually Mela, he's already gone through that once. He explained a little of how he came to be here. But, my different questions would be, 'How strict are the members of the ruling council? Do they hug the rules like no other or have a leniency?'"
"Yes, I remember, but this time he could give us more data. This way, it feels like we can't do anything but wait."
Tyza gave Mela a penetrating glare, "Well done. In this city where we know no one, we'll be confined to the end of our days, where to all intents and purposes we're prisoners, you've whittled the entire problem down to one concept: We're being kept waiting. Genius." Tyza didn't mean to be so snappy, but the thought of being confined to one place was abhorrent, totally at odds with his very existence, the life he led was specifically chosen by him because he was able to go where he wanted, when he wanted.
Torren listened to the coversation, then looked down to his folded hands on the table. "I'm afraid that you'll find that the Ruling Council will be very strict about the rules of the city. Outsiders that we bring here do not leave. You will all receive placement in our society, then be encourged to forget your old lives and begin anew. I know that's not a very inviting prospect, but it's the way things have been for a very long time. I understand if that provides no solace." Torren sighed. He was hoping to treat them all to a nice meal, but it seemed that this line of conversation might sour everyone's mood. However, Torren had brought plenty of other travelers to Hidden Dune and that had reacted much worse to the inevitable changes to their lives than these people were now.
"Uhm.. I have a question, if I might..." asked Sana shyly, raising her hand a bit as if she was in school. "I've noticed peopel have been... curious.. about me... is there something I should know?" she asked and immediately afterwards sunk in her chair a bit.
Ryoko turned to Sana and decided it best Torren explain it. Since she was a cub, she had heard the history and exacting revenge on the Dah'kin the Catfolk promised. Being raised away from the majority of the rage and getting to know Sana in her travels, Ryoko was quite comfortable with her. The truth about that certain fact had just now struck a revelation within her mind and she grew nauseous. "Torren?" She looked to Torren and then to Sana. She was afraid of how Sana might take it.
Maura suddenly became tense and grew intensly interested in her own hands.
Torren knew that there was no easy way to answer Sana's question. The best thing to do was tell the truth. He kept his hands folded on the table in front of him as he considered exactly what to say. "Sana, do you remember when you first awoke in the guard tower and i said that you weren't safe here? That applied to everyone, but even more so to you. Dah'kins are feared and hated in this city. Our leaders go to great lengths to ensure that no Dah'kin ever makes it within our borders. Any that we find in the Tyla desert are left to whatever fate the sand brings them. You are the first to be brought to this city by a Searcher." Torren knew that what he had said would only encourage more questions and decided to elaborate further. "I have never encountered a Dah'kin before in my rescues. In my eyes, a person in need is just a person in need, reguardless of race. When i found you all, i didn't care what you were. I brought you all back here because it's my job." Serious eyes looked from person to person at the table, gauging their reactions. "I'm sorry if what i say is less than pleasant, but it's the truth. I'm sorry, Sana...you are still not safe here. However, i will do my best to protect you until the ruling council has made their decisions reguarding you all."
Sana squirmed a bit as if she was uncomfortable as Torren spoke, she stumbled over her own words for a second before finally being able to let out. "I.. I understand that Dah'kin are feared, but things have changed since a few years back haven't they?..." she asked hopefully. "I mean even during the war of corruptions, the Dah'kin and the Catfolk were allies for a while, none of us would've survived without that alliance!" she added and then went silent, noticing a few people in the eatery were looking at her again.
"Here you go!", suddenly a cheerful, girly voice interrupted, as Miana approached from behind Torren, walking carefully and balancing two platters which contained their respective orders. The girl marched to the table and swiftly placed each bowl in front of the person who had ordered as well as some silverware (probably not made of silver though) and drink. "I'll write it off onto the Searcher's tab." she said to Torren. "Enjoy!" she added with a bow and quickly rushed over to another group of customers.
Tyza pulled his food towards him, eyeing the silverware as if testing it mentally for proficiency as a weapon. Actually, given that latest revelation, he probably was. Almost to himself, but actually directed at Torren, he nearly snarled, "So I left my sword back in that tower, trusting myself to your graces, only to be told that one of our party, actually my employer, isn't safe here? Why shouldn't I get up and walk straight back out?" As he finished, he pointedly picked up a pair of knives, very deliberately slicing vegetables into chunks. Anyone who misinterpreted that action would have to be blind.
Overcome with hunger Maura hardly payed attention to the others around her and began tasting all that she had ordered with vigor. As soon as she had taken the edge off her hunger and was able to properly chew every bite without a sudden urge from her stomach to swallow immediately, she turned to Tyza and nodded in agreement. "When we are ready to leave, there's nothing you people can do to keep us here. I don't care if nobody has ever left this city, we will be the first. Me and my party have been through alot together, we've had some losses, but we've made it out alright in the end, this will be just the same." she said with confidence and stuborness.
Ignoring the obvious threat Tyza made, at least until they were full of energy and food, Mela grabbed some food and begun chewing. Tyza had to wait a better oportunity, but she understood his position. She shared it.
"Uhm.. Tyza..." said Sana softly as the fencer spoke. "Let's not get violent.. please?" she asked with a sweet yet somewhat disheartened smile as she reached for some water. "Is there truly no way the ruling council will let us go?" she asked Torren after having a small drink of water.
Maura turned to Sana. "It doesn't matter if they will let us go, we'll just go when we want to."
Torren thanked Miana with a warm smile and nod of the head. He watched as Tyza sliced into his food, the insinuation not lost on him. He chose to ignore it and carefully picked up his own bowl of food and began eating. Inbetween bites, he spoke softly. "I'm afraid that walking out isn't an option...yet. There are guards shadowing us everywhere. If you go anywhere without me, then they'll detain you under rather unpleasant circumstances. I'm sorry, but for now, this is the way things are going to have to be." Torren continued eating, the food absolutely delicious. His eyes turned back to Sana. "You may plead your case to the council, yes. To be honest, i don't know what they'd say. I can only say that to my knowledge, none that have ever been brought to this city have ever left." A comforting smile spread on his lips. "Don't abandon hope. You may yet get what you want." The minutes passed and Torren put his empty bowl on the table. His stomach was full, and despite the sour meal conversation, he was happy. "Well, whenever you're all done, we can head for the ruling council. You'll all be able to plead your case."
Ryoko instinctively, and rather comically, lapped up some of the wonderous dooner milk as Torren spoke, occasionally stopping to nuzzle her face and whiskers into her forearm. "Whatever we do, we need to give it our best effort." She took a few bites here and there at her meal and finished up. She licked at the glass that had had the milk and then sat back contently. "I don't know about the rest of you... but having a meal, especially such a delicious one for the longest time, most certainly hits the spot. Living off of our rations and water, if that, for days and weeks on end can get rather stale at times."
Sana took a few more bites of fruit and a gulp of water before putting her bowl down and smiling. She didn't need to say she had finished, as Dah'kin were usually of lean builds, it was understandable that they never ate much.
Tyza simply sat with a sour expression on his face, eating the meal without really tasting a morsel. His eyes never left Torren, despite the silken words he'd spoken. Once he'd finished, Tyza pushed his plate away from himself and nursed the remnants of his drink, his expression turning from sour to calculating. If guards were shadowing them, then there would have to be a changing of shifts at some point.The trick would be to get around the guards as they changed over - Evade teir tags, and they'd be able to sneak away. "Well, I'm finished. Let's hurry up and go to this damned council thing-a-ma-jig and get all this sorted out."
Mela nodded: "I'm done, also. Sooner we go to the Council, sooner we'll know what happens next." She lifted up and streched a bit.
Torren finished his meal in silence, his eyes lowered and head hung slightly. Despite his relaxed demeanor, he was put on guard by Tyza's recent change in attitude. If things turned ugly, and he prayed they didn't, then he would have to be prepared to act. Finally, after pushing his bowl away, Torren sat back and spoke for the first time since he had started eating. "As soon as everyone finishes eating, we will depart for the council." One hand raised and waved in a very deliberate gesture. He was trying to summon one of the guards shadowing them so that they could run ahead and alert the council as to their coming.
The group marched slowly towards the council building as if they were part of a funeral march. Though the city was bustling with activity, the group's mood had been affected by the idea that they might not be able to leave the city of Hidden Dune ever again. The Council Building was a tall zigurat pyramid which held all administrative offices for the town. Everything was heavily regulated by a council of old Mancers, supposedly lead by Ur-Atum, though no one had seen the founder in years, it was known that for safety, he lived in chambers in the underground levels of the zigurat. The group climbed the stairs and stopped before a large pair of brass doors on the highest levels, the doors were flanked by two guards, looking completely stoic.
Mela widened her eyes as she looked at the guards. "Look..." she said to Tyza showing at the guards with a nodd.
Maura could barely keep the difiance out of her furiously glowing eyes. She could feel the heat of her anger running down her spin and through her finger tips. They were going to leave the Hidden Dune and she believed that fiercly.
Ryoko's eyes squinted sharply in minor alert towards the active guards. They posed no threat but if a sudden outburst were to occur from either Maura or Tyza, they would all be on the brunt for punishment. They were all still unarmed with the exception of Torren. She gazed her glossy orbs to Tyza, Maura, and the remainder of the party members. Despite evading her stare, Ryoko's legs kept obeying their orders and marching onwards after Torren.
Torren kept his pace steady as he approached the heavy council doors with his charges. He nodded politely to the two guards but didn't expect a reaction from either of them. The twin doors in front of them barred their way. Torren knocked firmly three times and waited for someone to answer. He hoped that they were at least expected and that their arrival wouldn't be a complete surprise to anyone.
Noting the guards at the door, Tyza frowned. If they posted sentries, they might actually expect trouble and this city didn't seem like the sort of place where guards would go untrained. Resolvingto behave himself, at least until he got his sword back, Tyza faced front and nodded to Mela, indicating he'd taken notice of the guards in front of them. He also laid a restraining hand on Maura's shoulder, on the off chance that she was thinking of doing something stupid.
Holding on softly to Tyza's sleeve, Sana marched up the stairs with the others, her head now adorned with a straw hat to protect her eyes from the sun.
After a few seconds, the huge doors opened up, revealing a cool circular marble room, with a tall dome like ceiling. Around the room's wall were several slit like windows which let in the golden light of the sun. And at the very top of the wall there was another orifice which let in a much large beam of light, the light fell directly on the center of the room. On the side of the room opposite to the door and on a semicircle were 5 tall marble chairs, more like slender throned and anything else. The center chair, tipped with gold and taller than the others, was vacant, and had been so for years, since Ur-Atum no longer left his chambers deep within the zigurat. On each of the other chairs sat a cloaked figure in a black robe, the robes were trimmed with red, blue, yellow and greenm starting from the left. The figure in yellow spoke first with an old male voice. "Come in and stand in the light." it said, producing a deep echo in the room.
Maura surpressed a growl and started clenching and unclenching her now sweating palms. Remembering Tyza's hand on her shoulder she bit back a sharp comment and nodded towards him to tell him she woudln't do anything stupid for now then stepped hesitantly forward into the light all her senses wary and on fire.
Ryoko glanced to the fiery lynx clanswoman and narrowed her eyes cautiously. Obediently she stepped forward as well, slightly in front of Maura. She always felt she had had a good relation with the young girl and as such felt protective in even the smallest of situations. However, now was not different, but... it was not small. Ryoko felt the intimidation of the presence the four robed ones held and felt that respect was in order. Glancing around to Maura and the other members of the group, she hoped they would follow. Bowing her head, Ryoko knelt down on one knee, the other perpendicular to the marble and holding her folded hands. She kept her head hung forward for a few more seconds before raising her eyes to the four stern figures. She turned her orbs warily to Torren, a slight quiver pulsating in them, and then back to the four 'elders'. "Permission to speak, your Sires." She purred reverently.
Maura let out a sigh more like steam escaping an enclosed area but followed Ryoko and bowed her head respectfully.
Torren bowed deep to the four robed figures while simultaneously dropping to one knee. "These are the travelers the Searchers have found in the Tyla Desert, m'lords." He didn't mean to interrupt Ryoko's request, but he felt it important to make introductions before any major business began. It would do no good for things to begin without anyone knowing who the others were. Torren could feel the tension in the air and kept a light hand on the hilt of his sword. He didn't know if anyone brought before the council had ever become violent in order to gain their freedom from the city, but he didn't want the first incidence to happen while he was on duty.
Maura kept Torren and the four robed figures in her sights with her eyes slitted but she kept silent and kept her head bowed. What little fur she had compared to the other catfolk was starting to bristle warrily.
Mela slowly walked into the light, still watching the huge room, but she also managed to take a good look at the cloaked figures. She nodded and stood silent until the elders spoke again.
Tyza, having followed Maura into the light, made his deference by striking his heart with his right fist, bending sharply forward in a bow, then standing in front of Sana to mask her fropm, view slightly. If Dah'kin weren't welcome here, he'd be damned if they'd get to her before him.
Mela turned to see what was holding them, and noticed Tyza's movement. She understood clearly what it meant and she'd be first to help him, but she didn't think Elders would make such a move in this place, at least until they spoke first.
"As I was requesting, sires; not to sound or come off as brash, but I think the lot of us would appreciate a quick "trial" if you will. My only foreword to your judging is only this: we didn't ask to be saved or taken in here." Ryoko bowed her head once more and awaited the decision they would make.
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