The Aether Masters – Part 3

“How is Maldriano?” asked Izabela.

“She’s well. She, Alecia, and Kanno have adopted another child,” said Dmitrio.

“Another? How many is that now?”

“Four, I think.” Dmitrio shrugged. “You know they can’t refuse a child in need.”

“Details,” said Izabela.

“This one is a Rafter child washed up on the shore after a storm. Kanno is sending word to pods in the area case the child has kin elsewhere,” said Dmitrio.

“And this Wanderer. He was looking for Marta? Why?” asked Izabela. She held the glass with a wet cloth and trimmed it from the pipe.

“She stole a set of maps from Dragonfly Flock. A very old set of maps,” said Dmitrio.

“What did she want them for?” Izabela widened the mouth of the vase with a reamer.

“That was the question.” Dmitrio traced a map of Elaidia in the air.




“Fortunately, we have similar maps among the various Flocks. I was able to find one from around the same time period,” said Teri. He unrolled a large parchment onto the coffee table.

Mal quickly picked up her teacup. “Careful! Wouldn’t a map made in the last year or two be more accurate?”

“That depends on what you are looking for,” said Teri. “We have to assume that she’s looking for something not on a current map.”

Dmitrio pulled a map scroll out of his map cabinet. “Here is a map I picked up last year from a cartographer over in Willow Grove. We can compare the features.” He unrolled it on a book stand and studied it intently. “Got it.” He drew a deep breath and rubbed is hands together as he rejoined the others. “Let’s see if I can…. There.”

He created a ball of light between his hands and stretched it out. A ghostly copy of his map hung in the air over Teri’s map. The most striking difference was in the number of mountains. The older map showed three mountain ranges with broad valleys between them. The current map was heavily populated with mountains everywhere and narrow valleys twisting and turning between them.

Teri let out a low whistle. “Quite a difference.”

“Result of the Aether Wars, I’m afraid,” said Dmitrio. “The last Aether Masters reshaped the land to fit their whims.”

Teri glanced at him quizzically. “You’re using aether now.”

“But I am no master,” said Dmitrio. “I am a mere illusionist.”

Mal said, “So what is Marta looking for?”

Dmitrio stroked his beard thoughtfully. “Do you remember when she and I were searching for Rodrigo’s books?”

Mal nodded. “You dragged me on more than one crazy adventure. Is she still searching for them?”

“I doubt it. She was frustrated by what he didn’t write about, such as how the Masters sculpted the land. He didn’t even reveal how he created the winged raccoons and rabbits. Just tantalizing hints.”

“So she needed these maps to find other Master’s books?” asked Teri.

“That would be my guess. We know they lived in mountain fortresses. Finding one based on my map would be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Combining our maps, on the other hand, makes it a far more reasonable search,” said Dmitrio. “We can see which mountains were raised during the Aether War. These would be fortresses or walls.”

“That makes sense. Who’s fortress is she looking for?” asked Teri.

“It would be one of the Council of Eight,” Dmitrio said slowly. “Our family is descended from Erinn and we have many of her papers. It’s possible she’s looking for something not in our collection. Ventalio and Sarali disappeared into the mountains and their collections have never been found. But the Masters Marta admired most were Fallon and Garbliza.”

“That cuts it down a bit,” Teri muttered. “Any idea where any of the fortresses are?”

“If I knew that then Marta wouldn’t have needed your maps,” Dmitrio said dryly. “Mal, pull that blue volume out of the cabinet behind you. Thank you. There are hints here in Anastai’s History of Elaidia.” He paged through the book. “Let’s see. Fallon had a tower near Tomasville.” A red dot appeared on his map in the southwest. “Sarali disappeared in the western mountains north of Sage. Erinn’s Folly is in the north desert. Rumor puts Ventalio’s Retreat to somewhere in the south but it has never been found. The citadel at Council Peak was destroyed ages ago. I doubt she went there.” Dots appeared for each location. “Garbliza’s fortress sank into the ocean. I don’t find reference to any other location but it is possible she had another built.”

“So where would you start looking for Marta?” asked Teri.

“Erin’s Folly or Fallon’s Peak.”


copyright 2015, all rights reserved, Kimberley Long-Ewing