Seitung Harbour, the entrance to the East. Our ship rolled and rocked as it approached the long wooden peir. Brother Mhenlo standing beside me with feet splayed, breathed in deeply but his young face seemd worried as he stared grimly ahead. Once more his fingers brushed the foldied piece of paper tucked into his shirt. Cynn frowned at him, her bright blue eyes appearing to frost over and she moved closer to him, whispering softly in his ear.
Words between lovers I assumed, smiling to myself and turned away, staring at the scene ahead. It seemed months since we had left Tyria for this new country of Cantha. Strange and exotic. I had never imagined visiting such places growing up as a child in Ascalon. But then, I had already seen and done things no child should ever have to.
I looked up startled by my reverie as the ship hit the side of the dock. Men were running about throwing ropes and things, yelling at each other in a strange language. Bare feet pounded on the wooden boards. I drew a deep breath and turned to my companions.
Mhenlo gave Cynn’s hand a squeeze and spoke quietly to one of the deck hands, bowing low in respect. The deckhand looked at him surprised, repeating the gesture bowing low with his hands in front of him.
“Master Togo will be at the Temple.” Mhenlo said with a soft smile, translating for us. “Perhaps it would be best if you and Aimee wait in Kaineng City, I can have word sent ahead to the Palace, the Emporer -”
“Where you go, I go.” Cynn said defiantly with shake of her blonde head. She glared at Mhenlo.
He smiled at her, soft and amused and nodded, his bald head glinting in the afternoon sunlight. Pressing a few coins into the deckhands palm, he gave another short bow and stepped ashore. I allowed Cynn to follow up and then joined them. The pier was new and adjoined a much older wooden flooring that led up to the moss covered wall that surrounded the city. Kaineng City. High above the walls, a brilliant red banner flew. The sigil of a golden dragon filled the sky.
Mhenlo again spoke quietly to a young boy, a child of perhaps twelve or younger. The boy sprang to his feet and pulled our bags from our fingers, dropping them into a push cart.
“I’ve asked him to take them on for us. We will stay in the capital tonight. I must speak with the Emperor. He may know more. If Master Togo is at the Temple -”
Mhenlo broke off again, his face clearly worried as two young women approached. “Emi, Cho!” He said delightedly and kissed them both on the cheek.
“Master Togo sent us.” One of the dark haired girls said quietly with a smile. The other hung back sulkily, her fingers gripping her long braid.
“Emi, Cho are twins, we grew up together at the orphanage.” Mhenlo said quietly, his face tinging pink. “Girls, may I introduce the Lady Cynn Bashere, and Lady Aimee Greenleaf of the the Ascalon Academy.”
“Welcome to Cantha.” Emi smiled pleasantly once more, her sister Cho seemed to grow sullen but fell in step with us as we moved towards the stone stair case.
“Twins?” I heard Cynn say seethingly between clenched teeth. “How come you never mentioned either one of them, twins no less!?”
Mhenlo looked at her and smiled but appeared wary of her – perhaps with good reason. He opened his mouth as if to speak but we all turned in another direction as a woman screamed ahead of us.
Strange creatures jumped down from the landing above, and slashed at Cynn’s face with a talon that looked sharp as a knife. It turned to ash at her feet, and she turned in fury towards another of the creatures, this time its intended victim was Emi.
“You are mine to deal with.” The Elementalist snarled, hurling a ball of molten lava into the air. It surrounded the strange creature, it half snarled, half wimpered and melted into a puddle between the twin girls.
Cho took one look at it, her face going pale. “I will have to tell the Master about this.” Her voice quivered and she ran.
“What was that?” I breathed, glancing at what was left of my arrows. I would need to get more feathers or find a decent fletcher in the city.
Mhenlo studied the remains, his fingers stroking his chin. “I am not sure.” He said at last in a low voice. “I will need to confere with Master Togo. Unfortunately, this cannot wait. We must go the the villiage of Seitung at once. We can walk from there to the Monastary.”