23 Evening Star, 2E 325
In the fading embers of the western-setting sun, the Captain Tael-Muarsei gazed out from the blanket of mist that lingered between Eastern Fortune, and the dusty shore of Morrowind.
Necrom, that was its name, and the privateer knew of it well, though only through distant, comfortable retellings. Yet there it stood, distant no more; monolithic and black and sat upon an dark crag before a muddy amber sky.
Partially veiled as it was - that triangular blot on the horizon - it nevertheless stood as an unnerving sight to behold. Its reputation made the silhouette darker still, impossibly so.
However Necrom, and the heretical tendencies of those who were interred within it, were of no concern to the captain.
Thoughts of the dead city aside, Tael-Murasei’s attentions turned instead to set upon the sails of the small slave vessel that flew the dark imprint of a twisted tree, with roots and branches gnarled and warped upon a parched field of brown.
The cargo ship moved at a leisurely pace, just as the note portended. It crouched low and petty and muddy against the golden brown backdrop of where the ocean met the earth. To lesser eyes it would scarce warrant any attention at all, but there was a reason as to why Tsaesci were quite so revered as hunters.
Clearly this ‘Waterbug’ had once belonged to whatever dirty-blooded savages passed for nobility upon this fire-parched spit of earth, but the design belonged to Akavir. From this distance, even for the captain’s eyes, the details were difficult to discern.
As he watched, as the waited, he was compelled to finger at the cracked and jagged surface of the delicate sapphire that had been so inexpertly socketed into the pommel of his Akaviri blade.
Yet as his fingers traversed ever more, the memory of how he came about the ugly gem in the first place eluded him.
Some squallor market in Archon, perhaps?
His attentions waxed as water across his scales, then waned, then drifted hot from the reptile as the breeze.
With a deep, chesty rumble, the snake propped himself up on his hind quarter, his hand busy upon the lightly glowing stone, the pale blue appearing all the dimmer within the clutches of one who shone as fiercely as Tael-Muarsei.
A dimness that the perceptive predator himself could not see.
Frustration rose like the tide, but refused to fall, as the Tsaesci strained his thoughts, only to be distracted by a golden glimmer upon the waters surface when the sheeted mists could first afford. It was beautiful, so much so that he leant forward, his forearms resting upon the edge of his ship, in his attempt to make out his own elegant reflection within the shifting watery mirror
To no avail.
The mist, though waning, revealed only murky depths, ill-fitting to bask in even the lowly light of a candle, let alone one as splendid as he.
And the frustrations would not abide.
With a subdued snarl, the snake turned to busy himself with the further toying of his sheathed blade. Black and bronze, his treasure wore a sheath that wove a chaotic web of thin tendrils, perfect in their design were it not for the recent addition.
More than even Eastern Venture herself, the blade exuded a sense of richness and splendour. A richness, a splendour, he diligently sought out with sleek, golden digits.
Most would look upon the addition of the ugly, dirt-infected light blue gem to be unseemly in the face of a blade quite so magnificent as Tael-Muarsei’s.
The Tsaesci would have found himself in agreement a few short months ago.
However a few short months ago felt as if it existed many brighter worlds away, ones where the Potentate still lived, and the hunt for those responsible - this morally depraved “Tong” - was an unknown concept.
His benefactors had known much about them, about as much as a scorned lover did for their wayward mate.
That is what the translator had rattled before the poison took him completely. The captain discarded this moniker for the hunted, and he encouraged his crew to to openly declared them as nothing more than jewelry.
Ninety-nine trophies attested to that.
His hunt had carried him far, and had earned him more than his fair share of ashen ears that now lined his necklace as morbid, misshapen pearls of various victories. It had been a blooming hunt thanks to the various writs and tips from his source, the aforementioned benefactor and their webwork of contacts, each more palatable than the last.
So extensive was this spread, that Tael-Muarsei wondered whether it was a bounty hunt at all, but rather a war.
Whether they were battles or slaughters, there was always this one exception to the death that the captain dealt.
This one particular group had eluded him, from Auridon to Morrowind.
Once more, and to Tael-Muarsei’s shame, they had his Bright-Eyes. A claim, a trophy; a living, breathing variant of the privateers own necklace.
The Tsaesci recalled, as he touched upon the ridged edge of the sapphire, and allowed the sensation to inject the memory of the pale-faced translator, and the day he had received the glimmering adornment to his pommel.
[i]A gift from Bright-Eyes[/i], the deceased had rattled to him before succumbing, on the day Bright-Eyes was spirited away.
Such curious memories one mere gem could inspire, and inspire it did for what had been one long, bloody year since.
The final writ was within his grasp, and sure enough it foretold a future that the captain could keep pace with. It dictated that upon the shores of Morrowind, the last of the Foresters would be discovered in all their meagre glory, and sure enough that was as true now as it had been the tens of times before.
Fulfilled in its purpose, the writ was done. The snake cast it into the waters below and watched as it was devoured by the parting miasma.
Erecting himself, Tael-Muarsei slithered across the the deck of Eastern Venture with a well-acquired righteousness. His amber eyes were slits, narrowed and watchful of his remaining crew.
They were few, but effective, if only for that reason alone. From the time he has been unleashed upon the Foresters, less than a quarter remained of those who had served under the Tael-Muarsei before him.
The lesser snake that he had mantled so supremely.
At first, when he feasted upon the previous captain, there had been an uproar. Due, in part, to the slaughter his proud kin had endured beneath a faulty rule, but also by how public the mutilation had been.
Tael-Muarsei, the feasting Tael-Muarsei, needed that publicity. Savage tides always whisked away poorer captains, but an equally savage captain knew when to battle against the flow, or go with it. The captain knew it, and now his crew did too.
In the end, the water always won. The trick was to not be anywhere near the victory point when it did.
Now not a whisper sounded against him. And in the silence that came from it, he vowed to avenge all rich Tsaesci blood spilt in the name of this Imperial vendetta.
First and foremost, was the loss of the beloved Potentate Versidue-Shaie.
Deep, aggravated breaths hissed from Tael-Muarsei’s rattling chest and sounded above the caressing grey mists as he made his way to the ship’s wheel.
As he moved, the darkening carnelian glow of the eve slipped across his body, drinking in the gold of the captain’s scales before it could fall behind and be blotted out by stifling Necrom.
Clutching at his wheel, the captain shot a sharp stare upon his prey.
The laughable crawl of the decrepit Waterbug gave the exquisite serpent only fleeting amusement. The boat swayed with typical dark elf arrogance as it trailed lazily across the brown waters.
Black was the trail the Waterbug left, the disturbed muck of the shore making it appear slick with ink behind. The blackness sprayed out behind the ship. melding with the grey-white waves that rippled to trail the Waterbug in an increasingly graceless fashion.
Perhaps the parting mists that painted the surface waters in their muted shades did much the same to the wits of the elves aboard; they sailed too close to the rocks with the wind at their starboard side, willing them stubbornly to the same fatal shore.
Tael-Muarsei would see to it that what was willed, may be.
The first time he had cornered them, a moment of blindness had earned the rats all the time they needed to scurry into the cracks of Auridon, and - as it would appear - onto a ship bound for Telvannis.
He would not make the same mistake twice, and they would not make it home.
Lifting his hand, he gave the call to launch the attack.
Thirty seconds, that was all that it would take before the they were upon the villains; thirty more before they were bathing in their blood.
Even amidst the dullness of Morrowind, the intensity of Eastern Fortune in motion brought renewed life to this ash-ridden hole. As the sails caught the wind and hurtled her onwards, it caused the previously muted light to ricochet from black ripple to ripple and cast a dancing illumination across Tael-Murasei’s superb form.
The winds rose, and the captain followed the flow.
As his ship neared the tug, the captain could see that the mists and the dankness of the evening had managed to mask a great deal about the Waterbug. Not only nobility had piloted this boat, many sorry years before, but one with the wealth that only royalty could bring. Since that time, the ornate wooden carvings of dragons battling their own tails had worn away; their eyes eaten by rot, their maws eroded into toothlessness.
Now what was left of it: a poor name, dark wood, stained darker still by the ill waters of Morrowind.
In stark contrast did Eastern Venture, a younger twin in many respects, rise across the mists.