Thalazzar emerged on deck on the heels of his demon. His snow white beard was black again, now with soot. He blinked the ash of the smoldering midship out of his eyes to look up in the sky. It is no wonder the sailors on deck hardly notice him. While his demon raged on deck, flying towards them from the coast on a great cloud of steam is Sparks Kantankerin’s unmistakable airship. Flower bedecked pennants flapped in the wind.
Tiberio and Nimbus came next, streaked in blood. Soon the others followed. As the airship came closer, bolts of energy shot up at the sky from the sands below the Thala-Sanat and the war barge’s great guns unleashed a barrage of stone shot. Sparks had some surprises of his own. The mad clatter of dozens of different Gnomish devices cracked down on the war barge while ropes and ladders descended from above.
“Gnomes,” Thalazzar sneered through his smile, “I never thought I’d be so glad to see a ship full of Gnomes.” He took hold of the ladder and began to climb, looking back at the Thala-Sanat long enough to see his Demon still rampaging on the deck below, chasing frightened sand sailors. There was no sign of the witch’s chicken-legged hut.
Thalazzar’s reverie was shattered along with the hull of the Cutter when another bolt of energy streaked up from the Thala-Mourne on the sand below. He made eye contact then with Nimbus climbing behind him. The monk had been staring at his Kobold’s tail.
As the airship banked and moved back towards the coast, Thalazzar had to hold tight. T’self extended an arm to help him aboard. Tiberio had collapsed, exhausted on deck. He was singing softly to Tallim whom he still held in his arms. Keratone, the Clockwork medic with too many fingers worked on them both, “We’re going to have to fit you with some new teeth,” he said in his relentlessly upbeat manner.
Nimbus gave Rin’s broken and desiccated body to a pair of Clockwork airmen and he surveyed his erstwhile Companions, “Where is Arek?” he asked. None answered, for in truth none knew. Their Dwarven leader had entered the Hut with them, but, like Mohadir, he did come out. There silence spoke volumes. Nimbus spoke plainly, “The Children of Sentar do not fall so easily. We shall see brave Arek again.” None responded.
Sparks, having ensured that Frankie was well cared for, approached the wizard then. “Mr. Thalazzar,” he squinted, “Did you lose an owl?” He pointed up the mizzen mast. Thalazzar followed his line of sight to see Tyconderoga perched, keeping a watchful eye on his mistress. Ty's feet shifted and his eyes narrowed when he looked upon the bearded wizard. Sparks began laughing as if this were the greatest joke in the world, and walked away to yell obscenities at the Theoneans below.
Thalazzar thought of some obscenities himself. It would be a long trip back to the Federation.
Thalazzar's Waking Dream