Galline’s pride arrived at the Southern Bay of First Isle. Fritz gazed out in the night at the very place he had first come upon these new lands, many years ago and sighed. He walked over to the others and sat down.
“M’lord, it’s the last of the ale.” Kassim, one of the men whom the party had saved in the hag’s lair said matter of factly. All eyes turned towards Tuatha. He looked down at his lyre and smiled innocently.
The ale is all but gone, she said
Twas all the better for my head..
Fritz stopped listening though. Some of the sailors might disagree, but in the morning he would send off these men and this woman to what might be their deaths. He himself, might be going off to his as well. He had bigger things to worry about then the ale.
“Here, take this map, my friends,” said the Commander, Fritz. “It’s the best we’ve got.” Fritz picked up the lantern they often used on a crate in the center of the seating area and put it on the deck. He spread the map out on the makeshift table.
Frank, the cleric, had awoken from his jungle fever a day earlier while they were out at sea. He seemed back to his old self. Thanks to Carpatchian, Frank had been given privacy in his personal quarters while he suffered from the sickness. His skin had darkened and the horns which often sprung from his head when he brought forth his divine magics had erupted in painful swellings from his forehead. Luckily however, this was kept from the others. He looked paler, but thankfully normal, Celn-like. Children of Ket do not stay aboard Celn ships long.
Frank took the map, and asked, “Is this the place where we are headed?” He was pointing to a small circle drawn near the north east corner of the island.
“Yes,” said Fritz. He smoothed out the parchment and noted certain things written or drawn on it. There were pictures of incredible creatures, the likes of which they had never seen before, or imagined. “But do not underestimate getting there. It has been many years since we were there.” He glanced at the others and began to tell them the information they had waited to hear.
“Ulua’s tribe for many years sought the item The Seeker wanted. In the Kasillian fortress, we found it. Ultimately we returned it to him. But not by choice.” Here he paused and in a rare emotional state, he sighed. “He took it from us.”
“Him?” said the rogue.
“Yes, Areia, the Seeker, Abraxas as he is also known to us, is a him. And he, is a wyrm. Not one of the lame and stupid beasts we fear in the wilds. He is one of the ancients, just as the one our lord slew himself; This one we have encountered here in the isles. He is powerful, and his motivations are not fully known to us. For this reason, and others, are you sworn to secrecy on behalf of the good King, my master, Borindin himself. So swear you.”
Fritz paused allowing them time to digest his words. He knew this prideful lot of former pirates would not be “swearing” on behalf of the king. Some of them, perhaps, not for any amount of gold, but still, his words were as serious as can be, and he let them sink in.
“Are you saying that an ancient of Kasille is alive and present among us? Are you saying Commander Fritz, Order of Iron, of the Flame’s Holy Doctrine, that the Liberation Scroll contains a falsified account of our history? This is blasphemy is it not? Why would this be so? What does he want?”
Fritz turned to Frank and put his hand upon his shoulder. “I think we both know, my Lighted friend, that broader secrets exist in this world. One does not need to trust to every word of our holy writ, to know the divine right of calling forth our goodly power, a power collected by a Lighted society of goodly people, doing what is right for the sake of us all.”
Again, Fritz, let his words sink in.
“We do not fully know what this entity wants, but we do not fully trust him either, he has …killed…some of our number.”
Areia thought to the encounter in Basel’s “apartment” all those days ago. To the young hooded figure who had interrogated her in her sleep. Of the young boy whom she had seen throw herself in front of Fritz, saving his life. Her world was growing large. So large it was becoming hard to comprehend.
Fritz continued, “The Seeker wanted something. He sought it for his own purpose, and what more he may want, we know not.”
“But what is this item?” asked the mage.
“We know it to be a… light.” There was almost an involuntary let down as the others around him relaxed from their chair. Thrak was hoping it might be a magnificent axe, shaped from the scales of a mighty creature of legend. “That is all, just a simple lanthorn.” Fritz placed his hand upon the lantern in the middle of their seating area. They all looked down at it from their perches on netting, and barrels.
“And why in the Ketian night would this Seeker want a…lantern? And just who in the Darkness is the Seeker?” asked Frank.
“The Seeker appeared to us on our trip west from Cillandar, the first voyage as you have heard the tales of. He came to us as a young boy. He warned us of danger, saved us in fact from the Sasserines, and their slave ships when we first came into the Southern Bay on First Isle. We know not what the light does, or is, but we know it is a powerful Kasillian artifact. And we know something else. There are other lights. We believe in fact, seven.”
The mage thought carefully about this. This was pure foolishness and yet he thought of the imagery he had seen from the Pockens cards and Canton’s revelation, or The Ballad of Light and Darkness. “I myself, have seen another. In the hands of one of the Lords of Alpha herself, Mesilla, The Witch.”
To the mage, this was like a foreign language. “So he is an ally?” asked Andril.
“No, the Seeker is no ally!” yelled Ulua. She had been staring out to sea, but now, she looked around at them, her eyes filled with tears.
“We came to first isle from Cillandar. It was the first voyage west. We landed in the bay in which you will see once you hike to the summit of the Ata’aun plain. We were set upon by the Ata’aun enemy, the sahaugin and came to the tribe to seek shelter. But while there, we discovered a secret. The tribe was keeping slaves themselves, Sasser colonists. We freed them and attempted to escape to the north of the isle where they had a ship left at anchor. And that is when we came upon Enceladus.”
“Enceladus?” asked Areia.
“This is what one of our number called it, deciphering the inscriptions. We battled monster and beast to get there. And found the doors opened for us, in a way that made no sense. The statues on the monuments were of us!”
The party took that in, remembering the statues outside Canton’s palace.
“We entered the structure and found that this entire island, much like Cillandar, was once a Kasillian city, or fortress. Inside, the Kasillians seemed to be making weapons, unlike any we have seen before. The innermost portion however, remained closed to us. Despite our attempts to open it, we could not. But we were obviously not the first to try.”
“Through the bowels of that fortress we crawled, until we escaped, and were found by another of the King’s ships. Here on the backside, I have marked for you all I know, and I can only trust it will get you through. We had not seen nor heard from The Seeker since the day he attacked us, and took the light from my hands.”
“And this is where we are going, this is where you are sending us?” Laughed Haryk. “I should have asked for more gold!”
Fritz, bowing his head, spoke resolutely looking at each of them in turn, “I do not care to send fighters such as you into that which I myself cannot go. All I can say is that we both have a fight on our hands, and if my assisting you was of help or I was not needed elsewhere for the sake of my lord, you would have the service of my blade. More gold you may be given, should you open what we could not, and bring us news of what is inside it’s likeness, beneath Far Realm.” Began the Paladin. “But more gold will not help you remain alive to do that. For that, I must give you more help.” He then looked at the first mate.
“They are awake m’lord, and both have asked to go,” said Bones, “Just as you said they would.”