Captain Lhars looked at the soldiers crowded on the deck of his Transport ship. The Elven Lady sailed past Razaks Rock, her sails swallowing the good wind as she made the turn. "So many young faces." He could see in them the same look of destiny he had chosen as a young man. "By the Immortals when will we stop sending children to die on battlefields?"
"Perhaps when the old stop looking for a fight that devours the young."
Thomic Ironhammer straightened the tiller. "The Rock is clear."
The forces of the Desert Nomads had pulled out of Darokin and would be pulling back to Akesoli. These young men would land on the docks in old harbour and cut off their retreat.
The Elven Lady had sat, an invisibility spell concealing the vessel, anchored off the northern shore of Lake Amsorak for much of the War in view of fair Bronsdale. Even as the community was sacked and burned by an army of humanoid raiders that had pushed around the north side of the lake raiding deep into Darokin's Agricultural heartland. Lhars hated to keep her out of the war but many ships had been seized or burned to the waterline to stop one side or the other from getting them. Now she was one of the few not in the hands of the Desert Nomads or sunk. Now she could make a difference. Now she could carry these young men to their destinies.
"Next up," Thomic Ironhammer lowered the tiller into its well worn notch in the wood and tied it securely into place. "the Navigation turn at the Island." No need to speak its name now and invite doom.
The Elven Lady slid past the deathly dark and crumbling keep that dominated the island and made the turn taking the vessel away from the grey and unseen horror that enveloped the ruins in its aura. Thomic Ironhammer roused captain Lhars from his thoughts.
"Copper for um." Lhars struggled to his feet from the old wooden throne he kept lashed to the railing. "Ey? Just thinking of family."
"Ah...yes...family." It had been a while since Thomic had seen his family as well. Thomic thought of something from his past and wiped at his eyes. "arn't we all?"
"How I long to see," Thomic raised his voice.
"a distant Summer meadow." Lhars placed a hand on the old Dwarf's shoulder.
"Where she waits for me," The old Dwarf's voice carried over the soldiers standing at ready. "high up in the Stahl."
"Oh my beautiful flower," Thomic straighted the tiller to end the turn. "how I long to hold you."
"A memory I will cherish," Lhars tied off the timber tiller. "more than any radiant Jewel."
"Oh my beloved elven lady," Lhars smiled at the dwarf's love of an elf in Rockhome that had enticed him to sign on as crew because of the ship's name. "with your lips of brandywine."
"Know that I dream of you," Lhars looked up as the odd glow growing in the northern sky drew his attention from the dwarf's love song. "though you will never be mine."
"What in the hel is that thing?" A burning pebble as large as any mountain, dropped behind the Silver Sierras and exploded in a fire ball that consumed the northern sky. The brightness of this new Sun became so painful that Lhars wanted to scream, the heat igniting the timbers and sails of the Elven Lady in a burning torrent that reached down the throats of every soldier stricken with terror as it cooked them in their armour.
Lhars didnt even speak as he dragged Thomic Ironhammer over the railing and into the water that was now boiling around them.
The bodies of young men trapped in a scream sank through the water around them. Lhars could see there was nothing to be done to save them.
The cold and murky darkness of the deep of the lake became instantly bright and began to feel like a distinctly warm bath. Lhars dragged his dying friend further down until they hit mud.
The Ring of waterbreathing slipped off Lhars's finger and he slipped it over the smallest of Thomic's substantial sausages and held it on him until he opened his eyes and breathed.
Deep breath and breathe out. Lhars swapped the ring to his own hand and took a deep breath in then out before swapping the ring back to Thomic's hand.
They maintained the tactic for a while and then a large boulder perhaps fifty feet in diameter crashed through the burning ship above them and descended the lake bottom. Lhars looked up as large rocks continued to rain around them striking the water only to sink and both could see there was nowhere they could go.
The wreckage of the elven lady seemed to vanish from overhead in less than a heart beat. Their panic settled back into a rythm in the shadow of their new boulder. Deep breath in and out. And then the ring would swap fingers.
Thomic broke the rythm when the water again grew murky and dark and he signalled to surface. Lhars followed the dwarf up the side of the boulder that sat high enough that even Thomic Ironhammer was a half dwarf above the waterline.
Lhars could not even see the stars, the world now plunged into darkness.
"By the immortals I cannot even see the hand in front of my face." Lhars felt about for Thomic. "What of you Thomic?"
"I'm so sorry my friend." Lhars felt the Dwarf's caloused hand touch his face. "The fire in the sky has robbed you of your sight."