The creaking sound of the old wood was the only thing heard on board the ship. The ocean was silent, and a dense mist covered the fleet as it slowly pushed forward. Standing by the rail of the bow, Nathan had his eyes peeled, searching the thick mist for any sign of danger. It had been over a week since they departed, and only a glimpse of the hostile fleet had been seen. They were traveling down alongside the eastern shores of Aewyth, which was a much longer route to reach Scayles. As long as they stayed on course towards the barren land, the plan remained unchanged.
The landmass of Scayles was positioned far south of Aewyth and had large portions covered in desert. If the plan were to succeed, Stormhold’s navy would have to force the vanghouls all the way down to that landmass. With provisions running short, the only solution would be to go ashore and resupply. The northern city, Neandro, would be able to assist them while at the same time hold back the beasts. There were two possible outcomes to this plan, either the vanghouls would be starved out, or they would be slaughtered at the shore.
Coming up beside Nathan was the admiral of the fleet, Terrance Fowler. He shared the general’s expression of unease and scouted across the short distance of water before them. There was a total of four ships in the fleet, and with the mist being as thick as it was, they could barely see the one next to them. This rose concern amongst the men, and the people were extremely cautious, just waiting for the commander’s order.
Straightening the sleeves of his jacket, Fowler grumbled, “I can’t shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong. What are these savages up to?”
“No point in thinking there is any sane reason behind their motives. Is the compass working again?” Nathan grunted.
“Nay, look.” He took up an old device from his inner pocket and held it in his palm. The two were watching the arrow spin around in circles.
With his gaze turned to the sky, Nathan continued, “the fog should let up soon, and then we might get a visual.”
“Aye, as long as they’re continuing on their current route.”
Walking up the steps to the bow, Captain Feregreth and Declan Lowe approached them.
With his hands resting on his back, the former admiral, Declan spoke. “Gents, allow me to introduce my own little prodigy. He served aboard the Crimson Garnet during the Siege of the High Tides.”
Turning towards them, Nathan gave a quick nod as Fowler stated, “aye, I remember you couldn’t keep your mouth shut for weeks. So, this is the acclaimed man who rose from a peasant to a captain?”
Offering his hand to him, the admiral hinted at a smile as he shook Feregreth’s hand. “Nice to meet you, Captain Sorrowhill.”
“Likewise, Admiral. It’s an honor to serve at your command.”
Fowler was a well-known decorated officer who held himself to the highest standards. With his sideburns and slicked back cut, he represented the noble class onboard. As they were talking, sudden small waves started hitting the ship on its starboard side. Watching the surface, confusion was shared amongst them as there was barely any wind, and it only happened for a brief moment.
Declan seemed a bit disturbed by this and gestured with his hands for everyone to be silent. A couple of minutes later, he spoke with a low voice. “I think we’ve entered the Depths of Scayracosh.”
Addressing his claim, General Galeran replied as he held his hands on the wooden railing. “That’s south of Fariondor, we can’t have sailed that far, it would take another week at least.”
“We’ve had considerably good wind up until now, so if we have, that would at least explain this ominous mist. You know as well as anyone that people disappear without any sane reason from these uncharted waters.”
“And you would like to believe that the beast is here as well?”
“All I’m saying is that there is always some truth to a story.”
Suddenly, the ship being torn apart came from upfront, followed by screams of terror. What was even more strange was that the galleon they were on was leading the fleet so it couldn’t be one of theirs.
Declan and Feregreth rushed back towards the helm as the Admiral bellowed. “Turn the fleet over on our port side. Quartermaster, prepare the men for battle!”
Sailors ran around in urgency, and the bells were rung to signal everyone to take combat positions. At the bow of the ship, a breeze followed by drops of rain came towards them. The Admiral went back towards the bridge while Nathan stared at a glimmering light emerging from the mist. It looked like something was set ablaze. The noises escalated into cannon fire and sounds of a skirmish, but moments later, it fell completely silent. As the ship slowly cut through the waves, it hit debris floating on the surface. Feregreth ran up beside the General and gazed into the waters below. Looking at planks, barrels, and cloth drifting passed, Feregreth’s eyes were locked on the rubble as a torn flag caught his attention. It held the insignia of Arkanvail. Confusion was exchanged between the captain and general as it made no sense that a ship like this would be so far south.
Trying to wrap his mind around this, Feregreth stated, “Sir, if our allies are out here as well, we can’t open fire. The fog is too thick, we won’t know who we attack.”
Nathan’s face showed a bit of frustration as he gleamed into the distance, replying firmly. “I’m afraid we can’t do that, Captain. If it’s a hostile ship that approaches, we won’t know before it’s too late. The Stormhold fleet will remain behind us, so if the crow’s nest sees anything, we will fire the cannons. Is that understood?”
Hesitantly nodding, Feregreth took a few steps away and began walking back to the helm. The dead silence on board the ship was excruciating as many of the men were fearful of what would come out of the shadows. As the lookout scouted around himself with wide-open eyes, something caught his attention on the starboard side. It resembled a mast coming closer, heading straight towards the ship. Shouting to the officers, the lookout informed that a ship was heading directly towards them. Nathan glanced over at Fowler who stood in the stairway, giving him a nod to carry out the order. The Admiral shouted for the men to open fire. Flying through the air towards the enemy ship, most of the cannonballs got a direct hit on the vessel, causing significant damage to the bow. Terrible screams and roars ensued from the enemy as the soldiers of Stormhold reloaded for another strike. However, the ship maintained its course and appeared closer by the second. A flash of light came from their bow followed by cannon fire piercing into the side of the Stormhold vessel. Feregreth grabbed around the wheel and began steering the ship over to the port side by the Admiral’s order. Another volley was released against the enemy, which resulted in the mast being blown to pieces. A bit of cheering ensued as they witnessed the sinking, and the general praised the men’s success.
Declan came up next to Admiral Terrence with news about the damages. “We lost two cannons below deck, and there are some minor damages, but overall, the ship is in good condition.”
“Aye, this bloody thing has been through way worse than those savages.”
Before either of them could continue the conversation, they were all thrown down on the deck as the ship crashed into reefs below the surface. The panic escalated even more when shouting came from the nearby vessels, and the sound of cannon fire echoed around them.
Getting back on his feet in a hurry, Terrence glanced over at the men stumbling back up and shouted at Declan, “Mr. Lowe! I need another damage report, now!”
“I’m on it!” Without a moment of hesitation, he headed down below only to find water pouring in on both sides and sailors working in despair. As he stood in the middle of the stairs, an all too familiar horn was sounded from afar. Taking a moment to collect his thoughts, a grim expression overtook his face as he ran back towards Terrence, yelling at the top of his lungs. “Admiral, we need all these men off the galleon immediately!”
“How much time do we have?”
“We’re already out of time!” He pointed at a large shadow coming out of the fog on the starboard side, heading directly towards them. It was the front of another ship with its bow armored in black metal. The contraption was built like a battering ram that could pierce through vessels with barely any damage to itself. Lord Galeran gazed upon the dreadful creation and noticed one of the giant beasts standing by the rails.
With Raven black hair and eyes almost glowing in flaming colors, the monster before him seemed fueled with hatred. Having a giant forged metal hammer in his hand, he turned around and submerged it into a barrel of oil as he shouted, “You will all burn!”
Pulling the hammer back up, he swung it against a torch. As it was knocked away, the metal was engulfed in flames. The ship was about to crash straight into the starboard side of the galleon.
Grabbing the captain’s arm, Declan moved over to the railing as he stated fearfully, “Listen to me, you have to go…” Before he managed to finish his sentence, the figurehead of the enemy ship rose above them as it. cut into the side of the vessel. Being knocked overboard from the impact, Feregreth struck the ocean surface hard. Time seemed to slow down as he was submerged below the surface. Watching silhouettes of ships descending into the darkness below as the sound of destruction followed as the galleon broke in half. Torn bodies were thrown into the water beside them, and the flag of Stormhold laid burning on the surface. Collecting all the strength he had left, Sorrowhill swam upwards, anxious to catch his breath as the darkness closed in all around him.