A Second Chance
by: Ken Williams
Carl woke up with extreme pain in his head. He looked around and saw that he was in a ship’s brig. The metal was too rough for a Hydrosian ship, yet too smooth for a human ship. He stood up and a voice called out from outside the cell.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you!”
He looked around for where the voice came from. It was too dark to see outside the cell.
“You took a nasty fall. Didn’t help that we hit you over the head.”
The person who was talking to Carl came to the bars. It was a magenta-skinned woman, likely in her early twenties. She was obviously Selcrou. The empathic race known as Selcrou tended to live farther south in Selcreun. If the ship was Selcrou, then it most likely was a trading galley. They usually didn’t resort to piracy, but war was on the horizon for many countries, including Selcreun, as they were still under the thumb of the Nation of Hydros.
“Who are you? And why am I here? I have no money or anything of value to you!”
“I’m Esseil Ines, a humble merchant. I buy Gegorium from my cousin who owns a few mines in Selcreun. You’re here because we found you trying to escape your island which happens to have a bit of an… infestation.”
“Infestation? Of what?” Carl couldn’t remember anything from when he escaped. It was all blank. He didn’t even remember trying to escape. All he remembered was the face. It made his hair stand on end. Dobrahadra
“Of the undead. The captain will have a lot of questions for you. You see… the undead haven’t been seen for about three millennia. The last time the demons were on Gelondar, the Demon Aspect of Death, Deth-Lithal, caused havoc on Azukel, one of our territories. We worked with Hydros to seal Deth-Lithal in a tomb infused with old magics to prevent his influence or his self to escape. The epidemic of the undead there tells us that it was opened.”
Carl looked at Esseil, puzzled. The demons were nothing but a fiction. They were a story that parents told their kids to scare them into behaving. He had told his four year old son that Daemon Scareye would get him if he didn’t clean his room. Oh dear God, he thought, I left Sarah and Sammy and Tessa back home.
“I have to go back!” he shouted, “My wife and kids! I’ve left them behind!”
“They’re worse than dead now, human,” she replied, not meaning to sound harsh and apathetic, but doing so all the same.
“My name is Carl. Carl Kones. My wife, Sarah, my son, Sammy, and my daughter, Tessa, and my brother, Morris, were all there…”
“And now they’re gone. There’s nothing you can do. It’s lost.”
Carl slammed against the bars in rage, “No! There’s gotta be something I can do!”
Esseil turned to go upstairs and out of the cell level, “I’m sorry, but not even High Landsponge Watr would be able to save them now.”
Carl sat, defeated, and waited alone. The thought of his family being gone from the world drained him. He slumped onto his back, feeling emptier and emptier as time went on. All he knew he could do is waste away. Why would it matter if he was gone? If what the Selcrou said was true, then he could never return. The undead wouldn’t just welcome him back as if everything was the same. He wouldn’t go to Humane for several reasons: it would never accept him as he was from New Humane, and it was in the North, and tensions were high enough between all the Atular nations without a human being smuggled past them.
Carl had found a pipe that was stored there for some maintenance reason that he could bash his head with and end everything when he heard a male voice from outside the cell.
“I am Captain Serthan of the Dinot’s Wind. You are the human from New Humane, correct?”
“Yes,” Carl said, putting down the pipe.
“I have some questions for you. First off, the ship we found you on detailed a travel into Black Atular territory and returning not long before the dead would have risen. That leads me to believe your voyage was connected. What did you find?”
“Nothing,” Carl lied
“You’re lying,” the pink-skinned man said.
“We found a corpse. A Black Atular woman.”
“Any noticable features?”
` “She was missing a few fingers, she was definitely of nobility, had a hand cut off, but most of the rest of the damage looked like fall and water damage.”
“Was her middle finger missing?”
` “Did she have an insignia that looked like a black shield with a red eye?”
Carl strained his brain to remember. He could not remember specific details, but his mind’s eye could see a badge that kind of resembled a shield, “Yes.”
“That was Nima Helzen. She was the fiancée to Lord Mrdinar Glarigas of the Black Atular. She was reported to have died from a strange disease. No more details were released but many speculate it is related to her attack on High Landsponge Hydrops Watr the Second during the Invasion of Pyros.”
“Why should I care?” Carl responded, falling back into his depression.
“Because this necromancy caused your home to be destroyed.”
Esseil butted in, “Would the High Landsponge have done that? It is unlike him to unleash that power on an innocent village.”
“More likely Dobrahadran powers came into play when the Tomb of Deth-Lithal was opened. The Emperor must be warned. Esseil! When you return to Selcreun, take this human and find a ship to Hydros. Inform the High Landsponge of what has happened, and we might be able to stop this threat before it joins with the Black Atular and Daemon Scareye.”