The Syzygy The Syzygy: Rise of the Abyssal

For Syzygy event threads

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Months, weeks, days passed, and the moons of Arethil rose and fell, rose and fell as the tides of the world’s oceans obeyed their command. Carried with them, their whispers.

Things some could hear clearer than most. Sounds betwixt the ears of so many souls, louder in those touched by magick. How it made their skin crawl. Their stomachs turn, and their eyes itch. More and more with each day that passed.

Villages lost. A brother missing. Walked straight into the sea.

Those with means made ready. Those without, did what they could.

Seals, enchantments, securities borne by magic and craft, prepared with precautions practiced and learned. Special laminates applied, nullifying covers draped over relics.

On, time did wash.

Until it was the day of the Syzygy.


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Amidst Socorro Bay, Aboard the Castillo
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The ship rocked, gentle back and forth in the early day, and the deck was quiet as the crew had settled in.

“A bounty, Camilo, to find the Escudon,”

Camilo shook his head as his boots knocked across the main deck, and the proud feather in his cap bounced. “The bounty, vale una mierda, if we don’t make it back, Linel, don’t you get it?”

Linel groaned, his hands tight as they trembled. “Three days in port, and the bounty will be snatched up!” he pointed his hand out to the horizon. To Socorro Bay. “An Anirian Armada is anchored off shore!"


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“You’ve never seen an Armada, niño,”

“Y las cantinas! Are full to the brim with stories of ghost ships, and sea monsters, and all the yellow bellied lilly livered cobardes! Are in there eating it up!”


Captain Camilo Pocasangre stopped. Growled as he mulled it over. Sighed as he bowed his head. “Hay razón, muchacho, a reason, that Anirian ships are anchored in Socorro,”

A huff, and a click of teeth. “Yeah, like wha-” the whole ship shuddered. Lurched towards the open sea.

Harsh clangs rang out as bells were hammered hard by far away hands. Ships further out sounded with alarm.

One by one, the crew of the Castillo came to rest. Eyes wide, drew more stares toward the horizon. Where the sea swelled so high it was as if an island was being pushed out the ocean’s womb. A wave, dark and terrible and crushing as it curled the mind. But there, something darker beneath it.

Magicked voices rang out in the far distance. Panicked calls for action that made no sense so far away, but were felt all the same.

The great wave broke, and from its face emerged an island. Tentacled and toothed. With claws like spires. It screeched. A sound that pierced the air like lightning peeled the clouds. As sailors, brave and true, cowered and fell, great ships crashed against the mass. Their hulls turned to splinters as all the bay did churn.


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The village of Virspoke

Out were the sister moons, and slow they encroached upon the high sun. A thick fog hung along the shores of the Reach.

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A voice rang out across the silver grey of the darkening day. It called out to all who would hear. “For the gates of Pandemonium never closed! No! There, in the darkness! There in the deep! The spawn of that wicked place did pour! Took shape! And but bode the return to come!”

A small crowd gathered before the man who spoke, and beheld his sickly form.

Hair like seaweed, and a damp blue rag wrapped around his personage, while barnacles clung to the fabric. As if it and its wearer had risen from the brine itself. After a long, and still rest.


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“I don’t right like what he says,”

“No, no one does,”

“So why they listenin’?”


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“Helps with the grieving, I suppose. Two ships been gone for more than a week, and, well, you heard about Petri,”

A scrunch of red brows. “Nothin but reaver’s work, I reckon,” she didn’t want to think on the hopelessness.

A nod. “Reckon you might be right,”


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Darkness enveloped the sky. Slow as it fell. The sun’s brilliance choked away, bit by bit as the moons passed across its bright face. Shadows morphed. Changed. As all the world’s magic fluxed and shifted with due accord.

Upon the shore, a pale figure layed. Motionless, save for the stirring of the waves that had carried it there. Lap and wane. Lap and wane. The wash frothed about its languid curves. Its bent caress of fins, cords, and mantles.

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Another form stood above it. No larger than a man. Tendrils hung from what seems to be its head, and a single dark eye peered out from behind the folds of its fleshy brow. If you could call it a brow.

It stood before the giant form of the beautiful being. Almost contemplative as the surf ebbed and flowed about it. A long bladed staff was held in its strong right hand.



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1704661716995.pngUpon the distant shores of Malakath

Dark is the sky, though your minds know it to be day. An unnatural grey, through which only the brightest stars twinkle, and the sister moons shine pale shadowed against the black. Their light is cold. Strange. Thin and Twisted. As if they had bidden for this time all along.

Upon the break of the sea, against sand and jagged stone, lay its bounty. Spoiled and dead things, washed along the winding coast.

Distant eyes may see strange lights there amidst the fresh rot of whales and sea serpents. Things that scuttle. Things that pinch and grab. Things that drag the dead back into the surf.

Yet farther out, there gleams a form on the horizon, not seen before. A spiny crag. Silver shelled. A mountain segmented. Pearlescent beneath the pale light of the celestial midnight.


Cliffnotes:

Cortosi Coast - A titanic being has emerged from the sea, destroying ships of all nations, thought to find safe harbor there.

Coast of the Reach - In the Village of Virspoke, a man borne with abyssal knowledge speaks out to a gathering crowd.

Iuk-'u Delta - A strange thing washes onto the shore, and a mysterious figure seems to examine it.

Malakath -Countless creatures of the sea wash unto the shore. Lifeless. And an anomaly gleams offshore, almost a new island on the horizon.
Everyone is welcome to hop in! The water is juuuust fine.

Characters do not need to be at the epicenter of the happenings to interact with the events portrayed in DM posts. The narrative landscape will shift and change depending on character choices and interactions!

Light DM Posts will happen regularly and will be announced. No formal posting order will be observed by the DM. And remember, when in doubt, reach out! Communication is the backbone to fun for everyone.

Please make sure you let people know where your character is at by starting your post with a bold heading! This will make tracking and collaborating more manageable for all involved.

Example:
Cortosi Coast

Jane Chronicles sharpened her sword broodily at the end of the bar. Which also happened to be the darkest corner in the bar. The loneliest corner...

Jump in, take some risks, and let's have some fun. If you have any burning questions, feel free to reach out to me via discord or message on site! I'll do my best to pull some sense out of the soup that is my noggin. With that said,

Happy reading and writing, Chroniclers.

P.S. Big thank you to bees for all the help with the lore building, image selection and formatting, and the general nerdery that's gone into this. You kick so much ass.
 

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Malakath

In the gray sky flew a pale ghost. The white dragon upon which Evirea sat tossed his head and whined. The thread of magic that bonded them together seemed to fray. Static filled her head. She grimaced under her helmet, but it was her duty as a rider to defend her home of Thanasis from threats, and she was tasked with scouting the coasts after reports of strange sightings reached the high ascendants. After all, her steed was one of the fastest in Thanasis short of a feathered dragon and gifted with mastery of the wind, but under the dual eclipse, where magic went awry, Evirea feared his power would fail them both.

However, where Taivas’ magic might have failed, at least his wings did not. The rider saw her fair share of death and decay in her work. Inflicted it upon countless others, even. But what she saw as she leaned to the side to peer down below defied human comprehension and reasoning. The coast seemed more corpse than sand or rock, and the carrion crawlers feasted.

Evirea could have said she felt safe in the sky if not for the living mountain. A lump formed in her throat. She pulled on the dragon’s reins, ordering him to silently circle above the coastline, waiting for the thing to take some sort of action. The rider dared not close the distance not knowing what that thing was, or what it was capable of. Instead, her eyes remained fixed on it. She felt that Taivas shared in her nervousness; every muscle in his body tensed.

A mere human would have been wise to heed the instincts of a beast when it felt fear, but she couldn’t flee. Not yet.
 
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Cortosi Coast

"Get the sails up!"
"The sails are gone!"

Edward cursed under his breath as his feet scrambled for purchase. Waves crashed into The Shag from all sides, leaving him and the rest of the crew completely soaked. Well, what was left of the crew.

This couldn't be happening. He was supposed to be lucky. He had only managed to get his hands on this ship a few months ago. Now, there was a giant hole in the hull, most of the crew had been pulled into the sea, and it looked like he was about to be eaten.

Duck.

Edward threw himself to the ground as a large tentacle swiped across the ship knocking more into the briny depth below. Once again that whispered on the winds saved him from certain death. But that was one of the first warnings he had received in nearly three weeks. In recent weeks, he had felt a strange disconnect from the winds. It left a sick feeling in his stomach. Great, he was losing his abilities and his ship.

Struggling to get back to his feet, he looked about widely for anything that he could do to save his ship or himself. He waved to some of the ships in the distance, but he knew what he would do in this situation. There was no way he would risk his life to help the sad sacks that had gotten themselves caught in the sights of this beast.

He was screwed.
 
The village of Virspoke

It came to him as a whisper.
It spoke to him in a voice without sound at first.
A feeling in his heart and being that he couldn't quite shake.
The Spirits sand to him their commands and appeared to him like fireflies in a field of black.
The bid him to make sacrifice. To don the armor of his ancestors to face the blight from the deep.

Through that fog, The Star-Touched Knight rode. His armor appeared like glass and when the sun bounced off of it, it created spectacle. Etched into the chest of the armor was the symbol of the star that fell from the heavens. The winged helm was clutched under his arm, faint whispers reaching the ears of those that were close enough and understood their true meaning. His skin was the color of bronze and his hair the color of midnight danced on what felt like black winds.

He'd ridden with fifty men. Twenty from his own personal guard and twenty of the best hedge wizards he could find. they came upon the village of Virspoke in time enough to see the ghastly creature preaching. Quintus slowed his party down. He could feel it... His armor. The Helm. It was drawn to whatever strange energy came from this revanant. Whatever it was bid him to step down from his horse and weave slowly through the crowd that had gathered there.

“For the gates of Pandemonium never closed! No! There, in the darkness! There in the deep! The spawn of that wicked place did pour! Took shape! And but bode the return to come!”

Why did he somehow know this creature spoke true?

The Progeny of Astra bade him ask.

"The return of whom?"
 
The village of Virspoke
Coast of the Allir Reach


Aderyn rarely followed the southern coast of the Reach for much of anything, preferring to make stops along the way to the stone north of her home. Something, though - she honestly hadn't known what at the time - compelled her to make her way eastward. Where she would stop, when she was done with her trade, she truthfully did not know.

In Virspoke she had stopped to rest and having had no paying audience for her music the night previous she had slept outside beneath the stars. She woke up cold and damp, but shook off her cloak and rose only to hear a madman screaming from the square.

“For the gates of Pandemonium never closed! No!"

She made her way through the gathering crowd, her small viol in one hand and pack of assorted goods dangling from the other.
"There, in the darkness! There in the deep! The spawn of that wicked place did pour! Took shape! And but bode the return to come!”

When she finally caught sight of him, a wave of... not relief but something still very final washed over her. The crier speaking insanity was a drowned man, or near enough. That alone warranted greater attention than any arbitrary town square madman normally would. She shouldered her pack and in a nervous reflex felt around her belt for the piece of lapis she kept there hanging by string. With it, she attempted to will her way into greater understanding and clarity by mentally reaching out to his mind, tapping into a stored well of Disgust and revulsion to probe at his thoughts. As she did so, her stomach churned and a rising sense of need to get away from this vile thing grew within her - she resisted for now, but knew it to be a battle she'd eventually lose.
 
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Alliria
Within the city's walls.




The last rays of sun shone hazy and red through the curtains of Eden's bedroom. She groaned, and rolled away from the light's intrusion.

Only a few hours left now, to prepare. She ought to get up and make use of that time, before the moon sickness set in. She could already taste the salt in the back of her throat. The brine that brought on aches and paranoia, bloodrot and blindness. How inconvenient, to face the end of the world and the frayed ends of her strength at the same time.

Bare feet pressed against the cold tile floor as she rose, shrugging on a robe.

"Xan, are all the wards up?" Eden called down the hall as she shuffled towards the kitchens. "Xanatos!" She frowned when there wasn't an immediate response, and muttered more quietly to herself. "Damn it, where is that man?"

The kitchens were warm with the bustle of breakfast, but it was nothing appetizing. Barley porridge and sliced fruits, suitable for sick children and queasy mages alike. Eden sat herself at a roughly hewn wooden table in the corner. The back door let a breeze through. It smelled of ocean brine, slick and rotten.

The porridge was set in front of her by Fendak, her cook. And a folded slip of paper next to it.

"Letter for you," Fendak said. He was an industrious old man who liked to walk about at odd hours, and ended up running more errands around the estate than he ought to. They were both used to their own habits, by now.

Eden broke the seal - council stuff - and looked over the letter. A long pause. She didn't touch her porridge.

"Tell the boys to get my carriage ready," she said, moving to stand. "I'm going out."

The cook was taken aback. "Without breakfast?"

Xanatos Dan'Talos
 
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There was a blackness that came from the sea, spurred by an event beyond the reach of mortal hands. There was no steering fate a different way. There was no reasoning with the darkness of the deep just as there was no reasoning with the blackness in the hearts of men. The presence of the two moons would render all bare to pain. He could feel it in the wind. Could they all not? It was so real that he could reach out with his tongue and taste it. The worm wriggled inside of his belly at the calamity that was to come. It pushed him. Begged him. It must feed while the glesh of the world was exposed. The blood on the air excited him in ways he could not express...
The Glorphain and his horsemen bled down the mountainside as they spewed forth from the Belgrath Stone. Their columns were like black veins. Their leader sat atop a great warhorse and wore a helm with a distorted face, looking to be half man and half boar. He carried his great warhammer on his shoulder. At his command, lives and villages were snuffed out of existence in complete darkness. The sea was not the only entity that would eat that day.


Iuk-'u Delta
Markus Glorphain arrived on the beach where he saw the two figures. One with tentacles standing over another creature. A beautiful creature. One that his black beady eyes fell upon and did not move. The worm wriggled all within him in excitement. His mind was filled with images of tasting it's insides. Of stringing it's form up in his fortress and doing whatever his whims commanded to it. He spoke to his second, Steppenwolf in a voice barely above a whisper.

"You must bring it to me. Quickly now," he said through salivating lips. "Gut the creature standing over it and save it's entrails... I would study them."

 
The village of Virspoke


As there were stars in the sky so did the flickering lights of men mill about the surf. Occluded in fog, wet with cough, attention hung rapt about them. A mantle to bear unto the barnacled crier's weighted word, to the answering repartee that drummed from tempestuous calm. So stood Isander, disorder hunting his brow.

Propped against the haft of his still sheathed spear, he wore heavy shoulders beneath a cloying gown of maille. Wool peeked out from the joints, and stout leathers lent him a sturdy facade spoiled only by the cloth poncho that did little to keep him dry.

Travel fatigue grated at him, drew his jaw slack, his eyes haggard and red. Weeks on the road, days waking atop burlap and nettle, had not treated him kindly. It left him thick about the head. The taste of grit mingled with the mud and oil punctuating the air battered his tongue in a near constant battle to retain the contents of his stomach. Tension alighted upon him.

From his vantage, breast-to-cheek at the front of a crowd, his gaze was drawn to the brilliantly armored form. To the commanding vessel which stood in mournful pride. And he awaited the crier's reply.
 

Many months ago
Kiros had held prayer with Itra – but a begrudging requirement of continued patronage.

The great double eclipse looms closer

Have you made sufficient preparation?


It is still many months away Kiros replied in his silent prayer. The double eclipse had been a matter on his mind, as it had been with most any who held affinity with the arcane. Heirahit had been capped with pewter to obscure Her holy symbol, and his Helm of the Departed had been anointed with oil to protect it from malefic magical effects. He hardly needed the warning.

Then you remain unprepared and foolish!

Calamity and arcane chaos beyond all

Shall befall Arethil when the time comes!

Of course. It is a double eclipse. I am aware.

You are aware of nothing, witless lout!

For it shall be unlike any other!

Do you truly think I would warn you of


Trivial matters that you ought expect!?

Of course not.

Then tell me, what have you done to prepare!?

Kiros suddenly found the pointed question foisted upon him. To give an honest response would be met with an immediate smiting, but a convincing lie required a touch more time than Kiros actually had. His hesitation was taken as a statement on its own, and She cared not for it.

So be it, then! Answer My question not!!

* * *

Present, within the city
What, if anything, was to be so different from other eclipses he’d experienced entirely escaped him. Educated as a priest, Kiros was well versed in the matter of contending with the event. He could have been putting his wisdom to better benefit, were he not a condemned and wayward exile of his own land. Instead, he found himself obeying the whims of this mad moon goddess. And though Kiros carried great doubt, it did not escape him that She had been correct to send him to Malakath, somehow. For a much as he doubted her and as much as he had sought to disprove the notion, She'd been right about that. It still bothered him.

One day prior, even the city had given notice, but She had yet to divulge any further detail regarding the very task She had mandated he undertake. She was not responsive to prayer, though that was not unlike Her. Today's attempt had not gone much differently, and Kiros had once again given up on it.

Despite the direct assistance of a goddess Herself, Kiros was resigned to scouting the Allirian streets for clues. It seemed clear they knew more than Her.
 
Alliria,
The Shallows,

1704780595781.png"You mean to say... you want my oyster ketch?"

Xanatos stared down blankly at the Shallower. "Yes,"

"An what for, exactly?"

"To be of necesary service to our great city,"
he said without a beat missed. "Ma'am,"

A half laugh. "An I'm supposed to follow orders, because..."

Xanatos held up a copy of the edict, just pressed the night prior.

"Some paper,"


"A council edict, ma'am,"

1704782807019.pngA sharp whistle came over the cry of gulls. "Got a live one, Xan!"

The horned guardsman looked back to the cutthroat deputized for the event.
"Ma'am," he said softly, rolled up the edict, and walked towards the commotion on the dock.
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"Tis is a load of fish spunk!" a burly fisherman with a belt full of metal tools, hooked, bladed, blunt, mouthed off.

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"No sudden movements, friend," came a sharp hiss from the other hireling.


"Ain't no friend of yours, cutter,"

A sharp smile curled across the woman's lips. She looked a cat, too ready to pounce.
 
M A L A K A T H

Vaelthor glided up the Eastern coast, his barely visible shadow rippling over ragged clifftops and black sandy beaches. Winter had closed her fist around Malakath meaning the winds bit deep into the flesh no matter how many layers were worn. For those who spent most of their time in higher altitudes it was one of the most challenging times of year. Of course, then, it made sense that the Dark Gods chose now to throw the great Whedaus at them. Three days the High Ascended claimed the scholars had predicted this eternal night would last. Three days which would bring Great Darkness.

Jensen was no scholar. His skills were better suited to killing Jarlax and wiping their filth from the planes of this land. Yet even he knew that when the portent had been read out the scholars had meant for Darkness to be capitalised. Nothing good was ever capitalised. His suspicions were confirmed within the first hour when they recieved the call that a corpse had been washed up upon the shoreline. The bloated whale had only been the first. Jensen's steady search towards the North had revealed every curve of sand to contain at least a handful of corpses whether fish, human or draconic. He could have turned back at Nelithral Ulph-narod, but something there had caught his eye; the scuttling. From his dragons-eye view he couldn't make out their forms fully but as they moved Jensen began to realise they were all headed in the same direction.

North.

So it was North that the rider continued until on the horizon the familiar shape of a dragon came into focus. Vaelthor's rumble confirmed it and in the practised etiquette of dragon riders Jensen sent the tsoyne dragon wide so that they could be spotted, signalling they were a friend not foe. It also gave chance for him to look upon the protruding fleshy island that seemed to draw closer and closer to shore. He let out a low whistle.

"Hail! Rider," he called when the other rider did not immediately attack, letting Vaelthor fly closer so the riders might speak. "Were you sent from the City?"

 
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The Cortosi Coast - aboard the V.A.S. Relentless

The ship waivered, one of its three masts down, as the other two creaked and screeched against the coming of the waves that lashed against the its hull.

- "HEAVE!" - He bellowed, his voice raising over the sound of the crashing storm. Before him, the sailors and crew afflictively tried to come to grips with the task of storing away the broken mast of their vessel, so as to keep it from causing further harm to the rest of the ship. As he felt the men had achieved a good enough grip, Ivan unleased his decay powers against the fallen wood construct, a handful of pitch-black rays projecting out of his fingertips and towards the few points where the fallen mast was still connected - either through splinters or ropes - to the rest of the ship. As it was cut loose, the men carted and stored the fallen mast and made the ship as ready to sail as it could get.

Beyond the damage to the vessel's integrity though, there was still one more problem. When they had been first hit, a few of the crew members had been swept off deck, caught unaware by sudden tidal waves washing over them. The main problem with this was that those few that had been washed away had just so happened to include the only full Dreadlord onboard - the ship's captain - as well as his first-mate. This, in turn, meant that, as the crew sought to recuperate its footing in the midst of the chaos, the sailors had been forced to look to the closest thing they had to a Dreadlord for a leader...

And that was how the unfortunate blonde initiate had found himself being thrust into the leadership - even if only informally - of a ship he was scantily ready to operate.

And somehow, even through all of this, they still had a bigger problem.

Ivan shifted his gaze, looking far beyond the deck and towards the horizon, where the big mass of tentacles and teeth still presided over the bay, its enormous body rising unnaturally from the waters, and against the skies. The creature separated the Relentless from the rest of the Anirian navy, stationed nearby, which meant that help was probably not forthcoming. Sailing away though, with one of their masts down, and the Sea still in disarray, did not look promising either.

It was as he mulled the situation over though, that a loud cry came from the crow's nest.

- "A ship!" - It cried. - "To the starboard side! There's a ship!" - The crew instinctively diverted their eyes towards that direction, soon realising that said ship was not alone in those waters. As whispers of terror and cries of fear filled the deck of the Relentless, the men suddenly all turned to face him, eagerly awaiting to see what their "leader" would say.

Standing there, with a crew he knew nothing about, and a vessel he was in no way habilitated to command on his hands, Ivan had only a split-second to make a decision. As he gazed towards the embattled vessel in the distance, he realised that it was only a matter of time before the beast made a move against them as well, should they just stand back and do nothing. As it stood, he now knew exactly where that gigantic freak was focused, and how it was using its massive body to attack. With that in mind, he gave the order:

- "Make ready to sail, men!" - He clamoured. - "We'll make this monster bleed!" -

Edward Lorain
 
Alliria

Night was beginning to set and there were more whispers about than usual. Arthur sat upon one of the stone benches outside the college. It wasn't a particularly large school as the world didn't have so much a need for poets and the vast majority of students were rich kids like himself. However, the smaller the college, the more closely knit the community, and the louder the secrets. Something about the village of Virspoke. Madi was talking about it just before class. It was impossible not to hear her because she always spoke loudly, like every word she spoke was the most important and necessary to hear. So, naturally, Arthur had eavesdropped.

"Viktor just got back from Virspoke," she'd begun, talking to one of her friends whom Arthur did not recall the name of, "Said he went to visit in order to clear his head and hope for a good story."

Arthur had hardly heard of Virspoke. Maybe he'd heard it in passing. It was along the coast, he believed, and his family dealt with coasts often. That was likely where he'd heard it from.

Madi continued, "He came back this morning looking dazed. The life was sucked clean out of his skin. I asked him what was wrong and he just blurted out 'Virspoke!'"

Arthur stopped listening. Viktor was a reasonable man and one Arthur liked very much, actually. Among all the students at the college, each of whom was obsessed with themselves, as writers usually are, Viktor was the only one who listened. He was the only one with his head on his shoulders and not in the clouds. Arthur was okay admitting this. He knew his own flaws and accepted them.

It wasn't until later, when Arthur was sitting on the stone bench in the front of the college, his shoulders hunched and his head hanging low, his form practically arched into his journal, struggling to write, that he thought he should go visit Virspoke himself. He was known to venture out around Alliria in search of stories to write. His own were never of much interest, but what plagued those around him -- strangers, friends, lovers, what have you -- those were the good ones. And it seemed like Virspoke had something to tell.
 
The Village of Virspoke

The past few months had seen a variety of rather boring task which had kept Dauner busy. They were mostly just paperwork pertaining to the order's day to day running. The few breaks he got were the times he sneaked out of the castle to go play outside. But those were still few and far between. He wasn't sure why he was dealing with so much paperwork himself. The only reason he'd created the sovereign council, and vested it with the power it currently holds, was so he could laze around and not bother with the boring tasks. But no. Ayana wouldn't let him be. She just had to make sure he was doing something, didn't she?

Dauner's boredom had reached a peak when it all began. He could hear the world's scream in whispers. And with it, came an annoying bit of discomfort. Dauner, whose whole life at this point had been one of discomfort, wasn't as bothered by it. He still carried himself in the same way he'd always done before, so it was hard to tell he was even affected at all just by looking at him. But such an occurrence could only mean he had an excuse to abandon his office desk and go out.

From the very start, he had ordered a few of the order's agents to investigate what was going on, or at least just get him the name of a place to run off to. This is how he'd come to learn of the events taking place on the coasts, with emphasis on the village of Virspoke. Armed with this information, he decided to personally investigate on the field. That ought to be more interesting than reading, writing and signing papers all day.

Atop Garios, his demonic wolf, and accompanied by Miya, and the Shadow squad in the shadows, he rode towards the Village.
 
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Cortosi Coast

Aboard the frigate class, V.A.S. FEARLESS


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Low to the water and fast, the Fearless cut clean through the brackish.

“Get those life lines out!” Captain Lindis Luck called out. “Pull every gods damned sailor out of that drink!”

Ropes flew out amongst the wreckage. Bodies were hauled up onto the deck. Still near the beast, but making fast away.

Something gurgled in the dark water. It caught the captain’s eye. “Hard to port!”

The wheelman groaned as he wrenched the wheel with vein bulging effort.

All the ship groaned as its mass careened towards port.

A long arm burst from the white roil of the water. Curled and whipped before it crashed down at the ship.

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With a crack and break, shards of pine sprayed out. Caught sailors in the side. Grones, agony. Despair, as the great suckered arm dragged itself back into the black. Scaley things sloughed off, their many legs scuttled about, as pincer jaws snapped. A man stuck a spear through it with a boney crack and a horrid screech.

“Damage report!” Captain Luck called out, holding her head where blood seeped through her finger. “Report damn it!”

“Hull damage, Captain!”

“One of our Dreadlords is down!”


A growl. Breath came as hard pants as she stumbled about. “The masts?!”

“Undamaged, Captain!”


A grin as she slicked back her blood streaked hair, a red wound along the side of her face. She’d fucking take it.

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One of the men they’d pulled out of the water came with a stowaway. A thing that grew out of its chest.


The Relentless

Dark shapes streak through the surf. Silvery, light sparkles across their form. You see them strike a ship nearby. Like a dart, it sinks into the hull. Tentacled arms anchor to the hullwalls. You see, things, like giant crabs, and lice, scuttle up over the wall. Spring onto sailors who scream in horror and fight for their lives.



The moons climbed higher above Socorro bay, higher, and the living island thrashed on. Swings of its terrible arms capsizing ships with single blows.

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The VIllage of Virspoke

Those gathered round watched with wide glassy eyes as the celestial sisters crept on with their climb. Two blades that would cut away the sun.

The drowned man stared, wide eyed at the man in his resplendent armor. The light of so many stars, reflected and refracted there off the plate and within the drink of his drowned eyes. Too watery with tears of joy that twinkled twixt the tongues of his pallid hair.

1704874580381.png“They who bring the tides,” his purpled lips, wrinkled and wet, split to show his jagged teeth. Wide as a hungry shark’s grin. He turned to the crowd and raised his arms high. “They who will rise from the brine itself!” Struck at the air. “They who will drag us all down into those same depths that formed them! They who will make change to us all! Should we but let them! Should we but walk into the drink!”

Some of the crowd broke away. Muttered their distaste and hurried home.

More gathered. Pulled by the weight of the words. Pulled by the strangeness of the moons that seemed to wind the twine of mortal coils, all the tighter as they climbed.

“But look to the sea! But look to the waves! Across each crest, beneath each wake, there! THERE!” His eyes were as large as the moons themselves.

Exhilaration.


A bell tolls through the fog. A bell, bright and brass. A bell whose call marks the ships of Alliria. It strikes. And clangs. Strikes. And clangs.

A call for aid. From the distant fog. A call for salvation.


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The tall form, with spear in its strange hand, turned to face the glutton’s dog. Its singular eye watched, as its hand held tight the weapon in its grasp, and its form phased to thin air. Blade and all.

Crash did the waves. Spill did the sea. Along the rocky shore. Across the beautiful form that lay still. A shimmer. Near manshaped, skulked like a vision of phantasmal madness in the twilighting dark. Slow, it searched for vantage, its movements near-untraceable in all the slurry and spray of the ecliptic sea.

The beautiful form. That strange thing mantled and many legged. It lay still in the surf. As if it begged for the eater to come closer.


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The silver mountain looms upon the waves. Does it walk? Or does it stay? With the tides crash, and wane, crash and wane, it is hard to tell, from so up high.
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If it lives, it does not pay notice to the flyers.

Those things that scuttle and scrape down below. Stride and plod. They work. In clusters, in tandems and lines. Like ants. They drag pieces of the dead things back to the silver mountain. Back into its head.

You see, for every one that goes in. Another comes out.


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The city makes ready as the eclipse breaks in full, and darkness falls across its streets.

Whispers and rumors of the goings on around the world trade from lip to lip. Virspoke, Virspoke. Allspeak of Virspoke and the strangeness that swirls about it as ships are made ready with freshly conscripted mercenaries and crews.

The happenings of Cortos managed to break through magical communications, just before the Syzygy struck full.

Magic, and those things magical, begin to behave in wild and unpredictable ways. And those touched by magic, feel the pain of the sister moons’ pull like hands that make all their strings tight. Twist by twist.
 
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All in all, Ignisa reflected, it was well that the Kingdom of Tarnossia had taken the warnings of the Elbion College seriously and evacuated most of the coastal settlements of Aravell and Roniel over the past few weeks. Most had heeded the warnings of the Tarnossë and moved inland, towards shelters specifically set up to ride out the next three days of the Syzygy. The scholars of Pheriel and Ermaya together had trawled through the catacombs of their libraries, and while the information they had obtained was no more detailed than the hodgepodge of scattered anecdotes that the Elbion College was able to provide, it was corroboration enough. And those that had not been convinced when the first few warnings were sent out, were mostly convinced once an entire village within the bounds of Tarnossë Roniel had been found missing the next day by scouts and traders alike less than a week ago.

Enough that there had been a mad scramble towards the deep forests of the Falwood, where records say had been historically left untouched.

So when the monster emerged from the bay of the Cortosi Coast, large enough to be seen even from this distance, Ignisa and the guard around her were stunned at its size, but not necessarily shocked per se.

They were still in the process of trying to evacuate the remaining stragglers, not forcing precisely, but heavily encouraging their evacuation towards safer zones. If some were dead-set on refusing, there was little that she or anyone else could do. It wasn't as if there was an overabundance of space in the shelters that the Tarnossë had constructed ove the past few months. And with many of the Elves of Tarnossia weakend by the Syzygy, they didn't necessarily have the energy to chivvy the stragglers deeper into the woods anyhow.

Ignisa herself was feeling wan, though she kept herself upright despite the occasional bouts of nausea that periodically swept over her when darkness had fallen over the entire sky, leaving the sky full of stars. But the Elves were the people of Leaf and Star, and they stood strong under the light of the stars when the day turned to night. They had a stronger connection to the natural magic of the world, but in turn the people of Tarnossia also thrived under the light of stars, even when the night was unnatural. And though their magic was weakened, the Elves of Tarnossia built their lives not around the arcane arts or the Powers, but the natural world itself. And now, when their magic was at its nadir, it was back to the natural world that they turned towards.

Gone were the fancy robes that she usually wore. Now she was dressed in greens and browns of the forest, like all those around her, so that they could blend easily into the forest. Even now, as close to the sea as they were, the Elves were prepared to melt back into the trees in an instant, at the first sign of danger.
 
CORTOSI COAST

"Sunfather protect your chi-"
The Bishop's plea disappeared with rest of his body. A red smudge on the wooden deck and the bits of viscera clinging to Cisco's cloak were all that remained. The priest of the Radiant Church stood among the ensuing horror and found himself oddly calm. It was true that Father Betis was lacking in many ways but the man served for many years. Narcisco could only assume then that this was a blessing from the Great Illuminator.

Muttering a pious prayer, he looked to see who remained among the delegation. His Brothers and Sisters who still stood had already begun their ministrations. None looked for Narcisco. He was not that kind of priest. Yet the basics of mending were not lost on him. Even as he moved to assist, unholy providence reared in the form of a massive tentacle. It wiped half the deck clean, including an unfortunate boatswain only a few feet from Narcisco. The force of the man's crumpled body was enough to send the priest over the railing and into the turbulent abyss below.

Pain wracked his body as he hit the water with all the grace of a drunken sailor. Consciousness threatened to flee but the priest desperately hung on. Any lapse would have him meeting He Who Shines Brightest in quick order. That being said, there was little hope for survival. Others thrashed in the water about him, trying to get their bearings. Some simply disappeared beneath the surface. Had they been too forgone or instead been dealt a far sinister fate.

Narcisco offered once last petition to his god as he came to accept his finality.

Instead of death, came salvation. The priest grabbed onto the rope as tightly as he could and was hauled upwards moments after. "Easy lad," came a gruff voice as he was pulled over the railing. Narcisco collapsed onto the deck of the Fearless as he attempted to catch his breath. Just as he made to thank the sailor, the ship shook violently. The priest turned to find the lifeless gaze of his savior, splinter lodged in his neck.

"Sunfather save us."
 
Alliria

Arthur went back home, to his manor -- or his parent's manor -- before he set out. He only ever brought his school books and journal and lute with him when he went out, but going to Virspoke called for more equipment. He would bring a pack with him. His journal and lute wouldn't suffice.

Evading his parents by entering through the back door was easy. It led to the kitchen and his parents didn't like being associated with kitchen work. Not only did that make Arthur great friends with the cook, but it gave him an easy way to be avoided. It had taken time, but eventually his parents stopped asking where he got off to and if he ever came home before dark. Most often, he did not come back before midnight. Even more often, he'd stay in the dorms or with a friend.

Quickly and quietly as ever, Arthur snuck up to his nearly abandoned room at the end of the hall, just beyond his brother's old one. Now, his brother slept on the first floor with his all-too perfect wife. Arthur had to force himself not to think of their perfect marriage. Instead, he set himself to gathering an old knapsack and shoving into it his journal, pen, ink and quill, an old Allirian history book for reference, a candle, matches, and candlestick (the one that had been sitting on his old desk for about a decade and a half, very much unused), and finally, after sneaking back down to the kitchen, a napkin tucked with bread and cheese. The knife he wore on the back of his belt, tucked up underneath his jacket, he kept there for safekeeping.

Arthur made his way to the port. It was't a horrible walk, but the night was no longer young and the chill had turned to faint bitterness. Arthur crossed his arms over his chest to keep warm. He never was dressed properly for the weather. Strangely, as he stepped onto the wooden walkways meant to keep his feet from the damp, he heard not only the whispers his ears had been so berated by earlier in the day, but caught sight of Viktor, wrapped in a gray cloak, hunched over and shivering. He appeared to be listening. Listening just as Arthur was. Arthur wanted to approach him, to question him in the way the college had taught him to question, to learn about others. But Viktor looked fraught. His eyes were sunken. His hair greasy and unwashed. He was biting his nails, which were stained with dirt. It was an easy decision for Arthur to turn the other way. A pang of guilt spiked in his chest. He liked Viktor, but wasn't brave enough to confront him?

Arthur sighed and turned back around. It was time to start being brave. Especially if he wanted to chase after whispers.
 
M A L A K A T H

“Hail!” Evirea called back, raising a hand high. Taivas’ fins perked up at the sight of the tsonye dragon. His rider tried to issue a command mentally. The initial order seemed to have been lost to magical interference, but a more forceful one pushed through. Her dragon ceased his circling and allowed the tsonye to approach, two pairs of wings alternating as he hovered.

“Yes, we were sent to scout, but we arrived at this location only recently,” she answered. “I’m Evirea, and this is Taivas.” She patted the side of her own dragon’s neck.

“First time I’ve seen anything like that,” the rider continued. “Nor have I seen these creatures described in any record I’ve read. You know anything about this?”

She pushed up her visor and leaned to the side ever so slightly to get a better look at the goings-on below. Her brow furrowed and her eyes narrowed to a squint as she peered down. Evirea pressed one hand down on Taivas’ neck, guiding him to descend. The white dragon snorted in protest, but he spread his wings taut and came closer to the ground. Not so close that she could get a good look at the scuttling creatures on the sand and in the sea—she dared not close the distance between them that much—but just enough that she could see what they had set about to. A flurry of questions swirled in her head: what killed everything that washed up on the shore? Should she wait to see what they did? The sea serpents fled to the shore for a reason, but were these things the culprits, or were they just scavengers taking advantage of something else slaughtering all that lived in the sea? Evirea straightened her back and craned her neck, eyes fixed on the foreboding, mountainous thing off the shore. The scuttlers brought dead meat to it… and it produced more. For what purpose?

If they had been Jarlax, the correct course of action would have been straightforward; she would’ve known to slaughter them on sight. Taivas’ anxiety strummed even the weakening thread of their bond, but she’d never encountered these before. Hastily attacking an unknown entity could have unforeseen, dire consequences.

Jensen
 

Cortosi Coast

It was there. He saw it in the distance, his chance. Two ironclads from the Anirian navy. One was dragging people in, saving them...and the other...What the hell was it doing? Was it heading toward the killer island?

Edward grabbed the nearest man next to him and pulled him up. It was one of his oldest friends, Hush, he didn't talk a lot. That was probably why they got along, but he was one of the earliest members of his crew. They both had gotten into the business around the same time, and it was so rare to have true allies in his profession.

"We've got to go for it. The girl is going under, and our only hope is those two."

Hush followed Ed's eyes and then looked at the water in between the two ships. It would not be as simple as jumping and grabbing some rope. They were gonna have to swim for it. Hush quickly shook his head in the negative, but Ed shook the man.

"Damn it, Hush, it is swim for it or die. Now, c'mon."

Edward did not wait for the answer, grabbing the man, and together they both jumped. The shock of cold seawater was enough to punch the air right out of Ed, and if that wasn't enough, the waves crashing and throwing him about felt like an orc made that you had gone a few rounds with his lady.

Even so, Ed kept an iron grip on Hush who in turn held onto him. Quickly it became apparent that it did not look like Edward's gamble was going to pay off. He had no clue where they were going as the currents were too strong. Fighting for every bit of distance, he trashed through the water. He had no idea how long he was at it. However, miraculously, like having that perfect card appear on the river in poker, Ed felt a rope land squarely in his free hand.

But then, something hit him, hard. Edward could feel his grip slipping. He made a quick choice, he pulled Hush forward and made sure he had his grip on the water. Then, Edward was lost.

No rope in his hand. No friend to look after him. He felt something hit him again, this felt like some small jittering creature. It looked like he was meant for his fate to end there when he slammed into a hard metal wall.

Wait, there were no walls in the ocean. He looked up, it was one of the ironclads. It did not matter which one, Edward just began to climb with all his strength. With the last of his energy, he pulled himself onto the deck and looked up at some blonde kid standing there.

"Hello there."

Ivan Skender
 
Cortosi Coast

From cliff that overlooked waves that toiled, vessels that struggled, and unseemly things that lurched from cresting ocean, were the spectators three gathered. One squat, bulbous in stomach, enrobed in crimson velvet with golden trim, patted their stomach in light drum beats. The second, frail and stooped, dressed in garish yellow and pink robes of corduroy, a necklace of burnished copper with fractured metallic eyes about the chain, panted as they recovered from racks of a recent coughing fit. And the third, dressed in luminous greens of sleek silk, eyes wild and blackened nails that clacked against themselves in triangled hand stance, their long black hair roaming wild for want of the salt winds. All three looked out to the oceans, to the skies.

The crimson robed mage made glance to his companions, drumming all the while as he revealed his lazy draul of an opinion.

“Brought us here to watch a bit of foul weather Kazaban? I usually expect dinner if there's a show you know.”

The yellow robed mage straightened their back with a wince, and shook their head ruefully at their own situation more than the calamity that was foretold by the Elbion college that so maligned these three malefactors of magic.

“Please, don't mention food Ollin, it upsets my humours. Is that a ship out there? My eyesight is not very good anymore, not since the incident-”

The wizard in green, standing in the middle between the two, known as Kazaban that Mad, was caught in indecision in who to reprimand first, his hands trembling with impatience for his colleagues in exile from all reputable establishments and circles of magic for their moral turpitude.

“Yalmo, if you mention that incident one more time- Ollin, if you think I'm feeding you here, now-” Kazaban began to splutter, and pressed his fingernails into his forehead to stem the bleeding of his outrage. He fought against every instinct to admonish further, instead looking to each in turn with gleeful eye and wide, wild smile, and presenting the words, “My friends and collaborators in chaos and power-”

Both Ollin, known as the Crimson Terror, and Yalmo, known as the Yellow Eyeful, cast out protestations of the pomp and circumstance, yet Yalmo was quickly cut off by his own coughing, leaving Ollin to speak.

“Oh no Kazaban, not again, not this speech again, I simply forbid you. Let's just start the betting on what chaos ensues in ocean blue before we miss everything,” Ollin said and placed hand to brow to further inspect the chaos. A crash of waves, a splintering of pine.

Yalmo, through hacking coughs, wheezed, “Yes, yes, the betting. If only I could see, my magic isn't working as it should.”

Kazaban drew in deep breath, and revealed to both prize objects. A telescope of gold, and a telescope of pink.

“As a gesture of goodwill, and to facilitate our gambling on the gods lapse in affections,” Kazaban drawled, “Not to mention to allow us to see the main event without magical expenditure which is fraught from this occasions nature, I present you tubes to see, yes, tubes to see most perfectly. Here you are Yalmo, friend of mine, here you are, Ollin, friend of mine. Yes, take them, and peer, and let us start betting.”

Yalmo and Ollin took the items with some suspicion, for Kazaban was not known for generosity. Still, the colour co-ordination did much to appease them, and they looked through telescope at the ship and their trevails, Kazaban producing a vibrant green telescope that span upon itself as it was peered through.

Soon, the betting was upon them as they looked out.

“The sails will crack! Three hundred gold!”
“The monster will explode! Four hundred gold!”


Kazaban took a few steps back. The other two gathered together, at the forefront, eyes set to glass, the other closed to allow sight so distant.

“The Captain will surely perish! Three rubies on it!”
“Someone will attempt to use magic and have it fail! I pledge my wands of power.”


Kazaban tucked away the telescope. And drew out things of a very different nature.

“Oh look! That wave took one of them into the ocean! I should have bet upon it!”
“Where? Where? Oh yes, good stuff, I do like it when-”
a series of coughs, yet telescope remained to eye as it did shudder.

Within each hand of Kazaban, two daggers lay. A silent, mad smile upon his lips. Gleaming metal set to spring.

Down went the waves.

Down went the daggers into exposed backs in perfect time.

“What-”
“No, not like-”


Kazaban's daggers sank deeper, robbing life and whim, the telescopes falling the ground and rolling over cliff face. Their bodies crumpled, wheezing, their faces blackening from poison coursing through their punctured frames.

That's what you get for sending that damn Jester! And hoarding all your good stuff! Rubies for me, magical chain of eyes for me too! Magic is all screwy today, so it was the only way to make you pay! ” Kazaban crooned, dancing as his former friends wheezed out confused splutters, dying in ignorance and rare innocence as to any business of jesters.

A few moments passed, and Kazaban purloined rubied rings and chain of eyes from each in turn, before peering through his telescope to the ship that fought against circumstance.

“Shame to waste such a terrific scene of anarchy, let's see how these fools deal with the deep!”
 

Kiros was used to the pain, though he didn’t care for it in the slightest. His service to Itra had seem him suffer plenty of it. He did have a supply of shade that he'd rather not resort to. Far better to weather the headache, than to succumb to stupor.

In his search for clues, he had one place in mind to begin at. It was a small but packed shop near the outskirts of the city, known to carry an assortment of herbs, reagents and magical knick-knacks. Largely of the legitimate variety, though not exclusively so...

Kiros entered the shop, and just within were a pair of private guards. “Ah, Kiros! Shall I guess what you’re here for?” The shopkeeper asked. The guards, said nothing, but shot a rather menacing expression towards him.

“Go ahead, but your first notion is likely incorrect.”

“No shade today?” The shopkeeper asked, and received a shake of Kiros’ head in response.

“No, no. I’ve ample supply. I’ve arrived for rumours.”

“Hah! Truth, or lies?”

“Well, I would greatly prefer the former!” Kiros remarked, and the once stoic guardsmen said nothing, yet they visibly relaxed. “Have you come across any revelation regarding the double eclipse?”

“Well, there’s been plenty of talk about Virspoke lately. It’s a small village a little ways from here. Some strangeness has been documented there. I ain’t sure exactly what, cause the rumours I’ve heard conflict, but something big must be going on.”

“I see…”

“You sound like you’re plottin’ to get to the bottom of it, too. Well if so, I wish you luck!”

“Thank you, and for the information as well. Take care, Radley.”

“You too, Kiros!” The shopkeep replied, waving goodbye to Kiros as he took his leave from the store. Virspoke wasn't far, but it was still some distance away. Kiros set about the city to make arrangements for travel, seeking either a horse or caravan that might take him there. But unknown to him, he did not travel alone. Another had taken interest in him since his departure from the shop. He had followed Kiros for some distance before he dared to speed up his approach. In silent hurry, he closed the distance until he was within reach of Heirahit. The brigand grasped the staff with a firm grip, while his other hand brandished a dagger.

“Looks like you’ve got some valuable stuff on ya, huh?”

“...What?” Replied a confused Kiros.

“Shade, holy man! Hand it over or I'll stab it over!”
 
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M A L A K A T H

"Jensen," he tugged down the scarf that covered his nose and mouth, throwing a grin that showed off his dimples her way, then pattered the thick neck of the green-scaled dragon. "And this is Vaelthor," the dragon's slitted eyes flicked once in the other pairs direction before returning to the scuttling creatures below. Jensen could feel the dragons urge to set the whole lot of them alight; they were foreign and thus an enemy in his mind. Her follow up answered the first question he had wanted to ask. It had been a while since he had been to the Capital and limited news had arrived before the Eclipse; he had no idea whether this was happening there too.

He shook his head at her query.

"It's the same all along the coast - those creatures down there," he clarified nodding towards the scuttling figures. "We flew up from the wall all along the Eastern coast. They're all dragging corpses in this direction," to feed... the island? He watched as a group of them hurled the carcass of the whale into the sea. They floundered for a moment as waves crashed over them, threatening to push them back to the shore, but they soon rallied and set off towards the floating anomaly with determined strokes.

"I sent word back for reinforcements, they should be here within the hour. I have a feeling we don't want whatever that is reaching land though."

 
Iuk-'u Delta:

The warmth had faded some time ago which was what gave enough cause for him to stir. On the cusp of dreams and reality, floating through the blue hues before waking up, he felt he was close to home, wherever it was. The sense left him the moment he opened his eyes, suddenly aware of how constricted her felt, wrapped in a cocoon that was as gristly as it was chewy. Chewy? His hand reached out, touching smooth and lumpy flesh. His palm quickly became greasy, saturated with fat.

He was reminded of entrails and there was a pang that soon followed in his gut. He was hungry. It had been a long time since he had eaten, he could feel it although he could not remember when he had eaten last. His mind was a slurry of vague knowing, fuzzy images, and half-formed thoughts. The only thing that came through, clear and him was his name.

Cynefin.” He whispered through his dry, cracked lips that began to bleed. He brought his oily hand and fingers to soothe his lower lip, soon coating his upper lip. He knew that word was correct, a name— his name. Other words came to mind, as he went back to feeling what engulfed him. He knew they belonged to food, could remember the texture on his tongue. Tuktu. Strong and firm, too fibrous, smelled metallic and bitter, too. Muktuk. Smooth, strong, oily. Like what he had touched. He rolled over, hunger taking over his waking mind, making the questions of where he was, what was this place, all forgotten.

Inhaling through his mouth, Cynefin opened his mouth wide and bit into the leathery flesh, his sharp teeth latching on but unable to slice through easily. He bit again, starting to move onto his hands and knees so he could pull his head back. By Shaevwa’s blinding light, he was starving. Had he ever been this ravenous? A thick, tacky film that held a sweet nuttiness layered itself over his tongue, his teeth, the inside of his cheeks. He squirmed, using the last of his strength to struggle and feast.

Markus Glorphain
 
The Cortosi Coast - aboard the V.A.S. Relentless

Ivan and the rest of the crew merely looked on as the wreck of the ship they'd gone to save slowly sank into the dark waters of Socorro Bay.

Once again, in a day packed full of unpleasant surprises, that was, unfortunately, not all. In every direction around them, ships were being attacked indiscriminately, either vaporized by the creature's long-reaching tentacles, or swarmed by hordes of silver-coloured beasts.

There was no point in going forward. It was clear that the creature - whatever it was - was too large, and too far-reaching to fight effectively from any one place in the fringes. If they did want to be rid of it, then they'd need to fight it at its heart... which meant having to take some drastic measures...

- "Can the Fearless see us from here?" - He asked one of the sailors. That ship, the closest Anirian vessel to them, though still a long way off, emerged in-and-out of sight between the tidal waves that washed over them all.

- "Uhhh, yes? I think so?" - One of the sailors closest to him replied, still somewhat unsure whether he should answer to the seemingly over-eager initiate.

- "Good." - Ivan cut him off, before the man could have even thought of something else to say. - "Signal them. We're going against the beast." -

The man very clearly almost stopped breathing.

- "We are?!" -

- "Yes." - He said, noticing a big part of the crew had stopped what they were doing at the mentioned of fighting. The look on their faces was rather obvious: "Who the fuck does this kid thinks he is?"

- "YES!" - He repeated, loud enough for all to hear. - "Look around, men! Every ship that tried to flee or outrace this beast has been battered into oblivion." -

He looked at them, sweeping the deck of the Relentless with his frosty ice-grey gaze.

- "Are you really so eager to become crab food?" - He asked rhetorically.

- "Know, that if you run, you will die like those you see just beyond your deck." - He raised his tone. - "But if you fight, you might just live to see the Sun shine again!" - He scoffed, a sneer directed at the beast, more so than at his own men. - "This beast." - He said, contemptuously. - "is nothing more than flesh and bones; it bleeds the same as you or I." - A pause followed, during which Ivan swept the deck once again with his gaze. - "And if it bleeds, it can be killed!" -

He then hoisted himself up with a rope, so that he could face the entire deck from a heightened position.

- "Men! Sailors! Anirians! Do not cower before this enemy, for it knows of our fears and will strike upon them, if we let it." - He raised his tone even more, his voice thundering loudly over the crashing waves. - "You are the soldiers of Aniria, and come what may out of those dark waters, you will stand your ground!" -

At this, the crew erupted in cheers, seemingly ready to undertake the gargantuan task at hand.

Ivan, fully self-satisfied with the outcome he'd achieved, then ordered the sailors to signal the Fearless that they were going to advance.

That was when he finally noticed the stowaway that had seemingly materialised on-deck. At first glance, Ivan realised the man didn't belong there, though he hadn't seen him climb onboard. Who on Arethil was he, and how long had he been there? Had he just climbed up aboard, or had he been there for the whole speech?

- "Who the fuck are you?" - He asked Edward Lorain.

He soon shook his head however. It didn't matter. The man wasn't a flesh-eating crab, and that was good enough for him.

- "Pick up a sword, if you will, Master Cortosi." - Ivan told him, still completely unaware whether or not the stowaway was actually from Cortos. - "Or a rope, if you can't handle a weapon, but in any case make yourself ready. We have a beast to slay." -

Edward Lorain Dingo