The Tale of Captain Johne


We beached our skiff near the ruins of the Ararat whose masts groped upward like withered, bony fingers. My friends greeted us enthusiastically, though I was the only one to receive an embrace, and that from Faulina. Nosfentre grinned broadly as he gripped my shoulder; Astarol welcomed us from our "journey into a depths, an adventure surely fraught with peril, one that only a brave few have survived!"

All was well.

Until I saw the shadowy figures that lurked behind my three friends.

I screamed and a sudden darkness enveloped me.


* * *


I awoke in my bed. Faulina withdrew her palm from my forehead where I felt the residual tingle of magic. "What happened?" I asked, startled to hear my words sound so coarse. And despite the blankets wrapped around me and the sweat beading on my brow, I shivered with a chill.

"Thou art ill," Faulina answered. "Sutek has told us about thy journey."

I gripped her wrist. "Journey?" I hissed. Had the mage witnessed my dreams? Did he know of my pilgrimage to the center of the Underworld? "What did he say? Tell me!" My grip on her wrist tightened.

"Johne, please," she said. I reluctantly released her. "He told us about the stars, Johne," she whispered. "Astarol, Nosfentre, and I envy thee. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to see Britannia's sky again, even if only briefly."

I recalled the destiny that Sutek and I shared: Madness, isolation. "There was not much to see," I murmured. "How long have I been asleep?"

"A day, no more," she answered. "But still thou must rest."

The door to the cabin opened, revealing the flamboyant minstrel. "Ah, I see the Captain's illness has abated, at least, for the time being. Will he be able to dine with us tonight? I should like to hear more of his adventures with the enigmatic mage, Sutek."

"No, I am afraid not," Faulina said.

"'Tis a pity, but I am not one to argue with so wondrous a lady. May I escort thee to the deck? Nosfentre has prepared us a meal."

Faulina laughed. "Of course, my minstrel." She rose and clasped my hand. "Rest, Johne. I will bring thee food later." She leaned forward and kissed my forehead.

I barely noticed, for my thoughts lingered angrily on a single fact: Throughout his exaltations, Astarol's eyes never strayed from Faulina, nor did he say a word to me.


* * *



I have grown stronger. I can walk to my desk if need be. Faulina spends much of her time at my bedside. Astarol, of course, is never far away. He offers his music and stories to "alleviate the boredom of the bed-ridden Captain."

But I see through thy masquerade, bard. I can see the envy in thy eyes . . .


* * *


Nosfentre stormed into my chambers the next morning, slamming the door shut behind him. He carried a scroll.

"The mage is gone," he said, evenly.

I propped myself on my pillows. "What?" I exclaimed.

Previous Page

Page 17

Table of Contents

Next page

Next Page