Three Ladies and a Stone (Part 6- Queen's Knight to Bishop-Checkmate)

Off: This is not a challenge post. This details the discovery of the fire and where it finds Avakhon, Vanaraas, Bolak and company.

The rushing words. . . FIRE! To the wharf district, it is enough to bring terror to everyone in this area as the winds can change and cause the entire district to be engulfed. Dozens of warehouses, ships and buildings can be thrown into the melange and it becomes an inferno of biblical proportions. Soon enough everyone that is able to get out of their places, comes forth to start carrying buckets and whatever they can manage to throw at or beat the fire down with the keep it from spreading. Men, women, children, young and old, even the crippled scramble to try and get away or help with the fire suppression efforts. It's a matter of desperation for the entire city. If it goes unchecked, more than just the dock areas could be lost and no telling
how much of the city would be in ruin?
Amid the onslaught of confusion and terror, Avakhon finds a lone piece of material wafting along on the currents of fire winds, just dancing with the flames. It seems intent upon floating just out of his reach. With a herculean effort, he jumps and grabs it, as he sees the crest upon the handkerchief, recognizing the boar's head crest upon it as that of Vatterott. Vana's!
Her soft and gentle scent is lost amidst the smoke and ash of the flames, but he knows it nonetheless. Taking the time to remove his topcoat and jacket, hoping to save the chief, he finds something sticking out of the breast pocket of his vest. The sense of urgency has overwhelmed the others around him, but his sense of detective has told him to investigate this item further.
He finds a small envelope delicately written and once again no postmark.

{HOW does it occur that way? There's none that's been close enough to me to do such, and I've not seen her in days.} he opens it and reads the following:
My beloved Avakhon,
I write this letter to make it known that my faith in you remains unyielding and has never waned. In light of your most recent revelations, and an act of trust and love, that faith has only waxed instead. I assure you that you are neither the Devil nor the damned and any thought to that is most certainly absurd. Now, more than ever, I am most certain of my affections for you and the need of your presence in my life. That is why I've taken it upon myself to search for and obtain the Nebula. I have known for a long while that she lays at rest upon the HMS Endeavour and I have worked an act of intrigue - one, I must add, that brings me no pride nor mirth - which lead me to procure the vessel from Lord William's as part of my private holdings.
Tonight will be the night that I finally untether us both from our binds. You made a promise to me two years hence, but tonight it's over. The killer will be in search of the stone, which - if successful - I will bring to you, and your so-called moral debt to me shall be considered paid in full and we may finally be free.
Please know that should I survive this feat, I solemnly swear that the honor that comes to me the moment I take the name of Khinsharri will be the greatest ever I've ever known - or will ever know - because it means that we will be one forevermore.
I love you. Wish me luck.

Reading this brings him to his knees. A single tear has found its way across his cheek and down it. He lingers there for the briefest of moments, then deposits the letter and chief into his vest once more, ever more determined to FIND her now!
"I swear by all that is holy, she will be my demise yet. How like her to go rushing into an event without knowing the full costs of it to herself. Unselfishness is not exactly a trait I disagree with, yet one I am constantly reminded that I should have. I didn't exist this long without some trace of self-preservation, but it seems I am damned for a fool as I cannot fathom why this woman finds so much to cherish in one like myself. Should she survive it?
IF there's ANY GOD in Heaven I WILL SEE that you do my beloved Vana!"
With this he looks to see that the HMS Endeavour is ablaze, looking to be the center of it all, already engulfed and trying to take two ships on each side with it. Among them, the Fessarius is seeking to depart as rapidly as possible, as her crew is trying desperately to sway her out of the harbor and away from the fire. Several other ships have the same idea and the harbor is bottlenecked with ships trying to flee. Two tall-masted schooners wind up crashing into one another and their crews begin fighting to keep from sinking there and then.
Sadly they are heavy laden with freight and cannot maneuver swiftly enough to avoid the embers flying on the wind and their sails are now starting to spark with flames. The crews run back and forth trying to squelch the flames as they hold to the sails and the heat of the winds it produces praying to take them safely from the flames. BOTH ships are hopelessly locked as their bows have become intertwined. the Fessarius, still in the harbor awaiting a chance to emerge from it, is setting behind them trying to find passage around. To no avail, as embers from the fires are now wafting their way towards the three-masted ship.
Avakhon sees a carriage careening towards the Fessarius, and quickly 6 individuals run onboard in a hope to flee into the night without detection once more. Her crew anxious to leave, they begin loading their canons in an effort to sink the ships ahead of them and find some way of escape. They fire dead on to the waterline of both ships, watching as they begin to be immersed in flames, yet are slowly sinking in the harbor as well. The shots have separated them but only slightly and if they are to make it through, they will have to run into one or the other and hope to push it out of the way.
A short man is seen on the upper deck shouting and commanding those around him to "DO SOMETHING!". At this point, Avakhon sees something he had not envisioned possible, Three men, tall and oblique, with their eyes glowing res as the flames behind them. . . . KHINSHARRI! Somehow, someone has found the emans to create more of them and now is using them here.
THIS he cannot abide by nor stand idly by and watch. Could it be that they were responsible for this fire? The Khinsharri were created to defend those that bring them forth. WHOEVER that may be. The three begin to stand on gangplanks next to the ship on the right, and with the strength of goliaths, they begin to push the ship away from the Fessarious. Just enough to allow passage between them.
Avakhon now realizes who is aboard this ship and HOW it is he has become aware of these men. He has sensed their presence from nearly a quarter of a mile away and sees this in his mind as they perform the deeds. They ARE Khinsharri, and HE must find them and deal with them NOW or lose whatever is left of himself in the process. HOW were they brought back, as none he is aware of survived more than three years after Burma.
With a swiftness that surprises even him, he begins leaping and bouncing from building to building, past those trying to fight the fires, and even through the fires as it doesn't seem to be attaching itself to him in any way that he can detect. He removes his mask now, as there's no need to hide anymore. HE is now engaged in a battle, not just for life, but existence as he knows it. Within a few minutes, he has arrived at the edge of the docks, as the Fessarious is nearing the edge of the harbor. There's too much water between them and him to make any kind of a leap and be aboard, but there are a few pulleys and cranes that have not yet caught fire that he could avail himself of to swing outwards to the ship if possible in time.
With agility he doesn't even recognize himself, he leaps and grabs hold of the hoist, swinging it wide and then letting go to jump as far as he can towards the Fessarious.
When he almost has the sideboards in hand, the water has soaked the sides, or was it water? NO, it was oil, they had dumped their cargo overboard to try and lighten their load. He felt the sides go soft and he began to slip to the edge of the boat and into the icy waters of the harbor. He knows this much, HE cannot swim, nor is floating an option. In desperation he punches the side of the boat, creating a hole and he pulls himself up from the waters. finally reaching the side of the ship he boards it. He sees men running around trying to keep the fires from touching the ship, and they are too busy with this to notice another red-eyed man on board. He stands and takes a measure of what he must do now.
He now stands there, and sees three men, like himself. The dead brought back for who knows what purpose. They begin to inch towards him, looking like they were Cardinals from Rome, yet taller and dressing in long robes. Eyes glowing and the devil himself could be their leader.
"Well, well, well, what have we here? A lost little sheep or a dog that's about to die?
From my vantage point the latter I would presume. Well, Detective? Have you played your last card now and wish to concede that I AM superior to YOU in every way? Or will you continue with this farce and try to beat these odds against you?" as the little man smiles with the cigar in his mouth, a wry smile takes over his face.
OFF: This ends the series of ladies. It takes JP off of Vanaaras and Balok from there.

Detective Avakhon Khinsharri

Balok Linnick

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