Looking up frequently at the flying marvel above us, Vena Remontar and I made our way back to the home of her cousin. The great battleship was not alone in the sky. Beyond it I could just make out two similar ships hovering above the city. I hoped that they were part of the fleet that Norar Remontar was preparing for his sister’s rescue. Vena Remontar stopped at the entrance of the building, and said her goodbye.
“Thank you for everything,” I said.
“It was my pleasure, knight,” she replied. “We will meet again soon.”
I made my way up the forty-five flights of escalators to Norar Remontar’s apartment. No sooner had I entered, than my Amatharian friend appeared from another room.
“You are finally here,” he observed.
“You are to come with me,”
“What now?” I asked.
“My grandfather wants to see you.”
I nodded in understanding, and followed the tall Amatharian out the door and up three more flights of escalators. We stepped thorugh a large entryway and waited outside a large navy blue door. This was a type of waiting area that one might find outside any large office. Had I been in New York or Los Angeles, I would have expected a secretary or a receptionist at a desk, but in Amathar they don’t have receptionists and a secretary’s job is a bit different than on Earth—more like a librarian. Visitors to an Amatharian office observe strict rules of etiquette, just as they would when visiting an Amatharian home. And those Amatharians who work in an office, are pleased to receive visitors themselves.
The door was opened and we were admitted to the room. Inside we found a magnificent hall, the center point of which was a great long table of carved wood, lined on either side by forty heavy wooden chairs. One entire wall of the room was glass, and looked over the courtyard that was the most impressive feature of the building. The other wall was lined with banners, each carrying the crest of a knight of the Sun Clan.
Four Amatharians waited for us within the room. The man who opened the door was the tallest man that I had yet met, something over seven and a half feet. Just looking at him frightened me. I could imagine how an enemy facing him felt. He was middle-aged, with streaks of grey shooting through his straight black hair. His hawkish nose and a large scar across one cheek, gave him the look of a predator. He was clad in the garments of a knight, though his tabard was fringed with gold trim; his crest was an eye with a flaming sun as its pupil. He was Reyno Hissendar, Norar Remontar’s uncle, and the chief of the Hissendar Trading Group.
The second fellow was equally impressive, though not because of height. He was a formidably muscular man with a piercing gaze and a tightly set jaw. His tabard too was fringed with gold, and his crest showed a flaming sun within a circle. His bodysuit wasn’t black though. It was tan. I had seen Knights in other colors, Nicohl Messonar for instance, wearing the colors of a teacher. Tan was the traditional color of archaeologists. He was Vandan Lorrinos, a highly respected member of the Sun Clan, and a fleet commander.
The third person in the room was a woman. She was a breathtakingly beautiful older version of Vena Remontar, or for that matter, of the Princess. She was just over six feet tall, with long straight black hair framing her beautiful dark blue face. She had the same stern look about her that I had found in Nicohl Messonar, and the same ability to seemingly look into a person’s heart. She stared at me with what I thought was a look of more than simple appraisal. She was the mother of Vena Remontar and the aunt of Norar Remontar, and her name was Mindana Remontar. She wore a bodysuit and tabard, but without the crest, indicating she was not a knight. Her bodysuit was dark blue, marking her profession as biologist.
The final individual in the room was the man for whom I had been summoned— the Overlord of the Sun Clan, Nevin Lorrinos. There was no doubt that he was Norar Remontar’s grandfather, for he was tall and handsome, with the same prominent features and the same noble bearing. He wore a great black robe with a golden crest above the heart— crossed swords over a flaming sun, the same crest that Noriandara Remontar had worn. I bowed low to him.
“Greetings knight,” he said.
“Yes,” said Mindana Remontar. “You have certainly wasted no time integrating yourself into our culture.”
“I was drawn to Garden of Souls when I came near,” I said. “Of course I still have much to learn about Amathar, but I already know that I want to make a place for myself here.”
Vandan Lorrinos grunted approvingly.
“That is one of the things I wish to speak to you about,” said Nevin Lorrinos. “You are without a family, which is a great handicap for you. But my heir tells me that he thinks you are worthy and a good friend and I trust his judgment. For that reason, I would like to offer you a place in the Sun Clan.”