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The Solitaire Crow - Ivinia - 4

4 The Haonic Ocean

Hark, it is new and midsummer's morn -
And on the shores of endless day,
On the land which tells us so,
Now is the time when the sunlight lands.
Ivinia is bright and fresh, the peak
Crest fallen, with winter and spring behind.
O the fine ocean, please hear my prayer:
Captivate me with the afternoon to morning light,
Ever westward until day is one in a eternal sky
And there I shall worship the one sun,
Never more to sleep again on Kethira's side.
Written between the leaves of a Sarajin tome, 455 TR

It was almost the beginning of the long day, the day of never ending days. For almost a month, the sun would never set – and in fact the first day where evening twilight and morning twilight merged, was a festival for many of the worshipers in the north towards Sarajin. It was not a religious festival, exactly, and perhaps it was merged in through some local goddess, a ritual that only had significance for the few people. But it made its way in to folklore, and was celebrated by whaling ships who were out that time, as well as others who were working – so to give thanks. There was an uneasy red light in parts of the sea, and some view Mariners took it as a slain Pradeyalkri, trying to tip over the world, and challenge Sarajin to a fight. A few dwellers of dry land, whispered softly that Naveh would gather his forces on the longest of nights, just to prove that they – unlike Morgath – could operate at any time of the year, because they were not bound by darkness. After all, even when the sun is up, people need to sleep, except those who pray upon them. And these Naveh calls to his flock.

In his own mind, Morgath wanted to be the only God, Naveh wishes to serve the needs that god and goddess will not supply, and Agrik wants to have all of the other gods behind in his legion. Which is why most people serve the Ljarl – the code of Sarajin – in the north. Even here, the evil gods have their power, and those who serve them. Especially Morgath, who probably has sent the black oak Dak to pounce on them, when the first dark of autumn dons upon them.

It had been several days, and the last Island of Hutheng's cluster had fallen behind the horizon. Now, there was only see until the whaling islands rested over the brink of the world. Most people did not know that they exist, only a few who would look for baleen whales. Most when North, where a view hundred them around the Yarli inhabited lands. There was of course a fight between the Ivinians and the Yarli, especially because originally the Yarli populated much of what was now in the Norsemen's grasp. Their was much bad blood between them. Especially because the older people would not worship Sarajin, nor did they worship anything resembling the ancient ones – the Pradeyakri who would never serve Sarajin - instead they worshiped the gods of the dwarven gods, or at least as much as they understood.

The Watcher glanced out at the reddening sun, and thought that tomorrow night or the next would be the beginning of the transfixed night. And he, which was a personal tradition, would stay up all night, and remember the last year and fix to memory the most important days. This year, aside from this boat taking him along, their were few days of interest. It is not been particularly memorable year. But it had been cold, and on this eerie just barely twilight, the frost was even reaching through his fur. But he would Remember it in every detail, because it was not often he was aboard a ship, and even such bitter cold as this would be something he would tell all of the children in his little town. Because he knew that his adventuring days were numbered.

Out of his mouth came what sounded like a sigh, it was only rarely did he reflect on the time when he would not see the ocean, nor feel the white washes which well in the wake of any ship, or note the time when he was truly on board the ocean, as opposed to a bay which surrounded him. All of this would be gone, unless he was taken by Sarajin and wrapped into the ships which would take him to Talagaad – heaven for the worshipers of the Norse god.

On his tunic, he flipped the hatchet which he stored, reminding him of all the times when this was the only thing that protected him, and their had been a few times in the last year. He remembered all of them in a surge of reminiscence. Even in a year which was dull, he managed a few close shaves. If he was asked, he would say that such instances were normal – did not everyone have the? But deep in his heart, he knew that not to be the case. Instead standing out to the bow, and risking his life, was part and parcel of who he was.

Then he spun about, to see who was on deck. It was the captain and to of his henchmen, and towards the right of the ship – Green was taking a view measurements, with a contraption that he had never seen before. So he set his course for the Sindarin, if nothing else than to have someone to talk to, and perhaps to reveal some clues as to where the other elf was.

Gathering himself together, because he was taller than Green, he cleared his throat to begin. But the elf turned his back on him – as if there was nothing that he wished to talk about. This angered the Watcher, and raised his voice, and said:

“What have I done to disturb you?”

The Sindarin turned and faced the Watcher, and took two steps forward – getting his face in human's. Then he whispered: “Something that I do not know if you have done, but I will not believe you if you deny it.”

Unconsciously, the tone was ratcheted down, and they were both whispering. “And what is that?”

“You worship the wrong god.”

“And which god is that?”

The elf was torn up by this, obviously it had been on his mind, probably from the instant he first laid eyes on him.

“The same god as the captain worships – Naveh. The god that uses a skull.”

He stopped – the Watcher that is – and thought about how the elf knight had arrived at this conclusion. “That is wrong.” He realized at once, that supernatural beings of Morgath had been occupying his time, so that mere natural ones of other evil gods had not bothered him in the least. Because Naveh deigned two use humans, rather than those that were once human, but had moved on. 

Thus, he saw the ship, but not the Captain of his own boat. He hoped that would convince Green.
Suddenly, one of the captains on men was behind the elf, and there was no way the Watcher could do anything about it. But the elf could, twisting himself down, and punching into the Captain's man - which reacted quite violently to the blow. In fact, the captain's man was spent - and that gave the Watcher time to handle his hatchet, and pushed his aggressor over the side of the gunwale. All at once things got out of hand. Both the human and the elf were gasping short breaths, and scanning which way there next move was.

There was a loud braying, which sounded a bit like a drum. Then the oars, which had been moving quite steadily, stopped. The Watcher then wondered why they had been moving, because was not it strange? Then there was fighting beneath the ship, obviously not all of the rowers were supplicants of Naveh, but many of them were. Gradually, some of the rowers came up to the deck, and they heard the captain – speaking there own language – giving orders. It seemed like Green and the Watcher were going to be annihilated, at least 10 of the rowers would be immediately on top of them.

One of the rowers, the man who spoke some of the language, that the Watcher had conversed with, was up on deck and had a magic form of blue around him. And with its release from his hands, seven or eight of the rest of the rowers were down on the deck, and they could not move. He had suspected something about that particular rower, and it only vaguely surprised him that he was a spell caster. Once that had been shown, it fit with the other details of his personality. The forehead was noble, his eyes more erect – it was now that it had been pointed out. The elf raised past him, a rambunctious bit of speed which the Watcher could not duplicate – it was that Green was faster than even in elf of martial prowess was.

But before the Watcher could move, the Captain was upon him, and had a sword out, though he did not know from where. Then he felt in his mid section a sharp pain, which was clearly the sword puncturing through all of the furs and leather. A normal person would have gone down, but the Watcher stood there, and chopped his hatchet across the neck – almost decapitating the Captain's throat.

Then it was over, because this was not a Viking ship, and the crew was largely untrained. They also were surprised by the ferocity of the rowers, though many of them had died, many of them were healed by the black rower, who had obviously been biding his time for something like this. A quick glance had told him that four of the crew were close to the captain, and were probably Naveh worshipers as well. They had all been sliced by Green, who was remarkably quick. Then the Watcher went below, and saw that a large number of the rowers were dead, and were dead by a remarkably long sword, almost all humans would have to use it with two hands. But he did not see who had used it.

“Turn around, I can hear what you are thinking inside your head.” With that, he turned around, and saw a very tall female elf – the very one who cast her face in front of the black oak merchant ship. Her face glowed with a white luminescence. “It seems you have much to tell us, because we thought you were like the captain, and about half of the rowers, and almost all of the crew. Please forgive us, because we thought you would be among them. You also found one who divined miracles, so that is also to your credit.”

“Please sit down after we clean up the ship. It is that we have been working at different angles, when we should be working together.” though there was no flourish to his actions, there was a sense, remotely, that he had been trained in the finer details of etiquette, though it was a long time ago, and he did not remember much about it.

So, with that, they started dumping over the dead – giving all a prayer for their forgiveness. He also proved very slowly on his stab wound, and the black cleric – worshiper of Peoni as it turns out – looked at it, and cast a minor healing on it. Then he introduced himself, but the Watcher could not make out his name, so he called him Ebasethe – a priest of Peoni.

It had been an interesting day into day, and although he would have to listen to each one of them, and learn what they had to say – it was they wanted to learn from him, as well. Thus, he would tell them the truth as he understood it, because even while they were divided by different gods, they were united by other things. Which is not something that he ever thought about, because he rarely ever met people worshiping other gods.

The sun dipped below the rim of the sky, and then came up again – barely entering twilight at all – when the crew gathered together. There were about one third of the rowers, the priest of Peoni, the two elves, and the Watcher. Most of the Ivinians were dead. In the scarlet color of the morning twilight, the sail was almost orange, and though it was not magical, there was something to it which was like the bird singing for a worm. And everyone sat down near the keel, with only the Commander standing up and took charge of the meeting.

“All of you who are alive, greetings. The force of Naveh, who gathered together on their secret place in Pelyn – that is the large town before we picked up this man.” Pointing to the Watcher, “and combined with the rest of the crew, are dead. We had to take the chance that they would ambush us on the way to the Whaling Islands. It did not happen that way, but fortunately for us, we were stronger, though we did not know it at the time.” He was speaking slowly, enunciating carefully, and using small words – because he knew that each spoke his own version of a dialect. He knew that some of the rowers only spoke a few words of any language he could comprehend. Unfortunately, the only person who spoke there time was the Captain and the priest. So he had to allow Ebasethe to translate. This took a longer time than anyone but the Commander had appreciated.

As the proceedings carried on, the Watcher look around for the taller female elf. It was only gradually the he realized the she had been stand there all along, glowing dim with her distinct slightly off white aura. He then understood that the white aura and shadowy presence were one and the same: as single spell which closed over her, though how long it took to cast it was a mystery. In all probability, she had always been on the ship the whole time, but on the borders of it. Thus he had missed her, in the glamour. So had any other people, he assumed. But he would be more careful in future.
Finally the talking had gone on long enough, with a few questions put to the Commander. It was then decided to take a vote, would the boat continue to look for the Whaling islands, or go back. Though it was which way they were going to decide: forwards, because none of them wanted to know the depth of rage that the capital would hold. Because even they knew that it would be exquisite. So the hands were taken, even though it was a foregone conclusion. The Commander announced that the decision had been taken, and only a few did not wish to scurry forth. And the few who did not, were made aware of what a tiny share of votes that they had.

Every day at noon, the Watcher checked the sun. and every day, or close to it, he had seen the will crest – and usually peaked out of the ocean, either in full or mostly full. This is how he knew they were on the right track.

Then, as before, the dragon ship slipped in to a routine – and for the next 30 days it trek on under the clear blue sky. But then the last day came, and a bit of twilight crept in. the food was running short, and it became clear that if they did not see land, that a decision was going to have to be made. The tension was building for a week, and just as the Commander was going to hold a meeting, fortunately, from the top and of the sail a voice was heard, loudly and clearly.

“Land ho!”

Which was repeated in the Southern language below.

The oars pulled harder, because now there was something to pull for. For none of the people, save the watchmen, had ever seen this land before. It was a gray green sort of place, with a tip of white and gray, some distance from the ground. It would take a day to reach it, and everyone was talking about it – and all the measurements that had been taking.

Than when the Watcher was down below, Green took him aside and said: “ until today I did not really expect to see land.”

“Is that you did not think he was here, or that I would lead to a stray?” Answered the Watcher.

“I think we both know the answer to that, but that is passed and forgotten. You have a friend in me – and I think there is more ahead.” Smirked the knight.

“Oh, there is definitely more had – because what is coming forward, will be the heart of the tale. Remember, my presence here was just too get you to the islands, which is a trivial thing.”

“Yes, I have heard just a fraction of what the Commander and the elf who is known as Loria our planning.” obviously, there was a circle within a circle, and Green was not in the inner circle.
“That is the first time that you have mentioned her name. And you have not mentioned yours at all.”
“She did not want it, until I was sure of which side you were on. Mine is Lalorian, but no one calls me that. Green is just fine with me, I have grown used to it.”

Meaning that it was time, which the Watcher noted. He whispered his name into Green's ear. At least the elves extended trust, eventually, so he should do the same to them.

What is more, it is more than can be said of the Commander, who still had not mentioned his name. And, suspected the watchmen, he was not going to do that for a very long time, if ever. Which indicated to the Watcher, that there was a secret which no one knew, and would be revealed only with his true name. Which was interesting, to say the least.

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