The Tale of Captain Johne

The Foretelling of An Age

"And have the stars told thee how the maelstrom brought us here?" 'Twas a question that perhaps mocked his claims, but one I had been meaning to ask for a long time.

"No," Sutek admitted, "but maelstroms have always been shrouded with myth and legend. As a sailor, thou hast certainly heard the tales of ships discovered without crews or shipwrecks that mysteriously appear on the shores of Lock Lake. Maelstroms have been blamed for these acts, and why not? They are torrent, violent things—nature's wrath unleashed. It would not surprise me if such things might create ripples in the Void and drag us here."

"A shame Astarol is not here," I smiled. "He would be delighted to hear this."

"Perhaps. Perhaps not. He was on deck when the maelstrom struck thy ship. He watched the storm stalk us, even as thy crew tried in vain to steer away from it. That is right, Captain. The maelstrom sought us that night. 'Tis no accident that we are here." He paused, then he spoke again, compassionately, as if he might be able to soothe the fear that tightened my breaths. "Neither was it the fault of thy crew. That much the stars told me during our first night at sea."

I remembered. Damn him to the Abyss, I remembered how he had watched Nosfentre, Faulina, and I. I thought it had been sorrow in his eyes that night. Now I realized it had been pity. "Thou didst know of this?" I nearly screamed. "And thou didst not warn us? Why?" My hands curled into fists.

"Wouldst thou have listened?"

His question remained unanswered for many minutes. Faulina would have believed him, and she could have convinced me to return to Minoc. But Nosfentre, my crew, and the passengers—they certainly would not have been ready to believe their destinies had been written in the Heavens.

The mage bowed his head. "I thought not. Rare is the wise man who seeks his destiny rather than avoid it."

"And what of thee, mage?" I asked angrily. "Didst thou know that thou wouldst be trapped with us? Where lies thy destiny?"

Again the end of his staff touched the vestiges of our fire. He looked up at me, the soft, crimson glow of the coals barely illuminating his sorrow. I regretted my hostility as soon as he spoke. "Madness," he murmured. "Isolation."

The shadows of the Underworld had crept up to our camp before I broke our silence. "And mine?"

"The same," he said, and in glow of the dying embers, I saw his sorrow deepen.


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Three weeks as of this night, and still no sign of a passage to Britannia. We camp tonight in a narrow gallery running southeast. I doubt we shall see where it ends. Soon our dwindling provisions will force us to return to the Ararat. I cannot say I am disheartened by this thought. I miss our companions—Faulina, most of all—and dare I admit I have had thoughts of taking the ring from its hiding place and slipping it upon her finger? The Underworld would be a lighter place, I think, if a marriage dwelled within it.


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