The Promised Lands
The Promised Lands
The news spread quickly, but everybody already knew. Few missed the blue streak that had carved an arched path overhead from the southern horizon to the north, lighting up the night’s sky with an eerie glow that lasted almost all night.
‘A star has fallen.’ Said the messenger. ‘Surely it is a sign from the gods!’ The High Lord of the Vishim looked down upon the human messenger with thinly veiled contempt. ‘The gods are rarely as cryptic. It is but a fallen star, though an unusual one at that.’
Despite the doubt of the Vishim, the word spread throughout the southern continents of Solinia. Half-truths and old myths brought back from the memories of the elders soon became common knowledge.
‘That light, ya know. Th’ blue arc of th’ Gods.’ Said the drunken Lidkim, leaning on the bar and speaking conspiratorially with the few other reptilians gathered around him. ‘They say it weren’t jus’ a sign, it be… Directions. I got some friends… Well, they ‘eard th’ news from the council of th’ ‘umans… Some clever sod plotted out th’ course th’ fallin’ star took. Said it leads right to th’ promised lands!’ ‘The promised lands?’ Asked a sceptical barmaid, laughing at the drunken rambling. ‘Aye! With streets paved with gold, an’ all can live fer eternity!’ He continued, not picking up on her disbelief.
In the following weeks, every race of the known world had an explanation for the phenomena observed that one night. By general consensus it was decided that the light that arced across the sky must’ve been a sign of some sort; it’s trajectory just too perfectly aligned with the fabled lost continent of Alatyr.
Where most maps were marked ‘here be dragons’, the Morannon general drew a rough circle. ‘There be dragons here already!’ He laughed through his beard to the rest of his chiefs gathered around the broad stone table. His laugh echoed throughout the stone halls of their mountain home. ‘A continent rich in gold and ores, and it’s ours for the taking!’ ‘But where will be gather the resources? We’re miners, not ship-builders!’ One of the stout bearded men slammed his flagon on the table, spilling ale on the map. ‘This is why we’re not doing it by ourselves. We’ve got our Automata, and I hear the Humans and the Lidkim have joined forces to build a ship… But they need iron!’ The general laughed, and the others joined in.
So it was that similar alliances were forged across the land in the race to build a ship that could survive the journey to the edge of the world. Resources were suddenly funnelled into the construction of the ship that would first reach the new land and claim it as their own: four ships for four alliances, each of four races. Such a time of peace has been unheard of before or since the great ship building; all wars and squabbles halted with the promise of Alatyr. The only thing that mattered was getting there first!
The first to finish their vessel was the races of darkness. The Mysmaal, with their Corrupt Vishim slaves, the unrelenting Gobel and fearsome Tailless dragons forged a fierce Alliance. Their workforce outranking the others by sheer numbers and dedication, they constructed a huge arc with the figurehead of a beast. No sails did this ship have, rather it was powered by the force of hundreds of individuals moving giant oars and paddles to the sounds of a beating drum. When the weather grew too rough for oars, Tailless were lashed to the ship and drove the boat forwards with the power of their wings, carting the races of darkness towards their destiny.
Not to be out done, the light races were not far behind. An elegant ship with the styling of the Vishim and Tinai, with the homeliness brought about by having the Eusebians on board. With white sails unfurled, they were still never going to reach Alatyr first… So they enlisted the help of the Sept. With the buzz of insect wings, the giant wasp like creatures pulled the vessel through the waves at quite a speed. Inside the great hull was their Queen, and the promise of a new home was all too tempting when the Tinai made them the offer. Working through day and night alongside the Tinai, the Sept were a huge asset to the light races hot on the heels of the dark.
‘The power of the living is no match for our machines!’ Scoffed the Human to her Morannon and Lidkim co-leaders. ‘Our ship is powered by coal, with Automata to tend to it! We have no need for slaves here… Or giant insects.’ And so, the industrial races set off in their iron clad wooden steamer, belching steam behind them they set sail.
‘Pulled along? Powered by coal?’ Laughed the goat-legged Capriped leader of the forest dwellers. ‘Surely, the wind is enough to power a boat. You just need bigger sails!’
The ship they built was long and slim, with planks of wood that fitted perfectly into the main body of the ship. Their masts were trees with huge sails of leather, cloth and twine draped out in a patchwork of colours. The whole ship felt home-grown as if the forces of nature had willed it to be… Which in some cases it had. The Wispen had grown the wood themselves, offering parts of them self to aid the journey. The Taxicost… Though not particularly helpful had done their best to donate what leather and resources they could. The fire Elementals promised they wouldn’t burn the ship but lend it light, and those of Air and Water were to make their journey plain sailing. The Earth Elementals were in charge of food. Last but not least, the more organised Capriped had overseen the entire thing. It really was a feat to get the carefree races of the wilderness to work together in this way.
And so it was, four ships each holding representatives of four races set off for the Northern horizon; equally matched, but each with different values driving them. None of them knowing what they would find there.