Part 34: Captain

1 to Wakening Sun, Voelis (cont.)

Our captain? Goodness, that doesn’t sound write. Why did I write that? Something about this ship seems so strange and weird. It’s hard to describe. We boarded Gjallarhorn at night, but none of us could really tell if it was night or day or somewhere in between when we were on the ship and Arkelander called to us to speak with him. The ocean is gray and foggy, or maybe it’s purple, or maybe it’s red. Everything was absolutely strange and surreal, like a strange dream that we are remembering too vividly.

Arkelander is surprisingly handsome for a murderous wretch, and though we felt compelled to listen to him (as our captain), we felt nothing but loathing for him mixed with a sense of pity. Here’s a man so wrapped up in his own schemes and self-prescribed grandeur that he can’t see past the end of his own nose. The man who would be immortal, reduced to being locked to the Gjallarhorn for eternity. He claimed he was soon going to be like the gods, immortal and as powerful as they, and that one of us must take up the mantle of captain in his stead, all the while not recognizing that his own body has decayed and rotted away. Arkelander called upon us, the heroes, to swear an oath to the Gjallarhorn itself to command it. To determine who among us should become the new captain, he was going to put us through a test: destroy his mutinous thanes. Whoever performed the finest would be named captain.

There’s something about this man, this place, that compels me. It’s not forcing me to make decisions, Heath. Rather, it’s just… Well, it’s hard to explain. I’m supposed to talk to Arkelander about his treasures and those are supposed to do something for me. Something related to the Oracle’s prophecy about me. I had to talk to the ghost drummer lady. I had to make the oath to the Gjallarhorn. If I don’t, what will that say about me? What will that do about the prophecy?

Shadow, Actaeon, and Torag joined me in the oath. Rendu refused, trying not to say anything to Arkelander, though we could see the burning in his eyes as the captain smiled and glorified himself to us. Briar and Clio refused as well, their people being the victims of Arkelander’s unjust fury when the man was yet alive. Calling us his new thanes, Arkelander commanded us to destroy his previous thanes, Davos, Metron, and Skathon. These three failed in their tasks and must be destroyed before a new captain could be named. Furthermore, Arkelander knew he had us trapped in some kind of dream world. Should we refuse to destroy the three other thanes, he would keep us trapped here forever.

Shadow asked Arkelander before we began, “Why us?” It was a fair question that we were all thinking. Was it because we were the heroes of the Oracle’s prophecy? Was it because we were a mix of mortals and fey, a mix of islanders and foreigners? Was it for some other important reason? No. As it turns out, the only reason Arkelander bothered with us was because, as he put it, we are living. With that, he vanished from our sight and left us to our task.

I quickly reminded my friends about the ghost possession thing and told them to stay alert. Briar, Rendu, and I used some of my holy water to protect our friends. I may have ‘pulled a Briar’ when I said we should send Torag in first. I meant it like, “Hey, Torag, with this protection spell, you are immune to pretty much anything a ghost can do to you, and you’re so much braver than the rest of us!” but it came out more like, “Hey, Torag, go sacrifice yourself because I’m scared and don’t want to be here.”

So, we went forward! Our first target was going to be Davos, a dwarf ghost man who was helming the ship. He had a few ghost crewmen around him working while he was singing some sea shanty I recognized from when I was sailing to the Emerald Isles on the Golden Cutlass. Torag, Shadow, and Actaeon approached closest. Torag intended to talk to Davos. After all, the evil captain told us to kill him. Maybe Davos wasn’t so bad? There must have been some reason he went against his orders, right?

We will never know because Davos stopped singing, drew a sword, and commanded his men to kill us immediately. Torag, I think, was far too happy to get into a fight. He charged at the man and swung wildly, but Davos dodged each swing. Briar called out, “Keep your eyes open, ox!”, which was a weird thing to say in the moment, but looking back at it now, it was really hilarious. Was Torag afraid of ghosts or something, or was the dwarf ghost just that nimble? I don’t know. Shadow, Clio, Actaeon, and Rendu went after him next, while Briar and I prepared to fight off the crewmen. Surprisingly, the crewmen didn’t even look up. They shrugged and kept swabbing the decks – a term I later learned meant ‘cleaning’.

Oh, I also learned that there are a lot of boat terms I need to learn. Swabbing the decks is one. You know what? I’m in the middle of a story. I’ll get back to that.

Briar ended up killing Davos with a blast of fire. Davos seemed fairly confident even as his form disappeared in a swirl of flames. Torag was beat up pretty bad, but was fine. I think his confidence was more injured than his body. Obviously there’s a lot of training I will have to put him through for the great games now. With the protection spells still going, we made our way down to the oardeck for our next target: Metron.

We found Metron in the Thane’s Quarters at the end of the ship. Stern? Bow? I need to talk to Aminatou again. Torag tried speaking to him again, and Metron was much more willing to talk than Davos had been. Metron agreed that he was a traitor, but it was because he was lazy and didn’t want to do anything. Apparently there were some souls from the underworld that sought vengeance against Arkelander and Metron was supposed to destroy them. Instead – due to his apparent laziness – he sent them after us instead. With a swish of his hand, the – Heath, remember when I wrote about the chest that Torag stole? Yep, it was full of death. With a swish of his hand, the thane caused the chest to open and a bunch of ghosts came flying out after us!

Looking back, it was terribly comical. We all told Torag to not touch anything on the creepy haunted ship, and he immediately ignores us, and I’m glad we can all laugh about it later. At the time, it was horrifying. Rendu tried fighting Metron, but he was doing some weird ghost thing and kept disappearing. Clio later told us he was between planes, something she can do with an ability of her own. We quickly took down the ghosts while waiting for Metron’s to do something. Briar used my cool wand to blow up some ghosts, I threw some holy fire at one, Clio exploded a whole bunch really fast, Torag and Shadow fought a few off. Actaeon helped Torag get the chest closed before more ghosts could come out. Metron finally got tired of us and decided to attack, but Briar and Rendu took him out with some magic.

The ghosts left behind some weird sticky substance when they dissipated, so we collected it in our empty bottles. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with ectoplasm, but maybe I can take it to the Academy Arcanum in Ellandyr. They might know something about it.

The last thane, Skathon, was in the Captain’s Quarters on the opposite side of the Gjallarhorn. This time, we were smart. We knew that these thanes didn’t want to talk. They were part of Arkelander’s murderous crew, too, and maybe undeath caused them to be just as unreasonable as they were in life. Actaeon decided to use his battering ram and just break down the door and attack immediately. It was a good plan, but Skathon sensed us coming. He summoned an animated sword and animated suit of armor to attack us. The sword went after Clio and Briar, and the armor came after me. I tried blocking it but it got me in the face a few times. Clio used a protective barrier on me to keep me going. She saved me! It was so cool! But whatever feelings of elation I felt at my crush jumping in to protect me were immediately squashed by the blood gushing from my nose and all over the floor.

Skathon tried to possess me while I was injured, but I ducked out of the way at the last minute. Shadow took down the floating sword and Briar defeated the armor just as it smacked me again. Ithquenti1, I looked stupid! I tried playing it cool, but I wanted to cry! I’m not as tough as my comrades, and I definitely didn’t want to cry in front of them again – least of all Shadow or Briar or Clio. And especially not Rendu! He’s my hero and- And not in front of Torag either. I’m supposed to be training him to fight in the Great Games! And I didn’t want to cry in front of Actaeon either because he’s so much tougher than I. I mean, I didn’t want to cry in front of any of them. But I guess that’s fine. I’ve cried in front of them before already. Why not now when my nose is broken and I’m covered in my own blood? Maybe Actaeon at least thought it looked tisvelk2.

Shadow used his new bow and slew Skathon, and the ghost died silently. Before any of us could react or move, the fog around the ship swallowed us whole and everything went terribly cold. We found ourselves suddenly scattered on the top deck of the Gjallarhorn. The strangely colored ocean was normal again, though it was dark as it was yet night. We saw the stars above us as clear as I’ve ever seen them. The group gathered together to check on each other. Torag began to bind his wounds while Rendu used some magic to fix my broken nose. He gave me that silly wink, too, which made me feel good. Briar did some magical healing on the rest of the team as well. The ghosts around us were gone now, and the only thing we could hear was the sound of the water splashing against the hull as we sailed through the night. There seems to be no sign of any other ghost on this ship now.

Where was Arkelander now? We went to the Captain’s Quarters. There he was, smiling with a sinister look on his face. He asked we four who made our oath to the ship to step forward, and said we have proven ourselves worthy. Our merits were measured in our task and he offered Shadow to take on his powers and become the captain of the Gjallarhorn. Shadow, though, refused. Clio spoke to us in our minds that the captain was not being truthful about taking on the role of captain from him. There was a string attached, and she was certain it would be bad for us. Torag was offered the captainship next, and he just shook his head. Arkelander looked to Actaeon and I, and we both said no.

He looked furious, shaking with rage in his ghostly form. He warned us to not make an enemy of him, but something awoke in each of us. How powerless is Arkelander now? His thanes are gone, his crew seems to have disappeared now, and he stands before us with nothing. He has no sway over us. He tried, in desperation I think, to talk down to us one last time by threatening that we could all die soon while he yet lived on. Then he vanished and we saw him no more.

We gathered the sword and suit of armor – to which I delivered a little kick out of frustration – before searching around the ship. Where are we now, and how is the ship sailing? Clio and Briar looked through Arkelander’s room but couldn’t find anything useful that we hadn’t already found. The oardeck is empty, though the ship still sails. Shadow determined that we were moving very fast through the water despite the lack of a crew. The helm did not listen to any command we gave it. We tried to physically move it, but it wouldn’t budge. Shadow even shouted at it but to no avail.

The sun began to rise behind us, casting its beautiful glow over the sea. I quickly performed the Sacrament of Sunrise while the others kept searching the ship. As I finished, Shadow announced that he could see ahead in the distance. The city of Ellandyr was fast approaching!

Obviously, we collectively panicked for a moment. The ship couldn’t be steered, and it was sailing terribly fast into the harbor. Were we going to crash? What sort of chaos were we bringing to the city? But as we approached the Colossus of Vaevictus and the broken Colossus of Kiora, the ship suddenly turned and began to slow. As if steered by some trace magic, or by some residual haunting energy of Arkelander’s undead crew, the Gjallarhorn was guiding itself to dock. This was good, right? Seizing the opportunity, I began to magnify my voice and announced, “Make way! Make way for The Heroes of Prophecy!” I figured either people would be happy to see us, or my announcement would make them get out of the way.

Crowds gathered, shouting and cheering, as the Gjallarhorn slowed and moored itself in the dockyard of Ellandyr. The gangplank positioned itself to let us disembark, and we were met with a celebration. Queen Aminatou, Mikhaila, and the queen’s entourage of amazon warriors met us there, each smiling. I cast a fizzle of sparks as we stepped down.

The celebration was cut short by the shadow of Acastus’s dragon, Uriangr. The silver dragon landed on the dock near us and King Acastus came over to speak. He mocked our triumph by saying that we need dragons to fight the Titans, not some old relic like the Gjallarhorn. It’s likely that he was trying to upstage us in some respect, but the crowd wasn’t having it. The legendary ship was docked in Ellandyr and the Heroes of Prophecy brought it to them. I vigorously shook the king’s hand and told him that bringing the ship here was far easier than we expected, and we, as the heroes, thanked him for giving us the opportunity to prove ourselves to his people. A little rude, I know, but I think I got the point across. The king wordlessly climbed aboard Uriangr and flew away in a huff. Aminatou, however, was very pleased with us. Having the Gjallarhorn in Ellandyr was a great feat, one that would bring hope to many people. The city needs heroes and will need us when the Oath of Peace ends, dragons or no.

She asked us about how we sailed the ship here without a crew (her attendants had gone to inspect the ship), and we honestly told her that we didn’t know. Maybe it had to do with the oath we made to the Gjallarhorn, or something else caused it to come here. Either way, Aminatou promised to look into the matter and would get back to us tonight.

Day of Wakening Sun, Inalis

I decided to write this part as a new entry, though to us it all seems to feel like the same day. It’s a new month in the Emerald Isles, and it’s a good day to start some new stuff – especially now that our great labors are completed and the Gjallarhorn is docked in the city!

Ilharg is fine. He did some improvements and repairs around the Starfall Estate while we were away, including fixing some doors, breaks, and general upkeep. He even swept the dining hall! How very kind! Ilharg mentioned that someone had dropped off a letter for us while we were away, but we couldn’t read it. There’s something funny to the lettering, but Ilharg mentioned the lettering was easier to read when the sun wasn’t out.

For the rest of the day, we all went our separate ways (sort of) to rest and recuperate. Briar went to her area in the courtyard and did some gardening for most of the day. Torag went to the bathhouse after Briar and he got into an argument about cleanliness, then disappeared into his room to rest and read something he found at the Academy Arcanum a week ago. Shadow went out to set up a meeting with his friend, Candle. Rendu and Actaeon needed a nap, then they went out to check out the city some more. Clio and I went to the Academy Arcanum. I wanted to look into this ectoplasm we found and she had some reading and research to do. Note to self: I learned that I can use this ectoplasm to scribe some spell scrolls. It’s going to be costly, but it’s something I’d really like to do. Remember all those scrolls I stole from the library a few years back? Big mistake, but it was pretty funny when we had to buy a couch because I set the old one on fire.

Everyone met up at the Starfall Estate for dinner. Briar made a vegetable pie and it was divine. We were right about the letter that Ilharg received, by the way. It can only be read at night, and it was an invitation to meet with ‘The Lady” (we assume it means “The Lady of Coins”) on the harp bridge at night. While we were eating, we got a summons from the queen. She wanted to talk to us about the Gjallarhorn, we assumed, so we set out. We will have to meet with the Lady of Coins tomorrow.

On the way, Briar gave out some gifts she had made. To Torag, she gave him some fancy horn caps with druidic words etched on them. She also etched the word ‘Radiant’ on the moth she gave me for my birthday, which is so wonderful! Briar is incredibly thoughtful. Once upon a time, she said she sometimes felt superior to the rest of us – especially we mortals – because of what she learned in her tribe years and years ago. I know she told us this because she was trying to make personal connections with us, and not to show any actual sense of superiority. That said, she’s done absolutely nothing to seem superior to us at all. She’s been very pleasant, regardless of how awkward she is.

To Shadow, she offered for her and Clio to reinvent the courtyard and make it seem more wild as a way for him to feel less connected to the city and more connected to nature while we are here. She and the rest of us could tell that being back in Ellandyr again was already starting to trouble Shadow. I tried an idea. Briar had given me her staff of birdcalls, so I showed it to Shadow. We made a few loud goose-honking noises for fun, and I got him to laugh. Yes! That was the plan! We talked together with our arms around each other.

Aminatou gave us the good news we were hoping for. Gjallarhorn could be commanded by the four of us that made our oaths to it, and we can name our own captain. She and her handmaidens sensed the presence of Arkelander on board still, but he hasn’t appeared to any of them and doesn’t seem to want to talk. Aminatou believes he is still bound to the ship. I’m going to try to speak with him tomorrow.

Further, the Academy Arcanum and the Queen are going to be fixing up the Gjallarhorn for us. They will invest in renovations for the ship and fix it with armaments, new sails, and rooms for supplies. We’ll put in our orders tomorrow, and the Queen offered to pay for the improvements herself. To sail the ship, though, we need the antikythera, the special mechanism or compass that guides us. Mikhaila is currently searching for it and will get back to us.

While we were speaking with the queen, I picked up on a lot of boat words, like “starboard” and “helm” and… Another one that I’ve apparently already forgotten.

Thanking her for her assistance, we left the Queen and returned to Shadow’s home. The heroes spent the night having some sweet wine from my alchemy jug (chamomile tea for Briar, Clio, and I), and finally put ourselves to rest for the night.


Oh, no!

Leef, you fool!

I’m so dumb. I’m so stupid! Clio and I were out together and I was so wrapped up in my stupid spell scroll thing that I didn’t even- I should have asked her out to tea! Why didn’t I? Ugh, I’m so dumb! She likes tea. I like tea. It would have been fun! What was I thinking? We even traded flowers! Why am I so dumb?

1 Draconic: explicative, a term to use when feeing contemptuous

2 Draconic: explicative, meaning ‘tough’ or ‘intimidating’