The tarn dived straight for the jagged rocks below and Rin screamed with pure delight. This was not flying aboard an airship. She could not feel the air upon her face or the powerful wings of a beating tarn between her legs. Smoke opened her wings and caught a wind that lifted them upwards to the sky. Higher and higher they went, until they were soaring higher than the vast aerodrome’s control tower.
“So, are you done showing off?” Joshan asked and Rin heard in the small radio in her hat. He was not angry at her to say the very least. She lifted off her saddle and looked for him. “I am underneath you, twelve mark six,” he said and then glided his way until he was on his port side. Their position was all based on the old Earth clocks. It went from one to twelve staring straight ahead and one to twelve starting straight overhead. Twelve mark six was straight ahead and below.
It was getting to be a clear day, the morning fog was already burning off the crisp autumn sun that hung heavy on the horizon above the Morning Sea. They could see the Maarke to their starboard side. Maarke was centered on three volcanos, but over the years the sea had striped the cones and left the throats of the volcanic magma. The ocean has left many spires great and small, solid, igneous rocks. It was a bustle of activity. They could see the small ships in the protected harbor. They could see buildings built vertically along the cliff face. The Colleges of Danaan are located off the largest extinct volcano in the center, surrounding the great observatory and Baronial home. The aerodrome was atop the northern peak. They could see the road that snaked down through the mountains between the aerodrome and the main city. The Maarke is not known for its fertile land and over ninety-percent of the food has to be shipped in from the outside.
Besides the Colleges, the other thing that the Maarke was known for is its hot springs. Called onsens, after the Japanese word for the hot spring. The geothermal activity for the Barony was quite impressive and these resorts were known far and wide. Stormtonne had only a handful compared to The Maarke.
They flew toward the Baronial home atop the center peak. The third peak was a large military base that was built when the Empire of Tulath nearly took all of North Realm nearly two hundred years ago. They could see tarns flying all over the city amid the small airships used for advertising as well as those used for police work. The students of the Colleges are known for their prankish behavior. Rin wished she could spend more time atop smoke but Joshan had pointed down to the rookery here.
“That was fantastic!” she said when they were on the ground. She was unbuckling herself from the saddle and got down from the saddle. Rin was still shaking with delight and a bit from the cold as Joshan smiled.
“I thought you would like it. You have left before you could get certified last time. I would have you join the Maarke guardsmen any time you wish,” he said. “M’lady,” he quickly added with a grin.
He accompanied Rin though the small Baronial rookery to the observatory and to the other side of the extinct volcanic peak where the Baronial home was. She looked up at the observatory and it was quite small. The dish was only some fifty centimeters in diameter but was made with care in the years after they had crash landed on this planet. Paul Taere, the predecessor of the danTaere family, never did find out where they were. Neither has his descendants. The old computer had stopped working centuries ago and the whole observatory was designated a historic monument.
They entered the Baronial home that lie above the main campus of the Colleges of Danaan. It was a small, ramshackle affair that housed the Baron of Maarke and family. The strength of the Barony came from its people and Kemmon danTaere left the day to day ruling to a Senate composed of all factions of The Maarke. It was not that the Baron left them, as his word carried considerable weight and he reserved the right to veto any new law. He always proposed caution and the police and the military still answered to him in any emergency. Baron Kemmon’s first love was teaching and that is what he did.
They were met by Oswal Langenfel, the seneschal of House danTaere. An older man who should be retired, he was accompanied by a younger man. They were both dressed in gray, the color of the ocean as it beats upon the rocks. “Well, I will have to get back to my guardsman. I will leave Smoke at the rookery for you to use while you are here,” Joshan said. Rin thanked him as he bowed and left.
“Hello Oswal,” she said as both of them bowed to her. Oswal’s beard was kept short and trim, but was as gray as his tunic. He didn’t have hair and kept his bald pate underneath a twill hat.
“Good morning to you as well, Lady danTaven,” he said dryly even though the humidity was quite high. “May I introduce Amer Tran. He is studying to take over for me when I retire.” Oswal has been threatening to retire for many a years. Rin curtsied slightly to the new seneschal in training. He was in his late twenties and his eyes peered at her not miss anything. Rin could tell he was trained by the way he stood and the way he carried himself. He was ex-military, that much she could tell. However he was a new, having just got the job in the two weeks she was gone.
“Good morning m’lady,” Amer said in a crisp baritone as he took her bag, unconcerned with the weight. “Did you have a pleasant flight?”
“It was calm and uneventful,” she replied to Mr. Tran. “Will I be staying in the same room as before?”
“Yes, the connecting room next to Her Highness. I bet you did not have breakfast yet. Shall I send it up to for you?”
She shook her head. “No, I am going to the Colleges to meet the Princess. She has political theory right now, right?” Langenfel just nodded his head as Rin turned and went.