New lore ~ The empty sea

A sneak peek at the next thrilling Lore of the Underlings episode,
which I’m writing as we speak (Episode 4 ~ Preview 20)

Picking up from the previous post, Vaam tells the tale of how an evil followed them across the ocean and shadowed them in this distant land…

The photography of Michael Leacher ~ The empty sea

“I was so foolish in our first attack, thinking to out-trick the Trickster himself, expecting to sneak into his world unseen and with us alone succeed. Just strong John the hero, brave Ogdog, and me. But we learned the hard way that we would need help to prevail in the darkened Underland, now so hopelessly enslaved, enchained so deep within evil’s heart.

“Yes we failed and miserably too — except for setting you free, long-lost Uncle, and that was by accident. No. There was no choice now but to find an ally, somewhere where there were yet peoples free. If such a place there was. And so as we cowered and licked our wounds we wondered and dreamt who they could be.

“The compass, at least, was no friend to us. To the north lay naught but the Steppes of Nor Dool, which turned to a permafrost that stretched for thousands of leagues to the Frozen Sea where an ice-floe armada ruled. The song of the south offered even less solace, singing of sure and grotesque death for any who passed that way. Such a merciless place it was. A jungle land of hellish hot that boiled the blood and left the flesh to rot away in hours or less with little evidence of its victims — serpent-bit, fever-pitched, ravaged by sickness down to a thick and sticky tar that was one minute man then putrid pool. Westward? O the world just ended, out at the edge of the final frontier where the rising moon met the setting sun. Old myths told of another All there, a whole new world for those who dared to fly — but none who ever tried returned to tell their tale.

“So what way was left but to look to the east? Of course we knew of that continent island out across the Ocean Sea, there by the bed of the waking sun at the far where the arc of the world fell away. Every child of Merth had heard of Fargonne, the name by which we called that land. But its peoples and ways were a mystery, cloaked or concealed and well-defended, shielded from sight by a mighty hand. Many a sailor’s shanty warned how few slipped by their western fleet, fierce and armored to the teeth, a thousand swift ships strong. And fewer still made it on to shore to face the sharp spikes of their songful war men, the fearsome and long-renowned Guardians.

“Yet now was our prayer to find these tales true, to be overwhelmed by their deadly do. So we set out to journey across the sea and plead for the conscience of their king.

“We’d need their armies. Their navy too. And just how was I to convince them so? Some strange-storied girl of seventeen years who appears from nowhere with two stranger men? How could I make believers of them? Or make real the doom that awaited all if they failed to join our cause? The maw that would swallow their world as well? I pondered it all the way there.

“Meanwhile there was something odd in play, a scenario I did not expect. Like an actor too soon left the stage their fleet was nowhere to be seen. Not the smallest boat on the empty sea. Before long we would land and learn why.

“I had good reason to be suspicious. And an all too familiar chill in my bones. Of course I should have known…

“The evil I feared was already here. His mark was everywhere we looked. All within the Grievil’s reach.

“No Fargonne remained to save our souls. This land was all but lost. Now what? We had no plan, no hope…

… to be continued. Stay tuned!


Previous previews of Episode 4:
1 ~ The watchman
2 ~ Dreams
3 ~ Halo
4 ~ Netherworld
5 ~ Semperor
6 ~ Halcyon days
7 ~ Punch
8 ~ Enshadowed
9 ~ Pale ghost
10 ~ Needle
11 ~ New light
12 ~ Something looms…
13 ~ The gray girl’s blues
14 ~ Flower of the field (original vision)
14 ~ Flower of the field (another vision)
15 ~ Hearthland
16 ~ Errant mission
17 ~ A few good men
18 ~ The watchful summer moon
19 ~ Never forget


The illuminated lore project is an ongoing collaboration of
photographer Michael Leacher
and Lore of the Underlings author John Klobucher

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