The Magic Origins
Chapter One: The island in a fog
There were two great kingdoms on the continents of Meridis. Empire of the Sun and empire of the Moon prospered and consolidated their power with each day. Even short periods of border skirmishes did not spoil the trade relations. Waters of the Hospitable Sea (ironically named for its unpredictability and danger) safely kept people from the threat of a great war. But they didn’t object to constantly scurrying trade galleons and barks with full holds. Many ships had vanished into the abyss, had broken on the reef and had just sunk into obscurity before the sailors managed to learn the safe routes.
Maritime trade promised good profit, honor and respect. Therefore, more and more adventures led by a thirst for fame embarked on a journey in search of undiscovered paths and new lands. The rulers of the kingdoms patronized and promoted such expeditions, because over the last couple of hundred years a lot of archipelagos were discovered and became sources of rare metals, spices and overseas fruits.
One of well-known adventurers, who dreamed of the impossible, was Oston Rolsh, the Count of the Sun Empire. There have already been a lot of successful sea crossings on his account. Before each journey he locked himself in the office. His eyes burned with the fire of adventure, and his cheeks glowed from the heat. In such moments the servants feared for the health of their host and prayed for successful accomplishment of his plans.
That time everything happened as usual. Oston had not left his office for a week, fending off intrusive attempts to feed him. Surrounded by books and parchments, he enthusiastically studied the documents and sketched something by the pen with ferocity. The servants were whispering with confidence that the Count was planning another route of a new adventure. But they were wrong.
When Rolsh had finally left his voluntary confinement, in his hands there was a drawing of an unusual structure of the ship, which, in his opinion, could change the entire history of sea travel. The new type of a ship was designed to break through the dangerous reefs, destroying them by metal battering ram. He didn’t forget about the protection of the bottom: steel sheets could withstand a long rubbing against the rocks. Intoxicated by his idea, Oston began to seek an audience of the Emperor.
On the appointed day, Count Oston Rolsh entered the throne room with prance dressed in uniform and a coat with the family emblem – hawk. He was elated by speedy implementation of his dreams and universal acceptance. A moment of jubilation did not last long. The Emperor and advisers were skeptical to the new ideas of safe navigation. They quickly estimated the cost of this project and ridiculed Oston and explained condescendingly that the construction of such a ship would cost more than the loss of a whole squadron. Rolsh was pathetic and wilted from the received advice to do his job in imperial accounting, and leave the sea ideas to specialists.
However, the advices did not go in store. The Count determined to bring his ideas to life and reduced costs of his estate to a minimum, almost bringing the farmers to food riots. Having accumulated the required amount of money he built two miracle ships on his own expenses. Oston hired the best sailors, loaded supplies and even didn’t forget to take care of security. Spearmen from the estate and the archers squad seemed to be an excellent response to all possible adversities in the travel, whether pirates or unknown tribe of natives.
With the morning tide the ships weighed anchor and headed towards adventures. The Count went to his cabin and fell into a deep sleep tired of excitement and experiences. When he returned to the deck the captain gleefully reported that the first test of the ships was successful, they already passed through the Evil Rocks reef ridge. To celebrate the first victory Oston ordered to open the keg of rum, so the teams could share his enthusiasm and have fun.
The second day of the voyage threatened even greater troubles. Crow's nest islands for a long time have acquired a bad name because of pirates who often ravaged the holds of merchant ships. Pirates with interest looked at unusual ships of count Rolsh and wondered how they can capture the valuable cargo from them. Captain Grieg, the storm of seas, hesitated for a moment to give a command to attack. He was afraid off breaking off the teeth of such a tough nut to crack. The impressive and very menacing look of battering rams and shining steel cladding frightened him a little. But greed won and five ships under black sails streamed across the path of adventurers.
Oston stared grimly at the approaching robbers. He did not like to back down and give up, but there was no another way. The Count gave the order to deploy ships. He cherished the hope to break away from his pursuers, but due to the heavy metal equipment, ships could not develop a high speed, even through tailwind. Pirates were already near, and a second ship, commanded by count’s nephew Zane Rolsh stranded. Like vultures, two pirates’ ships came down on him, and prepared grappling hooks. In a rage, the Count clenched his fists so that the family ring stared into his palm.
Three Captain Grieg’s vessels continued the pursuit of the remaining ship. The distance between them decreased rapidly. But here the ship of count Rolsh entered a thick strip of fog that had hidden him from his pursuers. In an attempt to get rid of pesky pirates, the captain didn’t give the order to slow down and lower the sails. In vain the sailors were trying to see anything through the fog. Suddenly there was a hollow blow.The ship ran aground at full speed and the ram hit into something hidden in the mist.
"Earth! Earth? Eaaaaaaarth!!! "- sounded astonished cries of sailors. A little gust of wind blew away the thick veil and opened to the eyes of adventurers unfamiliar contours of an island, which had never been on the maps. However, a moment of joy was short. Cries of pirates and the creak of the rigging were heard behind through the quiet sound of the surf. The Count did not wait even for a single second. He ordered to gather supplies and go ashore but leaved a small part of the team on the board to remove the ship from the shoal and hide it in the appropriate bay. It was necessary to explore a new land.
Captain Grieg was an experienced commander and enjoyed unquestioned authority at his command. His ship was the only one to dive into the hazy band after leaving adventurers. Grieg gently held the ship through the veil and popped out of it exactly the time when Rolsh and his people were leaving the shore going to the woods.
"Fugitives are on the island!" - A pirate ship moored to the shore, and Grieg called his thugs to discuss the strategy.