A strong warm wind blew against the huge red-painted sail with a yellow sun in its centre. The mast swayed back and forth making a cracking sound that filled the ears of young sailors.
The man behind the steer was a prince who had lived at sea for many years among his comrades. He had sailed over all the four seas of the world meeting many men who became his friends and allies during his voyage. This prince, named Stevyn the Sailor, had been given an enormous ship, made out of Redwood covered with elaborate work carved out of Dragonwood from Talosia.
“Let’s hope Nycos will be pleased with this gift of yours,” Kaevyn said to Stevyn, looking at the horizon where the sun was rising in the blood red sky, his arms laid lazily onto the ship’s beautifully decorated railing. The world was ghost-quiet, except for the crack of sails and the burbling of water against the hull.
“He has to be pleased with it,” Stevyn responded while raising his voice. Then, he fell into a loud laughter, showing his bright white teeth. “He is blood of my blood, and I know what he likes.” Stevyn made a quick glance at his friend as he turned his head to the left, enjoying the moment as a cool breeze passed him.
“Shall I steer for a while?” Kaevyn suggested. “You look tired.” He ran his fingers through his long silver hair, wincing and laughed loudly.
“Me, tired? No…” he responded as a smile broke across his handsome face. He brushed his trimmed beard thinking about what he caught a glimpse of in the distance. It was a huge rock ascending from the azure waves that frothed onto the ragged coastline.
“Why are you looking so difficult?” Kaevyn asked as he looked for his amethyst eyes.
“Do you see that thing over there?” Stevyn asked, pointing at the steep overgrown cliffs in the distance. “It is mesmerising.”
Trees filled with pleasantly juicy fruits stood tall upon the cliffs. The colourful trees cheered up the grey rocks day and night. A balm wind wafted across the sky, stirring the lime green leaves.
Suddenly, they hear a loud noise coming from the huge island. The men noticed it and prepared themselves for a fight, grabbing each a long oak spear with a head of iron. They scanned the cliffs anxiously whilst sailing along them.
Moments later, a ruin appeared in their sight. It stood high upon the ragged cliffs, made completely out of mossy cobblestone surrounded by tall standing stones with spiral markings on the flat sides. Stevyn commanded his men to throw the anchor overboard and to sail towards the coast.
“Aren’t we supposed to go to Salyra?” Kaevyn asked Stevyn as he spoke.
Stevyn smiled and looked carefully at the ruin, “Tyndaris, we will but no one has ever seen this. This is new… We might discover a lost civilisation. This might be our ancestral homeland!”
Sir Kaevyn Tyndaris took a small boat with four other men and lowered it until it touched the water surface. Small waves crashed onto the hull, water splashing through the air. The men jumped into it, making it nearly sink and sailed toward the coast, followed by three other boats. Lord Stevyn joined them in the last boat. All men unsheathed their swords as they came ashore. Sand was pushed aside, a dull sound filling their ears.
Stevyn and his comrades clambered up the sharp rocks, the scent of blood wafting through their nostrils. Strong winds blew men off the rocks, blood staining waters below.
“This land is cursed”, he heard as he sweated heavily, climbing the rocks. He placed his hands firmly on the grey rocks who were as sharp as a shark’s teeth when a wind blew away his friend Kaevyn.
“Nooooo!” shouted he as his friend flew across the sky, reddening the water more than already was. Tears blurred his eyes and he almost fell.
Finally, he reached the top of it and stood up and looked into the reddened water of the Aeryn Sea, named after Aeryn the Old, last king of Ithor, an ancient city which lay in the centre of The West as it is known nowadays. This enormous city had unfortunately disappeared underneath the azure waves that flooded most of The West during the Silver Age.
After a short while, all of his men were on the top of the cliffs. The men were amazed by the exotic plants that grew everywhere. They had never seen such a land. They believed they had entered The Eternal Jungle, but that was unlikely since they hadn’t sailed through the Arynian Strait.
The sky was cloudless and the sun had blazed upon them all day. His men were exhausted and had to rest because they were about to pass out from thirst and exhaustion. The man tore their leather dyed clothes from their body and jumped into a small lake near the ruin to cool down. Men drank the refreshing water and bathed all day until the sun had fallen low in the sky. The air had become cooler, wolves howled in the dense woods in the distance, small droplets of water planted themselves everywhere, fireflies lit the sky while they danced across the sky.
Stevyn stood up silently, unsheathing his sword and followed a light blue wisp that awakened him from his sleep. It floated through the air slowly but quick enough not to get caught by the human. It whispered silently, “follow me, follow me, me need help.”
His muddied boots made a dull sound within the ruin itself as he stepped attentively through the dark moist hallway, walls covered with entwined vines and moss, hanging loosely over ancient carvings from his ancestors who have died thousands of years ago. He brushed his right hand over the roughly carved wall when he stepped light-footed over the muddy floor.
Where am I, he asked to himself. This might be the lost city of Ithor. He looked amazed at it and wanted to tell his dear family so badly, but firstly, he had to discover what the ghostly wisp was.
Stevyn followed it deep into the depths of the cave system and arrived at a huge gate. It stood ten metres tall in a huge many-pillared hall underneath the ancient city. The frame was hewn out of the solid rock and the door itself was from Ithorean Wood. The wood was in a bad condition and sounded creaky as a cold breeze wafted through the caves, providing him with lots of oxygen and cool air that cooled down the lava-heated caves. The lava lit up the entire pillared hall, showing lots of cracks in the walls and ceiling. It was unstable and about to collapse, but Lord Stevyn was being stubborn as usual and ambled toward the Great Gate of Hell as it was named by The Ancients. The hall made him feel miserable and he wanted to leave as soon as he could.
An oozy and nasty scent was blown through the holes in the wood at the time that he was observing it. With one single strike, he battered wood, chunks flying across the room, a cloud of dust shrouding him for a while. Sand landed in his eyes instantly, he cried in agony. It literally burnt like hell. He grabbed a waterskin from his belt around his thighs and poured the cool water into his eyes trying to get the sand out of them. He teared up and the cloud disappeared, revealing him an enormous statue of a man. He quickly rubbed his eye, removing the last pieces of the burning sand and stepped forward.
The statue stood about thirty metres tall against the rocky wall. It was covered with ancient rugs woven by The Ancients from the wool of the local sheep back in the days of yore. They were still as colourful as they were back then but covered with lots of sand and bugs that dwelled in the caverns.
A continuous sound of exploding droplets filled the room as they hit the mossy ground, creating some small brooks that flowed to the deepest depths of the cave. A beastly stench coming from the rotting corpses around the statues stealthily floated into his nostrils, making him throw up. He belched loudly like never before, stirring the rocks, dust descending gently from the cracks in the holey cave. Its holes illuminated the entire hall with a bright blue light produced by aqua blue crystals high above him. He looked at them for a while, covering his nose and mouth due to the horrible stench.
Candles formed a path toward the statue. He was slightly confused because he did not know wherefore it was needed. Even though he felt weird about it, he followed them to a steeply descending staircase that led to a smaller room. It looked like the lair of a dragon, eerie and sinister. He had a very unwelcoming feeling when the cold darkness caught him. In its centre of it stood a lonely vase, sharing the hazy room only with skeletons and lots of bugs. The vase was completely covered with ancient carvings which he could not understand.
These angular shaped runes looked like nothing he had ever seen before. He brushed them gingerly with the tips of his fingers, noticing the deep holes that were left during its creation. Somehow his fingers moistened while brushing them. He strongly sniffed his fingertips and found out it was some kind of a poison which he has never seen before in his three hundred years of existence. Stevyn wiped the poison off his fingertips and walked anxiously around the vase, trying to find out what its purpose is.
Clumsily, his leg nudged against the antique vase and started to wobble. A moment later, it shattered into a thousand pieces as it hit the roughly paved floor, shards flying like scared fish in a pool across the room. Stevyn was heavily wounded by the shards that pierced his muscular chest and legs. His legs felt boneless and fell over, hitting the hard stones on the ground. He felt broken, his skin greasy and limbs like snakes. A big thud filled the room, making grains of sand dancing across the sky as the silence fell upon them. The smell of his blood wafted across the room, luring monstrous blood-sucking bats.
From the cloud of dust that shrouded Stevyn completely, a man emerged. His skin was slightly burning due to the place where he had been locked up, The Vase of Hell. The man, only wearing a leather cloth around his private parts, stepped forward and drew a deep breath. “It feels good to breathe again,” he said, running his long spooky fingers through his shoulder-length black hair. His eyes were red as blood and eyed the heavily wounded man curiously.
“W-who are you?” stuttered Stevyn whilst coughing up blood from his pierced lungs.
“I’m your worst nightmare!” the man announced as he burnt him alive with his breath.
The unknown man magically turned the sand into a cloud of fire, attempting to kill him. Brooks vaporised immediately, steam pushed forcefully through the cracks in the ceiling, warming up the soft air above. He thought the man hard burnt alive and strolled away. In the corner of his eyes, he saw a slight motion coming from the man who seemed to lie there soullessly. The man on fire stepped forward and bowed over him, checking him on breathing. He then drew a deep breath followed by loud pants. Then, his head was swiftly torn off his body, blood splashing across the room.
Stevyn’s comrades noticed the hot steam being forced through holes and got scared. They stood up immediately and searched for him in the entire vicinity of the high tower-like ruin. After hours of searching above ground, no one had found him yet and some wanted to go inside but did not dare to do it. The sinister darkness scared them.
The steam gradually reddened as they were looking desperately for their leader all over the island. The smell of fresh blood floated through the air and into their nostrils. “This is the blood of a dragon,” one of the men said. “Stevyn has died…” he confirmed gloomily. Men fell down on their knees and started weeping due to their loss. Tears trickled down their cheeks whilst remembering his good deeds in the past.
Many hours later, one of the men stood up, trying to comfort the others by laying his hands on their shoulders and whispering something important to them. “We have to go to Salyra. King Nycos is expecting us to be there.”
“What shall we tell him?” said a man, wiping away his tears with a small piece of cloth which he had torn off his leather leggings.
“We’ll tell him Stevyn has died during a battle at sea,” someone responded.
Whilst weeping, the men sauntered toward the cliff where they were going jump off and swim back to their ship that lay offshore.
Just as one man jumped, another shriek pierced their ears. Everyone turned around, startled and looked at the burning man standing on a rock. He unfolded his enormous black wings to scare the sailors off, but instead, they stood there breathlessly. Each man was startled by the heinous appearance of the burning man, flames dancing intimidatingly on his skin, and fell down on their knees, praying for mercy. The gods did not hear their prayers in time. The man beheaded the sailors with only one single strike from his blazing wings. The heads rolled over the cliff, thudding on the rocks, blood splashed all around them whilst falling. The stench of the burning meat was horrible, making the only survivor do go underwater. Blood flowed down the rocks and reddened the water like magma during an eruption. The winged man peered over the cliff, looking for any survivor, but he did not catch a glimpse of him.
The sun had already fallen low in the sky, the sky turning red like the water below. The moon was rising in the east, a silver light illuminating the rock. The survivor dragged himself out of the water, his tail following him. The moonlight shone upon the merling’s tail, pleasing him for one single moment in his miserable life at sea. He turned himself around and laid on his back, sighing and enjoying the moment as long as he could. Waves frothed as they crashed onto the beach.
His name was Ronyr Ebarys, prince of northern Sarynos. Ronyr was like the others of his family a merling. He had straight brown hair that grew longer and longer each year. In all of his years, he had never cut it off. Ronyr rubbed the blood off his slightly tanned skin and remembered the terror. I gotta tell my cousin, he thought to himself.
Ronyr dragged himself over the sandy beach to the deep blue water. He drew a deep breath as he waited for a wave to catch him. The water rushed over his body, dragging him into the sea where he flew elegantly through the waves.