Call of the Depths

There was something serene about the shores of Kitsuya. The cool humidity of the gentle morning mist could soothe the most restless of souls, here. It was why Beldrun always set to port here when he had the excuse to. He let his timberhorns off the ship to roam the beaches without burden of the usual shipments, though they never strayed out of eyesight. They were big beasts, these lizards. Especially his three. They had no habit of haste.

So it was that, on mornings such as this, he felt happy. After having spent the previous few days at Kalisport selling a shipment of copper all the way from Ketha, he was, as always, amazed at the difference in how the air felt there versus here. Barely a hundred nautical miles away. He never liked the all the pistons and machinery of Kalisport, even if most of the labor could be handled by their golems. Though magic was technically banned internationally, the Preservers had allowed Calitha the use of their own magic so long as it was solely for their suitability for the work force.

He had no knowledge of the legalities of magic, of course. He hadn’t been born with any such talent, though sometimes he wished he had. He waved a hand through the air in front of him and imagined a circle appearing before him, throwing a fictitious ball of fire at the nearest beast, Selly. Her wooden horns would catch fire instantly, to be sure, but he wondered for a minute how flammable an adult timberhorn’s scales would be. A ludicrous thought, he knew.

But, as he told himself, magic was no business of Beldrun’s. It was easy to dream of the days of old, where people ran about free to use the arts to craft and fight. But no. He just moved the stuff from here to there and got paid doing it. It was easy, and he loved his job, so it couldn’t be fair to dream for more. He got to see the world. Not many people were able to claim having tasted the airs of each nation of Torreth. But of all of them, Kitsuya was by far his favorite. He didn’t come to the islands often, though. It was true that Kitsuya was small and relied on exports from all across the continent, but as that was plainly obvious, it was a less profitable business to get into. Everybody shipped to Kitsuya. Beldrun just liked to stop by when he found himself at Kalisport.

Today seemed different, though. The mist was unusually thick, even for the early morning on the beach. Perhaps he could use it as an excuse to stay longer, though he knew he should be setting off soon. He called his three timberhorns back on board before making his way back to the docks.

He stopped in his tracks, though, when he noticed something was approaching his path. Out of the water, walking out of the very tides themselves, was a woman. It was not a woman exactly, though. The shape and form was right, but the appearance most certainly was not. In fact she was distinctly inhuman, as her skin held something of a red-tinged translucency to it, as a thin piece of hide held up to the sun. It wasn’t transparent enough to see through, but instead had a clear tone at the edges where light could more easily pass through. Her face was covered by some sort of mask, though of what material he couldn’t say. It was covered in colorful decorative patterns rather than conventional facial features, but maintained a sort of symmetry nonetheless. She had no hair, but one long fin was pronounced from head to spine, like a horse’s mane that didn’t end at the neck. Her legs were almost enshrouded in a layer of skin that sprouted from the hip, almost like a dress that extended from knee length in the front to grazing the floor in the back. Needless to say, she was somewhat glossy, as she was still soaked in water.

“You are needed,” she stated. Her tone was fluid, like a flowing creek.

She was… what was the word? A nymph? He had heard the tales of ships being dragged into the ocean by these creatures. Beings more beautiful than even possible. This was nothing like he had imagined, yet this creature presented a majesty he simply could not oppose.

“Where do I go?” his voice sounded. He did not put thought to words, they simply happened in response to her remark.

She stepped up, and he realized how large she really was. She stood no less than six feet tall, yet seeing her made it feel as though he was the wrong size. She placed a smooth, inhumanly flat hand on his chest. It suddenly felt as though Beldrun had pulled on a tunic that had exposed to the harsh spray of ocean waves, water already soaking through to his skin. “There is a continent your people do not know of,” she whispered. “It is to the north. You will find it. You are needed there.”

He nodded. People did not go north of Aluvalia and Kitsuya. The ocean and its denizens more terrible than nymphs swallowed all those who dared try. Of course he would go. Who was he to disobey such a creature? “I will go. I will leave today.”

“Make haste, Beldrun of the Surface. Great strife is upon us. We will guide your path.”

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