High in one of the south turrets in the glorious Golden Tower on Baalgor Island a man waits looking out at the sunset. He stands tall, at least a head above the average man. He is strong, yet his hair has silvered. He chants the words one more time to the wind:
“Whenever righteousness wanes or evils have increased
Send thyself forth to protect the good both quickened and deceased
Bring forth Evil’s destruction and cause Him to repay
For His debts and wrongs against the good, to repave thy righteous way.
Come forth into being! Make seen thy holy frame.
As has been done from age to age that all may know thy Name!”
A cold wind coming from the East whips around into the open window where he stands, blowing his long silvery hair back revealing his elven ears. The elf does not quiver or retreat from the cold. He seems unaffected by its bite. A closer look reveals a series of mystic sigils embedded into the skin of his cheeks. A long two-handed sword hangs at his side, covered with the same markings on his face. As the cold dissipates, a second man appears behind the elf.
‘’Why have you summoned me, Rune Bearer?" Asks the mysterious man who had appeared. This man stands as tall as the rune-weapon toting elf. His skin is an uncanny azure color. His hair is long and black with a bluish hue; it is tied back behind his head fanning out from a single tie, and draping over his muscular shoulders. A warrior’s bow and quiver of arrows are slung over his shoulder and across his chest. The arrows each are fletched with flights taken from a blue Aruda’s feathers. He has the face of a warrior with sharp chiseled features and broad chin. He wears an ivory colored war tunic trimmed with golden cord. The tunic has a high v-neck collar faceted with six golden toggles up the front, and open, upturned sleeves. His exposed muscles, all covered with his blue skin are strong and well defined. The whites of his eyes are not white at all; they are black as ebony. His irises flash like blood red rubies with a dot of black obsidian for pupils. They have the look of fierceness, but followed by a gentle concern.
The elven Living Rune Weapon turns around half surprised and half elated by the visitor. “It has been a long time, old friend.” The slender elf places both hands on his forehead and bows, bringing his hands away with up facing palms: a greeting of Avesta. “I did not believe you would come, he thought there was no need for you. But I feel there is an evil wind blowing in from the East.”
’’You see well the signs, my friend. Where is Isle-Wind these days? Does he still tread upon Regnum?" The blue visitor asked.
’’No, great Avadan, he sleeps at the moment. I carry him with me along with my own soul." The elf shows his guest the two rune weapons hanging from his belt: the elongated sword on one side, and a stone rune-flail on the other side. “I feel that he will return very soon it has been nearly two and ten years since he commissioned himself into my hands. He did not see the signs that I saw all those years ago.”
“You judge well, Rune-Bearer. Yet know, I cannot say much. Nevertheless, trust thy senses that they fail thee not.” Says Avadan. He continues inquisitively. “What would you have me do for you then?”
“I call upon you, old friend, to go with me into battle! Help me vanquish this evil, before it takes a firm root in Regnum destroying all that I—-we have built!” The elf exhorts his guest.
’’Azalon, it is true we once fought side by side ensuring peace upon this land. But in this epoch I stand only as a watchman. I have been called away from this war. I cannot help you fight. I am sorry, friend."
‘’You cannot fight? Or you will not to fight?" Azalon asks unable to hide the ire in his voice very well. ’’Why then do you still carry Ajuna’s bow? What constrains you from fighting?’’
“Azalon, as I have said, I cannot say much. But know that I would fight if I were released to fight.” The blue man says trying to calm his friend. “As I said, I am only a watchman now.” He adds hintingly looking side to side as if someone were spying on the conversation.
“Forgive my outburst, Avadan.” Azalon quickly changes tone. “I understand. If you cannot fight, then please be this watchman for me as well.” He too turns his eyes as if looking over his shoulder.
“But of course.” Avadan smiles. “What would you have me watch?”
“A friend and apprentice of sorts in this age, Tal’Kihmshahid, has entered the hibernation process as one of Regnum’s newest Living Rune Weapons. He told me of a unique boy and his quest. The boy was once the apprentice of my friend. Tal’Kihmshahid gave the boy a shard from the Holy Crystal Pillar. Follow this boy and the ones who he will call friends. He is nobody now, but he holds the seeds of greatness, if my old apprentice spoke true. Report to me what you find. Do not disclose your identity to them. Once free of my duties here in Baalgor I will come join you.”
“I can most surely do this task.” The blue archer says joyfully.
“Thank you, friend.”
With that salutation, the azure-skinned man springs towards the window passed the elf, and leaps through the opening. In the apex of his leap several feet in midair, his body transforms in the light of the moon into an blue beaked albatross with sapphire colored wing tips and tail feathers. He circles the tower twice, and then departs towards the West where the sun has just set.
The morning on the 9th of Vahishta the sky is clear, the sun is bright. A skyship rising from the sands below is escaping the heat coming from the desert in the south. It catches the updraft sea breeze blowing in from the north of the city of Galilee in Berkay. The golden sails of the skyship explode in full glory as they catch this refreshing ocean wind. The ship lurches forward and begins its two day journey to Ith-Mahal in the south, a cooperative city astride the borders between the Dwarven empire and Shirn nation. Flying near the keel is a blue-beaked sea bird drafting off the slipstream of the massive 400 foot air vessel. Though the bird’s wing span is an impressive eleven feet, it is a mere fleck of pepper on an entire feast for a hundred when compared against the backdrop of wood and pitch of the skyship’s hull. The ship’s stern bears the name Chaaya’s Quest.
The bird catches a gust of wind and rides it up past the main mast to find a perch among the uppermost rigging. From this point it can see everything happening onboard the ship. Unfortunately there is not much to be seen. The ship seems to be running on a skeleton crew at best. A stout Zaranceti stands at the helm.
“Tighten down those ropes! The sails need to capture all this power. I swear if we even lose a tenth of a cirque’s weight in wind on those sails, you’ll all lose the skins off your backs.” The Zaranceti barks. " I need more hands on deck! " With that command a brass bell rings without assistance of a bell pull or clapper; it simply resonates by its own device. ZONG! ZONG! Followed by the high pitched shrill of a seaman’s whistle. SHUWHEEE! SHU! SHU! SHUWHEEEE!
The rest of the crew hurries up the stairs leading from the lower deck. They look like a mouse’s thimbleful of ants on the vast deck of this ship. If stood side by side with out stretched arms it is debatable that they could even spread across the middle of the ship from starboard rail to port rail. They number fourteen men. The last to arrive on deck is a green skinned man wearing a feathered cloak, and toting a leather shoulder bag. He nearly slips on the last step of the stairs covered in a thin layer of condensation, not anticipating the change in humidity at this elevation. His clawed feet try to stay underneath his lanky thin body. He grabs the rope rail just before falling back down the rise of steps, catching his balance and composure.
“What in duzkah is that, boy?” Yells the hard-nosed Zaranceti from the helm.
“Boy?! I am nearly thirty years of age, SIR!” The green deckhand yells back, after scrambling to attention alongside the other thirteen men. The nearly thirty year old green man is of a race called Gosai. They are not a very strong race both physically and culturally. They own no kingdoms or empires here in their new world. For the past 10,000 years, they have mostly blended in with other societies and kingdoms. The Gosai mostly keep to themselves. They live in large family units or tribes. They no longer are confined to the desert as they were in their old world, but they have not left their traditions as nomads and wanderers. But this Gosai is different. He wears the clothes of one who is of society. He surrounds himself with members of other races, not members if his own tribe. In fact, this Gosai man knows very little of these traditions. And even if he did, his heart would not be there. But rather he forges a different destiny. You can hear it every once in awhile in the way he speaks or the way he looks at certain things that are new. He thirsts for status——-to be recognized. This sort of thinking could have been nurtured from his youth being trained as a wizard by a very unconventional, and forward thinking teacher. This boy was taught by the esteemed Kihnsed Tal’Kihmshahid, a Gosai as well, one that saw his people striving far below their current potential.
“Thirty? You think that makes you a man?! I have scars that have seen more years than you!” The Zaranceti rebukes.
“This may be true, and I doubt it not, Mr. Zanshariff. But one thing is more certain.” The Gosai said with a clever tone.
‘’And what could be more certain than my word, BOY?!’’ Mr. Zanshariff demanded.
“This ship barely can function on a crew of twenty people, let alone fourteen. If you feel that I am too much of a boy to help, by all means give the order and I will retire to my quarters. I am too far behind in my studies to object. But Brahma only knows how you will be able to bring Chaaya’s Quest into Ith-Mahal’s port.” The boy said coyly.
“Why I ought to!” The fish-faced helmsman, clearly fuming out of his gills, takes his hands off of the five foot ship’s wheel and makes for the leather lash coiled on his belt.
“THAT WILL BE ALL, MR. ZANSHARIFF!” Bellows a new voice on deck.
“Attention on deck!” Cries an Arudanni ensign first class standing behind the Zaranceti firstmate. “Cap’n on deck!” He follows this up with a cadence on his shipman’s whistle. SHUWHEEE-SHUWHEEE! All shiphands clack their heels in unison and bring their shoulders and heads to attention. Zanshariff, too, comes to attention dropping his whip that he had just untied from his belt.
“SIR, the boy was in subordination to…” The firstmate tries to explain.
“I SAID, ‘THAT WILL BE ALL’, Mr. Zanshariff.” Captain Akshay repeats.
“SIR, YES SIR!” Mr. Zanshariff clacks his heels together a second time with a salute to his senior officer.
“This boy is our guest. He has agreed to aid us in our voyage, but he is not under the same obligations of this crew. Need I remind you again, Mr. Zanshariff?” The captain asks.
“SIR, NO SIR!” Mr. Zanshariff barks like a good subordinate, though his face shows anger from this display of humiliation in front of the other crew members.
“At ease.” The captain commands. The crew drops to an ‘at-ease’ position, with feet at shoulder width and hands behind their backs. “Listen up! We have a two days journey ahead of us to take Ambassador Bumi to the Island of Baalgor. It is of the utmost importance to the peace of this land that he arrive with his report to the council. Thus, we must latch our belts and buckle our bootstraps to work smoothly as a team. We barely have the manpower aboard this vessel to bring this ship into harbor, let alone sail it all the way to Baalgor. The only good thing about our situation is that cook won’t have to fix his usual gruel for a crew a hundred. In fact, we may even have enough good meals for Wotensbeard to have two helpings.”
They all turn to the end of the line where stands Shipman Oathen Wotensbeard, a portly red headed sailor with a massive cauldron-of-a-belly and disheveled red beard. They chuckle at the captains remark. Oathen smiles widely.