Ardes 17, 5681---The cell was dark and dank, with a cold puddle in one corner. After a month locked in the brig of a ship, the cell was somewhat better. Tora’Sor no longer had any fears of sinking in a storm or someone throwing her to her death in the sea. The entire incarceration was wrong, but Tora’Sor could do nothing to argue the point. She swore an oath to maintain secrecy about her origin, and after the unfounded accusation of the Dark Magician Vit Kumoz, no one believed she was not an agent from the Underground, at least no one with influence.
She paced along one wall of the cell, avoiding the corner with the puddle. There were not many options for escape. The Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar left the cell rigged to destroy her if she attempted to use her powers. The only person to ever visit her was the jailor, and only to bring food. She wondered where the water in the corner came from. Perhaps the cell was too deep underground, or maybe the sea was on the other side of the wall. It was useless to attempt to find out. If the wall held back the sea, attempting to excavate a hole could drown her. Only two days---or at least she guessed it was two days---since Prince Nomolo had her thrown off the ships and into the cell at Meda, Tora’Sor decided the only chance of escape would be from someone else. Still, she was confident escape would come, possibly from a friend or perhaps even the Lunari. She just needed to be patient. She sat down on the bedding to wait.
“I never imagined you would ever stoop to such lows,” a familiar voice said.
Tora’Sor looked around. The cell was dark, although her time with Sushala’Mol made it easy for her to make out her surroundings. There was no one else in the room, but she knew she heard the voice. “Niahla’Sen? Is that you?” She hoped it was her friend who’d rescued her from the Underground and spent several years traveling with her across Etnyben.
“Yes,” the woman replied. “Rarla’Nun sent me to make sure you made it out of here. She said you should be at Eranithon, and she trusts you whether you’re from the Underground or not.”
“Why can’t I see you?” Tora’Sor asked. “I didn’t even know you were with the fleet.”
“I had a small accident while studying at Atalan,” Niahla’Sen admitted. “I’m not sure what I did, but no one can see me now. Well, no one except Rarla’Nun, who noticed the change immediately from across the city.”
“What were you studying that could possibly do such a thing?” Tora’Sor wondered. She felt Niahla’Sen sit down on the bedding beside her, but still couldn’t see the person.
“The Lunari do so many wonderful things we can only begin to imagine,” Niahla’Sen replied. “Josloy wrote several times about them emerging from walls or the ground, and I wanted to know how that was possible.”
“It seems you figured it out,” Tora’Sor decided.
“Not exactly,” Niahla’Sen said. “I can pass through walls, but it’s difficult, like trying to swim through thick mud. Even walking is hard since I tend to sink. The effect is interesting, but I’m growing annoyed since I can’t find a way to reverse it.”
“Can you get me out of here?” Tora’Sor asked.
“No,” Niahla’Sen answered, “but I found someone who can. Captain Kiiyu should be along any moment now.”
Tora’Sor remembered the pirates who provided Josloy’s expedition with shelter in a storm earlier that year, and then transportation all the way back to Atalan. His influence in Meda was quite large since the Overlord put him in charge of the region. “I thought he would be sailing with the Queen of the Sea to Irata,” she decided.
“It’s a big sea,” Niahla’Sen replied. “Unless their paths cross near enough, neither would ever know what the other was doing. I suppose they missed each other six months back, or perhaps she thinks he will be of more use to her here.”
“How did you convince him to help us?” Tora’Sor asked.
Niahla’Sen chuckled. “What would you do if a disembodied voice told you to do something? I made sure to tell him enough of what happened that he wasn’t imagining things, but he still isn’t very relaxed about me being this way.”
“I don’t blame him,” Tora’Sor said. “I find it very disturbing myself. Still, it’s nice to know you’re alright. The last I’d heard, no one had heard from you in weeks.”
“Rarla’Nun told me to keep it a secret,” Niahla’Sen said. “If others in the Sisterhood knew I could pass through walls, they would lock me up worse than they have you. It’s the same way with Rarla’Nun’s ability to see through walls. She’s careful that people never know if she’s joking or serious about it since people are afraid of someone peering into their private business. The Sisterhood does not like those who are different or unnatural.”
“They also don’t like people with a questionable background or who’ve been held captive in the Underground,” Tora’Sor added. “Three years as their captive left such a mark on me that a Dark Magician thought I was born there. I don’t know anyone in the Sisterhood who knows what that mark might be, and neither do I, but the mention if it is enough to condemn me.”
“I can’t help you with that,” Niahla’Sen decided, “but I do intend to get you out of here.”
About that time, Tora’Sor heard footsteps and the jingle of keys in the corridor outside the cell. The door soon opened, and a familiar pirate stepped into the room with a torch. “It looks like I found the right cell,” he decided, glancing at Tora’Sor.
Tora’Sor shielded her eyes from the torchlight. “Who else knows you are helping me escape?”
“Only my crew, the city elders, the dock master and his workers, everyone living within ten blocks of the jail, the jailor, and three boys I recruited to carry your belongings, so other than the parade gathering to escort us to the docks, practically no one at all,” Captain Kiiyu answered sarcastically.
“It sounds like you signed your own execution orders,” Tora’Sor said grimly.
Captain Kiiyu nodded. “The Prince will hear of this, certainly, but a strange voice told me it was in my best interest.”
Niahla’Sen laughed. “I only said a High Mistress in the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar ordered her rescue.”
“Well, come on,” Captain Kiiyu urged, stepping back out of the cell. “We’d best get to the ships so we can set sail before sundown. I can’t imagine why the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar would go back on its own orders, but I’m not one to question that kind of power. If anything, I’ll just say I was coerced.”
Tora’Sor stood up, and walked to the door of the cell. “Niahla’Sen, are you coming?”
“I’ll be following right behind you as fast as I can,” Niahla’Sen answered. “Just don’t set sail until I tell you I’m on the ship.”
“We won’t,” Tora’Sor promised. She left the cell, and followed Captain Kiiyu. The narrow corridor seemed longer than it really was as they passed the doors to several other cells. They soon emerged into the guardroom of the jail. The jailor sat to one side, his chair leaning against the wall, and his feet up on the table. The three boys Captain Kiiyu mentioned were there also, each holding some of Tora’Sor’s belongings.
“I take it you found what you came for,” the jailor said.
“I sure did, Valus,” Captain Kiiyu replied, tossing the jailor a small pouch of coins. “Thanks for the help.” He motioned for the three boys to follow, and stepped out through the door.
Tora’Sor followed. It was night with no one in sight. “Where’s the parade you promised?” she asked.
“I guess they got lost,” Captain Kiiyu grinned. “Let’s hurry to the ship before anyone realizes who you are.” He ducked down an alley with Tora’Sor and the boys following. “You may call me a pirate, but I am not an idiot. No one knows about this yet, although they’ll find out by morning. Besides, I owe you this favor.”
“I appreciate the rescue, but you don’t owe me anything,” Tora’Sor argued. “I saved you from the Queen of the Sea, and you gave us passage to Atalan.”
They crossed a street, and continued down another alley. “You’ve done more for me than I’ve done for you,” Captain Kiiyu continued. “Besides, I heard about the circumstances that led up to your incarceration. Anyone whose presence can unnerve a Dark Magician as you did is not our enemy.”
“I take it Niahla’Sen told you,” Tora’Sor said. She looked behind her. “Niahla’Sen, are you still there?” There was no answer.
Captain Kiiyu stopped, and grabbed Tora’Sor’s shoulders. “We’re getting you to the ship. Once there, you can worry about your friend all you want. Until then, keep your mouth shut, especially if it’s about someone I can’t see. Any questions?” Tora’Sor shook her head. “Good. I won’t set sail until you tell me to, so you can worry about her on the ship.” He released her, and they continued down the alley.
When they reached the ship, one of the sailors said there were three hours until dawn. Tora’Sor sat on the deck with her back against the mast to wait for Niahla’Sen to arrive. Everything seemed confusing to her. From Niahla’Sen’s lack of being to Captain Kiiyu’s conflicting statements, everything seemed strange. The strangeness of the pirate she could understand. They often talked sarcastically or joked with people. Niahla’Sen, on the other hand, surprised her the most. Although the two hadn’t seen each other in almost eight months, finding her friend completely hidden from sight was something Tora’Sor thought she’d never be comfortable with. Tora’Sor also wondered what purpose her rescue could have. What did Rarla’Nun expect her to do on Eranithon that any other member of the Sisterhood of Jadela’Mar couldn’t do? Besides, if the others even saw her, she doubted she would survive the encounter. She looked up at the dark morning sky. “I need answers, Niahla’Sen,” she said softly. “Hurry up!”