The Endeavor made it to the Coliamdii Kingdom, the Over-realm’s most frigid area. Elmpam sighed happily as she put on her old Coliamdii clothes. She DID have a bit of a time trying to match her arms to their proper sleeves, but she got them correct. As she, Arsha, and Malnar went down the entrance ramp, her tail was wagging happily. “Back to the old fisher’s grounds!” she yipped.
“You always light up whenever we visit here,” observed Malnar.
“You’d do the same if you spent most of your adult life in another place outside your home,” answered Elmpam.
“…Fair point.” Malnar then turned to Arsha. “You coming?”
“Sorry, but I can’t,” replied Arsha. “I still need to help set up for Elmar and Calandra’s wedding in a few days. You two enjoy yourselves.”
“We will,” promised Elmpam. She then led Malnar in one direction as Arsha waved them off. She then went back into the ship and made her way to where the wedding banquet would be held, Barmek’s Bar and Grill. Mr. Barmek and Jaltor were discussing some final edits to the menu with Calandra and Elmar.
“So, the sausage became too expensive,” Calandra summed up what Mr. Barmek and Jaltor told her. “Are there any acceptable substitutes?”
“Unless you’re fine with losing the spicy flavor, no,” sighed Mr. Barmek.
“What else has that kick that can be made quickly?”
“Well, there IS a salmon dish…”
“You’ve got Galdredan salmon?” asked Elmar.
“Yeah, a whole shelf of it,” replied Jaltor.
“…You know, I haven’t had salmon since my 300th birthday,” mused Calandra.
“And fish IS part of a Merperson’s usual diet,” agreed Elmar.
“And you like fish too.”
“So, is that a ‘yes’ on the fish?” asked Jaltor. The future bride and groom looked at each other, then nodded.
“Go ahead with a salmon dish!” declared Calandra.
“Perfect!” declared Mr. Barmek.
“Wait a minute,” called Arsha, attracting their attention, “how did the sausage get so expensive?”
“Remember that outbreak of foot and mouth?” asked Calandra.
“…It was that bad?” quizzed Arsha.
“Yep. Farmers had to raise the price on their healthy livestock to turn a decent profit.”
“Yikes.” Just then, Shalvey came up. “Commander, what can I do for you?”
“A message from Realmfleet,” reported Shalvey. “Oltor’s been spotted here.”
“…Oltor?!” repeated Arsha. “The Over-splitter Supreme?!”
“The same. All ships are being searched by order of King Tegnar and King Lektem Yantoru. Yes, even Realmfleet ships are being searched. They don’t want him leaving this place.”
“Well, if the search party has a warrant, we’ll happily cooperate.”
The Search Party’s commander presented the warrant to Arsha when they arrived an hour later. Once everything checked out, Arsha bade them to carry out their search. The stereotype for Inus is that they’re able to smell a criminal from across a continent in any Realm. They’ve cultivated that for a while by joining law enforcement organizations. The commander stayed behind to speak with Arsha. “I know you’re Elgrad’s daughter and that the Royanas aren’t known for being nice to Splitters,” he remarked, “but we cannot afford any chances.”
“I understand, Sir,” assured Arsha. The search lasted for a good two hours, each room being turned upside-down, restored, turned upside-down again, and restored again to really make sure Oltor wasn’t on the ship. The search turned up nothing, so the Search Party pulled out, the commander thanking Arsha for her and the crew’s cooperation. When gone, the whole ship shuddered, no matter where the crew member was. After the whole thing, Arsha spoke with Denstra and Dalengor about it.
“I have to say, I almost panicked,” muttered Denstra.
“How so? You’re not a pirate anymore,” replied Dalengor.
“I’ve been one long enough to flinch whenever someone even utters the phrase ‘search the ship’.”
“That engrained into your skull, huh?” mused Arsha.
“Yeah, being a former pirate has its disadvantages.”
“It also has its advantages. I mean, you DID help us beat Reb back on your first days here.”
“…Yeah, I guess it does.”
Malnar and Elmpam’s carriage arrived at Elmpam’s childhood home and released them at the foot of a marked path to the door. Elmpam paid the driver and he left as Malnar and Elmpam headed up the path. As they got closer, Elmpam could see people coming to a shed, people that wore police uniforms! “What in all the Realms?” she muttered.
“There’s been a lot of police activity around here,” remarked Malnar. “What’s going on?”
“No idea. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” Elmpam approached an officer talking to her father, Lensarn. “Excuse me,” she called. Lensarn and the officer turned.
“Elmpam!” greeted Lensarn. “And is this little Malnar?! Sweet Heights, my girl! Last time I saw you, you were up to my waist!”
“Good to see you too, Grandpa,” replied Malnar. “What’s all this?”
“Oltor’s been spotted in this kingdom, Your Highness,” explained the officer. “We have no intention of letting him get away.”
“Oltor?!” yelped Elmpam. “Why would he be here?!”
“Gathering what few allies he has left alive, I would guess. Dr. Borg’s been killing Splitters all across the Realms.”
“Erode public trust in us, I see,” mused Malnar.
“I’ve already spoken to this officer about a warrant and he produced one,” assured Lensarn. “Given Oltor’s past, I’m not surprised they want to search here.”
“Why? What connection does your home have to Oltor?” asked Malnar.
“…Elmpam, you told her, right?”
“I swear, I did!” answered Elmpam.
“Tell me what?” asked Malnar.
“Malnar, Oltor’s my eldest brother.”
“…You mean your eldest brother…is the Over-Splitter Supreme?!”
“Yeah, that’s why we don’t really talk about him,” remarked Lensarn. “I disowned him when I got the news.”
“But why would he want to join the Over-Splitters in the first place?!”
“Grief,” answered Elmpam. “He had a wife and son, but a pair of humans from the Mid and Under-realms killed them. They managed to escape justice and he joined the Over-Splitters, feeling slighted by the Over-realm and promising to bring a new era of peace in our time. He rose through the ranks quickly and soon became the Over-Splitter Supreme.”
“…I’m sorry for his loss,” mumbled Malnar.
“By the Ones, it’s FREEZING here!” shivered a Mermaid as she sat on the icy shores of the Over-realm’s Eastern Continent.
“Next time, wear more than a mere fluffy skirt!” growled Oltor unsympathetically. “Now whip up a warming spell for yourself and then prepare the arsenal, Halfam.”
“What for?!” argued Halfam, an Over-Splitter spy that entered into the Scarlet Stream Pirates two years ago. “Oltor, we’re the last Over-Splitters! We need to consolidate our…!” Oltor then slapped her!
“Yours is not to reason why, just to obey orders!” he growled. “Now get that arsenal prepped!” He then stormed off across the snow. “Stupid fish!”
“Pure-blooded mutt!” snarled Halfam as she turned her tail into a pair of legs, then cast a warming spell around her. She then got up and moved to the pile of weapons, getting them ready for a confrontation.
Their arrival was NOT unnoticed. Remsu and Yamta saw the whole thing. “Oh, wow,” muttered Yamta.
“Sheesh, Ansark held women in higher regard than that,” remarked Remsu. “…Can’t believe I just said that.”
“He’s gonna lose an ally if he keeps that up.”
“If she leaves him, she’s safe.”
“Wait, your wife was serious?”
“Of course. No need for people to die if they see sense.”
“…Fair enough.” Yamta’s communicator then vibrated. She opened it to see Femfaf’s face. “What’s going on?” asked Yamta.
“Girls, there’s a complication,” reported Femfaf. “Elmpam’s in the Coliamdii Kingdom.”
“Elmpam? Here?” asked Remsu. “What for?”
“Unknown. My guess is a family visit.”
‘Well, this IS her home,” remarked Yamta.
“Keep us posted,” continued Remsu.
“Will do. Femfaf out.” The call ended.
“This isn’t good,” muttered Yamta. “Elmpam’s presence will make it harder to get rid of Oltor.”
“Not if we play our cards right.”
“What do you have in mind?”
As that exchange went on, a trio of people camped a little further away from them. They all had blankets draped over their bodies and huddled around a fire. One of the people, a woman with blood-red hair and an equally colored floral hairpiece, was moaning her lot in life. “GLORIOUS Pirate Admiral one minute, a homeless BUM the next! What happened?!”
“You know the answer as well as we do, Reb,” grunted the second person, a male Mega-shark. He then shivered. “Grief, cold air is different to cold water!”
“You know, this may be our punishment,” muttered the last person, a male, cybernetic Sea Elf. He then pulled out a book and read a bit. “Maybe we SHOULD be cleansing our immortal souls.”
“How’s a book gonna help us?!” snapped the Mega-shark.
“It’s the Divine Codex!” remarked the Sea Elf. “It’s just a starting point!”
“I’d be more religious if a most DIVINE miracle happened right now,” muttered the woman, the former Admiral of the Scarlet Stream Pirates, Reb Rojam. She then leaned onto the Sea Elf, Melgem’s, shoulder. Jargoon, the former Mega-shark King, just snorted before turning his head away. He no longer cared enough to mutter any racial epithets, given his current company. He turned his gaze upwards…to see something coming towards them. He alerted his current companions to what was going on. The something was a team of sled dogs pulling their owner on the sled. The lead dog signaled for the team to stop and the sled braked to a halt. The owner, their features obscured by their clothes, approached them.
“Need a lift to civilization?” asked the person in a feminine voice.
“…You DO know who we are?” asked Melgem.
“All I see are a trio of people needing warmth,” remarked the sled driver. “Considering that symbiote slimes don’t do well in the cold, I think you could use a roof over your heads.”
“…We’ll take your offer,” declared Reb.
“Perfect, climb aboard!” directed the sled driver.