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Sphere of Influence:

The Untold Truth

                                   Jonathon Pierce

The sunlight wafted through the trees, soaking the flora in its warm embrace. Iffley, Jonathon, and Asiel sat in the gazebo at the southern corner of the courtyard. Iffley, dressed in vermilion, swirled the tea in his china cup. "Furanose has been in a tremendous uproar since Adena's departure."

"So I've heard." Jonathon seemed as disinterested in Furanosian politics as he did in T'mir's.

"The Council cannot decide who will be their next ruler. The obvious choice is Toltec, but he is so inexperienced. I think that Eve would make a good ruler, though."

"I've heard that Bronson is trying to get a piece of the action, too." Asiel smiled and drank some of her tea.

"If Bronson becomes head of Furanose, we may be in trouble. He does have the largest Fleet."

"Yes, Iffley, but we are rapidly catching up. Our remaining ships have been renovated. The Sonata, the second ship of the Emerald class, has been outfitted with three satillite ships: the Fugue, Tempo, and the Triad. The Enchantress class, with their smaller hangers, can only hold two satillite ships.  The Enchantress contains the Huntress and the Little One; the Nemesis, Calais Coach and the Innocence; and the Labyrinth, Minotaur and the Theseus.  The newest ship in this class is the Triumph with the Sundial and the Sextant."

"I suppose that you authorized these new ships?"

"You have been gone a long time, Suralio. Also, we have been exchanging technology with the people from Snicker's. They provided us with the information, and we altered it to fit our present needs. The Sonata and Fugue have already been outfitted with their zim-bam gun. We have changed its name to the Ravager."

"How nice...It was so thoughtful for you to notify me."

"Anyway, only the Emerald class ships and their satillites are capable to use it. The Xanadu and Casablanca are being outfitted even as we speak."

"Anything else that I should know?" Iffley said sardonically.

"You did leave me in charge, you know. We, in conjunction with the Snickerians--who, by the way, are living just outside of Borphee--are in the process of developing a Ravager Wave, involving three ships."

Iffley stood up, "You do seem to be handling things rather well. You should be the ruler of the Colonies, anyway." He exited the gazebo and started down the path.

"He's so emotional," Jonathon said to Asiel. Iffley turned and glared at Jonathon. Then he teleported to his suite.

*  *  Truth Revealed  *  *

Iffley stared at his musical instrument, the sript. There, on the side panel, was the Crest of Iffley. It was a shield--checkered in red and black diamonds--with a dragon behind it. A bolt of lightning issued from the dragon's mouth. In its claw, a glistening crown shone brightly. Inscribed under the crest was the word 'Prior.' When Iffley had made the sript, he used some antique wood from a trunk that he had found in the attic.

Perplexed by the word, Iffley punched it into his computer. The computer spit out a lot of useless information and a name and address: Bryce Prior, Castle Wyndham, Thrift, T'mir. Iffley, in eager anticipation, transported to Thriff.

He reappeared outside of the town, which was rather small, and walked up the gravel path to the castle on the hill. With each step, the castle became more formidable. It was made of hand-smoothed marble and ivory. The castle had been dismantled and reconstructed from Furanose to its present spot. Iffley remembered signing Bryce Prior's immigration papers and wondered how he could have slipped his mind so easily.

As Iffley approached the moat, he noticed a sign:

Prior Antiques

Bought, Sold, and Restored

Ring bell for service

The sign, itself, was made of fine walnut and looked like an antique. He nodded appreciatively at the sign and started toward the moat.

The drawbridge was raised, so the wizard followed the sign's instructions. He pulled gently on the braided rope at his side. A loud, clear bell sounded and, immediately, the drawbridge reluctantly lowered. A small sprite flew from the castle and approached Iffley.

"And who are you?" Suralio asked politely.

"I am Karma, follow me." The sprite spoke mellifluously as the friction from her wings lighted her body. She turned abruptly around, creating a sphere of light, and dashed back into the castle. Iffley laughed and followed her trail of light.

Inside the castle, Karma left him with another sprite, Pandora, Bryce's secretary. Pandora brushed her antennae back and sang/said, "What is your business here?"

"I am 8uralio Frith Iffley, ruler of the Colonies. I come seeking advice about an antique."

The secretary nodded, "Dusk, come in here please." Seconds passed, and another sprite appeared. This was the first male sprite that Iffley had seen. He, like the others of his ilk, created a trail of light from his pulsing wings. The male sprites, Iffley noted, created a much brighter iridescence. Pandora whispered something into Dusk's ear, causing him to fly rapidly into the next room, through a small hole in the wall.

Dusk emerged from the hole, "Bryce grants you entrance, sir." The small sprite then motioned to the door. Iffley opened the door and entered the realm of antiques.

The entire room was filled from floor to ceiling with heirlooms. Great tapestries hung from the walls complimenting the oriental rugs scattered on the wooden floor. Dressers, vanities, desks, chairs and other antiques lined the walls. A young man, perhaps twenty years old, rubbed delicately on a walnut roll-top desk. "I am honored, sir." He looked up from his work, "Now, what can I help you with?"

"It would be best to show you," Iffley said, while he created a hologram of the sript. "I noticed your name underneath my crest, and I wondered if you could tell me anything about...Excuse me? Is their something wrong?"

Bryce had been staring at the crest, "No, sir. May I ask where you got that particular piece of wood."

"I removed it from an old trunk that I found in the attic."

"Well, sir--"

"Call me Suralio."

"Okay, si...Suralio. That particular piece of wood was not restored by me. It looks like the work of my great-great-grandfather, Wyndham Prior. Did you say that your name was Iffley? Well, then I think that I may have something for you." He clapped his hands once, summoning Dusk. "Go into the storeroom and retrieve the maple box. You know, the one with the dragon on it." The obedient sprite left the room on his task. "As I was saying, I inherited the family business from my father, rest his soul. He taught me everything that I know. I--Oh, I see that Dusk has returned."

The sprite had indeed returned, along with several others, carrying the box. The box was beautifully made, from its shiny, smooth sides, to its hinges made of silver. Carved onto the top of the box was the Crest of Iffley in all its majesty. The box was perfect, except for a slight depression in the shield.

"This box," Bryce began, "has been handed down from generation to generation. The one bearing the Crest of Iffley"--he pointed to the crest around Iffley's neck--"was to be given this box. Only the Crest of Iffley is said to be able to open it, anything else will destroy its contents." He handed the box to Iffley, who took it gently.

Iffley stared at the depression and then at the crest; the depression was exactly the same size and shape as the crest. He removed the crest from his neck and placed in the depression. There was a slight click as the lid released. A piece of parchment slid out of the box:

Descendant,

At last you have discovered our secret. The secret of the Iffleys. But, perhaps you do not know our story, so I will relate it to you.

Once, long ago, the Iffleys ruled the land of Furanose. We were a powerful family, and the people loved us. Then the wars came. Invaders from the North plundered our villages and cities. But, our forces eventually drove them back: the people of the North were unorganized and uncivilized, an advantage for our side.

Then, one day, a man organized them into a powerful army. They not only attacked our towns, but destroyed them. Their forces were too great to overcome. After months of war, the end had finally come, Furanose had fallen to the enemy.

They invaded our capital, Odina, and set it on fire. We were unable to cope with both the attackers and the fire, thereby losing most of our beloved city. They stormed the palace, seeking me. I have fled through the underground escape tunnels, but I realize that they will find me soon.

I gave my wife the Crest of Iffley hoping that she would be able to give it to the child that she bears. I have left her in competant hands, and I know that she will be safe. I have taken the crown and put it in a special box, which only the bearer of the Crest of Iffley can open, and have given it to my chief advisor, Wyndham Prior, with the instructions to give it to my descendant. The crown of Furanose is legal identification to rule. Present the crown to the Council, and they will be forced to accept you as king.

This is my last word: Seek revenge for the indiginties that the house of Iffley has suffered. Destroy what is left of this man's family. Destroy the remains of Kaura Ludit's sphere of influence. Take back what is ours.

Good Luck, Descendant

Condrake Iffley

Iffley punctilliously opened the lid. Inside the box, a beautiful crown glistened in the lambent light. Rubies, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, and amythests sparkled as Iffley held the box up to the light. "Bryce, are you willing to take a trip back to Earth with me?"

*  *  Truth Reclaimed  *  *

The Chambers of the Council was packed with people. The Council was undecided. Toltec was arguing his case at the top of his lungs. Eve was patiently awaiting her turn.

Bronson, oblivious of everyone, was also shouting, "I want to be King!" His Verbosity Spell had worn off a few hours earlier, and stupidity was one of the side effects. "This land is mine! Hear me out!"

The room abruptly became quiet as Suralio Iffley and Bryce Prior entered. Iffley was wearing the official crown of Furanose and, from the reaction of the crowd, everyone realized its authenticity.

"I have come," Iffley said, "to reclaim the kingdom of Furanose."


 © 1985, 

K. Blaire, L. Charles, D. Conrad, Enad the Great, A. Mann, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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