This story is set immediately following The Case of the Mysterious Murders.
Peleps Satsu had been having a very good day, but many good days had come to an abrupt end when he read his star-charts, and today was one of those days. An anima had come up signifying a very high level threat, an anathema that was catalogued and well-documented. Much stranger was the fact that this anathema had been catalogued only in the far Northeast, and was now instead in the South somehow? It gave Satsu hope that he was just wrong and it wasn’t really some overpowered Solar anathema but just a mistake on his own part.
Usually when he made such a reading, and often when he didn’t, the old man would come by with readings to compare. Satsu didn’t even feel like hunting down the old man, Vanger Dorthulno, since if it was a mistake Dorthulno wouldn’t find it and come running to report it, and Dorthulno was definitely as good at reading star-charts as Satsu, if not better. Most Dragon-blooded sorcerers bristled at the thought of a mere mortal outclassing them in star-reading, but Satsu felt no ego bruising, seeing a brilliant mortal dedicate his life to one task and coming up equal to the chosen of the Dragons. It was inspiring to him, really.
The door opened and Dorthulno hesitated at the door as he always did, before his soft, aging voice broke out the way it always did: “Permission to enter, master?”
“Granted,” Satsu said, long past the debates on whether he was Dorthulno’s master or not. “Sit. Have you a reading for me?”
“I do, but I find it odd and confusing,” Dorthulno said humbly. “A Solar anathema, well-known throughout the Wyld Hunt bases, but he has only ever been spotted in the far reaches of the North. He has evaded the Pinnacle of the Eye of the Hunt for some time, and now he is suddenly within reach of the Incas Prefecture’s Fortress of the Divine Spear. I thought if you could find the error in my projections my mind would be at ease.”
“Unfortunately, I was hoping the same thing from you,” Satsu said forlornly, holding up his own charts. “We are in agreement. It must be the great warlord Ah Nold.”
“Then you must send word at once to Jurell, he will set the Wyld Hunt against this foe most promptly.”
“I am forced to agree. Good day Dorthulno,” Satsu said as he strode brazenly from his office. Dorthulno left the office as well, taking the opposite direction, went around a corner— and ceased to exist.
Rofan, Chosen of Mars, was now striding through the bowels of the Fortress of the Divine Spear, scowling. Ah Nold was the sort of character who was supposed to end up on the STFC list, what was he doing gallivanting around the South. Rofan was still relatively new to the bureaucracy of the Sidereals but he felt if Ah Nold was not soon put in his place then he would have to make his own submission to the STFC list, authorized or not.
Satsu caught both men passing by as he finished climbing the stairs to the top of the main tower. Cathak Jurell and Tepet Ikana were the two eldest members of the Fortress of the Divine Spear, and both were firm believers in the sanctity of their mission. Satsu was still relatively young, less than fifty years old, and only at the Fortress for a few years, so every word they uttered was automatically gospel to him.
“Ah Nold,” Satsu said as he held up his charts. “Fate presents him at the city of Agraev, one day from now, in full iconic power of a Solar anathema.”
Both stared blankly at him. Jurell shifted in his bright red armor and stroked his trimmed graying beard, while Ikana blinked and peered at Satsu most carefully through his blue jade goggles.
“Ah Nold, the great warrior of the North, in the sands of the south?” Jurell said slowly.
“I know how it sounds,” Satsu said, chastened but undeterred, “But you told me Vanger Dorthulno was as reliable as they come, and he got the exact same reading I did. We’re reporting this to you for your consideration, sir.”
Jurell looked over at Ikana dubiously, but all of Ikana’s doubt vanished with Dorthulno’s name. “Well we must send an inquisitor at once to get on the trail, a highly experienced one.”
Jurell nodded. “Very well. Shall we send Mnemon Kagami? He’s ready for a solo spy I think and he can be there in just over a day.”
“Agreed,” Ikana said thoughtfully. “I’ll brief him. Satsu, inform Quelora that we’ll be prepping an inquisitor for long-range tracking. Have at least a dozen messenger baubles ready for him.”
Satsu nodded and sprinted off. Ikana whispered into the wind and then waited patiently.
It was less than three minutes later when a rustle in the wind heralded the arrival of Mnemon Kagami. He was clad in black with a mask over his nose and mouth, and long black hair shielding his eyes, one of which was a blue prosthetic artifact. He dropped to one knee before Tepet Ikana who nodded his approval at the silence of Kagami’s arrival.
“Mnemon Kagami, you are being given your first solo long-range recon mission. You will travel to the city of Agraev where one anathema named Ah Nold is fated to arrive and do battle tomorrow. Find him, track him, don’t lose him, send reports back. Every time we are able to locate his fate we will update you with Infallible Messenger. Ah Nold is highly mobile so you will be needing your glider and wind jewel and every trick in your bag. Do you have any questions?”
“Yes sir,” Kagami said. “How shall I know him?”
Jurell snorted a laugh. “You’ll know him the moment you see him.”
Ikana shot Jurell a sour look. “In case you must track him from witnesses, he is a tall Northerner wearing Orichalcum Celestial Battle Armor. So he should be easy to track, as long as he’s around any mortals who live to tell the tale.”
“Understood,” Kagami said curtly.
“Dismissed,” Ikana said. He turned and walked away, and a moment later Kagami was nowhere to be seen.
“He’s still a tad green,” Jurell said, meaning it sincerely despite Kagami having celebrated his first century the previous year. “Maybe should have emphasized not to try and take him on alone.”
Ikana shrugged. “We lose half our inquisitors on their first solo mission. The half we keep are worth ten rookies because they’ve figured that out one way or another without getting killed.”