Pol Hain was a bustling port town that quickly became the entrance to Main for the people of Ternor. Humans and werewolves from many different regions would arrive in Pol Hain to be processed by the now established Ternorian embassy, which now included the Raptor Island as part of Ternor. The Raptors there were still reluctant to travel beyond the confines of their island, but they might start to change their minds in the future.
However, the port town also became a place where people clashed with each other, specifically those from Ternor. It sometimes boiled down to an argument whether they should accept the unruly refugees or not. Unlike the first explorers on the steamship Blackjack, the refugees came from many different backgrounds. Unfortunately, some of them were less tolerant of those that weren’t their own kind, be it humans or werewolves. The fact that Pol Hain was also home to many different races of Main baffled them. It felt almost like a culture shock.
The lost of an authoritarian atmosphere, especially those who still believed of a rigid class system, started to think that they were the ones that were supposed to live in Pol Hain, disregarding the locals that had lived there ever since Pol Hain was first destroyed 27 years ago. Jamie Hines had known those unwanted elements, but he had no choice but to take them along due to the crisis back home. The hellhounds were the least of their worries after it was clear that they were far from the hell that was their former home. Fortunately, Jamie had more Main supporters who had known what it was like confronting those with extreme beliefs. An attempted coup was quickly put down by the Ternorians’ lack of magic users and general technological gap.
Of course, it did not make them stop, and it threatened to cause a different conflict that no one wanted. Jamie was worried that this might ended up changing public opinion against Ternor, and in time, they would no longer be welcome on that continent. He had done his best to keep peace, but even the werewolf sailors had his limits.
It wasn’t after the arrival of the missing scouts that things had cooled down somewhat.
The group, which by that point had been called the Qeveriyt Eight, were considered heroes by some for being directly responsible for saving the world. Among the Eight was Adeline de Rochefort, a member of the de Rochefort family of nobles with a certain influence towards the Tragorian elites. Even better, Adeline’s family was one of the least elitist families in Tragoria, considering that it was no secret that her family was a family of pureblooded werewolves, and she exerted a certain influence due to being one of the original financers of the journey that led to the discovery of Main.
Not everyone liked her, but they had no choice but to listen as she, for being a noble hero, had more influence than any other Tragorians.
Her arrival was also something that would bring such an awe that it stopped a brewing trouble. This was partially her idea, but also Richie’s, owing to his rather unorthodox way to start a negotiation. Also, it was due to necessity to cut down travel time. Even with dragon flight, they still have to fly for 12 hours from Dracokin to Pol Hain. It was much faster than the land trip that took them one and a half days, but it was still not as fast as Zenithia’s teleportation and the portals that were already active since a year ago.
A snap of her fingers was enough to transport everyone, including Ulster and Caralas, directly in the middle of the city square, coincidentally just beside the statue of Avila and Seraphor. There was a fight that almost started, with Jamie already going to try and stop it with a revolver shot to the air when the shock of eight individuals appearing out in a flash caused everyone to stop.
Adeline quickly assessed the situation and introduced herself. Hearing the name de Rochefort made both sides agreed to listen. For the people of Main, she was a hero. For the Tragorian nobles, she was an influential noble.
It wasn’t that hard to convince the Tragorians to stand down and listen, even to the point of giving them a promise that they would be able to return to the Tragoria region the next time they set sail. The feats of Adeline and the rest of her allies were proof enough for them. She, however, still gave them an ultimatum, which also showed a ruthless side of her.
“Then again, I may just be a benefactor and a passenger of the Blackjack, but that ship is still partially owned by the de Rochefort Trading Company,” she said. “I do not want to resort to this, but I have a certain…influence to stop taking refugees out of Ternor if I wish it to, especially to those who have overstayed their welcome. You can sue me if you want to, but that ship, and its crew, are still mine. So, if you still want to be welcome, I suggest you respect the locals and not attempt to take this city over. I am telling you this out of respect of the people of Pol Hain that has been so inviting to us, but I am also telling you this out of your safety. You do not want to deal with their dragons unless you want to automatically become their enemies once more, for I will tell you this. They will know if you think dragons are not your equals. They will hunt you down with extreme prejudice, and they will make your lives miserable. That, I can promise you.”
The sudden drop in her voice and her sinister tone shook several of them to the core. That declaration made them realize that they were nothing but guests, and the first failed coup was enough conviction that there would not be a second time.
As the crowd dispersed, Jamie whistled to Adeline and said, “Oh, lassie, if only I could kiss ye for yer help! Damn inlanders cannae understand.”
“It won’t be enough,” said Adeline. “Rather, some might be extremely offended. Then again, I did warn them that nothing but death awaits them if they attempt it again.”
“Isn’t that a bit excessive?” asked Hans.
“Excessive only if you are doing this out of malice. I have lost my patience, so keep it that way.”
Hans nodded and wondered if things would be different if he gained her ire. She had been the most tolerant and the friendliest nobles he had ever met, completely shattering the snobbish and entitled image that he once thought they were, especially for a villager who had barely traveled beyond his village before joining the crew of Blackjack.
He knew there were still those who embodied those stereotypes, and now, he knew his reliable friend could also be ruthless despite her shrewd negotiations and her rather straightforward way of negotiations. This fact also made Azureath chuckle.
“See, Hans?” said Azureath. “This is what I meant by the virtue of bravery.”
“Never miss a chance to remind me of that, huh?”
“It isn’t wrong if it’s fact, little one.”
Hans shrugged, though he accepted that fact.
“So, Jamie,” said Adeline. “I know this is sudden, buy do you still have plans to return to Ternor any time soon?”
“I was planning to leave after sorting out the mess ye just sort,” said Jamie. “So, yer finally ready to return home. Guess that talk of being a hero isn’t just some bullshit, after all.”
“It’s due time for us to return. This time, I know we are not going to our deaths.”
Jamie looked at her eyes and said, “And those aren’t the eyes of a glory-seeking fool. You cannae believe how many times I have seen ‘heroes’ dying because they don’t know their own strength. Aye, I won’t stop ye. Not with yer uncanny group. Pack your things up. We’ll set sail tonight.”
Adeline smiled and walked with the others. Before they could leave the town square, however, Ulster stopped and said, “I won’t go with you.”
Hans turned around and said, “Why not?”
“Because someone needs to stay and keep them from trying the same thing again,” said Ulster. “You stopped them this time, Addy, but it won’t be long before they start changing their plans to spread lies. And besides…Caralas can’t return home.”
“I see.” Adeline turned around and, without hesitating, kissed Ulster’s snout. The gesture caused him to blush. He still had feelings to her, as he wasn’t ready to move on yet, so it did not come out as awkward. However, he had not had that kind of gesture being done to him for a while.
“Y-you know,” he said, regaining his composure. “For the past two years, wireless, arcane communications have been helpful in giving us updates on Ternor. We won’t be separated for long, Addy. That is the magic of long-range arcane radio set.”
“Still need a by point which is the ship’s transmitter,” said Jamie. “But eh, let’s not talk details about that while we’re setting up.”
“And don’t worry about him,” said Fritz, who happened to be there by going through a portal. “If push comes to shove, the satyrs of Bracken Woods can help. They are already indebted to all of you by saving Anrich’ar and the forest. So, say the words, princess, and they’ll help you.”
“Already gotten past that ‘anti-monarch’ phase, Fritz?” asked Elyse.
“Only for you and House Gathbergen, Elle. Oh, and by the way, make sure he doesn’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t forget, wolfy!”
Hans and Elyse blushed as Fritz let out a toothy grin. It was clear he did not have any qualms about the two being lovers, but to be called out like that seemed so surprising, even after they had affirmed their loves to one another.
But that declaration also helped them know of the people they had made allies with and what they’d do for them in return. The legacy of the Qeveriyt Eight continued to inspire their allies and hopefully beyond.
And now, the Eight would embark on a new adventure, one that was closer to home for some, and one that was new for others.
“Whoa, damn,” said Richie upon seeing the interior of the steamship. “This is one hell of a well-preserved antique!”
“Antique? It’s the most advanced ship in the world, and you called it antique?” said Hans.
“No offense, Hans, but I lived in a world where the technology is a century more advanced than a steamship. But don’t take it the wrong way. I appreciate history as much as I appreciate technology. You don’t get to 2021 if you can’t appreciate 1914, eh?”
“2021! Bloody hell, mate! No wonder you seem so out of sorts sometimes.”
“Is that a bad thing or a good thing?”
“Well, at least it doesn’t hurt anybody, eh, Ritik?”
Ritik could only shook his head and sigh.
The steamship Blackjack left port at night, after Jamie and most of his crews finished the ship’s manifest and supplies. They were elated to finally have several of their first passengers aboard, especially Adeline, whose sponsorship was the reason why the ship was able to sail in the first place. Her being declared missing did not change anything, but it was due time before the ship needed repairs on its heavily-used steam turbine, along with retrofitting it to effectively able to properly use the magicite crystal installed before the ship’s first return journey.
Aside from the crystal, the ship boasted some upgrades, while also losing several facilities due to its emergency use. The saloon on the top deck was converted into an observation port that was manned by several Ternorian soldiers, presumably to prevent shoreline attacks and to detect enemies. Cables and equipment that housed a wireless telegraph equipment took almost one-third of the saloon’s room, right behind the bridge. The ship’s original telegraph operator’s room was now the mana-powered communication room for long-range updates. It was also the one continuously operating. The equipment, while cobbled together, cumbersome, and took too much space, functioned similarly to a long-range radio.
The lounge right under the saloon was converted into a hospital and extra space, with most of the entertainment stripped off, replaced with hospital beds. Both Ritik and Elyse noticed that the hospital deck was very unsterile, and Jamie lamented that it contributed to the high level of mortality on the ship.
“Can’t help it,” he said, rubbing his head. “Ship’s not expected to function like this for long and we’re low on supplies. The doctors could not carry too many medical supplies owing to supply cut-off.”
“We use a sterile space generated by magicites to prevent infection,” said Ritik. “It’s very important for us since Main continent has more than just humans and werewolves.”
“Hope that’s enough to convince them,” said Jamie.
There was no personal rooms; many of them were converted into wards for emergency treatment, with one, formerly Adeline’s room, turned into an operating theatre, given its size and sparsity. Adeline did not mind about the required change. Besides, her times with the others had made her appreciate a more communal space, as she did on the ship. She and her friends decided to sleep in the empty hospital deck in their journey back to Ternor.
Even so, it wasn’t a bad travel, considering how everyone had become close to each other during their time fighting together. Azureath was also less of a brooding dragon and friendlier, especially towards the crewmembers she personally knew. For them, her presence felt like the ship would be blessed with fortune, especially since she was the main reason why they could reach Main in the first place. They even ordered a plaque to commemorate her efforts, placing it over where she usually sat.
Another main addition was the shimmering shield that protected the ship from inclement weather and possibly attacks. The shield was powered by a magicite crystal below deck, but due to the lack of mana in Ternor, it could only be charged once the ship returned to Pol Hain. Luckily, Jamie’s naval maneuvers and the ship’s relatively small size helped the crew and the refugees avoid danger.
Even so, the situation wasn’t as controlled as they thought, as Jamie gave them the situation in Ternor during one of their tea breaks.
“All I could do is escape the ports before they could get to the Blackjack,” said Jamie as he sipped his tea. “They shot the ship and caused the sea to boil. I know I should’ve trusted me ship, but at that point, my instincts realized that those shells could burn through tempered steel. That was the day when…when one of our ports fell to the enemies. Since then, Tragorian ports were too hostile for me and for anyone. Not only did they have a good position, they had monsters guardin’ them. Monsters…much like Azureath.”
“So, there were dragons,” said Azureath, who listened from a nearby window. “Hell dragons.”
“I know I shouldn’t say this, Azureath, but…even I’m not sure you can fight against five of them.”
“How big were they?”
“Slightly smaller than you,” said Jamie.
“Speed over strength. That will be a problem, but that doesn’t mean we’re not out of luck. Isn’t it, light one?”
Zenithia, who was sitting on Adeline’s lap, jumped down and said, “Well…there is a slight problem.”
“I am aware that you lost most of your light abilities the moment you severed your connection, but you have showed that it doesn’t deter you.”
“The thing is…I have recently realized that…the reason I could access my powers was because of Seraphor’s connection as a Spool intended as the new Source. During that period, light dragons could use the full potential of their powers. Now, that the connection is gone, there was no way for the rules of this reality to be able to explain how our light works. Therefore…it turned my light abilities into light magic.”
“So, you’ll have a hard time using your magic because Ternor has no mana particles?” asked Hans.
This time, Zenithia let out a draconic smirk. “Well…good thing your reality’s rules considered light magic to be primal magic, meaning that it has the same properties with your ice magic, Azureath. There might still a chance for me to use it, considering you managed to do it. Just don’t expect anything spectacular like teleportation.”
“How about light beams?”
“That will take some efforts, so again, don’t expect anything.”
“I can tell ye have plans. Might want to tell this old wolf your plan?”
“You’ll know once we managed to agree on something,” said Hans. “Because I have a feeling it might involve the Blackjack.”
“Hmmm…well, I suppose it will be alright provided ye don’t fuck the ship up, ya hear? This is the only ocean-crossing ship in the world, so don’t do anything rash.”
“Of course not,” said Hans. “Why do you think we’d risk your ship?”
“Because some bloody idiots did just that, and they died!” Jamie sighed. “Look, lads. I can tell yer not fools. Just do whatever you want, y’hear? Just remember…ye cannae appreciate death until it looks ya in the eyes.”
It was clear to everyone in that room that Jamie was anguished. Traumatized, even, by what he had seen. While he had his own reasons, everyone in that room could understand what he meant.
They had seen death in the eyes. Literally.
Bio: I like to write stories, predominantly fantasy and science fiction stories. Many of them features non-human and feral characters as protagonists and antagonists. I strive to train myself to be a better writer every time I can. Some of the stories I write can be a bit unconventional and outright confusing, so don't be afraid to ask for context!