(An overview of the chapts so far can be found here.)
We were running north at a brisk pace. I had difficulty keeping up with Laurenar who was in the lead and moving as effortlessly as during the chase. Seraphina was running behind me, making sure I didn’t slow down or lose track of Laurenar. The road was illuminated by the rising sun, casting its early light on the burning city. In the trade quarter to our left, towers of smoke worked their way towards the sky. We could hear the frantic shouts of “Fire!” and “Water!” echoing through the streets. But there was no time to see if the queen and the city guard had gotten the inferno under control. The smell of burnt wood and coal filled the air. Neither Laurenar nor Seraphina paid attention to the situation, single-mindedly following the road to the harbor with incredible discipline.
The road began to slope downwards towards the sea now and the knight was able to increase his speed. The harbor lay in reach and I caught the first glimpse of the royal navy. As Laurenar would tell me later, none of ships at the docks were considered to be one of the proud flagships of the fleet. The sight of the two huge caravels anchored in the city impressed me nonetheless. However, we zipped past the huge ships, running towards the end of the pier, where a small ship with a crew of around twenty men and women was waiting for us: The Crimson Crocodile. Laurenar boarded the ship first, taking large strides put the plank, while the sorceress and I were able to catch our breath.
“Is this the one?” I could tell why the ship had gotten its name. A huge crimson crocodile was painted on the white sail, with an open jaw ready to devour whatever prey the animal was stalking. No trace of Illusio’s lion or the dark blue and silver combination ubiquitous in the city was to be found.
“Yes. It should take us to the tower in a day or two.” Seraphina smiled, while she observed two of the sailors preparing the ship for our departure. Most of the crew seemed to be young, but they all knew what they were doing. They wore a uniform consisting of a crimson-and-white striped shirt and white trousers.
“Why aren’t we taking the road?”
“The lighthouse is on a little island a mile off the coast. It would be difficult to cross over from land without a ship.” Seraphina paused. “The West road is full of bandits and other lawless types looking for a score. If we want to travel unseen, this ship is our best chance.”
“Aren’t pirates a danger for us?”
She looked at me slightly surprised. “No. We’re travelling too close to the shore and are too near to the city and the royal fleet. Any attack would be irresponsible.”
Laurenar reappeared on deck, motioning us to board the ship as well. The captain of the ship, a bald, middle-aged man joined the knight on deck. His long, bushy beard covered his belly which hinted at the consumption of one or the other beer too many.
“Welcome aboard the Crimson Crocodile.”, the captain bellowed, his voice deep and commanding. “My name is Drake.”
Seraphina and I introduced ourselves quickly while the ship left its position and departed from the city. We followed the captain below deck, where he showed us our chamber. It was small, but two bunkbeds and a table meant we were able to stay together. After all, being alone had led to me almost being killed. I could feel the ship picking up speed as the winds were in our favor.
“We will be sailing through the day and night and should arrive at the lighthouse around midday tomorrow. If you have any questions, you can find me on deck or in my chambers. Enjoy your trip.”
Drake turned around and left us in our small room. I sat down on one of the beds, while Laurenar and Seraphina took a seat at the table.
“Do you know what we’ll find at the Lighthouse?” This was my first opportunity to ask more questions since Queen Sophia had sent us on this journey.
Both of them shook their heads.
“Won’t it be dangerous?”
“No. Whatever we find at the Silver Lighthouse will be able to answer some of your questions.” Laurenar said with a stern tone.
“Which ones?” Both of them shrugged.
“What did the queen mean when she said you brought me here?” Seraphina looked at Laurenar who gave her a slight nod. She answered:
“You were brought here by the portal in the city.”
“The one you protect?” I spoke to Laurenar directly this time. A quick “yes” was followed by a longer explanation by Seraphina:
“After the portal was discovered, Laurenar was given the task to protect it and to make sure sure anyone who enters is here because we want them to be here. It is the only entrance portal we’ve found in the world. The masters of the academy have been looking for others with the same powers.”
“How was the portal discovered?”
“Well. A man from your world appeared in the library one day.”
“So I’m not the first one to be here?”
“No, you’re not.”
“What happened to him?”
Laurenar now took over with answering: “He was welcomed with open arms. As a guest, he dined with the queen and the most powerful wizards. We let him stay in a villa near Lion’s den. We wanted to learn from him and your world and exchange our knowledge. Unfortunately, he was not the person we thought him to be.” Laurenar’s voice began to tremble. “He was not interested in exchange, only in power. He saw himself as a chosen one, since he was the first from your world to walk in ours. After a while, his behavior became unacceptable and we tried to send him back through the portal. But the portal in the city is a one-way portal.”
“We did find another one shortly after his arrival though.” Seraphina said with a proud smile. “We told him he was not welcome in this world anymore and sent him back to yours. When we tried to send somebody of our own through the portal however, we failed. No one but him has been able to get to the world you call earth.”
“I was tasked with finding ways to seal the entrance portal so that no one would be able to enter again. We noticed it is not active all of the time. But before we could find out when exactly the portal is active, someone gave us proof it was indeed still working.”
“Who?” Both of them sighed again.
“Our old friend arrived in the world again, exactly two years after his first arrival. But this time, he didn’t let himself be wined and dined. Instead, he ran from the city immediately. He went underground and resurfaced just a few months ago, still seeking the power he believes he deserves.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed chapter 8. If so, please like, share and subscribe!
Have a great weekend.