Courier Accomplished

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The door sprang open and revealed a smiling woman. Uillia was of medium height, with brown hair and eyes. Her hair was straight and held back in a tail, though some of it hung at the sides of her round face.

“Welcome to Hevvlar, and of course welcome back to our humble home!” she said as Solmi pulled back his hood and she recognized him. “Come on in.” She stepped back from the doorway to allow Solmi to walk in. “We’re just getting our day started. What kind of a sleep schedule are you on? Where did you just come from?”

“From Grendhill,” Solmi replied, “and for me it’s evening now. I’ll probably be ready to sleep around mid-morning. Would it be possible to use my old room?”
Uillia smiled again. “Of course! We’ve cleared it out for you since you sent word that you would be coming for a visit. What brings you out here? How long will you be in town?”

Solmi paused for a short moment. “Well, I thought I’d bring my musical inclinations out here and see what the scene is like. I could be here for a few days, or I could be here several months, granted I don’t wear out my welcome. Life was getting a little too monotonous. I wanted something different for a bit. I may hop from world to world for a week or two, but I think I’ll probably end up staying here for at least several weeks.”

Uillia nodded. “There’s some very interesting music these days. Some of the local musicians have started to play from rooftops with a hat on the ground down below them. Others insist only on playing next to a warm fire at night; they say it’s the best way to enjoy quiet, soothing music.” She moved a stray strand of hair from her face. “Oh, and how’s your friend Domido and his family?” She gave the last sentence slowly and in a clearly interested manner.

Solmi slowly nodded as he spoke. “Domido and Mifalla are doing well. Grendhill is calm as always, and loves the Farellas, as always. Mifalla has been looking large lately. Reedl agrees that she may be expecting more than twins.” Solmi hated to withhold the complete information from a good friend like Uillia, but it was not time yet for everybody to know that the children had been born. One could never be sure who was watching or listening. Once people stopped speculating about where the Arms might be, he could talk freely about the little princes and princesses. Just not about the location of their special gifts.
“More than twins, eh?,” Uillia asked rhetorically. “Well, that would make up for the late start they got. That’s a good thing; the Farella house has always dealt justly, and it will do Grendhill good if they continue on forever. Well, I have chores to do, and you probably want to put down your load before everybody else attacks you with questions—if the kids are even interested enough with what’s going on outside of Hevvlar.”

She led Solmi down the hall. “Here’s your door, right where you were when you and Domido visited years ago. We’ll have breakfast ready soon. Will you be hungry?”

“Yes, thank you, but I may be late. I would like to get unpacked and situated in here first. Don’t wait for me.”

Uillia smiled. “Alright, but don’t take forever. Kascho will want to see you before he’s snagged in the business of the day.”

As Solmi walked into the room, he closed the door behind him. Who knew how long he would be here? It was not an issue about whether he would wear out his welcome. The Farella family had long kept this house open for their needs whenever they needed it, providing financial incentive for Uillia and her parents before her (and her grandparents before them) to keep it up and available. If Solmi needed it, being such close friends with Domido, he could use it as long as he needed. Though the Farella reign did not extend outside of Grendhill, let alone to this world, Grendhill and Hevvlar were on friendly terms. The few people in Hevvlar aware of this house’s use had no objection to it.

His exact timing and traveling depended on how safe the Arms seemed. Solmi could not fully hide them right now. He needed to be sure that his room would be undisturbed while he hid them. He would wait instead until he bedded down to sleep. Of course, he couldn’t stay on Harrval long. He needed to travel more in case anybody was following him, to obscure the possible location of the Arms. He would travel for a couple of weeks, going to several different locations, always carrying the bag he had just set on the floor, keeping it filled to look as it did at this moment. He would travel with his hood up, as if he still needed to conceal his identity. Perhaps he still would need to.

As Solmi planned his route, he slid the bag under the bunk beds. He then re-made the bottom bunk “to his liking,” he would insist for a few days if anybody saw it, so that the covers hung over the edge of the bed to the floor, hiding the space underneath. He pulled out of his shoulder bag his few changes of clothes—few for the sake of traveling light—and placed them on the foot of the bed, neatly folded. He then pulled a smaller box out of his shoulder bag—a case about two hands long, one hand deep and one hand’s width thick. He set this on the table next to the beds and smiled to himself. The wood his instruments were made of would enjoy the slightly higher humidity in Hevvlar.

Before heading to the main room of the house for breakfast, Solmi indulged an urge to take a reminding look at this room’s usefulness. He walked over to the stone wall at the back of the room. The room was partially below ground level, so as he stooped, he looked for a particular stone low to the floor. He found it with his eyes, a stone with a groove and a bump on the top of the surface that jutted out from the wall. He lay his left index finger in the groove and tapped the bump five times, each time with a different finger of his right hand. The stone faded and disappeared, followed in turn by the stones around it, silently opening a circular hole in the wall a few feet wide. The hole gave way to a dirt tunnel leading down into the ground. This was the place to hide the Royal Arms.

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Traveling


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Solmi found himself shooting up, up, up, faster than he could have imagined if he had never taken the Thallenrose off-world before. Knowing he would find himself in the same pose he held before he was launched, he looked around and enjoyed the ride. As before, he could only see ahead of him; he could not watch Grendhill disappear behind him. He felt comfortably warm, although all was blackness and stars around him. The stars accelerated as they moved past in a rush of white dots. Solmi remembered his first time off the Thallenrose, how startling all this was, and how disorienting it was that he could not see where he was just a moment before. He looked back as he thought of this and felt like he was falling in pure darkness, since that was all he could see.

Solmi turned his head forward again and thought about his destination. Harrval was not so foreign to Tasalans like himself. It was markedly hillier, and a little less colorful, but otherwise not strange in appearance. It had grass, trees, stone, rivers, wind, and clouds in a rather blue sky. The sky was a little paler that it usually was in Grendhill, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

Solmi noticed the stars begin to decelerate almost imperceptibly. One star straight ahead of him began to grow brighter and larger as he drew closer to it. Then the star moved a little to the left as his path turned. Looking at it, his view included some of the void behind him. Rather than utter blackness, it was now filled with dark points of a red. Almost dizzy from the stark difference between the bright light and the dim redness behind him, he looked forward and determined not to look back again.

He found himself nearing Harrval, a large rock in space, of which he could only see a sliver on the left side, facing the growing star. As he came closer to the celestial body, he felt as if he were accelerating towards it. Whether this was true or only an effect of coming in so close to it, he did not know. Coming in close enough that Harrval took up most of his field of view, he was whipped around the bright side of the curved surface and had to squint. The sunlight reflected off the planet nearly blinded him after the infinite blackness he had faced. How blue the water looked! It never looked so blue when he visited the seaside on Harrval in his boyhood. Come to think of it, he thought as he looked up, the sun looked a little green while he rode the effect of the Thallenrose. And suddenly he saw the ground coming up.

Suddenly a world popped into place around him.

Solmi turned, taking his bearings, as soon as he found himself in his slumped position with his hood on. The Fassendais under his feet felt solid and smooth, similar to the Thallenrose, though it bore a different design. Solmi didn’t know yet what would face him in Hevvlar. He stepped off the Fassendais, thinking about his situation. Though it was likely that somebody in town knew the Farellas were expecting, it was not likely that they knew it was exactly today, and even less likely that they would expect Solmi to show up with the Royal Arms in their city. Still, it was feasible that if somebody did guess, that they could wait at the edge of the square day after day and watch for him. Besides, it was always a good idea to protect oneself when he had no idea what might be currently happening in Hevvlar, especially because he had to appear in the middle of it without being able to see it first.

Solmi continued to look about surreptitiously as he walked out of the square. It was nearly empty. It was early morning here, it looked. Or late evening? He took out his compass. He turned towards the lighter part of the sky, then looked at the needle of his compass. It pointed towards his right. So I’m looking west, he thought. Navigation was complicated in different worlds. Sun in the west…so it’s early morning in Hevvlar. A few minutes will bring full daylight. Time to move quickly.

Solmi stepped lightly off the Fassendais. With soft footfalls, he padded through the city. Up hills, down, between them. As he walked, hood still on, he noticed the thatched rooftops distinguishing themselves in golden hue, while the tiled ones calmly responded in a reddish brown. This accented the clean, smooth gray stone that composed most of the homes and shops he passed.

As Solmi neared his destination, he heard Hevvlar waking up. Cocks continued to crow a familiar cry in odd tones. He remembered the different breeds of animals the people kept on Harrval. Some were familiar types in different varieties; others were new and strange types entirely. They had very large chickens here, as well as some very small dogs. Tilutos barked alarm at the large birds in the distance.

Solmi approached the door of a large house. Hoping that he was not rousing them, but that they were awake already inside, he knocked.

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