Sea of Clouds

"Lord Inquisitor," An elf in a gaudy dark crimson uniform greeted the masked man seated behind the desk. "May my Lord be worthy of his Judgement."

The man seated behind the desk nodded and made his finishing touches to the book he was writing on. On his face, he had an unadorned white mask on and worn a simple white long sleeved silk shirt and black pants.

"We appear to have left the Sea of Clouds behind, my Lord," The officer said as he bowed low.

As the masked man stood up, his servants quickly helped him button and belt up a long red jacket. "Come, Captain."

The Captain of the ship awaited the Inquisitor at the entrance of his cabin and followed one step behind him. "Has the heretic ship been found?"

"No, Lord," The Captain replied. "But the Judges are still tracking them."

The Inquisitor nodded as they entered the helm of the airship. The dark gloominess of the passageway disappeared as they entered the bridge. Crystal windows lined the sides of the bridge, giving an unobstructed view of their surroundings. The pilot and navigator stood on a raised platform while the other ship's officers and crew manned their stations on a lower deck.

"May my Lords be worthy of his Judgement!" The bridge crew saluted the Inquisitor and the Captain as they entered the bridge before the Captain waved them back to their duties.

The Inquisitor stood beside the pilot and glazed out of the windows, no longer seeing the endless white clouds. The sea below them stretched out and glittered under the sun's rays while clear blue skies covered their view as far as they can see.

"Lord," The Captain said. "The Sinner has safely joined us despite some damages. But I am afraid, we might have lost the Devoted."

The Inquisitor turned his head to look out the side and saw the stubby knife shape of the Sinner with its sails out and propellers spinning, taking station on their aft. Several scorched storm marks on its iron hull and torn sails were statements of their struggle in the Sea of Clouds for the past month.

"What happened?" The Inquisitor asked.

"My, Lord, we lost contact with them shortly after the last storm," The Captain gestured to one of the crew who quickly handed over a long slip of paper. "Their last light signals reported they lost all propulsion and steam after getting hit by several lightning strikes. After that, we lost all sight of the Devoted."

"The Judgement shall watch over them," The Inquisitor intoned as he drew a prayer circle with his fingers. "Their fate now lies with the Judge and Creator of All."

"May they be worthy of his Judgement..." The Captain muttered after the Inquisitor finished his blessings.

"Where are we now?" The Inquisitor turned his attention back outside the windows of the ship.

The Captain frowned as he replied, "My Lord, we have no idea. Maybe... the Judges have some idea?"

The Inquisitor nodded and turned away from the windows, "Let's go see them!"

They left the bridge and entered into the belly of the ship where they found four heavily armored soldiers barring their way. The soldiers knelt on one knee seeing the Inquisitor before unbolting the door which looked more like a vault.

As they entered into the room, the thick cloying smell of incense assailed the Captain's nose, making him cover his face. The chamber was dimly lit with hanging glowing braziers which swung in a rhythmic way while censers of smoking incense were placed around the circular chamber.

Three red hooded figures sat facing each other in the middle of the chamber and upon closer inspection, the floor they sat on was covered in runes. A glowing orb sat in the middle of the three Judges, their hooded heads bowed low over the orb and a soft chanting could be as they approached nearer.

The Inquisitor and the Captain stopped just beyond the circle of runic drawings and the Inquisitor spoke, "Tell me, do you know where are we?"

The chants paused and as one, their hands paused in their action of counting their prayer beads. The three Judges were like one entity as they tilted their heads towards the Inquisitor. The nervous Captain could see under the hoods of the Judges was a featureless mask, that looked similar to the Inquisitor's.

"It does not matter where we are..." The three Judges intoned as one. "For his Judgement is always over us..."

"What about the heretics?" The Inquisitor asked after a moment of silence. "Do you have their whereabouts?"

"It calls us..." The trio replied. "It pulls us... It is There!"

As one, the three Judges raised their arm and pointed. The Inquisitor turned and faced the Captain with his blank mask without a word and the Captain nodded rapidly in understanding. He retreated out of the chamber and picked up a speaking horn on the outside of the vault doors and quickly relay instructions on their new course and heading.

"What do you see?" The Inquisitor remained behind in the chamber. He folded his arms as he watched the three Judges returned to their previous pose. "What is that... thing?"

"A fragment of disorder and chaos..." The three intoned raspily. "A fragment of health and weakness..."

"A fragment of what is and what isn't..." They continued to speak faster and faster. "A fragment of dark and light..."

"A fragment of maybe and may not..." The three's voice grew louder. "A fragment of happiness and sadness..."

They seemed to grow more and more agitated. "A fragment of misfortune and luck!"



Unknown Island, ???

Claire felt something wet on her face and her hazy mind slowly cleared. She blinked her eyes in confusion as she was getting drenched and realized that it was raining. She pushed herself up, feeling her joints and muscles were aching and looked around.

The skies were stormy, dark and forks of lightning could be seen and raining was pelting down hard, the heavy raindrops making drumming sound on the wooden decks. But the thing that made her wide awake was clearly the silhouettes of waving trees in the distance.

She pulled herself up unsteadily to the side of the rocking skiff and found they had landed on some island. The stormy waves slammed into the side of the skiff, grounding the ship deeper into the beach.

Despite her weakness, she stumbled around the deck, trying to find the rest. "Professor? Berringer? Uwen?"

She found Uwen tucked away at the prow, weak from hunger. She left him there and slowly climbed down the deck into the lower deck and soon found the Professor in his cabin, delirious with a high fever and muttering some nightmare fueled dreams.

Berringer was found in the cold boiler room, his once flabby body now looked deflated as he laid curled up on the wooden deck, too sick like the rest to even move. Claire suddenly broke down and cried, tears she thought she didn't have rolled down her eyes as she felt helpless.

She had held the rest together by the virtue of her determination to live and yet it felt it was for naught. She sank down on the side of the bulkhead and cried her eyes out till she passed out from exhaustion and hunger.


Star Island, Isles Flagship Fury

Sherene remained in the VIP cabin as the storm raged on constantly outside. Raindrops hammered against the shutters, while the ship rocked gently in the sheltered cove. She took a bite out of a sour fruit and sighed contently as she laid covered in warm and fluffy blankets.

"Sister Sherene!" Kaga bounced over energetically and Sherene made space in the small bunk to allow Kaga to snuggle in. "Are you feeling sick again? I see you always vomiting in the morning..."

Sherene giggled and rubbed Kaga's head. "Hehe... Well... I am not really sick..."

"Silly..." Takao carried a tray filled with mugs of hot tea over. "Lady Sherene is not sick! She is pregnant with a baby!"

"WHAT!?" Kaga's ears shot straight up and her eyes widen in surprise. "You going to a have baby?"

Sherene smiled gently and rubbed her belly underneath the blankets, "Yes, I am going to have a baby!"

"Wow! Wow! WOW!" Kaga blinked her eyes rapidly and was so excited that she bounced under the blankets. "A baby!"

Takao rapped her knuckles on the head of Kaga and growled, "Stop that! You will disturb her Ladyship and her baby!"

Kaga rubbed her head while tears formed at her eyes from the sharp pain. "But... but... its a baby!"

"Hehehe!" Sherene giggled and pinched Kaga's cheeks. "Well, you will have one yourself next time when you find the man you love..."

Kaga blinked her tears away and frowned. "But... I don't find anyone I like at all..."

"Well... Don't you have male friends?" Sherene asked. "They are pretty nice to you right?"

"Erm..." Kaga scrunched up her face as she recalled some of those 'friends' of hers. "But... they feel so... weird... They keep wanting to take pictures with me... And they keep saying some weird words like... ne- ne ko mi mi mo eh?"

Kaga shivered as she recalled those people. Even Takao had an expression of disgust on her face as she too was bothered by those weird people.

"Hahaha, looking at your faces, those friends must be those hoomans right?" Sherene covered her mouth as she laughed at their expressions. "Its some of their culture, I am sure they don't mean any harm."

"Forget about them!" Kaga shook her body as she didn't want to think about those weird hoomans. "When did you find out you got a baby? When is it due? Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me!"

"Well, it should have been just before we left for the Isles," Sherene placed a delicate finger on her lips as she thought back. "We all had to do that medical examination conducted by Dr. Sharon before we left right?"

Both the girls nodded and Sherene gave a smile, "That's when Dr. Sharon suddenly told me I was three weeks pregnant!"

"She advised me to cancel my trip to the Isles and remain in Haven," Sherene said. "But I told her no. I want to finish this treaty finish and returned to Haven with... good news and as a surprise to Richard!"

"Hehehe!" Kaga giggled. "Captain Blake is so fortunate to have you as his wife!"

"You little cheeky girl!"


Dijon strolled onto the wet decks of his ship as the storm passed and beams of sunlight pierced through the clouds. "Looks like the storm is finally over!"

"Yes, Fleet Master!" His bosun replied. "Once the tide comes, we can leave the cove and continue our journey towards Port Sanctuary."

Dijon nodded and turned to return to his cabin where suddenly a cry came from the lookout on the mast. "Ahoy, shipwreck! Shipwreck!"

Dijon paused in his tracks and looked up at the lookout boy who was waving and pointing away. He followed the boy's finger and snatched the offered binoculars from his bosun. He scanned the coastline and stopped when he saw a boat stranded on its side on the rocks on the other side of the star shaped island.

The ship was roughly the size of a sloop, yet its design did not look like anything Dijon has seen before. Frowning, Dijon turned to his bosun, "Send a party over and check if there are any survivors."

His bosun nodded and turned to scream at the crew to gather a party and ready a rowboat to head over to the island. The crew responded rapidly and soon a boat was lowered over the side and a party of ten sailors rowed their way towards the beach.

Dijon remained on the same stop as he observed his sailors made their way towards the wreck and for some reason, he felt a sense of unease at the unknown design of the ship.

"The Sea Gods better not play a prank on me..."

A note from neo Koh

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neo Koh


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