The day was an unusually warm one out on the open northern sea; the gulls were few but still called their inaudible shrieks to each other from masts of the ships settled on the calm blue waves. Many of the sailors were milling about conducting average chores: netting the rig, catching in fish, tying of the sail. This was the scene upon the Sea of Illusions of the coast of Sailors City, one of many impressive cities in the Kingdom of Alterium which in turn was part of the grand continent of Aelidar. Aelidar, such a grand, unimaginably beautiful and rich land has not been known to the world since the first sunrise. It is here that our story is set and here that the fate of Empire’s will be tested; power, might, deception, secrets and mystery are surrounding the world as it becomes a stranger place than any could have conceived.

Returning to the unassuming image portrayed earlier, the ships continued to bask in the swelling heat of the midday sun, men were beginning to go below decks to shade themselves from the burning rays. One man that stayed up on deck was Captain Agrol, an Altan of Alterium, who had been newly appointed Captain of the ship Lionheart.In fact out of the few ships currently resting upon the foamy ocean he was the highest ranking officer and bi-in-large in charge of the small crew of vessels. He had taken the time to observe the goings on of the few men who remained to take in the sun’s warmth and found himself happy with himself, happy that he was in a state of content. From the corner of his eye he could see his Lieutenant wandering over from the aft of the ship with a spying glass in hand.

‘Captain!’  The Lieutenant yelled.

 ‘Captain the ships have been sited again about two leagues away, coming from a north – westerly direction. I reckon, this is probably about the fifth time they’ve been spotted sir, shall we engage? ’

Indeed the Lieutenant was right; this was the fifth time these unknown ships had been spotted along the coast of Alterium and with every siting the ships were growing closer to the port of Sailor’s City. In this case they had sailed so close to the city over the Sea of Illusions that protocol now demanded that the Captain confront the enemy. Either they would explain themselves and depart or a confrontation would arise.

‘Lieutenant Vargon, ready the chain shot, hard to starboard, thirty three degrees west get the men up from below decks, beat to quarters you layabouts! This could get messy. Use the signals to tell the fleet to surround the enemy ships, but spare as many lives as possible if they attack first.’

The messages were soon sent up by the signal ensigns in a flash of red, green and other coloured flags.  To get a better view of the flagship Agrol took the spying glass from the Lieutenant, peering through it to examine the enemy. Already the archers on the deck were scurrying about and getting into their firing position. Agrol looked up to the enemy ships mast, she was a fast sail built for speed it wouldn’t stand against the Lionhearted for very long. Agrol doubted himself only when he saw that the flagship was heavily built with thick oak wood.

As the two fleets came into firing range of each other the enemy fired the first shot, they were aiming for the sails of the other ships with flaming arrows. The Captain smirked with a grim delight; their sails had been soaked in sea water as standard procedure.

‘Archers loose!’ Agrol exclaimed.

The shots went off immediately and whistled through the air, most of the shots hit the other targets bursting through the skulls of most of the men aboard in grim displays, but the flagship was guarded well by the other vessels she would have to be boarded and the captain captured if this was to be a successful attack.

‘Boarding parties at the ready Lieutenant get the men fitted out and tell the other ships-‘

The words were interrupted as a huge force shot forth, obliterating the deck and knocking Agrol off his feet. What in the name of the Ten was that?

When the Captain staggered on to the rail, boarding parties from the other ships were already being loaded onto the rest of the ships. Agrol was amazed at how quickly they had been overwhelmed. The Captain’s view was then blocked as another group of boarders had landed on the deck of the Lionheart. His first reaction was shock, how could they have underestimated their enemies. Agrol jumped to his feet drew his cutlass and dashed towards the raiders.

Agrol had never fought a man this size before; he possessed almighty strength, the overpowering brute which he had barely just beheaded was pale skinned almost snow – white. The men’s teeth were sharp to the point that they looked like they had been carved with some sort of metal, their eyes varied some were red others black and some were white like their skin: this was probably the most normal thing about the attacker, even their armour was odd as if it was made of flowing metal. The strange men- for that was what they resembled most – were overrunning the Lionheart and the other ships. Agrol suffered a wound to the shoulder from a crossbow bolt and after dispatching the attacker with a stab to the abdomen he noticed from the corner of his eye one of the wraiths leap onto the ship. He had an air of authority that immediately dissuaded anyone from challenging him. All but the Captain.

‘I’ll have your head you filthy cur!’ Exclaimed Agrol

As he swung for whom he assumed was an enemy captain he quite suddenly saw the man’s sword in his hand leaving Agrol wondering if he had even drew it, but then their swords clashed with ferocity. The two duelled into the centre of the ship all the while Agrol’s men were being killed around him.  Finally the enemy captain swung his sword above his head and cried some strange word bringing his sword crashing down upon Agrol’s, on contact his sword shattered and was accompanied by a blow to the head. Then all was black.

When Agrol finally came to he was tied to the mast of the Lionheart his weapons gone. Although dizzy he realised that he would have to try and break himself free from the bonds, the news of this attack would undoubtedly reach the main land but he needed to make sure for himself. If I could just reach something with an edge.

Trying to reach for a sharp shard of glass on the floor Agrol felt a slippery liquid beneath his fingers. Almost unnoticed before but now more pungent than ever the smell of oil filled his nose and tears appeared in his eyes. Across from the Lionheart the remaining ships were slowly sailing away and only the flagship remained. From a distance Agrol noticed the enemy captain standing upon the rails with what vaguely looked like a smile on his face.

‘Your fleet has been destroyed human, beg for forgiveness and I may choose to spear you and keep you as my pet! Ha!’

The enemy captain’s voice was loud and sinister; it chilled you to your bones like midnight in winter, it possessed a demon speaking through the man and the body was just a shell. As a shiver ran down his spine Agrol could see through half lidded eyes; the bowman light the tar on the end of his arrow and aim high towards the sail. With the catch of the spark and the intensifying heat the last thing Agrol saw was the flag of Aelidar go up in flames.

The End

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