Gratitude for a Timely Warning

Vax and Dino ventured out from the Castle Crimson and walked the short road that led to the heart of the City of Eldermont.  They passed the shipyards, currently shut down for lack of ocean to sail.  They walked past Philo Mortfell's home and the cemetery.  Past the long barracks buildings of the King's Men, and into the city proper.  People exited their homes and businesses to see the King pass by on their street.  Some stood with their head bowed out of respect.  Others gave a quiet wave.  Some expressed gratitude to their King for saving them from the undead threat.  But Vax noticed their eyes.  There was fear there.  Uncertainty.  What would the future hold for Eldermont now that it was cast adrift on the Astral Sea?

Vax projected confidence and purpose, and Dino played his role as stalwart defender of their King.  The two men made their way out onto the stone wall that formed the man-made bay of Eldermont.  Looking out across the bay, the gray featureless void was reflected in the water.  The colorful streaks of Astral pathways were reflected there as well, and bright multi-colored pinpoints of light that represented gateways to other worlds...and other planes of existence.

Away from the citizens of Eldermont, Dino broke the silence.  "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Vax shrugged.  "Why not?"

Dino smiled.  "You know damned well, why not.  He said he doesn't want to be disturbed.  He's made that pretty clear."

Vax glanced over at Dino, and smiled back.  "Well, we don't always get what we want.  I need to speak with him.  And that's how it is.  That's how it will be."

Dino nodded.  And then replied, his words dripping with playful sarcasm."Of course.  If there is a need...then so be it!"

Vax laughed.  "Quit it.  I need to know if he's staying or not.  And I want to thank him."

Dino let the subject go, and the two men reached Rindwind's tower along the great stone bay-wall.

Vax knocked on the door of the tower, but when no one answered for several minutes, Vax tried the knob.  It was unlocked.

Vax looked at Dino, and the younger man gave him a worried look.  Vax turned the knob, and swung the door open.  "Before you say a word, he sees things coming.  He knew we were coming here, before I even knew we were coming here.  So...he probably left the door unlocked for us."

Dino shook his head.  "And that is why I don't like dealing with mages.  That right there."

Vax walked through the doorway, with Dino following.  The first floor was simply furnished.  A kitchen, a small table to eat at, a comfy chair, and many bookshelves built into the walls.  At least 20 candles burned, here and there around the room lighting it well.  But no mage.

Vax paused only momentarily, and then headed up the stairs to the second floor.  Dino took a moment longer before he followed.  "Really?"

Vax chuckled.  "Really."

The 2nd floor appeared to be a lab of sorts.  There were many tables around the room, littered with various devices and technisms that neither man recognized.  Books lay open on some of the tables, perhaps representing experiments-in-progress.  Candles lit the way once again, but no mage.

This time, Vax continued up the stairs without even a pause.  And Dino took a few quick steps to catch up.  The third floor was lit by candles as well, though the light was having a hard time reaching the higher ceiling.  A large well-appointed bed dominated the room, with various tall cabinets positioned around the walls.  Between these cabinets, tall windows gave an excellent view of the bay, the city, the keep, and the Astral Sea above it all.  But, no mage.

Vax jogged up the stairs toward an open trapdoor, and climbed out onto the roof, Dino following close behind.

Rindwind stood at the edge of the flat roof, his back to them as they exited the trapdoor.  Without turning, he said simply.  "Welcome, my King."

Vax was far beyond being unsettled by the strange mage, and started right in with what he wanted to say.  "Dino tells me you gave him notice of the attack on the world by the Carrion King.  Your warning saved lives.  I wanted to come and personally thank you for that."

Rindwind was staring out into the abyss, and did not turn to address them.  "There is no need for thanks.  I did my job."

"Regardless, it gave my men time to evacuate most of the city's people into the Keep.  Without your warning, scores of people...perhaps hundreds would have died."

Rindwind laughed a dry laugh.  "You care about these people...they are your charge.  And you made a deal with me to warn them of threats to the city...and I keep my word.  So, again.  No thanks needed.  But, I understand the sentiment.  You will find this hard to understand, perhaps.  But, I am beyond sentiment.  And I don't mean to sound uncaring.  But...frankly, I'm beyond caring as well."

Vax tilted his head, the mage's words striking him as odd.  He shot a glance over at Dino, and Dino was already looking to him, with a questioning look in his eye.

Vax continued.  "So our deal stands?"

"Why wouldn't it?"

Vax took a step forward on the flat roof.  "Well, You didn't exactly sign up to be transported to the Astral Plane.  I would understand if you chose to move on.  I would be disappointed of course, and your absence as our Sentinel would cause me great worry.  But, I would understand if our deal was at an end."

"You wish me to stay then?  But, you are giving me leave to end our arrangement?"

Vax nodded, though Rindwind was still turned away and could not see the gesture.  "I am giving you leave...but I very much want you to stay."

"Then I will stay."

Vax looked to Dino with a smile on his face, and Dino gave a curt nod.  "I am glad.  And you can still warn of us of coming threats to Eldermont?"

Rindwind did not answer right away.  But, after several moments he answered more quietly than before.  "Our location in the Astral Plane makes my process much more complex.  The potentiality of this place is exponentially more difficult to predict."

"What are you suggesting?"

Rindwind turned.  His face drawn, like a man who had not slept for days.  "I'm not suggesting anything.  I'm telling you that I will not be as effective, nor as specific in my predictions here.  I will watch for threats.  I will predict what I can.  But, I offer no firm guarantees that I can predict..., " Rindwind threw his arms wide, "...infinity."

Rindwind the Sentinel

Vax looked into the mages eyes.  "I appreciate your candor.  This is new to all of us."

The corners of Rindwind's mouth turned up in a wry smile.  "New to you.  Not new to me.  That is why I have no illusions about the limitations this place puts upon my talents.  But I will do my best to protect these people you care so much about.  I promise."

Vax nodded, and then descended through the trapdoor, followed closely by Dino.  Rindwind turned back to his vigil, staring deeply into the grey infinity of the Astral Sea.