Chapter list: http://tanadin.dreamwidth.org/382.html
Map of the western continent: http://tanadin.deviantart.com/art/
Minecraftian Waters, Central Sea. April 9, year 788. Time instance 483Z.
Zekara wasn’t particularly happy about a giant monster interrupting her first voyage in over two hundred years. The last time she had been captain of a ship, it had been destroyed by a creature that probably deserved more ‘fuck’s than ‘giant fucking monster’ but, looking at the massive shape in the water, Zekara figured that it fit the description and had an awfully familiar shape.
Well, shit. “Grab your weapons and prepare to be thrown into the water! Last time I encountered one of these things, it destroyed my ship! Go, go, go!”
“Did you say destroyed?” Eclipse shrieked.
“Explain what you mean by destroyed!” Vengeance shouted.
“Reduced to splinters with almost no survivors!” Zekara pulled her axe off her back and looked into the depths, watching the massive dark shape grow larger and larger. A spike of fear lanced through her heart when two bright yellow lights came into view underneath the water, but she quashed it with a deep breath and an intimidating roar. Behind her, Nessy shifted into her dragon form and circled over the deck.
The surface of the water shattered like glass as the monster’s head rose up and up and up, towering over the ship and deafening Zekara briefly with the crash of water. The boat rocked, moving away from the towering monster as it lowered its head to look at them more closely.
Two dark yellow eyes surveyed them, planted on a dragonlike head bigger than Nessy. Its head connected to a serpentine body that vanished below the waves, blue-green scales blending into the water almost perfectly. Blue fins ran along its back and on the sides of its head, similar to ears. Two massive blue-grey horns extended up and back from the top of the creature’s head. Fangs curved out of its mouth, fangs as big as or larger than Zekara. Spines ran along the underside of its jaws and between the two rows of fins on its back. A scar crossed in front of its left eye, starting on its eyeridge and stretching down to the top of its lower jaw.
“Leviathan!” Nessy roared, triggering a memory in Zekara’s mind, of researching what had destroyed her ship all those years ago shortly before she ended up in Ahnrak. She hadn’t gotten a good look at the monster previously, but she remembered its eyes, its shape, and its scar.
“You!” Zekara raised her axe. “You destroyed my ship!”
The leviathan blinked once, the sound of its eyelids a loud click that bounded across the water. A rumble rose in its throat but it wasn’t an aggressive sound, more curious or accepting than anything. The pitch was so low and the sound was so loud due to the monster’s size- Zekara had never seen a creature so big, it seemed bigger than it had two hundred years ago- that she couldn’t make out its meaning.
“Oh great leviathan, we only wish to cross the ocean to the eastern continent to save our people,” Nessy told it, raising her voice to be heard over the panicking of the crew. “Do you know where it is?”
The leviathan moved closer, slowly, as if being careful not to tip the boat. Its jaws opened and Zekara tightened her grip on her axe, knowing that she would be helpless against such a force if it decided to attack.
Its jaws did not open far, however, only enough for its deep, slow voice to rumble out. “I do.”
“Will you aid our journey there?”
“Are you crazy?” Zekara demanded. “That th-”
Endira’s hand clapped over her mouth and the darkness elementalist shook her head, rusty eyes wide but confident. “Trust her!” She stepped back and Zekara glared at her, but her head snapped back up at the leviathan’s reply.
“Perhaps.” It lowered its head to be level with Nessy, turning its head to face one of its eyes directly at her. “Who are you?”
“I am Nessy Ray, descendant of Nebris Ray and a half-dragon. I have heritage from Iilthrid and Alvaria both and I have been touched by fate in a prophecy to save the world, two hundred years ago.” She looked down and made a motion with her claws, one that was lost on Zekara but Endira seemed to understand.
“I am Endira Daraloh, descendant of Onai Daraloh and a darkness elementalist. I hold the blade of Kaareth Opron and the shadows speak to me.”
Zekara got the hint. “I am Zekara Aklena, daughter of the Frostlands and descendant of the Skullblades. I was also part of that prophecy two hundred years ago, led there by you destroying my ship.”
“I am Tarsen Harvex, known as Vengeance. I hold the Heart of Pain and was part of the Hostile prophecy.”
“I am Samuel Soares, known as Ujhin. I was part of the Hostile prophecy and helped to save the world two hundred years ago.”
“I am Eclipse the Hope, Ashenhorn Skullblade and Caretaker of the valk’vanor, Nelvethia.”
“The rest are crewmembers of this ship, Dalanian citizens that serve their Davion king,” Nessy added.
The leviathan blinked. Once, twice, three times.
“I appear,” it mumbled, “to have stumbled across the most important vessel in the sea.”
“I’d say so. Let us pass,” Eclipse snarled.
“That was never in contention,” Nessy assured. “If she had wanted to kill us, she wouldn’t have bothered letting us see her. She would have just destroyed the ship.”
The leviathan inhaled and lowered its head to be level with the deck, sniffing before turning its eye towards them. Nessy landed on the deck, taking up most of it, but didn’t transform back. “One here smells of Kaepravah. Step forward.”
Vengeance reluctantly moved forward to stand next to Zekara. She stepped away, pretty sure that he was about to be eaten and judging whether or not she could hit the leviathan in the eye if it- she, whatever- moved in.
“Are you her mate?”
“No, not rea- well, I guess I...yeah. Yeah, sure. That’s me.”
“You guard the Heart of Pain. Does Kaepravah live?”
“Yes. She’s in stasis at the moment- she’s been infected by the plague that we are journeying to cure.”
“Plague? That is no plague.” The leviathan snorted, the burst of air enough to make Vengeance stumble. “That is a magical infection caused by one of the Creators. Nothing else could threaten the Pain-voice so.”
“Well, whatever it is, she’s dying from it and I need to save her.”
“We need to save our people. We’re dying and there’s nothing we can do to combat this, but there’s a prophecy that we will find a cure to the east.”
“A cure? The only cure is the death of the source. Unless you can cure corruption itself, you must kill a creator.” The leviathan’s words hung on the air, making Zekara’s heart drop.
She’d killed a lot of things. She knew what she could and could not take. A Creator was so far out of what she could defeat it was laughable. Even this monstrosity before her would fall before one of the creators of the world.
“We will do whatever it takes to save them. To save her.” Vengeance’s fists clenched. “Even if we have to kill a Creator.”
“We’re supposedly raising Vallor’roth from the dead,” Eclipse said helpfully. “Maybe that would balance it out?”
The leviathan’s head reared back with a shocked sound that to her probably wasn’t that loud but to Zekara it was a roar. Her head turned away from the boat and upwards and her jaws opened, wider and wider and wider, as ice-blue flames poured from them and painted the sky. No heat washed off of her, however; instead, cold air sank down to make most of the crew shiver but only made Zekara roll her shoulders and grin.
Ice fire, huh? She could respect that.
The leviathan lowered its head once more, jaws snapping shut. “You would bring the Dragon Unknown back to life?”
“Yes.” Nessy stood as tall as she could on all four legs, trying to look confident.
The leviathan narrowed its eyes slightly, looking them over, before snorting and raising its head. “I will aid you.”
Nessy bowed, which, as a dragon, was an odd gesture involving lowering the head and spreading the wings slightly while lowering oneself down with the front legs. “We thank you, great leviathan.”
“I am Malkyrr’rksharr, daughter of Tordakl. Most know me as Malkyr.”
“We are honored by your name.”
“And I by yours.” The leviathan dipped its head. She dove back beneath the waves and vanished entirely from sight, other than a dark shape that moved around the boat to the other side.
Zekara stormed up to Nessy as she transformed back to her human form. “How did you know how to do that? What made her not try to kill us? What the hell?”
“I was friends with Skera for a little while. She taught me how to introduce myself to a leviathan.” Nessy grinned sheepishly. “I don’t think I got it all right, but don’t think she minded. Leviathans can be particular about how things are done, which is hilarious considering how chaotic their actions can seem to be. As for why she didn’t kill us, it’s probably because we were interesting. I mean, we have a valk’vanor and the Heart of Pain onboard. She was probably drawn to us because she was curious.”
“And why did she try to kill me last time?”
Nessy shrugged. “She was probably hungry. Just bad luck.”
“What, does she eat boats?”
Nessy shrugged. “I’m not an expert. What do I know about leviathans?”
“A lot, apparently!”
“Oh, and that reminds me. You all might want to hang on.”
“Hang on? Why?”
“She’s about to create a massive wave and use her water magic to keep us afloat.”
“HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS?”
“I thought it was fairly obvious!”
Zekara’s eyes widened as she saw the leviathan rise out of the water a ways away, going up and up and up, high enough to pull the entirety of her arms above the water, webbed claws glistening in the light of the sun.
And then, she started to fall.
“HANG ON!” Zekara roared, even as she grabbed the nearest structure and held on for dear life.
The following wave slammed into them harder than expected, but a blue energy bubble of some kind had formed around them, protecting them from the water and allowing them to be ‘safely’ flung forward. The leviathan swam underneath them as the water stilled and the bubble faded, instead forming a blue light along the base of the boat. The leviathan swam faster and the boat moved with it, cutting through the surface of the water faster than it ever could have on its own.
“Holy shit,” Zekara whispered, looking over the edge at the water below. “Holy shit.”
“Why didn’t she just do this initially?” Vengeance demanded. “Was the wave really necessary?”
“No,” Nessy admitted, “but it was fun.”
“That was awesome!” Eclipse grinned widely. “Again, again!” Nelvethia bounced and squeaked in agreement.
“No,” Vengeance mumbled. “My stomach has had a rough enough time in the past week as it is.”
“You did look pretty sick in the throne room,” Eclipse admitted. “Was that from the portal?”
“I think it was from seeing Phyren shirtless,” Nessy muttered.
“Phyren’s a good-looking guy! Don’t say such things about him.” Vengeance rolled his eyes. “Come on, Nessy. Obviously it was the portal.”
“Oh, fucking bite me.”
“Kinky.” Vengeance winked.
Nessy growled at him. “You said you were done with the sexual crap!”
“I didn’t say anything about jokes! You make it too easy!”
“Easy? Like you?” Zekara grinned at Vengeance’s attempts to defend himself before he just sighed in defeat.
“You’re an asshole.”
“Don’t I know it.” Zekara leaned back against the mast, grinning. “Don’t I know it.”
“Kyilld, dear, you’re holding it the wong way.”
“Shit.” Kyilld adjusted her hold on the knife. “Better?”
“Much.” Skera smiled at her and went back to gently swirling the contents of a bottle.
“I don’t see why I have to use the knife. I have claws.”
“I’m not drinking anything that your claws have sliced. I don’t know where your claws have been.”
“That’s...fair.” Kyilld carefully started to cut up the root on the table in front of her. “Thank you for letting me help you make potions. It’s helped get my mind off of things.”
“Anything for my ridiculous monster grandchildren.” Skera smiled as she spoke, always entertained by calling the Hostiles Vechs’ children. They weren’t, not really, but they might as well have been. She didn’t usually say it around him, though, as it reminded him of his actual children and, while it had been over four hundred years, that kind of pain never really left.
They fell silent, then, working on their own projects until the familiar sound of Iirkolav’s footsteps disturbed Skera’s focus. She carefully set down the vial and excused herself from the room upon hearing him swearing and the pattern of his steps change into an unfamiliar rhythm. Skera made her way down a hallway and frowned as she walked Iirkolav limp along, careful not to move his metal foot a certain way.
He caught sight of her and shot her a pleading look. Skera rolled her eyes and moved forward to support him, helping him walk. “What have you done to yourself?”
“One of the internal mechanisms isn’t working quite right. Hasn’t since the Infinity Hourglass. Something snapped in there last night.”
Skera reflected that she had no idea when ‘last night’ was. They generally referred to whenever they- or at least the majority of the group- last slept as ‘last night,’ although she supposed that it might have correlated with Korvolia time. Thinking over when he and Blame had vanished to go to sleep, she figured it might have, and set that as a frame of reference.
“It’s been hours since you woke up, though, hasn’t it?”
“Ye-es,” Iirkolav said carefully, “but I’ve been busy.”
Skera raised an eyebrow at him.
“Just...please help me to Seth’s. He knows how to repair this thing.”
“Aye aye, fucktain.”
“Hey, hey. That’s Vechs, not me.”
“Whatever you say, sir.”
Iirkolav glared at her and she laughed at him. “I have a funny feeling that I wouldn’t have been any different even if you had raised me.”
“No, probably not,” Skera admitted. “You were an odd child.”
“Don’t I know it. Were you?”
“Oh, yes. But not for the same reasons you’d be. No, I didn’t get to go outside much, so once I could I became fascinated.”
“Why couldn’t you-”
Skera shot him a look. “My father was Kaltaerion. If I so much as opened the front door there would be an angry mob with pitchforks and torches there, shouting for his death.” She paused. “There was one who kept shouting about cookies. I don’t think she had all of her marbles, but she seemed to be having a great time, and I was four, so I didn’t question it. Perhaps that was a glimpse at my future self.”
“You...shouted at people about cookies?”
“Are you really one to judge my life choices, Mr. Filed Teeth?”
“That was for survival!”
“So was yelling about cookies!”
Iirkolav shook his head. “I will never understand you.”
“Nope.” Skera grinned. “By the way, you and Vechs might want to have a group therapy session with the Hostiles. Excluding Oros, of course.”
“They’re starting to remember.”
Remember the blood. Remember the pain. Remember the undying rage and self-destructive corruption.
Iirkolav stopped dead in his tracks, throwing Skera off and almost making them both fall. “They’re what?”
“With the return of corruption to the world, it’s triggering their memories of when they first became active. Only glimpses here and there, but it’s enough to disturb them. Kyilld has been spending time with me, making potions, in order to get her mind off of it. They’re scared, Iirkolav. Console them.”
Iirkolav nodded slowly and resumed walking. “I’ll do that. Thank you for letting me know.”
Skera watched his face as they walked, sighing quietly.
It had fallen into a familiar expression of worry, one that she was never eager to see.