Beyond Here Lies Nothing

On Magic and Admiralties

The Journal of Jon Corsair

Tuesday, Eighth Day of Kindling, Year 1133 of the Common Era, 9 of the reign of King Boaz Adaer I

Wooden Point is not what you’d call a glorious and cosmopolitan city. So named after the peninsular motte and bailey stronghold of House Isan, the protectors of the town, it’s mostly dependent on ship repairs and some small trade with the southern lords ever since its status at entrepot for East Farhold was cut off by the revolution there. But it does make a good resupply for our voyage, and as I found out our beloved Captain had other reasons for dropping anchor there as well.

Two other rogues were at anchor in the bay; one, the Ocean’s Damnation, we’d tangled with before, to Tobias the so-called Widowmaker’s great displeasure. The other I took to be the Golden Blade, recently rechristened the “Revolution’s Thunder” and in service to the navy of the Senate of East Farhold.Tom Blackmark was her master, styling himself “admiral” of their navy. He agreed to let us slip by in return for some forged letters of marque from The Magister. What he intends to do with them I’m not rightly sure, but he’s a fool if he thinks Levas will give him a pass based on a marque. My old lord has little love for the throne at Stonesage and loves taking prizes on the seas from the gun deck of his Kraken. May they kill each other.

But I get ahead of myself. After taking refreshment at the Young Sparrow (which took half a lifetime) and taking in a fight in the alley beside the tavern, I set out to find again the Captain and Magister. Apparently the Captain is looking for family again. I suppose I, of all people in this world, should understand the longing for kin. Some shim bastard name of Goann Risio was stirring up the people of the Point against a dryad or naiad of some kind, but we managed to pursue the nymph into the forest before the mob could set out in earnest.

Curse that whoreson in the Redshore that put a ball through my leg. I was limping slowly enough that I let the other two go on ahead so I could distract the mob as they fanned out through the trees to bushwhack for the poor girl. Superstitious cravens, they were. A single flare and a shouted threat in Classical Arximian and they were running back for the Point, screaming to the Patrons to protect them. Set the forest on fire, though. Shame, that.

The Captain and Magister I caught up to at Isan’s Rock in the middle of the forest, an old stone circle built by the Ones that came before men. I’m no mage and no fey, but I am a nobleman of House Holyoake and know the ancient laws of hospitality as well as any. I stripped myself of my weapons and walked into the circle, announcing myself and my innocent intentions in the name of the stars, earth and sea. It worked; a young girl (human, I should add) poked her head out from a crevice in the rock, and agreed to follow us back to the Arrogance. She claimed to be a mere curious devotee of the dryad. I thought more might be at work and said as much, and she admitted she’d been given a gift by the spirit; a seed which grew miraculously into a flower at a moment’s touch. Old magic indeed. We went back to the henge the next morning at dawn.

It was… difficult to describe. A fog of monarch butterflies that settled on every surface of the rock, whispering in a language none could speak but the trees and creeks of Arxim. It seemed they lingered and murmured for hours, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes at the very most. The captain remained to meditate on what she’d seen, while the Magister and I escorted the child back to port. She vanished partway through the city with a mocking smile; we’d found our dryad after all.

The Magister seemed perturbed, but I merely lit my pipe and shrugged. Magic is old and dying in our world; I put my trust in other things. I’ve always admired the words of House Hiller in that regard; Steel and Powder. Practical indeed. We shall need every ounce of our practicality and intelligence when we arrive in the wilds of Farhold. Aye, and perhaps a dash of magic besides.

(at the bottom, in pencil)

Helena hasn’t yet responded to my letters. I know it’s only been a few days since I sent the last but I worry all the same. Knight watch and protect her and her family.

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