1999-03-13: The Arrival

Global Edition

The Arrival

Author: Berthow Asin'Truu Published: March 13, 1999

A lone wanderer moved down the warped gangplank onto a bleached and sun battered dock. The gangplank led from The Starlight, a small warship, which bobbed slowly in the warm water. Once on the dock, the figure stood motionless for a moment, as if calculating her next move. A dusty robe hung off of her hunched back. The fragile looking material fell to tatters about her feet.

Ahhh, Buccaneer’s Den, how long has it been since I graced your shores, the figure thought.

She paused a moment, snared by fragments of an ancient madness. Onyx eyes lost in the chaotic tangle of jungle undergrowth which defined the bandit city. Thin clouds of insanity continued to surface even months after clarity and reason had returned. Occasional phantom memories would pull her into a trance of confusion and anger, a trace of swirled images of different times, different worlds, different feelings. Bluish light from a moongate Casca.ing into a dark, stone hewn room…a hand closing about an obsidian sceptre…tear soaked tendrils of black hair dangling over a felled lover…

“Ma’am? Thou didst forget this,” said an impish man who had shuffled up beside the pensive wanderer. He held a staff out to the wanderer, cowering.

The figure seemed to stare right through him for a moment before focusing back onto reality. A pale hand grasped onto the twisted staff, which had the color of old bone. A crude image of a crow in flight could be seen between the figure’s smooth thumb and forefinger.

“I thank thee…Now where is the person leading this so-called pirate renaissance?” the wanderer asked, gently pulling his face closer by the chin. Her face remained hidden in the shadows of the robe, but drops of light still found her eyes, suspended in their blackness. Cowed, the rotund sailor whispered a name, motioned towards town, and scurried back onto the ship.

Sunlight shone brightly through the tattered canopy of trees and vines that covered the scattering of buildings. Several columns of gray smoke could be seen through the treetops. The low rumble of a distant argument could be heard below the sounds of the surf, wind, and fauna. Slowly, the figure began the short journey to visit the leader of this pirate cartel.

The dusty streets were filled with ragged mercenaries, pirates, thieves, and rouges. Each was decorated with noisy curses, blurry tattoos, jagged scars, and the dank smell of last night’s ale. If one happened to wander near the figure, then they would fall silent until the person passed. She ignored them all, eyeing the tavern, where she was to find the man she sought. Pausing just beyond the entrance, a bundle of fighting cutthroats spilled out of the tavern and onto the street. The tangle of anger tumbled past the figure as she continued into the loud building.

Standing in the entryway, the hooded figure cast a shadow across the crowded and smoky room. As her eyes scanned the room, the music and crude conversation slowly drained to a halt. She spotted a guarded door towards the rear past the now silent mob, but once again became lost in thoughts... memories. Fractured earth belching forth fire and smoke…a soft finger pushing the final piece into a metal mind…sitting in hot sand, holding bare feet that were covered in droplets of blood…

A large, brutish man tried to shove the hooded intruder out of his way... once again bringing her thoughts back to the present.

“Out o' me way! I've no patience fer witches,” the man bellowed, but the figure barely even acknowledged his existence. Lines of anger flared in the ruffian’s face as he raised his fist to dispose of the strange wanderer. She merely looked at him. Without a word or motion, the man’s muscular arm was withered to the bone, as if it had aged a hundred years. The once tanned skin from fist to shoulder immediately turned pale and dry. A short, soft whisper was heard from the figure followed by the man dropping to the floor in speechless agony.

The path to the back room was suddenly clear.

She crossed the room. As the wanderer’s pale hand touched the door, visions of wandering and madness rushed once again to the figure’s mind. A crumbling palace…forgotten thirst and hunger…a rising fortress built in the heart of a volcano…wandering the unknown in search of the familiar…shaking her head, she opened the door.

“What dost thou want? Canst thou not see that I am a VERY busy man?! Crinn, who is this person?” shouted a man from behind a large oaken desk. Documents and scroll were strewn everywhere. Tired sunlight struggled through a dirt covered window and across the grainy, smoke-filled room. Several candles also fought against the darkness contributing even more smoke to the stale air . The man shouting was relatively handsome, dressed in dirty, yet aristocratic clothing. His most distinguishing feature was a long scar which extended from the left corner of his mouth, through his left eye and stopped after breaking a thick brow. It curled into a permanent, ghastly grin.

“No idea, Mr. Boc,” Crinn Sanjole hissed smoothly from his post at the door. “State thy business and do it quickly, stranger.” Crinn was much better dressed, and cleaner than his leader. A tight vest and a tighter money belt defined his wardrobe and his person. His hair sat well groomed and well greased upon his head.

“For thee, Lazag…I have a proposition…” the dark-robed woman stated, pulling back the hood of the robe to reveal silky ribbons of long black hair. The heavy door closed behind her. Almost immediately, the rumble of voices began to again fill the barroom. Though much more subdued. Those who remained were left to whisper and mutter. Their eyes carefully avoided the voiceless terror of the man who lay curled on the floor cradling his withered arm.