When Shepard’s group exited the Arch-Mage’s storeroom they were met by a group of people. One was a male lizard who approached Thane and looked him over.
“Dragonborn, these are my friends and the ones that are coming with me to finish checking the rumor. Commander Shepard, an N7 soldier, and Commander of the ship upon which she resides. A most notable warrior. You already know Garrus.” Garrus gave the armored figure a wave.
“Aye, Vashlani, I remember him, the Commander was also here before, if I remember correctly.”
Shepard nodded, “I was. These are other members of my crew, Kasumi Goto, and the green male that is being sized up is Sere Thane Krios, a Compact trained Master Assassin.”
The other scaled male drew in a breath and turned his green gaze back on Thane, “Assassin? You are a Shadowscale?”
“I do not know that term, but yes, I am an assassin who has sworn his arm to Shepard to help with her mission.” He let out several coughs and the others backed up a bit.
“Do not worry, it is not contagious and is being managed. It is the humidity here in Skyrim that is causing the issue. The rain and snow do not help my condition and I apologize to you.”
Mordin hurried over, ran a scan, then injected him with something. “You must not spend as much time here. The cold and damp is accelerating the deterioration of your lungs and increasing the damage caused in other areas from the Keprals.”
“What is wrong with the assassin?” the scaled male asked.
“His people come from an arid land, their lungs cannot handle humidity and moisture. When their planet started to become uninhabitable due to mismanagement, another race rescued a portion of their population. The only problem was none of them knew the drell wouldn’t be able to adapt to the hanar’s homeworld. It is oceanic; mostly water. This problem caused something called Keprals Syndrome to develop and as of now, it is not curable. It is being studied but... their race is dwindling because of the disease. A large portion of their population dies from it all the time, and soon if no cure is found... well.” Shepard looked at Thane and at the other reptilian male.
“Have been informed about a reptilian race in this world. Argonian is what the species is called. That is you?” Mordin quickly asked then approached the strange looking male, his omni tool out. “Tried to find the female of your kind when I was here last. To learn about this alchemy business. Female hiding. Didn’t find her.”
The male took a step back and reached for a sword at his back, “Easy Derkeethus, he’s a friend of Vashlani’s,” the Dragonborn said to him and held up a hand.
“Mordin, at least introduce yourself first before probing the man.” Garrus started to laugh and his dual tones drew the gazes of the others.
“Professor Mordin Solus, former STG. Geneticist. Doctor. Researcher. Would like to run a scan. Will not hurt. Was told your species thrive in a moist environment. Possibly could give data needed to help work on a cure for Keprals. Both evolved from reptiles. Although you seem more of Earth’s Crocodylus niloticus, with your thicker plating and elongated facial features. Teeth designed for tearing into flesh as are your claws. Whereas Thane is related more to Earth Serpentes subspecies. Smooth, small tight scales, no sharp appendages, and teeth evolved into those of an omnivore.”
“Uhh...err,” the one called Derkeethus mumbled. Thane stifled another series of coughs and Chakwas approached him as did Vashlani.
“Maybe it would be better if Thane returned to the Normandy? Or to Vashlani’s house?” Vashlani whispered.
“No, I would prefer to obtain the memories first hand while I still can. These memories are special, like none other.”
“You should wear a breather mask here, Thane. The filters can help with the moisture.” Chakwas reached into a pack at her side and drew out a small capsule, handing it to Thane.
“That would be acceptable.” He broke open the capsule and removed the item inside. Everyone watched as it grew in size and shape until it was a clear mask. He slipped it over his mouth and nose and an orange glow appeared on his arm. He linked his omni tool with the mask and small blue glowing dots appeared on the mask. “Yes, this is better. Thank you, Doctor.”
She smiled at him then handed him several more of the capsules that he tucked into an inner pocket of his suit.
Shepard told the others Thane was dying and only had a short time left to him. His species had perfect memory recall and it was something he wanted; new memories to make while he could and to revisit when he was no longer able.
The argonian looked over at the assassin, who was still speaking with the others, then nodded. “Alright. If you think it could help.”
Mordin’s thin lips curled into a smile and he ran a scan over him. “Need a few samples. Blood and tissue mainly. Unless you would also be willing to donate urine and sperm.”
“Mordin cut that out,” Shepard told him, her voice held a hint of subdued laughter.
When everyone said they were ready, the Dragonborn told them they needed an artifact taken into the same ruins. The device in the last room was indeed what they were looking for. “Normally, it would be my group that takes care of this, but something has come up in a different area, a place called Solstheim. It cannot wait as it concerns the increased attempted assassination attacks to myself, and also could be connected to this problem we are having with the dragons.”
Garrus crossed his arms over his carapace, “What exactly are these dragons we have been hearing about? I have been here several times with Vashlani and haven’t seen anything he pointed out as being a dragon.”
The three individuals scoffed, “Aye, and you better hope it stays that way, Garrus. Dragons are enormous creatures that fly, breathe fire, lightning, or frost. Their heads alone are bigger than we are,” the Dragonborn told him.
Garrus looked at them then down at Shepard, “Too bad we can’t use them against the Reapers. Bet they would give those bastards trouble.”
“What are Reapers?” The huge man standing beside of the Dragonborn asked, his voice deep and growling.
Shepard saw Kasumi inch closer to him; her eyes on the huge man.
“In our own dimension they are ancient beings we have learned would come to our galaxy every fifty thousand years to harvest all of the advanced lifeforms. They killed everything they didn’t want, would leave anything they felt were not advanced enough alone, and then retreat back into what is called Dark Space. The cycle has been going on for millennia. Now they are here, for us, and we are fighting them. We’ve destroyed many of their constructs, even killed one of the main Reapers. But there are so many more. They take people and turn them into mindless followers, to use to turn more people. It’s called indoctrination. So we have to keep watch for them as well,” Garrus said to them then brought up several images on his omni tool. A giant projection was shown on the tower walls. “The scanned size of Sovereign was two kilometers long. The spinal mounted magnetohydrodynamic cannon has a yield of 132 to 450 kilotons of TNT, an explosive.” He played several of the vids he had recorded of their fights with the Reapers and Collectors.
Vashlani cut in, “That thing is huge and powerful, like nothing this khajiit had seen before. The dragon that flew over Vashlani’s head was tiny compared to the Sovereign.”
“There are other species working with them, one is the Collectors; bug-like people. They have been taking whole colonies of humans and doing Spirits knows what with them,” Garrus said as he changed the holo to show one of the vids he recorded of a Collector.
The others looked at the group once again with what appeared to be a new found respect.
“It seems Vashlani has found quite a group of warriors,” the Dragonborn said and the others nodded.
“They would make good whelps, Harbinger,” the dark-haired man said with a smirk.
“Aye, but I have a feeling they are far beyond that, Farkas.” The Dragonborn turned to Vashlani and handed him a scroll, a cube, and a strange bronze colored sphere. “Here is information on what we are looking for. If you find it, do not open it or let anyone else do so. It will cause madness and blindness to anyone that does. If you find a word wall inside the area please send word to the Arch-Mage with the location. If the information that I received is correct, it is dangerous there. All of you be careful.” They started to leave when the Dragonborn stopped and returned to Garrus.
“Those pictures you showed us. Could you take more? Of the area you are going into and of your own world? I would like to see what it is like.”
“Sure, Vashlani has a bunch of stuff from our own world he can show you later too,” Garrus told the armored warrior.
“Aye, my thanks.”
They arrived back at the ruins just after sunrise and used the shortcut near the expedition’s campsite. Now, as they stood in front of the mechanism Vashlani opened the scroll and read it over, carefully placing the sphere into the hole on the device. They heard a slight rumble and then the floor opened up, revealing stairs heading down.
“Oh... Vashlani does not like the look of this. EDI, is everyone ready on the Normandy?”
“Yes, the door is locked and everyone seems to be excited. There were a few questions about why only certain members were being allowed to join you. I told them it was only going to be the ground crew as they could all see how dangerous it was, and it was by your choice who goes and who does not. Samara has sent a private request to speak with Vashlani about the possibility of also joining you. Zaeed has said he’d like to also come as long as, and I quote,”I don’t have to see any of those bloody, creepy bastards from those tunnels up close. Tali had also expressed a desire to join you until you ran across the very large arachnid. She promptly withdrew her request.“
“I will speak more with Samara, I do not know much about her and would like to learn more before I trust her with my home and my life. Zaeed will be unhappy being here at this moment. Maybe, if this khajiit plans on bounty hunting a different day, but he must think about it. Start the streams if you please, EDI, we are going to the next area.”
“Oh, this is going to be so much better than vids,” Kazumi said. Then she giggled and activated her cloak.
When he opened the door at the bottom, all of them drew in a breath, “By the twin moons” was followed by, “Spirits”, and “By Arashu”, with a few “Oh my Gods, will you look at that”, a lone “Very impressive. Must obtain samples,” followed.
“This is... is it really the great Dwemer city of Blackreach?” Vashlani whispered as he took several more steps into the giant cavern that was lit by enormous fungi in blues, greens, and purples. The stalactites and stalagmites dotted around the cavern were covered with bio-luminescent fungus giving off more light and an approximation of the height of the cavern. Their flashlights activated, and they scanned the surrounding area. Garrus spotted something that looked like a weapon mounted on the short wall in front of him and approached it. He ran his hands over it while scanning it with his visor.
They heard a banging, clattering noise from below them and they all gathered at the wall to look around. They finally spotted what looked like one of the Dwemer constructs trying to break down a door. Behind his mask Garrus’ mandibles flicked as he cranked a lever on the side of the huge weapon, lining up the sight of it with the creature. He reached over and with his mandibles spread in a grin, yanked on the lever next to the wall. A giant bolt flew from the weapon and blew apart the construct with one hit.
“Oh, Shepard, I want one of these. Could you imagine one of these mounted to a vehicle along with our cannons?”
Shepard shook her head, “There is no way in hell we could get one of those out of here, Garrus.”
He let out a huff and they looked around for a way down to the construct. Mordin stopped to take various samples from each of the different types of mushrooms, before scraping some of the pillars and putting the containers into his pack.
Vashlani picked through the rubble of the construct while Thane ran his hand over the door, “I wonder why it was so intent on getting in here.”
Vashlani shrugged and went back to picking through the remains of the sphere. When he was satisfied, he got up and moved over to the door. He reached out and checked the lock, it was open. He pushed on the door and it squeaked with disuse. Inside they found a skeleton still gripping a journal, a fully set up and functional alchemy lab, and a few books. Vashlani let out a small gasp as he reached for a satchel, “This is a special ingredient bag. Only very rare ingredients are ever inside. The magic it is imbued with actually restocks those ingredients every ten days or so if they are taken out. Master had one when I was a child, we were harvesting wild ingredients when we were attacked by a Hagraven. Her fireball damaged the pack and her claws tore it before we could defeat her. The magic was lost.”
He felt a light touch on his shoulder and glanced up seeing Kasumi standing there. “I found a table and shelf over there, it is lined with plants and other things.” He nodded and stood up to follow her as the others looked around and gathered various items. They found a set of softly glowing boots, some Dwemer housewares, a few of the purple soul gems, two chests, a dagger, and a knapsack. They waited while Vashlani carefully sorted the ingredients in his own alchemy satchel and placed the magical one into his pack. The rest of the treasures were split up. He carefully looked over the set of dwarven boots, studying the enchantment before he let out a slight chuckle and handed them to Kasumi.
“The enchantment will help with carrying even more treasures than you normally would. I think this will come in handy for someone that likes to pick many things up and put it in their pockets.”
Kasumi giggled then sat on the dwarven chair and wiggled the boots on over top of her skin tight ones. They were a bit snug but she bounced a bit and clomped around a few seconds, then her footsteps went silent.
Vashlani shook his head. “Divines forbid you ever get a hold of something with muffle on it. No one would ever hear you coming, not even a khajiit or Falmer.”
They all laughed, Vashlani opened the journal and read it. His brows drew together, “Nirnroot cultivation?” He scratched his head, “No one can cultivate the Nirnroot. Many people have tried, even Master and myself, with no luck. Yet... according to this, he was able to and taught someone else how to do it as well.” He rubbed his chin and looked at the others. “It goes on to say that providing a good quantity of samples of this, “Crimson Nirnroot” to an Avrusa Sarethi at a farm outside of Riften, she could use her knowledge to grow this rare sample outside of Blackreach. Maybe she can teach Vashlani to grow it as well.”
He tucked the journal into his pouch and brought out a journal of his own, grabbed a piece of charcoal off the desk and made a note in it. “Vashlani will need to pick every sample of this Nirnroot while he is here.”
“How will we recognize it?” Shepard asked him as she watched his hasty scribbling.
“It will not be difficult, the plants make noise. A most annoying sound. The regular green ones grow near water and make a chiming sound, apparently, these make a humming sound.” He pointed to one growing on the table next to the alchemy lab.
The others grew quiet and looked at each other, “A plant that makes noise?” They approached it and then they finally heard the noise it gave off as they adjusted the filters on their suits.
Mordin was typing away on his omni tool, “Would also like a sample of this plant. Both types.”
After they were sure they had removed everything from the building they exited.
“You know, I don’t think we are going to be able to explore this place in a week,” Shepard said as they started moving through the cavern, killing several Falmer and leaning against various structures while Vashlani stood over striated rocks banging away with a pickaxe.
They ran across another lift nearby and Vashlani looked over a carving of a huge head in front of the lift and found the button to lower the metal bars. When it opened they all climbed on board and rode it up. They found that it let out at a completely different area than where they entered.
“Ahh, we are near Nightgate Inn. Stayed there once. Nice place and friendly people.” He pushed up on the lever and they started to lower again after he double checked his map, seeing a small notation on where the Blackreach Lift was located. When they reached the bottom again they started to explore further, stopping to let him mine ores, his excitement palpable when he found a geode and showed them the difference between an ore deposit and one of the geodes. A tumble of uncut gems came from it along with more soul gems. He smacked one of Kasumi’s hands when she tried to pocket one of the whole soul gems. “Ach... no, not those. Those are rare and invaluable to me and my magic.” He handed her a broken one instead.
Thane pointed to something flying toward them, with a Falmer, and one of the chaurus bugs running alongside it. Vashlani hissed, “Hunter, quickly Thane before it gets close.” Two shots were fired by two sniper rifles almost simultaneously and the hunter fell to the ground while the others took on the closing creatures.
It was mid-afternoon and Vashlani had just finished plucking yet another Nirnroot, the majority of his companions had agreed after the first few times of seeing the plant, that the ridiculous noise coming from it did become rather annoying when they spied a large towering structure ahead of them. As they drew closer to it Vashlani became excited over the geode quarry, but then he pointed at something that was hanging from the building. Giant cobwebs and sacs.
“Frostbite spiders,” he mumbled as he hurried to the geodes and started to bang away, stopping to pick up the fallen gems before Kasumi could.
“You’re no fun, Vashlani.” The thief pouted and he smiled at her.
“Vashlani will make it up to you, Kasumi. A nice one of a kind, handmade necklace? Gold and a gem of rare quality? Made just for you by this khajiit.”
The thief placed a finger to her lips and wiggled with a small smile curling her lips, “You’re such a sweet talker. You know the way to tempt a woman.” He grinned at her through the transparent faceplate of his helmet. When he was done they proceeded toward the tower.
He stopped several times, the flash of an enchanted arrow coming from his bow or a soft crack of a rifle round aimed at the giant spiders they could see around the exterior of the building. One dropped on them from above and when it had its front legs reared up to strike at Shepard, Kasumi disappeared then reappeared on top of the giant creature, shooting it between its many eyes until it fell. She nimbly hopped off of it, landing beside Garrus as Vashlani extracted the venom from its fangs.
“Ready to go inside?” He asked after he stoppered the bottles. Everyone either gave a yes or nodded. He pushed open the door and they went in. Several more spiders were inside the ruins of the tower and it was literally coated in spider webs. Several times he had to use fire to burn their way through the thick mass in order to further their progression. They looted what they could find and took a small lift up to the higher level where he finished extracting the venom from the ones they had killed earlier.
“Vashlani is ready for a break. Why don’t we sit here under this fungus and have lunch, this area is clear for now.” He opened his pack and withdrew a large blanket and laid it down along with several baskets of food and drinks. They spent the time relaxing as much as they could, and answering questions while they ate. Vashlani chuckled at Tali’s request to kill more of those disgusting spiders so there were less of them in the world. She also wanted one of those glowing mushrooms.
He sat for a few minutes and looked at one of the small versions of the enormous, glowing blue mushroom they happened to be sitting under. “Hmm, maybe there is a way.” He pulled out a large specimen jar from inside his pack. Looked it over for any damage, then reached back into his bag and dropped a tiny pinch of something inside of the jar. He hummed then whispered something in his native language, and the jar filled partway with his magical soil. A telekinesis spell was used to remove one of the mushrooms and lower it gently into the jar. A bit more soil, a little water, and then Vashlani whispered something into the jar and breathed into it, quickly capping it as whatever he breathed into the jar swirled around inside before settling on the mushroom and soil. He held it up in front of the camera, “The mushroom will remain as it is at this very moment, size and vibrancy, as long as the jar remains intact.”
He packed it carefully away and they cleared the area before starting to move west once again. They found another lift but it wouldn’t activate as they didn’t have the appropriate key. They turned to the south and continued on. Shepard pointed to a building toward the East and they made their way closer. When they did, they saw a huge grouping of buildings and ramps. Many more Falmer, and chaurus came at them also.
The rest of the day was spent clearing out several buildings and halls that were stuffed full of the Falmer and the creatures that they cultivated. They tiredly slogged their way out of a flooded catacomb and Kasumi told him she was tired. The others agreed with her, according to the clock in Shepard’s suit they had been going at this place for the last 17 hours with only a few small breaks. They were all tired and hungry and now they were also soaking wet.
“Alright, let’s get out of this water and someplace fairly safe.” They headed to the small building they had found earlier, it had been completely empty... except for the various traps. They all filed inside and shut the door before going down the short flight of stairs into the main part of the building.
“EDI, cut the stream and let the others know we will continue in the morning and to hold their questions until then.” Once he got the acknowledgment back he took them into the pocket home. He laid out a robe for Kasumi and one for Mordin, apologizing that he had nothing else to fit him. They cleaned up while he cooked their dinner. When they had split everything up and stored it in their boxes he handed Kasumi and Mordin a bedroll, explaining that it never rained outside if they wanted to sleep there or in either the study or sitting room as long as they didn’t bother his things, other than reading a book from the shelf. He stared at Kasumi who shrugged then readjusted the robe and headed for the lift outside.
Everyone was settled and Vashlani had just finished his own shower and slipped into the bed when he heard a noise on his balcony. His eyes glowed in the darkness, his night vision increased and he made out Shepard coming through the door.
“Shepard? What are you doing in Vashlani’s room? I thought you were going to the sitting room.”
She stopped at the bed and moved the covers before slipping in beside him, pillowing her head on his chest. “Don’t do this to me, Shepard.” His harsh whisper was barely heard over the pounding of his heart. He tried to push her away, to slip out from under her head, but she wrapped her arm around him and held tight.
“Go to sleep, Vashlani. We are both right where we want to be. We have a long day tomorrow. Goodnight.” Shepard rubbed her face against his fur and let out a sigh.
He gritted his teeth and turned his head away from her, blinking and letting his vision return to normal. He could only hope he found a few hours of sleep so his magic would regenerate and he wouldn’t have any problems with tomorrow’s exploration. They still had several days so he won’t push them as much the rest of the time. He drifted off with his mind going over everything he had seen that day and the pleasant warmth of Shepard next to him, her breathing regular and her fingers buried in the fur of his waist.
Vashlani woke before Shepard and he laid there, soaking in her warmth and the feeling of having her there, even knowing it was only making it harder for himself. He let out a quiet sigh and shifted, easing out from under her head, arm, and the leg she had thrown over him. She gave a low snort then rolled over. He quickly dressed and went downstairs to start something cooking for everyone and saw Mordin sitting in the kitchen with his omni tool open and several of the specimens he had collected laid out on the dining room table.
“You are awake early. Could you not sleep?”
“Salarians only need one hour per cycle. More than that is just wasteful. Too much to do. Too many tests to run. Sphere of yours brought my suit and coat back in a basket. It was clean, mended, and folded.”
“Yes, it does that. It should have cleaned everyone’s suits and returned them or placed them in a basket near them.” Vashlani brought down his cookbook and continued to answer Mordin’s questions.
“How does it know to do that? How does it understand? There are no terminals here. There are no upload links or data streams. Omni tools do not show any extranet connections.”
“Magic and mechanics. The Dwemer used a combination of both to create the constructs, buildings, and most of their inventions. Instructions are magically inscribed into it. It will learn and improve its job as time goes on. Before it would dump my armor into the lake and watch it sink to the bottom. Now, after many times of washing and caring for it, it knows not to do that. It handles all the forms of armor and clothing that come from your world in the same manner. My enchanted garments are carefully washed to preserve the enchants. My regular clothes are scrubbed in a tub with a washboard before strung out on a line.”
He glanced up and saw Garrus coming into the kitchen, wearing his usual blue and white pajamas, and heading for a shelf that contained turian instant kava canisters. Garrus held out his filled cup and Vashlani took it by the bottom, flames licking up the sides as he heated it until it steamed. With a mumbled thanks, Garrus carefully took it before sitting at the table.
Mordin stared at him then asked him where the clothes came from. “I keep clothes here for when I stay here, beats sleeping in armor or nude. That sphere comes and goes from the smithy all hours and it kinda creeped me out at first knowing I was laying there bare ass while it moved around the room. So I brought clothes with me to keep here.” Thane arrived shortly after wearing his Mage’s outfit. Vashlani put a steaming pot of tea in front of him.
“Vashlani made you some special tea today, Thane. It should help ease your lungs a bit.” Thane thanked him and inhaled the delicate scent of flowers and spices.
Kasumi and Shepard wandered in and Vashlani cocked his eyebrow at Kasumi and pointed to the counter. She gave a sigh and emptied her pockets. “I really want to know just how you can tell I have something.”
“Magic. Let’s eat and head back. We have several days so let’s make the most of them.” The sphere rolled in and gathered up all the items Kasumi had laid on the counter, placing them in one of its ever-present baskets, paused beside her for a moment, the face on the construct seemed to frown in disappointment before it rolled out.
“Ouch... even the mechanical butler is mad at me,” Kasumi muttered.
“At least all you raided was the storage rooms, had it been any of the magical items in the labs or other areas it could have had a more dire outcome. Vashlani told you the things in his home aren’t always what they seem. The items could explode, destroying not only you but this bag as well. Everyone and everything inside would cease to exist. It was not told to you just so you wouldn’t take something from me, but to protect you. Do not do this again, Kasumi.”
Her dark eyes dropped to the table and everyone fiddled with whatever was on their plate. They all knew the dangers, they all knew that to break trust with him could be detrimental, in more ways than one.
When everyone was finished he advised that they hurry and change into their armors, place their clothing into the basket next to the front door if they wanted it washed, and meet him outside the portal room in fifteen minutes. He went into the study and let out a breath, shaking his head and wondering if he had made a mistake trusting the thief with entrance to his home. He started to write in his journal when he heard a soft knock on the door.
Kasumi stood there twisting her fingers, “Gomen nasai.” She bowed as she continued, “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I can’t seem to help it. I see all these strange and wonderful things and the next thing I know it’s in my hand.”
Vashlani sighed and finished writing the last entry before putting his journal away and walking toward the small woman. “This one time I shall forgive, Kasumi. But this khajiit must warn you, for your own safety, do not take anything else from my home without asking. I do not wish to erase your memory... nor do I wish to damage the thing which is behind your eyes that records everything. But I will do so to protect myself and others.”
She nodded and bowed again before hurrying away.
They spent several hours in Blackreach, heading south over long bridges and through areas brightly lit by the phosphorescent fungus. They stopped to rest often, the whole area was heavily infested by Falmer and their chaurus. Vashlani spent quite a lot of time going through the area, finding many of the small ore and gemstone quarry deposits he wanted, purple or bluish-white stones dropping from them as he chipped away. Ores being looked over and scanned before they were added to his pack. It was early evening, by their HUD readouts, when they ran across what looked like a small home. It seemed to be intact and they searched around the outside before they went in. It was covered with a thick layer of dirt and dust. Kasumi found several more of the Falmer weapons inside, but they too were coated with the dust of lying in this place for countless years. She added them to the pile of findings from several chests they found in the home.
“Here is a good place to stop. Vashlani needs to take care of a few things outside of here. Now would be a good time to head back to your world, have your shore leave then meet on the Normandy in two days if you wish to come back for more exploration. EDI can you please relay to Samara that I will be available in the morning if she wishes to speak and has the time.”
“Of course, Vashlani. I am also uploading and securing the latest footage. The crew would like me to ask if it is possible when you return if you could come and answer some questions?”
“It will be several hours. If they don’t mind waiting I will, as long as it concerns this place and not me or what Vashlani can do. Have the items I ordered arrived yet?” Vashlani packed the items into bags and then asked for the others to wait outside for just a few minutes and not to come in until he said it was safe to do so. Then he had EDI stop the stream and she let him know everything had arrived and it was Joker that checked it over, not letting anyone else near the crates. He drew out his magical chalk and set about adding a new portal to this abandoned building.
Joker met him down in the cargo bay and had a frown on his face. “What the hell, Vashlani? This stuff is not for you. What’s going on?”
“They are gifts, Joker.” Vashlani looked down at the pilot, who had taken off his hat and rubbed the top of his head. “Vashlani will explain another day, right now he is running late and needs to get this home quickly.” He grabbed both large containers by their handles and disappeared.
Vashlani returned to the Normandy early the next morning and accepted Samara’s invitation to join her in the Observation room that she had been assigned as her quarters. Once inside he removed his helmet and they started talking. Vashlani asking more questions than giving Samara answers, which she graciously accepted because of the unique circumstances. Mordin sent him a message letting him know that he wouldn’t be joining them when they went back, he had so many samples to run tests on and catalog. He also wanted to start testing the blood and tissue samples he had taken from Derkeethus.
Vashlani explained to Samara that she couldn’t just go killing someone in their world if it interfered with the asari Justicar code. Things were different there and she couldn’t apply her black and white rules. Many people had to take care of justice on their own. If someone’s family were hurt, it was up to them to take care of it or hire others to do so. Many times you wouldn’t know what caused it, a father avenging the hurt on his family. A farmer taking back what had been stolen from him. A member of the Companions hired to retrieve something of value that was stolen or killing bandits that raided a village. A Dark Brotherhood member finishing a contract. A bounty hunter taking a target that was wanted by a different Hold. Just because she saw what she considered a crime, didn’t mean there wasn’t a purpose behind it, one that she had no way of knowing. It would be best if she didn’t draw attention from the various factions by causing a “misunderstanding”.
The asari looked at him for a few moments then closed her eyes briefly. “There are no precedents in the code that will forbid me from following your recommendations, as there is nothing that covers traveling to a different dimension in them. So it will be as you ask, I shall follow your lead while we are there. Just as I told to Shepard though, do not ask me to do something too dishonorable or I may have to kill you once this mission is done.”
Vashlani smiled at her and nodded. “Of course. This Vashlani promises you. Now, do you have any questions about the binding or what will happen?”
When she said she did not, he handed her a scroll and they went through the steps. He took her through his home and surrounding grounds, answering her questions about the objects and artifacts. She requested time for meditation, somewhere quiet. He led her to one of his favorite spots in the orchard and placed a blanket for her to sit on. He let out a purr when she settled and proceeded to float as she surrounded herself with the biotic aura.
He entered the house and grabbed his journals from the locked cabinet before entering the tower room. He lit several candles before flipping through the first journal and finding the spell to add windows. He read the spell and thought of the design he wanted for the one on the bottom floor before taking a deep breath and letting it out. He climbed on one of the crates and placed his hand on the spot he wanted the window to be, then slowly and carefully said the spell. His eyes grew wide as the stones beneath his palm shimmered and turned invisible, the borders of the window turned into a form of hardwood as did the crossbars for the panes of “glass”. When the shimmering faded he looked out of the window, into the meadow and grinned when he saw Urz walking beside one of the goats, a chicken lazily riding on his back.
He jogged up the stairs to the second floor and opened the book again, this time finding the spell to add a doorway that connected to a magical space. He grinned and said the spell, heard a pop and saw a door grow in the middle of the wall. He gave a short burst of laughter and opened it. The room was bare, but not for long, he thought with a grin before closing the door up again.
The next spell created a glass double door leading out onto a small balcony overlooking the orchard. He heard his name being called and looked down at Samara who stared up at him.
“Please excuse my question, Vashlani, but that structure was not there a moment ago. Where did it come from?”
“It was here Samara, you just couldn’t see it from outside until I opened the door and walked out onto the balcony. Watch closely.” Vashlani turned around and walked back into the room and went down the steps, jogged outside and around the corner. He saw Samara standing there with what must be the first confused look the asari’s face held since she became a Justicar.
“Magic. This khajiit still has much to do, would you like to return to the Normandy? Or would you like to remain here, I can provide food and if you wish, access to the study is granted if you’d like to read.”
“I would like to return to the Normandy if you wouldn’t mind, for now. I thank you for your trust in allowing me to see your home.”
Vashlani gave her a smile before holding out his arm to her. She placed her palm on his forearm and they went back to the ship.
Shepard stood waiting for them when they returned. Vashlani hesitated slightly when she approached him wanting to return to his home with him.
“Vashlani has a few things he wants to do on the Citadel first, he has several things to buy, before returning.”
“That’s fine, there is someplace I want to take you anyway. Joker made mention of getting you swim shorts to wear under your suit because of your penchant for skinny dipping in those waters. With those on you won’t be completely naked anymore.”
Vashlani sighed and relented, she wasn’t going to leave him in peace. Maybe... maybe it was time for him to show her what he now considered his greatest treasure, not just his home or the things he could do. But something more, something that he felt deeply about. Maybe then she would relent. When she finally cast him aside completely he would be allowed to piece together his heart. Without her, it would never be whole, but he could start to heal.