Dee gazed at the vast panoply of minds surrounding her. Moirai had taught her the use of the Mindscape, and while she still had a long way to go to actually utilize it in a meaningful way, it was still easy to imagine all the possibilities. Locating Moirai’s mind was easy, as it shone like a beacon just like her master had mentioned psions would. No wonder Moirai had detected her so easily. This might become a problem in the future if she didn’t figure out a way around it.
For the last few days the duo had gone around the festival keeping order. With a throng of people this size, it was impossible for Dee to pick out all the potential problems, as she could not be everywhere and her ability to spot people who could be trouble was far from absolute. Nevertheless the local sub-community of Four Winds had done a remarkable job of keeping trouble and crime at bay during to the festival, and even received a certain amount of thanks and notice.
As their days had been full, Moirai had not managed yet to dedicate too much time for teaching Dee, but she had managed instruct her in the use of the Mindscape ability during the evenings. Now that the festival was winding down Moirai would have more time and Dee’s lessons should begin in earnest. While those lessons would be going on, she would help with the security of the area controlled by the Four Winds. She’d think of methods she herself could use to get in, and then think of ways to counter those method.
“Are you ready?” Moirai asked. The two were supposed to make the first pass around the area, and she could sense Dee had succeeded and was now just toying with the new ability.
Dee hopped up from her meditative position and waved for Moirai to lead the way. She’d have other chances to toy with the ability. Time to do her part of the bargain. The sooner she got done with all this hassle, the sooner they could focus on the real training. She had promised to help them, and was now getting it out of the way.
As they walked outside, an old Dagon man was waiting for them outside. Calling the man old might have been unfair, as he showed none of the ravages of age, simply his eyes and grey hair and thin moustache showed the passing of years. He had the feeling of an experienced and grizzled veteran about him. Someone who had seen enough battles to learn from them. The dark skinned man was still in a fighting condition. As all Dagon, the man had a fairly impressive pair of horn, reminiscent of those of a real dragon, only smaller.
“Is this the girl?” The man asked in a calm voice. He didn’t seem pleased or unpleased, just steady.
“Yes this is her. Dee this is Ngaire. He is in charge of the safety of our little home here. Ngaire this is Haydee, my new disciple.” Moirai made the introductions.
“A pleasure.” Ngaire grunted in a way that made it obvious that it would remain to be seen if it really was a pleasure.
“Likewise.” Dee just grinned back at the man.
“Come now Ngaire, no need to be so gruff. She already helped us during the festival.” Moirai stood up for her new diciple.
“I’m sure she did. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll give her free pass to mix up our security here. Her ability to spot trouble doesn’t make her an expert when it comes to protecting an area.” Ngaire was reserved due to the possible trouble involved, but he wouldn’t ignore the possibility that Dee might have some useful ideas either.
Dee couldn’t suppress a small titter of a laugh. “Oh you might be surprised.”
“If that is the result, then I’ll welcome it. Until then…” Ngaire shrugged.
“Fair enough.” Dee replied with a barely concealed smile. The guy was actually fairly reasonable so far. She’d be a bit peeved too if someone just came in and tried to teach her how to do her job.
As they walked along the wall of the area, Dee had a question. “I assume there’s something on top of the walls stopping someone from just hopping over or using a ladder?”
Ngaire grunted. “Of course, we have spells inscribed on the top to prevent entry. Even if someone does make it through, the magic will stick to the person, revealing his location. We’re not stupid.
“Just making sure. I’ve learned not to rely on pure assumptions. They lead to mistakes.” Dee replied a little pleased. This would make her job a little easier. She didn’t have to start from basics.
They reached the other gate of the walled area. So far Dee had just used the gate on the side that led towards the center of the city, while this gate led towards the outer gates of the city. She immediately spotted a potential issue. “Are those the city gates? Less than two hundred mel from our gate?”
Ngaire replied. “Yes. Makes it easier for the people that need to leave the city for work. Quite handy to shorten the distance. Easier for trade as well.”
“That’s a problem.” Dee simply said.
“Why? The gates are far enough to not be targeted by anyone coming through the outer gate.” Ngaire asked.
“The problem isn’t just the distance. As you said, it’s very handy for the people living here. The problem is that you haven’t compensated for the distance. Tell me, what do you think will happen if there’s a large commotion at the outer gate?” Dee asked looking at the older man.
“Not that much. Our guards have been given orders not to get involved.” Ngaire replied. He could sense a bit where this was going.
“You can instruct them all you want, but unless the guards are professional beyond measure, they might feel obligated to help if the problem seems big enough. Even if they didn’t, their attention would be drawn there, and for a good reason. A commotion like that could spell trouble. Once their attention is drawn, someone moderately skilled could easily slip past them.” Dee explained.
Ngaire couldn’t really disagree. “So what do you suggest?”
“A simple gatehouse with two separate gates with some enclosed space between the gates within would help. Even if the guards at the front gate are distracted, the guards at the inner gate would notice someone slipping past the first guards. The inner gate doesn’t even need to be closed, just have someone vigilant at the inner gate keeping an eye out. As an added benefit, you can trap enemies within the gatehouse and fire arrows at them from sides and above with bows. Could chuck a few spells at them too.” Dee suggested. Fort construction wasn’t her specialty, but something like that was basic knowledge.
“Humm, something like that should be easy to add.” Ngaire admitted. He could also see the benefit. They could also inspect traders within the enclosed space, where they were protected from thieves and spying eyes.
“Anything else so far?” Moirai asked with some curiosity.
“Yes, though I don’t know if this applies. You should make sure there are no tall buildings close to your wall. Although you have the spells on the walls, the walls aren’t all that high. A tall building would offer vision at the walls, inside the walls and also an easy access over the walls. I assume there are plenty of ways to momentarily disrupt the protective spells, or shed the tracking magic, in which case a tall building could afford an easy and quick access to just hop over and quickly vanish even for those that normally couldn’t just jump or fly over the walls.” Dee pointed out. All spells had a way around them.
“There’s only one building that fits your description. Others we’ve kept further away from the walls.” Ngaire said half to himself.
“Isn’t that building owned by the freelancer’s guild? There’s not much hope to purchase it in that case.” Moirai asked.
“Yes, and we all know someone with enough money could buy access to it. I’ll post additional guards there to keep an eye out. Maybe a mage too to make sure they won’t monitor us over the wall.” Ngaire replied.
“See, she was already useful.” Moirai pointed out with a cheery voice.
Ngaire just nodded her assent. Suddenly something occurred to Dee. “A question. I noticed plenty of fountains and water features within the area. Where is the water coming from?”
Ngaire grinned, thinking he was one step ahead this time. “Most of it is from water spirit stones. There’s one main line of water that comes into our area which is monitored both by spells and water spirits. They are also heavily protected by metal grates that will alert us if anyone tries to meddle with them.
“That sounds good. I assume the spirits would notice if someone tried poisoning the water? And you’ve taken measures against hostile water spirits suppressing your spirits?” Dee continued to question.
“We have taken both measures yes. To get past our spirits would require strong enough mages that at that point they could just attack our front gate.” Ngaire replied confidently.
“And sewage?” Dee prompted.
“Sewage? It flows towards the fields where it’s used for fertilization.” Ngaire just asked.
“Yes, but you can’t grate the sewage outlets the same way, and water spirits would never live in that kind of water.” Dee explained.
“Ah, we use nature spirits there instead. The outlet exit is also guarded. The outlet lets out into an area where we do our own farming. It’s heavily monitored. The outlet also doesn’t link to the main system used by the rest of the city for obvious reasons.” Ngaire explained, now grinning with confidence.
“Good job. Only thing I could think to add is an earth spirit to monitor the walls so no one tunnels through, seeing as the various outlets are probably close enough for such an endeavor.” Dee had saved that tidbit just to burst the man’s bubble and had succeeded. The poor guy slumped a little with a sigh.
“Alright Dee, now that you’ve had your fun, it’s time to offer him the chance to get his revenge. The two of you will be spending a lot of time together in the future.” Moirai explained with a grin.
“Care to explain more?” Dee asked with a slight cold sweat. If she’d known, she would’ve been nicer about the whole thing.
“Certainly. The next thing I will be training you in is the use of the most common mental style psionic skills, trying to attack your opponents mind and defending yourself from the same and from the rare mental mages. At first we’ll just do it sitting down, but neither of those abilities is useful unless you can do it in combat. Hence you will be practicing doing both while fighting. Now it wouldn’t be a proper challenge if your opponent couldn’t put up a proper fight. Ngaire is one of our strongest warriors and will be your sparring partner while you defend against my mental attacks. You’ll also attack him, while I take care of his mental defenses.” Moirai’s grin had become positively evil.
‘Welp, let’s try to be little nicer from now on.’ Dee thought to herself with cold sweat.
The following morning Dee was just waking up while she sensed someone coming towards the door of the room she had been given. The room was in the same building with Moirai, and the building was also used by the other guardians while they stayed within the sub-community. It was a sizeable building. It comfortably housed all three of the guardians here currently, though Dee still had not encountered either of the two other guardians.
The room was far enough out of the way that if anyone was coming near the door, then they were here for Dee specifically. The door opened without knocking and a vaguely familiar looking Jun entered while carrying a tray of something that smelled really nice.
The girl noticed Dee on the bed and froze for a moment. Then she suddenly dropped the tray and ran out of the room screaming something about Dee being mauled to death by a monster. “Oh right, she probably can’t recognize my nine-tailed fox form.” Dee mumbled. The room didn’t have comfy support beams, so she had to grudgingly sleep on the bed. She still preferred to sleep in her four legged form though.
“You still have some blood on your snout as well.” Croestia pointed out.
“Oh. Well. Last night’s dinner was so good that I ate too much and just felt sleepy straight after. Besides, I’d have to bathe in the morning anyway. Didn’t expect company this early.” Last night’s dinner had been some unidentified meat she had found stored within Croestia. For some reason raw meat tasted much better in this form.
Dee was trying to salvage what was left of the food on the tray. She had already shifted back to her normal form when Moirai burst into the room, looking ready to do battle. “Morning.” Dee said simply.
Moirai’s eye twitched a little. “What’s this I hear about a monster eating you?”
“The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.” Dee replied with a smile, quoting something silly she had once read.
“So why is Mina running around claiming there’s a monster in your room?” Moirai asked, her sense of humor returning.
“I may have forgotten to mention I have another form. It’s comfy for sleeping. She could’ve knocked and I’d have shifted back, assuming I remembered. Calling me a monster was a bit excessive too.” Dee fake grumbled.
“Aa-ah, and the poor girl had just recovered enough to come and thank you for saving her. You might have caused her to relapse again.” Moirai took another glance at Dee. “Can I see?” She didn’t have to specify what she wanted to see.
“Sure, if you have more breakfast hidden somewhere. This one is partially ruined. Such a shame, it smelled so good too.” Dee sighed regretfully. The smell really had been nice.
“That can be arranged.” Moirai answered with a grin. “Though Mina is one of our better cooks. So you’ll have to settle for something of lesser quality.”
Dee shifted back into the nine-tailed fox form. The form was now significantly bigger than a horse, especially if you counted the angel wings that also appeared, stretching to touch the opposite walls of the decently sized room without even fully opening. Her muscled frame made her look quite menacing, and the fangs and claws emphasized that point. The five tails waving behind her quite happily, expecting something good to eat, betrayed that impression somewhat.
Moirai in contrast was just about the right size for a snack, a detail the diminutive Meilin didn’t miss. “Well I can see where the confusion might originate from. You do have this kind of dangerous air about you.”
“To be fair, I looked mostly sleepy when the girl walked in. Not very menacing while wiping sleep out of my eyes.” Luckily her snout had somehow cleaned itself due to the shifting. Still no idea how that worked.
“You don’t suppose I could…” Moirai’s eyes sparkled a bit while looking at Dee’s back.
Dee could recognize that look for the same reason Moirai could recognize people that wanted to pet her tail. It was something they were used to seeing. “Yeah, I don’t’ think so.”
Dee shrunk herself to the size of a small cat and jumped on top of Moirai’s head. “Giddy up my trusty steed. Food awaits! Then we have a panicked Jun to calm down. Preferably in that order, but I can understand if we make an exception just this once.”
Moirai gave a defeated sigh. “I suppose I deserved that.”