The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-8

It was now a month into vaccine progress. The doctors were doing what they could to help treat the symptoms, but they knew it wasn’t an actual treatment. 17 people had died of gel-pox, King Jonthar’s parents included. Jonthar had already set aside a lot of money to develop a vaccine, but he set aside more and urged the upper class to donate what they could so a vaccine would come faster. I’m sorry to say that his actions weren’t totally well-received. The essential workers praised him, as did their employers, but the previous king, Queen Keelma’s father, Santha, publicly called it a waste of resources. He believed the problem would just go away on its own, an argument he and Keelma constantly had. “You ALWAYS did lack empathy!” hissed Keelma during one such argument.

“And YOU lack clarity!” accused Santha. “You and your bug husband are wasting time on trivial people!”

“Farmers, food workers, doctors, they’re trivial to you?!”

“They can be replaced!”

“They’re not non-Mechanica machines! They CAN’T be replaced!”

“Anyone can do their job!”

“That’s not true!” Before the argument could go any further, a doctor entered the room.

“Your Majesty! Good news!” he called.

“You dare interrupt…!” began Santha.

“Dad, shut up. Someone more important than you is talking,” hissed Keelma. She turned to the doctor, leaving her father to stand stunned at what she said. “You were saying, Doctor?”

“We’ve gotten the genetic makeup of this particular strain of gel-pox,” reported the doctor. “It’s an artificial strain!”

“Artificial?! Are you sure?!” gasped Keelma.

“Indeed! And the mutation factor’s consistent! We begin experiments on one version of this strain and it already mutates to account for that! I don’t mind telling you, we could actually have a vaccine next month!”

“Has my husband been informed?”

“He’s being told the news as we…” the doctor was interrupted by a loud cheer.

“Sounds like he’s received the news,” mused Keelma. “Doctor, you and your teams are instrumental! Once you have the vaccine, deliver it to essential workers first. Leave us royals and rich people for last.”

“Understood, Your Majesty!” confirmed the doctor as he bowed and left the room.

“…You once called our methods a waste of money, Dad,” Keelma remarked to Santha. “Can you still say that?”

“Quite easily,” scoffed Santha. “And a waste of time too. You gave the unimportant people too much money!”

“They just discovered that this strain of gel-pox is an artificial strain and promised us a new timetable and you STILL say they’re unimportant?!”

“They are nothing more than pieces in a ruler’s game, something YOU’VE never grasped!”

“And there’s the difference between you and me! Don’t bother saying anything else, you WON’T change my mind!” Keelma stormed out of the room and made her way to the stables. She went to her horse’s berth and found her beautiful black and white horse speaking to the Centaur Stable Master. The conversation was…not really what she expected.

“That’s impossible!” protested her horse as she stamped her hoof in frustration.

“I’m sorry, Gale,” replied the Stable Master, “but I don’t know what to tell you! We’ve searched every inch of the grounds and the doctor and his carriage aren’t even here!”

“What’s this about a missing doctor and carriage?” called Keelma.

“Your Majesty, Doctor Anful and his personal carriage are gone, but none of the horses are missing,” explained the Stable Master.

“Anful’s one of the best stable doctors here,” remarked Keelma. “How do you just lose him?”

“We didn’t LOSE him,” corrected the horse, Gale. “He went missing.”

“That’s not much of a difference in this case.”

“Hold on, I just had a thought,” muttered the Stable Master.

“What’s that?” asked Gale.

“If none of the horses are missing, how did his carriage move?”

“…I…I don’t know…”

“His carriage isn’t a horseless one, is it?” asked Keelma.

“No,” replied Gale, “it isn’t.”

“All right, that’s put a frightening spin on this!”

“I think I need a good run to clear my head.”

“Mind if I join you? I just had an argument with my dad.”

“Hop on, then.” The Stable Master helped Keelma up onto Gale. Once Keelma indicated she was comfortably on Gale, Gale trotted out of the stables and then sped up gradually until they were in the woods behind the castle. Gale liked running in the woods, it kept her skills to make quick decisions up to scratch. Keelma just liked feeling the wind blow her hair back, it always soothed her mind. While the forest was thick, the trees still allowed sunlight to pierce the canopy.

“A lovely day, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Keelma.

“Wholeheartedly,” answered Gale. “The air is clean, the sun is out, this is a day where nothing goes wrong.” That phrase invited disaster that day. The instant Gale entered a clearing, she saw something that made her rear up and whinny in fright. Keelma almost fell off!

“Easy, girl! Easy!” called Keelma as Gale put her hooves down and moved back. She finally saw what scared Gale. There was a smoldering wreck of a carriage in the clearing. “Okay, maybe you spoke too soon!”

“What’s going on here?!” yelped Gale. “Where’d all this come from?!”

“We better get back to the castle and raise the alarm!”

“His Majesty’s not going to like this!” Gale turned around and broke off into a gallop. King Jonthar and the Royal Guard were told about the situation and a member of the City Guard told them to expect an investigation team at the site as an Elven convent in the woods had already informed them of the carriage wreck. Jonthar, Keelma, and members of the Royal Guard rode towards the wreck and met with the investigation team and the convent’s Abbess, Nanfel. She and a novice of her order were giving their statement when the King and Queen arrived. The investigators had ordered everyone to stay back as they conducted their preliminary investigations, not wanting the crime scene to be contaminated.

“Goodness me!” whispered Nanfel. “Who could have done this?”

“Hoodlums with little to no respect and even less self-control,” replied the Dryad in charge of the investigation, Redwood.

“But to strike HERE of all places?!” protested Jonthar. “Children play in these woods!”

“If they had any sense of decency,” hissed the novice, “they wouldn’t have thought to do this!”

“Yallen!” admonished Nanfel. The novice subsided, realizing she spoke out of turn.

“Don’t worry,” assured Redwood, “we’ll find these scoundrels and bring them to justice!”

“SARGE!” called an Alraune. “COME HERE! QUICK!” Redwood, the Royals, and Nanfel followed Redwood. He stopped and his eyes widened, seeing evidence that the case was now worse.

“Oh no!” he groaned.

“What’s wrong?” asked Jonthar.

“Mother Superior,” Redwood called to Nanfel, “I’m sorry to report that we need your order’s services.” Jonthar, Keelma, and Nanfel gasped when they got a good look.

“By the Ones!” breathed Keelma as she hugged Jonthar tightly, feeling very scared. What they saw was the shiny, yet still very skeletal remains of an Elf. The pelvis indicated that it was a male Elf and dental records identified the victim to be the Stables’ doctor, Anful.

When the Princesses heard about this, they were mortified and saddened at Anful’s death. News reached the Endeavor and the doctors working on the cure for the gel-pox pandemic. Everyone offered their sympathies and whatever help they could give to Anful’s family.There was little solace to be had at the poor man’s funeral. It was hardly surprising; there were just too many questions surrounding his death. The whole affair was perfect fodder for the news, and it became a media sensation, its details talked about everywhere. Under normal circumstances, the Realms’ top criminal investigators would be tasked with solving it, but that was hard to do safely, given the gel-pox pandemic. The murderer picked an excellent time to strike, even going so far as to kill him in such a way that was unknown. Foresna and Gorfanth were talking to Elmar and Bashoon about it. “Did you guys hear the latest?” asked Gorfanth. “The City Guard had to call off the investigation until a vaccine’s been made.”

“Understandable,” replied Elmar. “What else can they do, given that they’re clueless during this pandemic.”

“Come on, Sir!” admonished Bashoon. “That’s hardly fair!”

“If I came off as derogatory, then I apologize,” answered Elmar. “I merely meant that they’ve exhausted every investigatory avenue given the current public health circumstances. To be honest, though, I doubt Enfanti could solve this one.”

“You’re not really wrong,” remarked Foresna. “I mean, how does someone steal a carriage, kidnap someone, manage to not tip off castle security, destroy it, kill the kidnapped person, then dump their remains in a forest clearing, all within the span of an hour, if the investigations are any indication?”

“If you hear some of the crew,” muttered Gorfanth, “they’ve got some theories about that. I assure you, none of them are good.”

“Like what?” asked Foresna.

“How about you two wait until Ensign Barmek and I are gone,” suggested Elmar, “before you discuss those theories?”

“Gone?” repeated Gorfanth. “Where are you guys going?”

“To Anful’s house to give his family financial aid, if you can believe it,” replied Bashoon.

“I thought Anful’s family hated yours, Elmar,” remarked Gorfanth.

“The feeling is mutual,” answered Elmar, “but neither side would wish death on the other. This is a gesture to help Anful’s family, given their recent loss. Perhaps this will mend fences between our families. As of this moment, I don’t mind assisting them.”

“Good to hear,” praised Foresna. “Just make sure your robes are secured for the ride!”

“What?!” yelped Elmar, momentarily losing his composure. “How did you…the Captain told you, didn’t she?”

“Actually, I did,” giggled Bashoon.

“I’ll be putting a reprimand in your file for that,” muttered Elmar as he and Bashoon headed to the cargo bay.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-7

The Endeavor arrived at Vorkath and picked up the doctors and witches of Crossgene Hospital. They had full gear on, protecting themselves against the gel-pox pandemic. They examined the crew first while the supplies were being loaded. “Doc, come on!” protested a crewman.

“We can’t risk anyone bringing disease,” remarked the doctor.

“We weren’t even in the Over-realm!” argued the crewman.

“Lieutenant, let the doctor check you over,” called Arsha’s voice.

“But Captain…!” protested the crewman.

“That’s an order from both me and Marshii,” commanded Arsha. The crewman grumbled but complied.

“You know,” remarked Marshii as she came up to Arsha, “I DIDN’T give that order.”

“No, but you would have,” mused Arsha.

“…You’re right, I would have,” replied Marshii as she shrugged.

“Have all the doctors been briefed on what’s going on?” asked Arsha.

“Briefed and briefed all over again,” answered Marshii. “How soon until all the supplies are all loaded in?”

“Two minutes, according to our estimations,” replied Arsha.

“A bit long, in my opinion,” grumbled Marshii.

“We need to be careful that we’re not missing anything,” reminded Arsha.

“I know, I know,” grunted Marshii. Time felt like it was going at a crawl for Marshii, wanting to help as quickly as possible. Soon, everything was loaded, everyone was present, and all items and people were accounted for. The loading ramp then went up and the ship took off, on course for the Sacchrinda Kingdom.

The ship landed outside the kingdom, as was recommended. The doctors and supplies were taken to a small bunker near the border to work on a vaccine. As per protocol, shore leave was cancelled due to gel-pox concerns. Arsha was NOT going to run the risk of a virus on her ship, especially since the ship now had an organic body on top of being a ship. Speaking of, Endea and Thangred were having a chat at Barmek’s. “All I’m saying is,” urged Thangred, “we should pay attention to what’s going on in the Lunarimba Sea.”

“Why?” asked Endea. “It’s no concern of ours.”

“If it’s the result of Dr. Borg, I beg to differ,” argued Thangred.

“Even if you’re right,” countered Endea, “I doubt Realmfleet will be called. King Hindegar DOES tend to tell Realmfleet not to interfere in matters like this.”

“But if Dr. Borg’s involved, won’t Realmfleet be a good deterrent?” asked Thangred.

“What’s going on?” called Shalvey’s voice as she glided up to the table.

“Shalvey, you know what’s going on in your home, right?” quizzed Thangred.

“Actually, I just got news on that front,” replied Shalvey as she parked near Thangred. “Turns out it was all a prank from Queen Ulumeye’s dad.”

“Are you serious?!” snarled Thangred.

“Why, the nerve!” snapped Endea. “Faking out the people like that?! Oh, I wanna slap him!”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to get in line,” remarked Shalvey. “My home’s demanding his head for stealing our crops like that.”

“Seriously, didn’t the king pass a law saying that stealing from farm people is punishable by life in prison with no chance of parole?” quizzed Thangred.

“Which puts him in a very awkward position,” answered Shalvey.

“Oh, yeah, that’s his father-in-law,” recalled Endea.

“Exactly,” confirmed Shalvey. “If he follows through on the sentence, the media will call him too hard-nosed towards anyone, even his own associates. But, if he lets him go, they’ll say he’s too soft.”

“The media’s gonna eat him alive anyways!” realized Thangred. “How unpopular IS the poor guy?!”

“…You REALLY don’t want to know,” muttered Shalvey.

While the doctors were working on the vaccine, they had been sending Arsha their progress reports and she passed them on to Realmfleet and the Maropwems. When she had free time, she called her family to make sure they were okay. During one call, Arsha noticed that Elgrad looked twitchy. “Never been away from the throne for such a long time, Daddy?” guessed Arsha.

“Yep,” confirmed Elgrad. “Call me arrogant, if you will, but I feel like Largandra, much less the Mid-realm, would fall without me there!”

“I hear you, it’s like with me and the Endeavor.”

“Yeah, looks like you got that curse from your old man.”

“At least your impulse control’s a lot better,” chuckled Hanako.

“Hana, please, no!” wailed Elgrad.

“Wait, what?!” giggled Arsha. “Hold on, I think I want to hear this.”

“Well, when your father…”

“I’ll tell the story, thank you,” grumbled Elgrad. “When I was a Prince, I had TERRIBLE impulse control. It all came to a head when I was 150. A rather racist woman cast a curse on me that I would die the night before my 300th birthday. My parents both already went through an operation to prevent any future children, so they were really scared for their family’s future. The advisor at the time, Tonsho…”

“Wait, which Tonsho?” interrupted Arsha. “That’s, like, the most common name in Largandra.

“This guy was a Centaur,” answered Elgrad. “Not anyone you knew. Anyway, he was wringing his hands as he explained the curse to me and my parents. As they were about to demand he find a solution, adolescent me called out, ‘Wait, before my 300th is when this curse kills me?’ He answered yes and my next out-loud thought was ‘So, until then, I’m effectively immortal?!’”

“Uh oh,” gulped Arsha.

“Yeah, I wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Mom and Dad said that I was technically right, but I didn’t hear the word ‘technically’ and announced that I was going to teach myself how to juggle axes while hang-gliding over shark-infested waters.” Arsha laughed like a maniac when she heard how dumb her dad was.

“Glad Grandma and Grandpa found the counter-curse in time,” she managed to get out between her giggles. “I can’t believe you would do something so dumb! You wouldn’t have caught me doing something like that!”

“Arsha,” remarked Hanako.

“Yeah, Mom?”

“There’s something I need to tell you.”

“What’s that?”

“…Sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!” Arsha then screamed into her hands.

“Depths, YEAH, sparkle, sparkle, sparkle!” laughed Elgrad.

“MOM, COME ON!” wailed Arsha. “I thought you would forget that incident!”

“Arsha, ALL adolescents do dumb stuff like that,” answered Hanako. “Your kids will do something just as bad.”

“Dalengor to Arsha,” came Dalengor’s voice over the intercom.

“One minute,” Arsha bid to her parents. “Go ahead, Dalengor.”

“One of our crewmate’s was caught trying to get out of the ship,” reported Dalengor. “She’s in the brig now for fighting the security officer at the ramp.”

“Oh, Ones, the last thing I want to hear!” Arsha groaned. She then turned to her parents. “Sorry, guys, need to discipline someone. See you as soon as possible.”

“Bye!” bid her parents as she ended the call.

“It was only going to be for five minutes!” protested the Werewolf lieutenant as she faced Arsha. “Where’s the harm?!”

“I won’t risk gel-pox on this ship,” answered Arsha. “All shore leave is cancelled to prevent the spread of disease to other Realms.”

“I was wearing a mask and gloves!”

“That mask was under your nose and the gloves had holes so your claws would stick out!”

“Captain, you must release me!”

“I will only release you when I have evidence that you are as committed to this as your husband!” The Werewolf rolled her eyes as Arsha indicated to the male Werewolf guard to step forward. “Look at him,” directed Arsha. “He’s standing tall and proud, ready to sacrifice his outdoor time, knowing the risks of…” she trailed off when she saw something in his pocket. She quickly yanked it out and saw that it was an exit card, used only to leave the ship. “…Lieutenant Tentar,” growled Arsha as she moved her hairpiece to her waist, “what is THIS?!”

“…I don’t know how that got there,” gulped the male Werewolf, Tentar.

“You lie!” accused his wife, Lieutenant Enfal. “How many more do you have?!”

“I have duties to perform,” answered Tentar.

“Don’t change the subject! Where are the others?!”

“There ARE no others!”

“If you don’t tell me where the others are, I will sleep in separate quarters for a week!” Tentar growled but relented as he pulled another exit card out of his uniform’s shirt, another out of his shoe, then opened a drawer full of exit cards.

“…You hypocrite!” hissed Arsha.

“You hold me here for trying to leave, yet you planned to leave this ship yourself?!” snarled Enfal.

“Well, I have a proposition,” growled Tentar. “From now until the vaccine is ready for mass-production, we will watch each other!”

“Yes! Closely!” agreed Enfal.

“I’m holding you both to it,” warned Arsha.

“Five days!” hissed Rosalmia to her sisters as vaccine work continued. “Five days since Daddy passed that order! Five days of staying inside! Five days of not finding any more lovers! Five days of going to this very ballroom and not having a dance partner!”

“You were the one,” remarked Yasnima as she touched up her eye makeup, “that urged Daddy to pass a stay-at-home order.”

“Yeah, well, I thought it would take at least two days!” hissed Rosalmia. “Not five days of uncertainty!”

“Viruses take a long time to develop a vaccine for,” reminded Grenmaf as she and Blamfem looked over some medical journals. “We might get a vaccine in about three months.”

“That’s three months too long for someone like me!” wailed Rosalmia. “I need to find more lovers!”

“You said,” muttered Purhalmaf, “patience is key.”

“For you girls! Not me!” snapped Rosalmia. “I hate patience! Patience is for wimpy introverts!”

“Our mother was a conscious stone statue for three years after looking directly into a Gorgon’s eyes,” grunted Orsanmii, “and you can’t be patient for three months?”

“She’s just as extroverted as you,” reminded Blamfem.

“I can’t do this!” groaned Rosalmia. “Don’t make me! I need to be busy!”

“FINE!” shouted Pinalk, fed up with her red sister. “Be busy! We could all use a break from your complaining!” Rosalmia scowled, then ran out of the ballroom, making a beeline straight for the kitchen. Whenever one of the Royal Family was bored, they usually helped their staff, a tradition started by her mother. She put on a mask, a hairnet, and a jacket designed for kitchen work as she entered the castle’s kitchens. The head chef saw her and approached her.

“Is her Highness getting buggy?” she asked.

“Her Highness is losing her mind from being so bored and isolated!” replied Rosalmia.

“I believe Yalfeen would like some help on preparing the veggies,” mused the head chef. “Just wash your hands before you help.”

“Got it.” Rosalmia then washed her hands and put on gloves that were designed for kitchen work, then she joined an Elf woman chopping veggies.

“Looking for something to do during all this,” the Elf woman, Yalfeen, guessed.

“Isolation’s just torture for extroverts,” sighed Rosalmia as she grabbed a carrot and started chopping.

“I hear you. I can’t exactly travel to the Under-realm and meet with my own lovers.”

“Then you understand my predicament perfectly.”

“Granted, I only have two.”

“You still get it, though.”

“Oh, I do.”

Lunch was put together and Rosalmia helped the staff serve up the soup. Once her family arrived in the dining room, they all sat down. “Much better,” sighed Rosalmia. “Nothing like a little activity to pass the time. Hey, Blamfem, how long was it since I left you girls?”

“Half an hour,” replied Blamfem as she checked her watch. Rosalmia’s smile faded.

“…I can’t do it,” she muttered as she slouched in her seat.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-6

The Caldoras explained what had happened to the citizens of the Kurontar Sea. Naturally, many mothers were saddened about their children deciding to revoke their citizenship, but, legally, there was nothing anyone could do. The revocation was legal, even if the means of leaving wasn’t. While the Rulers addressed the people, Samuje swam to the communications console and called Sanfar again. “You again?!” snapped Sanfar. “Look, I already told you, you’re not having your Captaincy reinstated until your mental state…”

“Actually, I called you to request a Discharge Ceremony,” interrupted Samuje.

“…What for?” asked Sanfar.

“I’ve found a new purpose in my life,” explained Samuje, “that involves my people’s city guard instead of Realmfleet.”

“…And you’re sure about this?” pressed Sanfar.

“I’ve found one incident of corruption too many within my native waters,” affirmed Samuje. “I can’t gallivant around the Realms like that while there’s something I can do here.”

“…If that’s the case,” mused Sanfar, “I think you are owed an honorable discharge from Realmfleet. We thank you for your service.”

“I thank you for allowing me to serve,” returned Samuje.

“I think I can arrange for a Discharge Ceremony in two days,” Sanfar offered.

“Two days would be perfect,” answered Samuje.

“Then I will see you in two days,” declared Sanfar. The call ended and Samuje rolled her shoulders back, as if a weight were lifted from them.

The Caldoras saw the Endeavor crew off. The general mood towards Realmfleet hadn’t improved, but it didn’t get worse either. “Your Majesty, I must apologize for…” began Arsha.

“Save it,” interrupted Vorko. “No apologies are needed. Those deserters made their choice, you didn’t influence them in any capacity.”

“Still, I would have liked to have brought them back,” muttered Arsha.

“There’s no sense in beating yourself up over this,” advised Marianes. “You did what you could. …Arsha, I want to apologize for what I said after the fight with Oyed. I was considering joining with the anti-Realmfleet voices, but you successfully helped Samuje find another job that she seems happier with.”

“I simply did what I could for her,” replied Arsha.

“I’ll do what I can to convince the naysayers,” continued Marianes, “that Realmfleet can still be trusted.”

“You’re not alone in that,” called Samuje. “I’ll help.”

“Someone’s going to say that we’re forcing you to say we can be trusted,” mused Arsha.

“I have a few responses for that,” assured Samuje. “Good luck, Captain Royana.”

“Thank you, Your Highness,” returned Arsha. She walked up the ramp as it shut itself behind her and made her way to the bridge. As she walked, a female Wood Elf in a purple trimmed duty uniform came up to her. “Lieutenant Anfeel, what can I do for you?” asked Arsha. The Elf caught her breath before speaking.

“Commander Shalvey just got word from Realmfleet,” explained Anfeel. “The Sacchrinda Kingdom is going through a gel-pox pandemic.”

“But…but they’re not…!” gulped Arsha as she recalled that the Sacchrinda Kingdom wasn’t the best equipped at handling pandemics.

“Captain, Realmfleet’s ordered us to get to the new Crossgene Hospital in Vorkath to bring medical personnel and supplies to help them NOW!” urged Anfeel. “Denstra’s ordered Nazay to leave the instant you’re onboard.” Arsha wasted no time in getting to a communications terminal.

“Bridge, this is the Captain,” she called. “I’m onboard. Get us there now!”

“Understood, Captain,” replied Denstra.

“You heard the Captain,” called Denstra to Nazay. “All available speed to the Sacchrinda Kingdom.”

“Aye, Ma’am,” replied Nazay as he laid in a course. The engines spun to life and the Endeavor rose from the base’s landing pad. It climbed higher and higher until it breached the surface and took to the air.

“It appears we’ve lost any allies,” sighed Dr. Borg once Femfaf gave her report.

“My apologies, Doctor,” bid Femfaf.

“You did what you could,” assured Dr. Borg. “Still, it would have been nice to have some anti-Realmfleet support on our side. Oh well, they still chose their side.” At that moment, Yulduk entered the office. “What can I do for you, Commander Yulduk?” asked Dr. Borg.

“Our operative is stuck in the Sacchrinda Kingdom,” reported Yulduk. “A gel-pox pandemic has struck, and the kingdom is in medical quarantine. No one, aside from medical personnel and their Realmfleet escorts, is allowed in or out of the kingdom.” Dr. Borg sighed in exasperation.

“Then he can’t leave so easily,” grumbled Dr. Borg, “and the samples will have long expired.” She got up from her desk to consider her next move. “Oyed won’t like this,” she muttered. At that moment, the comms terminal on her desk chimed. She pressed a button. “Yes?” she asked.

“Have you heard from Ms. Yamta?” asked Oyed’s voice.

“…No, Master, I can’t say as I have,” remarked Dr. Borg.

“She discovered the samples we need in her location,” explained Oyed.

“You’re joking!” gasped Dr. Borg as delight struck her.

“She has already showed me the samples as proof of her deed,” answered Oyed. “They’re in storage now.”

“Then our project can go on as scheduled!” cheered Dr. Borg. “I’ll get started on it right away!”

“Perhaps you should reward Ms. Yamta before you do,” suggested Oyed.

“I will, indeed!” promised Dr. Borg. “Borg out.” The call ended.

“Well, I think we’ve found our last candidate,” mused Femfaf.

“Indeed,” agreed Dr. Borg. “Bring Yamta here. I want to reward her personally.”

“At once,” replied Femfaf as she and Yulduk left the office.

“Thus,” mused Dr. Borg when she was alone, “the Imperial Council for the Realm Trinity Empire is complete.”

Arsha was on the bridge as the Endeavor made its way to the Realmgate. Endea was a little confused. “Captain, I don’t think I’ve heard of gel-pox. What kind of disease is it?”

“When someone has gel-pox,” explained Arsha, “the germ colonies congregate in green, gelatinous spots on the skin, just looking for a way inside to wreak havoc on the patient’s breathing. It’s transmitted via touch and sneezing. I certainly hope there’s a mask mandate in effect.”

“Approaching the Realmgate,” reported Nazay.

“Take us through,” directed Arsha.

“Marshii to Bridge,” called Marshii over the comms.

“Go ahead,” directed Arsha.

“I’ve just gotten word on all mandates the Maropwems have passed,” reported Marshii.

“Please tell me a mask mandate is one of them,” pleaded Arsha.

“Mask AND glove mandate,” answered Marshii. “I recommend that, once we bring the doctors to the kingdom, we cancel ground-leave. The only ones that should be on the ground are medical staff.”

“Isolate the ship until this pandemic’s showing signs of letting up?” quizzed Arsha.

“That’s the idea,” confirmed Marshii.

“Then ground-leave is cancelled until further notice,” declared Arsha. The call then ended.

“Captain, if this is a pandemic,” advised Denstra, “we can’t risk landing on the base.”

“You’re right,” muttered Arsha. “We need to stay a por away from the kingdom.”

“Knowing the Maropwems,” mused Shalvey, “they’ll have accounted for that.”

“…You’re right,” breathed Arsha as she forced herself to calm down. “Sorry, I’m just a little paranoid about pandemics. I was only a little girl when Largandra suffered a petrifire-virus pandemic.”

“How long did it last, if you don’t mind me asking?” asked Malak.

“15 years,” replied Arsha. “The death toll was staggering.”

“Sorry you went through that,” gulped Malak.

“It took a while to recover, I want the Sacchrinda Kingdom to recover in a shorter time.”

“Captain, I just got a report from the Maropwems!” called Shalvey. “Your parents were visiting Midiriki! They’re stuck in her house!”

“Are they sick?!” yelped Arsha.

“The report didn’t say,” replied Shalvey. “You better try and talk to them!”

“I’ll be in my ready room!” declared Arsha. “Denstra, you have the conn!” Arsha got up and Denstra moved herself to the Captain’s Chair. Arsha then called up her aunt’s home. “Hello, Aunt Midiriki!” she yelped.

“Arsha?” asked Midiriki. “Did you hear the news?”

“The Endeavor’s coming with doctors and medical supplies from Vorkath,” replied Arsha. “Where’s Mom and Dad?!”

“Right here!” called Elgrad’s voice. He and Hanako appeared on the screen. “We ain’t going outside until this is all over,” declared Elgrad.

“Have you two been tested?” asked Arsha.

“We’ve all been tested,” assured Hanako, “even little Tellimii. None of us have gel-pox. Tellimii’s taking online classes right now.” Arsha released a breath.

“Thank the Ones,” she sighed. “I’ll visit you guys when it’s safe enough to do so. I need to remain on the Endeavor. I’m only allowing medical staff and supplies to leave the ship.”

“Call us whenever you can,” urged Hanako.

“And please, stay safe,” pleaded Elgrad.

“I will, on both counts,” promised Arsha. “We’ll end this quicker than Largandra’s pandemic.”

“I hope so,” muttered Elgrad. “We still haven’t fully recovered from losing that many people.” The call ended and Arsha was left with her thoughts. Her thinking was interrupted by a call.

“Go ahead,” she directed.

“We’re approaching Vorkath,” reported Shalvey.

“On my way,” declared Arsha. She then left her ready room.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-5

The new Golems were beamed aboard and watched closely. It was a 10-golem platoon, counting Femfaf. Their behavior was…unsettling. They never seemed to tire, they spent their free time watching the other crew members, they didn’t eat, they didn’t understand the need of a night crew, and they weren’t forthcoming on all information. Shalvey, especially, had a rough time of it. She always hated looking over her shoulder and the Golem that was watching her gave her a constant uneasy feeling. Finally, she turned on the Golem and demanded answers. Thankfully, she was at her workstation off the bridge. “Am I REALLY that interesting?!” she demanded the Golem. “You’ve been staring at me for the past hour!”

“You are part of my team,” replied the Golem. “I have never worked with you before. I must learn your behaviors, anticipate your actions.”

“There must be something you would rather do!” hissed Shalvey. “Maybe you need some sleep?”

“Is that why you have a ‘night crew’?” asked the Golem. “Golems don’t require sleep.”

“Then how about something to eat?” suggested Shalvey.

“Normal food poisons a Golems,” replied the Golem, “blocks off the veins that connect to our internal mana reserves. Besides, I have already topped off on mana before coming aboard.”

“No food, no sleep,” muttered Shalvey, “what DO you do to relax?”

“Relaxation makes us lazy and indolent,” answered the Golem.

“You guys are no fun at all,” sighed Shalvey. “I’m surprised that Golems like Femfaf would want to reproduce with you.”

“We do not procreate the way you do,” corrected the Golem.

“Then how do you guys continue the species?” asked Shalvey. “Clone yourselves?”

“We are born,” explained the Golem, “when someone introduces a Scroll of Life into a mound of clay.”

“So, let me make sure I understand you right,” muttered Shalvey, “no food, no sleep, no carnal pleasures?”

“Correct,” answered the Golem. Shalvey gave him a pitying look.

“After 50,000 years of being deprived of all that, I’d be angry forever,” she sighed.

“My breed of Golem lives longer than the previous breeds, but not that long,” corrected the Golem.

“…How old DO you guys live up to?” asked Shalvey.

“Our scrolls dictate,” replied the Golem, “that we now can live as long as 25,000. Any further than that, we are considered Exalted Elders.”

“And how old are you?” asked Shalvey.

“I am half-a-year old,” answered the Golem. Shalvey’s eyes went wide. “Surprised I can talk as you do?”

“It takes the rest of us at least two and a half years to make any coherent sentences!” remarked Shalvey.

“We are mature adults,” replied the Golem, “in five days.”

“…I still do childish things,” muttered Shalvey, “and I’m 671.” The Golem looked startled.

“You look half that age,” he remarked.

“…Thanks, I guess,” grumbled Shalvey as she went back to work.

Arsha and Femfaf met in the conference room. Femfaf noticed the studious expression on Arsha’s face and watched her sit. “Captain, I trust this isn’t a breach of our agreement?” began the first female Golem.

“That depends,” remarked Arsha. “Tell me, do Golems give off a thaumic signature similar to their creators?”

“We do,” confirmed Femfaf.

“Can you mask it to be like someone else’s?” asked Arsha.

“No,” replied Femfaf.

“So, your own thaumic signature stems from your creator with no deviations?” continued Arsha.

“No deviations,” repeated Femfaf in confirmation. “Captain, where is this going?”

“Your thaumic signature is too similar to Dr. Borg’s!” hissed Arsha.

“…You know, you just disproved a theory Tormo had,” mused Femfaf.

“And his theory was?” invited Arsha.

“That Blenders don’t have as good of abilities as their parents,” answered Femfaf. “A member of our ruling council took offense to that and Dr. Borg decided to have me run an experiment.”

“Well, with that out of the way, let me ask you the real questions,” declared Arsha as she transferred her hairpiece to her waist, “what interest does Dr. Borg have with the Kurontar deserters?!”

“Oddly enough, nothing,” answered Femfaf.

“I find that hard to believe,” growled Arsha.

“Believe what you wish,” replied Femfaf, “but Dr. Borg simply wants to know how much of a threat these deserters are.”

“Seeing if she can convince Oyed to spare them?” interrogated Arsha.

“That’s the general idea,” answered Femfaf.

“Tell her she’s being seduced by lies!” hissed Arsha. “Oyed has no intention of keeping his promises in the long run!”

“You have no proof of that, Captain,” dismissed Femfaf.

“His goals are all the proof I need!” challenged Arsha.

“What if you’re wrong?” asked Femfaf.

“…It would be unfortunate for Oyed,” answered Arsha.

“Captain, I must ask you to reconsider going to war against Oyed,” urged Femfaf. “Do we really need to begin a new era with bloodshed?”

“Oyed intends to undo what his children made,” hissed Arsha. “I will give my life to save the Realms if I must.”

“Your father would feel like he failed,” remarked Femfaf. “Good parents are always afraid of burying their children. Do you really want your father to have to face that fear?”

“…A threat?” snarled Arsha.

“I’m just giving my two-tins on a possible future,” answered Femfaf. “Your father would…” she was interrupted by the Guard Captain entering the conference room.

“Er, am I…?” he ventured.

“You’re not interrupting anything related to the search at the moment,” interrupted Arsha.

“What a Golem scout just found, and Shalvey verified,” replied the Guard Captain, “will make you think about it.”

“Meaning, Sir?” asked Femfaf.

“Your scout found a pair of files that Shalvey determined to be one audio and one visual,” explained the Guard Captain.

“That trick again?” asked Arsha. “Why use the same one when it got them caught in the first place?”

“It’s the contents of the video you need to see,” answered the Guard Captain. “I have the data crystal it’s on. I think you should see this, as well as the Caldoras.” Arsha nodded, giving him permission to play it. He inserted the data crystal into the computer and the monitor played the video. Teylan was facing the camera with a stern look on her face.

“If you’re seeing this, then I must ask you to turn away,” she demanded. “If all goes well, Mr. Iggir is in prison and won’t pollute your kingdom. Yes, I do mean YOUR kingdom. We hereby revoke our citizenship. We are no longer part of the Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom. We won’t fight in the Final War, no matter what you say. Realmfleet has become too aggressive with the Realm Trinity Empire and it won’t do us any good to appease either side. Dr. Borg wants to establish a small hold in the Realms. The smart thing would have been to cut a deal, make a few arrangements, give them a little something for their trouble. But, no, Realmfleet wanted to play it tough. So now, everyone is afraid of both sides, which means fewer people wanting to defend the Realms, which means less defense for either side, which means we no longer feel safe in our own homes! Well, we’re leaving such a vulnerable area. We’ve established a home of our own and hereby declare ourselves neutral. That is the safest option. Do not pursue us.” The video ended and Arsha shut her eyes.

“…Well, that’s…disappointing,” mused Femfaf. “While not nearly enough of a threat to us, I regret not having them on my side. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. We will take our leave.”

“…Have a safe journey,” bid Arsha, even though she silently wished for all manner of accidents to plague Femfaf on her way out. Femfaf bowed as she stood up and left the conference room.

The Golems left the Endeavor and Arsha reported what happened to King Vorko from her Ready Room. He sighed when he heard the news. “Captain, I think you’d better come back and explain the whole thing,” he requested.

“Very well,” replied Arsha. The call ended and Arsha returned to the bridge. “Set course for the Kurontar Sea Kingdom,” she ordered Nazay. “We’re ending the search.” The bridge crew’s mood wasn’t happy, but they kept it to themselves.

“Course laid in,” reported Nazay.

“Nice and easy,” directed Arsha. Nazay turned the ship around and returned to the kingdom.

Aldarval made her way to the throne room of the Caldoras’ castle. She was let in as Arsha explained what happened to the Caldoras. “Ah! Arsha!” greeted Aldarval. “Splendid! Come to see how ready the Kurontar Sea is?” Arsha winced.

“Admiral, you may want to sit down,” advised Queen Jurma. Aldarval arched an eyebrow before she sat down. She heard the whole story about the deserters and was shocked.

“I don’t…” she mumbled. “I mean, this is…this is unprecedented! Kurontar is one of the most stable of all kingdoms in the Mid-realm, second only to Borompek!”

“If word gets out about this,” remarked Arsha, “who knows what other people will do?”

“Unfortunately, that’s out of our hands now,” sighed Vorko.

“What do you mean?” asked Arsha.

“The deserters made a broadcast on IntraRealm,” answered Vorko. “They’ve announced their independence from us, calling themselves the Reenshar Kingdom.”

“Naming themselves after a famous activist,” sighed Aldarval. “My lords and ladies, I must say, this won’t look well in the eyes of Realmfleet.”

“We’re aware,” assured Vorko. “We’ll do what we can to keep our kingdom unified.”

“Please do,” urged Aldarval. “You produce the best fighters and we may need them.” Aldarval left without another word.

“Captain Royana, thank you for your assistance,” bid King Jentay.

“I just wish I could have helped in a better way,” sighed Arsha.

“Never mind the woulda-coulda-shouldas,” advised Jentay. “Just focus on the dids.” Arsha chuckled a little.

“You’re right,” she mused.

“We can handle things here,” assured Jurma. “You may leave tomorrow.”

“Thank you, your Majesties,” bid Arsha. “I’m sorry for what happened to this kingdom.”

“We appreciate that,” answered Jurma.

The Three Realms The Three Realms Cast


The first female Golem, Femfaf was created in the Realm Trinity Empire’s Over-realm Golem Production Camp. She has the honor of being the first of Golem 7.0. With a life-span of 25,000 years, and increased mana-efficiency, Femfaf’s breed of Golem flattens all others. While she’s only 38 months old, she still has as much knowledge and maturity as the average adult. She’s currently happy being single as she’s more focused on her position in Dr. Borg’s ruling council.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-4

The Merfolk that staged their kidnapping were still in the warehouse. They were just lazing around, amusing themselves with various hobbies. “…Hey,” called one Mermaid, “you think they’ll ever find us?”

“Not in any reasonable time,” remarked the Ringleader, a Cecaelia woman. She then looked in her hand mirror and tilted her head to have the mirror focus on the right of her head. “What do you think?” she asked the whole group.

“No offense, Teylan,” remarked a Merperson as they adjusted their glove, “but you don’t really pull off the whole ‘flower in hair’ look.” The Cecaelia, Teylan, gave her reflection another glance before removing the flower from her hair.

“I guess I just wanted to experi…” she was interrupted by a pounding on the door. “Who in all the…Tayan, see who’s out there.” The nonbinary Merperson swam to a window and yelped.

“It’s the police!” they warned.

“WHAT?!” yelped the first Mermaid.

“What are they doing here?!” asked a Merman.

“Tanshwar’s out there!” reported Tayan as they bit their nails nervously. “He’s cast a voice amplification spell!”

“The jig’s up!” called Tanshwar. “We know all about this joke! You idiots panicked too many people! Come out with your hands up! We have you surrounded!”

“They know!” wailed the first Mermaid.

“We gotta go NOW!” declared Teylan. “Get the supplies and get that escape tunnel open!” The crowd wasted no time in gathering the supplies. However rushed it looked, there was a clockwork efficiency to the gathering of supplies. A large crate was pulled back and revealed a tunnel. The crowd swam towards it just as the police began slamming a battering ram into it. The police broke through only to be greeted by sudden flashes of light temporarily blinding them. When their eyes cleared, the crowd had vanished, leaving only the police.

“Search the joint!” ordered Tanshwar. The police turned the whole warehouse upside down and soon found the collapsed entrance to the tunnel.

“Should we detail a digging crew?” asked a Merperson.

“They’ll have long gone before we even broke through,” countered Tanshwar. “We’re going to set up patrols around the city. Yenfu, detail the patrols.”

“Yes, Sir,” declared the Merperson, Yenfu, as they swam off.

After the disaster at the warehouse, Chief Inspector Tanshwar met with the Caldora Family and personally reported what happened. To say that the Royal Family was unhappy was an understatement. The news made it to IntraRealm Communications and was spread around all sorts of social media. When Mr. Iggir met with the Royal Family and Tanshwar, the immediate water surrounding him felt hotter than usual. “‘Alleged Kidnapping Victims: Nothing More Than Practical Jokers’,” Samuje read from her shell-phone. “‘Mr. Iggir makes clownfish out of police department and Kurontar Sea citizens.’ Well, Mr. Iggir, what have you to say for that?!”

“Just a minute, my Lords and Ladies,” Mr. Iggir gulped, “there’s obviously a misunderstanding!”

“Yeah, and you misunderstood that we would allow this kind of sick joke!” snapped King Vorko. “We saw the video of you explaining why you would do all this! Now, the question becomes, why would you want us to go back to those lawless days?!”

“Come now, those days weren’t ENTIRELY lawless,” replied Mr. Iggir.

“Mr. Iggir, it was YOUR responsibility to assist me in keeping our people safe!” snapped Tanshwar. “Since you were derelict in that duty, as the Chief of Police, I have every probable cause to demand that you resign!”

“And we have enough reason,” growled Queen Yotrii, “to have your sorry hide rot in the dungeons for the rest of your life! Trying to undo your rulers’ work is a treasonous act and such blatant disregard for your proper leaders will not go unpunished! We have decided that you are unfit to be part of Kurontar Society! If the courts find you guilty, you will be stripped of your assets and the money will be used as reparations for those citizens you’ve panicked!”

“Even if I thought that fair,” remarked Mr. Iggir, “you won’t have enough money.”

“Even with the stash INSIDE the northern wall?” replied King Jentay. “What about the stash by the bank in the southern district? Or the stash at the abandoned shell-slam stadium? I could go on, but the list your daughter gave me is a little long.”

“My daughter told you about my stashes?!” yelped Mr. Iggir. “I am SO gonna disown her for this!”

“You won’t get the chance,” muttered King Bremmek. “Besides, she’s proved her patriotism by telling us how much you were withholding from society.”

“You mean the riff-raff!” snapped Mr. Iggir. “You royals constantly hound us for cash just so you could use it as a hand-out for the poor because they’re too lazy to do anything else!” That did it! King Bremmek left his seat and was about to beat him senseless before Samuje and Marianes held him back.


“My husband was a member of the poor before he married into our family,” hissed King Jentay. “Guards, take him away!” The guards grabbed Mr. Iggir and hauled him out of the throne room as he flung various threats at the Caldoras, promising revenge. Bremmek was seething for a good minute until he took deep breaths to calm himself.

“…Sorry you had to see that,” he sighed.

“I have patrols looking for the rest of his gang,” reported Tanshwar. “We’ll find them.”

“We’re going to hold you to that,” replied Jentay. “The people are incredibly angry and want answers from those involved in this scandal. You may go.” Tanshwar bowed and left the throne room.

Arsha reported the whole thing to Rokalla from her Ready Room. “That escalated quickly,” muttered Rokalla. “This won’t look good for the Kurontar Sea’s readiness and unity, especially if war’s on the horizon.”

“We’re giving the police a helping hand,” reported Arsha. “Personally, this feels like desertion to me.”

“Me too,” agreed Rokalla. “Give whatever aid you can. The Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom would be a prime target for Dr. Borg in its current state.”

“Understood, Sir,” answered Arsha. “Arsha out.” The call ended and Arsha returned to the bridge. “Any communications from the kingdom?” she asked Shalvey.

“A request for further aid,” answered Shalvey. “The City Guard is assisting the police and want us to bring a platoon of Guardsmen to the end of their escape tunnel. The police found the end just the other day.”

“Accept their request and ask for details on when and where we’re picking up the City Guard Platoon,” directed Arsha.

The Endeavor picked the platoon up in the Central Plaza an hour later. They plotted a search pattern from the northern wall that would spiral outwards. They began the search and had just completed the first spiral, a five-hour long journey, and were beginning the next when Malak found something. “Captain,” he reported, “sensors indicate something following us on the seafloor.”

“Can you identify it?” asked Arsha.

“Identifying now,” replied Malak. His eyes then went wide. “It’s a Golem! …Wait, a Golem? Beneath the water?”

“Splitters might have improved on them!” declared Arsha. “Beam that Golem to the brig!”

“Beaming,” reported the brig’s transporter chief. After a few seconds, he reported that the transport was complete.

“Denstra, take a team and figure out how that Golem was able to stay together underwater,” ordered Arsha.

“Aye, Captain,” confirmed Denstra. She then turned to Dalengor and Endea. “You two, with me.” The three then left the bridge.

“In the meantime, we continue our search,” declared Arsha. “Malak, keep sensors tuned for any more of those Golems.”

“Aye, Captain,” replied Malak.

Denstra, Dalengor, and Endea arrived at the brig to see the Golem. It was shaped in the standard Golem shape, but the color was all wrong. The clay it was made of looked silver instead of terracotta, grey, or brown. The light inside the eyes and mouth took a yellow color instead of red, orange, or blue. “What position are you?” demanded Denstra. “What branch are you?”

“I’m not a Splitter Golem,” scoffed the Golem in a female tone. “I don’t identify myself by my position. My name is Ms. Femfaf.”

“…A name?” asked Dalengor. “Golems don’t have names…or gender.”

“My breed of Golem does,” replied Femfaf. “I am Golem 7.0.”

“A more advanced Golem,” mused Endea. “That explains, somewhat, how you were able to stay together while submerged.”

“Having metal shavings introduced into your birthing clay,” answered Femfaf, “DOES tend to hold you together better. I followed you to propose an alliance.”

“Alliance?” asked Denstra. “Why should we honor that request?”

“Because those people that fled the kingdom,” explained Femfaf, “have damaged my organization and we want to see justice done to them.”

“What proof do we have that you’re on our level?” interrogated Denstra.

“Absolutely none, given the circumstances,” replied Femfaf. “But, right now, you are proceeding under the assumption that I was the only one of Golem 7.0.”

“…You brought a whole platoon with you,” realized Endea.

“They’re keeping well out of your sensor network,” continued Femfaf, “but they WILL go after the deserters and, if necessary, kill them. I want to prove that we don’t need to be that savage. After all, wouldn’t it be easier for the Caldoras to dispense justice?”

“…I’ll need to talk to the Captain about this,” remarked Denstra. “You’re not leaving that cell. Dalengor, Endea, watch i…her.”

“Understood,” replied Dalengor. Denstra left the brig to report the news.

“An alliance?!” protested the Guard Captain.

“Golems are shock-troopers,” continued Arsha, “they live for destruction. Why would they want to see any form of justice?”

“I have a feeling this particular Golem,” replied Denstra, “is one more clever than Splitters want.”

“Well, we need to find the deserters,” mused Arsha. “…Tell Femfaf that we’ll be allying with them but watching them closely.”

“Captain, I must protest this course of action,” argued the Guard Captain as his fins twitched. “For all we know, these new Golems are in the service of Dr. Borg.”

“That’s why we’re watching them,” answered Arsha. “The instant any single Golem does something against us, we destroy them.”

“That’s something I can get behind,” conceded the Guard Captain. “I withdraw my objections.” Arsha then nodded to Denstra and Denstra left the room to carry out her orders.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-3

Samuje swam through the castle in a purposeful manner during the night, barely acknowledging the guards that said “hello” to her. She made her way to the Caldora family’s private communications console, reserved for contacting Realmfleet. She keyed in a command to open a communications channel. “This is Princess Samuje Caldora, requesting to speak with Admiral Sanfar,” she began. “Admiral, are you receiving?” An elderly Merman then appeared.

“Your Highness?” he quizzed. “What are you doing calling me? Is there a problem?”

“I need to have my Captaincy reinstated,” answered Samuje.

“What for?” asked Sanfar.

“…I need to fix the mistake of the Gamfinar Jungle,” explained Samuje.

“…Revenge,” scoffed Sanfar. “I’m sorry, but no. I won’t have your Captaincy restored because you feel the need to avenge your crew. I won’t have you make the same mistake as me.”

“Mistake?!” argued Samuje.

“Yes, mistake!” snapped Sanfar. “Revenge is NEVER the answer! You’re not commanding a skyship until a Psychiatrist has deemed you mentally fit enough! End of discussion!” The call then ended. Samuje sighed as her shoulders sagged. She turned to swim out and yelped in surprise as a Merman was floating by the door.

“Your Highness,” greeted the Merman.

“Endrek!” gulped Samuje. “What are you doing, floating around here?!”

“What am I doing?” asked Endrek, Captain of the Royal Guard. “I think the question is what are YOU doing?”

“…I, uh, I…thought I…heard a burglar,” lied Samuje.

“Of course,” remarked Endrek. “And you thought the best way to scare them off was to call Realmfleet about getting you back in the Captain’s Chair.” Samuje gave up her attempts to lie.

“I have to defend my people,” she insisted, “and the best way to do that…!”

“Your Highness, put yourself in my place,” interrupted Endrek, “and look at this from a sensible position.”

“I am!” hissed Samuje.

“Crashing into walls like this is NOT sensible,” remarked Endrek. “You have a burning desire to help, that IS a strength, but it can be used as a weakness, especially where your mental health is concerned. You can’t just live for other people with disregard to yourself.”

“My personal feelings are unimportant!” insisted Samuje. “I have to get back into the Captain’s Chair!”

“For your own good, take my advice,” urged Endrek. “Listen to someone whose head isn’t always above the water’s surface. Forget Realmfleet for a while!”

“…No!” declared Samuje. “This is a matter of principle with me! I’m going back in the air!”

“You’ll crash and burn if you try it right now,” muttered Endrek. “Crash and burn. Good night.” He turned to swim off before he remembered something. “And try to keep the noise down. Some people around here are trying to sleep!” He finally left and Samuje rolled her eyes before swimming back to bed.

On the Endeavor, Shalvey was asleep at her workstation. When Thangred came in, he sighed as he saw Shalvey with her head on her desk. He retrieved a blanket and placed it on her when he noticed what was on the screen. A notification was flashing on the screen. As Thangred read it, he nudged Shalvey. “Hey! Shalvey!” he whispered. “Shalvey, wake up!”

“Mm, whu?” mumbled Shalvey as she woke up.

“Look!” urged Thangred as he pointed the computer. Shalvey blinked as her vision was returning to focus. When they finally cleared, her eyes became wider! She rubbed her eyes to make sure she wasn’t seeing things and the notification remained the same! It read “Audio/visual sort complete. Audio/visual threading complete. Audio/visual file decoded.”

“YES!” cheered Shalvey as she thrust her fists into the air. “Let’s see it!” She typed in a command and the video played to reveal what was going on. As they watched, their happy faces turned to ones of angry disbelief.

“I don’t believe it!” growled Thangred.

“Mr. Iggir’s in on this gag too?!” hissed Shalvey. She activated the intercom. “Shalvey to Arsha.”

“Go ahead, Commander,” replied Arsha’s voice.

“Captain, could you and Chief Inspector Tanshwar meet me and Thangred in the Conference Room?” requested Shalvey. “I just finished with the two files.”

Arsha and Tanshwar were opposite Shalvey and Thangred as Shalvey prepared her presentation on her findings. “Like the police,” she began, “I had believed the files to be audio files, but I was turning up nothing when I was running strictly audio sorts. After I had to take a mental break, I was hit by inspiration. What if one of the files WASN’T an audio file? I then ran audio/visual sorts and my theory was proven right after the second try.”

“So, they’re just two halves of a video file?” asked Tanshwar.

“Exactly,” confirmed Shalvey. “As Thangred and I watched the video, we learned what was going on with the kidnappings.”

“You mean you have a culprit?!” asked Arsha.

“And a motive,” answered Shalvey.

“Let’s see it!” urged Tanshwar. Shalvey pressed play on the video. It opened with a bunch of Merfolk hanging around a warehouse. “Hey, those are the kidnapped people!” revealed Tanshwar.

“They look pretty calm for being kidnapped,” observed Arsha.

“You’re right,” mused Tanshwar. “I know a few of them should be hyperventilating by now. Why…wait, someone’s opening the warehouse door.” The person wore a cowl to disguise their features as they swam in.

“There we are,” chuckled the person as they removed the obscuring cowl, revealing HIS face. “The city’s in a tizzy.”

“Mr. Iggir?!” yelped Tanshwar.

“Mr. Iggir,” called a Mermaid, “just so we’re clear, this is all to get rid of Tanshwar?”

“Exactly,” replied Mr. Iggir. “I tell you, the man’s just ridiculous!”

“You ain’t wrong,” remarked another Mermaid. “He’s been hounding me over ‘improper usage of medical tools’ and some stupid thing over a medical license! So, what, because I don’t have some fancy card, I can’t put my degree to practice?!”

“Er, that’s the general idea!” commented Arsha.

“Well, once he’s forced to resign,” replied Mr. Iggir, “I’ll take over and we’ll all go to town! Business will finally boom again!” The video ended.

“Who’s gonna resign?!” growled Tanshwar.

“Last time I checked,” recalled Thangred, “the Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom wasn’t the safest place in the Realms until you took over as Chief of Police a thousand years ago.”

“Exactly!” confirmed Tanshwar. “I managed to keep criminal activity down so far and I won’t stop now!”

“It sounds like Mr. Iggir really profited from those lawless days,” remarked Shalvey.

“Yeah, well, he’s gonna REALLY be bankrupt once I tell the Royal Family about this!” declared Tanshwar. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to make a report to the Royal Family. May I have that video?”

“Of course,” replied Shalvey as she handed him the data crystal the video was transferred to. He departed the conference room in a water chair.

“Commander Shalvey, I’m impressed,” praised Arsha.

“It was a tough assignment, I will flat out admit,” sighed Shalvey. “I almost killed myself. Thangred had to step in to stop me from spinning my wheels uselessly.”

“You tend to go at assignments without a break,” remarked Thangred.

“I’d prefer not to lose one of my officers like that,” advised Arsha. “Please take sufficient mental breaks next time, all right?”

“Aye, Captain,” confirmed Shalvey.

The Caldoras were having lunch together. Samuje was just poking her food with her fork. King Jentay noticed this and decided to speak. “Samuje,” he began, “I trust you’re not on a starvation diet?”

“No, Daddy, I’m not,” sighed Samuje. “I’m just not feeling hungry right now.”

“I know you want to go back to Realmfleet,” continued Jentay, “but you served honorably. There’s no shame in leaving now.”

“With no corruption in this kingdom?” muttered Samuje. “I can’t stay in good conscience while our allies need our help.”

“That might prove to be a spurious claim, if the report I got before lunch is any indication,” countered Jentay. Samuje then looked at her father.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Well, this is something for the whole family to hear,” remarked Jentay. “Might as well tell everyone now.” He cleared his throat and everyone gave him their attention. “My dears, I received a frightening report before we sat down for lunch,” he began. “Mr. Iggir’s the one responsible for the kidnappings.”

“WHAT?!” everyone yelped.

“What for?!” demanded Samuje.

“According to Chief Inspector Tanshwar,” explained Jentay, “the Endeavor found evidence that Mr. Iggir and his ‘victims’ staged this whole thing so everyone would return to a view of looking out for number one. They determined it to be the most profitable outlook on life.”

“You mean this whole thing was a cash grab for them?!” snapped Marianes.

“Oh, I hope Mr. Iggir gets what’s coming to him!” hissed Jalmurna. Samuje remained quiet as the family talked.

“…Corruption at home?” she thought to herself. “I can’t go back to Realmfleet on that note. …I guess I better stay here for a while longer.”

“We need to meet Tanshwar and Mr. Iggir once the idiots that were in on this are located,” declared Queen Lammeera.

“Agreed,” rumbled King Jortol. “I won’t have this in our kingdom!”

“The question then becomes,” mused King Kwinmar, “who else is part of this demented gag?”

“I hope it ain’t Dr. Borg,” shuddered Murbira.

“This seems a little too petty for Dr. Borg’s schemes,” replied Samuje.

“Well, we need to make sure,” declared Jentay.

“I’ll work with the City Guard to prevent further incidents like this,” offered Samuje.

“…I thought Realmfleet Captains can’t join the City Guard,” remarked Marianes.

“I’m switching priorities,” replied Samuje. “I’m going to resign from Realmfleet. I don’t know, maybe I’m wussing out…”

“Samuje Caldora,” declared King Vorko, “giving up that kind of power willingly, especially after what you went through, is the hardest thing anyone can do. What you’re doing isn’t a sign of weakness, but of strength and I could not be more proud of you.”

“Hear, hear!” called Marianes.

“Hear, hear!” repeated the entire family. Samuje sighed happily as a great weight was lifted from her shoulders. She finally ate, her appetite returning.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-2

The data crystals were plugged into the Endeavor’s computer and Shalvey was busy decoding them. Her work went well into the night as she tried every audio sorting method to get a clear answer. One such night, she was busy typing away at the computer when Thangred came in. “Shalvey, you need rest!” he boomed in the usual Dwarven bluntness. “You’ve refused to eat your meals, you’ve been skipping out on rest, and you’ve barely spoken to anyone! You’re about to kill yourself!”

“Yes, yes, I’ll get right on that once I’m done,” replied Shalvey absentmindedly.

“You’re not even listening!” snapped Thangred as he whirled the chair around.

“HEY!” snapped Shalvey as she forgot she was a Mermaid and tried to stand up to tower over him. She immediately collapsed to the floor, landing on her face. A few seconds after she landed, she moved her head so her face wasn’t lying on the floor and massaged her nose to relieve it of pain.

“Shalvey, Sweetheart, you can’t kill yourself over this,” urged Thangred as he scooped her up bridal style and carried her to the tub. He turned on the water and filled the tub so Shalvey could hydrate herself. Shalvey sighed as the water melted her aches and pains away.

“Oooh, that feels good,” she sighed. She then turned to Thangred. “I’m sorry, Sweetie,” she bid. “I’ve just been taking this personally.”

“Why?” asked Thangred.

“When I was a little girl,” explained Shalvey, “my mother was kidnapped. Even though Dad followed through on the kidnapping terms, we never saw Mom alive again.”

“…I…I didn’t know,” stammered Thangred as he realized Shalvey’s motives.

“You’re right, though,” continued Shalvey. “I’m not gonna be much help to them if I’m crashing into walls.”

“Then let’s get a meal at Barmek’s,” suggested Thangred. “You need food something fierce.”

“…Yeah, I do,” sighed Shalvey. Thangred brought her water chair to the tub and filled it with water, then helped Shalvey into it. They then made their way to Barmek’s and were greeted by Mr. Barmek.

“Welcome, my friends!” he cheered. He then noticed Shalvey’s expression. “…How many times did you sleep?”

“Sleep? What’s that?” snarked Shalvey. “I’m just taking a break from all the work I’ve been doing lately. I’m coming up with nothing.”

“You need brain food and something to help you rest,” declared Mr. Barmek. “How iffy are you with fish?”

“Love it!” sighed Shalvey happily.

“Perfect,” replied Mr. Barmek. He then turned to Jaltor. “Shalvey on table 2 needs a Galdredan leafy salad, Midoran salmon, Rokanth yogurt with berries and walnuts, and Wysper tea!”

“Brain food special for the Communications Officer on table 2! Coming up!” called Jaltor.

While Shalvey was having her long-awaited dinner, the Caldoras and their pet moray eel, Skalomel, were all in their main dining hall, enjoying their meal. “Rosa, sweetie, could you pass me the crab cakes?” asked Queen Jurma.

“Sure thing,” replied Rosa as she passed down a plate.

“And I’ll have more lobster,” called Skalomel. No one passed him a dish for a few seconds.

“May I have some clams?” Marianes asked Troga.

“Anything for you, my beauty,” answered Troga as he passed the clams.

“And I’ll have more lobster,” repeated Skalomel. Still nothing.

“Want some tuna?” Floona asked Samuje.

“Ooh, yes, please!” replied Samuje.

“HEY!” called Skalomel. “What’s a moray gotta do to get some shellfish around here?!”

“You’ve had enough, Skalomel,” remarked Queen Arlamu.

“No offense,” continued Erga, “but you’re getting pudgier than me.”

“Almost like a frightened pufferfish,” sniggered Jalmurna.

“Jalmurna,” admonished King Kulptak.

“What?! He is!” protested Jalmurna.

“Me?!” argued Skalomel. “I’m as lithe as a sea snake! Besides, I only had 14 of the 15 food groups!”

“What’s next?” snarked Dromu. “Whale blubber?”

“Dromu, please!” snapped Kulptak.

“Not to excuse my daughters’ insults,” mused King Jortol, “but maybe you should go on a diet.”

“I don’t need to go on a diet,” snapped Skalomel as he swam away from the table, offended, “because I’m not fat! I’m big-boned!” He headed for the little eel door and made it halfway through before he got stuck. He tried pulling himself out to save dignity. No luck, the Caldoras couldn’t help but giggle.

“Need a push?” asked Valomee.

“You laugh, I poop in your bed!” threatened Skalomel. He then noticed something outside. “Hey! Who’s that in the courtyard?” Marianes, Jortol, Arlamu, and Kulptak swam to the windows and found two people in the courtyard.

“It’s Thengo and Marshii!” remarked Marianes.

“What are they doing here?” asked Troga from the table.

“No clue,” replied Jortol. “I’m getting to the bottom of this!” He grabbed the door handle.

“WAIT! KINGY! I’M STILL…!” Too late. The door opened and Skalomel’s rear end was slammed into the wall. As someone tended to the poor moray eel, Jortol swam to the courtyard.

“Excuse me!” he called. Marshii and Thengo turned to give him their attention.

“Ah, there you are,” greeted Marshii. “We’re using medical privilege here. Where’s Samuje?”

“Ah, it’s about her methods of dealing with her trauma,” realized Jortol. “One moment.” He swam back to the dining hall and got Samuje. As they returned to the courtyard, she stopped as she realized what’s going on.

“You have reservations about my coping mechanisms, don’t you?” she muttered.

“Your Highness, with all due respect,” replied Thengo, “it sounds like you’re trying to force yourself back into Realmfleet.”

“Doctor, I assure you,” soothed Samuje, “I AM giving myself time to recover. I know what I’m ready for and what still needs time. The fact that I’m talking to you tells me that I don’t have any grudge against Realmfleet Officers. I’m still uneasy about looking at a Realmfleet ship, much less setting a fin onboard. I assure you; I’ll make a full recovery.”

“There’s no such thing as a ‘full recovery’ from that kind of survivor’s guilt,” countered Thengo. “Trust me, I’ve had a few cases like that.”

“…Survivor’s guilt?” hissed Samuje.

“Like Thengo, I’ve seen this before,” continued Marshii. “It was at its worst when I tended to your injuries. You feel as if you should have died with your crew. You somehow think that you surviving dishonors those that died. It looks to me that you’re only trying to get back in the Captain’s chair so you can ‘die in glorious battle’!”

“You’re getting rather personal, Doctor!” warned Samuje. “Realmfleet needs ship captains, especially now that Oyed’s coming back!”

“Realmfleet needs STABLE ship captains, especially now that Oyed’s coming back,” corrected Thengo.

“I AM stable!” snapped Samuje.

“With all due respect, no, you’re not,” answered Thengo. “You really need to step back from Realmfleet for a while longer.”

“…You’re asking me to stay out of Realmfleet?!” shouted Samuje.

“We’re asking you to look at your mental health objectively,” countered Marshii. “You’re coming off as self-destructive and you’ve been pushing your family away for a while. Your mental well-being comes before your service record.”

“…You can leave!” hissed Samuje. Marshii and Thengo then left the courtyard as the guards escorted them.

“Er, Samuje,” ventured Jortol.

“Just leave me alone!” grunted Samuje as she swam off. Jortol winced as he imagined what was going on through her head.

Thangred and Shalvey were back in their quarters, both crashing on the couch. Shalvey had her head in Thangred’s lap as they snored. Shalvey was the first to stir. She sat up slowly and yawned, letting Thangred snore away. She stroked his beard as her chair arrived. “Keep dreaming,” she whispered. She then maneuvered herself into the chair and then she made her way to the coffeepot. She poured herself a cup, then moved back to her workstation. Her computer had its screensaver on. She chuckled a little bit. “Lots of pretty colors,” she sighed as her hand hovered over the mouse. Then…it happened. “…Colors,” she mused. “…Wait, what if…I mean, such files WERE mistaken once or twice…”

“Something the matter?” asked Thangred’s voice.

“Did I wake you?” winced Shalvey as Thangred approached her seat.

“Yes, but I have no arguments being woken by your voice,” replied Thangred.

“Sorry,” muttered Shalvey.

“Like I said, your beautiful voice is always a pleasant thing to be woken by,” assured Thangred. “I didn’t fully hear your muttering before I spoke. Is something wrong with the decoding?”

“I think the police may be wrong about one or both of the files,” replied Shalvey.

“How so?” asked Thangred.

“What if one of them ISN’T an audio file?” mused Shalvey. “What if one of them is visual? If that’s the case, I need to run an audio/visual sort for both, sorting one by sound waves and one by colors. After that, it’s a matter of stringing the two files together in a logical pattern.”

“How long will that take?” asked Thangred.

“That depends,” replied Shalvey. “What time is it?”

“14:45,” answered Thangred

“Accounting for the possibility that I might be running the wrong kinds of sorts on both files,” remarked Shalvey, answering Thangred’s question, “easily until 35:00.”

“Yikes,” winced Thangred. “Better keep some coffee and snacks on standby.”

“Yep,” confirmed Shalvey.

“Well, I’m heading off to see how the water pumps are doing,” rumbled Thangred. “We can’t have water in the engines. Good luck.”

“Thanks,” replied Shalvey as she typed at her computer, setting the parameters for the audio/visual sort and sipped her coffee.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-1

Dreams are a rather fickle thing. You may wish someone to have pleasant dreams, but their own minds will work against your wishes. For one night, in the Captain’s Quarters of a Dauntless-class skyship, the Captain’s mind worked against the wishes of her lovers. Her ears twitching as her expressions grew more worrisome, she soon started mumbling. “No…no, please…no…NO!” Arsha Royana then sat upright at lightspeed, wide awake, panting, and drenched in sweat. She ran her hands down her face, then looked around at her quarters, then looked down at the bed to see her fiancés, Lardeth Felompha, Falnii Loftanaf, Malnar Emboramii, Gorfanth Steelhorn, and Foresna Falshenda, all still asleep. She looked at the clock to see that it was 39:25; 11 hours and 25 minutes until dawn, 1:00 of a new day. She got out of bed, crawling over Lardeth and Foresna in the process, and headed to the fridge to get some milk. After pouring it into a cup, she then cast a small flame, held it under the cup, and warmed her milk. She slowly drank her warm milk, wanting it to do the trick. After she finished, she yawned and returned to bed, climbing over Lardeth and Foresna again, and settled into her spot on the bed. “This is becoming a habit for you,” mumbled Lardeth’s voice.

“…The prospect of war terrifies me,” admitted Arsha in a whisper. “…Maybe I should visit Thengo.”

“Not a bad idea,” replied Lardeth. He then pulled her close to him. “Falnii can also help.”

“I don’t want to abuse her gifts,” mumbled Arsha. “Besides, my dreams are a little too bloody, even for her to dispel.”

“Won’t know unless you ask,” mused Lardeth.

“…Yeah, I guess,” sighed Arsha. “Good night.”

“Night,” returned Lardeth. Both of them drifted back to sleep.

Once the dawn broke, everyone woke up, ready to start a new day. Falnii had cooked up breakfast, bacon and eggs with toast and honey butter. “So,” mused Malnar, “what’s the Endeavor’s Captain up to today?”

“Got a mission in the Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom,” explained Arsha.

“Er, Realmfleet’s not very popular there these days,” reminded Lardeth, thinking of what Arsha explained to him about Oyed’s first defeat.

“The Caldoras asked for aid anyways,” replied Arsha. “Merfolk have been disappearing left, right, and center and their investigators are utterly baffled.”

“Okay, that’s a little terrifying,” gulped Gorfanth.

“A little?” gulped Falnii.

“Has anyone found any…” Foresna was almost afraid to say the word, “…bodies?”

“No, they haven’t,” replied Arsha. “People are terrified right now and the Endeavor needs to help, no matter the public opinion.”

“Realmfleet, Daddy?!” protested Princess Jalmurna to King Fordro in the throne room of the Caldoras’ undersea castle in the Kurontar Sea Merfolk Kingdom. “After what they put Samuje through?!”

“They have the technology needed to assist us,” answered Fordro. “Look, I know you have misgivings about Realmfleet, but, right now, we need to deal with this crisis.”

“I won’t suffer them in our kingdom!” defied Jalmurna.

“That’s not your decision to make,” hissed Fordro.

“I can’t let them anywhere near Samuje!” countered Jalmurna.

“Who do you think asked for them?” called Samuje’s voice. She swam into the throne room and gave Jalmurna a hard look.

“…You can’t be serious!” hissed Jalmurna. “After what they did to you?! I’ve been protecting you from them and THIS is how you repay me?!”

“I never asked for your help!” snapped Samuje. “It was never your job! Now, if you don’t mind, I need to talk to Papa ALONE!”

“But…!” protested Jalmurna.

“Jalmurna Enfeer Caldora,” rumbled Fordro, getting her attention, “leave us.” Jalmurna floated in her spot before she swam off.

“You’re ungrateful!” she hissed to Samuje. She left the throne room and the heavy doors slammed.

“And you’re too damned overprotective,” muttered Samuje.

“Samuje, I hate to sound like her,” began Fordro, “but are you ABSOLUTELY sure you can stand a Realmfleet presence here?”

“As long as I don’t go near the ship,” declared Samuje, “I’ll be all right. I can handle the crew members.”

“Very well,” sighed Fordro. “Just make sure you’re properly taking care of yourself.”

“I will, Daddy,” promised Samuje. Father and daughter then hugged each other. Samuje then broke off the embrace a few seconds later. “Now, I’m going to be hanging out with Mama Thanmar, Mama Hurmu, Mama Brenmu, Marianes, Klarii, Drasada, and Diumal.

“Girl’s day out today?” chuckled Fordro.

“Yep, got a whole day planned at the Succulent Tail spa,” answered Samuje.

“You girls have fun, then,” wished Fordro. “We’ve all handled matters of state today, so Papa Vorko, Lord Endrek, Skalomel, and I are going to spend the rest of the day in the Southern Courtyard.”

“See you tonight, Papa!” bid Samuje as she swam out.

The Endeavor was cleared to land at Docking Bay 2 and the landing ramp was lowered. After the land-dwellers had cast various spells to compensate for lower light and being able to breathe and move in water effectively, Arsha, Denstra, Dalengor, and Marshii swam into the city, escorted by guards as a few citizens glared at them. “Sheesh, feel the love here,” muttered Denstra.

“Samuje was one of the people’s favorites of the Caldora Princesses,” explained Arsha.

“Ah,” realized Denstra. They soon arrived at the police station and met with Chief Inspector Tanshwar. They shook his hand before sitting in his office.

“I have to say, this whole thing baffles me,” he muttered as he fiddled with a shell on his desk. “We’ve been turning up absolutely nothing in terms of clues.”

“That’s certainly troubling,” remarked Dalengor.

“You think there might be wounded?” asked Marshii.

“Or worse,” replied Tanshwar. “I don’t want to have to tell someone’s mother that…” He was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Now, see, I KNOW I told Jenshee that I was busy with you guys!” The door was flung open as a Merman angrily swam in.

“Chief Inspector Tanshwar, I demand a word!” he shouted.

“Captain Royana, may I present Mr. Gol. D. Iggir, head of the Kurontar Citizens’ League,” Tanshwar introduced. “Mr. Iggir, what, pray tell, are you doing here?”

“Have you seen the news?!” barked Mr. Iggir. He presented a data pad displaying the headline of the featured news article.

“‘Mysterious Kidnappings Panic Kingdom’,” Tanshwar read aloud. “‘Police Shakeup as Serial Kidnapper Strikes Again’.”

“There you are!” snapped Mr. Iggir. “There it is, in written words! This kidnapper’s making a clownfish out of the police department! Now, look here, Inspector, you’ve GOT to catch that kidnapper!”

“Just a minute, Mr. Iggir,” soothed Tanshwar, “we’re doing the best we can. In fact, with Realmfleet’s help, we’ll catch them as soon as possible!”

“Realmfleet, BAH!” scoffed Mr. Iggir. “Look here, this kidnapper MUST be caught! If you can’t catch them, as head of the Kurontar Citizens’ League, I’m gonna have to demand your resignation! I don’t want to make you any trouble, my friend, but this thing’s gone far enough! In fact, it’s gone TOO far and something’s gotta be done!”

“Mr. Iggir, if you would please give me a chance!” snapped Tanshwar. “We’re doing what we can with the resources we have! After all, police officers can only do so much! You know how the news builds these things up!”

“Builds things up?!” repeated Mr. Iggir. “I had six calls yesterday! Six calls from irate citizens, demanding action! I refuse to be the lobster!”

“Come on, Mr. Iggir!” protested Tanshwar. “Nobody’s asking you to be the lobster! We’ll catch this kidnapper!”

“You’re supposed to have an efficient police department!” snapped Mr. Iggir. “Yet, you can’t catch a third-rate hoodlum who seems to be Depths-bent on making mothers cry in worry and fear that they’ll never see their kids again! This is your last chance! Good day!”

“Mr. Iggir, let’s understand each other!” called Tanshwar. Mr. Iggir wasn’t in an understanding mood as he angrily swam out of the office and slammed the door. Tanshwar was trying to keep a lid on his temper in front of Arsha and her party.

“Mr. Iggir sure sounds pleasant,” muttered Denstra.

“That man’s been hounding the police department for too long,” explained Tanshwar. “He can’t seem to understand that investigations like this require an uninterrupted investigation. The Kurontar Citizens’ League and the police used to work together, yet nowadays, we’re always at odds! I COULD demand his resignation, but he hasn’t done anything to warrant such a demand.”

“I don’t want to even remotely sound like him,” interjected Arsha, “but are you absolutely sure there AREN’T any clues?”

“Just two audio files that we couldn’t decode at all,” answered Tanshwar.

“May we see them?” asked Denstra.

“Knock yourself out,” replied Tanshwar. He activated his intercom. “Jenshee, could you send up the two audio files?”

“You got it, Sir,” confirmed a woman’s voice.

“Thank you,” bid Tanshwar. He explained more of the case to Arsha’s party as they waited, revealing when this all started, who got kidnapped, the lack of any ransom notes, and who recommended that Realmfleet got involved.

“Samuje? Really?” asked Arsha. “I thought she wanted nothing to do with us anymore.”

“She’s trying to snap herself out of her trauma,” explained Tanshwar, “according to official sources.”

“That’s dangerous,” remarked Marshii. “It could fracture her mind even more. Thengo and I will need to see her.” A middle-aged Mermaid then entered the office with two data crystals.

“Perfect,” praised Tanshwar. “Thank you, Jenshee.” Jenshee nodded before swimming out of the office. “Each crystal contains one of the two audio files we can’t decode. I hope your crew can make heads or tails of it.”

“Shalvey is a master of communications,” answered Arsha. “We’ll get them decoded or die trying.”

“And I’m going to the Caldoras’ castle with Thengo to make a house call for Samuje,” declared Marshii.

“Please do what you can to help us,” pleaded Tanshwar. “As Mr. Iggir mentioned, mothers are too afraid to let their children out and are scared they won’t see them again.”

“We WILL fix this, I promise,” assured Arsha.

The Three Realms The Three Realms Cast


Frequently calling herself as hot as her home, the Under-realm’s Galdredan Lava Kingdom, Remsu the Succubus/Zephyr Blender is a trusted top lieutenant in Dr. Borg’s Realm Trinity Empire. Notice that the word “trusted” wasn’t in quotes? Well, that’s because she really IS trustworthy to Dr. Borg, trustworthy enough to be one of Dr. Borg’s spouses. At 21,345 years of age, she has enchanted her long hair to grow and shrink to any length she wishes to use for her attacks. She was orphaned a few days after she was born, but she’s decided not to let it stop her.