Friday, December 20, 2013

Page a Day: One Hundred Thirty Seven

              I found Julius at the very stern of the greatship, leaning against its chest-high wall and looking out across the southern sea. He must have heard me approach.
            “What lies across the ocean between the lands?” he asked, nodding in that direction. “Thaeron has changed since my memories walked this world.”
            “And I want to know what happened at Wesing. How many died? How did we take the other ships? What happened after I was injured? Tell me your story, and I will tell you mine.”
            He smiled at me, then frowned as he said, “The first assault was the worst. We lost fifty mastodons taking the holds of the five ships, just as many as we lost coming through the gaps in the western wall. The Never-born carried the day when they charged the artillery atop the decks. We lost one hundred of my brethren to disks that had managed to turn in time.
            After you fell from the mastodon, the others closed the circle and you and Jerem Cozak were well protected. I am sorry I was not there to suture you this time. Jerem Cozak had entrusted me to command the port authority. So I woke that machine and sent the other greatships away. There had been twenty waiting in the harbor for the fleet to assemble, and they were coming in artillery range just as I sent them out to sea. I called them back one at a time, so we could deal with them that way. But even then we lost twenty more artillery pieces, because the Augers resisted to the last. We had to kill many of them before we could destroy the relics aboard and sever their connection to the nightwind.” 
            “Bloody days,” I said, and Julius nodded. I looked across the sea and rubbed my nose, remembering. “Well,” I said. “There are islands between here and there, out toward the middle of the sea, but they are only good for fishing and for laying over, no ancient weaponry. On the other side of the sea is the ancient continent we call Ostara. 

            It has three lands,” I said, pointing, “to the west, the Shuni plateau, a grass steppe between the mountains that stretches toward the southern pole of the world. Like Nogilia, it was defended and patrolled by the riding machines called valkyries.        

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