Pictures by Aoife Lorefield
Traveler’s Tails: Severina
by Moira Draconia
It came to pass one time when I needed to ask my uncle a vital question as he exited his airship on a past trip.
“Why did you name your traveling club the Traveling Herd?”
I am sure he told me the answer before, but I tend to forget details easily.
“Well, child, the traveling herd is represented by a deer. Deer are swift, and able to cover distances quickly. They are good at noticing their surroundings. These are good instincts to have if you travel as the herd does.”
I nod slowly, in thought, remembering the time uncle told me this and remembering the deer on the buckle of his satchel.
Uncle was nowhere to be seen. I stuck my head inside the airship and saw an attendant. “Excuse me miss? Have you seen my uncle? He is a regular traveller here and he was supposed to arrive from this airship.” I proceeded to describe him. Six foot tall, about yay wide, and carrying a satchel and top hat.
“I do remember your uncle, but he was not on board this flight. He was nowhere to be seen.”
My heart skipped a beat.
“Ma’am, please tell me..where did this airship just come from? I must know so I can go find him.”
“Honey, the ship arrived from Severina. We are due to return there shortly and we are not booked. You may come along.”
I was elated at the attendant’s kindness, and after a wait she let the return flight boarders enter the airship and we were off to Severina as the sun set. I looked up and saw two blackened lighthouses, each with a dark angel perched above a dim light. The beauty of this place is both awe inspiring and quite unsettling! It seems those very angel figures are watching to see if we slam into the rocks, which seem to stare back at us unblinking with woeful gloom!
“Severrrina! Severrrina all prepare to alight in five minutes time!” the conductor announced through the scratchy speaker.
I looked outside at the most foreboding landscape I have ever seen. Then the sound came letting us know the airship arrived on the platform. The doors swung open and the passengers emptied out of the medium sized ship. Weeping droplets fall into the cabin as the few last weary passengers clamored to get their bags.
“Where could my uncle be?” I asked myself as a peered out of the porthole window into the Severina docks. I just stared out in awe. I couldn’t help but say aloud, “What was my uncle doing in Severina?”
The attendant overheard and smiled her pert smile, “You know, it isn’t as creepy as it looks. I bet you will enjoy it. I heard it has some fun docklife at night, and a bustling marketplace with magical wares. It is lively like the Dungeon Bazaar, minus the magpies.”
She gave me a quick wink and nodded to the ferryman before helping me off the airship upon arrival. The ferryman helped us cross to the docks.
“Have you seen a man with a top hat and satchel, about this tall and yay wide?” I asked the ferryman. He merely shook his head grimly, and pulled the boat to the dimly lit dockside.
I stepped out upon the damp docks of Severina, purple lanterns all aglow. Unfamiliar smells and sounds came from everywhere. Figures in dark robes strolled along the dockside, the purple water flickering the reflections of the lanterns below. I briefly looked up to see a dark figure with a glass eye, selling some different bottled concoctions and glancing to the side a tall lanky feminine figure with hooves and a pointy tail laughing, drinking a purple drink from a tall glass and talking to some other darkly clothed figures with grey skin and white hair.
“What a strange place this is,” I whispered under my breath. “How am I going to find my uncle here? I do hope he is alive at least.” I jumped slightly seeing a black cat lounging there, the cat cocking its head unamused.
“Hey you, watch out.”
I backed up and nearly knocked over a rack of glowing elixirs. A few nearby drow passing by merely smirked at me. I could have sworn the black cat rolled her eyes.
“I see you are lost,” I heard a voice say.
I looked up and saw the friendly face of an elderly woman in a dark kimono. “What are you looking to find at the starlight dockside market of Severina?”
Figures in dark clothing passed by chatting busily as I answered, “I am looking for my uncle. He is a famous traveler, perhaps you know of him? He runs the Traveling Herd…and he is about this tall and yay wide…”
I would have continued but he woman stopped me. “I have seen your uncle yes. He was here yesterday. He told me was staying nearby. Try the inn down the way.”
Thanking her profusely, yet timidly, I nearly backed into the talking black cat again. “Sorry!” and followed a crowd down the dockside.
Being a busy night, there were plenty of purple lanterns about. The fog rolled in, but I could see the spires sticking up against the moonlit sky.
I followed the purple lanterns through the mist guiding my way to the inn. I almost fell off the rickety bridge as I crossed. I just hoped I could find my uncle and leave! Soon I came across a deer with a top hat and mustache. What a strange sight! It seemed to not belong here with the gothic styled demons and drow about. The deer stopped in its tracks and walked over to me, shaking. It spoke, “Child, child..oh I am glad you are here.”
“Uncle? Is that you?” I raised my eyebrows hearing him speak.
“I am in a bit of a pickle.”
“I’d say!” I couldn’t help but chuckle, “Uncle, do you know you look like a deer? You even have some of your clothing on still.”
Uncle nods sadly. “I’m quite aware child. I ran into a couple nasty drow on here. Upon overhearing I was part of the Travelling Herd society of faireland travelers, they decided upon themselves to turn me into a buck.”
“How dreadful, uncle! How could they do such a thing!”
“My dear, I was quite foolish and went off the lit path away from the market.”
“We must not waste time! Help me get to the airship.”
“That was the last airship of the night, uncle. Luckily they let me board so I could find you!”
“Then we must return to the inn. And leave on the morrow. Help me child I am afraid my satchel is in the altar under the bridge.”
I helped uncle find his satchel and noticed the crowds thinning on the docks. We headed to the safety of the inn with its candlelit rooms and dark interiors.
An eerie silence fell over Severina deep into the night. Poor uncle curled up on the floor and slept very soundly, his head tucked between his hooves.
The next morning we took the first airship back to Erstwhile station, and the view of Severina revealed a medusa-like rock as the airship lifted us out of the onyx spires.
It felt good to be back in Erstwhile station. Asking around, we heard that there was a powerful sorcerer on Aethera who could perhaps help my uncle with his predicament. I do hope so. Uncle looks rather funny as a deer.