Alan Stormwind

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As a child I was fortunate enough to attend the only school for miles around; a temple of Equinos that shimmered brighter than the sea among our village’s dingy shacks. The clergy of Equinos came to our village in the hope of enlightening the poverty stricken fisherman of the South Fjords. As if making us realize how wretched our lives were would raise us out of our stupor and somehow brighten our existence. During the week I would sit in the temple with the other children and listen to an Elf that looked older than a shipwreck, and more worn beneath his lavish robes, lecture on various subjects in between long tangents on the brilliance of Equinos. He truly believed we would buy into his preaching, but reality crashed into him harder than the hurricanes that plagued our coast line during the wet seasons. The scores we received on his tests of our knowledge were deplorable, with mine especially low. I had little time to read the lengthy ornate texts the church mocked us with. In order to “earn” my education and provide my life with necessities like food I labored on my father’s fishing boat on days there was no class, just like every other boy in my class. But instead of just giving up on us the temple continued to accept our donations in return for more pointless education. So that is how my childhood went, day after day of lessons and labor, with no time to pursue my own dreams, let alone make friends. Working with my father was enjoyable, for the harsh toil that it was. It was also the only time I could glimpse upon the only true radiance in our groggy fog filled bay. A lone figure perched on a plateau roaring out of the sea just outside of the village. Never had I spoken to her, but often of her. I found out she was an orphan, living alone in the house her departed family had left for her. Rumor had it that they also left her with a large sum of money, since she was seldom seen around town except to shop or sell her artwork. The only time I ever saw her was when she was outside her house with her tools of the trade set up, occasionally looking up to glance out to the sea. The precious few moments I got sight of her before our ship sailed out away into the mist resonated within me far greater than any of the garbage the clergy of Equinos spewed out. Of course I had seen and interacted with other girls, but she was different. While her form remained fixed in our stagnant village her soul desperately clawed its way to freedom, something I was sure of once I saw the artwork some of the people in town had purchased from her. It spoke to me, to all of us in a way the church would never be able to articulate. So I pressed on and saved up money with the ambition to one day purchase one of her pieces and tell her all the emotions that swelled within me.
Then one day my life was sucked into a whirlpool that rapidly churned it out of control. It was a terribly storming day in my young adulthood, during a pattern of particularly foul weather. The weather had kept the boats in our villages anchored for many days, stifling our already meager means to the point of desperation. My father gathered his crew and we sailed out, there was no sign of her out on the cliff. I was fairly certain all the other fishing boats had remained docked, so it was a curious sight when a ship appeared on our horizon. As we drew closer it did not appear to be a fishing boat at all, “Looks like someone from up-shore got dragged out” my father reasoned. Before I could finish turning my head to reply a strange thing happened. Where I was fairly certain my father had been was instead empty air, followed by rapidly approaching ocean. In the howl of the storm I hadn’t heard the sound of whatever had struck our ship. I didn’t have long to consider it as I frantically swam for the surface, clambering over sinking debris that slowly enveloped me and blocked any path to salvation. Eventually my arms and legs refused to push any further and I become just another part of the wreck destined for the black abyss of the ocean’s depths. An then I was shrouded in light that cut through the water, out beyond the surface and into the clouds above. With renewed vigor I powered my way up, my body no longer screaming its craving for air. I emerged from the water and grasped for the nearest floating object. Despite the tremendous feat of resurfacing I knew my chances of making it to shore through this storm were slim. I examined my surroundings, the remains of my father’s boat were pooled around me. Then I saw the other ship just off to my starboard side. It looked like some other members of the crew had successfully managed to make their way there and were being hoisted to safety. I gathered up what strength I could muster and kicked frantically towards the ship, on the verge of fainting once I reached it. Without the energy to call up I was worried I would go unnoticed, until I felt something grab hold of me from underneath the water. It began pulling me up the side of the but, and when I turned around I got a glimpse of someone carrying me up the side of the boat. He looked like a sailor at first, but when we got to the deck I was able to see the true horror of the creatures appearance. He looked like some poor sailor that had been left at the bottom of the ocean, more fish than man at this point. I looked around the deck and saw more of the unearthly creatures skulking around the deck. When my rescuer reached out for me again I quickly reached for the weapon at his hilt and kicked up into his chest, sending him soaring overboard.
The other hideous creatures began to direct their attention towards me, sluggishly dragging themselves towards me with all matter of grisly weapons. The first attacker came at my flank, swinging with incredible force for something so slow. He wielded some oddly pointed short spear with multiple rusted tips. Blocking his initial attack my sword became jammed in the points, but this allowed me to pull back my weapon and fling his weapon from his grip, empowered by some uncanny surge of strength. I made my attack swiftly, slashing across his abdomen from port to starboard. The thing lurched for a moment, but raised itself back up, spilling out a black pool of thick liquid filled with sea life. Before I had the chance to strike again another one of the monsters had made its way up to me. I got glimpse of his large sword mid swing, barley raising mine up in time to deflect his blow. However, there was more might behind its blow than I was prepared for and his attack shattered my feeble blade. In a panic I charged underneath his blade and thrust what remained of my sword beneath his jaw, shoving him back with all my strength. It remained flat on the deck, at least for the few moments I could spare to look at it. Turning back to the fight, the remaining creatures encircled me with my back to the sea. One approached ahead of the mass with a net of some kind, barbed on the ends. I was without a weapon, and considered taking my chances in the torrent beneath the ship. Before I was forced to resort to such drastic measures, the creature holding the net was tackled to the ground. My father began to wrestle with the beast right before my feet, until he slipped a large, toothed dagger from his waist and stabbed the thing ferociously until it stop resisting. The fire in my fathers eyes was quickly washed away by tears as he got up and embraced me, if only for a moment. There was still a battle to be won on the deck of this accursed vessel. All around us the remnants of our crew fought back against their captors harder than a great shark hooked at the end of a fishing line. For a few moments it looked like we would dispatch our foes and overtake the ship. But then a sound more foul than the storm bellowed in my head, nearly knocking me off my feet. The crew simultaneously stopped their fighting and began to reel from the new onslaught. It was a voice, and it rang in my mind in a language I could not understand. I could not see the source, until a man even more hideous than the creatures that attacked us came out to the deck, dressed in robes and adorned with metal trinkets hooked onto his skin. As slow as ever to react, the creatures then started to cut down or subdue the surviving crew, now left completely defenseless. As I watched the slaughter a great anger built up within me, a storming rage that fought against the darkness inside my head and drowned it out. Not wanting to waste my opportunity, I grabbed my father’s dagger, dropped next to his kneeling form with his hands clasped over his ears. I ran at the figure I sensed was the source of the sound. He was deeply focused on his spell, only opening his eyes after I had plunged the dagger deep into where I guessed something resembling a heart would be. Blood seeped out of his gaped mouth, a look of shock and amazement sculpted onto his face. It slowly slumped down, its insides getting caught on the large ridges of the blade before it could slide off it. I wrenched the dagger from his body and the vile noise inside my mind ceased. The other creatures stopped their attack and stood dumbfounded. We renewed the attack against them, cutting each of them down until the ship was ours.

Alan Stormwind

Tales of the Darkseekers Hydra27 aEonAstra