The sun was setting now. The line of ships opposite their fleet seemed like nothing more than sea gulls resting on the water’s surface far out to sea. There was a blast and a large splash somewhere out in the ocean.
A lookout called from the crow’s nest above them. His voice high on the wind, “No where in range yet Your Majesty. Just a scouting spray!”
Garondin, tall as a mast himself, and with the King’s look, unmistakable, royal stood before them. he zipped his scope away, and looked at each of them. “Good,” he smiled. “Then we have a moment or two to get acquainted.” He offered a hand to Areia. “Unfortunately, Madam, we are unable to host you to the level of which your service to the crown deserves. “Governor Canton tells me you took the quest which my father set forward for you some 10 years hence. How you came to still be alive, is quite the story I am sure!” Garondin called for drinks, “The Best of the King’s Grapery for our Goodly Guests! I always enjoy a glass of red before battle!” He placed his finger on the chart before them. “We are engaged you see, or will be sometime before dawn. The Sar’asins do not fight like we do. We have the best current so we will let the Sar’asin bastards come to us. My father and I intend to make them pay for what they did to Silvershore.”
He chuckled, “It will be a much more interesting tale I am sure to be told!”
“M’Lord?” asked Frank. “What tale?”
“Well, you see the tale of your demise has apparently been greatly exaggerated.”
“How’s that?” quipped Areia, “Someone starting a rumor we were dead?”
Areia put her arm around Sillanius and he put his around hers. “Mother, you must understand that I thought you dead. You see, the bard’s tale was…and Master Andril, Lord Haryk you see they confirmed the…”
“Fear not, Mistress Areia. Cellinor owes you a debt of gratitude I am sure. My brother has long sought information about Enceladus. Your service to us will be of value to the entire realm. A debt for which I must pay, even at the loss of a ship. We will get you back to Areia’s Landing or Far Realm, or any island colony you desire to be put into, and upon my return we will sort out of the business of Governor Tuatha’s claim.”
Areia and Thrak mouthed the words at the same time Governor Tuatha!
“My Lord, we cannot simply release a ship! We are outnumbered, we need every ship we have, and every sailor to steer them by!”
“We may not be able to afford letting this ship go, Lord Canton. Besides, I came all the way out to the colonies for some adventure! I’d say it’s high time we had some, don’t you? My friends, we are engaged but have a reprieve I think of a few hours. Go belowdecks, and eat a good Celn meal. We will prepare a ship to take you back and please forgive me but your information is valuable to me, so I will send my personal scribe and mage Hyperion to you to take details of your discovery, once you are ready.”
“Don’t dally, you have a friend who has long waited to see you. If I am not mistaken, his story of how you were lost suddenly became more interesting.”
“What friend?” asked Iricah.
“He’s a beast of a man, but a great warrior. Name’s Marcus!”
“Marcus!” Areia yelled. “Damn that feral beast to Ket!”
None could speak. This was nearly too much to take in. The ships bobbing in the sea all around them like giant seabirds about to wing. The commotion and hustle of the sailors preparing the cannon, the projectiles. And there, the island of dread, First Isle in the backdrop.
“Out of the dragon’s teeth and into the witch’s cauldron?” said Thrak.
“Master Thrak,” laughed Frank, “You get smarter and smarter.”
Later that night they finally heard the Bard’s tale. It wasn’t until a few rounds of good ale that anyone had the heart to tell them that certain ballads sung by a noble bard can be notarized and are acceptable as official writ for the sale and deed holding of lands.
Thrak listened to the song holding both axes.
Along by the shores of dread
an isle of unfathomable fear
Where none return, but all feared dead
Listen and bend me your ear.
My friends of Far Realm sailed with me
Proudly, they accepted their charge.
Forward they went, step by step with me,
To the shores of adventure they marched.
Galantly they fought the abominable tree.
a beast come alive from a dream,
Near death, I was glad I could aid my good friends,
Through the mud, my good Frank, I pulled thee!
(Here, Tuatha always shows himself pulling Frank out of the plant’s pod)
Alas, they were but lads, this island of terror
would take their lighted soul without aid.
Caution told me I should come back to the ship,
But how could I leave them, these urchins, this maid?
I followed these souls for I knew the islands true.
Deep into the jungle they crept and they hacked.
But when they lost their way, I had choices of two
To find their poor selves or carry myself back.
“The brave must stand brave, the bold must be bold”
I told myself time and again.
Onwards I wandered, fighting foe after foe,
and I found them, near to their end.
Those natives, so vile, so cunning and cruel
Had caught them and caged their sad souls.
When I found them tied up, with neither weapon nor tool
I knew for my friends to the end I would go.
So I summoned my courage and stood
while the demons I fought hand to hand
until not one was left on it’s feet
and their blood did make red the sand.
“Follow me my dear friends!” I wailed to the throng
through bamble and beast I did tear
For in such a place no Celn did belong,
nor escape for my brave friends to dare.
Hark! I had led them to where they were safe.
So I told my friends true to stay strong.
But then did I see the disease on their face,
and I knew for my friends they’d be gone.
“Tuatha,” quoth they, “you’ve brought us back to the light
For no goodly Celn should ever die in such a place.”
And with their last breath, did I give them my word,
that I’d sing of the Celn pride on their face.
“Swear to us here, that you’ll keep our good lands,
And provide a good use for the king,
And swear to us here, and shake of our hands,”
And a seal they did seal with this ring!