They arrived on Varna, this island was even more beautiful than the other two they had landed on while on their way. There were Aurochs, as large as the one they took on the first island. There were Kaba’s, larger than any kaba on the main continent. There were other animals as well. Chrylos was concerned about their safety and asked Gryton to feel his way around and find out if there were any Skree here. The un-linked Skree that agreed to fight with the Guardians had no information about Varna, Chrylos and Gryton had questioned them in earnest, and none knew anything more than what all Skree knew of the exodus. Chrylos almost hoped that there were other Skree here, ones that were of the other three types, but so far, nothing had been found.
After making camp, Chrylos and Catya starting searching for this Vault on the map, not knowing what they would find. As they were searching, they found a cleft in a rock face, barely large enough to fit through, it looked as the cliff face had crumbled. Once they passed through the cleft they were speechless. They were standing in a natural cavern, larger than any of the gathering places at the temple. The floor was covered in a fine sand, naturally warm, and astonishingly soft. At the back of the cavern, were seats for humanoids, as well as crouching places for Skree. The entire chamber seemed to be carved from tanzite. Floor, ceiling, all the places to sit or crouch, everything was made from tanzite. Chrylos wasn’t exactly sure what was going on, the Skree had never mentioned living with humanoids before, yet, right here was clear evidence.
Catya brought out the medallion, and they began to look for the place it would fit, between two of the seats, set apart further than all the others, in the shadows, was an obelisk covered in writing and in the face, was the setting for the medallion. Catya’s breath caught in her throat, she was about to do something that hadn’t been done in ages, she placed it in and once fitted into the obelisk, she turned it clockwise, and the obelisk began to glow, then the whole cavern was bathed in a soft light, and all the details inside the cavern were plain to see. The walls and ceiling of the cavern were covered in glyphs and murals depicting life and the history of the people of Embrellon. Everyone had always said that before the Vela had migrated to Embrellon to escape the Marn, that the only sentient beings on Embrellon were the Skree. Now, they were about to find out who lived here with the Skree before the Great Exodus.
As they were studying the murals on the walls and ceiling, their sword and diadem crystals began to glow, and Chrylos began studying the obelisk and discovered a depression in the center of one mural, and asked Catya for the medallion in her pouch. He studied both sides of the medallion and saw that the glyphs on the medallion matched the indentations on the obelisk. Chrylos turned the medallion slowly until it clicked into place and once he did, a voice spoke it seemed from the air, and said that the history of Embrellon from the beginning until the great exodus was contained within the chamber. They were astonished. Chrylos had never heard a recorded voice before, and Catya hadn’t since escaping Marn. They looked at the medallion and saw that it didn’t quite line up. Catya reached up and turned it clockwise, and when the glyphs lined up, the obelisk moved to the side and revealed a great book wrapped in Aurochs hide. Catya opened the tome and learned that the people who lived with the Skree were known as the companions, and they were linked through the tanzite like the Guardians and that the Marn had been taking them as slaves. The Marn saw that they worked with the Skree, and were taking the young Skree to link with their captives to train as soldiers. The final battle on Embrellon ended with a Marn ship exploding above the island and causing a tsunami that covered the island and drove the Skree to the main land. What the Marn didn’t know was that the joining could only occur during hatching and that a Skree rarely linked once they were a few hours or days old. The joining was always voluntary on the part of the Skree, and if they didn’t find a suitable companion, they didn’t link.
The Companions, as they were called, had been a humanoid race resembling humans more than Velans, and with the exception of their hair being purple and violet eyes, the rest of their features were human. They had discovered many of the properties of tanzite, and had carved the cavern that the four were now standing in. Gryton and Zala had pulled the blockage out of the cavern and the opening was more than adequate to allow several Skree to enter at one time.
As they were exploring the cavern and its chambers, Chrylos thought that maybe they should approach the Council about sending a permanent detachment of Rangers to occupy the original settlement. Once they had thoroughly explored the cavern, they were amazed by the sheer size of it. It could comfortably house at least five hundred Rangers, there was plenty of food for both rangers and companions on the island which was at least one thousand meters across the narrowest part of the island and five thousand meters from north to south. Forests, rivers, meadows, and at least two harbors that had been used in the past and with some work, could be used again. There were ships at several harbors on the main continent, the Velan fishing and cargo fleets, and the lakes, and surrounding seas were teeming with fish. Reoccupying the original settlement was something that Chrylos wanted more and more. It would also give the Guardians two outposts, and greater numbers of Rangers meant that should Tygos attack, there would be two fronts to defend and repel an attack. Chrylos asked Catya to talked to the Seers through the link and ask that they send Jatar, and a contingent of Rangers, Elders, and Seers, to the Island. She did as he asked, and gave them specific directions to the island, leaving out the cave where they found the map and Lantana’s armor and diadem, that would be their secret.
Once the Great Council arrived, it could change everything, but for now, this was their place. He and Catya took the Commander’s Quarters, odd to him that the quarters were designed for two companions and two Skree, and that built into the quarters were lavatory and bathing facilities, a meeting room, a private dining room, and a room with a clear crystal ceiling that allowed them to see the stars at night, it became opaque during the day, muting the daylight, yet allowing them to see perfectly. The crystal in the ceiling resembled tanzite, except it didn’t have the purple veins through it. There was also a communications device that allowed the occupants to speak to any area or private chamber in the facility as well as dumbwaiter system that could bring food from the kitchens to the chamber.
One of their greatest finds was the Archives. Inside were row upon row of books like the one they found in the chamber, that chronicled every aspect of life in Varna. They realized as they studied some of the archives that this was designed for the use of the Companions, and according to the records, there were settlements on the main continent, and that the Companions regularly visited those settlements as well as receiving shipments at the two harbors during the year. This for them was exciting. They were rediscovering the history of Embrellon and were amazed at how much had been lost when the tsunami hit the island and everyone fled.
They also found out why there were no people on Embrellon when the Vela started escaping here to get away from the Marn. The Marn had launched a biological weapon that wiped out all the humanoid life near the end of Varna. When the Marn ship exploded there were only a handful of Companions left and all other humanoid life had already been exterminated. The tome that they found in the great chamber was the last of the record, what happened at the end, and a message to any who found the chamber, restore the companions, and create a new future for Embrellon. What they didn’t know was that only a joined Skree and its companion would be able to find the records. While waiting for the Great council to arrive, Catya decided she was going to return to Lantana’s crypt, and see if there was anything they overlooked especially now that they had much more knowledge than when they found the armor and map.
Catya arrived there in two days, and after entering the crypt, carefully went over every inch of the chamber and found several things that she decided to take with her as well as several tomes that had been hidden under some of the statues. She was amazed, there was a complete journal of Lantana’s hidden under a separate statue of her Skree, and in it she discovered that Lantana had visited Varna, went into the great chamber, and chronicled everything she had found. Also in her crypt, were several keys and locations of secret doors inside the Companions base that she and Chrylos hadn’t found in their inspection of the facility.
She went back to Varna and arrived the day before the Great Council. She told Chrylos all she found, and together, they went to look for and mark, all the secret doors in the base and together with Gryton and Zala, decided to wait to open them. Inside they expected were things that all the Rangers, Great Council, and Seers should learn together.
They still had the better part of a week before the Ranger Commanders, Great Council, and Seers would arrive, and they wanted everything to be ready for their arrival. Along with the request for the Council to come, they asked for a squadron of Rangers to come as well, to help man the outpost. They arrived a few days before the council and helped with the final preparations. They had brought supplies, and staff, unlinked helpers, as well as a wing of advanced cadets. This was an historic event. The Guardians had returned home.
The outpost itself had been transformed with all the extra help. They had discovered that the great chamber that Chrylos and Catya originally found, was lighted in the same manner as the Commander’s Quarters, the reason it had been so dark was that the ceiling was covered with a meter of soil and debris. They put the cadets on cleanup duty. It was cleared in a day and a half. The Skree did most of the excavation and haul away, while the cadets loaded the soil and debris into tarpaulins that could be lifted by four mounted cadets and flown out to sea and dumped. The water ways were cleared and now the whole facility had hot and cold running water, bathing and toilet facilities, the kitchens and storage areas had been repaired and were fully stocked, and the whole facility had been cleaned, aired out, and was ready to be fully staffed. The Great Council would arrive tomorrow and preparations had been made, food was being cooked, and everything was ready. It would be an exciting day.
The Great Council, Seers, and Ranger Commander’s arrived shortly after sunrise. The first order of business was to give them a complete tour of the facility. Chrylos and Catya decided to wait until the tour was complete before addressing the secret rooms. They wanted the Great Council members to be the first to see what was in the rooms. Jatar was the last to land. He and Quilan were as excited as Chrylos about finding this place and he could hardly contain his excitement as he was anxious to explore everything and to get the formalities finished with the Great Council and the Seers. The unlinked Skree had also come, and they had as many questions as everyone else.
Everyone assembled in the Great Chamber and all were nearly overwhelmed by it. The chamber was so large that they could have brought all the Rangers and still not have filled every seat. Once assembled and quiet, Chrylos and Catya told them all that they had discovered and brought out the great tome so that they would see that Chrylos and Catya weren’t exaggerating about the facility. Once all had the opportunity to see the book, they began the tour, starting in the archives. The Great council seeing how immense and complete the archives were, felt overwhelmed by the magnitude and importance of the facility were. The Archives alone were worth the risks taken to find Varna.
After seeing the entire facility, they all returned to the Great Chamber, Chrylos and Catya requested that a representative from each, Great Council, Seers, Ranger Commanders, accompany them to open the secret rooms. Jatar and Quilan the represented Ranger Commanders, Zora and Sheeva her Skree companion the Seers, and Joktar and Junta for the Great Council. They descended down a stairwell that led to the secret rooms. Chrylos explained to them that they hadn’t opened any of the rooms and that they should stay out of each room for a few minutes to allow the air to exchange in case it was bad due to the length of time the rooms had been sealed.
Inside the first room, was charts, diagrams, and pictures that detailed the Skree life cycle from conception to death. There was a complete catalog of the varieties, color patterns, and abilities that they were capable of. Their blood, a purple ochre instead of plasma, had healing properties, and antibodies that were not only capable of keeping the Skree healthy, but, in some instances, was able to heal humanoids as well. It cataloged their inherent psychic link to each other, and how a humanoid was able to link with a Skree. Humanoids with strong psychic abilities, realized or unknown, were the only ones able to link.
There were instructional manuals on how to test individuals for psychic abilities, as well as notations of how to ask a Skree to search out the most likely humanoids to link. Each room that they opened was a treasure trove of knowledge. They learned how the Skree developed, and that without tanzite, the Skree wouldn’t have developed how they had, and that their ability to link with each other and humanoids, only existed on Embrellon because of the large deposits globally, of tanzite. It was also the reason that the Skree had purple ochre instead of plasma for blood.
The most fascinating thing to the group was that even though Skree laid eggs, they weren’t like bird eggs, but a leathery sac, that the embryo finished developing and growing in until they hatched. The embryonic sac would grow larger and harden towards the end of the cycle and the Skree youngling developed an egg tooth that they ingested when they fed the first time. They needed to be incubated in specific temperatures and humidity, and they needed the chamber to be in a deposit of tanzite. A Skree female laid four eggs at a time, once every seven years of their natural life cycle, which was approximately one hundred and ten years, and could conceive at two years of age, and had their last clutching at approximately seventy. A clutch usually consisted of two males and two females, and Skree never mated from the same litter. A pride usually consisted of one Alpha Male, one Alpha Female, and ten mated pairs. The young at maturity, left the pride and founded new prides. When they hatched, the young Skree was approximately the size of a newborn colt, and could walk within minutes of hatching. Their wings were covered in long pin feathers which developed into full fledging at about nine months of age and could fly at one year.
Once they linked and had companions, the natural cycles of the females, as well as the social structure changed. The females would still clutch every seven years, but they would clutch three males and a female, and would stop clutching at fifty. Also, the Skree would stay and the pride grew. In the Varna Base, there was quarters for at least one thousand Rangers, and at least one hundred breeding pairs.
In the rooms they found detailed instructions for metal working, working with tanzite, detailed engineering diagrams of how the base was built, heated, the plumbing systems, and how to maintain them. They also learned the other properties that tanzite possessed and of other gemstones that were used to make the ceilings, and lighting panels, as well as the furnishings. The base was move in ready when they discovered it, all they needed was their bedding and belongings, food stores, cooking utensils, and Faron ore for metal working needs. The rooms also gave them a deeper understanding of the link between Skree and humanoids.