Excerpts from Hybris, a History by the herald Goog’ell

 

 

“Captain”

“Captain”

“Captain!”

“Yes Lieutenant?” Captain Percyville responded.

“The Eyelendian warship is coming around for another pass” Lieutenant Dundee responded. He was clearly agitated and having trouble keeping his composure now.

“Let’s go have look then shall we” The captain said. He stood up and grabbed his uniform jacket. when he put it on he flung it over his head in his unusual manner that was required due to an old battle wound that left his right shoulder not fully functional.

The Captain and his lieutenant left the Captain’s quarters and made their way up to the deck. The ship was in tatters. Bodies of sailors lay everywhere. Most of the passageway’s bulkheads lay in splinters. The last attack from the Dwarven nation had taken its toll on the ship. Through several doors you see out to sky through the holes in the hull. The ships magic the only thing keeping the contents from flying out.

Percyville kept a steady and constant pace up through ship. Dundee struggled to keep up behind him. They stepped over bodies, debris, and the occasional fire as they made their way to the deck of the ship.

“How many Q’anics[1] do we have left?” Percyville asked

“Three Captain”

“Any Terra[2]?”

“No Sir, All Sol[3]. The Zhen siblings”

“Really? Fantastic!”

Dundee failed to see how this was fantastic. Much of the damage on the ship was due to the Zhen’s reckless casting, not the enemy warships. The last attempt by them to hit the Eylendians resulted in their own vessel being engulfed in a tornado of fire and molten stone. They had taken out one Eyelandian ship so they were fine with the results. The ship however was still burning in some places and their main mast has been turned to ash.

As they came to the top deck the captain looked around at what had transpired in the last few minutes since he had gone below decks to attempt to send for reinforcements. Hundreds of sailors lied dead or dying on the deck. Most of the still living had third and fourth degree burns.

“Damage report Dundee”

Dundee sighed. He had known the captain hadn’t been listening to the three times he gave this report on their way topside.

“Starboard engines destroyed. Irreparable while in the air. Port Engines. Damaged and being repaired as we speak. Hull breaches on port and starboard sides. Main mast destroyed” By our own people he thought. “Main rudder destroyed.” Also by their own people. “We can go one direction at half speed while gradually listing to the starboard side.” He said this mechanically and without emotion as he had the past three times. He knew the captain just wanted the facts.

“What’s the butcher’s bill?”

“Three hundred twenty-eight souls lost” No point giving false hope about the sailors on deck. With those burns, they were dead. Their minds just hadn’t caught on yet.

This got the captains attention. His posture changed to almost a slouch and he turned to face Dundee.

“That leaves nine people on board this ship. We couldn’t even run it if it was working”

“Yes Captain. I know. Should we attempt to land on Granite?”

“No. In fact. Hell No. Find me the Zhens”

“Yes Sir.” Um no. Dundee thought. This was a bad idea in a sea of bad ideas. Nothing good would come from telling those maniacs that all was lost.

The lieutenant hadn’t even moved three meters when a large plume of fire appeared before him and a tall human woman walked through the flames. Dundee just rolled his eyes at the grand entrance. Sol Q’anics are known for these cheap theatrics to make it appear that they travel through fire. Everyone knows they can’t. They know everyone knows they can’t. Yet, they still do it. Every. Single. Time.

“Sol’Zhen[4], where are your brothers?” Dundee asked.

“Down with the two of the crew trying to restart the port engines.”

And here Dundee had thought he couldn’t have been told worse news today.

“What!? No. No. Tell them the stop what they are doing and come topside. The captain needs you three” Dundee stated. His voice attempting to contain the terror that stemmed from the thought of those two working with anything mechanical.

“Don’t look at me with that tone little man. We are the only q’anics left. You aren’t going to get the engines running with only your hopes and dreams.”

“Just call them”

“Very well.”

As Dundee watched she closed her eyes and spoke to her brothers. He knew that something about their manipulation of the possibilities let all practitioners speak to each other in their minds. It was always disconcerting to experience however, because they constantly spoke their side out loud.

“Captain needs us.” “Yes I know that.” “I didn’t ask.” “I didn’t care.” “I still don’t care.”

“They are on their way” she said. “Port side engines are functional.”

“Really?” Dundee had been sure the last sound he would going to ever hear was the whooshing sound of them being engulfed in a ship sized fireball. “Excellent.”

“Stuck at full throttle.” She said with no more emotion than that of someone telling you the time.

“And of course it is” He already could feel the ship starting to gain momentum

About a minute later two more fire plumes burst from the deck to the right of the lady Zhen. Two large human males stepped through them. Both clearly out of breath from running up 5 flights of stairs and across the deck.

They looked like their sister. All three raven haired with slightly slanted eyes. All three over two meters tall. All three lean and wiry from constant battle. They dressed identically. Their sleeveless red robes held to their bodies by a still somehow shining  breast plate that held the Zhen family crest engraved into the metal. A giant “Z” engulfed in flames. The two men were exactly identical. Twins were common among Q’anic families. It was believed that they would bring their doppelganger through while still in the womb. They only difference in the males was one had his left ear burned off. While the other had a pretty sever burn on his neck. Their sister other than being female was pretty much a triplet. She showed no signs of losing control of her magic however. No visible scars, burns, or permanent loss of hair.

The four of them walked over to where the captain was now standing. They looked over his head and could see the fleet of Eylendian warships heading towards them. Their oars sticking out the sides all moving in perfect unison through the sky.

“Captain, I have the Sol’Zhens”

“Q’anics.” The captain said. “Our ship is a lost cause. Although you have restored power we have no controls and no ability to do much but start and stop. The dwarves will be upon us soon and they will not be pleasant once they take the ship. As you know this particular breed is not known for they well keeping of prisoners.”

Everyone nodded. They had all heard the stories or known someone who knew someone who had encountered the Eylendian attack fleet.

“I have one more order as your captain. A way we can get through this with some dignity and maybe even a little glory.”

The five huddled together and listened while Captain Percyville told them his plan. When he was done. The five stood there grim faced and solemn.

“Sol’Zhen, you understand what I want? What must be done?”

The two males nodded. Their sister just stood there, as always, stone faced and silent.

Dundee? You understand what must be done?”

“Yes Captain.”

Dundee ran across the deck and through the hatch. He was doing his best to not trip over the bodies and debris. He bound down the steps taking them two and three at a time. As he hit the bottom step he heard the first horn call of the Eylendian ships. It’s bass tones resonating through the entire vessel. The familiar signal known to all. One long note followed by one lower and longer.

Surrender and Prepare to be boarded.

The lieutenant listened to the signal blast again then continued his run towards the engines rooms. As he approached he heard the sounds of arguing mixed with steam venting. He entered the port side engine room and was almost floored by what he saw. Three crewman were hanging by a large wrench attempting to unstick a bolt that was almost a meter across. Dundee didn’t know all the specifics in engine maintenance but he guessed they were trying to relieve the steam pressure on one of the engines. This task usually done either with magic or a full crew.

“Men!” Dundee screamed, trying to be heard over the venting. They didn’t hear him. He yelled again and one finally saw him and let go of the wrench. Dropping to the ground. The other two followed suit.

They snapped to a salute. Disciplined to the end Dundee thought mournfully. He wondered if it would stick to the very end. He returned the solute.

“We need to shut off the engines men. Complete stop”

The one Dundee thought was named Alen responded “Aye sir. So you know sir, the port #1 engine will not be able to be restarted. It’s pressure valve is wedged open. We will need a proper q’anic to get her goin’ again.” His tone was clipped and curt on the word proper. Apparently the Sol’Zhen boys didn’t leave a good impression.

“I know. Your orders now are to shut off the engines then hide. We are about to be boarded and are going to report all hands lost. Do you best to not be captured men. “Dundee said. hoping his card playing skills were benefiting him right now.

“Aye Sir” the three said together and went to activating the emergency engine shutoffs.

Dundee ran back up the stairs. “I really wish I had one of those handy fire plumes” He said out loud to an empty stairwell. Then he laughed. He laughed almost the whole way back to the deck.

He got to back to the deck and saw the captain standing alone. He was looking up at the huge oared ship floating overhead. He walked over to his captain whom he had served for 4 years and never really liked or respected and said. “Done”

“Thank you, lieutenant. You are a good sailor. It has been an honor.”

“Thank you Captain. For me as well.”

They both looked up at the fleet of a dozen oared Eylendian ships surrounding them. Ropes begun being fling out of the ship directly overhead and the large shadows of dwarven sailors started descending them.

“You think the Zhens will do what you asked correctly.” Dundee asked, still looking up.

Captain Percyville let out a small laugh. “It’s certainly possible.”

Over 20 dwarven sailors descended the ropes now. Climbing down hand over hand. Dundee always marveled how men so large and bulky were always so graceful.

Just as the first boots thudded on the deck. Dundee felt a rush of air and heard the whoosh  he had been expecting earlier. He closed his eyes and waited for the heat.

[1] Q’anic. Human slang for magic user. Short for Quantum Mechanic.

[2] Terra. Practitioner of Earth magic.

[3] Sol. Practitioner of Fire Magic.

[4] All Q’anics add their discipline to their family name. Not at all confusing when there is more than one family member with the same discipline.

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