Kee gave a quick look around the Mule as entered the tavern. He promptly located his desired recipient in a back booth. Being a messenger at Metamor Keep, Kee was use to running all over the place trying to track down the people for whom he carried something of meaning. And knowing this particular recipient, his choices of possible locations were fairly limited.
The coyote morph quickly made his way through the smallish crowd and over to the booth. He smoothly slid in to take up a seat next to the booth's attendant raccoon morph. "Hello, Rickkter. How are things with you?"
<<Kee!>> hailed Rick in Kee's native tongue. He set down his pen and cleared away some of the piles of handwritten papers and few books that littered the table. Kee had heard that the warrior mage like to do some of his miscellinatious work at the Mule. It was said that he found the atmosphere helped him work, and besides food and drink were never far away. Rick had a half full glass of tea admist the papers this morning. He gave the small coyote a customary eastern greeting before inquiring as to the messenger's purpose.
"Well, it just so happens that I'm carrying something that is of apparent vital import to you."
"Then let's have it, my good courier," urged Rick, slipping back into the common language.
"It's... uh... not written down. It was brought to me in a very usual way. I had a dream last night, and in it I was told to convey this to you." The raccoons brows drew together over the mask around his eyes. He beckoned Kee to continue as he grabed his glass of tea and took a sip off the still slightly warm liquid. "I was told it's nature was of the up-most urgency and that it should only be given to you. Spoken, not written down.
"The message is from one Dyson Hetfield."
Rickkter succeeded in spraying about half a mouthful of tea across the booth, only getting Kee and his papers with the periphery. He quickly choked back the rest of it. "Who did you say gave you the message?" he asked, wiping his muzzle with the back of his paw.
"Dyson Hetfield," replied the perplexed yote, as he wiped a little tea off of his cheek fur.
"That is not possible!" retorted the coon as he leaned over the table. "Dyson is dead! He's been dead for almost ten years, now. It can't be him!"
"He said you would say something like that, though I don't think he figured on such an explosive reaction. He said to remind you that you should realize that he's not that easy a person to find, and that he knows Legani better then almost anyone. Even so, he said that it's only now that They have let up the search for him, writing him off for dead."
"This... this is just too unbelievable..." muttered the raccoon, cradling his head in one paw as he rubbed the fur above one eye. "How can I be even sure that the message is from him?"
"He said that when you asked that, that I should remind you of the last thing he said before departing that night. It was, atop of mount Dundalark there sits a mural carved by beings who were said to be old when the universe was young. It is said that this mural is one of the greatest works of art that a mortal can behold, and I intend to climb up there, braving the yalises, the translucent-bodied creatures, and even the dreaded simurghs that live on the high windy ledges above the great abyss...'"
Rick waved him off. "Okay, okay. I get the point." He sat rubbing his muzzle in thought for a few minutes, muttering to himself as his gaze wandered amongst the papers in front of him. "What did he look like?"
"He was heavily tanned, as if he had spent many months in the sun. When he came to me, he was wearing baggy black pants, a dark green vest over his well muscled and hairless chest, and a golden pendant on a long chain around his neck. The pendant was made of gold wire twisted into an almost half heart--"
"The signet of Asaruludu..." Rick muttered at a level berley above a whisper.
"-- He had a goatee, a head of light brown hair with a cowlick in front, and spoke in an accent that I'm not wholly familiar with. He also had a tattoo of a tiger going up his forearm."
"Dyson... so it really is him..." said Rick in a hushed tone, his black furred paw stroking his muzzle. He turned back to the coyote. "What was the message? Somehow I doubt that he would break years of silence of hiding out in Legani just to say hi."
"No, he didn't," sighed Kee. He really had to get back to his regular duties, but this message was far too interesting for him not to find out its meaning. "He said his purpose was two fold. First, to let you know that he was still alive, and second to ask for your help. He made reference to Them again, said that They had taken measures to entrap him should he attempt return by the normal routes. He requested your assistance in aiding his return."
Rickkter vehemently shook his head. "No. If he knew what was going on, he would never have asked that of me."
"Actually, he says that he does. Now at first, I figured that he would make reference to your change, but it wasn't that. He said he knew your Keeper prevented you from taking such actions, so he would never ask that you undertake it personally. He wanted me to ask you to try and contact someone that could, and that you would know who he was referring to." Rickkter nodded his head as he listened to the yote talk. "He also wanted to warn you that your Keeper, while a sentient entity, is also a portal for Them to keep an eye on things. Dyson said in addition, that They do not watch all the time, only some of it. But that you have no way of knowing when They are--"
Rick cut Kee off. "I know that already. That the little bastard is incredibly adaptive at its blocks and tricks, but I do realize something of its inner nature. Did Dyson say how he managed to hide all these years? Legani is also known to Them and more then a few of Their servents."
"He mentioned it briefly. He said, since no one knows what's beyond the Pillars of Davidson, he would sailing going there, if only as an attempt to prolong the inevitable. Turns out that it worked better then expected, and that he was able to elude Them until They ceased looking four years ago. Even then, he couldn't be sure that They were truly gone. He waited all this time, because he couldn't risk not being sure."
"All right, Kee. When you see Dyson again, tell him that I'll try and contact the Foundation and see if they can do anything to help. I don't even know if they're still practising the ancient art or not, but I can try. Was there anything else?"
"No, that was it. Oh, he did say that while your Keeper always has its eye on you, and while deception of it is possible, you also should know that it does not report everything. Only that which is in clear violation. But even still, it is a good idea that you are careful about what you say and do. And that he would still like to get back to see you again, if possible."
"So why risk sending this message to me?"
Kee shrugged his shoulders. "He said that he didn't think it would fall within the parameters of a voliation. You know enough not to mention any name and the like, that would alert the Keeper. He told me that it was your Keeper that allowed him to track you in the first place. Its magic is tied to the worlds beyond, to Their will. And if you're careful in your contact of the--"
But the warrior mage cut him off again. "Thank you very much, Kee. This has been both an enlightening and disturbing conversation. Very disturbing," he said as he drumed his claws on the table. "Tell Dyson that I will try and see what I can arrange with the others to try and help him, and that I will take his advice in the other matters."
"That's not a problem, Rick. But the one thing I want to know about all this, is where are the places that he mentioned? I know of a few strange places, and I've never heard of locations named Dundalark or Legani, nor creatures called yalis or simurgh. Where is Dyson?"
Rick's tongue licked the sides of his muzzle a moment while trying to decide how to answer. "A place that I journeyed to many years ago. A place I can never go to again. That's... about all I can really tell you about it, Kee. Let's just say that it's a very long story."
"And the Keeper?" inquired the yote, his ears swivelling to hear the answer.
"That is my own problem," said the warrior with a suddenly hard look. "It doesn't concern you, nor anyone else."
Kee knew when he delving into something dangerous. From the look that Rickkter was giving him, he was toeing that line right now. And warrior-mages are not the best people to cross. "Then I'll be on my way. I have other messages to deliver, but it was still good talking to you again Rick." The coyote messenger was halted in his departure when the mage called his name.
"Did Dyson say why he had picked you?"
Kee considered that for a moment. "I thought to ask him that myself. He said it was something about my being the most psychically receptive person in your immediate vicinity whom he could be certain the relaying of the message wouldn't adversely affect. Whatever that last part means, I'm not entirely sure. He said he would have contacted you sooner, but he couldn't track you very well, what with all your moving around. By the time he found a person receptive enough for his needs, you had moved on. He didn't send it to you because it would have tipped your Keeper off instently. He told me that while he took percautions in the sending, he would move far away from that location as soon as he was finnished."
<<Thank you my friend,>> said Rick before dismissing Kee with a traditional eastern blessing and a worried look. Metamor's messenger jogged quickly down the halls on the way to his next delivery, wondering both about the message and the ensuing conversation. And he worried about the next message from this enigmatic Dyson when next the strange man choose to invade his dreams.