The Jaekels and the Skates approached across the sea, a strangely sweet turn emanating from the backpack of their leader, tangling across the waves.

Battle was joined when Hasver raised his staff and it burned with the radiance emitted by ancient stars as they give up the long toil of nuclear fusion and fall in on themselves, devouring a fragment of the light that is the birthright of the universe. Darkness rose out of the storm, closing in over the world, except for a tiny fragment of dying light trembling in a sphere centered on Hasver’s heart.

The gleaming skates vanished from above the waves as they neared that sphere of imperfect clarity. The skates with their bloody, bone-protruding, altered riders continued on, pulled by the group of their brethren below the waves. Their altered mouths showing rings of shark teeth or long pointed tongues or fangs opened silently as a twanging music echoed from the bleak waves.

Bone swords, bone nets, bone morning stars pierced with broken pieces of femur clashed against the pure force of will, the utterances of every creature’s dooms, knives and doom lasers, passionate steerage and elegant interaction with the waves.

The altered Jaekels’ bodies, adapted for battle and to inspire terror, made them the poorest of swimmers. One by one, 3 of the Jaekels were unseated. Wounds were delivered on both sides. Lasers burned into emerald life under the sea. A dark, toothsome wave rose around them. Jaekel blood colored an insignificant part of the ocean. Knife dripping, Roz watched one of the Jaekels shake his fist beneath the sea. Sealed-over eyes facing the light.

The lead Jaekel wheeled his skate and the flock wheeled. Flashed back into existence above the waves, they fled the group’s circle of light, slashing along the trembling face of the wave.

The wave collapsed in on itself like sludge, its teeth shrinking away. The storm lightened, but stretched out new fingers to devour the blue sky. The unquiet sea, quick to forgive, sank bank to its own confusion of wind and sea and tattered white flags.

The Whale Boat

whale boat
Uneasily silence accompanied them across the sussuruss of the skimmers passage. Cagyn’s ring led them forward… into a staggering brilliance. A half-kilometer circle of sunlight reigned in the quiet center of the storm, a few drops of rain clattering along its edges like airy diamonds.

in the center of the disturbance, placlidly treading the surface of the quiet sea was… an enormous, pale whale creature, with a great wooden castle on its back; a vast net training into the sea behind its tail.

They set course to circumnavigate the sight, unable to recognize the pennants and banners fluttering listlessly from high pennant stands.

On the other side of the creature, they saw a sort of rowboat lowered toward the water, where it floated on an opalescent cloud. Tall, red men with green eyes rowed red-rimmed oars above the sea, racing toward the skimmers.

In unaccented pieces of the Truth, the tall men with their 3-fingered, multi-jointed hands told the travellers, “Safe. Welcome. Truth. Shon’Ai.” gesturing toward the ship. Hasver read the tale of their fates in the air about them, and confirmed no intentional guile.

They moored the skimmers using their water-static effect tot he ropes dangling from the huge net. They climbed aboard.

The same – or perhaps different – red sailors led them through the castellized poop deck, down near the body of the whale, and then up flights and flights and flights of stairs.

In a tea room at the top of the tower, with the pennants flapping above them, they met Shon’Ai. Wrapped in layers of binding cloths including a head scarf, she showed only her strong hands, and her luminous eyes, and the diamonds of color-changing, freckled violet skin on her cheeks.

She greeted them with great formality and light welcome. She offered them tea in a strange, foreign ritual that revealed skill and welcome intent.

She asked about them, assuming the Truth was a great nation ruling over this continent. She told them she was from a far-off Sunset Kingdom. She had followed an Exotelligence – something fallen like a star from the heavens. It had roamed the seas, but been caught up here near the Steadfast in a great shadow, that had given birth to this storm.

She told them about the Red Men who lived in the shores and shallows of her homeland. They were a simple, communal intelligence. They tamed some of the creatures of the Sun Sea – such as the one bearing this castle. They were capable of many wonders. These ones had built this edifice out of some strange dream they had shared, and she convinced them easily to come with her on her adventure to meet the Exotelligence….

On arriving here, she confirmed that the Exotelligence had been taken to this place. Using the Red Men as a kind of Psychic Lens, she read from the depths that the shadow that reigns below the Sea of Secrets thought of itself as The Moyag, and that some… transition was being prepared here.

Shon’Ai observed that they were preparing to go down, and listened to their story with interest.

She observed that they did not have all the equipment they would require to survive beneath the sea. She told them that she was a Metamorph, and would like to accompany them, and could help. Taking Roz’s hand delicately, matrices running in her irises, she said that female genetic structures were the most compatible, and that she would eagerly take Roz inside her and keep her safe to venture below the sea.