After the Sacchrinda Kingdom was declared virus-free, the Endeavor was told to take Malnar to the Galdredan Lava Kingdom to help prepare for the Under-Union Festival. Realmfleet was told that, because of medical reasons, Denstra would be in command of the Endeavor during the preparations. Unfortunately, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Because of the ship staying on the ground so long, the engine core was playing up, causing Endea all sorts of pain. What made it worse was that a Galdredan spring is considered the height of summer for outsiders. This particular Drewakam, a month in the Under-realm calendar just before spring is declared at its height, was a scorcher. As such, temperatures were high, and tempers flared. What made the whole crew uncomfortable was that Arsha’s main nemeses, Tuurk and Talair, the heads of the Realmfleet Financial Board, were lurking around. The Endeavor WAS an old ship and they have long sought to sell it off for scrap. Thanks to new laws being brought about as a result of the Mechanica Rights Trial, they couldn’t scrap a Mechanica ship without express permission from the ship itself. Besides, Endea was still declared “in-service”, so scrapping her was harder for them. That’s not to say that they didn’t try. The two human men approached Denstra, seeing this as an opportunity to get scrapping permission without Arsha around. It didn’t help that Denstra was in a sour mood because of two Ensigns being late for a briefing. They approached Denstra with their usual smarmy smiles. “Oh, Ones,” swore Denstra, “the last people I want in my line of sight!”
“Oh, dear,” mused Talair. “Commander Welmeva doesn’t look very happy to see us, does she, Mr. Tuurk?”
“Indeed not, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk. “We were just moseying around here and heard the Endeavor was here in the Under-realm.”
“In this exact kingdom, no less,” chuckled Talair.
“You know, Arsha’s authorized for me to speak on her behalf while she’s taking care of her affairs,” snarled Denstra. “The Endeavor is still not for you to scrap!”
“We haven’t heard this from the ship herself, have we, Mr. Talair?” remarked Tuurk.
“No, we haven’t, Mr. Tuurk,” answered Talair.
“Well, ask her, if you want confirmation!” snapped Denstra. “She’ll give you the same answer as me!”
“Very well, Commander,” replied Talair. “Come, Mr. Tuurk, we must be off.”
“Yes, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk. “We’ll be off, but we’ll return, and we’ll have the Endeavor one way or another.” They left the room as the two Ensigns bustled in. They nearly collided with the two financiers and apologized to them. The financiers assured them it was all right as they left. The two Ensigns then gulped as they faced Denstra.
“05:25 is when a briefing happens!” snarled Denstra. “What do you two mean by coming in an hour late?!”
“Sorry, Ma’am!” yelped one of the Ensigns, a young Blaze Elf man. “We were told to help Marshii!”
“You know, those two gentlemen you bumped into made a few suggestions on improving this ship’s efficiency!” growled Denstra. “They mentioned getting rid of a few Ensigns! I told them that I wouldn’t do it, but I may have been a little hasty in that regard! Next time you’re late, I’ll take their advice, understand?!”
“Yes, Commander!” replied the other Ensign, an Inu/Centaur Blender woman.
“Now, Tenshal,” Denstra directed the Blaze Elf, “Endea’s developing some pains because of her engine playing up. She’s at Rootan Station collecting YOUR cargo. If she’s all right, join the others awaiting cattle quarantine clearance.”
“Yes, Commander!” confirmed Tenshal.
“Wenshai,” Denstra continued with the Inu/Centaur Blender, “bring in Yutt’s cattle train.”
“Yutt the mutt!” grumbled Wenshai.
“No wisecracks, Ensign!” snapped Denstra. “Just get on with it!”
“Yes, Ma’am!” replied the two Ensigns. As they left the room, they spoke with one another.
“Hey, you don’t think she’ll throw us off the ship, will she?” asked Wenshai.
“Come on, it was Marshii who made us late,” replied Tenshal. “Besides, it’s hot here and she had to deal with Tuurk and Talair. Those busybodies can put anyone in a foul mood.”
While Denstra was dealing with her business, Arsha and Falnii sat in their quarters, alone. Candles were lit and a magic circle was set in the middle of the room. “All right, Arsha,” began Falnii, “Dream Weaving is a delicate process. Going too hard to figure out what troubles your dreams will shatter your mind. You must trust that when I wake us up, it’s for your mental health. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Fluffy,” answered Arsha.
“Very good. Now, step into the circle and sit down.” Arsha did as directed. “Close your eyes. Concentrate on the fragrance of the candles and my voice. Breathe deeply.” Arsha shut her eyes and inhale through her nose, then exhaled through her mouth, the honeysuckle smell of the candles calming her mind a bit. “I’m going to sit behind you and touch the back of my head to the back of yours. If you feel something going around you, that is my cloud.” Arsha continued breathing deeply as her eyes stayed shut. She felt the soft back of Falnii’s head touch her own and did feel the clouds that made up Falnii’s dress go around her. “Now, just relax.” Falnii then chanted a rhyme.
Dream your dream with me.
Tell your woes to me.
Show your troubles to me.
Dream your dream with me.
Falnii repeated the rhyme, her voice getting lower and softer until Arsha fell asleep.
Arsha woke up again in a set of ruins. She stood up and looked around, confused. “…Fluffy?” she called. “Hooves? Bonfire? Princess? Farm Boy? …Hello?” Panic started to set in. “Anyone?!”
“You can’t be helped,” replied an ominous voice. Arsha then heard rumbling. She left the ruins and look out to the sea. A massive wave rolled in, high enough to block the sun. Fear gripped Arsha as she froze in place. A light flashed, but she found herself unable to turn.
“…I’m alone…” she whimpered as the wave came down. It was about to sweep her away.
“AWAKEN!” called a voice.
Arsha woke up in a cold sweat, her breath stuttered as she drew it in. Her breathing then steadied as she looked around to see her surroundings. Candles, rug, a few paintings of hope on the walls, kitchen, then her other senses kicked in. She could smell the honeysuckle of the candles to the point of tasting the fragrance as it entered her nose. She heard the hum of the ship as it idled on the ground. She felt something soft enveloping her and looked down to see her legs and hands surrounded by clouds. She then remembered where she was, her quarters on the Endeavor. She then noticed that arms wrapped around her from behind. Arsha put her hands onto the arms as she sighed, relieved that her nightmare was over and knowing it was Falnii giving her an embrace to reassure her. “…It started the instant after the first confrontation with Oyed,” she explained to Falnii. “It only got worse over time.”
“I’ve seen that kind of dream before,” replied Falnii as she continued embracing Arsha. “A dream of hopelessness and despair, despite hope being right behind you.”
“Do you honestly think there’s hope right now?” asked Arsha.
“What do you mean?”
“Come on, Falnii. Oyed’s back and Dr. Borg’s getting more ruthless.”
“Maybe, but you must remember that no one knows who will win, not even Oyed.”
“And if he wins?”
“If he wins, we all won’t be around.”
“Yeah, that’s comforting.”
“If we win, though, we’ve proven that we’re stronger than he believes. He’ll hate that.” Arsha gave a small smile.
“…Yeah, he would.”
“We’ll do this again tomorrow.”
“Why not now?”
“On top of Dream Weaving being a little draining on the Dream Weaver, repeated attempts only fracture the dreamer’s psyche. I don’t want that on my conscience.”
“Arsha, I know you want your problems sorted right away, but this isn’t something you can just take a shot and call it a cure. This requires multiple sessions over a necessary amount of time. Besides, Realmfleet understands.”
“I don’t think Tuurk and Talair will hold off on their advice until I’m settled.”
“Come on, you have a crew that can hold them off as long as necessary.”
“…You’re right, I do. Thank you for your help today.”
“That’s what I do.” Arsha and Falnii got up and blew the candles out. Then Arsha made them a nice lunch.
While Arsha went through her treatment, Malnar got an explanation about the livestock inspections from the Galdredan Kingdom’s Crown Princess, Calandra Narven. “You’re absolutely sure?”
“The ruptured blisters around their mouths and hooves proved it,” replied Calandra.
“Oh no,” groaned Malnar. She heard a knock on the door. “Come in.” Gorfanth entered the room.
“Bonfire,” he greeted. He then saw who she was calling. “Your Highness!” He bowed to Calandra’s picture.
“Good Afternoon,” returned Calandra. “Your pauldron’s crest says you’re a member of the Steelhorns.”
“Gorfanth Steelhorn, at your service.”
“Ah, yes, one of Malnar’s fiancés.”
“That’s right, Your Highness.”
“If things go how you and your lovers plan, I’ll be bowing to you soon.”
“That day is still a way away, Your Highness. Did I interrupt anything important?”
“Actually, this news concerns all bovids,” interjected Malnar. “You’ve heard about the crew conducting livestock inspections?”
“Yes, I have. Why is that?” asked Gorfanth.
“There’s an outbreak of foot and mouth disease,” explained Calandra. Gorfanth’s eyes went wide.
“Foot and mouth? Are you sure?” he gulped.
“She just described the symptoms the non-Sentina livestock have,” confirmed Malnar. “Did you leave the ship yet?”
“No, and I’m not going out there until I’ve gotten immunized,” declared Gorfanth. “Excuse me, ladies.” Gorfanth left the room in quite the hurry to Sick Bay.
“Smart guy,” mused Calandra.
“That’s why I want to marry him,” chuckled Malnar. “I’ll assist in any way that I can. I just hope your mother’s not got… ‘plans’.”
“You and me both. Catch you later!” The call ended and Malnar shook her head as she chose “plans” very carefully.
“Queen Andwayla, PLEASE don’t do anything!”