Mirror, Mirror Written by Harry McKenzie, copyright 2007; posted with full permissions.
Somewhere at sea…
The crew of the brig Solstace was uneasy, they were a week out of Krivost and they had noticed another vessel folloing them. Ordinarily that would not be cause for concern, recently, however, a spate of pirate attacks had caused a sense of unease to develop whenever another vessel approached. As a further precaution, the captain ordered the catapults prepared for action and the crew to arm themselves. Not as impressive as it sounded as the ship only carried four light catapults and a crew of 30 men.
As the day progressed and the other vessel, now identified as a galleon, did not close any further, the crew began to relax, it was more than likely another merchant vessel headed in the same direction. These waters were a busy shipping lane after all. By sunset, the crew was pretty much ignoring the other vessel and the Captain gave it only a cursory glance each half-hour or so. A terrible mistake that made itself clear just after dark.
The first indication something was amiss was a strangled yell from the aft deck, near the helm. As if it were some sort of signal, armed men appeared from the shadows and rushed the few men on duty. the fight was over quickly as anyone who tried to fight was cut down instantly. The off-watch crew fared even worse, most were killed in their hammocks before they were even fully aware of what was happening. The few survivors were quickly rounded up and brought to the main deck where they were quickly shackled to a length of chain.
Any attempt at speaking earned the offender a clout with a belaying pin, so after three men were clubbed sensles, silence reigned among the terrified prisoners. The only sound on the deck was the captors going about the business of searching the prisoners and the ship. After some time, an Elf appeared on deck. He was average sized, had brown hair, green eyes, and a bored expression on his face. He wore a red velvet coat, trimmed with black, knee high boots with a dagger hilt showing from the top of each, a sword belt holding a cutlass, and a tricorn hat with an ostrich plume. He was obviously very much in charge.
He walked over to the dozen captives and looked them over for a minute, he pointed to two of them, “Those two are too old for the slave markets.” he said almost disinterestedly, “The others will do, but they are just not worth keeping.” he turned and walked away as several men quickly seperated the two older men from the rest of the captives. The two were hustled over to the ships rail where they were held in place, back to back, as a length of chain was wrapped around them and pulled tight, securing them together. Before either of them could even think of asking why they were being chained together like this, their captors stepped away and one of them shoved the helpless men over the railing.
They hit the water with a loud splash, a short scream abruptly cut off as the heavy chains pulled them down. the remaining captives were terrified into absolute silence. In the coming years the few that survived would often think back on this moment, and consider that these two fellows were perhaps the lucky ones. After all, they died quickly and with little of the suffering the rest would endure after being sold as slaves.
Later aboard the Galleon Serpent's Kiss…
The Elf who had overseen the disposition of the prisoners sat in the capatain's cabin studying a map. he looked up as his First Officer, a rather large and unkempt human came in, “Yes what is it Mr Dunwiddie?” he asked politely.
Dunwiddie shuffled a bit nervously and swallowed before replying, “Ah…the seer…well…she says she needs to speak wif you sir.”
The Elf blinked and sat back against the chair back, “She does, does she?” He seemed to be as surprised by this as Dunwiddie was nervous, “Well, let's go and see what is so important that she sends a summons for me, shall we?” He stood and straightened his jacket, arranging the belt that crossed his chest from right shoulder to left hip and held his cutlass so that the hilt was forward in the ready draw position. he indicated the door with his left hand and Dunwiddie led the way out onto the deck.
They made their way to the forecastle, ignoring the sailors going about the business of managing a ship under sail. Once inside, they stopped at a stout wooded door secured with a heavy iron padlock. The Elf produced a key from a pocket and fitted it into the lock. A moments work and the lock opened, the Elf set it on a small table next to the door and then swung the heavy door open. Dunwiddie took a half-step back as the acrid fumes from the incense burning within assualted his nose.
“Wait here.” the Elf ordered, the human was quite glad to obey. The elf entered the dimly lit and smokey room, pulling the door closed behind him. He turned to face the rooms sole occupant.
She was an old and wizened human. Her hair was white, her face heavily wrinkled and dominated by a large nose. had she been standing, she would have been stooped over with age. her eyes, however, were a crystal blue that looked entirely out of place. they were as bright and clear as a teenagers. Those eyes were focused on the Elf and they burned with hatred.
“I am here Lysette,” the Elf said in a low, dangerous voice, “In response to your “summons””.
“Then perhaps you are not the complete fool after all, Anthilles.” She spat in reply. Her hands idly carressed a crystal ball and it began to glow a dim blue from within, “Brigaine has sent me a prophesy…after all these years…all this time I thought he had forsaken me…and now he sends me a message.”
“Yes, yes…I know, you were once one of his favored prophets…I've heard the story more times than I care to count.” The Elf, Anthilles, said dismissively, “get to the point already.” His hand moved down to rest on the hilt of his cutlass.
“As you wish.” She replied bitterly. Her crystal was glowing a bright blue by now, she peered into it and began to speak in a booming masculine voice, “THERE WILL COME A TIME WHEN THE TWO WHO ARE ONE AS THE FACES ON A COIN WILL COME TOGETHER; ONE IS A LOVER OF THE LIGHT, THE OTHER, A LOVER OF THE DARK. THE BATTLE WILL BE FIERCE BUT THE DARK SHALL SLAY THE LOVER OF THE LIGHT JUST AS HE IS ON THE CUSP OF VICTORY. THE LOVER OF THE DARK WILL THEN FIND HIMSELF TORN BETWEEN THE LOVE OF THE DARK AND THE LOVE OF THE LIGHT.”
Finished, her crystal went dark and she slumped over it, completely exhausted. For a long time, Anthilles stood there digesting what he had heard. And for the first time in years, the Dread Pirate felt fear. He turned and left the room, relocking the door, he gave his First Officer a cold glare that instantly silenced any questions before they could be uttered. He returned to his cabin and closed and locked the door. Once that was done he removed his sword belt, hanging it over the back of his chair. All the while he was trying to work out what it all meant.
Try as he might, it made no sense to him, it was meant for him, but it's meaning escaped him, and that truely frightened him. He assumed he was the lover of the dark, given his lifestyle; everything else was a mystery though. He sighed and put it out of his mind for now, there were more important things to do right now. He turned to his bed and smiled coldly. A human female, a minor noble they had captured the day prior, was there, naked, bound and gagged. She had been there since her capture, and Anthilles reckoned she was softened up enough by now that she shouldn't be capable of much fighting, “Now, where should we begin then?” he asked aloud.