Enfanti sat in Delga’s lap. She always did so when she was distressed in some way, allowing her master’s fur to sooth her as his arms wrapped around her. “This doesn’t make sense,” she muttered.
“This isn’t like the Diamond Consortium,” mused Delga. “They don’t allow for gaps in their security.”
“That’s not what I meant, Master,” corrected Enfanti. “It’s the motive of the case. Why kill Lord and Lady Varsek? They’ve done nothing to threaten the stability of the Troll Republic.”
“Maybe it has nothing to do with the Diamond Consortium,” guessed Delga. “Maybe this was another red herring.”
“Then why use a poison the Consortium uses?” asked Enfanti. “I ran over the crime scene using my right eye to see if magic was involved and it wasn’t!”
“What other clues are there?” quizzed Delga.
“All we have is a copy of Lord Varsek’s speech,” sighed Enfanti. “I don’t know, maybe there’s something magical in it. Then again, maybe not.”
“It’s worth a shot,” suggested Delga. Enfanti sighed, then stood up and walked to the table the speech laid on. She picked it up and started reading it. As she did, she noticed something magical WAS laced into the speech.
“Master, I think I got something!” she said, excitedly. Delga hurried over to her and listened carefully to her explanation. “It’s a modified truth spell!” she explained. “Woven into the speech’s words is something that relates to a world-shaking truth! If read aloud, the truth would be heard in the heads of all who listened to it!”
“Maybe we should read it!” declared Delga.
“I’ll do it!” replied Enfanti. She cleared her throat and began. “Troll-kind was not treated kindly long ago. For a long time, we have been treated like dogs and our intellectual pursuits were halted. One Troll then stood up and told his masters ‘I am a living creature that deserves dignity!’ That one Troll sparked a revolution during Dwelga’s enslavement of all Troll subspecies. It took our ancestors a lot of time, but we soon became free. That one Troll’s sacrifice was not done in vain. Now, here we are, enjoying life as is our right, free from fear of the Slaver’s lash! Free from fear of being declared too clever. Free from fear of being watched! To this day, I thank that one Troll for getting us to where we are today! Let Belnak’s sacrifice be forever immortalized. Today, as I said in the past and will continue to say in the future, I do not fear those who would try to enslave us! I will fight them every step of the way!” As she read, the truth entered their minds. “…I don’t believe it!” she whispered.
“The Diamond Consortium is attempting to bring slavery back!” hissed Delga. “Why?!”
“You will never know!” boomed a voice. Mr. Bling’s fist then smashed into Delga’s skull. Enfanti quickly summoned ice armor all over herself, but she didn’t have time to harden it fast enough as Mr. Bling knocked her out with just one punch. His goons then came in. “Get them to headquarters quickly!” he ordered. “I will not allow our plans to make Dwelga whole be ruined!”
Thangred was busy pounding out any dents the Endeavor suffered on the trip to Falgreth. The problems the ship had suffered were being solved in record time. “Thank goodness for the Under-realm Engineer’s Guild,” he sighed. “Hey, Borshek, where’s Delga? I want to give him my thanks.”
“I haven’t seen him in a while,” replied a female Orc.
“Huh?” quizzed Thangred. “That’s not like him at all. Could someone find him?”
“I’ll take a gander,” called Lorsek, a male Werewolf. He took off, sniffing all the way, until he stopped at an alley’s entrance. He then took deeper sniffs and smelt fear, panic, blood, and secrecy. He took an even deeper sniff and determined the people that went down the alley. Panic seized his heart and he ran back to the Endeavor. “Where’s Arsha?!” he yelped.
“She and Dalengor are at L’obscurité Belle,” answered Borshek. “That café down the street. Why?”
“I have reason to believe that Delga and Enfanti were kidnapped!” revealed Lorsek. That got their attention!
“I’ll get them here!” called Thangred. He took off at an impressive speed.
“Okay, how?!” asked Lorsek.
“Haven’t you heard?” chuckled Borshek. “Dwarves are natural sprinters.”
“That was sprinting?!” gasped Lorsek. The instant he asked the question, something sparked on the hull of the ship. “Oh for…I JUST FIXED THAT!”
“Let’s try again!” sighed Borshek.
Arsha and Dalengor were treating themselves to the richest dark chocolate cake in all the Realms, found only in the Under-realm. They had a special outdoor seat at L’obscurité Belle, the finest café in the Under-realm, serving the best pastries and coffee, Chocolate was a favorite with Arsha. She ate slowly to savor the taste. Dalengor had already finished hers and was waiting for Arsha to finish. “Why you insist on eating dessert slowly,” she growled, “I can’t fathom. We have a five-year mission to get cracking on!”
“Sometimes, one needs to make time for enjoyment,” replied Arsha.
“This isn’t a pleasure cruise!” insisted Dalengor.
“Look, we’re here until the case surrounding Lord and Lady Varsek’s deaths is closed,” countered Arsha. “Besides, savoring sweets during a case like this helps me to think clearly. I would rather not be crashing into walls in a panic or act so uptight. Captains who are totally authoritarian tend to have their crews wound up so tight that there’s no joy in their work. In short, I’m doing this for my health and the health of the crew. Also, I can give a more accurate description of my food if I savor it.” A teasing grin then crossed her face. “Shall I describe it?”
“No, thank you,” grunted Dalengor as she folded her arms across her chest.
“Look, if an emergency comes up,” Arsha assured her best friend, “then it’s all business. I can take this to go and we’ll make the necessary prepar…do you hear that?”
“It sounds like a Dwarf sprinting,” realized Dalengor. Arsha held her hands up to her eyes like binoculars and cast a spell on them to have the same function as binoculars. She looked up the street to see a ball of dust coming down.
“It IS a Dwarf sprinting!” she revealed. “It’s Thangred!”
“Why’s he sprinting?” asked Dalengor.
“We’re about to find out,” replied Arsha. “He’s slowing down.” Thangred stopped at their table.
“Your Highness, the situation has gone bad!” he called. “We have reason to believe that Delga and Enfanti were kidnapped!”
“What?!” yelped Arsha as she stood up.
“What happened?!” roared Dalengor as she followed suit.
“Lorsek found their scents,” explained Thangred. “He can explain better than I could.”
“Let’s get going!” declared Arsha. She keyed in a command on the table and a box appeared for her cake. When she got the cake in the box, she waved a crystal cube the size of her palm over the table. The resulting cha-ching was an indication that her payment was successful. She and Dalengor then joined Thangred out on the sidewalk. Arsha then made teal flames appear at the tips of three of her tails and formed the points of an equilateral triangle with them. She then snapped her fingers and they were instantly transported back to the Endeavor. She handed her take-out box to a Drider crewman and told him to put it in her ready room’s fridge. As the Drider hurried off to obey, Arsha approached Lorsek. “I understand you sniffed out a kidnapping?” she asked. Lorsek then explained the story up to the point where Thangred sprinted off to find Arsha.
“You sprinted an entire street to get to us?” quizzed Dalengor. “That’s impressive.”
“What’s even more impressive,” remarked Arsha, “was that someone successfully kidnapped Delga and Enfanti. Delga’s a knight for the Under-king and Enfanti was trained by Rekarshii herself. They’re not the easiest of targets.”
“Orders, Captain?” asked Dalengor.
“I want a constant two-member patrol,” ordered Arsha. “They are to do everything in their power to find Delga and Enfanti.”
“I’ll organize it immediately,” affirmed Dalengor.
“Thangred,” commanded Arsha once Dalengor set off to do her duty, “I need all wands tuned. It may be possible that a firefight may occur.”
“I’ll tune them twice if I need to,” replied Thangred. He headed off to obey and Arsha moved into the elevator.
“Deck?” asked the computer more clearly than last time.
“Bridge,” she directed. The elevator took her to the bridge and the door opened all the way. “Thank you, Under-realm Engineer’s Guild,” she bid. Shalvey and Nazay were talking about something when they saw Arsha. “Shalvey, patch me through to my father and the Under-king,” ordered Arsha. “Delga and Enfanti have been kidnapped and I want them informed. I’ll take it in my ready room.”
“Aye, Captain,” confirmed Shalvey. She called up the two Kings as Arsha entered her opulent ready room. The wall mirror then changed to show Elgrad and the Under-king, Dark Lord Orbak.
“Arsha,” said Orbak in his usual booming voice. “I wasn’t expecting you yet.”
“Your Majesty, I have grave news,” reported Arsha. “Lord Delga Larkentha and Enfanti Glarosa, Head-member of the Larkentha Family’s Blue Rose Harem, have been kidnapped.”
“Those two?!” yelped Elgrad. “That’s not an easy feat!”
“Indeed not,” agreed Orbak. “Do you believe it to be in relation to Lord and Lady Varsek’s deaths?”
“I see no reason to believe otherwise,” replied Arsha. “This is too much of a coincidence.”
“What have you and Enfanti uncovered that may lead to this?” asked Orbak.
“We discovered,” reported Arsha, “the Varseks were poisoned with something the Diamond Consortium would use.” Orbak then went quiet.
“Orbak?” asked Elgrad.
“There have been rumors,” revealed Orbak, “that the Diamond Consortium has been infiltrated. Hence why their methods are more brutal and primitive these days. I need these rumors investigated now, but I cannot ask you to investigate them, Arsha. I CAN, however, send Malnar to assist.”
“It will be nice to see her again,” said Arsha with a grin. “I just wish it was under better circumstances.”
“She will enjoy seeing you as well,” replied Orbak. “I would expect her early tomorrow morning. Orbak out.” His image faded from the mirror.
“Look at you,” sighed Elgrad. “All grown up and settling into the Captain’s chair comfortably. I predict a great future ahead of you.”
“Thank you, Daddy,” gulped Arsha, “but I’m still nervous. Does it ever go away?”
“To be honest,” replied Elgrad, “those nerves never fully go away until the tour’s over. But, as long as you remember your crew and help them as much as they help you, you will be a successful Captain.”
“I hope so,” sighed Arsha. “I’ll see you around. Arsha out.”
“Love you, sweetie! Good luck!” bid Elgrad as the call ended. Arsha sighed as she sat on her sofa, a small smile on her face.