The waves bashed the ash planks of the Rathkarian Bladerunner, whose black sales flapped and shuttered with the power of the wind blowing west along the Corvasian causeway. The shipping lane, typically aflow with the southern trade were bare of vessels. Occasional planks, bloated corpses and feasting sharks were examined from far off but rumour bore more eggs than truth. Soon the men were speaking of ill curses and travel slowed.
In the halls of Oberon the tiny demigod sat atop a gently lit lantern, warmed against the molten wax. The proud entry of Anatolius signaled the meeting would begin without hesitancy. The dance begun, Simon briskly demanded,
“We should sale west to Harker and the Isle of Bloom. Rally and go forward.”
Anatolius flicked his fingers and the flame around Oberon flashed a sickly iridescent black then mellowed into cool blue. Perspiration an impedance and ultimately another nuisance, the meeting broke and the ship sailed west amongst a hot sun and open sea.
The dawn broke after two weeks and one day of sailing the Causeway. Stock was depleted and only by rationing the collective culinary magics remaining did the crew avoid desperate scurvy. Two lads and a gentleman soldier writing in a small handbook missed a harsh squall which blew the ship’s said off rope, sending the two on the sail and the poor gentleman overboard. The boys survived, but the soldier’s back was shattered and he drowned face down in the waves, where he remained. An heir, another said, some great soldier in Alara, an exile once from the Sovereign himself. Another, Anatolius remarked, remarkable in feat and courage and unequivocally doomed from inception. A song yet to be written, Simon suggested, but no bard in sight.
The Twin Towers of Magdalena, holding off in the distance stood raised, with a spiked wreath upon the Southernmost entrance to the Carreon Bay and to the west, the port and the Citadel.
Gunshot rang out and struck portside the lead ship, bearing the flag of Titan’s Hold, An Icy Castle wreathed in gold. Stepping upon the prow then, Anatolius raised his voice high to the stars and struck down upon the tower a thunderous reply in no way equal to such pitiful shot. So Anatolius lectured as the ships gracefully approached shore. The impeccable wrath struck deep into the hearts of the soldati magnificari of the Carreonean guard, high in authority and power within the kingdom who stood now upright in organized fashion awaiting the disembarkment of their harasser, the Azure Inferno approached them and inspected silently from his first step onto shore the party of 30 veteran archers, pikeman, and canoneers.
Finally stopping at the Leader of the Regiment, denoted by his blue sash equally to his pitiful shaking.
Anatolius stopped and starred at the top of the man’s clanking helmet until he looked up and met eyes before turning and in a pitched and broken shout exclaimed for the two nearby men to lower the gate. Then turned and ran.
The celebration was extraordinary. The pink ballroom of the art d’exotique d’Carreon, fringed in pearl and gold twinkled in elegance Riccard had not seen for nearly 400 years. The silver polished and drink fine. It was an emptying as much as it was a joyous moment. Their lives remained lively and their power looked consolidated. The weapon, away now, made its presence felt. Excstatic revelry and delight at the highest levels.
And yet Anatolius felt unwell for this.
Riccard, who had made the mortal mistake in Anatolius’ mind. To mingle in the affairs of the Athosian peoples as a ruler. Hippocrite and mongrel, Riccard had hurled at him in Anatolius’ Defamation Hearing after the war. The War trials exclaimed Anatolius, as Stadtholder of the Emirate of the Isla De Corvaca, legalized the authoritative rulership of Demigods over Athosian races in a controlled manner if they so sought such power legally and within the rules of the Conclave. Anatolius, feeling it a second betrayal after the war, never let it sit well.
Filled with their feasting the well-dressed citizens and lords of court retired slowly and the demigods began to fall into a gentle rest. Anatolius sat high above the joy and the counting and looked west, towards Sysitar, and something unsettling in his stomach. His head ached and he sought sleep in the ship cabin as the dawn gently crept over the city, soon to be abandoned to the wilder ambitions of the Athosian peoples.
Harker greeted us with an impassioned swig of Moonale and Sea-salted Whisky that tasted more like brine than a whisky ought to. The pirate, chiefly responsible for the slow redevelopment of the Causeway in which no man, woman, child or knick knack, hay-copper, or clean sock was spared. The king of the sea stood tall and ambitous. Made to live many beyond a hundred years, his time was to be long. In Simon’s eyes, the blue eyed sailor from the South seas was the ultimate culmination of his enterprise. Happiness and a family. To the remainder of the Demigods, clearly it was also his recklessness.
“I will join you, again on the seas with such a class of men and fighters. It will be a reaving holiday with the finest adventurers a man has or will ever know. In all these thousand years I have nor will I ever know such as you again. It is a gift to learn from your strengths. Uruhua, the bold and a sailor amongst all others. Simon, my forefather, the skill of cunning and manhood, truly, I am emboldened by you. Oberon, the light of the lord Athos is without parallel. In these trying times of Religion it is reassuring to the faith of men that you remain as you are in the stories. And Anatolius, though your wrath does not escape me, I honour your combat and strength. Your skill as a leader and warrior are certain and I learn much. Someday we shall find our fun together, I think in future stories. But now, let me come. I yearn for greater purpose.”
“No,” Simon spoke with pride, “if you come you will die. It is certain. Stay, be well. Reduce your reaving. You must embark on greater things too. You rule from this crowning bungalow made of sand and stone. The Sea is your true house, your ship your citadel. Be well and keep your people in your heart and your crewmates to your soul.”
Then it was Oberon then who spoke.
“It is now for us to break ties as well and make this decision. Now we head west to Sysitar. To the place that was assumed. To the heart of the matter and the center of Nox. To do such an exploration, we must trim the party.”
Uruhua motioned to Anatolius, Simon, Oberon, Vinsanthius, Vondal, and Valynae.
The Ties that bind.
We go, we go together. Into the deeper darkness.
Looming in the distance were the mountains of the Eastern Naxosian plains. Their beauty is gone now. Shrouded by smog and burning. Ancient magic gone awry and made inhospitable. I recall a beach once near hear, marked by the peak of Athos Redemptrox passed in the early morning. Perhaps here? No, there was coral, and a tropic. Atolls out where now there are rough seas. I will never see that place ever again.
A squall from the east and there it loomed like a bird of doom. Amorphous black fog, Trembling and cracking with the screams and contorted bodies hurled forward from the shore rapidly; the Foegue. Hovering souls, fused together by the power of the Reckoning and trapped in Sysitar. In fright, the helmsman jumped into the black waters. Massive manta rays, like cows to grass slowly devoured him as he drowned below the waves.
Now upon the ship, we readied ourselves for a battle. A foe of our ultimate creation, if only we had stopped him then, not now. Our powers had laid the board upon which the game played. We the pieces, absent the hands.
That was how we began our long entry onto Sysitar.
-Anatolius, From long ago