“You arrived just in time, old spell-caster,” the sea-weathered and squint-eyed ship’s mate told me as he joined me at the railing near the ships prow. We were approaching the rocky spires of Little Albanic after a three day journey to the heart of the Silverborne Sea. He was clearly made for this sea and the ships which traveled it. Despite his stocky bulk, he moved aboard the ship with the grace of a dancer. “Come the Day of Duty and the captain would have refused any passage, regardless of the status of passenger or how red the sky seemed at dusk.”
“Season of Storm,” I offered nodding in agreement. Yes, it was late enough in the year for the bright and warm days and the blue sky to turn to the violence that came as the suns drew closer together. “Yet I have heard it has been calmer on the waters than is usual this time of year.”
“Yes,” he replied, although there was something in his tone that hinted at more. “But a warning; It’s dangerous enough during the calm times. Perhaps your fellows on the island have used their power to calm the winds and the waves. You are welcome by them, are you not? Few are.”
“That we shall see when we arrive,” I replied. “When last I visited they were pleased to see me.”
He then offered a gap toothed grin.
“I must say, though,” he added. “If you didn’t carry the seal of the Wizard’s Council, I doubt the captain would have carried you.”
“It’s that dangerous,” I asked him. “Does he not trust the wizard’s of the Albanic to accept visitors?”
He clearly had an answer to my question, but held his tongue. Out of respect or fear, I do not know. Although, in my eyes, he didn’t seem the type to fear much. To young to have encountered anything of significant terror, a sea dragon for example.
“You’ll see,” the mate advised me. “The sister and brother wizards have earned a reputation of harshness to those seeking their aid. But even with that, they’ve earned themselves demand. And enemies. And they have come to treat each and all with such generosity as either deserves. The captain has managed to stay on their better side, mostly. You will see on the morrow, what happens to those who presume too much about the Albanic wizard’s willingness to gift their power.”
Then he grinned again at me.
“Do your fellow wizards not talk of the reception the sister and brother offer their visitors.”
I had not read anything special in any missives regarding Dray and Tess.
“They do not seem harsher than any others,” I told him. “According to what I have read.”
He shook his head and chuckled.
“My grandfather used to warn me, as a boy,” he told me. “Be careful to trust in wizards.”
“And did he explain why?” I asked him.
“Because wizards often wield more power than even they know what to do with,” he replied. “And they can be careless of the frailty of us mere men.”
I gritted my teeth against the penetrating wind as much as his appraisal of my kind. It was not out of place.
As we crossed the outer reefs of Little Albanic the next morning, I learned indeed exactly what he’d meant. There were wrecks of ships, on the reefs, and on the shorelines. Many. Albanic indeed had become a popular place; for death, and hungry scavengers circling overhead.
But that was just the first warning. Just a short time after we passed the isles’ outer shoals, there came a fire which rained down all around us from out of the clear blue sky.