The Ocean of Tears was calm and the winds steady for the journey across the large expanse of deep water. The ships Captain knew he was lucky on this trip as normally they would have had to ride out at least one heavy storm. He looked at the passenger that stayed on the deck, under the sun as much as she could. He knew it was unusual for one of the wood elven race to prefer the open rather than the cover of the wood. He did not object to her presence so long as she stayed out of the way of the crew. He was relieved knowing that he only had a few more days before they would arrive at Butcherblock Bay.
Young Tamalain Arrowmark of the Arrowmark Clan stood quietly in the bowsprit of the Far Sea’s Trader Ship The Golden Lion, looking out over the open and seemingly endless expanse of water of the Ocean of Tears. She wanted so badly to see land again, but had been told she still had at least two more days before the Butcherblock Bay would be in sight. She still could not understand why her Grandmother, over her mothers objections had insisted on her not using any of the magical means of travel. She was twelve, yes, she had been accepted in the Trueshot Academy for the Ranger school, true, but she didn’t understand why she had to go the slow way.
First Grandam Tamalain had escorted her to Coldwind Point personally and put her on the ship to make sure she didn’t cheat, and also to give her a few more pointers on her travels ahead. She would have to travel the long road, a little over three hundred miles from the docks to the new Upper Pass road into the Greater Feydark. Then walking all the way, she would arrive after a one hundred mile journey to the capital of the Woodelven people. Her Grandmother Tamalain had explained that she needed to see the world around her, learn about the people, the land, the life in order to understand what she was to do sometime in her future. Tamalain knew she had a destiny ahead that was long planned and foretold, but what it was to be, nobody could say with any certainty.
She had been working out and was well muscled, she could shoot almost as close as her Mother, Willow and Grandmother Tamalain, track, sense and understand the animals around her. She just didn’t see the need to travel this slow and long road.
She thought back to a talk her Grandmother had had with her several months earlier, “Tama, you are special, long foretold in fact. I almost died because there were, and still are those that oppose what you are destined to do. No Little one, I don’t know what it is you are to do, but it will save Norrath from a fate that was foretold many ages ago.” Tamalain sat back, easing her sore back and knees, “Tama, you look just as I did at your age. The fire red waving hair, the flashing emerald green eyes, the tight an trim body, and the temper to match when aroused.”
Little Tama frowned but was stopped from speaking by a raised finger. “You have several advantages though. You didn’t have Mistemoore and the Thornbreaks messing with your life when a small child. You have only just begun to gain your abilities so you are old enough and strong enough to handle them.” She went on to explain about the events starting with the death of her own Grandmother Tamalain and stopped at the killing of Thadius Thornbreak. “I did not have an easy life thanks to what happened after that child. Mistemoore managed to screw me up in a way that even he did not see until much later, and he paid the price in pain several times for interfering in my life as he did.”
“Grandmother, if he interfered so much, how did you survive,” asked the girl.
With a smile that tended to send most folks running for their lives, Tamalain explained about the intruder that had gotten stuck in her mind, how it had enhanced her powers, and the evil creature from another plane of existence that was also embedded deep in her soul and what it had tried to do to her in the end and what she had done to end the threat it represented. “I will have to pay for that sometime I am sure, maybe in another lifetime once I am done here.” She took a deep breath, closed her eyes and waited for the pain to pass. “Since William died almost a century ago, I have been waiting for death to take me as well little one. But I am destined to see you off to your new life before I pass on.” She sighed and winced as her back sent another warning jolt of pain up her spine. “I am old girl, so old, even by our races standards. I know I will not last much longer, but I will see you off to school and then return here to the Archer Wood to wait and join my beloved William in the next realm. You will travel the lands and sea’s, meet and learn about the people and life around you before you enter school and get turned into the good little Ranger I never was.”
“You where a great Ranger Grandma, I am sure of it from the tales I have heard about what you did.”
With a sad chuckle, “I never finished school girl, I never had the chance to finish. Between what had been done, the destruction of Luclin, the betrayal of Jor’dan, I never had a chance. No girl, I was never a true Ranger.”
“Then I will do it for you Grandmother, I will be the Ranger you never had a chance to be.”
“You do that girl, you do that. Now leave me, I need to sleep a bit.”
Young Tamalain continued to look out over the sea and allowed her senses to roam, to feel the water below, the air around, the sky above. She could feel the fish and the Mer folk swimming nearby, the sea birds that foretold land fall soon, and the heat of the sun beating down, and the faint tingle she always felt when the ruined pile of rock of Luclin was directly above her in the sky. This last she did not tell her teachers or her family, she felt that it would lead to greater trouble if others knew she could reach out to the power of that world. She couldn’t use it, at least not yet, but she felt that it would one day be important and she would need it to do a job that was hers alone.
She was snapped out of her revere by a sudden shout from above by the over watch, “Sail Ho, four points off the port bow,” the sailor called.
The mate yelled back, “Markings?”
“To far yet, just on the horizon still.”
“Watch it and call out if it is coming at us.”
“Aye sir, watch and report.”
Another sailor came to the bow and confronted the girl, “Miss, you will need to clear the deck soon in case of trouble.” Rather than argue, Tamalain nodded and waited for the sails to clear the horizon at deck level. After an hour, she was able to make out a faint marking on the horizon line. The sun was behind her so there wasn’t the normal glare to blind her sight. She reached out to one of the gulls that had been pacing the ship for several hours and asked it what the other ship was. It squawked once and flew off towards the vessel ahead of them. Fifteen minutes later it returned and started making a racket. She understood an thanked it by tossing part of a ships bisque to it. She left the bow and made her way to the helm deck and asked the first mate for a moment to speak, “Be quick girl, we are almost in range to see what it is.”
“The gull told me it is from Freeport and has been taking merchant ships in recent weeks. That is why the gulls are out here, to pick over the bodies from the pirates kills.” She finished and turned to leave the deck, to collect her gear and ready herself for the fight to come. But before she had taken two steps, a large hand grabbed her by the arm, stopping her. The mate spun her around, “Are you sure of that girl, are the birds to be trusted?”
“These gulls are sure, they hope for a big fight so that they have a big feed afterwards.” He let her go and called to the captain who had just come back on deck for an update. He was briefed on what the girl had learned and the captain stood still and waited. After a moment of looking at the approaching vessel, he called, “All hands to battle stations, prepare to repel borders There was a mad scramble on deck as the crew was quickly armed with pikes, spikes and short swords from the weapons locker on the after deck. One of the other passengers was called up to the deck and told what was happening. He nodded and quickly returned below decks. A few minutes later when he returned to the top deck, he was in a dark brown robe, holding a long heavy wooden staff with a large red gemstone in the end cap.
“They are still out of range Captain, but give it fifteen more minutes at this closing rate and I will be able to go to work on them.”
“Maybe longer, Wizard, we have to come about on the tack and it will give us a little more time once we do.” The Wizard reached out with his mind t feel the other ship, he felt the other ship and cursed loudly, “They have at least four high casters aboard sir, one is a Necromancer by the feel of it.”
Without even blinking at that news, “All hands, be ready to repel undead!” The crew quickly returned to the weapons locker and was given each several vials of fluid. These would break the spell keeping the undead moving if splashed on them. They hoped this measure would not be needed, but better to be prepared and not need it, than need it and not be prepared.
.... There is more of this story ...