Chronicles of Dreven Trenz

First run of a series I may continue. Be gentle. Its my first time.

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11. The Shipwrights of Shintervahl

     Chapter 2 - The Shipwrights of Shintervahl

     Fire. The sounds of battle. I choke on the acrid smoke in the air and jolt upright. Leaping out of bed I rush for the door and fly down the stairs. Flames lick at the wood frame of the house, and I find myself in a panic. My eyes dart about the interior finding nothing to quell the rising inferno. Finding none, and fearing that I may not be the only one inside, I flee from room to room searching and hoping that maybe, just maybe I was the only one left. Finding no one, I make my escape and burst through the front door. The cool night air echoes with screams of a town in despair. Homes are engulfed in consuming fire, their owners and occupants frantically trying to save their livelihoods, but unable to do more than watch as their homes turned to charcoal. I quickly grab the arm of the first person I can get close to.

     "Tell me! why does the town burn?!" I cry. My voice sounds foreign to me. Too deep. Too heavy. The look in the poor woman's eyes tells me more than words. It is unknown. The fear that resides behind the eyes when one is faced with something they don't understand is a very real, visceral thing.
 

     "We have done nothing! Yet they came anyway!" She tears her arm from my hand and runs. Her continuing cries of 'We have done nothing' echo into the night amidst the crackle of flame and shouts of terror. I slowly turn, trying to make sense of the world around me, when I see it. Rising above the burning rooftops it seems to burn the very air around it. I do not know what type of being it is, yet its form fills me with dread. It descends towards me, and I can feel its presence. Rage, fear, hatred, despair. It opens its mouth. Rows of serrated crimson stained teeth are revealed. From deep in its gullet, a glow rises. The creature belches forth a writhing jet of flame. The fire washes over me and I feels its heat against my flesh as the world vanishes into a flash of yellows, oranges, and reds.

     I wake to the sounds of my own voice crying for help. Quickly sitting upright, I pat my self down, frantically trying to extinguish the invisible flames I felt still engulfed my body. As I sit trying to catch my breath, I take time to survey my surrounding and center myself. The floor of the cave. The long dead embers of our campfire. The walls glisten with a thin sheen of ice. Dreven still sound asleep nearby. The crackle and pop of the wall of ice at the entrance of our makeshift fortress. How long had I been asleep? Unknown. I slowly rise to my feet. My muscles ache. I find it hard to clench my fists. Even more so to stand and walk. I feel as though the cold of the cave had frozen my body and I was only just reviving. Dreven stirs, and I make my way to him. As I kneel beside him, his eyes flutter open, and he glances about, eventually settling his gaze on me.

     "Oh! Good morning young Reiken! How did you sleep?" Even in his waking state, he seems alert and aware as he scans the room. I decided not to tell him about my nightmare, and instead helped him to his feet.

     "I slept...well." I responded. I wince internally at my own hesitation, and Dreven cocks one eyebrow.

     "Are you certain?" He asks. "You appear out of sorts." I shift my weight from one foot to the other before I respond.

     "I...I'm just hungry I suppose." I give a small smile trying to assuage his suspicions, and he returns the gesture.

     "Ah! Yes, food. One would get hungry after a nice long rest. Let me see what we still have in provision." He rustles through his satchel, yet before he can produce anything, we hear a sharp CRACK upon the wall at the entrance to the cave. It is quickly followed by a second. Dreven and I glance at each other and take up station near the back of the cave. We can hear muffled voices outside and the cracking continues until a small hole appears, and a thin shaft of light enters the room.

     "What should we do Dreven?" I ask quickly.

     "For now, we wait." He responds. Yet his actions defy his words as he slips his bracelet and rings on. I reach to my belt and draw my dagger. It takes a bit of effort to free it from its scabbard, yet I bring it to bear. Something comes between the light and the hole. We see an eye peering at us, then hear muffled shouting and the cracking beings once more, this time at a more frantic pace. The wall to our little haven gives a pop and cracks spiderweb across its surface. With a loud crash, the ice wall falls away revealing 3 men in heavy coats, wielding iron tools. Cold air rushes into the cave and I shudder heavily, almost to the point of dropping my weapon. I glance at Dreven. His eyes are intense as he stares down the intruders. Our groups stare at each other for what feels like an eternity. The first move is made by the men outside. One leaned towards the other and spoke in a language I didn't understand. The other responded in kind, then all three laid their tools on the ground. Holding their empty hands out, all three slowly advance into the cave, leaving their tools behind.

     Dreven lowers his hand and stands straight. I can see his features soften.

     "These men mean us no harm. Stay your weapon." He places his hand on my shoulder as reassurance.

     The strange men advance and hold their hands out, offering them in assistance. Dreven nods and takes the hand of the closest stranger. They smile and Dreven returns the action. We gather our belongings and step from the cave with our new guides. I stare down the mountainside in amazement. Where there once was empty mountain range, there was now a rather large town! Looking back, I notice Dreven place an object in his ear, and a coin sized thing under his tongue. With a sly wink to me, he steps next to one of our rescuers.

     "My good man, what city is that in the valley?" The stranger slightly recoils in confusion then responds with a single hesitant word.

     "Shintervahl."

     Dreven nods. "Please. Lead on." With a quick nod, the men guide us down the mountain. It took about a day and a half to reach Shintervahl. During that time, I spoke candidly with Dreven.

     "Shintervahl? I've never heard of such a town."

     "I would suppose you haven't." He glances over at me. "It wasn't here when we went to bed." He give his crooked smile and offers no further explanation.

     "Always with the riddles. You make my head hurt, you know that?" I give Dreven a playful yet angry look.

     "What would life be without its mysteries?" he laughs.

     "At least tell me how you were able to understand those men. Their language is strange to me, and you swallowed something just before speaking to them. What is going on?" At this point, I was hoping for an explanation of any sort. Something to help ease my curiosity before it got the better of me.

     "Think of it as a...translator of sorts. The item in my ear allows me to understand, and the item in my mouth allows my speech to be understood. However, it only works on languages that I have heard before, and as I've told you previously, I am very well traveled." He pulls on his hat and steps ahead of me. I give a slight nod. I didn't fully understand what he had done, but I was able to accept his explanation. In our travels I have seen many a strange sight, without much context given, and have since gotten used to these types of situations.

     After our trek down the mountain, we entered the city of Shintervahl. People were bustling about the city, speaking the same odd language of our guides. They led us to a large house and we entered. It was only once we approached the blazing hearth, that I realized just how cold I actually was. I instantly began to shiver and sat close to the fireplace. One of the men returned shortly with a thick blanket and laid it across my shoulders. I paid very little attention to the next hour or so, as my mind was focused on how cold I had been rather than to the people around me. Soon after, Dreven sat next to me.

     "Well. It seems like this is the right place. Our host, Svelgaard, tells me this is the city of voyage. Precisely where we needed to be." He claps me on the shoulder.

     "City of voyage? You mean to tell me this isn't our ending destination?"

     "Aye. In fact, our next leg shall take us across the sea. Provided, of course, we can find a willing captain."

     "Sea? I saw no water. How do we sail with neither a boat nor water?"

     "Oh the water is there Reiken. Hidden under a blanket of ice. What we need now is a boat strong enough to brave the ice, and a captain capable of taking the risk! Luckily, if my memory serves, we shall find her here."

     "Her? And what sort of boat could cut through thick ice?"

     "Yes. Her. And it would be the type of boat that can only be found here. This is, after all, Shintervahl, realm of the boat-wrights."

     Before I could ask further questions, the man known now to me as Svelgaard invited us to a dining hall. There were many people there, and Dreven was kind enough to translate for me. A warm meal of meats, bread, and cheeses had been prepared. We ate heartily, and at the end of the night, were given a warm place to sleep.

     Shintervahl. City of voyage. Realm of the boat-wrights. We had found our current destination, or rather, our destination came to us, but I still had many questions. The sea. I had never been sailing before. I found my excitement to be greater than my curiosity, and my exhaustion greater than both of those. As I fell asleep, I found myself praying I would not have the same nightmare as I did in the cave.

End Chapter 2

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