The Tale of Captain Johne

Worlds Below

Worlds Below



It has been two days since we arrived—according to my pocket watch, that is, for there are no other ways of telling time in the Underworld. In any event, the solstice has come and gone, and Faulina's ring lies untouched in its hiding place. I cannot propose to her now. To do so is to admit that we are stranded here until the end of our days.

Sutek's injury is graver than I thought. He sleeps much of the time, and he eats when he can. Both Faulina and Astarol are looking after him. Faulina would heal him, but she wishes to conserve her spells for emergencies.

The damage to the Ararat, fortunately, is less grave, and I must admit that I am proud that she survived the maelstrom. She is a bit lopsided, and much of her hull is waterlogged and stinks of brine, but she floats nonetheless. We salvaged a majority of our supplies, which is good, for who knows where we will find food. And we are moving southeast—assuming my compass, which appears to work here, reads correctly. Where the current will take us is beyond speculation. But there is no sense in worrying. There is naught we can do.


* * *



Nosfentre and I have both noticed that the Ararat is traveling faster. I admire the warrior's courage in light of this news. His spirit hasn't wavered, probably because he has become a good friend with Astarol, whose cheer seems to be in endless supply. Those two, the fact that the Ararat can be repaired, and the company of Faulina, of course, have made our isolation bearable.

I saw stars tonight! My companions do not believe me, and they have given me wary looks, but I swear by the Virtues, 'twas if a window to Britannia's sky had been briefly opened. Nosfentre grumbled that if I kept looking up the way I did, he would start mistaking me for Sutek. I could not help but laugh.

Speaking of the mage, he has finally awakened. He is eating now, but it will not be long before our questions about this so-called "Underworld" will be answered.


* * *


"I warned them not to do it," Sutek said. "To tamper with the Ethereal Void is madness. There is so little known, so much evil that can be unleashed." He tossed the uneaten remains of his meal into the small fire pit that we had constructed on the deck. Sparks flurried upward. "They were fools."

"The Void," repeated Astarol, who sat next to Faulina. He stroked his mandolin. "I have heard of such a thing. The essence of magic. The stuff of the stars. A boundary between worlds."

"Are these more of thy stories, bard?" Nosfentre rumbled from across the fire.

"No," said Faulina. "Astarol speaks the truth. All magi know of the Void." She gripped my hand. "But as Sutek says, what is known is very little."

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