Paulin held his breath as the time pod slowly ceased its gentle rocking motion. Lightning ceased to flicker across the surface, and the door began to hiss open. Quite certain that he didn’t want to find out what kind of trap that Sam had planned, Paulin proceeded to press the door button several times in an attempt to close it. There was seemingly no effect as the door continued to lower, leaving them to Sam’s devices.
He motioned to Hesione to stay put as the door folded down into stairs. When the button continued to refuse to function, he reluctantly and slowly stepped out into the open. The sun blazed down overhead, clearly illuminating the area. He took a deep breath and glanced back and forth, not seeing any vampires. Small miracles, he supposed.
As the attack failed to come, Hesione stepped down out of the pod as well. As Paulin slowly got his bearings, he took a moment to look around. Quite unfortunately, the place they were standing was rathert public. In fact, more than a few people were turning to look at them, none of which were even remotely dressed in the same manner as the two elves.
They were standing on what appeared to be a dock, on wooden planks that lined the shoreline and formed a sidewalk that continued for several hundred feet in either direction before ceding territory to a thick forest. Two enormous ships were docked in the small port, complete with barnacles dotting the darkened wood that peeked from the water. Deckhands raced up and down the ramps to the ships, carrying dozens of boxes and crates both into and out of the ship. Stretching inland from the ocean, several streets lined with wooden buildings stood tall and proud, picture-perfect images of an early colonial age.
The people, though, were the most interesting aspect of the picture. They wore long coats, almost like trench coats, that were a variety of dark colors. Some were blue, some were red, a few were orange or yellow, but all were a single color and mostly featureless other than that. In addition, most of the people wore hats, which varied quite a good deal in shape but all seemed to be made from leather and topped with a single feather plume.
“Ahh…” A star elf wearing a blue version of the coat slowly walked up to Paulin and Hesione. His pale blue skin and almost painfully white eyes stood out against his jet-black hair. “I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but you look as though you’ve just stared into the Vortex of Hydrisic and come out alive. I’ve seen many a man with that look, for nearly as many reasons.”
“It’s… It’s hard to explain.” Palin sighed and rubbed his forehead. He glanced at Hesione, who began to back up into the pod again. “Can we get this thing working again?”
Hesione frowned and pressed the button to close the ramp, only for a loud beep to echo from the computer. “Nope.”
“Great.” Paulin sighed looked back up at the man, who continued to stand there with an almost militaristic precision. “Well, it seems like we’re stuck here in any event.”
“Such a statement implies that this is a vehicle.” The man stepped around Paulin and frowned at the machine. “I’m guessing dwarven-made. Tell me, was this forged in Calsin itself? I’ve heard many a rumor coming out of the Inland Ocean about what the dwarves are up to these days.”
“It’s a long story.” Paulin sighed and shrugged. “I don’t suppose you’ve seen any vampires around here? That might be trying to kill us?”
“Son, I’ve got more stories of vampires than could be told over a dozen kegs of beer.” The man flashed a smile and stepped back over to Paulin. He held out his hand, which Paulin happily took. “Septis Goristan, captain of the Drowned God.”
Paulin raised an eyebrow. “You have a last name? Family?”
“Indeed.” Septis inclined his head. “The Goristan Family is still small, but we’re growing. We’ll be the rulers of the seas in another century.”
Paulin bowed at the waist. “I wish you the best of luck earning honor and glory for your Family, then.”
“I am given such honor and glory simply by my birthright. Any actions I may take are born from that honor, not the other way around.” The captain bowed to Paulin as well. “Is there anything with which I can assist you? I am not familiar with such craftsmanship, but I will offer any of my resources necessary to repair your strange machine.”
Paulin shook his head. “I’m not sure-”
“Paulin!” Hesione shrieked. “There!”
Paulin spun as half a dozen cloaked figures stomped into view at the end of the docks. The figure in the lead raised his hand and pointed at the trio, and the figures quickly broke into a run.
“That would be the vampires you spoke of?” Septis crossed his arms at his waist, drawing a pistol with each hand. “Allow me.”
He pointed the weapons at the vampires and squeezed the triggers. Brilliant blasts of light leapt from the weapon as he launched magical projectiles at the creatures. The vampires dove for cover, and Septis squeezed out three more shots before gesturing to the nearest ship.
“Come, please. We would be honored to have you on board the Drowned God.”
Paulin nodded in thanks and began jogging down the planks towards the ship. Above, crewmen of all species began drawing weapons and taking up positions along the deck, while two more men seemed to be preparing to toss the ramp down. Hesione caught up to him in the blink of an eye, and they both ran as fast as they could manage down the dock towards the relative safety of the ship.
As they reached the base of the ramp, they glanced back to find that Septis was only halfway down the dock, and appeared to almost be sauntering as if he didn’t have a care in the world. His polished boots clipped against the wood while he slowly kept meandering closer.
Behind him, the swarm of vampires reached the edge of the docks and shoved boxes across the space to form cover. With that, most of them drew weapons and began firing back. Paulin and Hesione both yelped and scrambled up into the ship, diving for cover as tiny bits of lead were thrown back and forth above their heads. Thankfully, they were enchanted weapons and not true black powder guns. It wasn’t much of a consolation, but it was indeed something.
As Captain Septis reached the top of the ramp, he turned, raised both guns, and began firing back down at the vampires. Several yelps echoed through the air, and Septis smirked as he walked onto the deck of the ship.
“Come, come.” He waved at Paulin. “You’ll want to have a good view of this.”
Paulin frowned. He motioned for Hesione to stay close, then slowly rose from cover and skittered after Septis. The captain refused to take cover, even as every single one of his crewmen hid behind boxes that they had pushed up to the railing of the ship. A few returned fire, but most seemed not to bother wasting their ammunition.
They soon reached the bow of the ship, where a statue of a god with snake-like hair grimaced powerfully. There, they could look out across the docks, where the vampires clustered behind their small cover. Septis smirked and gestured at the men with the palm of his hand.
“I’ve faced down sea rats that are better organized than these men. They seem to have been expecting you, but I can hardly give them compliments for such a feat.” Captain Septis crossed his arms. “Perhaps you could enlighten me. I have my theories, but I would like to hear from your mouth exactly what they’re doing here.”
“Long story.” Paulin sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “The short version is that one of them sent us forward in time. He knew when we would show up, he must have just had a hard time actually getting a proper following to do the deed.”
“Curious.” Septis frowned. “That was only third on my list. I must practice more.”
Paulin frowned. “You practice predicting things?”
“Observation can be a man’s most powerful weapon, even when staring into the depths of the deepest abyss.” Septis stroked his chin. “At present, if I were to wager a guess, these vampires will simply give up after a short time. The royal guard will be alerted soon enough, which doesn’t give them long before they wind up dusted. If would certainly seem that their campaign has failed.” He glanced to the side at Paulin. “Would you care to speak to them before we destroy them?”
Paulin opened his mouth to reply, then paused. Did he want to speak to Sam one final time? In some ways, yes. He wanted to apologize one final time, to try desperately to make the man understand that they hadn’t done anything intentional. What good would it do, though? He had already done everything in his power to speak his mind, and Sam had steadfastly ignored it all.
“No.” Paulin finally shook his head. “If you have a way to take them out, do it.”
“Indeed.” Septis snapped his fingers, causing a bell-like tone to ring out. A dwarf scampered down the deck an instant later, ducking from cover to cover until he arrived at the star elf’s side. Like everyone else, he wore a similar style of coat, though his attire was of course far shorter. Even as he stepped up to Septis’s side, he continued to keep his head ducked.
“Sir! You should not be standing out here.”
“Please believe me when I say that I would not risk it if I thought that those monkeys were capable of launching a shot that would pass within a hundred feet of me.” Septis smirked.
“But what if they shoot at someone a hundred feet from you?” The dwarf grabbed Septis’s arm and began to tug him away. “Just get back, please! I’m not ready to captain this vessel.”
“Then I’ll make sure to write you out of my will.” Septis gestured at the dwarf. “Allow me to introduce my first mate, Burlisic.”
Paulin dipped his head. “I had a good friend who was an Isic. Your clan should be proud.”
“The Isics remain strong to this day.” The dwarf thumped his chest once before turning back to Captain Septis. “Now, please! Humor me, if you will not take care of yourself.”
“You make my life so dull.” Septis sighed but inclined his head. Together, the trio walked away from the side of the ship until the vampires could not be seen. “Nevertheless, I do believe we can spice it up a bit more. Have a cannon prepared. I wish to blast those monsters from the face of the dock.”
“Sir?” Burlisic blinked several times in rapid succession. “If you damage the dock, Insultar will have you skinned and mounted on a wall!”
“If I had a coin for every time I was threatened by Insultar, I’d be rich enough to retire and move my entire Family from Corinth to Fairn.” Septis shrugged. “Please, follow orders.”
“First Mate.” Septis slid his pistols onto his belt and unclipped a small metal sphere. With a flourish, he held it up to the sun, where it unfolded like a flower to reveal a small compass. “According to my forecaster, the wind will be at its peak in an hour. If we can meet the gust, we can be in Sintison three days sooner than if we cast off a mere hour later. Now be a good soul and go break out the cannon.”
Burlisic groaned and stomped his foot several times before shrugging. He cupped his hands around his mouth and began to stomp back towards the rear of the ship.
“Ready the firing squad! Gref, Desric, get that canon aimed in the right direction! The rest of your lazy swamp rats, I want you up and moving! Get powder in that cannon, bring up the spreadshot!”
Septis took a deep breath and slowly turned back to the front of the ship. He motioned softly with his hand, then began to skitter closer to the bow once again. As they began to move further away from the first mate’s yells, Septis turned and grinned down at Paulin.
“When they hear the shouting for a cannon, they’ll run. Just you watch!” He sighed deeply as they arrived at the railing once more. “I tell you what, Paulin, the help sure is nice, but sometimes I wonder how well I’d get on without a crew at all.”
Paulin nodded, gazing out at the vampires once more. Of course, that was when he noticed that they seemed to have a cannon of their own, pulled out of one of the crates they were cowering behind. If Paulin wasn’t mistaken, they were in the process of loading the cannonball, which didn’t bode fantastically well for the people in the ship.
“Is that a problem?” Paulin gestured down at the cannon.
“It does seem to be.” Septis sighed and replaced the compass on his belt. He drew one of his pistols once more and pointed it down at the cannon. With a small click, it failed to fire anything, as it was apparently empty. He drew his second pistol, only to have the same result.
“Here, let me.” Paulin drew his own plasma pistol, only to have it click dry as he tried to fire. A brief moment of confusion resulted before he realized that Sam had probably disabled it somehow before returning it to Paulin earlier.
“It seems that we’re certainly in a bit of a situation.” Septis shrugged and sighed. A bullet zinged by far too close for Paulin’s comfort. “Seems that we may need rescued.”
“Are you insane?” Paulin finally broke and turned to stare at the elf. “You’re just letting all this happen? You could die!”
“Perhaps I could.” Septis inclined his head for a brief moment. “I do not think it likely, though.” He flashed a small smile and pulled a small coin out of his pocket. It was golden, and had the bust of a dwarf printed clearly on the front. “Tell me, are you familiar with the goddess Altheria?”
Paulin frowned. “I don’t think so.”
“Many are not.” Septis closed his eyes and breathed a soft prayer. “Altheria, Lady of my life, hear my prayer. Deliver us from these ruffians. Provide us with a savior, or bring calamity on our opponents. Amen.”
With a soft ping, he flipped the coin up into the air. The small bit of metal vanished in a burst of light, taken by some goddess… Somewhere.
Almost instantly, several cloaked figures rushed out of the streets, most certainly vampires in their own right. They drew swords and pistols, and Paulin frowned.
“How reliable is this goddess of yours?”
“There are few who will slander her name, and none who will rightly insult one of her devoted servants.” Septis turned to march away.
“And what he means by that is that everyone who isn’t filthy rich despises those who can afford her favor.” Burlisic snorted as he stomped past. “Go on. Go gloat.”
“I plan to.” Septis nodded at the ramp, which still connected the ship to the docks. “Alright, people! The fight’s over! I want this cargo moved, chop-chop! We sail in four bells.”
The deck exploded into motion as deckhands raced back and forth across the wooden planks. As gunshots rang out in the distance, Paulin followed the captain down the ramp and onto the docks. Hesione followed, though her face was twisted in just as much confusion as Paulin felt inwardly.
As the trio, followed by a good number of deckhands, moved down onto the docks, Paulin caught a glimpse of the battle. From what he could tell, the new group of vampires, rather than joining forces with the first group, was actually attacking them.
Paulin walked up to the battle as the second-to-last initial vampire crumbled to dust after a musket shot to the heart. The final vampire, recognizable under the hood as Sam, fell back against the cannon. His hands and feet scrambled against the ground, desperately trying to get away from the newcomers.
“Well?” Paulin spread his arms and stomped up to the man. “Are you happy yet?”
Sam simply whimpered and closed his eyes. A few bloody tears trickled down his cheeks, and Paulin snorted in disgust. The man was so twisted by the years that he was almost nothing more than skin and bone. While Paulin tried what to do with the man, the man who had caused him so much trouble, he heard Septis thanking their rescuers.
“I tip my hat to you, m’lady.”
“Rest assured that I did not do this for you.” A female, vampiric voice hissed from just behind him. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, my warriors must flee.”
“Of course. Fairn is not as progressive as Calsin, I’ve heard.” Septis’s voice was smooth as always. “If you ever need passage, I charge fair rates.”
“He’ll swindle you out of every copper you hold.” Burlisic’s voice echoed Septis’s statement. “Sir, I must insist that you get back on board.”
“In due time, in due time.” Septis sighed. “Well, my lady, is there anything more I can do for you?”
“I’m afraid not.” The vampire spoke up once more. “I’m afraid that I’ve come here for a reason, and it isn’t you.”
Paulin frowned. There was something… Something incredibly familiar about the voice. His heart gave a soft flutter, and he slowly turned around to see a high elven woman beneath the vampiric hood. A woman that he had once known all too well.
“Kisidera!” The word left Paulin’s throat in an instant. He leapt across the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into his embrace. Kisidera returned the hug, her vampiric strength nearly smothering him. He gasped for air, and she pulled back, a smile on her face.
For several long moments, Paulin simply stared into her eyes. She was older, that much was for certain. Scars marred her face, a few burns stood out on her skin, but other than that, she was just like he remembered.
“You’re alive.” He breathed softly. “You’re here! You’re…” His gut wrenched violently. “I never cured your vampirism!”
“No, but I think it’s pretty obvious how hard you tried.” Kisidera’s voice was soft, her eyes open and accepting. “Now, take a step back.”
Paulin frowned. “Huh?”
Kisidera reached out and snagged his arm, pulling him out of the way as the time pod materialized in the space he had just been occupying. The door split open for a moment, revealing Hesione, Paulin, and an elderly man wearing the dapper clothes of the Elven Confederation. He smiled and took a few slow steps down the stairs, his eyes coming to rest on the fallen vampire lord whose presence still caused them issues.
“Sam?” The man breathed. “Is that really you?”
On the ground, Sam gave a soft gasp. “I… Dad?”
The man put his hand over his mouth, stifling a cry, and scampered down the stairs to fall at his son’s side. Future-Paulin gave Paulin a small wave, then closed the door and vanished in a burst of lightning. As the pod faded, Paulin turned to the reunion.
“You’re alive.” Sam gasped. “You’re… You’re alive.”
“Of course I am.” Sam’s father smiled. “What happened to you?”
“I got bit by vampires.” Tears began to leak from Sam’s eyes, leaving bloody streaks down his face. “Dad, it was all a lie. I ruined our lives. I never had to leave. It was all just a trick, a misunderstanding! I could have been with you and mom, I never would have had to leave you.”
“Shh.” Sam’s father put his hand behind Sam’s head, cradling his son softly. “It’s okay. It’s okay. We had your letters! And you had ours. We were still together, even if we couldn’t see each other physically.” He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a letter. “This is the last letter you mailed me. I have all the others, right here in my pocket.”
“I… Dad.” Sam’s body shook with sobs as he stretched out his feeble arms, pulling his father tight. “I love you.”
“I love you too.” His father took a deep breath, not moving. “Oh, I love you, my son.”
Paulin glanced at Kisidera, who gave a small nod. The two of them slid to the side, moving away from the reuniting family. Hesione followed, while the sailors began loading the ships once more.
“I don’t think I fully understand what’s going on here.” Hesione scratched her head as several uniformed men who were likely soldiers began to trot onto the docks. They all wore matching uniforms, long blue coats that were fastened in the front with massive buttons.
“I think I can explain, at least some of it.” Kisidera inclined her head and nodded into town. “I own an inn, not far from here. We have hot baths, fresh soaps, all the food you’ll want.” She flashed a smile and turned to stare deep into Paulin’s eyes. “And then, I think we need to have a few conversations. I want to hear about everything that’s happened since the last time I saw you.”
“And that was the last time you ever saw me?” Paulin took a deep draught of the beer sitting in front of him. It was an excellent brew, better than anything from ancient Calsin. From what Kisidera told him, it had been produced in a monastery not far from there that was likely using technology from the future.
“You and Hesione vanished, and I never saw you again.” Kisidera nodded slowly, sipping at a blood-infused drink across the small table. Now inside, she had taken off her hood and robes, and was dressed in a flowing green dress fitting for a former member of the High Families. “I’m not going to lie, it was rough. I thought you had just abandoned me. I screamed, I cried, I think I brought every single other member of the group within a few inches of killing me a dozen times over.”
“And yet, here you are.” Paulin shrugged. “What… What happened?”
“Oh, a lot of things.” Kisidera sighed. “A whole bunch more wars, of course. I participated in some of them, sat out on others. Fairn got discovered, that was big news. Pretty soon a whole bunch more continents popped into existence, and all of a sudden Calsin started seeming pretty small.”
Paulin smirked softly, remembering the first time he saw a faun. “I completely understand that feeling.”
Kisidera nodded slowly. “Eventually, after moping around for awhile, I got on with my life. I wound up traveling over here to Fairn when the South Insultar Trading Company started up. They were offering conditional freedom to vampires and other forms of undead or cursed individuals who were willing to put in some work. I helped build up this town, and now here I am.” She gestured at the interior of the building, which Paulin had to admit was rather impressive. “It’s not much, but it’s really something. A steady flow of customers, open access to the frontier of Fairn, you really can’t get a much better deal even if you’re not an undead monster.”
Paulin sighed and nodded slowly. “I really am sorry. I tried, I hope you know that.”
“I’ve heard the stories from Lilith herself.” Kisidera flashed a small smile. “Believe me, I know how much you tried. I don’t think it really clicked for me until about ten years back when that Sam fellow showed up and started trying to recruit an army, though. I thought he was just crazy at first, but eventually the pieces all clicked together.”
“Well, the rescue was much appreciated, believe me.” Paulin chuckled. “You… You really seem like you have something good here.”
“I do. I really do.” Kisidera ran a hand through her hair. “It’s not what I had envisioned, but… It’s okay. I have a good life now. You really don’t have to keep fighting.”
Paulin held up his hands, palms-up. “So… What now? Should I just move in now? Do you want me to get a house down the street? How do we do this?”
Kisidera flashed him a small smile. “Paulin? You know as well as I do that that’s not how this conversation ends.”
Paulin held her gaze for a few more seconds before glancing down at the tabletop. He kicked at the floor beneath their feet, trying to avoid that very conclusion.
“I’ve been trying to avoid thinking about it.” He sighed. “I just… I love you, Kisidera. I don’t want to leave you.”
“So don’t. Not for good.” Kisidera shrugged. “You know where I’m at, and you know when. You can pop in at any time you feel like it. Seriously, please do, I would love the company. But… It’s been two hundred years since I last saw you. I’m not the same person I used to be. Physically, emotionally, I’ve changed. I can see that you have, too.”
Paulin just nodded slowly, taking another long draught of his beer. As he emptied the container, he nodded and set down the mug.
“I’ll be back. You can count on that.”
“Anything you need will be on the house for as long as you’re here.” Kisidera nodded and slowly climbed to her feet. “I’ve got to go wait on tables, but I’ll be back. No going anywhere just yet.”
Paulin flashed her a sad smile as she moved away. A few moments later, Hesione appeared in a small doorway off to the side of the establishment. She wound her way between the tables, making her way past humans, fauns, and assorted species of elves to arrive at Paulin’s table. She slid into Kisidera’s seat, watching the vampiric high elf with him for a few moments before speaking again.
“She’s not coming with us, is she?”
“And I’m not staying here.” Paulin shook his head. “I didn’t want it to be true, but… It makes sense, really. You knew that better than I did, though.”
Hesione inclined her head softly. “I’m really sorry, Paulin. I guess that makes two women who have slipped through your fingers despite all your efforts.”
“Third time’s the charm, eh?” Paulin flashed a small smile and leaned back in his chair. After a few seconds, he gestured upward. “How’s it going with Sam?”
“He hasn’t let go of his father since we got him into the room.” Hesione shrugged. She drummed her fingers against the wood of the table for a few long seconds. “The doctor that Kisidera brought here doesn’t think he’ll live for more than a few more hours. I think his father is a bit shaken up over the whole ordeal.”
Paulin sighed and shook his head. “He lived for so long, only to die right now?”
“He managed to survive for close to a thousand years as an ordinary human vampire.” Hesione pointed out. “Apparently the only way to accomplish something like that is to hide away deep within caves, often nearly starving yourself just to keep your body from aging. Once he ventured out of the cave this last time to confront us, it was only a matter of time.”
“And now that he has his father, he’s got no reason to keep on fighting.” Paulin nodded and ran his finger around the rim of his mug. “I never thought I would truly feel sorry for not one, but two vampires. Not to mention a vampire that’s consistently spent his time trying to kill us.”
“A vampire who’s dedicated his entire undead life to trying to kill us.” Hesione nodded and looked upward. “I hope he can find rest in whatever afterlife vampires are allowed into.”
“You and me both.” Paulin inclined his head. After a few seconds, he sighed and shrugged. “So, back to sixth-era Donisil for us? Excuse me, sixth-era Northern Province of Istinis?”
Hesione took a deep breath and nodded slowly. “If you’re okay with that… Yeah. Yeah, I’d like that a lot.”
“Then we’ll do it.” Paulin nodded. “Just let me finish this talk with Kisidera, and we’ll head there.” He paused, an odd thought flickering through his mind. “Do you want to stay there, once we arrive? Or would you rather take your new boyfriend and head out on the open timeline? Assuming that he’s okay with one or the other.”
Hesione puffed out her cheeks, seemingly lost in thought. After a few seconds, she flashed him a small smile. He really wasn’t sure what that smile meant, whether it was good, bad, or otherwise.
What he knew was that he was together with his sister. The danger was past, his own quest was ended. They could finally move forward, on into whatever the future… Or the past… Happened to hold.
Darien watched, with a mixture of horror and delight, as a strange craft simply appeared out of thin air just in front of Hesione. The flowers he held fell from his now-nerveless hands, and he was fairly certain that his jaw dropped open at the same time.
The door to the craft popped open, a fancy window-door just like some of the fancier cars from the dwarves. Inside was Paulin, navigating what had to be a real-life time machine. After a brief conversation, Hesione climbed up inside, and the door slammed shut. As it was almost closed, she glanced back, meeting his eyes for a brief moment. Then the door slammed shut, and the pod vanished in a burst of electricity.
No sooner had they gone, then another craft flickered and appeared in almost exactly the same spot. This one was quite a lot different, looking more or less like a golden egg mounted on four supports. As he watched, part of the shell peeled away, folding itself down to form stairs. Of course, this allowed him to see Hesione and Paulin standing inside, not at all indicating that they had just vanished before his eyes only seconds before.
Hesione, wearing a flowing blue dress that looked like something his great grandmother might have worn, stepped down and onto the pavement of the sidewalk. A car roared past, windows rolled down while the driver stuck his head out in confusion, which both parties ignored. Hesione simply walked towards him, a grin plastered across her face.
“I told you: Time travelers.” She shrugged as she walked up to him. “I know this is probably a bit sudden for you, but-”
“Are you serious?” Darien bent down to scoop up the flowers, only to drop them once more. Oops. “This is like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! I’m so sorry I didn’t believe you!” He finally managed to grab the bouquet from the ground, which he hastily handed to Hesione. “These are for you. But you probably knew that. Time travelers know everything, right? That’s like one of the really cool perks of being able to travel through time?”
He realized that he was blubbering, and took a deep breath. “How long has it been since you last saw me?”
Hesione bit her lip. “Three months, I think is what we decided? I’m not one hundred percent sure, it gets hard to keep track of the passage of time when you’re jumping through it, ironically enough.”
“Do anything cool in that time?” Darien felt his heart rise in his chest.
“Let’s see…” Hesione frowned. “Got captured by vampires, participated in one of the key battles that shaped ancient Calsin, and got into a standoff with a crew of merchants in Fairn.”
“Sounds incredible.” Darien breathed.
“It would have been a lot more incredible if you had been there with me.” Hesione batted her eyes.
Darien felt his heart give one final flutter. “Are you inviting me along?”
Hesione took a deep breath and nodded slowly. “You said that getting to know things is one of the cool parts of time travel. Well… It’s also one of the worst parts. I happen to know that my time in this particular time period is done.” She shrugged. “I don’t really know where I’m headed next, to be honest, but I won’t be back here except for a passing visit. I’d love it if you came along with us.”
Darien nodded excitedly. “Will there be danger?”
“If past experiences are any indication, we’ll probably be in danger of dying from a new threat about every hour or so.” Hesione shrugged.
“And I’ll never have to work in retail again?”
Hesione snorted. “I won’t go that far. I literally used to live in a palace and have servants waiting on my every move, and I wound up as your coworker. I wouldn’t rule out anything.”
“A mystery? I’m in!” Darien raced past her and bounded up the stairs into the pod, squeezing in behind Paulin. “Well? Come on!” He glanced hungrily at the strange computer, the row after row of electronics and circuits that covered the inside of the craft. “Show me something cool.
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