The wind hit the sails and the with a crack they pulled tight, dragging the ship forward to follow the wind. The sun stood high in the sky and the sky was blue with just a few white cumulus clouds to add texture. Sei, standing at the bow of the ship, directed the essence of the wind he held in a charmed jar and let it enjoy some freedom. Soon enough though, the wind followed the orders it had been given and steered the ship toward the ocean. At the same time, Asagi, standing on the back deck, commanded the currents with her pan flute, adding extra speed to the boat as it set sail and left the bay. 
"And we're out." Sei called, coming up toward Asagi.
The dark-skinned woman lowered her pan-flute and smiled as the sea breeze played through her wild mop of black frizzy hair. She'd been in the port town of Denhaga for about three months and though she liked her work, she was starting to feel like she needed to travel again. She'd always been a traveller and the road called to her. Sei on the other hand, a tanned man 7 years her senior, had been at the port town for over 5 years. The wind caressed his brown hair, tugging at it, and he smoothed it back into place with his hand.
"Good job." Sei told Asagi and he meant it.
Finding water mages who could work on such a scale was hard. But he could see that Asagi was getting ready to move on. She felt a bit like the wind, struggling to be set free, to roam across the land and water and to try to reach that horizon. Sei would be sad to see her go, but there was no way he could keep her.
"It's always easy to work with you." Asagi replied and she meant it. 
Finding wind mages that could keep their thoughts on the job was hard. All the wind mages she'd known before had been scatterbrained and about as mercurial as water-mages were accused of being. But Sei was almost too steadfast and traditional. His father was an ice mage, maybe that was why. 
Asagi settled on the benches around the ship and kept playing a soft melody that would ensure the currents brought fish toward the boat without actually disturbing the greater order of things. She wasn't about to chase the fish away as a parting gift. There was not much else to do for the two mages until the ship would move or head back. Sure they could monitor the weather, but the way it looked today nobody would expect a storm. 

Tankou waited as the next person entered the cosy and plush office in the church of the Curtain of Pink that he'd been given. The walls were clothed in velvet, the windows were tinged to soften the light that filtered inside. Tankou was happy that the room also contained some plants and comfortable seating. If people wanted, they could even lay down on the couch. The brown-skinned half-elf preferred people to be as relaxed as they could be when he did his work. 
"Good afternoon." he said as a middle-aged woman entered.
She was a bit hesitant, but after a few seconds, took a few steps forward and sat down on the couch. Tankou stood up and shook his client's hand. He could see it had taken a lot of nerve to come. most people were doubtful at first. After all, his order had quite a shady reputation. Not all of its adepts had used their power for the greater good.
"Can you tell me a bit about why you're here?" he asked.
"Aren't you going to put me under?" the woman shot back.
"Not at first." Tankou reassured the woman, "You can tell me what you want, you can leave out things that are too painful, but I just need to know what causes your pain."
"I don't know." she cringed.
"That's ok. Just tell me what's wrong and we'll go from there."
Tankou focused on the emotions and motives that appeared during the woman's story, at times grabbing hold of one to explore it, but at other times also letting the ones she could untangle by herself go. He wasn't here to do all the work, just help her get back on track so she could work through the rest by herself. Pain had a reason to be and was not something that should just be erased. 
Tankou's work wasn't exactly physically draining, but it did require a lot of mental power to keep everything flowing and calm. When he felt he had done enough for the day, he brought the woman back to the present and thanked her for a job well done. He didn't think she'd require another session but told her to contact the sect if she felt differently. 
And then it was time for his last order of the day. He'd be meeting out with a young follower of the holy triangle of red, a fire-initiate that would start her practical training. Normally he wouldn't be the one to give her her first assignment but apparently all adepts of fire were away on business. Tankou had gotten a feeling like the initiate was a handful from the single conversation he'd had. Not that he minded, students should have the guts to make their own choices. 

Beni fiddled with her backpack strings. She was standing outside the tavern where she was supposed to meet the monk or priest that would give her her first assignment. She'd been an initiate for the last 7 years, studying at the temple. Now she had finally been allowed to go out in the world to serve as an example of her sect. It had taken her quite a long time to reach this stage, usually initiates promoted within the first five years but somehow she'd been held back a lot. Beni was certain it had to do with her stature and youthful looks. Although she was 29, most people estimated her at 20 which was far from adult by Khleur society standards. 
Beni drew in a breath and let the different smells of the harbour town register. Her little elemental flitter Kihi popped her head out from Beni's shirt. The elemental fire spirit could change her size at will and currently she was hardly bigger than a finger, snuggling close to Beni's chest and keeping her warm in the sea breeze. Kihi chirped and Beni knew just what was wrong, they were both hungry.
"Just a little while longer." Beni promised and craned her neck to look for any person in a red cape that might be approaching them. 
But the only person coming closer was a pink-cloaked adept with a long jewel-tipped staff. The adept was a half-elf like herself, looking relatively young but Beni knew appearances could be deceiving. The Curtain of Pink was a small sect with a questionable reputation. Beni would prefer to not associate with them, but every time she tried to clear a path for the adept, he turned back to face her.
"Hello, You must be Beni." his deep voice finally called out.
"Eh, Hi." Beni replied
"I'm here to give you your assignment." Tankou continued, watching the young woman's face change from reserved to puzzled to disbelieving.
"Are you playing with my mind?" she asked, trying to figure out if she could ward off a mental attack with any of the spells she knew. 
Sadly none of what she knew seemed to be appropriate, which showed she was sorely lacking still. But then, she'd never before met an adept from the Curtain of Pink. How powerful were they anyway? Maybe she could just run away..
Before Beni could act on her thoughts, she found herself sitting in the bar with the older adept seated across from her.
"You brainwashed me." She hissed, trying to get up but finding her feet were stuck on the ground.
"You were about ready to run away." Tankou shrugged, "I am really here to give you your assignment. Apparently your fellow adepts of the Holy Triangle found other things more important than guiding one of their students. Though I gathered you might have had some hand in that yourself."
Tankou looked at Beni with a raised eyebrow, waiting for her to what? Defend herself? Admit she was a pain in the bottom?
"So what is my assignment." she said, glaring.
"Apparently you are to light the lighthouses along the coast up north from here. I take it you can light things from a distance? Otherwise this assignment seems to be a set-up for failure. Do you have transportation? There are 5 lighthouses on as many small islands that warn the ships that they're nearing the peninsula."
"You're asking a lot of questions."
"I prefer to sleep without worries." Tankou shrugged, "And I'm sorry to say, I don't like this assignment."
"Other adepts always joke that our first assignment is to warm the baths in whatever local castle." Beni shrugged.
"Now that one I'd believe." Tankou said, "Your first assignment is supposed to be easy."
Tankou pulled a map from his robe and tapped on five small dots. 
"These are the lighthouses you're supposed to light. Any thoughts?"
"How am I going to get to them?" Beni called out.
The five islands were far from the main land, there were no bridges or even roads toward the coast. Beni could only wonder about what she was supposed to do. She knew she wasn't liked around the Temple of the Triangle, but she'd never thought it was this bad. She loved playing pranks, but she only played those on her fellow students and no-one ever got hurt from what she did. And she had studied diligently. And then another thought occurred to her:
"How long am I supposed to light them? And what am I lighting?"
"It doesn't say." Tankou said.
A sudden movement below her shirt caught her attention before she could despair. Kihi chirped attentively and then flew up before Beni could catch her. Shocked, Beni watched as Kihi flew straight to a woman who'd just entered and seemed to attack her, or rather a small watery bubble in her vicinity. 
"Kihi here!" Beni called and was relieved to see that her fire elemental listened.
"Asagi, Sei." Tankou greeted the newcomers and motioned for them to join them.
"Good evening, Tankou." Asagi greeted.
"Who's with you tonight? I don't think we've met before." Sei added.
Sei had lived in this town for a long time and he knew just about all adepts in town. This young one must be new. They hardly looked old enough to be initiated in the temple, let alone to be out and about.
"This is Beni, an adept of the Holy Triangle." Tankou supplied, "She has just gotten her first assignment but I think she might need some help.
Asagi and Sei looked puzzled and listened as Tankou explained the situation.
"I know those islands." Asagi said, "I've travelled there before. You can only reach them by boat."
"Which is what I thought." Tankou nodded, "Do you think that maybe.."
"I was planning on heading out to travel again." Asagi nodded, "I could take Beni."
"I'm joining you." Tankou nodded which caused Beni to choke on her drink.
Beni didn't mind Asagi taking her, she always did better in female company and Asagi was pretty cute though not as curvy as she'd like. Having the enigmatic hypnotist joining them on their trip made her quite uncomfortable. Meanwhile, Sei sat brooding. Tankou was a recent addition to the town, but he'd come to trust the man's intuition. As far as Sei knew, Tankou had intended to stay a year in the local Temple. 
"I'll come too." Sei said, finally making the decision he'd been worrying about for the last couple of days.
"Are you travelling too?" Asagi asked surprised.
"Just taking a vacation. I happen to own a boat and with the two of us to steer it we should not take long to get to the bottom of this."
"I appreciate the offer." Tankou said, "I'm not that used to seafaring."

Sei pushed his yacht away from the jetty with a pole and waited until it had drifted far enough toward the sea to release his wind. Being a wind magician made sailing really easy. He smirked as the bottled essence played with the sails and then pushed it toward the waiting seas. Beside him, Asagi took up her pan flute and played the melody he'd come to know like his own voice. 
"What did they say when you asked for leave?" Asagi asked.
"Nothing much. Just how many vacation days I'd be taking." Sei shrugged.
He'd settled at 14, that way he could also hopefully visit his parents on the way back. It'd been a while since they'd last come to town and paying them a visit for once would be a big surprise. Both his mother and father had their own pet projects but most of those were at their home and the chance of not finding them there was low. They were an unlikely couple but they worked. Sei had many fond memories from when he was a child. There weren't that many times when they'd been together, but he had joined both his mother and father while they travelled. During those travels he'd been encouraged to find his own strengths and talents and he'd found those in the wind. His constant companion. Why travel when the wind brought everything toward you? 
"What are your plans?" Sei asked Asagi.
"After helping Beni, I might just move on from those islands, though travelling back here with you and Tankou doesn't sound so bad either."
Asagi had to admit she'd come to enjoy the company of these people. She usually was a loner and quite content to travel the roads with only her own company. But now she was quite content to sit here together and steer the boat. 
"You're very welcome to join us. I bet Tankou would be very happy with that."
"Speaking of Tankou, where is he?" Asagi asked.
Beni popped up beside her and said: "He's down below, laying on the bed."
"He should be out in the open if he's seasick." Sei said and got up to try to convince the eldest in the group to come back up.
Beni took Sei's seat and looked out across the water. From the four people on this trip, she felt most secure with Asagi. So she felt it was time to ask Asagi a few questions.
"How long have you been at Denhaga?"
"About a month. Sei's been there for years and I believe Tankou only came to work at Denhaga a couple weeks before I arrived. I'll probably be moving on though, I never stay that long at settlements."
"You don't mind traveling?"
"I love it honestly." Asagi smiled, "Getting to see new scenery every day is amazing."
"I loved being at the temple too." Beni admitted, "I didn't have many friends, but it's where my family lives."
Feeling things came a bit too close for comfort, Beni decided to lighten up the atmosphere with a joke. She'd always been good at making people laugh, but then, being out at sea in the middle of a boat was new. 
"I wonder if I can light the sea with my flames." she quipped.
Asagi grinned, "You can try but the sea won't catch fire. She's stubborn like that. But once you get her going, there's no stopping her."
Sei returned to the deck and behind him Tankou followed, looking a bit queasy. Now that was something Beni could work with and she wouldn't feel guilty for cracking a joke at his expense. After all he had brainwashed her.
"Looking like you might join the Mantle of Chartreuse there, Tankou." she laughed.
Next to her Asagi sputtered but remained in control, "I never knew you adepts could get so seasick."
"My ancestors are wood-elves and mountain folk." Tankou sighed, "I think none of us has ever been this close to the sea before."
Sei patted him on the back, "The journey'll only take 2 days at most." 
"That's.... not very comforting." Tankou sighed.

"Land ahoy!" Sei called to Asagi as he cut down his wind.
Asagi saw the small strip of land at the horizon and made sure the currents carried them closer but not too close. The island didn't look like much, it was basically a rocky outcrop with a lighthouse at the end. From the sea there was hardly any vegetation visible so it didn't look all that hospitable. Sei guided the yacht into an inlet where they could dock at a small pier with a deck at the end. The crew of four disembarked, Tankou probably being the most elated to finally have land below his feet again. 
Beni skipped along the pier, jumping down on the beach and waiting for the others to catch up. She could see the lighthouse already but wondered what needed to be done next. Maybe there was a manual somewhere in the tower. 
"Let's get a bit closer to look for an entrance." Sei suggested.
"I wonder who lighted them before." Tankou mused.
"You'd think they're important." Asagi agreed, "Normally I'd expect someone living here to tend to it."
"I could probably light a beacon, but I'd need to stay close by for it to keep working." Beni admitted, "I've been thinking about what it could be during the entire trip but it just doesn't make sense."
"I'm surprised they haven't automated these." Sei said, "This seems like something my mom would do."
When three sets of eyes looked at him for a more elaborate explanation, he provided: "She's an adept of the Spark."
"And you're an adept of Wind?" Beni asked.
"Sure, my Dad is an adept of the Crystal of Indigo, an ice mage." Sei shrugged.
"All people in my family are fire mages." Beni said, "I didn't even know you could belong to different sects as family."
"It is rare." Tankou said, "My family tends to specialise in healing so we're spread out amongst the greener sects, but we're free to chose."
"We're all water mages." Asagi said, "Have been for generations." which earned her a thankful look from Beni. 
While they talked about their respective families and sects, they reached the base of the lighthouse. The building was light grey in colour, made from bricks and mortar. Three small windows in the side denoted floors and then there was a gap at the top where the light or fire was. But there was no door at the base, no way for them to get in. 
"Now what?" Beni asked. She could probably scale the wall but didn't fancy a fall.
"We take a look." Tankou said.
He tapped his staff on the rocky ground and a pink-purple creature popped out from nowhere. It chirped happily, flew a little circle around Tankou until he finally petted her and then she flew up. The pet drachi flew right into the top chamber. When she returned, she perched on Tankou's shoulder and then put her forehead up against his', looking deep into his eyes.
"Mia saw the standard light bulb inside. It looks like it should be automated, just like Sei said."
"Let's just wait and see what it says at nightfall." Asagi shrugged, "Maybe one of the five is defective. We can probably see the others from here."
"It shouldn't take long, the sun is already setting." Sei agreed. 
Beni nodded and looked around. The island really didn't have much else than a few rocks and the lighthouse. A couple of bushes held on to life in between the cracks and a few birds were hunting insects on the beach. But there was nothing to give her a clue about what to do. When she looked toward the northern edge of the island, she could make out the next island which housed it's own lighthouse. To the East the mainland stretched out as a forested wall. There didn't seem to be people living close by, but maybe they'd see some lights after the dark had descended. 
Kihi popped up and snuggled close to her cheek, warming her face from the cold wind. The little fire elemental flitter always helped to brighten her day. Though she looked to be perpetually burning, Beni had never gotten hurt from being close to her. 
"If only you could help us with this." Beni smiled, "I bet you'd be wonderful at lighting lighthouses."
Kihi chirped and snuggled a little closer.
"I know what you want, You're after the cookies in my backpack, aren't you." Beni chuckled as she got out the bag of cookies she'd been saving.
She returned to the others, intent on solving the puzzle, and maybe sharing her treats with the others. 
"Can you help with the fire?" Tankou asked her.
"I can." Beni said and went to light the campfire the others had built while she'd been on the beach.
"You're doing great." Tankou complimented her.
"Well, apparently I did do something wrong to get this assignment."
"Maybe I'm reading too much into this." Tankou shrugged. 
"Where are the other two?" Beni asked.
"Asagi and Sei are tending the boat and getting out some things so we can camp outside."
"They must have know each other for quite some time, right?"
"Some souls know each other." Tankou said quizzically, "But let's not talk about them."
"I don't like to talk about myself." Beni replied, maybe a bit harsher than she would have liked.
"Getting a bit defensive around me?" Tankou quipped, "I won't do anything to hurt you. Just trust us."
"I'm not quite certain that line will help me trust you." Beni muttered.
Tankou laughed out loud, "No I guess that could be called creepy. Lighten up."
"Har har." Beni rolled her eyes.
"No pun intended." Tankou clarified.
Sei and Asagi returned with blankets and food. 
"I think I know the problem." Asagi said.
"The lighthouse on the next island over doesn't seem to be working." Sei supplied.
Asagi gave him a playful shove, but left it at that. In truth they had both spotted the problem together. 
"So tomorrow we sail there and try again?" Beni suggested
"I don't know, Want to try lighting it from here?" Tankou asked.
Beni nearly choked, "From here?"
"It's not that far." Tankou said and added, "And there isn't exactly anything burnable in between."
"Doesn't hurt to try." Asagi pushed a bit, "And don't worry, you won't burn the sea." 
The four went to the edge of the island, facing the next island with it's dark lighthouse. There was nothing in between, but the distance was more than what Beni had tried to bridge ever before. The sea in between was calm and dark, probably looking deeper because of the setting sun and the waning light. But still, the space in between felt vast. Could she really light the fire? Grabbing her wand she focused and tried to reach out to whatever fuel she could find in the vicinity. But aside from the clothes her companions were wearing she drew a blank. 
"Unless you want me to light your clothes, I think I have to admit defeat." She sighed.
"Well it was worth a shot." Asagi shrugged.
"I can send out Mia to take a look before we head there. Who knows we can pick up some information about why it's broken."
Tankou tapped his staff again and Mia appeared into view, happy to be called out again so soon. But as she drifted away toward the island on the horizon, Beni felt Kihi leave her shirt to follow the drachi. 
"Kihi!" she called, but the fire-flitter did not head her call.
"Leave her be." Tankou said, "Mia will keep her safe."
"I'm more worried about Kihi trying to harm Mia." Beni said nervously, after all, Kihi had also nearly attacked Asagi.
But she needn't have worried. Kihi followed Mia obediently and popped into the open top of the tower. Just a little later Tankou whistled.
"Your little pet is quite handy."
"What is she doing?" Beni asked.
"Wait a second." Tankou said as he closed his eyes.
Suddenly all of them saw the projection Mia was sending to Tankou.
"You're using your mind tricks again." Beni hissed.
"Well you wanted to know." he shrugged.
Mia and Kihi were flying around in a small round room with a large mechanical structure in the center. Kihi chirped and Mia squeaked. Tankou tried to direct Mia to look at different places so that he may find out the problem. But before he could actually get a clear picture, Kihi seemed to triple in size and just flew on top of the construct. And just like that, the lighthouse lit up.
"Any idea what Kihi did?" he asked Beni.
"No." Beni said, stupefied.
"I think she did your job." Sei observed.
"You know what this means?" Asagi asked, "Tonight we celebrate a job well done."
"First jobs are supposed to be easy after all." Tankou shrugged.

It was the middle of the night when whispered words woke up Sei. Worried, he got up and listened, trying to make out what was happening.
"Are you sure it's here?" the whisper sounded.
A slight pause and then: "We need to take it back before it colonises the planet."
Rustling sounds came from the beach, which worried Sei because that meant the intruders were in between them and the boat.
"Wake up." he whispered to Asagi, being relieved when she awoke alert and without a sound.
Sei quickly signalled that there were intruders and together they woke up the other two. Takou rose quickly to his feet, Beni startled awake and would have made some noise if Asagi hadn't muffled her.
"Can you find out how many there are?" Sei asked Tankou.
"Not without eye contact." He admitted.
"Let's sneak up on them. We can probably give them  quite a good scare."
"I can burn their clothes." Beni suggested, only to be met with a disapproving glance from Tankou.
The four of them crawled toward the cliff that dropped down to the beach. Below they saw a single man and a creature none of them had ever seen before. All of them thought it looked a bit like drachi, but not quite. It had 4 legs for instance, and a set of wings, and larger swirling yellow eyes that suddenly turned toward them...
With a roar, the dragon seemed to launch toward them, and suddenly there was a little bubble that materialised in front of them. Not surprisingly the bubble sped toward Asagi. Kihi popped out of Beni's shirt again and seemed to want to attack Asagi again, Beni hardly being able to restrain her. In the chaos of it all, Tankou managed to make eye contact with the dragon and with some effort, the dragon relaxed.
"Did you brainwash it?" Beni asked.
"No." Tankou said.
"We reached a compromise." the dragon's voice suddenly sounded in all of their minds.
"Aviath?" Sovyl asked, feeling the start of a mind-splitting head-ache come up.
"They've come from another world." Tankou added, "And they were searching for that little fish creature near Asagi."
Asagi meanwhile, stood perfectly still, hardly daring to breathe as the little blue and green fish hovered in front of her face. Carefully she held out her hand and the watery bubble descended.
"Oh great, you bonded it." Sovyl smirked, "That means I'll have to take you with me."
The group tensed again and turned defensive.
"What my rider means is that we need you to come along for a little bit so we can make sure this little one doesn't give you trouble."
"Yeah, that." Sovyl said, turning toward Asagi, "And maybe spending some time together, dinner? A date?"
Sei coughed, "Where do you intend to take us." Because by no means would he allow Asagi to be the only one taken away.
"There are plenty of places where we could have this talk."
"So start." 
Sovyl grudgingly let himself be led to the campfire and talked about dragons, the nexus, eggs, clutches, adoptions, travelling without the restraints of distance and time. He explained they could get back just one hour after they left and in the meantime could have been away for a few years to bond a dragon and train them. But they would need to be careful, apparently there was protocol to follow when it came to rearing dragons and establishing a nexus domain.
"I don't see why we couldn't try." Sei finally mused, "We should go together."
"No." Asagi, interjected, "We should spread out. I feel diversity would be key here."
Sei looked at her with a doubtful look, after all the trouble he'd gone through to keep all four of them together.
"I promise to send you to places that can communicate with each other." Sovyl said.


Lantessama Isle