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The Gorgon Desolation

by Kelson Hayes 7 months ago in Fantasy
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Auf Kurs

SUMATRAN OCEAN

Summer, 1E 194

Surrounded by the darkness of the night, clouds swathed the sky, blotting out all light from the stars and the moon in the depths of the heavens above. Eight great Nardic ships sailed the rough waters of the Sumatran Ocean that separated the Nardic Isles from the Gorgon Desolation in the mainland of Aerbon to the North. Thunder boomed and lightning cracked, shattering the silence of the night whilst the sea rumbled and roared as foamy waves crashed upon the warships. The Nardic fleet sailed from the port of Baiern on the northern coast of Dusseldorf; the largest of island of their Isles in the South and closest to the orc-lands they sought out. The ships had been sailing for nearly a week and each of the men aboard fought their hardest to make it as far as they had in those rough waters. Two ships had already been lost to the sea-god, Urasmus, and the weather threatened to take even more sailor’s lives with the ships they manned.

Men shouted orders back and forth all along the decks of the ships and others raced along to do the bidding of their superiors. Hail pelted the sails as they continued to plough through the surging waves with difficulty. The going was slow and arduous but they continued to make headway even as the hail occasionally tore holes in the hemp sailcloth. Ulrich looked up to see the sails struggling to break free of the masts that bound them with the help of the heavy storm that assailed the Nardic ships relentlessly. Rain washed over the main decks and men slipped and slid as they raced from bow to aft and back again. Some men had already been dragged overboard by the enormous waves that sprayed arrogantly over the survivors of the onslaught.

An ominous wave surged towards the Nardic fleet in slow motion and two more ships further port-side were swallowed whole upon contact with the towering wall of seawater. Ulrich felt his gasp of shock as it was sucked away by the strong winds that blew all around, helplessly watching from the starboard as his comrades death shrieks were drowned by the thunderous storm and raging ocean. Each of the sailors aboard the remaining ships of the Nardic fleet felt all hope drain from within them as the rain washed it away into the infinite depths of the ocean they battled for their very lives. If any amongst them could have found the time to take in their surroundings, they would have found that there were no landmarks or signs of anything remotely signalling the end of their wretched misadventure. It was instead their luck, however, to maintain the course of their great war vessels and devote every ounce of their being to keeping those wooden whores afloat, lest the sea crush their hopes of landfall as it dragged them all to their watery graves.

Men shouted and swore, fleeing as a bolt of lightning struck the centre-mast of one of the ships nearer to the middle of their formation, splitting it in half and setting the deck aflame all around where it struck. Another ship, on the outside towards the port-side, had the misfortune of being capsized by a giant wave and the cries of its occupants could easily be heard over the raging storm and wind that buffeted them as they faced their impending deaths. A third ship rode the crest of a wave and the wave suddenly broke beneath it, sending the ship crashing down straight towards the ocean surface head-first where it dived under like some sort of submarine. When it resurfaced the remains of the ship were upside down, it sank slowly as water filled up the cabins and cargohold through the giant breach in the hull on either side. Of the five remaining ships, few amongst their survivors held any faith that they would live to see land.

Ulrich felt the water sweep him off his feet. His heart felt as though it were about to burst out of his chest, beating rapidly as he slid across the slippery wet surface of the ship deck. He reached out for anything that would hold him until the wave passed over but his hands grasped at empty air and sea spray. His back crashed into the railing that ran all along the sides of the ship and he rolled off the side into the ocean below. Making one final grab at salvation before he was swept away never to be seen again, Ulrich closed his eyes and prayed as his hand wrapped around the railing. Water rushed over and around him and he could feel it pulling him away from the wooden rod he clung to for dear life. Once the wave had swept over and the ship had readjusted itself, Ulrich pulled himself up and over the side. He clambered over the railing and thanked the Nardic gods for allowing him to keep his life amidst the rampant death and destruction that engulfed his fellow countrymen at sea.

His only thoughts were of his wife Aeryn and his two boys; Frank and Hans. He thought of his home in Baiern and of his friends in the town that he left behind for national duty to his country. Some had even joined him on the voyage North, a few of them were already dead by the will of the Urasmus. Each of the ten ships had originally held five thousand warriors of the Nardic Isles; a grand total of 50,000 men began that accursed journey to the Gorgon Desolation. Now there were only five ships and maybe twenty thousands, at the most, still aboard. Out of that number even fewer were fit enough to travel and there was a broad range of injuries and maladies of the sea afflicting them. Counting the living was useless aboard the ships, however; there was no way of knowing who was still alive and who was fish fodder in the chaos of the storm. They would have to wait until they were safely ashore if the time ever came before they could count their losses.

Upon returning to the semi-solid ground of the ship deck, Ulrich returned to his duties in attempting to keep the ship afloat and on course. The pilot was still at the wheel and his captain was away at sea, drowning in the choppy waters of the Gorgon Gulf. Ulrich damned the ship, his captain, the elves, orcs, and everything else that he could find to blame for his current predicament. The ships continued to fight their way through the rough currents and crashing waves. Men held on for dear life on the rollercoaster ride across what they’d affably referred to as a leap over the pond prior to boarding the ships. It had quickly earned itself the title of “Voyage To Hell” throughout the course of the weekend storm that assailed them even now. The first four days of their voyage had been smooth sailing until the storm hit.

Lightning flashed and thunder boomed; Ulrich nearly jumped out of his skin with each crack of lightning that echoed resonantly in his ears. The wind howled and sometimes he felt himself being lifted off his feet by the gale-force strength of the winds that buffeted him and his kinsmen. He was drenched from head to toe in seawater and he was shivering in the cold rain. Parched by all the seawater he’d swallowed, Ulrich’s mouth was parched and swollen and his lips were cracked, dry, and blistered. His eyes were red-rimmed and burned with a growing intensity every second that he kept them open. Sleep was all Ulrich wanted; he welcomed its warm embrace in the icy chill of that stormy night.

He longed for his bed at home, but he’d even settle for his seamen’s bunk in the cabin space below. It was his duty to remain on the main deck however, and that’s where he stayed. All that was left of the main mast was a splintered wooden beam no higher from the deck than his head. The frayed ropes swung about helplessly as the ocean waves surged over the deck and gusts of wind gave them life as they blew wildly. In the distance rows of cruel jagged teeth were visible, barely protruding above the ocean’s surface. They peeked out of the depths of the sea eagerly anticipating the approaching Nardic warships like the sinister bristles of a whale as it swallowed plankton whole.

The ships headed directly towards the rocky teeth on the great ocean waves they rode. The rock mouth opened its jaws wide as the water shrank back before waves came crashing down upon it, bearing ships full of Nardic seamen. Barnacle-encrusted stalagmites tore into the wooden frames of the warships like human teeth sinking into an apple; seawater came pouring into the vessels through the fresh tears in the hull of the mighty vessels. Ulrich and those nearby him were flung helplessly across the deck by the force of the impact. He felt his back make contact with the cabin door and he fell through it. The door splintered and cracked, giving way to his superior weight and the combined weight of his fellows who came crashing through with him.

Water had already filled the cabins and there were corpses floating up to meet them even as the survivors fought to make their way out. The ship leaned forwards again and they all tumbled back out of the temporary safety of the passageway. As the men all slid across the slippery main deck water sloshed over the and some of the men joined their lost brethren at sea. The waves continued to collide and break upon the ship, sending foamy sea spray over those who found themselves fortunate enough to still remain aboard the sinking ships. Some amongst them sought out the few life boats that had survived the whole ordeal and fled in an attempt to escape the wreckage.

Those who’d been thrown overboard tried to make their way to the lifeboats and many failed. Some amongst them did reach the boats, however, and found themselves holding on for their lives in the ten-man vessels, caught in the waves like a tuber in harsh rapids. The unfortunate majority who found themselves unable to reach the boats could be seen from afar, even in the warships; a single outstretched hand, grasping at empty air before disappearing beneath the rough ocean’s surface. The men still aboard the ships prayed to their gods or wept, some even commit suicide after seeing the futility of it all.

The Nardic Tribes had seven gods; Urasmus, God of the Sea, Nova the Sun-Goddess, Stein the Earth-God, Hasst, the God of death, Benzin, the God of Life, Onanieren, the Goddess of Fertility, and Ein; the King of the Gods as well as the God of War. The gods ruled over all that fell under their dominion and Ein ruled everything else, as well as the gods themselves. Their gods were not physical in nature, but more or less like the strands of fate. They were beyond time and space and were made up of another fabric entirely in another dimension of existence. The gods were a part of everything around them and the belief of them caused everything to exist by their will.Without faith, nothing was real and because everything is real it had to be believed, otherwise there would be no point to existence. This was what the people of the Nardic Isles believed and these were to gods to whom they prayed.

Ulrich spoke silent prayers to Urasmus as did the majority of the seamen, some prayed to Stein to bring them to land, and a few even reached out to Nova, pleading her to end the storms. Ulrich began to wonder if he would ever live to see his family again and his thoughts wandered back to his final farewell. He remembered holding Aeryn in his arms, looking into her beautiful brown eyes and telling her that everything would be alright, and of telling Hans to keep his mother safe while he was away. The confused look on Frank’s face when he watched his father kiss him upon the brown before leaving them. Hans was 13, a young lad in his own right, and Frank was just a toddler. They were both far too young to be without a father in their lives and the burly Nardic warrior fought back tears as he fought to remain aboard the damned vessel.

It had nearly been an entire month since the elves had first sent their emissaries from their capitol city in Graenor to the Nardic island of Auchtung via elvish ships borrowed from the port town of Aereil. The elvish messengers spoke to the chieftain of the island who organised a meeting with the Nardic Council in the fortress of Sehnshult, capitol of the Nardic Isles in the South. Sehnshult was situated in the heartlands of Dusseldorf, the largest island of the Isles and home to the Warlord of the Nardic Tribes, to whom all the individual chieftains pledged their undying fealty. The Warlord declared the Nardic Tribes at war with the orcs of the Gorgon Desolation after hearing all that the elvish messengers of King Hassän had to say. He mustered a host of 50,000 men and sent them North to aid the elves of Gilan in their campaign.

Ulrich still remembered sitting at the dinner table on the night that the courier had arrived on his doorstep bearing news of a draft. He and his fellow men had been ordered to take up arms and fight for their country abroad. Suddenly Ulrich was brought out of his thoughts as the ship lurched forwards in a spray of seawater. It rode the crest of the wave even as the water dragged it down and With a crash the fo’c’sle was swallowed whole beneath the water’s surface and the last thing Ulrich remembered before he fell unconscious was flying headfirst across the deck before the ocean swallowed him whole.

Fantasy

About the author

Kelson Hayes

Kelson Hayes is a British-American author and philosopher, born on 19 October 1994 in Bedford, England. His books include Can You Hear The Awful Singing, The Art of Not Thinking, and The Aerbon Series.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Mad Reader15 days ago

    Feels like im looking into ancient europe

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