A Crimson Shore 32.5 The War Ahead

Of all the ships that survived that day, none held fewer living men and women than Genoran’s flagship.The prince’s vessel was immediately reinforced with the freed Celns and with the increased manpower, it made it’s way out of the inlet, followed by the rest.
Thousands survived the battle thanks to Iricah’s team and Thrak’s unconventional friends.  Many were lost in the escape, and many more when the Sassers turned to engage them or when the large Sasser ship fired upon them from the skies. Yet, the numbers of enslaved Celns, and island folk were so vast, that even then, the ships were still full of men and women.Of lizardfolk, and elves. Of arakokra, the bird men, of other halves. They were starved, but they were alive, and more importantly than perhaps even being alive, they were still free of the Host!

It was a joyous moment, a profound moment for all there. One didn’t need to be a Celn to appreciate the victory, only to see that a larger force had been taken down by a smaller one.  A more ambitious one. One didn’t need to be told what the Sassers were, for any who had been there, knew. Evil, incarnate. And one didn’t need to champion the Celn cause to cheer for the Celns that day.  One only needed to believe in the freedom of the soul. The freedom of all folk, half or whole. It didn’t matter.

And as the rumors flew faster than the punches in a bar fight, it became more and more obvious to all who had been there to see it, that it wasn’t just thanks to luck, or Celn might.  It wasn’t even the power of the Flame’s radiance that won the day although none dared say that, even after such an ordeal as they’d been through.  It was a few pirates from the isles. Those now known as the Lords of Three Harbors. That was what had won the day. And all knew it.

“I heard they’d save the king once in Silver Shore, they did!” Told a man to another while the ships cleared the bay. The inlet wasn’t safe from the demons that lurked around the caldera. The ship captains, chosen by rank quickly through messaging ship to ship, made a beeline for a rendezvous point in deeper water. Chasing Genoran’s ship, they found a strong wind, as though it come to their aid at just the right moment. The magnificence of being on the sea once more, with the wind in the sails, put many a grin on a skinny face. Genoran’s ship had packed extra wares for the men. He had figured there would be need of heavy rations should they win the day, and he was right. He made sure that included a few hundred cases of Dying God ale.

“Aye! They did! And did you know that the one they call The Archaeologist once was betrothed to Genoran himself!” The man now had drawn a crowd, and the crowd now had ale, flown in on griffon back to celebrate the victory of the living and mourn those that were no longer among them.

“What?” replied another. “He’s never taken to wife. What do you mean betrothed?”

“And she be the reason lad! Do ye not know why the tight legged lad sails on a ship without a name?”

“I heard it was on account of a superstition!” Pointed out another.

“Aye, a superstition alright!  He’s never named the ship for he’d have named it after her! But he couldn’t name it after a woman who’d left him as sure as the sun leaves us each day! So it’s gone with out a name these many years!”

“Well what about that great lizard? The one with the head piece and the gleaming axes?”

“I heard he took on a whole army of his kin. Fought for a fortnight. Until there wasn’t a single one left. Took the headpiece for himself with not a soul left to stop him. Stood atop the bodies of his enemies, drank their blood.”

“He’s a savage he is.”

“Aye, just look at him.”

“And the man with the walking stick, the monk. What be his story?”

“I know not, but the rumor is he’s the reason they all made it in the first place. A single punch stopped the giant dead in it’s tracks. One punch lads!”

“And the cleric? The one they call Frank? Is it true he fought the beast under Far Realm?”

“Aye! I saw him at the wheel. He roused the entire force. He’s a vessel for the mighty Flame. A wellspring of might he is!”

The rumors flew, and the ale flowed. And although the men and women around them spoke in hushed whispers, Iricah and the others knew they were talking about what had happened. About them. They felt something change. A strength grew in her she had never felt before. Frank pulled up a barrel as was his custom, and stared at her, but did not say anything. No one had gone belowdecks, but most were busying themselves with various tasks.

“You feel it too?” She asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“What do we call this, Frank?”

“We call it power, Iricah. We call it energy, might, whatever name you give it, it resides in you now. In me. It is a gift.”

“It’s not a gift if you can’t say no.”

“Would you really want to?”

“I don’t know. I just feel like it comes with an obligation.”

“An obligation for what?”

“To be something. To be something more than I am.”

“What you are is what you do Iricah. Nothing more, nothing less.”

 

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