Captain Strana and The Tennec

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Evandrus, Son of Mars, Crown Prince.

Aboard the Silver Alaphina on the Crystal Tides, Bound for Striecial,

The Eighth of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.

We rendezvoused with the Strieciallan vessels Tennec, Lash, Kore, and Nellenair early this morning. I was quite surprised to see the flotilla the Strieciallan council sent as our escort. I have heard rumor of some enemy that stalks their waters but I have never given any true credence to it. Rumors are just that, rumors.

The captain of the Tennec was kind enough to come aboard and speak to me briefly. I had heard the occasional story of Captain Strana of the Tennec, though I’d never known she was a woman. And I must say that I was momentarily surprised to find she was a woman. It is a common superstition that woman are exceedingly bad luck on a ship at sea.
This woman was the feared Captain Strana, with a soul of steel and a heart of fire. I would not say that she was an exceptionally beautiful woman. With her strong features and her blonde hair pulled back it gave an illusion of severity to her features. Her eyes held a wicked savageness in the morning light and even on a foreign vessel she walked with an air of command.

After our introductions I suggested that we retired to my cabin. The cabin that once had been the cabin of the Alaphina’s captain. Only the best for royalty; I find that beyond tedious. I could just as well made due with standard crew quarters. Captain Strana was quick to laugh and started cracking jokes from the moment she and I were alone. I dare say she lightened my spirits. The transformation she underwent was uncanny. Once she stepped over that threshold and all eyes were off of her she seemed to relax. It was almost like a new woman say before me.

In a hushed voice, as if she expected eavesdroppers, she began to explain the armada that was our escort. It seems that the fear of an attack was a very real one. She insisted that the armada will be escorting the Silver Alaphina back to our waters after our business has concluded. I cannot say that I took offense at that. If I might have her to gladden my spirits then I welcome the company.

It seems that the rumors of the Strieciallan war are true, to an extent. They are at war with a cult, a cult named The Children of The Leviathan. I have never heard of a cult by that name, though the rumors have been understandably vague. I had thought that since I have heard little of them, that they are a young cult. As she began to describe the cult and it’s actions I found myself holding my breath and, a shock to myself, praying. If Striecial, the heart of magic, fears this cult I cannot begin to grasp the threat they pose.

I have been told that they have been dealing with The Children of The Leviathan for decades. Striecial is to the south and west of the continent. Captain Strana intimates that the cult is even farther to the south, a small chain of islands. So rarely do our trade routes go so far south. When they do they usually hug the coastline, doing trade all along the way. Yet all sailors have those stories. Of horrific sea monsters, the stories of fisher wives. But to my knowledge that is all they are, stories. No vessels have reported such creatures in our waters. Nor have any vessels been lost at sea, they usually show up a month later with a hold full of exotic spices and wares.

It was late into the night when Captain Strana returned to her ship with promises that we would make landfall in the morning. Maybe we’ll see some magic in the morning. I find that I cannot wait to see the famed Strieciallan Sorcery at work. Besides the solemn topic of conversation she was as sparkling conversationalist. I did enjoy her company. I believe Saphir would quite enjoy her company as well. I find myself hoping that one day I might introduce the pair.

 

The Tennec: Pronounced Ten – Neck. The vessel captained by Strana.

The Nellenair: Pronounced like Helen – Air. A Strieciallan vessel tasked as a foreign escort.

The Children of The Leviathan:  An unknown oceanic cult that has plagued Striecial for decades. Their origins and reasons behind the war are unknown.

 

Daring Mischief, or, The Great Escape.

Tags

, , , , , , ,

The Seventh of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.

Uncle is sorely cross with me. I had grown frustrated at my isolation and  tired of the Mourners presence. I found myself fantasizing about having the assassinated, I just had to be rid of them. And I was in luck, I had a willing accomplice. Tam., I believe Uncle rues the day Cossett sent him into my service. In part this was a test of his loyalty. And I would say that young, simple Tam passed with flying colours. It seems I do have one ally in this house.

At their morning prayers I had had enough. Their wailing cries continue from dawn till dusk, I cannot fathom how they continue day in and day out. Do they mourn in shifts? Surely their voices grow tired. I have not seen them since that first day. The three of them seem content to sit in their shared guest suite and scream and wail.

They rise with the sun during Ara. Their wailing begins not long after. Though their screams usually stop once the Shining Lord is high in the sky. Some find themselves so wrapped with grief that they might just burst into tears at any time. These Mourners of Ara are of that sort. Their grief weighs upon them and they force us to suffer along with them. Many people emulate them and their mourning customs, even going so far as to hire them for funerals. That is a ghastly thought.

For once I find myself wishing we lived in the old holding across the way, Tayn Keep. It was the Seat of my Great-Grandfather, and his father before him and so on since we became landed gentry. Tayn Keep sits just at the waters edge, it is quite beautiful. If we had been there then the mourners would be bundled up in the chapel. Grandmother never cared much for religion. Oh she knew all of the passages by heart, but she never trusted priests. She’d always say, “Why do you need a priest to read to you when you’ve got two good eyes of your own?” I love that woman. It is because of this that there is no chapel on the estate. Grandmother had it built to her exacting specifications.

Tayn Keep is now a garrison for the King’s Navy. It was a strategic move on my grandmother’s part. With the King’s Navy patrolling all along our coast we’ve never been safer. The last raid was when my father was a small child. Such safety from hasty made investment. Pure luck.

I haven’t seen Tayn Keep since before Kyran was fostered. I was instantly set upon with a desire to see it. To watch the sea and the ships rolling on the waves. If Tam hadn’t slipped into my sitting room while I was sequestered in memory I wouldn’t have even thought of it. I watched Tam as he arraigned the morning meal before me. I studied him. His dark hair, his cunning green eyes so like the bow he’d arrived in, the corded muscles of his arms. I wondered how I could entice him into my plan.

It occurred to me that Tam has had no time to go and drink in a pub or court a lovely girl. Uncle so rarely gives the staff time off, usually one day a season once they’ve been here for a year. Otherwise it’s a spare hour of afternoon, if they even get that. Unless they’ve been with his for five years, then it’s once a month. But Tam is my servant, I decide when he works. Let Uncle chew on that.

I sent him off to Mrs. Argall to beg a small picnic for two, telling him to lie if asked. I told him that if anyone should ask that I’d given him the day and he’s planned to spend it with a nice young lady. Our cook likes him, he’s quiet and she thinks he’s pretty to look at. He didn’t have any trouble, though I’m sure the maids will be moaning about this girl of his. I also directed him to have my horse saddled and ready. I dressed quickly in a pair of trousers, stiff riding boots, and a grey linen shirt.

Tam returned with the basket and a look of confusion on his face. As of late it is seldom that I rise out of bed without prompting. With Ara I have taken to brooding for long hours beneath my coverlet. Only rising once the Mourners has finished their rituals and broken their fast at sunset. The less I see of them the better.

I pulled a few notes from a box hidden in my desk and pressed them into his hands. Five pounds, about a sixth of his yearly wages. I took the basket from him. I then shooed him off telling him he should enjoy the day and return before curfew. I set upon the basket with abandon. Cheese, apples, half a loaf of coarse brown bread, and half a bottle of Rahsere wine. Good strong fair and more than enough for myself alone. While Tam was away I’d also gathered a few things for my outing. Two blankets, the latest penny book, a pen, and this diary of course. As an after thought I also tossed in the jars of jam leftover from breakfast.

Oh how I relish being free this day. There is nothing the wind on my face and smell of the salt air. I wish I could just float away on the winds.

Seat: The Seat, or County Seat,  is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish.

Tayn Keep: Pronounced like Stain, without the ‘s’ sound.

Salt, Stars, and Sanity

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Evandrus, Son of Mars. Crown Prince.

Aboard the Silver Alaphina on the Crystal Tides, Bound for Striecial,

The Fifth of Ara, Sixteen Seventy-Four.

Dear Saphir,

Through my weary days I find my eyes drawn to the ring on my finger, your lovely gift. Like the sirens of legend the rich colour seems to trap me within it’s crystal depths. As I told you two months ago it has not left my person save for that single hour. It has been a constant reminder of you. Now I know why you sent it; I jest of course. Out upon the sea everywhere I look I see the same blue. Everywhere I look I see you. Though it has been a scant handful of letters, I feel as if I truly know you. You weigh on my mind at all hours. There are nights where I find I cannot sleep for my mind has been consumed with you. I feel myself longing for your correspondence. You may well find a stack of letters on your doorstep before long.

I feel, Saphir, that you are the only person with whom I might doff the crown and shed the mantel of Prince. With you, in the secrecy of letters as you so eloquently put it, I might be just a man. I admit that it is a selfish privilege that I have allowed myself and a precarious position I have put you in. Venus and Mars circle in the night sky as they have done for millenia. Your first letter, in response to me, was what drew me to you. The naked kindness you showed to me, the tether you selflessly sent. You are the sole star upon my horizon these dark days; Even if you would have me in the stocks or clapped in irons. To think I would go gladly.

The thought of you is no small comfort; It is not that I fear the sea,  It is the desolation, the loneliness. As I write this we have been at sea for ten days and I have not seen dry land since the second day. I feel melancholy creeping in, the stark vastness. As you look out to the sea, the sea and the sky are one. You can scarcely tell up from down, it is maddening. And the Shining Lord is no succor for he beats down upon the ship with his awesome and terrible might. As he reaches his apogee I cannot find the strength to join the men on deck.

At night the Star-Born Pantheon paint the sky and the waters, it is a beautiful sight. They take my breath away and I must confess that I find myself more often than not out reveling it in. This too is maddening but, it is a madness I cannot help but indulge. Saphir, have I gone mad? I have always heard that the Stars call to the Children of the Starry Heavens, before this voyage I never believed it. I can feel the fiery eye of Mars upon me Saphir. Can you too?

It seems that the priest assigned to me by Prelate Sareashen quite enjoys the life of the sea. The intense heat and harsh winds. I believe I will speak to the Prelate to see if young Hayen might be assigned to a ship. Maybe even the Silver Alaphina herself, the crew has been quite lively with him on board. I do not mean to bore you with deployment minutiae. Hayen was sent to protect and advise me. To protect me from what is the real question; I of course have my own personal guard. I would not hesitate to say that they are the two most well trained soldiers in our kingdom. The only conclusion is that Hayen is to protect me from either their sorcery. Or, much more likely, from being infected with their philosophy of atheism.

Faithfully,

Evandrus, Son of Iron-banded Mars.

 

Silver Alaphina: Pronounced Al – ah – fee – nah

The Crystal Tides: The ocean to the west of the nation. Also known as the Ocean of Glass or the Crystal Coast,

Sareashen: Pronounced S – air – ah – shen.