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I don't want fallstavia to die, so here you go.
(It occurs to me that I have major mixed-Celestialism in every story I write. I need to write a good old-fashioned Solar Circle...)
"I have been speaking with Sirrim, and I believe that everything I suspected about my imprisonment is true."
It was late evening in the frogman village. The lake waters were very slowly receding, with the retreat of the water elementals, and a feast was being held in honour of the young heroes who had done the deed. Seven Winds Dancing, shrunk to a much more reasonable eight feet, was crouching amongst the troop that had freed him, looking grave. Everyone except Sirrim gave him strange looks at his pronouncement, and he sighed.
"Allow me to explain. You know the tales of the Wind Masters, I hope?"
"When the east winds blow, the Bear is frowning." Elena spoke softly, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. There wasn't any wind cascading around her at the moment, but stray breezes ruffled her hair and caught at her breeches playfully. "They say that in Nexus, sometimes."
Khory nodded. "And when it is a warm summer, the Bear is sleeping." He frowned, looking around. "They say that the winds take the shape of bears to fly. I never credited it as true until now; I thought it a myth, like the story of No Key or tales of the Uhgari."
"It is no myth." Seven Winds Dancing smiled faintly, but his expression quickly grew serious again. "The five Wind Masters are the leaders of the Court of Air, and their guidance helps the winds blow. They are heavily involved with the Court of Seasons, taking turns at blowing winds from the frigid north or the boiling south, helping growing and bringing storms from the West. However, the Wind Masters often fight and squabble amongst themselves, and because of this, they pay little attention to each others' private affairs. This has allowed their ancient enemies an unprecedented oppurtunity."
"You see, the Wind Masters, through their control of weather, wield great influence over not only the Court of Air, but the Court of Water. Lacking clear leaders, the water court is easily swayed, and has chafed under the rule of Blue Skulking Bear and Black Grinning Bear for centuries. One of them, Ghoumash the Crocodile Lord, has taken exceptionally dangerous action to try and unite the Water Court again."
"Hence your imprisonment?" Sirrim's voice was soft, and Seven Winds Dancing nodded.
"I was my lord Skulking Bear's greatest retainer, the most powerful of his huraka. When an Exalt summoned my lord, I replied in his stead - it is tradition, for the greatest of the elementals. Before I even had a chance to recognize my summoner, however, I was captured and bound by Ghoumash, set here in yasal to be hidden away from the Court of Air. Since then, the North is changing. Water is gradually displacing ice. I believe that Ghoumash is seeking to alter the balance of the elements to favour water again, and that he has trapped my master as he trapped me, through treachery and surprise. If Lord Skulking Bear were free, he could fight back easily, but trapped, his power can be turned against his brothers if they come searching for him."
"Wow." Kieran sat back, shaking his head. "That sounds... really, really bad."
"Warmer summers." Everyone shot Khory nasty looks, and he raised his hands defensively. "Just a thought."
"In any case, the kidnappers have access to a vast store of yasal. I have no idea from where they got it, but it makes a rescue by the spirit courts essentially impossible. Exalts, on the other hand..." He trailed off hopefully. "In days gone by, an event such as this would have provoked a vast response from the Celestial Exalted."
"They can't be allowed to continue." Kieran's voice was heavy, and Elena sighed quietly. He looked up, looking each of his friends in turn. "They're destroying lives, crops... they're wrecking havoc for power. We can't just sit by and watch."
"I was afraid you'd say that." Khory sighed, but nodded. "I'm in, kid. Wouldn't be the same North without snow, would it?"
"And I." Elena smiled up at the huraka. "I owe you my life, and I can feel the wind. This is my cause, now, too."
"Don't speak of debts, lady Elena." Seven Winds Dancing smiled back, his muzzle turned up in a bearish grin. "We have a saying, that when one shares blood, one shares lives. You are a friend."
"Then it is as a friend that I help." She grinned.
"I'll help." Nia was solemn, and she looked around at the group. Sirrim regarded her skeptically, and she flushed. "My Father is a servant of order. The Water Court is going against every law of Creation. He would want me to help you."
"Well, then." Sirrim smiled, leaning in. "The only question that leaves is, where do we go? If I'd known about Skulking Bear, I could have gone for him before..."
"I can lead you to him." Winds grinned again. "I always know where my lord is. I imagine that is one of the reasons that I was imprisoned. Destroyed, I would have left a hole in the Buerocracy and alerted someone to this plot before it was established enough to withstand attention, and free, I would have found Stalking Bear quickly."
"Alright!" Kieran grinned. "We have ourselves a mission, ladies and gentlemen. Let's get some sleep, and leave in the morning."
"Ah..." Sirrim paused, looking embarrassed. "You will have to leave without me, Kieran." He sighed at their shocked faces. "Don't worry, I will catch up with you all before you reach your goal. But I have a few affairs to finish here before I leave, and it is best that I do them alone." When they still looked skeptical, he smiled again. "Trust me when I say, I can move faster than any of you save Seven Winds Dancing. I will catch up quickly enough."
"Well... alright, Sirrim." Kieran smiled, reaching out his hand, and Sirrim took it in a firm grasp. "It's been a real honour fighting with you."
"And you, Kieran Lawgiver." Sirrim grinned. "We'll see each other again, and sooner than you think. Don't lose sight of your compassion." With a wave, he turned, and leapt into the air, changing into a crow midway and winging off into the night. The others watched him go for a moment, and then Khory sighed.
"In the company of gods, I am." He chuckled. "But enough talk of battles and dire futures. Soup's on!"