Book 2, Chapter 2: Isles of the Cosari

Chapter 2: Isles of the Cosari

What now awaited Brandyé was a thing beyond his imagination. Who these men were remained unknown, but where they had come from was now clear, for before him lay a creation of a size and nature that he had never heard spoken of, even in his grandfather’s wildest tales.

It was a water vessel – so much was clear, for it lay half upon the beach, and half in the shallows of the sea. But it was as unlike the craft that had borne him from Consolation as a pebble is to a mountain. The vessel’s hull rose some ten or more feet above his head, and atop that he saw a great mast, towering high towards the clouds, and from which hung vast drapes whose purpose he could not fathom. To the rear of the craft stood another mast, though shorter than the first, and the tapered bow ended in a carving of some fanged beast that reminded him uneasily of the fierundé.

There were perhaps some dozen men on and around this great craft, and Brandyé could see many more animals – small deer, foxes, a kind of wild pig, and birds that resembled pheasants. Each was bound in a cage of wood and iron, and whilst some cried and barked, many others remained curled and silent.

The man who had been dragging Andèl’s cub took him on to one of these cages, where, with the aid of others, he forced him in and fastened the bars tight. The cub was not willing, and managed to dig his claws into one of the men; Brandyé could only imagine the meaning of the angry words issued from his mouth.

The man who had been guarding Brandyé appeared quite faint, and bled still from his wounds. Another man approached and took him by the arm, and led him away from Brandyé to sit upon the dark sand. Brandyé began to wonder if he might depart now, and then before him stood another imposing figure in a finer cloth than the others, and by his sword and manner Brandyé knew this man was their commander.

Dark and sharp eyes peered upon Brandyé for some time, and despite the many weapons around him he felt little fright, for this man appeared quite calm. After many moments, the man who had stolen Andèl’s cub from her approached, and spoke some words. The commander appeared to listen, though his eyes remained fixed upon Brandyé, and nodded once.

“Khi rahn?” he spoke.

Unable to understand his words, Brandyé made no reply. The man repeated the phrase, and still without comprehension, Brandyé shook his head. “I do not understand you.”

At his words, the commander seemed to be come quite curious, and he spoke further: “Dû strat-hen khi rahn. Dû khimí nèrahn, ma í. Mat-om dû om?”

Brandyé shook his head, and could not reply. “Nètít dhin khi om?” the man said, And he touched his hand to his lips, and then his ear. Brandyé saw here that, in failure of speech, he was attempting to communicate through gesture.

The commander repeated the gesture, and Brandyé wondered if it was a question: Do you understand my words? Slowly, he repeated the man’s movement himself, and followed it with a vigorous shake of the head. And at this, the commander nodded, and though he did not smile, Brandyé saw understanding in his eyes.

Then, the man placed his hand upon his breast, and said, “Khana.” He repeated this, and Brandyé knew what he meant.

“Brandyé,” he said, placing his own hand upon his chest. The man named Khana repeated this, testing the word on his tongue, and Brandyé nodded, hope rising within him. But then, without warning, Khana barked an order to his men, and Brandyé found himself grasped roughly by the arms, and he was forced away from this man, and toward the vessel.

There was a ladder made from rope that descended from the side of the ship, and it was up this that Brandyé was led. As he climbed, he saw that the ship had been damaged; many boards at its bow had been greatly splintered, and many men were attending to this, hacking at branches from the forests with large axes to form new planks to repair the rent.

As he reached the deck, he saw that it was well built from strong wood, and formed a large open space along the length of the vessel. From the center of this space rose the mast, and now closer Brandyé was yet more awed by its size. Thick around as a man, it rose at a minimum forty feet above the deck of the ship, crossbeams holding aloft those great canvases whose purpose Brandyé still did not understand.

On the deck were piled many things; crates and boxes, large barrels, tools, piled canvas, and endless lengths of cord and rope. Yet they were not orderly; he saw that many items had been pushed hastily to the edges of the deck, ropes trailed here and there, and many of the crates and barrels appeared as damaged as the hull – splintered, cracked and shattered. Brandyé began to wonder that a terrible thing might have come upon the ship and its crew, and his unease grew. If a great power had cast them upon this shore against their will, what likelihood was there that it might return upon them again?

Brandyé had little more time to survey the ship, for as his captors mounted upon the deck, he was once more taken away, now toward an opening in the deck, whose hatch was flung wide. He saw that it led into the belly of the ship, but there were no stairs; rather, a straight pole stood to one side, from which many short bars protruded: a kind of ladder. In their haste, the men pushed him roughly, and he missed a step and fell heavily to the deck beneath.

The fall brought pain to his arm and shoulder, but the men were swiftly beside him and lifted him bodily from the floor. They brought him to the very rear of the ship, where he saw a great many cages and barred spaces, floored with hay and grasses, but all were empty and he could only guess at their purpose. Into a large cage he was thrust, and behind him the iron bars rang as the door was bolted. And then he was alone, and the dark gloom enveloped him, and despite his growing fears, sleep crept upon him and he began to doze.

 

Not a ray of sun shone into his prison, but Brandyé felt many days passed as he endured his isolation. Occasionally food was brought, hard bread and water, but not a further word was spoken to him in any language, and there was no sign of what was to come.

Though he could see but little, sounds drifted to his ears from without, and he heard the unfamiliar voices and the sounds of the crew at their labor. Much hammering and splintering came from the ship’s bow, and he knew they were repairing the torn hull. Sometimes he would hear footsteps above him, and the dragging and heaving as they moved large things upon the deck.

Then, after perhaps almost a week, lanterns were brought to the lower deck, and there began much bustle as many barrels and other items were lowered through the hatchway and stowed throughout the ship. To his astonishment, among the cargo came the many animals he had seen captured on the shore, all still alive and well, and these were now stowed in the cages all around him, though they put none with him.

And then, one day, a large creature was brought down, and he saw with a lightening heart that it was Andèl’s cub, and he appeared unharmed. Two men were bearing him, and at Brandyé’s cage they stood, and spoke to each other. There seemed to be much argument, and finally one of them drew his sword.

Brandyé thought perhaps he would cut down his crew mate in the heat of their words, but instead he thrust it through the bars at Brandyé. Startled and frightened, Brandyé stumbled away from this, so that his back was against the ship’s hull. The man made no further aggression, however, and withdrew his blade. The cage was then opened, and the cub was then heaved in, and the door was then bolted once more.

The cub was yet ensnared in its net, and Brandyé bent to aid him. After some time he was able to pry apart the many knots in the cord, and the cub then burst forth, and then dashed madly here and there, pawing at the floor and the walls and bars, and cried out many times in fright.

It was many hours before the cub was finally spent, and he curled into a corner and passed into sleep. Brandyé gazed upon him as his breath became soft, and felt a deep guilt, for he had failed to free him, and instead had injured his mother. Even here in the wild, it seemed, his fate was to bring doom to those he held dear; he knew not what the crew intended for the poor beast, but he held little hope that it would be good.

“I will call you Andèlin,” he said gently, though the cub would not hear. In his mind this meant Little Andèl, and he felt it suited the cub well.

Though he saw little of them, he sensed throughout all their labor and efforts that a great anxiety was upon the crew – a sense that felt very close to fear. He had lived here now for nearly a year, and though the land was dismal, he had found nothing greatly to frighten him; he worried thus at what greater terror the crew shuddered.

Eventually, the men ceased their work below deck, and one day he was startled awake by a great heave of the ship’s keel. In his panic he grasped the bars with all his might, though Andèlin appeared nothing more than curious. These great movements continued for many minutes, and then they ceased and were replaced by a slow, soft rocking. It struck him then that the ship must now be mended, and they were now floating free upon the black sea.

Terror took him, for he had no reckoning of the sea, and behind his closed eyes he saw great and terrible creatures rising from the deep, bent and twisted by Darkness, and imagined that the very waters themselves might rot the ship’s hull and drown them all.

After much time, the ship remained unassailed from the deep, and no water had seeped between the boards, and Brandyé slowed his breath and released the bars. The ship continued in its sway, and he began to feel quite ill at the incessant motion.

Some days later, after he had been brought a meagre meal and shared it with Andèlin, the commander of the vessel appeared before his cage, accompanied by one of his crew. He bade the crewman unbolt the door, and as it swung open, Khana beckoned that Brandyé should follow him.

He led Brandyé to the odd ladder and up through the hatch, and Brandyé shut his eyes for the daylight was painful after his confinement in the dark. As he stood upon the deck, his hands were grasped and bound with heavy manacles, but it meant little to him, for what he saw before him struck him senseless.

Around him, endless in all directions, the sea lay stretched as a vast, empty plain, without an object or mark upon it, bar the crests raised by the wind. Its color remained black as ever, and so imposing was it that Brandyé felt verily crushed by its presence. In his desire to turn his eyes from the sea, Brandyé looked upward instead, and was met with a sight that, to him, was equally astonishing.

The canvases that had hung loose and drear from the yards now billowed outward with great force, filled wholly with the wind, and Brandyé realized that it was in this manner that the ship was propelled forward, and at far greater a rate than any manned oars could manage. By this, the sea seemed to verily rush by, and he thought that they must be covering many miles of sea each hour that passed. As he looked further, he saw that there were in fact men high on the mast among the sails, pulling on ropes and passing cords down to their fellows on the deck.

This was all more than Brandyé could comprehend, but as he gazed about him in marvel, Khana stood silently beside him, and allowed him much time. Finally, when Brandyé seemed to have seen his fill, Khana took Brandyé by the arm and led him to the edge of the ship, where Brandyé could see the black waves cut apart by the ship’s keel, sending tainted foam and spray high into the air.

Despite his wonder, fear crept back into Brandyé’s gut, for the sea was ever dreadful, and it would take little for the commander to push him into it, leaving him to drown in its foulness. Yet his fears were unfounded, for Khana merely stood beside him, and pointed outward across the sea. Brandyé followed his indication, but to his eyes he could see nothing more than the dark waters. “I do not see anything,” he said, and shook his head.

Khana seemed to consider this for a moment, and then, without speaking, drew forth a small telescope from his coat, and offered it to Brandyé. Uncertain, Brandyé held it tight so that it did not tumble, and looked once more at the commander. Khana again indicated towards the sea, and so Brandyé put his eye to the glass and looked.

To his astonishment, he found he could now make out, though dim on the horizon, the outlines of the coast and land from which they had departed. As he looked he saw that, as the coast progressed, the pebbled and sandy beaches had given way to towering cliffs of rock, whose heights descended into the sea and caused great spray as the waves dashed upon them. Brandyé wondered if the commander was attempting to show him why they had travelled so far out to sea; certainly even a vessel as large as this would not survive against those rocks.

For many minutes Brandyé continued to peer through the wonderful eyeglass, and when he was done, he returned it to Khana, who folded it into his coat once more. Khana then took Brandyé once more, and pointed once more, now in the direction of their travel. “Bahran,” he said.

At Brandyé’s confusion he repeated this word, and then turned and pointed behind them, whence they had come. “Tohran.”

And with wonder, understanding dawned on Brandyé. Taking up the commander’s gesture, he pointed to their rear and said, “North.”

“Tohran,” said Khana. “Norts.”

“Yes!” Brandyé said. “North!” He then turned and pointed to the bow. “South.”

“Bahran – Souts.”

“Yes!” Brandyé repeated. “South!” And he then smiled, and it was the first smile he had had in an age, for he felt no small joy at the commander’s understanding.

Still indicating to the South, Khana now added a further word, but it was more than Brandyé could make out: “Cosar.”

Brandyé remained still, gazing southward and wondering what Cosar might be, but suddenly the commander took a step back, and motioned sharply. Without warning, Brandyé found himself once more seized and brought below the deck, and returned to his cage, where Andèlin awaited.

As the men left him, Brandyé called after them: “Please – what are you to do with me? Can you give me no sign?”

The men did not respond, but mounted the ladder once more to the deck, and Brandyé was left again in silence and solitude.

 

For some weeks the voyage progressed thus; Brandyé would be allowed on deck once each day, and he was generally allowed to go about where he pleased, though his hands remained manacled at all times. He was clearly a prisoner, but he felt not the fear of his fate that he might otherwise have known; he was treated well, not once threatened with violence, and, once the voyage had begun in earnest, fed as well as any of the crew. The commander seemed to have a particular affection for Brandyé, for he spent much time with him, showing him about his ship and introducing him to his men, and their nature.

So different was this to his suffrage under the Fortunaé that he became quite at ease, and began even to speak to the crew. Though of course they could not understand him, he began to learn some of their language; some of the men seemed to find amusement in teaching him new words. He was often treated from a barrel of apples, which he learned were called rōfrí, though he couldn’t fathom their consumption of a kind of fruit they called frí-at, for it was vilely bitter and curled his tongue.

This also brought him some comfort, for despite their odd words, many of the items and foods he encountered were familiar to him, and he was reassured to think that the greater world beyond Consolation might not prove as wildly different as those he had left would claim. The shock of these men, so very different to any he had known, faded swiftly, and with it faded also the lingering guilt and fear that had followed him so far. To his surprise, he found that he was in fact looking forward to his fate for, be it good or evil, it was new, and this reawakened the curiosity that had once burned so bright in him.

He soon learned the purpose of the animals that he had seen captured on the land, for he began to receive meals of salted goat meat and roasted fowl, and even once large eggs, which turned out to come from a turtle that was kept on board. This gave him for a while a fear of what would become of Andèlin, but the cub was kept as well fed as he, and though confined to the cage he was left unharmed.

As the days went by, Brandyé began to notice a slow change in the sea and air around them. While the wind remained high, it blew now with a warmth that was most welcome, and the clouds lifted ever higher, though unsurprisingly did not break. More than this, however, was the sea – for it began to lose the sickness that afflicted it, and slowly recovered the blues and greens of a healthier sea. The crew seemed particularly enthusiastic about this, and there was a great celebration on the day fishing lines were cast out, and several large bass were hauled upon the deck.

In was in the height of these spirits that, one day, Brandyé was brought upon the deck far earlier than usual. It was yet early morning, and a heavy mist lay across the waters so that Brandyé could see less than a dozen yards beyond the ship’s bow. Several of the great sails had been struck, he saw, and they moved now at a much slowed pace. Khana did not come to him, and it was some moments before Brandyé saw that he was far to the aft, standing at the great helm wheel that guided their direction.

Uncertain, Brandyé moved to the edge of the vessel and looked down into the waters. Not more than a few yards distant were sharp and cracked rocks, rising high above them and plunging down into the depths. Frightened, he cried out, “Khana! There are rocks – we will be shattered upon them!”

His voice sounded smothered in the fog, but Khana barked sharply in reply, and though the words were lost, the tone was not: be silent.

The rocks continued to pass by, first to the left, and then to the right, and though at times he could verily reach out and touch them, rough and wet, as they passed, Khana steered amongst them with great skill, and before long they had passed through the treacherous channel and were once more in open water.

As the day grew, the mists began to lift, and before his eyes rose yet another astonishing sight, and held him mesmerized. Ahead, growing ever more distinct, were great mountains rising from the sea; some hundreds of feet high, some close together and others fading in the distance. And upon each was built by men homes and buildings – entire villages on the cliffs and edges, chasms spanned by bridges that were as strands of spider silk flung across the distances.

And around them now in the water appeared a very fleet of ships of many sizes, and some dwarfed Khana’s ship and appeared to Brandyé to be themselves small villages, afloat upon the sea. Many stayed moored by chains and anchors, whilst many more nestled against long piers that extended far from the rocky shores.

It was to these docks upon the largest isle that Khana now deftly navigated them, and Brandyé saw that many men now busied themselves upon the pier. Soon, ropes were flung and fastened tight, and Khana’s ship came finally to rest at what was now clearly their home. The crew exploded into cries of joy, and threw themselves over the side of the ship to the warm embraces of their fellows. Women there were also, and to them raced a number of the men where they were slapped and kissed with equal fervor.

Khana remained aboard, and did not descend from his ship until a walkway was extended to the deck, and he disembarked with dignity. With him he brought Brandyé, ever shackled, and there was much curiosity from the men about him over his presence. He was led along the pier, and near the rocks where there mounted steep stairs were some large buildings, and beside these stood another man whose demeanor was every bit as commanding as Khana’s.

The man greeted them, and Khana stood taller and straighter even than usual. For some time, then, words were exchanged between them, and though Brandyé tried to follow by the tone of their voices he became soon mystified, and perceived only when their eyes fell upon him, which was often.

After some time it appeared an agreement was settled upon, and men were summoned, and as Khana and his companion watched, Brandyé was taken from them. It was to be many months before Brandyé would see him once more.

Up the stairs he was led, and at their top they passed into the town. As he was marched through, Brandyé could not help but marvel at what he saw. Entire streets, winding and steep, were carved out of the very rock, and buildings, precarious but well-built, lined them all. Some opened onto the streets themselves, whilst others were built so high that they could be accessed only by climbing ladders, of which there were many. About them went many folk, passing in and out of houses, up ladders and across many bridges, all with the appearance of going about their daily business. Were Daevàr’s Hut built on the side of a mountain and not in the low of a valley, he suspected it would look much like this.

Yet if the town was like those of his past, the folk were not. Dark and tall, he could see that here was a race of men long distanced from whatever common ancestor they and the folk of Consolation must have shared. The men wore their dark hair long and went unshaven, and the women were their equal in stature. The cut of their cloth was much different than to that which he was used; though he saw both cotton and flax, there was much more leather and hide, and they covered their feet with thick-soled moccasins.

Through this spectacle he was led, and after some time they entered into an opening in the cliff, and here were once more stairs that spiraled deep into the mountain. At their foot were rough-hewn passages, and he had little doubt why he had been taken here. He was indeed soon among barred cells, and it was in one of this that his trip through the town ended. His captors made fast the bolt, and with words that he could not fathom, left. A few lanterns cast the cells into gloom, and he settled himself in the corner of the bare space, and wondered of his fate.

 

For some days he was kept here, much as he had been on Khana’s ship, and he wondered if this was ritual for these people. He wondered if Khana might come to visit him here, but he made no appearance, and the only men he laid eyes on were the guards, and only once each day when they brought him bread.

The bread was of a very different nature than that to which he used; flat and soft and dotted with small holes, it had a sour taste but was quite filling, and he was grateful at least that he felt no hunger. Whatever fate awaited him, and whatever tortures the Fortunaé had inflicted upon him, nothing could be so bad, he felt, as the endless months of gnawing starvation in the wilds by the sea, living on rodents and frogs, and on occasion, insects. Here, though imprisoned, he was warm, dry and well-fed. There was even a tattered blanket, and upon the stone bed lay a grain-stuffed pillow that served as his pillow. He had not felt such comfort, he believed, since he had spent his last night in his grandfather’s old house, and indeed felt quite at ease. If such was their treatment of prisoners, then a life among them might prove better than any he could have had in Consolation.

So it was with a light heart that, on the day the guards came to lead him from his cell, he followed them up the stairs and into the light. They passed once more through the narrow and steep streets, and it seemed their pace was slower today, for he had time to look about him with greater perception, and breathed in with delight the life around him. Passing one shop he caught a heavy sour scent, and looking in he saw many rolls of the bread he had been fed lying on tables, a man passing between them and brushing them with oil. In another hung drapes of fabric in a great multitude of color such that he for a moment forgot the absence of the sun.

More than any of these, however, pervaded the ever-present incense and spiced smoke that seemed at times to form the very air he breathed. Many of the men (and a few of the women, he saw with great surprise) gripped between their teeth long and slender pipes, and their smoke was sweet and tinged with flavors he had never known before. Such scents drifted also between the homes and buildings, and he saw burning in many windows long black sticks that gave green smoke and smelled of spice.

The people of these isles seemed unperturbed by all of this, but Brandyé found the air quite heavy, and became quite light-headed. His walk became loosened, and he smiled at the folk he passed, and did not notice the much more somber glances they gave him in return.

They had ever climbed from the lower streets, and finally came to a great home that was built upon the very summit of the island itself. Wide steps led to its gates, and carved beasts like that which adorned Khana’s vessel looked imposingly on all those who approached. Through these gates he was taken, and from the manner in which the house had been in places carved from the living rock, to the red clay roofing and the spires that rose from each apex, he was awed by its grandeur, and knew the Fortunaé and their towns would be shamed at such a craft.

Inside, the home was no less grand; he walked upon polished stone, through heavy and oiled doors and up iron-railed stairs to a level above, and windows looked upon the sea in all directions. Some people there were here also, though they paid him little mind, and it seemed to him they were servants of the great lord that must live here.

He was ushered through a pair of doors of special magnificence, and the room he found himself in was unlike any he had seen. Nearly round, narrow windows let in some poor outside light, and the rest was provided by an enormous flaming chandelier that hung on chains from the high ceiling. Gold and red abounded, heavy drapes hanging from the walls, held by bright cords, and in a corner stood a great table that must have seated at least twenty.

And in the center of this spectacle was a throne, high and raised from the floor, inlaid with gold and set with bright stones, and upon it sat a most imposing figure, flanked by two guards and several women. He stood as Brandyé was brought before him, and he then towered a head above any other in the room, greater in height and bulk than any Brandyé had yet seen. He looked upon Brandyé, and Brandyé returned his gaze, unaware that the guards beside him had bowed their heads in reverence. Clad in heavy leather and bracelets of metal, he brought to Brandyé’s thoughts the imaginations of the soldiers of old he had had as a child, and the many scars told him this man was a warrior.

“Hen-ohn tít rahn?” he spoke, and his voice was deep and powerful.

“À,” replied one of the guards, looking now up upon him.

“Wō yakté dû tít rahn?” the man said. “Yikte tít akal, ma nè-bàhd.”

“Khana tít om duhk-wōmita mahnd. Tít í hahp; mulu-mat-om tít rahn. Ifra-bàhd tít dihn, ra nè-tafra. Araki dû tít, tít crohnat.”

Brandyé could not follow their speech, but he recognized Khana’s name, and was encouraged. At a pause in their dialogue, he stepped toward the great man, and spoke: “Excuse me – may I greet you? I am Brandyé, and I am thankful that Khana brought me to your lands—”

And with such swiftness that Brandyé did not see him move, the man struck him with a huge fist, and quite suddenly he found himself on the ground, and blood came from his nose, and he could not breathe.

“Barhan-gouh nè-dihn!” the man barked, and his voice rang of such command that Brandyé needed not understand his words, and cowered on the floor, shocked and terrified. No further blows came, and he was lifted to his feet once more, unable to feel the side of his face.

In spite of his violence, the man did not appear angry; his gaze was steel, but he had not moved from his spot, and his breathing was calm. Through his pain, Brandyé was bewildered; he had made no move against him, had tried only to speak, and had been attacked. Thinking perhaps the man had misunderstood his words – heard them as an insult, even – he spoke once more. “I am sorry – I did not mean to offend.”

And then, the man struck him once more and his cheek stung and his eye flared, but the guards held him tight this time and he did not fall. “Nè-dihn!” the man repeated.

Gasping, Brandyé opened his mouth once more, and the man brought his fist high: in fear, Brandyé closed his mouth, and the man lowered his fist. Trying desperately to understand, Brandyé tried to speak again, and again the man raised his arm. “Nè-dihn,” he said a final time, and Brandyé thought he now understood: Silence.

He lowered his head, defeated, and the man smiled. “Benthé. Tít ifracron. Ràt Khana araki plarat.” He motioned to his men, who stood yet taller, grasping Brandyé all the while. “Ràt hahni khorin. Fahrik, ma lahrak. Shano plarat, ma yahn krahk. Ra tít dihn, bàhd.”

At these words the guards nodded in a sharp salute, turned, and bore Brandyé with them. His eye was tearing dreadfully and his jaw felt crushed, and his mind rushed: Khana had shown him a sort of kindness, though a brusque one, but this man showed him violence and domination.

He realized that it was not only the words of these folk he failed to understand, but their very nature also. He could find no reason for his treatment – first gentle, and now harsh – and could not now even guess at his fate. When the guards led him to a small chamber in which was a real bed with a feather pillow and even a window, though barred, his bewilderment only increased. Though it was small, this was not the room of a prisoner.

The guards left him then, and he heard a great clang and knew they had locked the door fast. Gently, he sat upon the bed, and looked through the window. Beyond, he could see over the many houses that clung to the rocks and cliffs, and the streets that led ever down between them, and then there was the sea. It appeared only more vast from this height, and the great ships that lay upon it appeared as toys.

These people were powerful, he realized. They had might in building, and in the command of the water; they had might in strength also. But he saw that, despite their brutishness, they had might also in intellect: great minds had worked to build such impossible towns, and to construct such huge craft of the sea.

Whether the lord of this house was possessed of such a mind he knew not. It was possible, he thought, that he was lord of this isle, or perhaps even their people; if so, he was now at the mercy of such a man, and his fate could be great or terrible. At these thoughts came then unbidden the memories of the Fortunaé, and the doom they had set upon him.

Suddenly overcome, he lay his head upon the pillow. The Fortunaé had been relentlessly cruel, but he had understood their hate; felt, even, that he had deserved it. The men of these isles, though, he could not fathom, and could not even understand their reasoning. Through all of this came visions of his grandfather’s home, the fire and the moors, and carefree days in the wild with Elven and Sonora, and he felt the bite of regret at his heart, and quietly, he began to weep.

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