Mists of Daven, Part III

Mists of Daven, Part III

The dwarf muttered a foul curse under his breath as the vessel heaved again, spilling ink all over the parchment. Realizing the futility, he abandoned his efforts and packed away his belongings to wait for a better time. Next to him, looking distinctly queasy, sat Karl von Lanburg, son of the Driddaren marshal who had arranged this journey for them. On land, the younger von Lanburg had something of his father's hard stare and self-possession. On water, however, he had paled quickly and was still searching for his sea-legs.

In this, Brokk thought with some amusement, the boy was doomed to failure, for they were not even on the ocean, open or not, merely traveling up the Great Daven Lake to the old town of Arden. Brokk was more surprised at Embla, laid completely low by seasickness within the first day of setting sail. It was a curious condition for one so otherwise hardy to be vulnerable to, he thought, although it had at least let him ask one of his oldest questions - how had she coped on her original journey, for had she not crossed over from Eruna on a Budum-Ishian merchantman or a barque of Selfhaven?

"Of course not!" Embla had replied. "I left to find truth, not to miss the three occupied realms."

Brokk had wondered at this, as ever finding more questions in the answer, for if Embla had not sailed the Gulf of Gor or the Lonely Sea, then she must have walked to Zeland, where she met with Aidan and saved his life. But that would mean she had to cross more than just the Deadlands, but taken the Pass of Doom from the Wintervale itself even to reach them. He shook his head, a little disbelievingly. He could barely reconcile everything he knew of her with the idea that she had somehow managed to either avoid detection all the way through that accursed land, or keep from trying to slaughter its every inhabitant.

His musings were interrupted by another surging wave threatening to capsize the ship. Unconsciously, he shifted his weight to match the rolling of the boards beneath his feet, barely moving from where he stood though the unfortunate Karl was nearly hurled across the cabin. It was a rare dwarf who had sea-legs, but Brokk had lived long enough to appreciate the value of skills most never knew existed. True, his thoughts had been thrown off-balance, but by the fact of the storm, not its actions on the normally-placed lake.

"There is something decidedly unnatural about this," he concluded unhappily. "Karl, I'm going to check on the others. Try not to die in the meantime."

A nauseous moan of self-pity was the youth's only response to this.

Meanwhile, on the deck, Aidan fought to master the mizzen sail, the winds threatening to unfurl it once more. At last, he got it under control and breathed a sigh of relief as the ship's frightened bucking began to settle, and he patted its hull affectionately, a superstition he had picked up quickly from the sailors. Some had already fled down below, no doubt fearing the captain's wrath less than that of the elements.

Even as their efforts seemed to pay off, the storm intensified and Aidan's good humor waned with the deepening darkness. The spraying waves slashed Aidan's eyes like knives. The paladin squinted into the storm, bracing his legs against the heaving deck.

"We'll be lucky to weather this storm in one piece," he bellowed to the hard-eyed halfling maiden who now clung to the rail nearby, more for his benefit than hers, unsure if she could even hear him over the growing roar of the waves. "Still, with the grace of Reeanan on our side, we should...make...port..."

His words trailed off as he caught sight of the unusual movement. He watched, horror-struck, as a bloated pair of sickly hands rose from the churning waters, impossibly gripping the smooth hull and heaving their owner upwards. It was a pallid thing, waterlogged and with a green luminescence grinning out from lifeless eyes. Aidan fell back instinctively as the gruesome horror crawled onto the deck, brackish water spilling from its mouth. An eel slithered behind its teeth, snapping angrily at the air, then wriggled loose and fell back into the water.

"Abatadh," screamed the paladin in his native speech, rising terror momentarily causing him to forget any other. "Drowned Dead! The storm is the least of our problems now!"


Always knew I needed to include that blurb of yours SOMEWHERE, Farland. How's that for an opener?

HA! I think that's awesome. This was a pleasant surprise to see this morning.

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