"When will you Rayje?"
There's not much to be seen to the west of the Moonlands.
The westernmost part of the continental Moonlands is the vast desert of d'Resh, a forbidding place of sand dunes, rocky crags, and prickly cactus. It is said that oases can suddenly appear before you in d'Resh... and fade again to nothing right before you get your first drink.
The shores are bright, a mixture of glassy d'Reshi sand and salt crystals formed by the evaporation of the surf. Beyond those beaches, there is nothing to be found but a long expanse of saltwater shallows. The d'Reshi seashore is too bright and too salty, and the oceans beyond too hot and too shallow for Orothean tastes. Even the Arderians don't fly in this area, because without decent landmarks, it's too easy to stray too far from home.
In short, it is a large, empty area. That's what makes it such an ideal place to live.
There is a small island a great distance off the shore. From the topmost point of this island, one can barely see the glimmering sheen of the d'Reshi seashore.
The island is cloaked behind a spell of mirage, an illusion that makes it look just like the water that stretches all around it. This illusion keeps the sole inhabitant of the island safe from inquisitive visitors, but because the illusion affects everything but the inside of his small fortress, it also means that he has to navigate the exterior of the island by touch and memory.
He has a lot on his mind. He occasionally drifts off course. Put more bluntly, he falls in the water with annoying regularity.
At any time, several sets of clothes and boots are drying by the window.
* * * * *
Rayje lay on his back, his feet crossed and his fingers interlaced on his chest. He wasn't asleep, not quite, but a part of his mind stalked the dream plane. Nevertheless, his eyes were open, and they absently tracked the sun as it rose, crossed the sky, set, and rose again.
During the nighttime, Rayje's eyes habitually noted the gray pallor of the planet El, dominating the sky above him as it, too, rose and set. The problem of the planet and its horrid fate was beyond his ability, at least at this moment. But he knew the source of the planet's troubles.
The Core roiled in his thoughts. He could feel its darkness pawing at his mind, tugging at the dream realm. He knew the Core was the cause of the problems that covered the planet, but he also knew that eliminating the Core would no more free the planet than dousing a flame rebuilds the house it has consumed.
On the other hand, it was a start.
The question that remained was simple: when?
Simple to ask, difficult to answer.
He could hear his name echoing through the dream plane, spoken of in terms of awe, respect... remembrance... disbelief. He was a legend to the Magi Nation. A legend told at the hearthside at night, perhaps. A legend so distant in the past that some people no longer believed in him.
He smiled, a smile that grew as slowly as the sun rose into the sky once more.
Soon, he thought, soon they will believe again.
What happens next? Read Part 3 "Misguided Missiles"
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