Ulua took a seat with the others on the deck of Galline’s Pride. Her color was coming back to her, albeit slowly. She stared out at the sea. The others could only imagine what she had been through or how long she endured the coven’s ways. They had put out to sea, and would return in the morning to see Fritz’ ship off. Out here, beyond the coral reef, all was still and quiet. It was a humid night, and so little breeze blew across the sea that not a single halyard clip clinked against either of the masts or crossbeams.
All were silent, except of course for Tuatha who played a few Cillandrial tunes to warm up the passengers and crew. He sung a few verses of what could only be described as a terrible and patchwork version of their recent encounter with the coven. He had obviously heard it in chunks from various persons. It was altogether a far less realistic version of what was already a terrible and unbelievable set of circumstances. Thrak was portrayed as a fierce but misguided warrior “For he knew not the wisdom of man”. Ariea noted that once more, her poor origins became a central theme, “She struck out in anger, honed from a time once unclean.” Not surprisingly, Tuatha inserted himself into this remarkable tale and gave himself several parts that of course did not exist. They were all used to this kind of thing now, so they listened with tongue in cheek. Haryk listened, polishing his father’s weapon. As he made what he called “ammunition” he often held little round metal balls up in front of his face in the direction of Tuatha’s head. He closed one eye and would say “Boom”, then put the balls away in a pouch he wore on his hip. Andril simply used a magical cantrip to tie Tuatha’s shoelaces together. The ballad continued, but at least two verses caught the attention of the serious wizard.
Thus were the four as is told in yore
The heroes in battle, the three as before.
Thus did the victors return from their fall
Never so grand, never so small.
The warrior’s weapon did rest on the ground,
The table held secrets the dying god found
Great mother’s blood, as eagle to lark,
The trickster’s tool, the spark in the dark.
When Tuatha completed the last verses, Andril asked him,“What is the meaning of these lines, bard?” He closed his spellbook with a thud, and laid back against a barrel.
Tuatha laid his lyre aside, and brought an empty bottle of ale to his mouth. Oddly, he seemed to know it was empty and once near his lips, he simply set it back down once more. He looked at the others imploringly saying something about how ale helps the tongue tell the tales. He looked around at the others but nobody offered him a share of theirs. The captain had taken away Tuatha’s spirits rations for the duration of the voyage. He sighed and answered anyway. “I found the battle to be symbolic you see, Master Wizard. Of the End Days war.”
“The end days war?” Asked Thrak.
“Ah, my jungle friend. Perhaps, you’ve never heard our Celn myths.”
Thrak tried to explain further that he had heard some of them, but that he simply didn’t see the connection between the fight with the hags and the ancient destruction of the world. However, Tuatha simply began explaining to Andril. “During the end days war, the four heroes battled the three traitors. Many similarities existed in that contest to our own we’ve just endured.”
“Our own?” laughed Areia sharpening her newly acquired magical dagger. She looked down the blade in between swipes, holding it so that it pointed towards his face.
Tuatha blinked but tried his best not to look in her direction, or at her dagger. Andril asked, “Such as what things were similar?”
“Well, for starters, the traitors were all three females. The heroes, all men, except one that is. You all have heard me sing the Ballad of Light and Darkness of course, and you know the lines as all do. The weapon rests upon the ground, the warrior shall be duty bound.” He pointed to Thrak, who at that very moment was holding up a bloated human finger. The lizardman looked confused and put it back in his sack. “I watched, er, Thrak found his weapon upon the cave during the battle did he not?”
Andril nodded. “And?”
“Also, I found it interesting that you found a table with the witch’s vile notes atop it. For surely it is he who sees on the table scrolls of reeds. There is also a line in the ancient ballad of the trickster who provides the tool that gives a spark.” Here, he pointed to Andril, but then quickly dropped his hand for the mage was pointing a wand back at the bard, the tip of which was glowing fiercely red. “Finally,” finished the bard, looking at Areia “Great mother’s blood will play a part, her enemies fear a noble heart.”
Areia laughed out loud. “You great fool of a man, there is nothing noble about this heart.” She giggled some more and finished scribing her name into the deck plank next to where she was sitting.
Andril however wasn’t laughing. “You’ve made mistakes bard. In your translation. It is not as similar or symbolic as you say. First, the Ballad actually says that the dying god places scrolls of reeds. Not that he sees them. As Areia points out, there is nothing noble about her. And finally, Thrak is nor has ever been duty bound. It is an old Celn tale, nothing more.”
“Well I never said it wasn’t. But it is more than a Celn tale. Fragments exist of it in nearly every culture. The Ata’uhn for example have a creation myth that shares some of the same ideas. Is that not correct, Island Princess?”
“Yes. That is true,” spoke Ulua. “It also exists in other places. Words for example, as ideas, beyond languages exist as the same even in different places.”
“You are saying in these isles, you’ve heard words of The Ballad of Light and Darkness?” asked a sailor. He glanced at some of his friends sitting nearby. They seemed to think the idea was a bit humorous.
“Your ballad often ends with the line, For the Sake of All, Noble Celn. I have heard this in the presence of another not of our tribe and not of your lands.”
“Who?” asked Tuatha and Andril at the same time. Ulua stared at them long and hard. Finally, she stared out to the sea. “He calls himself the Seeker. He protects my people, for a price.”
“The Seeker?” Asked Areia, “You know of her?”
“Him,” said Ulua, “I know of him.” She turned her gaze to Areia, who had sat up quickly, eyes now glowing. “He calls himself, Abraxas, the ancient.” Ulua’s eyes burned deeply into Areia, until she looked away, and then Ulua turned them towards The Commander, Fritz.
“When did you meet The Seeker, rogue?” asked Fritz. He was smiling but far too serious for a conversation about ancient lore, myths and legends.