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Rayman gazed at the foggy shoreline, the wind blowing the south. They had passed Gantu two days earlier and approached Buxmar. The mood of the crew was solemn, however. A week at sea hadn’t been kind to them in more ways than one.

Mark had, after days of pain and struggle, finally succumbed to his leg wound. Fin and Kevin prepared his body but Rayman’s mind was on other things.

Vog could be seen following them from the shore. Catching only glimpses of them from this far off, he could tell they had been followed and by many of them. His mind was on what would happen once they landed in Buxmar.

The plan was to travel to Anria then to Nolvis where king Erik was, or so he thought. The scouts from two weeks ago had told them to wait there but in that time anything could have happened. He contemplated whether or not to sail straight down into Xer’s territory and seek aid there but Rayman would potentially be leaving Erik in Nolvis to defend for himself if Xerath refused Vulkirian refugees to enter Xer.

His wife, Shay, and his children would be in Nolvis too. Rayman wouldn’t abandon his king or his family but for all he knew, they were all dead and he would be leading his men into their own death.

He made his decision then and there. Rayman's face grew tight and frowned.

“Rayman? Sir. We are ready.” Kevin said from behind him.

Billy, Fin, Wolkin, Lucas, George, Zeph, Connor, Steven, and Carl gathered around Mark’s wrapped body. George stared at Mark’s body with his one eye, an eyepatch over his right. Fin stood at the head and waited for Rayman and Kevin to approach.

Shifting his weight, Fin cleared his throat. “We gather round to honor our fallen comrade, our friend. Mark had a family, four children, and his wife Thyre. He was loved by many and a good friend.” Fin paused, gathering himself, “I will miss you, Mark. May God smile upon you. Rest in peace, brother.”

With Fin’s final word, everyone gripped the cloth and heaved Mark’s body to the edge of the boat, and gently slipped his body into the ocean. No one said a word, only staring at their sinking friend, embraced by the cold waters and the depths below.

Rayman felt an enormous amount of guilt watching his body disappear into the darkness. He knew Thyre personally. He couldn’t imagine what he would say to his wife or how to comfort her. The thought made him want to puke.

He remembered the Vog that had pulled their wagon. It seemed to have been… sorry, in a way for them. It had helped them move swiftly to Bienrior and once they had arrived it had pulled their wagon straight up to the ship and as quickly as it had come, the Vog disappeared.

Conflicting emotions burned into Rayman, hatred for the Vog, and a sense of guilt for killing their baby. They had killed Ben and now Mark. If the Vog felt remorse, it was in the Vog that helped them, however, it hadn’t been enough.

“Sir.” Kevin’s hand touched his shoulder. “Are you alright?”

“Yes.” Rayman coughed, “I’m fine.”

Kevin frowned in disbelief but left him alone. He imagined every one of his men was faced with the same conflict. Hate the Vog or pass it on as an unfortunate loss of life. Bad things happened and the Vog wasn’t necessarily in the wrong. In one sense, Rayman and his men were the aggressors.

Whatever the case, Rayman wanted desperately to see his wife and kids once again. He longed for Shay’s loving embrace and to hold Daniel and Alexi in his arms.

“Buxmar!” a shout from behind him pulled him out of his thoughts.

Rayman looked up to see the port and town in the distance. The misty air had nearly cleared, giving them a full view of their surroundings. They would be arriving shortly. Their next move was to meet Erik in Nolvis.

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About the author

MorseCode

Bio: Hello, all. I am a new aspiring author and I'm extremely excited to share my stories. I've always loved writing and bringing the ideas in my head to life, though it was only recently that I began to write on a more serious level. I have many many books I wish to write and I hope I can share them with you all in the future. I have a lot to learn but I hope to grow into a more experienced and learned writer.

I don't shy away from gore, which will be present in all my books to come. I hate plot armor, and I do everything I can to make things as real as possible. Real decisions, consequences, logical outcomes, and making a darn good story are my main focus.

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