The old tavern in the Danlath harbour was always crowded at night.And especially on Fireday nights like this one, when all the old sailors gathered at the largest table and told stories of far-away places.On these nights dozens of people from all over town would come to the old smelly house by the sea known as the The Sailor’s Haven.They wanted to hear about the splendors of Rondelar, the icy colds of Gldak and, of course, the stories about the famous Sea of Dreams.
Most people doubted that all the stories were real, of course.Some were too strange to believe – stories of mermaids, whirlpools that lead to another world or of people who had wings and flew were amongst the stories usually attributed to too much rum or a wild imagination .
But no-one ever doubted Captain Mandwick’s stories.Captain Mandwick, the famous Captain Mandwick was a great hero.Forty years ago he had defeated the pirates that plagued the area all on his own, by setting fire to their hideout while they were away.He had been awarded by the Council of Life with a large ship called Lady of the Seas, and had had many famous adventures, until, one day in Middlesummer it had sunk mysteriously, him being the only survivor.He had never told anyone what had happened.
All that was going through their heads as they listened to old Mandwick talk.His white beard and soft, deep -even mysterious- brown eyes made him very impressive, and no one dared to speak.
Mandwick coughed.He looked around him at the people who were staring at him, waiting for a story.He smiled.
“My friends, I see you want a story.Hmmm ...a story.I have told you the story of Dragonsland, and the story of how I met my dead grandfather, and about the mysterious lights in the ocean.I have told many stories.In fact, I have told every story I know except one.”
He looked around again.No-one said a word.He sighed, and resumed.
“It is a story that I had decided to keep in me forever, in fear of being called a madman.But now I am old, and I am not afraid anymore.In my dreams I speak with my ancestors.They are calling me to another world, for new adventures.My days here are over, and I shall not come again as others do.But before I go, I want to tell you the story of how the Lady of the Seas sank, of how I survived and found myself in a strange place.A place called Athalon.”
There were several gasps in the audience.Athalon ? The magic island of legend.The place the mages believed the source of their power.The mysterious isle that had disappeared with its civilization thousands of years ago…
Mandwick noticed that even the town druid was there.
“It was a rainy day in Middlesummer twenty years ago.We were sailing to Danlath after a very long journey through the Islands of Khun.We knew that sailing through the Sea of Dreams could be dangerous, but we were confident we would make it.I suppose we were too proud to admit fear.Because we were afraid.As I stood on the deck that day, the wind tugging at my beard and filling the sails, the waves pounding against the ship, I was afraid.I looked at my men and I could see the same fear.They worked with clenched teeth and never said a word.There was no laughing, no bickering, nothing as it used to be – absolute silence.
Silence.Not only the sailors were silent.Everything was – the waves seemed to make no noise, the wind seemed different.The fear I felt was not the physical fear I’d felt when I first saw the dragons in Dragonsland – no, it was the kind of fear I had felt when I met the spirit of my ancestor.Fear of the unknown.
Hours passed, and we were still in the Sea of Dreams.Normally, we would have crossed that distance in a short time.But, as you know, the Sea of Dreams is not a normal place.It is a place where nothing is as we know it.
I had been feeling a certain tension building up.Something was going to happen.I knew it.Something we could not expect.The sky was a dark grey now, the clouds covering everything.Then I noticed the fog.It seemed to be all around us, except on the ship itself.Many men were muttering about the curse of the sea and similar things.Agdor, a sailor from Pariki, suddenly shouted “what the heck is that ?”
I turned towards him.He was pointing at something in the mist.At first, I did not see anything.I thought that maybe he was seeing a hallucination caused by either his fear or the Sea of Dreams.But then I noticed something green in the fog.It seemed to be some kind of light…
Then I saw it again.It was green lightning ! The men were shouting now.Green lightning was all around the ship, and it was coming closer every second.Agdor drew his sword.I quickly caught his hand and shouted
“No ! We don’t know what this is.Let’s not attack it yet !”
“Let me go, you fool !” he screamed
He slashed at me with his sword, and I barely managed to avoid the blow.When I got up I saw Agdor slahing at the green lightning that had almost reached the ship.His weapon suddenly glowed with a green light and he was thrown backwards against the mast.He wa still alive, although his mind wasn’t very clear.He tried getting up.I started running towards him, and so did several other sailors.The other were still staring at him, awed by what had just happened.
The one moment Agdor was getting up, his mates helping him, and the next he was gone and a strange green whirlpool had appeared in his place.Ghillien, a Cyrgonian sailor, was closest to the maelstrom.He screamed as he suddenly started being drawn in by an invisible force.Other sailors began moving too, but they had no chance.The whirlpool was becoming larger and larger.I felt it’s pull on me aswell.I panicked.I knew there was only one thing I could do to save myself.I jumped into the water- or at least I tried to.As I fell, I saw green lightning flash by me, but my feet never touched the water. I just kept falling into the fog.I fell and fell – until suddenly everything went black.
I did not know how much time had passed.It could have been minutes – or centuries.
I was standing at a beach.A beach where ? I was looking at the sea.The sky was grey and a cold wind was blowing.I had the feeling something was wrong.Then I understood.There were no waves ! How could that be ? Well, I conceded to myself, the fact that was actually standing and that there were no signs of my ship or crew was even stranger.Then a strange thought came to my mind ? What if this was a dream ? Many people saw dreams on the sea of dreams, and they never knew they were dreams until later when someone told them.If this was one….I quickly shook the thought off.Let’s deal with reality first, I thought.I looked around, and saw that the beach was very small.To my right and to my left there were some huge rocks, and there was a path that led up into a forest.Obviously I didn’t have all that many choices, so I went up the path, and got to the forest.The ground here was a bit muddy, and the trees seemed to be wet.It had propably rained.I looked at the trees again.I had never seen such trees.Their leaves were as large as my hand and were shaped like hearts.They felt very soft. Runemaster
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Edited by - runemaster on September 1, 2000 5:42:17 PM
Here's a little piece of a story from the Background part of the Athalon Design Doc.The story isn't finished yet, nor is the doc.Note that the story is not as good as the others in this thread because it wasn't written with the purpose of being published, except maybe on the Athalon site at some point.