Chapter 1 – Coming back

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Chapter 1

Coming back


A calm breeze was blowing over the blue expanse. The sea was, just as the wind, soft and calm. A seagull plunged in the water to catch a fish it had noticed and soared back into the sky a few seconds later, laughing as it swallowed its prey. Under the blue sky, strewn with rare pieces of fluffy cotton, the ships were sailing slowly. The three of them soon became silent and started slowing down, their motors turned off as they neared the coast of the kingdom of Tebor. As they were getting closer the huge doors of the port city seemed to get bigger. A deep silence took over the different decks and as they finally came to a halt a few hundred meters in front of the huge walls protecting the harbor, bow and stern, thought crowded, were almost completely devoid of sound. Only a few children, unable to contain their excitement, dared to voice whispers of admiration from time to time.

The view was truly amazing. From the ships one could see the coast and the high cliffs only a few hundred meters ahead: a gigantic wall of white stone linked one side of the cliffs to the other, effectively closing and guarding the entry to the harbor of Eneleïa, the greatest commercial city of the kingdom of Tebor. The walls were almost as high as the cliffs that encased them on each side, towering at a staggering hundred and fifty meters, and as white as the clouds. This gigantic edifice, built roughly eight hundred years before, coupled to the high cliffs on its sides gave the city an almost impenetrable protection that had foiled multiple plans of enemy conquests. This had contributed to the rise of the city in the maritime trade and had made it one of the two main axes of transportation and trade with the Karnines islands to the south east for example, but also with the other continents. The huge gates at the entry of the harbor could rise and descend, allowing the ships to enter and exit the city and thus insuring the safety of the crews and merchandise during the time of the trade. The doors of Eneleïa moved due to and ingenious combination of mechanical engineering and magic imagined and built long ago by a brilliant mind whose identity seemed to have been forgotten over time. The doors themselves though, were known throughout the alliance and even across the oceans, the unique symbol each of them harbored contributing almost as much as their reputation of being impregnable.

The Leikan, one of the three gigantic ships of the Galaedan fleet had stopped before the central door while the other two, the Illilda and the Archeniss, had halted on each side. This wide and space-consuming disposition was necessary due to the scale of the ships that arrived in the harbor. They had very little to envy to the wall itself as each of the three colossi towered at more than sixty meters in height and two hundred meters in length. This forced them to each go through a different door and disembark on a different dock. Each one had been built in light gray granite stone that had been enchanted to withstand the angry sea and the passing of time. They were known as the Trinity and were the pride of the small kingdom of Galaeda. The Trinity was the symbol of the maritime power of one of the smallest countries of the Alliance as much on the commercial level – the fleet was often used as a means of transport of people and goods – as on the military level as it was part of a special section of the navy in the Galaedan army. The three ships could transform from a small fleet of transport ships into a military operated squadron as powerful as a whole armada in a matter of minutes if the order was given. Any sailor having had the privilege to set foot and operate on one of the three ships felt the same thing: an incredible feeling of power and invincibility. Their reputation was already firmly established in most parts of the world and faltered only in the most distant places. The Leikan, the Illilda and the Archeniss had reached one of the last halts in their journey from Simeriah to Ore as they neared the city of Eneleia. They had sailed over a fourth of the central sea and joined two of the continents. The fleet was now on its way back to Port-Varenne, Galaeda’s capital city. It would sail in that direction after a few days of halt in the City of Two Worlds, the other name of Eneleïa due to its status of bridge between the continent of Ore and the Central Seas. The ships were transporting many passengers and private goods but also goods destined to be traded as many merchants found it more profitable and secure to cross the seas aboard the Trinity than to charter a personal ship.

This time, the number of passengers to have made the trip was much bigger than usual and the reason was simple: two major events were going to take place in Eneleïa and the citizens were preparing for a celebration that would last three days. The first one was of course the arrival of the Trinity in the city, an event rare enough to celebrate it with great enthusiasm, and the second, but far from last, was the wedding of princess Silena, heir to the throne of Tebor.

Every passenger was silent on the ships, admiring the large walls and waiting breathlessly for the doors of the harbor to open. A few faint shouts could be heard from time to time as the wind carried the voices from the docks over the wall and one could easily sense the tension rising as the days of festivity approached, this added tension on the decks of the ships. The engines had been slowed to a minimum capacity while the captains waited for the authorization to enter the harbor. Suddenly a foghorn rang out in the distance, soon followed by a second one and then a third, the whole of the walls were soon resounding with its sound. A linear crack then appeared in a part of the wall, separating the central emblem of the city in two as the space between the two panels of the gigantic stone door as it opened. It started to shake lightly as the same process happened on the two sides of the central door. The doors slowly opened and the engines of the small fleet started humming again as they moved forward. They advanced at a very slow and almost silent pace so that the last hundred meters to the entry of the harbor almost seemed the longest part of the whole journey. As soon as they had passed through the doors though everything seemed to come to life once more as the three ships signaled their presence at the same time with their horns and a huge clamor erupted from the large number of people gathered on the docks. The crowd greeted them with loud cheers and the passengers and crew members responded with their own cheers and waving of arms.

Thrista was standing on the upper deck of the Leikan and observed the large crowds gathered on the docks and in the streets, shouting, laughing and decorating the city for the three days of continued festivities. This scene reminded him of the first time he had come to the port city, ten years before, he was six at the time and the whole city was celebrating the tenth anniversary of the princess. He had come with his father who wanted to show him the magnificent city’s best side.

“Maybe we’ll even see the princess!” his father had told him as they had just entered the city. The Leikan had finished its deceleration and had stopped along the central dock of the harbor, it shook Thrista out of his daydream and he looked around. He saw the passengers already walking towards the disembarkation bridges which were being lowered or towards their cabins to get take their belongings before disembarking. The young man decided to wait a bit before also proceeding to disembark and took this time to look at the city, it had changed very little since he had left two years ago but it seemed to have gotten bigger once more. The palace was still standing proudly in the center of the south district, surrounded by its four towers, it dominated the whole city by its sheer size and its elegant architecture. He finally decided himself to move when only a handful of people remained on the deck of the ship, he put his cape back on and placed his hood in a way it wouldn’t bother him. His shoulder bag was hanging by his side as he neared the bridge.

He saw the ship’s captain, a young and good looking brunette woman who, as Thrista had witnessed, was very competent in her position and knew how to be obeyed and respected by her crew. She was observing the passengers from the terrace of the command post. Her first mate was standing by her side also looking a the people disembarking the ship, he was a slim red-haired man who seemed frail in appearance. Thrista had seen him as his post however and he was an entirely other man, he knew how to order the crewmen around without being questioned or disrespected. Only the captain seemed to know how to make him bend easily and he obeyed her every order without question.

The second in command nodded and smiled politely towards Thrista as their eyes met and the young man responded in the same way, as he had crossed his path and had the opportunity to chat a little with him while walking on the decks of the ship. The captain simply watched him as he walked towards the disembarkation bridge and took her eyes off him once he disappeared under the cloth protection. As he finally reached the dock a member of the crew wished him a pleasant stay to which he replied with a smile and a polite “thank you”. As he walked out of the protection area of the cloth roof he was momentarily blinded by the sudden brightness, on deck and the bridge he had been in a cool shadow, protected from the rays of the sun and he hadn’t realized how bright it was. When he finally could see normally again, what he saw impressed him as much as the first time he had come. Myriads of multicolored pieces of cloth were hanged everywhere, hundreds of people walked around, dressed in as many colors. Groups of musicians had gathered and chariots which were still under construction were just waiting here and there for the festival to begin. He stayed there, unmoving as he took in all this agitation and this living rainbow animated by music. After a moment he finally decided to start move again and started walking towards the eastern part of the city to find a place to stay for the next few days, he knew by experience that every place in the south and central districts would already be packed with tourists and visitors whereas the north and east ones would remain relatively empty until nightfall. He sighed contentedly, he was finally back. This thought made him smile as he slowly walked through the streets.

*

On a dock not far from the one the Leikan had stopped a small patrol from the Galaedan navy was waiting patiently. The soldiers were standing in close, well-formed ranks, their weapons beside them as they calmly talked with each other as a man with graying hair was pacing slowly in front of them. Suddenly he stopped and turned towards the water inside the large circular bay.

“Men, attention!” he suddenly exclaimed. “They are coming, stay in ranks and salute when given the order, is that clear?”

“Yes corporal!” responded each one of them as they picked up their weapons and stood straight.

“Good.” he simply added before turning back towards the other side of the bay.

The docks were circular, surrounding the calm body of water, and extended on a diameter eight times wider than the docks where the Trinity had stopped earlier, it had been built especially for the small fleet to stay when it called in Eneleïa and was supposed to welcome the three ships that day. The Leikan, the Illilda and the Archeniss were scheduled to berth there after their stop at the harbor’s main docks to unload the civilian passengers and the cargo. The doors of the bay opened slowly, creating small ripples on the usually flat surface of the water, and the first ship, the Leikan, appeared and entered it, slowly ranking itself on the right side of the round dock. It was soon followed by its two companions, each of them stopping in the center and on the left side which prevented any outsider to peek inside the bay. As the bridges were lowered and the captains of the ships came down the corporal walked towards them to meet halfway. They were three, the young brunette woman from earlier, captain of the Leikan, a tall man with long white hair, captain of the Archeniss, and a smaller blonde man in his forties, captain of the Illilda, who was smiling.

“Captains.” the corporal saluted the three officers. “How was your trip? How may we assist you.” The woman was the first to speak.

“Fine, thank you corporal. As for the rest everything is taken care of, do not worry. Your job will be to secure this perimeter for as long as we remain here, which should be no longer than seven days. We only have to wait for the latecomers, as always…” She added, shooting a look at the now still water of the bay.

“The latecomers? Are you not only three ships?” Asked the corporal.

“Let’s say that we both are and are not.” Replied the woman in a mysterious tone.

“But…” The officer was about to ask for an explanation when bubbles and swirl started forming on the surface of the water in the center of the bay. A dark shape started appearing under the water, getting bigger and closer to the surface, before finally revealing a large piece of white stone. The piece was quickly followed by the rest of the ship it belonged to and soon a fourth ship, smaller and with a round front and back. It had no window anywhere. It stabilized at the surface and a door opened at the top of the first part to have come out of the water. A brown haired man with a thin mustache and a blond woman came out of it one after the other. The man then signaled the four people watching them and smiled.

“You should have waited for me before beginning the party!” he shouted from the ship.

“Hurry up Stone! We don’t have all day!” exclaimed the captain of the Illilda, seemingly amused of his colleague’s attitude.

“The cargo is with the Odenon,” then announced the oldest of the three captain present on the dock. “It is completely normal for you to be surprised corporal, very few people know that the Trinity is in fact a fleet of four ships, three cargo ships and a submersible.”

“It can switch in mere instants from a cargo fleet to a fully operational armada capable of rivaling with a whole fleet but, as today, when our mission is simply to transport passengers and deliver goods it is not completely operational, which means it is vulnerable. This fourth submersible ship is undetectable and has been added to the fleet to protect it if time is needed.” Completed the young woman.

“You may understand that due to its value and possible threat, this cargo must stay a secret for the time being, it will only be handed over to the lieutenant general himself. It is very important, if not crucial, to the smooth progress of the preparations for the tournament.” Concluded the blond haired man as his colleague from the submersible just joined them on the dock.

“Of course!” replied the corporal once he got over his surprise. “You may unload it immediately, the special warehouse is fully ready for your arrival since this morning. It will remain our highest priority until transportation is ready.”

“Excellent!” exclaimed the brunette woman. She then turned towards her men and started giving them orders to unload the cargo. “Men! Prepare to offload the Ortheus system!”


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One thought on “Chapter 1 – Coming back

  1. Pingback: Chapter 2 – Carmen | Tales of Ore

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