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peino

The Sea King's Treasure

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EDIT: I made some changes in response to readers. Rather than post a new version, I replaced the first version with the new one by editing the posts.

 

I decided to post this as my official "story about my character for consideration." I hope everyone enjoys it. It sets up the basis for Peino to write a lot of other stories later on. :bangwall: It's pretty long, so I will post it in installments. First, an introduction to clear up a few odd bits before we start. (*gets into character*)

 

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

A Note to Readers about the Tale which Follows:

 

1) First, in regard to my name: In this story, I use my full name, and it may be a little confusing to those who have not heard it before. Most know me only by my given name - Peino. My family name is Ereonis, from our clan ancestor, Ereon. In the sea elf dialect we speak at home, the plural of Ereonis is Ereoni. So, one member of the family is an Ereonis, but together we are the Ereoni. The name of the clan that we belong to is the House of Ereon. You’ll see all those forms of my name in this story.

 

2) I am a sea elf, which is a culture some of you might not be familiar with, as it has not had any significant role in Draian affairs since before the Great War. In fact, we have so vanished from the official history of recent centuries that many people think we do not exist. But we do. If anyone has any questions about sea elves, feel free to pm me about it. I’ll come up with some kind of answer. :whistle:

 

3) All locations and directions in this story are correct according to the continent map of Irilion. There are discrepancies of direction between the continent map and some of the maps of the individual lands. If I say, for instance, that the Barrenlands of Sorrow are in the south of Emerald Valley Trade Route, but you are in EVTR and your map says they are in the east, check the continent map to see what I am talking about.

 

Thank you. And now, the tale.

 

Peino Ereonis

 

THE SEA KING'S TREASURE

 

 

Much is told of the Elves of the Wood and the Vale, the Elves of Light and of Darkness, but few are the tales of the Elves of the Sea, the Wind Singers, the Wave Rovers. Dark are their secrets, and bright are their treasures.

 

*****

 

I am Peino Ereonis, son of Olimea and Yirie of Irsis, born under the sign of the Eye by the Common Calendar and under the sign of the Moon Bear according to the charts of the Ereonis seers. I am the 27th Moon Bear Lord of our clan, Scion of the House of Ereon, tasked by stars and auguries and by expectations rooted in eons of tradition, to guide our House towards its destiny. Or something like that.

 

Following is an account of a recent voyage. I leave it to the reader to decide whether this adventure contributed to that lofty calling. It is the tale of how I acquired the greatest treasure of the House of Ereon.

 

*****

 

Chapter 1: The Dream of the Witch

 

The tale begins in the month of Carnelar, when, after a long sojourn in Seridia, it was time at last for me to go home. Accordingly, I closed up the cottage I had rented in Corren, Desert Pines, and set about completing a last few transactions. Accounts of all business done in the name of House Ereon on that journey are given in the Log of the Elandria dated from the month of Zartia through the month of Carnelar, year 12.

 

Business complete and all farewells made, the ship Elandria sailed on the evening tide from Portland, crewed by myself and seven men, provisioned with meat, bread, vegetables, and ale, and with full cargo of medicinal herbs and other goods.

 

Passage was swift upon fair winds, enhanced by one spell, and uneventful. We passed Anitora before noon of the second day, and entered the Port of Irsis on the dawn tide of the fourth. Upon the dock stood Derzelas the Apothecary, a tall, robust elf wearing the white cloak of a healer. Smiling, he raised his hand as I steered Elandria into her mooring and the men threw out the ropes to the dockhands to tie her in.

 

“Hail, Uncle!”, I called.

 

“Hail, Peino! I saw your sail passing the north beach beacon. How went your journey?”

 

“Well enough. I have much to tell you.”

 

As soon as the ship was secured, I disembarked, embraced my uncle, and took in the familiar sights, breathed deep the welcome air of my homeland.

 

Though not yet fully light, the waterfront already bustled with ships and cargo, fishermen setting out for the day, travelers and business. Crews and loaders shouted at each other, laborers wheeled barrows with a clattering racket over the cobbles, while merchants and clerks inspected goods, signed papers, exchanged coins under the cherry trees and the gold-roofed spires catching the color of sunrise between sea and sky. This was Irsis at dawn, the Shimmering City, pale and blossom-wreathed and full of life. Is there any place more lovely built by men or elves or any other race of Draia? Not in my opinion.

 

First business was to see the cargo unloaded and the crew paid off. That done, Derzelas and I retired to my house, which I was pleased to find in as good order as I had left it six months ago. Over a breakfast of fruit and mead, I recounted the Seridian journey, formally, as was my duty; for Derzelas was an Elder of Ereon representing our clan to the Council of Irsis, to which he also would have to report of our business, for tax purposes. In brief, I related a final profit of 160,000 gold coins -- a paltry sum, but offset by numerous new trading connections established and, most valuable of all, rights of coastal trade for vessels bearing the Ereonis banner in Whitestone, Portland, Desert Pines, and Tarsengaard, as well as an office for our agents at the Bank of Portland. For details of these matters and how they came about, I refer the reader to the aforementioned Log of the Elandria. Here, I will only say that politics is slow and exhausting work, but a little of it goes a long way.

 

“Well done, Peino,” said Derzelas, rolling up the governmental letters I had presented to him, by which the interests of our House would be greatly advanced. “The Ereoni may be proud of their Scion. Now, I have a message for you from the Red Witch. She wants to see you.”

 

“When?”

 

“A month ago, actually.”

 

“About what?”

 

“She didn’t say.”

 

I frowned. Cryptic messages always bring trouble, but it did not matter. The Witch had called for me, and I must answer. Draining my cup of mead, I said merely, “I’ll go tomorrow.”

 

*****

 

I set out to answer the Witch’s summons early in the morning, dressed in hunting leathers and carrying a wooden staff and some fruit for snacks. I knew the way well, for I had been walking it most of my life on one business or another, from the games and adventures of childhood, through the journeys of my school years, to coming into my affairs and duties as Scion. I took my time, for the air tasted sweet, and all about me, Irsis sighed with the wind in the trees and the surf upon the sands, reminding me of friends and loves and secrets with each breath and every step. It was good to be home again, if only for a short while.

 

Passing the Great Gate, I touched the wall for luck, out of habit, and climbed the narrow mountain pass to the Emerald Valley. Up over the hills I went, and as I went down the other side, the sun was going down as well, bringing twilight to the land. At the border marker, before descending into the lower valley, I turned and entered the Scarlet Woods, where dwelt Belece, the Red Witch, Seer of the House of Ereon.

 

The Seer and the Scion. Of all the titled members of the House of Ereon, we two are most closely linked. For it is the task of the Seer to chart the course of Ereonis fate, and it is the task of the Scion to steer that course, following the visions and prophecies of the Seer.

 

I found her at her usual spot, in a ruined temple at land’s end, surrounded by shade-darkened trees, silhouetted against the blazing sunset sky. Her red robes billowed in the wind, her long red hair flew about her darkly beautiful face, as she stood, singing to the distant sea. They say that here the Red Witch stands and thus she sings to summon storms that wreck ships and send sailors to their deaths on the rocks below, but that is just ale-tales and lies. Such things are said of all sea elves, whether they are true or not.

 

As I climbed the path, I took up the familiar tune:

 

“A-roving, a-roving, for roving’s been my ru-i-in,

No more I’ll go a-ro-o-ving with you, fair maid.”

 

She turned. “Peino!”

 

“Lady Cousin,” I bowed.

 

“Finally!” She swept down the hillside, grasped my arms, kissed my cheek, and dragged me into the cave which was her home.

 

I say it was her home, because it has been the traditional home of all Ereonis Seers for generations, but to be honest, I doubt Belece actually lived in it. Why would she, when there was a perfectly good inn, not to mention a good-looking blacksmith, just a few miles down the road? That being as it may, the Cave of the Red Witch was where she practiced her craft and received those who sought her counsel and divinations.

 

Sitting me down by a dark pool, she threw some incense upon the fire. As the pungent smoke filled the chamber, she traced a circle in the sand around us and sprinkled a protective ward of powdered emerald and sapphire into the line. Then and only then, did she sit and fix me with her burning gaze.

 

“I have had a vision,” she said, “and I have received a key to it. It is a quest for the Scion of Ereon.”

 

From her sleeve, she produced a scrap of parchment -- the torn corner of a map, though not enough to say a map of what or where.

 

“This was found on the corpse of a traveling merchant,” said Belece. “His body was discovered in the Barrenlands, and this scrap was clutched in his hand.”

 

I assumed she had been involved in the discovery of this unfortunate merchant, but I did not interrupt her with questions.

 

“It is believed he was murdered by a goblin called Bloody Eye who must have taken the main part of the map and who has not been seen since.” She placed her hand upon the scrap. “I slept with this beneath my pillow, and it brought me a dream. I saw the shadow of a sea bird flying towards me, and the shadow took the shape of a man and spoke thus:”

 

Tracing spirals in the sand, she recited in a sing-song voice:

 

“Twice beyond a thrice-white shore, the Hand of Ereon lies cold among the shadows. In the forest of a stranger’s house, between the red and the blue, you will read it. Dark are the secrets and bright are the treasures of the Elves of the Sea.”

 

“The Hand of Ereon?”, I repeated softly.

 

The Sea King, Ereon the Great, was the legendary ancestor of our clan, but he lived long and longer ago, when gods now forgotten had walked the lands of Draia. Out of the mists he had come and into the mists he had gone again, leaving the seed of his House in Irsis -- the dark, strangely tinged skin and fiery eyes, the blood of seafarers -- and little else. No histories or heirlooms, and only a few tales made up after the fact. So much time and so many changes had passed since those ancient days, and the power of the sea elves had risen and fallen with the moods of the gods. Finally, the Age of Mortos destroyed the old ways. In those dark times, our warriors answered the call of Aluwen against the evil hordes, and we gave much to the Goddess. We gave much indeed. The Great War saw the sinking of our fleets, the scattering of our kin, the dwindling of our fortunes, all for the White Lady’s victory. Times long gone...but they say time is a wheel...

 

“Hmm...”, I murmured, as the implications spiraled through my mind.

 

“Hm, indeed.” Belece swept her hand across the sand, erasing her marks. “Find Bloody Eye,” she said. “Bring back that map.”

Edited by peino

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Chapter 2: Meeting in the Mountains

 

Finding a goblin in the Emerald Valley was a simple enough proposition. The Barrenlands were full of them, and sometimes they wandered into the Valley itself, looking for trouble.

 

I went first to the town to see what I could learn. An unfinished but booming spot, the “town” of Emerald Valley was a good place to hear the latest news. Familiar faces hailed me as I entered the tavern, and I found myself enjoying a hot meal and quaffing ales with people I had not seen in many months. Amid our jokes and stories, I asked about the general level of banditry, and whether anyone had heard of the goblin I sought.

 

“Doing a bit of pleasure hunting, eh, Peino?”, a miner I knew laughed, and I laughed along with him.

 

As it happened, many remembered the murder of the merchant from Palon Vertas, and all affirmed it was the work of Bloody Eye, a notorious killer. But he had not been seen since, just as Belece said.

 

“Not so -- maybe,” interjected a dwarf woman seated near the bar. “I may have seen him two days ago, stealing vegetables by the alchemy school, but I didn’t stop to make sure.”

 

“Are you going after him, Peino?”, asked my miner friend. “I’ll go with you. He’s a mean one.”

 

“No need,” said I. “You know me. I avoid putting myself in danger.”

 

General laughter greeted that remark.

 

A couple more ales and a few more jokes, and I left, paying the tavern keeper on the way out. Night hung over the Valley, with a winterish nip in the air. If Bloody Eye’s enemies did not know his whereabouts, perhaps his friends would -- assuming he had friends. I headed for the Barrenlands of Sorrow.

 

That is the name of the Valley’s southern mountains. At night, they are a confusing labyrinth of rock walls and canyons so deep, the moonlight cannot penetrate them, but in my service to Aluwen (as all Ereoni are still bound by oath to her), I was as familiar with this wasteland as those who lived in it, though perhaps not as welcome.

 

The first goblin I spotted ran, but I caught him easily enough, tripping the clumsy creature by sticking my staff between his feet. He spat at me as I pulled him up, so I knocked his head against a boulder to calm him down.

 

“Ow!”, he howled, “Curse you, elf scum! I didn’t do anything!”

 

“Today, you mean? Shut up! I’m looking for Bloody Eye.”

 

“Who?”

 

Another crack of green head on gray rock. “Don’t waste my time,” I growled.

 

“Ow! Stop it! Do you know what he’ll do to me if I put you onto him?”

 

“The same thing I’ll do to you if you don’t?”

 

The defiance drained out of him. “Probably.” Pressing his filthy hands over the growing lumps on his head, he slid down to sit on the ground. “He’s in the citadel,” he snarled, “recruiting a gang to go to Sedicolis. He goes there every winter, for the action.”

 

“He’s in the citadel now?”

 

“Yes, you’ll find him there, and I hope he kills you!”

 

I smiled down at the wretch, and with an easy swing of my staff, struck him in the side of the head. Maybe he was dead, maybe only knocked out. Either way, he would not be sneaking ahead to warn my target.

 

The citadel was the ruins of a stronghold left over from the Great War, and though only a few scattered structures remained, it was a popular hideout for murderers and thieves. To find it, one had only to follow the stench of the poisonous muck where its moat used to be.

 

I made my way there directly. Despite the oppressive silence, I knew they were all around me, the denizens of this place, scurrying through crevices and along ridgetops, just out of sight, dogging my every step, so there was no point in being cautious. At the rickety bridge that spanned the “moat,” I called out into the darkness.

 

“Bloody Eye! Come forth! I have business with you!”

 

And then I waited, leaning upon my staff, as my voice echoed through the canyons. When the last of my own cries had died away, and the dead silence had settled in again, he appeared -- short, stocky, wearing dented armor that had seen many battles and carrying a cutlass stained with either rust or blood, but its edged honed bright. The eye that gave him his name bulged in a big red blister that was all the more shocking against his sickly green skin. He crossed the bridge towards me with disdainful confidence, taking in my leather clothing and simple staff.

 

“I am Bloody Eye,” he said.

 

“So I see,” I replied. “You killed and robbed a traveling merchant on the Valley road about a month ago?”

 

“What’s it to you? Are you his son-in-law or something?”

 

“No.”

 

“Then who the hell are you?”

 

“I am Peino Ereonis. You took a paper from that man. I want it.”

 

Bloody Eye stared at me with his one good eye, and then a grin stretched his wide flat mouth, and he threw back his head and laughed.

 

“You won’t get it, elf,” said he.

 

“Then I’ll take your life instead,” said I, and I punched him in his bloody eye.

 

Cursing a string of unrepeatable words, he fell back, swinging the cutlass blindly as he recovered himself. The pain would not be enough to hold a killer like him, so I took the offensive, using my staff to shunt his sword strikes aside and rain blows upon his armored body. Goblin bones are hard to break, but I knew their weaknesses -- in the knees and throat. I pressed my advantage, forcing him to protect himself rather than attack me, until I struck the mark and snapped one of his knees like a carrot. Down went Bloody Eye, snarling like a chimeran wolf until a blow to the neck silenced him forever, face down in the dirt.

 

I searched the body and found the map folded within his tunic. Goblins always carry everything they own, distrustful creatures. As I slipped it inside my own jacket, I heard mild applause.

 

Two human men -- brigands themselves, by their looks and their mismatched armor and weapons -- had been watching me from a short distance, no doubt drawn in by my belligerent shouts. With sardonic smiles, they clapped their hands slowly.

 

“Nice technique with that little stick,” one of them commented.

 

I had no time for baiting games, so I shrugged and said, “He was over-confident.” Bidding them both a very good night, I took my leave.

Edited by peino

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Chapter 3: The Shadow

 

After I returned from the Barrenlands, Belece, Derzelas and I spent two days in Irsis, trying to decipher the map. Drawn in brown ink on cheap parchment, it was the kind of rough chart sailors make for their own purposes during voyages. Yet the use of this map was not clear. The coasts of Irilion were recognizable, but it bore no course lines and all its legends were written in an elvish tongue none of us had ever seen before.

 

Having exhausted all resources from our memories and private libraries, Belece fell into frustrated bickering with Derzelas, during which I heard her order him to visit the library at Aeth Aelfan in search of some kind of lexicon.

 

“We should check the library at Glacmor as well,” said I.

 

“Why?”, barked Belece. “What would draegoni know of an elvish language?”

 

“Not the language, but perhaps the writer, if he passed that way.” I had been comparing the ancient map to one of my own charts, both spread out over my dining table, to see if I could read it without reading it.

 

“See here,” I said. “The thrice-white shore. It is the northern coast of the draegoni lands, Irinveron, Glacmor and Iscalrith. Once white, twice white, thrice white. White from the snow, of course.”

 

“And the ‘twice beyond’ part?”, asked Belece.

 

“Well, if we assume the starting point is Irsis, then the third shore would be Iscalrith. So, twice beyond that.”

 

“Which means?”

 

“I have no idea.”

 

“Bah!” Throwing up her hands, Belece turned upon Derzelas who was smoking his pipe by the stove. “Don’t you have a closet full of reasoning potions? Go get them!”

 

“You need help to understand your own vision?”, he remarked slyly. “Why didn’t you ask the spirit in your dream whether it meant the third of three white shores, or a shore that is white in three ways, or some other configuration of shore, white, and three, hm?”

 

“Derzelas...”, she growled.

 

I stopped listening. I was trying to remember something I’d heard once, from some drunk in some tavern somewhere. Something about secret places.

 

“Maybe it’s the Isles of the Forgotten,” I murmured half to myself.

 

“The Isles of the --”, Belece glared at me now. “Honestly, Peino, that old salt’s tale? Are they even marked on that map? No, of course not.”

 

“No map shows a course to those islands,” said Derzelas. “Many have searched for them, but none has ever succeeded. Few have returned at all.”

 

Belece leaned over the charts. “It could more easily be Imbroglio,” she said, pointing to that large archipelago.

 

<Not Imbroglio.>

 

“No, you’re right,” I muttered, “it’s not Imbroglio.”

 

“I said it could be Imbroglio.”

 

I looked up at her, surprised. “Did you? Hm. I don’t think so.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I don’t know. Just...something tells me that it isn’t.”

 

I stayed uncertainly certain late into the night. Regardless of any other possible word configurations, as Derzelas had teased, I felt that I had hit upon the clue’s meaning and needed only to reveal the way to follow it. Long after my kinfolk had left, I pored over every book, map and chart I owned, searching for anything about those fabled Isles, long thought to be nothing more than a sailor’s fantasy. I had heard there was a real route to a real place, somewhere in Iscalrith. However, I also knew well that Iscalrith was a place where explorers disappeared, where even the garrison at Fort Telmont stayed close to marked paths for fear of the evil beasts that roamed that land. So for all I knew, the way to the Isles of the Forgotten was down a monster’s gullet.

 

<The wind and water will carry you there.>

 

“Hello?” I looked up from my papers, but I was alone in the house.

 

Or was I?

 

A swift movement caught the corner of my eye. There it was again. My eyes caught up with it -- a shadow like one cast by a flying bird, sweeping around the walls, around and around and around.

 

“Stop!”, I yelled, and the shadow froze upon the floor. There was nothing above or at any angle that could have created it.

 

“What are you?”, I wondered aloud.

 

To my surprise, it responded, seeming to stand up and take the form of a man. I remembered Belece’s vision. It looked at me with invisible eyes in a featureless face, and spoke like a whisper inside my own head.

 

<I am the Shadow of the Map. The Sea King bound me to that parchment with each stroke of his pen. Follow me and all that I say, and I will lead you to the Hand of Ereon. Go to the shipwright. A ship awaits you. You sail with me, and me alone.>

 

It rushed at me, and I drew back, only to see the apparition melt into the very ink of the map upon my table.

 

“Interesting,” was all I could think to say about it. The way, it seemed, had revealed itself.

 

In the morning, I went to Soliu the shipwright. He told me I was in luck. Another client had just canceled an order. He showed me the finished hull of a long, light vessel in his workshop, and the mast lying ready beside it.

 

“I’ve already been paid for the work done so far,” he said, “so I’ll finish it for you at a discount. When do you need it?”

 

“As soon as possible, and I’ll pay extra for both your speed and your discretion.”

 

We agreed upon a price and a date. I then sent word to Derzelas and Belece that I was preparing to sail, but I did not tell them what had made up my mind.

 

*****

 

Soliu delivered the new boat exactly as promised, a small sleek vessel rigged for single handling, with plenty of sail for her size and a keel that would slice the waves like a knife. The banner of Ereon fluttered above her pure white sails. She was called The Fleeting Glimpse.

 

I took her out on the midnight tide, packed full of food and drink, potions, essences, furs, light armor and weaponry. At the mouth of the harbor, I looked back and kissed my hand to the moonlit spires of Irsis, for luck, out of habit. I had no idea how long it would be before I saw the city again.

 

Then, I unfurled the mainsail and caught the ocean wind, heading south along the Larimone coast.

 

*****

 

More than two weeks at sea. The Shadow of the Map flew on relentlessly, like a gull swooping over the waves. To keep up with it, I had to conjure wind after wind. Progress was swift. I entered the Havian Straits and was half-way past Irinveron in half the usual time. But the constant spell-casting sapped my strength. I didn’t know how much longer I could keep up this pace. Even potions failed to restore my energies fully. Sleep was difficult, as I could take only short naps, and the farther I sailed, the more my dreams were troubled. It was as if all the layers of time were being laid upon me at once, and I remembered in dreams voyages that I had never made. And the Shadow of the Map whispered to me every minute, muttering in my head without cease or pause.

 

<Keep going. Do not stop. Follow, follow, follow.>

Edited by peino

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Chapter 4: Captive and Captain (Part 1)

 

Sixteen days after leaving Irsis, questions of energies and dreams and paces became suddenly moot.

 

I had negotiated the difficult waters around Waveneck point, and was in the midst of arguing with my “dear friend,” the Shadow, about the necessity of putting into shore for supplies and rest, when I spotted a sail coming up fast on the port side. It was a two-masted ship at full sail, flying a black banner.

 

“Pirates! Curse the luck!”

 

I had no more power to call up a fresh wind, so I changed course the old-fashioned way, towards Glacmor. All I could do was make for the ice floes where the larger vessel might not follow, and pray The Fleeting Glimpse would be fleet enough.

 

I soon realized she wasn’t. They were gaining on me too fast, carrying more sail and already at full speed.

 

<Put up a good fight,> the Shadow whispered in my ear, <but not too good.>

 

I came about again and then dove below, coming back with hastily grabbed arms, which I threw down upon the deck. I shoved the map into my shirt and quickly donned an augmented jacket. Then, taking up bow and arrow, I aimed for the approaching ship.

 

I could see them now, shouting and waving their swords at me. I held my stance, bow drawn, my eye trained down the shaft of my arrow, as the two vessels rose and fell upon the waves. When we were nearly level, and my sight line became clear for an instance, I let fly and hit the pirate helmsman in the chest.

 

As fast as I could, I shot the rest of my arrows into the mob as the ship bore down on me, then snatched up a long sword and shield as her prow crashed into The Fleeting Glimpse’s side.

 

The jolt sent several pirates into the water. No doubt, they had not meant to ram me, but I had no time to think about it, as a crowd swarmed over the side. Three attacked me while the others fell to stripping my boat. Accomplished robbers, but not so good with their fancy weapons. I managed to dodge their graceless swipes and drew blood from two of the three. Still, I was pinned against the starboard rail, out-numbered, my boat taking on water, and nowhere to go even if I could win the fight.

 

The matter was resolved when a lumbering ogre shoved the fighters out of the way, picked me up and threw me like a sack of apples onto the deck of the pirate ship. An ogre on a ship?

 

“Filthy summoners!”, I cursed, and someone kicked me in the ribs.

 

As I rolled over, coughing, I saw a thicket of blades pointed at me.

 

“Hold him!,” a voice yelled. “And clear away that mess!”

 

I stood, with sword points pressed against my gut, and saw them push off the wreckage of The Fleeting Glimpse, her white canvas sliding beneath the waves as she sank. Fleeting indeed.

 

I was then dragged to the quarterdeck where their captain waited, a thin little gnome with a sharp black beard, looking every inch the pirate king in shining titanium armor, a black cloak, and a jaunty black cap with a red feather on its brim. At his side, more than twice his size, stood the summoned ogre, and at his feet lay the body of the man I’d shot with my first arrow.

 

“Well, elf, you’ve done a day’s work,” the gnome said with an evil grin. “I am Fenram Black Cap, master of The Wolf. You killed my helmsman. Now you have a choice. You can replace him, or you can be chucked overboard as easily as you got chucked on.”

 

A man is kind to his own life, so, with a smile, I bowed and accepted the dead man’s job. They took away my jacket and boots and chained me to the helm.

 

“Meagg!”, Fenram Black Cap shouted at a woman among the crew. “You’re in charge of him. Make sure he doesn’t cause any trouble.”

 

Thus, I became a captive.

 

*****

 

Later, at sunset, the woman Meagg brought me a fur cloak, gloves, and a mug of hot broth. She sat next to me to watch me drink it, and I took the measure of her out of the corner of my eye.

 

She was a pretty, raven-haired human lass, wearing purple linen under polished steel chainmail, and carrying daggers in her boots. Medallions hung about her neck, and her fingers gleamed with rings. Glancing over her shoulder to make sure no one was near, she leaned towards me, grinning.

 

“I know what you are,” she said.

 

I just raised my eyebrow and drank my broth.

 

She leaned in closer and whispered, “You’re a sea elf.” She nodded confidently. “I knew it the second I saw you all alone on that little boat in the middle of nowhere, though I haven’t even heard of your kind since I was a girl. I thought you were all gone -- into the west, or wherever you elves go.”

 

“We’re still around.”

 

“Is that a fact?” She glanced over her shoulder again. “Well, it may interest you to know, Master Elf, that you are one of only two people on board this ship who actually know how to sail. There was another, but you killed him.”

 

“Indeed?”

 

“Indeed.”

 

I cocked my head and gave her a little smile. “Who are you, lady? Where are you from, and how did you get here?”

 

“I am Meagg, born and raised on the docks of Melinis, and how I got here is my own business. And you?”

 

“Peino, a sailor out of Irsis.”

 

“Just a sailor? Fine, whatever you say.”

 

A rough voice shouted from below, “Meagg! Get down here!”

 

She took the empty mug. “You keep warm, Peino Just A Sailor. I’ll see you on the morrow.”

 

That night, Black Cap summoned another undead ogre to keep the watch, which was stupid of him because a walking corpse, its false life fading with each putrid breath, does not make an alert guard. It confirmed what I suspected -- that he was a fool. There is no god I hate more than Selain, Lord of Vices, and no magic I detest more than summoning. It is a corruption of the soul, the art of making bad decisions for bad reasons. Black Cap had set a watchman more likely to kill his own crew than keep an eye on the horizon, and that told me several things.

 

As the filthy creature loitered in the foredeck, I slipped the map from beneath my shirt. The Shadow appeared before me.

 

“Go below,” I told it, “and report to me everything you see.”

Edited by peino

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Chapter 4: Captive and Captain (Part 2)

 

Thus it went for several days. The Shadow told me much at night, Meagg told me more at meal times, and between them, I saw still more for myself. In brief, I learned the following:

 

The Wolf was a captured merchant vessel, refitted for speed and war under another captain who then fell in battle against the Idal Navy. Black Cap and the others were the survivors, who had barely escaped with their ship intact beneath them. By her size, I guessed The Wolf’s original crew would have been about ten hands, though as a pirate ship, she would have been crowded with at least twice that in fighters. Nevertheless, I judged she could be handled by far fewer than ten hands in a pinch, if they were the right hands. She certainly did not need the unskilled gang she had onboard, including her captain. Black Cap, a renegade exiled from Arius, had used his summoning powers to make himself captain by force, but he had brought the crew little action and less loot since taking over. The hold was full of rotting meat, stones, and old bones instead of gold. He slept with his cabin door bolted and spent most of his time conjuring monsters to keep the others in line. Still, they showed little interest in his orders, and that was just as well, for he obviously had no idea what he was doing.

 

Even the orders he gave me made no sense. Every morning, before either the sun or the crew had risen, he would come up on deck, point in a random direction and say, “That way.” Then he’d spend the rest of the day playing with his gruesome pets while his crew idled about, and I carefully adjusted course towards Iscalrith. He never noticed that, nor did he notice Meagg slipping healing and mana potions into my mugs of broth, as I had dared to ask her.

 

“So, Peino Just A Sailor,” she said one night, as I tucked into my supper of potion-broth, “when are you going to tell me where you were going when we caught up with you?”

 

“Nowhere,” said I. “Just a sailor, just out sailing.”

 

“Oh, please. Everyone knows you sea elves know where all the treasures are hidden. We also all know that Black Cap couldn’t find his own backside with a map and a guide. What can you find, Master Elf, and where were you planning to look for it?”

 

I gazed into her black eyes and saw a resolve as strong and sharp as a steel blade. I judged her a person who knew what she wanted and was prepared to use whatever tools she could to get it -- not too different from myself, perhaps.

 

“Well,” said I, “I make no promises, but I did have a destination in mind. I will gladly tell you of it tomorrow, if you will bring me a few things tonight.”

 

“What things?”

 

“Stronger mana potions and some essences. You’ll find what I need locked up in the cupboard next to Black Cap’s cabin.”

 

“Will I?” She glanced at my shackles to see that I was still bound, and her expression shifted from surprise to suspicion to a curious, expectant grin. “Very well. Tell me what to get.”

 

I had not actually planned what to do until that moment. More than anything, it was the firmness of Meagg’s gaze that decided me, for although The Wolf was a decent ship, it would take a lot of sand and steel to make anything like a decent crew of this bunch, or even just keep them from sinking us with their ignorance. Meagg had plenty of that, no doubt about it.

 

Once my mind was made up, the job was almost too simple. I waited for Black Cap to come on deck in the early dawn. His summoned watchman, an orc this time, was still staggering about, though it had not much breath left. It shuffled towards him as he appeared, dressed up as usual in his gleaming titanium and elegant black, the feather on his cap shivering in the wind.

 

“That way,” he said, pointing in a direction he wasn’t even looking. Then he wandered off to the foredeck, the orc at his heels.

 

When he was completely absorbed in his practice, conjuring mobs of snakes, I slipped the essences Meagg had brought me from beneath my cloak, and spoke the spell of teleportation. Instantly I was transported out of my chains to the very spot where Black Cap stood. As he stared in surprise, I chanted the spell of harm, slamming the used-up orc into its natural death, and then, I just up-ended little Black Cap over the side. Splash! He was gone, sunk like a stone in his fancy armor, his gaggle of snakes following their master.

 

The crew stirred below. Quickly, I teleported back to the helm, and draped the chains around myself as best I could under the fur cloak.

 

It took them more than an hour to realize their captain was no longer on board. Then another two hours debating about it amongst themselves below-decks. Finally, they came to me, with a scar-faced orchan as their spokesman, and Meagg hanging back, watching me.

 

Their proposal was straightforward. First, they invoked the ancient code of the pirates, specifically the section about giving each man credit for his proven talents. Therefore, following said code and on the grounds that I knew how to steer the ship and they didn’t, they offered to put me in charge. Naturally, they reserved the right to murder me if I failed to meet their expectations, which expectations involved lots of loot. And of course, if I refused the job, they’d kill me right now.

 

“Well, since you put it that way,” said I, tossing aside my chains, “we sail to Iscalrith.”

 

They looked at me blankly.

 

“Have you never been to Iscalrith? No? None of you?”

 

They all shook their heads.

 

“What’s there?”, asked the orchan.

 

“Many things,” said I, smiling.

 

“All right you worthless dogs!,” shouted Meagg, stepping up beside me. “We’ll find out soon enough what’s in Iscalrith. Now, one of you, get Peino some decent food, and the rest of you, toss old Black Cap’s junk overboard -- and if I find even one trace of that little skunk by noon bell, I’ll flog the lot of you!”

 

To my surprise, they hurried off to do her bidding.

 

“I have you to thank for this?”, said I, and Meagg nodded with that sharp-toothed grin of hers. “You did not wish to be captain yourself?”

 

“Not today,” she said.

 

“Very well,” said I, and I made her First Mate, to keep her close.

 

And thus, I became a captain.

Edited by peino

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Chapter 5: Iscalrith

 

Three days after the sending off of Black Cap, we reached Iscalrith. The journey was made easier by Meagg’s capable, often harsh, management of the crew, and by their unfamiliarity with sea elf magic. Apparently, they had never seen anyone conjure a wind before. It seemed to discomfort them more than a whole boatload of ogres to ride the waves in the constant storm of my incantations as The Wolf flew after the Shadow, which only I could see. It made for a cooperative group when the lookout finally called, “Land!”

 

Iscalrith’s ice-bound shore gleamed in the frigid twilight. I steered The Wolf along the coast, listening for the sound of waves breaking upon rocks, looking for a quiet place to put ashore.

 

Meagg, wrapped up in furs, stood beside me.

 

“So,” she said, “what really is in Iscalrith?”

 

“As I said, many things.”

 

“And which of the many will make us rich?”

 

I laughed softly. The thing with Meagg was that she never lost sight of the main point.

 

“Meagg, have you heard tell of a secret route to the Isles of the Forgotten?”

 

She stared at me. “Yes, I have, but I never bothered to look for it. I don’t want to go to a place I can’t return from.”

 

“How do you know you can’t return from it?”, said I. “Just because no one ever has?”

 

“Peino, I warn you. The crew is willing now, but if you fail them, this frozen land could be your grave.”

 

“I am aware of that.”

 

We anchored in a small cove, and I spoke to the crew, telling them at last of my true quest and the vision that had guided me here. “Twice beyond a thrice-white shore,” I recited, and went on to tell them of a secret path to treasures unheard of. They ate it up like pie. I saw the lust for gold firing their blood. The more they imagined it, the more they glared at me with murderous impatience.

 

We landed in the long boat, the entire ship’s compliment. As the crewmen pulled the boat onto the shore, I took Meagg by the arm.

 

“Stay close by me,” I told her. “No matter what happens, do not leave me.”

 

I felt her become tense. My own nerves were tight as a bow already.

 

<In and out,> whispered the Shadow of the Map, riding along within my shirt. <In and out.>

 

And that was how I went beyond the thrice-white shore once.

 

*****

 

About two hours’ march brought us to Fort Telmont. The crew fell into nervous confusion, but I silenced them harshly. Noise was something I did not yet want. As quiet as mice under the snow, we crept beneath the stone walls, neither seeing nor seen by any guards. I do not know if any of the crew thought to wonder why the fort was in the middle of the woods instead of guarding the coast, but I knew the reason. I was counting on it.

 

When we had gone a bit beyond the fort, I slipped my dagger from my belt and, as casually as I could, sliced the palm of my hand. From then on, I left my blood on the trees and stones we passed, blazing a trail easy enough to follow, and listening in terror for any sign that followers were coming. We had seen no living things up to then, but I needed that to change.

 

It did not take long.

 

The men behind me began to murmur. Something was in the woods. Something huffing and shuffling in the dark.

 

“A bear,” I suggested, “or wolves. Keep moving.”

 

But the sounds grew louder. The men drew their weapons, looking desperately in all directions, forming a defensive circle. I put my hand on Meagg’s shoulder.

 

Then it came -- a shrieking howl that ripped apart the cold night air.

 

“That’s no wolf!”, someone cried, and a man screamed, and more shrieks tore through the dark, a sound that clawed at my very soul.

 

“Run!”, I yelled. “Back to the fort! Move! Move!”

 

We stampeded back the way we’d come, and all around us I saw our attackers lurching out of the dark, the beasts I myself had lured in. Like moving mountains of snow they were, snarling, panting monsters of the frost, drawn in by the scent of blood. Meagg stood her ground, as if to fight, but I shouted at her not to be an idiot.

 

I knew the beasts took some of the crew. I could hear their screams amid the terrible snarling. But we did not stop. We ran for our lives towards the fort, where lights appeared on the ramparts as the sounds of carnage alerted the guards. I saw the gate opening and yelled encouragement to whoever was still running, but as we came near, I pulled Meagg off course, away from the group.

 

On I ran, gripping her arm as hard as iron, trusting to speed. A diversion is only successful if it doesn’t “divert” the one who created it. I did not slow down until I heard the waves and saw the dim white surf of the cove.

 

“What the hell just happened?”, panted Meagg as I pushed the boat into the water.

 

“Later for that. Get in.”

 

While I rowed, she stared back at the shore, still echoing with the cries of the beasts. Then she turned on me with anger burning in her gaze.

 

“What were those things?”

 

“Yetis,” I said.

 

“You knew they were out there?”

 

“Of course. It’s common knowledge. Why do you think the fort is where it is?”

 

“And you didn’t warn us?”

 

I kept rowing. “What kind of idiots need to be warned of the yetis of Iscalrith? Next, you’ll blame me for not telling you the snow would be cold.”

 

“You bastard!”

 

We had reached The Wolf, and I grabbed at the rope to tie up the boat. “Me? You’ve got your nerve. You think I didn’t know those criminals planned to cut my throat as soon as I led them to treasure? At least I gave them a chance of rescue, which is more than they would have done for me.”

 

“Rescue? At that fort? They’ll be hanged as pirates.”

 

I smiled at her mercilessly. “The army will give them trials. The yetis wouldn’t have. Now get onboard.”

 

And that was how I went beyond the thrice-white shore twice. In and out, just like the Shadow said.

Edited by peino

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Chapter 6: The Forgotten

 

After leaving the cove, the Shadow of the Map led me around the point of Meel’s Port and beyond the eastern coast of Iscalrith and the most distant charted reaches of the Winterglace Sea. Conditions worsened as we sailed into a wintry fog that coated the decks and ropes with ice and blinded us with dense white mists.

 

For three days, Meagg would not speak to me, but finally, the constant labor of chipping away the ice that threatened to drag us down made her forget her anger. Or maybe it was just the need to talk, to hear a living sound -- anything but the groaning of The Wolf’s timbers and the dull sloshing of the half-frozen waters. She took to asking random questions about my family, my race, our history while I stood at the helm. I suppose I answered her, but I do not remember what I said. All I remember is the Shadow whispering to me constantly, as it had in the Havian Straits. What it said this time troubled me more than anything before.

 

<The way in is easy. The way in is easy. The way in is easy.>

 

“Land!”, Meagg cried, pointing at a white mass looming in the fog.

 

*****

 

We saw no sign of a dock so, as in Iscalrith, we anchored in a cove and put to shore in the long boat. The snow was deep and soft and swallowed our steps with silence. It seemed to be late twilight. I say seemed because I could not see any light upon any horizon. In fact, I could see no horizon, no stars, and no shadows anywhere. Yet, in fact, everything seemed to be shadows in this place. We crossed a bridge and walked into a town, but of all the buildings and other things we saw, only the snow looked real. Everything else seemed to be fading away before our eyes, and all we felt was cold.

 

<The Hand of Ereon lies cold among the shadows.>

 

Meagg kept her hand on her sword. “I don’t like this,” she said. “We shouldn’t be here.”

 

“Too late,” said I.

 

I saw the Shadow running before us, casting itself upon the door of a building. I followed it, and Meagg followed me, into a tavern.

 

It appeared nice enough except for the darkness and the ghostliness. A draegoni man stood behind the bar, a bottle in his hand, staring as if lost in thought.

 

“Good evening, sir,” said I.

 

He seemed to wake from a trance. “Welcome,” he smiled. Then he noticed the bottle he was holding. “What was I doing? Oh, well. Can I offer you a drink?”

 

He began to pour, but watching the liquid splash without a sound into the mug rather put me off.

 

“No, thank you,” I said. “We are just passing by. Can you tell me, is there a house in a forest near here?”

 

He seemed to become lost again, thinking about that. “I don’t know,” he said at last. “I can’t remember.”

 

“Well, then, is there a store where we might buy provisions?”

 

More thinking. “I don’t think so...”, he said, and then, as if it just occurred to him, “I can sell you provisions. Whatever you need.”

 

“Very well. We will return later, Mr...?”

 

“Mr....” He trailed off again.

 

“All right, then,” said I, as Meagg tugged at my sleeve. “We’ll be on our way.”

 

“You could ask at the temple,” he said vaguely.

 

“Ask what?”

 

“About the house you’re looking for.”

 

“Oh, right. Thank you. What temple is it?”

 

“Um...”

 

Pulling me, Meagg opened the door, just as the draegoni gentleman said: “Bick.”

 

“The Temple of Bick?”, said I.

 

“No, that’s my name. I am Bick.”

 

“Oh. Nice to meet you, Mr. Bick.”

 

“You as well.” He smiled affably. “Come again soon.”

 

Back out in the snow, Meagg poked me in the chest. “We need to get out of here,” she said. “Soon.”

 

I agreed.

 

The Shadow waited on the snowy path. We followed it through the town, over a causeway to the entrance of a temple set into a mountainside by the mist-shrouded shore.

 

Engraved upon the great doors was a name: Dryx.

 

“Who?”, said Meagg.

 

Having no answer, I pushed open the doors, and entered a cavernous chamber full of darkness and apparitions. We passed through what appeared to be a grove of trees of many colors and many kinds. Or perhaps it was but a vision of trees, or the ghosts of trees, or a fading memory of what trees looked like, once upon a time.

 

<In the forest of a stranger’s house...>

 

With Meagg at my heels, I approached the massive altar, on which was arranged a single candle and two crystal orbs, red and blue. A large, black book lay between them. All of it was as ghostly as the mysterious grove and everything else in this unnerving land.

 

<...between the red and the blue, you will read it.>

 

I opened the book and saw strange writing that rearranged itself before my eyes to spell out, “Welcome back, Lord of Ereon.” I did not remember ever having been there before.

 

A sudden clunk made us both jump back. The top of the altar had come loose and shifted, like the lid of a huge box.

 

“Meagg, help me move it.”

 

Carefully, we swiveled the stone slab aside. A radiant glow poured out at us. Meagg gasped.

 

The entire altar, bigger than three kings’ beds, was filled with gold and silver, gems of every color, precious metal bars, rings, crowns, piles and piles of coins -- more than I had ever seen in my life. On top of the treasure lay books and scrolls, ancient beyond telling, and on top of them, a bronze helm, bearing the crest of Ereon.

 

With trembling hands, I lifted it out and brushed away the dust from the King’s mark.

 

<Dark are the secrets and bright are the treasures of the Elves of the Sea.>

 

Suddenly, Meagg shouted, “WoooooHoooooooo!”, and threw her arms around my neck, jumping up and down. “We are so rich!” Laughing, she tossed the books aside to plunge her hands into the gold.

 

Retrieving one of the books, I saw that it was written by the same hand as the map that had brought us here. The Hand of Ereon itself. I had actually found it.

 

I do not know how long we lingered there, Meagg with the gold and I with the books, but we finally did recollect ourselves and set about moving the treasure from the temple to the ship. Taking a few coins from the trove, we returned to Bick’s tavern, and after some prompting, he remembered that he could sell us a sled. It needed six trips to get the goods across the islands, and four in the long boat to get it onboard The Wolf.

 

At last, it was all safely stowed, and we set off without another thought.

 

*****

 

It was only when the Isles of the Forgotten had disappeared behind us that I realized the Shadow was no longer ahead of us.

 

I searched the fog, but saw no sign of it, nor could I hear its voice inside my head. The inner quiet I had missed before now filled me with dread. Where was I supposed to go? I turned to the map, but as soon as I opened it, the ink dissolved into the icy mists, leaving only an old, blank parchment in my hands. Apparently, it had served its purpose, and the binding magic of Ereon’s pen was finished.

 

“No!”, I cried in desperation.

 

The way in is easy. Ah, those fateful words. The way in is always easy, but what of the way out? Everywhere I looked, I saw nothing but mist, no marks or features of any kind, no direction, not even up and down.

 

“Summon a wind,” said Meagg.

 

But what good would that do, when I had no sense of where it should be blowing? Fool that I was, I should have anticipated this. Why hadn’t I planned our escape? Frustrated, maybe panicking a little, I dropped down upon the deck with my head in my hands, as the mist swirled around us. Were we to be lost as the treasure had been? Were these the mists that had taken Ereon, and would they now take me as well?

 

In that place that was no place, there was no sense of time, either. I sat in my own dark emptiness, a dejected bundle of furs, for whatever time it took -- much or little -- for something to emerge. Obsessing over the Shadow’s words, chanting them to myself over and over, I suddenly conceived a mad notion. Mad as a drunken sailor, but surely no madder than our situation, nor more likely to end in our deaths.

 

The way in is easy, the Shadow had said. But which way is in? For although we had come into these mists from without in order to sail into the Isles of the Forgotten, we were certainly now out of whatever we had been in before. Out of the Isles, out of the Winterglace Sea, out of just about everything. So, surely, no matter where we went, we’d be heading in, assuming we’d be getting anywhere. I knew even then that this was the sort of thing that comes from severe over-thinking under great stress with not enough sleep, but what options did we have?

 

Deciding thus, arbitrarily, that “in” and “out” were relative terms, and further deciding, arbitrarily, that the Forgotten Isles must still lay somewhere behind us (“behind” referring to whatever our stern might be before), I commended my spirit to the gods, set The Wolf on a straight course, and did as Meagg had suggested. I conjured a wind out of essences of air, energy and magic, filled the sails, and went full speed ahead.

 

Did we sail for days or months or minutes? I do not know. It felt somehow like both a long and a short time at the same time. I know only that I was surprised when the mists cleared before us, and we found ourselves gliding past the Imbroglio Islands on a crystal clear winter’s day in the month of Vespia, as easy as waking from a dream.

 

How had it worked? There is no answer. Perhaps there was nothing magical about it. Perhaps, I had gotten so used to following the voice of the Shadow, that I simply forgot how to follow no voice at all, as a true explorer does. Considering the place we had just been, a spell of forgetfulness could be expected, I suppose.

Edited by peino

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Chapter 7: Epilogue

 

Technically, the escape from the mists ended the Quest for the Sea King’s Treasure, but there was a final chapter yet to play out, and it did so as follows:

 

Having returned to the world by we knew not what means, Meagg and I agreed that we’d had enough of cold climates. Accordingly, we headed north to warmer waters, under light sail and at slow speed.

 

During that time, I spent many hours examining the books and scrolls, and I realized I had something significant on my hands, although I could not read a word of it. For I was certain that these writings contained the lore and learning of the sea elves, knowledge that had been lost for generations. The books included not only formal texts but navigation charts, maps of unknown lands, moon and star charts, spell books, and even what I thought might be the personal logs of Ereon himself. I began to think about getting them and myself home to Irsis as fast as possible.

 

I also thought about what to do with Meagg.

 

One day, as I was taking the air on deck, watching the Redmoon Islands sliding by, I heard her come up behind me.

 

“Meagg,” said I, gazing at the lush, green coast, “we need to think about our futures.”

 

“I agree,” said she, and the metallic shing of a sword being drawn made me turn to find her cutlass pointed at my throat.

 

“Whoa! That looks sharp.”

 

“Peino,” said she, dressed in her purple and steel, with the daggers in her boots and her black hair gleaming in the sun, “please don’t take this the wrong way. You’re a nice person, and I really like you. But I’m taking the ship.”

 

“I see. And the treasure?”

 

“I’m taking the treasure.”

 

“Of course,” I nodded. “And the books?”

 

She thought about it a moment.

 

“You can have the books,” she decided. “And you can have that old helmet, too. It suits you.”

 

“Thank you. But how will you handle this ship alone? It’s hard enough with just the two of us.”

 

“Thelinor is less than a day due west, and I will pick up a new crew there. I can manage on my own until then, so this is where you get off.”

 

She left me on a South Redmoon beach, which was fine, because it happened that I knew people in the Redmoons, in the herb trade, and I knew it would be only a matter of days before an Ereonis ship came calling. I watched until The Wolf’s sails disappeared over the horizon, and then, hefting the sack of books and tucking the bronze helm under my arm, I hiked into the jungle, to look up old friends. Within the week, I was rested, refreshed, dressed in clean clothes, and on board a vessel bound for home.

 

Now I sit at my desk in Irsis, finishing this account. The Books of Ereon and the bronze helm of the Sea King occupy a new bookcase I ordered especially for them. Scholars and diviners are already working on deciphering the ancient language, and I have made it my goal as Scion to translate the texts and restore the legacy of Ereon to all his descendants from this day forth. Thus I shall fulfill my duty.

 

I have heard news of Meagg. Apparently, she got her crew and is becoming quite the Pirate Queen of the Desert Coasts. I am glad if she can make something of the treasure she took from me, but I can’t help but think she cheated herself in a way.

 

For wealth may come and go, but wisdom, as I have seen, can never be lost.

 

 

The End

-- Peino Ereonis, 27th Moon Bear Lord, House of Ereon

Edited by peino

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Very nice job, Peino. Your story flows as smoothly as The Wolf on gentle seas.

 

Out of curiosity, how long have you been working on it?

 

Phil...

Thank you kindly. :bangwall:

 

This one took me a little over a week of doing pretty much nothing else, though I had the general idea in my head for a few months. I'm surprised at myself. I usually obsess endlessly and have a hard time finishing things, but I really didn't have time for eternal tweaking, due to RL demands. Hooray, Deadlines. :whistle:

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Guest Annatira

Very, very nice!

 

A captivating story, you have a real gift.

 

I hope there wil be more to come in the future, looking forward to it.

 

Anna

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Very, very nice!

 

A captivating story, you have a real gift.

 

I hope there wil be more to come in the future, looking forward to it.

 

Anna

Thanks. I'm glad you liked it.

 

There will be more, someday. I've got all those ancient books to translate now. :P

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Guest Raindragon123

You are incredibly talented and gifted! I was enthralled, unable to concentrate on anything BUT this tale! I am sorry to see this story ended but anxiously look forward to any future installments!

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Peino, I thought you were an artist!

 

Fantastic story, once I started reading I actually had to log out of EL. That says a lot! :)

When's the movie coming out?

 

~ Mugs

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Thanks, Raindragon and Mugwump. I had a lot of fun with this one.

 

To PhilDaBurn, I gave some more thought to how long I worked on this, and all told - between planning, outlining, and actual writing - I think it took the same amount of time as passed within the story itself, about 3(+) months. And it was the same months, too (using the Draia-Earth comparative calendar). It has a few trouble spots that I want to edit, but I'm forcing myself not to do that for a little while.

 

 

 

 

(Oh, and PS to Mugs: I can cook, too. Triple-threat elf. :unsure: j/k)

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Very nice peino, a good story. I have several comments but i'm not sure if you're looking for critiques or not :evilgrin:

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Very nice peino, a good story. I have several comments but i'm not sure if you're looking for critiques or not ;)

Critiques/criticism are always welcome, no matter what. Have at it.

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Ok, well I have several friendly comments ;)

 

First off i am fairly certain that ship names should be italicized.

 

Then, I'm no expert on ships, but it seems to me 1 person would have a very hard time running a ship all by his lonesome. Perhaps you could get away with it for peino since he is a sea elf. But the pirate ship only being sailed by the helmsman alone seems slightly unbelievable.

 

Why does the crew follow peino? If i was on a pirate ship i sure wouldn't trust some sea elf person to be the leader of a bunch of theives.

 

And in general Peino seems to be a very trusting fellow... he trusts the shadow without question, he trusts meagg. Being a leader in his family, and a smart buisness man i find it odd he trusts people so easily.

 

-edit-

another really unimportant note. 6 months and only 160k profit? I'd find a better job...

Edited by Enly

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Ok, well I have several friendly comments :D

 

First off i am fairly certain that ship names should be italicized.

I'll look that up, but as far as I know that applies only to book/movie/etc titles. I'll check though and make the change if needed. I have a bunch of small edits earmarked, but I'm letting my brain cool down from reading the story for a bit. No doubt, when I read it again, I'll find more things to fix as well.

 

Then, I'm no expert on ships, but it seems to me 1 person would have a very hard time running a ship all by his lonesome. Perhaps you could get away with it for peino since he is a sea elf. But the pirate ship only being sailed by the helmsman alone seems slightly unbelievable.

It depends on the size of the ship. For instance, a party of 14 landed at Iscalrith and that was the entire ship's crew. The Wolf is not a large vessel - not like real pirate/privateer ships that needed crews up to 100. I based the size of the ships on the size of ships in game, and that is quite small. At two masts, The Wolf is a fantasy ship for EL, but could still be very small. Also, pirate ships routinely had more crew than was needed to run the ship -- just like navy ships -- because of their job as fighters and the expectation of high casualties. If we were to look up the real size of ships in the Medieval period, I think the sizes of these crews and ships would fit -- though I would have to delete the reference to a "sloop" which is a more modern vessel. I'll do that next week, or as soon as I can get to the edits I need to make.

 

Also, a ship that would be over-crewed with 14, I think could be rigged to make a straight line across a narrow body of water (as that between Thelinor and SRM), handled by one person, if she was a very good sailor. But she'd be running a great risk. Meagg struck me as the kind of person who would rather run that risk than the risk of keeping Peino around.

 

I'm happy with the way the plot works in this respect. To involve more crew would require too drastic a rewrite. But if people think it's a problem I'll try to edit in references to the ships being somewhat small. Bring the ships down to the crews, rather than the crews up to the ships.

 

Why does the crew follow peino? If i was on a pirate ship i sure wouldn't trust some sea elf person to be the leader of a bunch of theives.

I based that on a real pirate. His name was Bart Roberts. According to the History Channel, he was the navigator on a slave trader out of Africa that was captured by pirates. Because their navigator had been killed, they offered him the job -- at the point of a sword. He took the job. Later, their captain was killed, and the crew offered to elect him captain. (Pirate captains were elected, with the proviso that if they didn't deliver loot, they could be un-elected, violently.) Roberts went on to become one of the bloodiest pirates in history.

 

http://www.geocities.com/captcutlass/bio/roberts.html

 

Essentially, the entire episode on board The Wolf is from Bart Roberts' story. It may seem crazy, but it really happened, so I'm happy with it.

 

And in general Peino seems to be a very trusting fellow... he trusts the shadow without question, he trusts meagg. Being a leader in his family, and a smart buisness man i find it odd he trusts people so easily.

Did he seem trusting to you? He seemed scheming, confident, even reckless to me.

 

He follows the Shadow because of the Red Witch's vision. And the only reason he follows the vision is because it is his duty to his clan. So, since the Shadow is, essentially, the key to his quest, he has to trust it. I think that what Peino is, is extremely accepting of magic. The nature of the Shadow doesn't put him off at all. He's just annoyed at how demanding it is.

 

I think Peino is also extremely self-confident. He walks unhesitatingly into all kinds of unknown situations, trusting that he will come up with something to get himself out later -- as with the drowning of Black Cap and the insanely dangerous yeti plan in Iscalrith, both on-the-fly improvisations. He doesn't ever assume that he won't be able to handle whatever the other person -- Shadow or Meagg -- might throw at him. Which is why he breaks down a little when he realizes the Shadow won't be there to guide him out of the mists. He berates himself for not anticipating that.

 

By the way, this is exactly how I play Peino ingame. Almost all Peino's ingame deaths are due to walking into unknown places just to see what's there, or from reaching above his level to see if he can finesse his skills to make a kill. Peino says he's risk averse, but he really does take a lot of risks - if they are risks that interest him.

 

As for Meagg, I'm not sure if *trust* is what he feels towards her. I thought she made it pretty obvious that she was helping Peino for self-serving reasons, but what was Peino supposed to do? Not ally with her and stay in Black Cap's chains? And at Iscalrith -- of all the cutthroats on that ship, who should he take with him -- the one who he had a nominal deal with and who knew how to sail, or the ones who had already threatened him and who didn't know how to sail?

 

Remember, that at the end, as soon as he had an idea of what he wanted to do with his treasure, his first thought was to get rid of Meagg.

 

I thought of Peino as using Meagg, not trusting her. I never came out and said that. Instead, I tried to show it in the way they talked to each other and the actions they took with regard to each other. They were each using the other.

 

-edit-

another really unimportant note. 6 months and only 160k profit? I'd find a better job...

LOL, I actually had a long explanation of his Seridian business, but I edited it out as irrelevant. It's a complicated part of Peino's backstory, grounded in my ingame role-play. You'd be surprised at just how much the House of Ereon controls in terms of business interests in EL, without anyone knowing it. ;) But none of that is part of this story, so I skipped over it.

 

The coastal trading rights in five Seridian lands that he mentions to Derzelas were what took up most of the 6 months in Seridia. This is based on the RL idea that coasts are controlled by governments and if you want to dock your ships for trade purposes, you need permission of some kind. Peino wasn't just sailing in and sailing out again. He was setting up the rights to carry goods and passengers from point to point WITHIN and BETWEEN those lands, all of which have independent governments, and to do that on an ongoing basis for all ships carrying the banner of House Ereon. It's like a shipping company getting permission to have its own dock in NYC or Boston. Go take the knowledge quest again and then ask yourself how easy it would be to get mutal agreements from both Lord Luxin of Whitestone and the Portland Chamber of Commerce, for a shipping group from Irsis to carry passengers and trade between their lands.

 

The gold was the least valuable thing Peino brought home from that trip. The governmental papers he hands over to Derzelas are where the value is.

 

Also, in keeping with the literary device of linking the end back to the beginning, I kind of like that Peino starts out as more interested in making connections than obtaining gold, and ends as more interested in books and history than in gold again. Once again, the real value is in the documents.

 

If you think his reported profit after 6 months in Seridia is disappointing, how disappointing must you find it that he returns from his quest with books but no gold. Yet he is not disappointed in either trip, even though the returns seem anti-climactic on the surface.

 

And finally, the 160,000 number was the amount of gc I had in storage at the time I wrote that. I can pump up the number if it really seems too low. Pick a new number and I'll use that. :D Besides, profit =/= total income. That's just what was left over after expenses were paid, and it's the amount House Ereon will have to pay taxes on. Consider the difference between gross income and taxable earnings. :P

 

I really don't want to put in more detail about this because it is not germane to the Sea King story, and it would bloat the beginning, in my opinion. But I'd like to hear from other people too, if they think they want that info in the story. I have it on my computer from an earlier draft.

 

LOL, I had considered writing the story of the Seridian trip, but I thought it might piss Radu and Roja off to see me just moving in and taking over their world, as it were. :P

 

Anyway, these are GREAT critiques!! Exactly what I'm looking for. Thanks. :D

Edited by peino

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OK, Enly's critiques were very good. I slept on them and came up with the following ideas, but I'd like more opinions as well before doing anything about them.

 

SEA KING REWRITE SUGGESTIONS:

 

1) I can rewrite the beginning to give more info about what Peino was doing in Seridia for 6 months and more info about the House of Ereon and why he has to take this quest from the Red Witch. Pro: It will give a fuller background for Peino. Con: It will pad out the beginning with stuff that isn't relevant to the plot.

 

2) I can add a few details to the Peino/Meagg early dialogue scenes to give a sense of what Peino is thinking. Pro: It might make the trust issue clearer. Con: I hate inner monologues.

 

3) I will add a couple of details to the end of Chapter 4 to explain why the pirates choose to put Peino in charge.

 

4) I can give more description of the ships, especially size.

 

Basically, my real big issues with ideas #1 & 2 is that I really, really don't like injections of exposition that don't advance the current plot at all -- like telling us what the protagonist was doing before he started doing what we care about now, and "he thought" lines rather than "he said" or "he did" lines.

 

So, I'm suggesting these changes before making them. I'd really like it if other readers would weigh in on them as well, and also give me their own impressions of the story, as Enly did.

 

Since I'm a nitpicking perfectionist, it will take me a good bit of time to make these changes in a way that I'm happy with, so don't expect a new version soon.

 

--Peino ;)

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Well you had answers for all my comments as I expected. And all I was really saying is that those things seem unclear, slightly odd and you should include more information about them in the story.

 

Basically, my real big issues with ideas #1 & 2 is that I really, really don't like injections of exposition that don't advance the current plot at all -- like telling us what the protagonist was doing before he started doing what we care about now, and "he thought" lines rather than "he said" or "he did" lines.

 

From what I have learned/know about writing short stories, it is imperitive that you don't put in to much unrelated details that don't move the plot along. But at the same time if you complete disregard anything that does not move the plot along your characters become dull. A story in my opinion is meant to be character driven, the plot develops according the characters personalities.

 

In your response you had great descriptions of peino and meagg's personalities, those sorts of things should be woven into the story I think. It just gives the characters deapth and makes them more intriguing.

 

I'll silence myself now as I'm sure you would like to hear from others as well. These were just my opinions on the story, and I did enjoy reading it.

Edited by Enly

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Good points. I'll consider them as I plan the upcoming edits. I won't do anything for a few days because I want the ideas to simmer in my brain for a bit. ;)

 

 

EDIT: BTW, you're completely right about italicizing the names of ships. That change will definitely be made. Thanks.

Edited by peino

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Peino, I love it! The plot is well thought out and executed and the character development is fantastic. I particularly like Belece and Black Cap and was a little disappointed that Belece doesn't make another appearance in the end (but I'm hoping she's integral to future installments!). With Black Cap I just kept thinking "bought character-- has the skills, but doesn't even know how to heal his own summons" and was very gratified with his anticlimatical death.

 

You asked for input, so here it is:

 

1. I'm still not completely satisfied with the "twice beyond the thrice white shore." I realize that you meant the three beaches, but to me it still reads as if it is one beach with three types of white: sand, snow, and ? (If Glacmor beaches are also covered in powdered sugar, someone has to tell me. I will be spending a lot more time there.) I think I would be happier if it read something along the lines of "twice beyond the terciary twice-white shore."

 

2. Enly's right. Ship names are in italics. (I found a couple other minor punctuation errors, so let me know if you want those too.)

 

3. Two female characters and they're both redheads? As a redhead myself (in RL, of course) I love that there aren't that many of us, so I wasn't happy to see that Meagg has auburn hair. I went ahead and imagined her with black hair.

 

 

SEA KING REWRITE SUGGESTIONS:

 

1) I can rewrite the beginning to give more info about what Peino was doing in Seridia for 6 months and more info about the House of Ereon and why he has to take this quest from the Red Witch. Pro: It will give a fuller background for Peino. Con: It will pad out the beginning with stuff that isn't relevant to the plot.

 

2) I can add a few details to the Peino/Meagg early dialogue scenes to give a sense of what Peino is thinking. Pro: It might make the trust issue clearer. Con: I hate inner monologues.

 

3) I will add a couple of details to the end of Chapter 4 to explain why the pirates choose to put Peino in charge.

 

4) I can give more description of the ships, especially size.

 

Basically, my real big issues with ideas #1 & 2 is that I really, really don't like injections of exposition that don't advance the current plot at all -- like telling us what the protagonist was doing before he started doing what we care about now, and "he thought" lines rather than "he said" or "he did" lines.

 

 

I agree with you about #1. The story provides enough character development for Peino that a lengthier history at the beginning might become tedious. The second point could be taken care of with a little more dialogue between the two characters rather than more exposition. I agree with Enly that their relationship is a little vague at times. I also agree that a little more explanation about why the pirates are so eager to follow Peino is necessary. I'm seeing perhaps a late night conversation with Meagg and the other pirates before Black Cap is drowned?

 

Let me know when the next installment is ready! :)

 

Edit: Sorry! Didn't see your last post about the ship names!

Edited by sygon

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Peino, I love it! The plot is well thought out and executed and the character development is fantastic. I particularly like Belece and Black Cap and was a little disappointed that Belece doesn't make another appearance in the end (but I'm hoping she's integral to future installments!). With Black Cap I just kept thinking "bought character-- has the skills, but doesn't even know how to heal his own summons" and was very gratified with his anticlimatical death.

Thanks! :D Terrific critiques. I really appreciate them, though I'm starting to be led dangerously close to the obsessive perfectionism over every single tiny little detail that has kept me from finishing My Novel for over 10 years.

 

Belece is vital to Peino's life as Scion of the House of Ereon, because as Seer of the House of Ereon, she (through her visions and dreams) is the primary source of the quests which are one of the Scion's main reasons for existence (as a title and position in the clan leadership). The edits I'm working on make very brief mention of this.

 

I originally planned this story to be nothing more than the set-up for how Peino got the Books of Ereon, which is the main title of the collection of short stories he will "translate," piece-meal over time, as I get around to writing them. All my planning has been about those Books -- stories about the origins of Draia's monsters, stories about sea elf culture, and the voyages of Ereon himself (a kind of sea elf Sinbad).

 

But I had so much fun building on Peino's world -- his lifestyle, his background, the people in his personal life, etc -- that I'm now thinking about more stories about him and other (fictional) modern Ereoni, like Belece. Apparently, I'll be keeping myself busy. :)

 

You asked for input, so here it is:

 

1. I'm still not completely satisfied with the "twice beyond the thrice white shore." I realize that you meant the three beaches, but to me it still reads as if it is one beach with three types of white: sand, snow, and ? (If Glacmor beaches are also covered in powdered sugar, someone has to tell me. I will be spending a lot more time there.) I think I would be happier if it read something along the lines of "twice beyond the terciary twice-white shore."

LOL! Look, sister, go lick the snow in Iscalrith. It's delicious! It may as well be powdered sugar. :D

 

I like the ambiguity of the vision's language, but by putting this into my head, you might just have put these words into Belece's or Derzelas's mouth when discussing it in chapter 3.

 

2. Enly's right. Ship names are in italics. (I found a couple other minor punctuation errors, so let me know if you want those too.)

 

3. Two female characters and they're both redheads? As a redhead myself (in RL, of course) I love that there aren't that many of us, so I wasn't happy to see that Meagg has auburn hair. I went ahead and imagined her with black hair.

Not sure if I care enough about that detail to change it or not. She can have black hair, if you like. OK, I'll give her black hair. :(

 

I agree with you about #1. The story provides enough character development for Peino that a lengthier history at the beginning might become tedious. The second point could be taken care of with a little more dialogue between the two characters rather than more exposition. I agree with Enly that their relationship is a little vague at times. I also agree that a little more explanation about why the pirates are so eager to follow Peino is necessary. I'm seeing perhaps a late night conversation with Meagg and the other pirates before Black Cap is drowned?

I'm thinking about it. As I told Enly, the pirates putting Peino in charge follows real pirate customs. I am working on a way to have them explain themselves in as few words as possible. I'm not sure I want to eavesdrop on a below-decks conversation because through the whole story, the PoV focus is on Peino, and there are no scenes without him present. He could overhear the conversation through his spy, the Shadow, but I think that would create the need for a significant rewrite of the second half of Chapter 4. I'm not sure I want to do that.

 

As it stands now, Peino does not explain why he gets rid of Black Cap. He only tells us that he does it. Does he make an actual plan with Meagg? Or is he improvising as he sees his circumstances develop? Enly questioned whether Peino is too trusting of Meagg. Should he trust her enough to make a plan with her to take over the ship, or is he just making the judgment that Meagg might be useful and making up a private plan based on that? I mean, was he judging what kind of resources these people could be for him, and deciding to stop passively waiting to see what Black Cap would make happen, and instead actively use Meagg to make things happen that he wanted to happen -- you know, deciding to change from captive to captain.

 

This is maybe the toughest part of the edits for me. And I'm still not certain how much of it I would want to do. As with the vision, ambiguity doesn't bother me that much.

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EDITS DONE

 

I edited the original story posts to replace the first version with the edited version. You might have a little trouble finding the changes, because I tried to do them with as few words as possible.

 

- I added a tiny bit more background about Peino and Belece in chapters 1 & 2.

 

- Derzelas makes a snarky remark about tertiary shores. :(

 

- I adjusted some references to time and the size of the ships and crews.

 

- I gave Meagg black hair and black eyes, and added a tad more of Peino's thoughts/observations about her.

 

- I made reference to a code of piracy according to which the pirates make Peino captain while still keeping him under threat of death. Remember, Enly, that really happened. :fire:

 

- I did not change the part about Meagg piloting the ship by herself the last few hours to Thelinor. In reality, it can be done with ships of the size we're talking about, even if it's a risky venture.

 

- Plus, I made a bunch of minor edits to descriptions and exposition, because when I start, I have trouble stopping.

 

- If anyone finds any typos, please let me know. NOTE: I do deliberately use run-on sentences, sentence fragments, sentences beginning with conjunctions, and idiosyncratic (word of the day) punctuation. It's my "style," don't ya know, and all technically accepted at various times by the OED, so I'm not likely to change it. However, if a sentence or paragraph just really freaks you out, let me know, and I'll consider how to fix that.

 

Thanks again, all,

 

--Peino

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