Decan 16, year 513, Storm Age - New Zenobia
According to tradition, no elf was considered a woman until she had been hunter, mother and friend. Unlike her mother, Baseka had no love of tradition. She had hunted, as every elf-child must, but saw no reason to do so again. Who used spears when flintlocks were available?
"Tell us a tale! Tell us a tale!"
Baseka stopped at the courtyard's edge. The young elf saw mostly children gathering about the storyteller. It was the blind man she'd met on a steamer to Vind ten years ago. He had not been blind when they'd met.
"A tale, you say?" His voice was surprisingly strong. "Blind Alex knows many tales." He set down a collection bowl at his feet, then leant on his staff.
Baseka leaned against a brightly coloured wall. "Tell us about the Magi," she called out.
The storyteller's head swivelled slowly, until it seemed he was looking straight at her. "Baseka," he said. "We never did finish that cycle. Where did we get up to?"
Only yesterday, it seemed, had she sat by his bed night after night while his injuries healed. "Atenhotep's Diamond, and what happened after it broke."
"Ah yes. The Return of Vitus the Chosen, Marna's Mercenary School in the Fiend Wars, the Journey to the Heart of the World, the Second Wizard Wars and the Royal Survey of the Summoning Worlds."
"You never finished the one about the White Lion."
"That's right, I never did."
One of the children tugged Blind Alex's sleeve. "I like Marna the White Lion. Tell us the story - please."
A passing craftsman stopped. "You mean White Marna. Go on, tell us how she lost her colour," he jeered.
"That was Atenhotep's Diamond," Baseka glared. "No, I want to hear what happened after she left Hawk Citadel."
"And so you shall hear," Blind Alex said formally.
At this sign, the gathering crowd quietened. The children sat in a semi-circle at the storyteller's feet, and Baseka joined them.
"Know, friends: though fraught with peril, the Storm Age was a time undreamed of. Though chaos and terror swarmed across the face of the land, Samuria was a realm of glory and wonder..."