"Are you unwell Ziyous?" Asked Tallia worriedly as the I stumbled back and braced against the wall.
"I'm just worn from this day. Retheri, I feel this idle wait produces little, what do you want me to do with this?" I asked removing the odd arrowhead.
"It is a device of great magitude, within is something I devised. Concoted from the things most toxic to him when he transitioned states. They won't be hostile to you Ziyous."
I felt over the jagged edges, then shoved it back into my coat pocket.
"You said this god resides in the void between worlds correct?" Hopwil questioned with a calm demeanor that came all too forced.
"Yes elf. But it's no longer that, his cunning was not enough to create another universe, so after decimating an adjacent world, he built something of a patchwork reality to help him manifest the crossworlders. I'll put it this way, Thereafter is vast in comparison to his little world. It's so chaotic and unorderly, that at a distance it appears no less than a spinning tempest of deadly energies."
"How will we navigate it, and even more problematic, get to it?"
"I am afraid that little incursion on the part of his minions was only the first of many. Reinforcements in the billions are being sent here to stamp out opposition and create a permentant tear in our world. "The only means you have to enter is to get to this rift as it opens again. And it will be hard to miss, opening in the sky over this canyon. Once inside I can only pray your special searching teqniques will work."
"You mean my eyes then. I'll try it." I paused for a moment, words stuck on my tongue,"once the gluttonous god's power deminishes, will there be way out?"
Retheri went silent and strode backwards with a complex look of almost grief.
"I have tried every possible scientific and magic portal that I had aquired. There isn't a way for me to return you. It would take an universe's foucused energy to crush a hole in another."
"Your saying this battle is one way?"
She looked on the verge of crying now. And I probably was too. "I really hope not."
I cannot accompany you, this vault is the only thing sustaining my power. Go now, and take this in your hearts. This is a battle between gods and abominations, this universe will be devoured if the glluttonous god isn't obliterated in one strike.
We expected a greeting of more goblings, yet all but a husk awaited us as we exited the hidden base.
The Demon's Bane had landed very close in our absance. The crew looked shaken; half of them were bags of entrails. The once proud warship was battered, the stern pod scraped and missing multiple metal scales, and the ornamental bow was little more than scrap.
"Captain!" I hollered, picking up the pace as the horror of the vessel sunk in.
The balding captain finished tending to his patient and walked to the edge of the beaten deck.
"Ran into couple Leviathans. And a swarm of those little flying bastards." He hissed grimly.
"Shall she fly again?"
The captain sighed, "that engine will blow up before we leave the canyon. The containment core isn't working right, and the fuel rods could be split, and we know what happens then."
I grabbed a bit of rigging, hurling myself over through the largest of the holes that had been plowed into the port side.
"Sir Adius!" Piped up an injured crew member with a weary smile,"slice the freak who took my thumb would you?"
I nodded and knelt to him with hand on shoulder.
"I'll bring you a necklace of fingers to compensate."
He chuckled and gripped my arm.
"I'll listen for their screams my lord."
I stood and saluted with hand over heart, then turned my focus to the captain who was cleaning another soldier's cuts.
"I can't give the order. I love this ship too much." He said, on the verge of tears.
"Even if you did, we wouldn't leave." She replied weakly.
His silver teeth were clenched, a twisted agony on his face.
"My life's work could turn into an inferno at any second. I can't watch everyone die again!"
The pain of leaving his post, only a true captain could understand it. Each battle his heart jumps a little more, making him wonder how many casualities really can go by before he can't stand it anymore. I wasn't like that. I always viewed my death with glory, and never missed those friends after their flesh was all that remained.
So much conflict. In this place. In Thereafter. In myself.
"Sir! We need you on the bridge." Yelled the rock that sailed through a window into my mind and woke me up.
The captain gave instructions to his patient, then followed me up onto the deck.
High above, with immense altitude, was a whole array of different sized and coloured spots trailing long clouds of puffy smoke. Human warships. Only humans used steam engines. It was an entire fleet.
Oh, but one ship was flying very much lower, right above the canyon top, and decending. I reconized it with a mix of confusion, and fear.
Standing on the top of the mast, I could plainly see long billowing hair. Unaturally pink, as she had always kept it. I could see her brown naval coat in the wind, and the glint of a spy glass trained on me.
And I actually think I saw her grin when she lunged off of the crows nest and began to fall.
My first reaction of course, was to jump towards her, knowing she had no way of slowing down.
She hit my arms a few meters from the edge of the ship, and we both fell right into the ground, surrounded by three very puzzled conpanions.
"Well love, you certainly 'aven't got rusty." I heard her say with amusement.
I pushed her away and straightend my coat before finally meeting her gaze.
Rala Periguine. Acting admiral of the First Velliard Fleet. And a vagabond on my mother's ship when I was younger.