Amanda, twenty-four years old and Beya of Xenodar, is helping train her brother’s soldiers when a page informs her that a Rellugai messenger from Genbak Khan has arrived. As Genbak is her liege lord, Amanda immediately departs the training field for her audience hall.
Once Amanda is seated upon her ornate chair, the messenger is admitted to the audience hall. The young man bows.
“Excellency, I bring the words of your lord, Genbak Khan.” Amanda gives the formulaic reply.
“I will hear the words of my lord.” Strangely, the messenger takes a deep breath before reciting his message. The reason becomes immediately clear, though.
“‘A dragon has come upon the steppes. It is killing goats, horses, and men. I have immediate need of your sorcery to deal with the monster.‘” Amanda works to conceal her surprise—and fear. “Excellency, I am required to take your answer back, immediately.” Amanda takes a deep breath of her own.
“Inform my lord that Xenodar is coming.” The messenger bows and departs. The door closes, leaving her alone in the hall.
Still seating, Amanda begins a meditation to calm her spirit. She opens her eyes as the sound of the door opening again, and sees Xenograg enter. He sees her pale complexion, and walks all the way up to his daughter’s chair.
“That bad?” Her nod is almost a quiver.
“A dragon, father.” The sides of Xenograg’s eyes twitch, and he grunts. He pauses before continuing.
“What are you going to do first?” Amanda knows her father is not being cruel, but is instead pushing her to focus on the problem at hand; it still hurts, though. She takes another deep breath, and another.
“I need to know what I am dealing with. I will use the Hall of Dreaming.” Xenograg smiles in approval.
“Good thinking. May I join you?”
“Please! I was about to ask.”
“I will go prepare the hall. Come when you are ready.”
The Hall of Dreaming is a room located high in the beylik’s keep tower. Its dedicated purpose is to facilitate magical scrying. Xenograg built the room to aid him in divination, his weakest magical discipline. Amanda is as strong in divination as Xenograg is weak, but the hall is still a useful aid to her.
The hall requires preparation before use. After lighting a fire in the room’s brazier, Xenograg set a shallow bronze bowl atop it. He double-checks that each of the two glass flasks sitting on the sideboard contain the correct amount of liquid. Satisfied, he lifts one and carefully pours its contents into the bowl. He waits for the liquid to reach a slow boil before adding the second fluid. The bowl immediately begins to generate a warm, pleasant white smoke. The hall fills with it, though it does not much obstruct the candlelight illumination. Visibility drops to arm’s length. Someone standing in the center of the room cannot see anything but white mist; no walls, no candles, no brazier. It is a conducive environment for focusing a magician’s Sight.
Xenograg exits the hall and closes the door behind him. A sideboard table beside the door out here has a stoppered silver bottle and two silver goblets. He has already checked them, and resists the urge to do so again. Amanda has not yet arrived, but Xenograg is not surprised considering the circumstances. He is, himself, less than calm, in fact. He is also already thinking ahead. He does not expect the results of this scrying session to change his conclusion. It might, though.
Xenograg hears someone—surely Amanda—climbing the stairs to this level.
Amanda steps out of the stairwell. Xenograg meets her halfway and opens his arms. Amanda smiles and accepts the hug.
“Shall I pour?”
“Yes, I am ready.” Xenograg unstoppers the silver bottle and pours a small amount of liquid from it into each goblet. He quickly restoppers the bottle while Amanda takes the goblets in hand. Giving one to Xenograg, they quickly imbibe this potion. Setting down the goblets, both sorcerers enter the Hall of Dreaming—now dense with white smoke.
Knowing the dimensions of the hall, Amanda steps to the center of the room. Xenograg follows close behind, and stays behind her as they wait for the Potion of Dreaming to take effect.
(To be continued….)