Stranded in the mists. Prose in The Chronicles of Evalaw | World Anvil

Stranded in the mists.


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                  The muted glimmer of waning sunlight trickled down from the visible peaks of the maw, crepuscular light suffused the craggy veil that ensnares the opening into the abyss.   Wild winds whip through the great expanse like feverish dervishes, wreathing wisps of cloud across floating isles. A beguiling phenomenon that creates a tempestuous wilderness ever shrouded in mist, carrying these remote havens aimlessly adrift across an endless thick sea of silver. Ancient leviathans are among the creatures who call this place home, their haunting choruses always beckoning from deep within those misty waves.   A lone figure appears, standing on the precipice gazing out into the roiling haze as a gentle zephyr tousles long dusty pink hair; glimmering dusk light breaking through the mists catch the glint of her mismatched eye as she palms her left hand against a cocked hip. Olarae stands, contemplating the view ahead of her; enraptured by the thought of standing so close to the top of the underworld she knew, and so close to the whole new world she only knew from her imagination. She’d heard stories, of course, every Draal had heard stories of it. Those sun-drenched lands meant pain, it meant suffering, so the stories told. Only here, beneath the mists could her kind stand beneath it for a few fleeting hours and not feel the agony of their ancestors. She did not profess to understand why, nor cared about the reason. Only that this dim glow, despite the dull ache it caused her eyes was pleasant enough. She like many of her kind had been born into the sunless embrace of the underworld. The dark was all they had ever known; all their parents and grandparents had ever known.   She watched on as a pair of iridescent serpentine bodies break the surface of the sullen roof of the fog; diving and dancing about another as they bound from one isle to another, flitting in and out of the dense fog in an erratic display before vanishing once more from sight. Pondering to herself, how far anyone had ever climbed, how many isles must languish above that no other hunter had ever set foot on. What riches and secrets might be waiting ripe for the taking? Soberly she had been told time and time again by her companions that this was perhaps the furthest they could ascend before the curse of the sun would truly begin to afflict them.   She chewed her lip; The season had not gotten off to a good start like she had hoped, the map they had been given by the company’s benefactor had looked promising. Only on closer inspection long after they had taken to the mists, it would become painfully obvious just how old the hastily scrawled map was. The isles had long shifted from where they once had been and with the mists being unseasonably dense this time of year it was virtually impossible to work out where the locations from the map could be if anywhere. Looking high up toward the world maw, she watched for some time as the sun began to finally set past those distant peaks. Darkness slowly edged back in to reclaim these sunken depths that were rightfully it. Drumming her fingers nonchalantly against crossed arms, Olarae tossed her hair to one side giving a final glance into the mists, before cheerfully turned on her heels to make her way down from the rocky promontory toward their encampment below.   The company had intended to scour the area for any significant and marks or clues that might match up with the map. Yet, an unexpected maelstrom had made navigating the already mist-shrouded isles virtually impossible. Dense fog and thick cloud had rolled in with gale-force winds and heavy rain, leaving them at the mercy of the tempest. They had been forced to take refuge on a solitary island, and ride the storm out. "Marvin," she chimed as she emerged from the underbrush, flashing a mischievous grin. Marvin remained unabashed, engrossed in checking their gliders. "So, you finally came back," he muttered without much interest. Turning around, Olarae thrust her arms to her sides. "Well, I'm here now, aren't I?" She shot him another cheeky smile, then turned her attention back to the swirling mists. Marvin gave a noncommittal grunt, his eyes focused on the glider. "You know, I was starting to think you didn't care about me anymore." Olarae said, tossing her hair. Marvin's lips twitched, a hint of amusement in his eyes. "I care about you, I just have better things to do than stand here and listen to your endless whining" he retorted, returning to his work. Olarae huffed and walked away, heading toward the camp. She had no real reason to care about Marvin's opinion, but it still stung. He couldn't understand her desire to escape Rie’shae in search of treasure, and that made her feel more isolated.   The camp was perched on the isle's edge, a testament to the companies enduring resourcefulness. Tents, a patchwork of faded colors and mismatched fabrics, formed a close-knit family, their weathered surfaces telling stories of battles with nature. Around the central campfire, both familiar and new faces gathered in varying stages of rest and wakefulness. The fire's flickering flames created a welcoming oasis in the shroud of mist. Gliders, prized possessions, perched at the precipice, their sleek, curved wings hinting at a blend of technology and craftsmanship.   Beneath makeshift canopies crafted from tattered sailcloth and scavenged materials, small groups huddled, their lanterns, candles, and glowstones painting intricate patterns of light and shadow. Flickering silhouettes of relic hunters, shared stories and whispered about the mists' mysteries. Despite harsh conditions and pervasive uncertainty, camaraderie and shared purpose thrived. Laughter, as genuine as the sought treasures, punctuated the night. Stories, embellished by time, were exchanged with gusto.   The campfire itself was practical, with an iron cauldron, darkened by countless meals. Battered cookware stood nearby or hang above it, witness to counlesss shared meals by the companions. Olarae drew a grimace at the sight of the emptied cauldron and discarded pots as a pang of hunger gnawed away in the pit of her stomach. Her attention quickly turned to a din of raised voices from the largest tent. Raising an eyebrow Olarae intrigued, she couldn't resist the temptation of eavesdropping on the conversation. She pushed the tent flap further open and slipped inside, careful not to draw too much attention to herself. Inside the tent, the several others were gathered around a rudimentary map spread out upon an old table, illuminated by a smattering of glowstones. As her eyes adjusted to the dimness, she could just about see the frowns etched across their faces. They appeared agitated by what was going on, perhaps even afraid. One voice in particular caught her attention.   "I'm telling you, there's something out there," a red-haired Aelfier woman said, her voice laced with frustration. "I've seen it, circling above us. It's not natural."   Somorin scoffed dismissively. "You've been spending too much time staring into the mists again Menarra. Your imagination is playing tricks on you."   Menarra's eyes narrowed, determination burning within them. "I'm not imagining things Somorin, I know what I saw." Olarae was intrigued. She hadn't witnessed such a heated debate in a while. The tent was packed with the company most seasoned members; crowded around a central table. Slowly, she stepped forward.   "What did you see, Menarra? Tell us more."   Menarra's gaze shifted toward Olarae, surprise replacing her frustration. "Olarae, you're here too? I didn't notice you." Olarae shrugged nonchalantly, flashing a playful smile. "Well, you know me. I have a knack for appearing when things get interesting." She moved to loom behind Menarra, gesturing for them to continue.   Menarra and Somorin exchanged a cold glance. "Menarra is convinced there is something lurking in the mists," Somorin explained, "and, as usual, her claims are unfounded, her imagination running wild."   "And as usual, Somorin refuses to believe a word anyone else says," Menarra spat, clenching a fist, her eyes locked onto Somorin's.   "That's because you're paranoid, Menarra," Somorin argued, leaning toward her. "You're jumping at shadows. We are safe here; the scouts assured us there isn't anything dangerous nearby."   "There is no such thing as safety, Somorin. Not here," Menarra sighed heavily. "There are reasons not even the Dravarii venture this far in."   "The ancient superstitions and folktales of the tribesfolk? Really? This again?" Somorin clasped his forehead.   "There's more than stories about these mists, Somorin. You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them."   "I don't even understand why we even came this far into the mists in the first place!" a new voice interjected. It was Arjil, one of the younger members of the company who had also snuck in. Olarae looked over to him. The boy had come a long way but remained a child in her eyes, especially in light of recent events. Arjil glared at each of them in turn, arms crossed defiantly. "It's pointless to explore this deep into the fog! Why do you keep convincing us that it's a good idea? Just because the damn map said it's a good spot?"   Olarae smirked and glanced over at Menarra. "Looks like someone's feeling braver." Menarra flashed a sly grin and nodded in agreement.   Somorin raised a hand, trying to calm the situation. "Now, now, Arjil. We aren't here to talk about the map; we're-" Arjil shook his head vehemently. "But we should be! I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting tired of waiting for the mists to clear. I'm not afraid to admit it."   "Drerdyn, have you made any more progress on charting that accursed map?" Somorin asked, ignoring Arjil's outburst. Olarae looked over at Drerdyn, the company's cartographer, as he sat hunched over the table. "It's difficult, Somorin," he said, his brow furrowed in concentration. "But I believe that we are in the middle of one of the larger isles."   Somorin sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "That's not what you said last time, It changes every day; it's impossible to tell where we are."   "Well, it's not like I can help it, Somorin," Drerdyn said defensively. "The map is old, and the ink has faded. There are a lot of symbols on the map that I don't recognize, so I have to piece it together as best I can." "So, you're telling us we're lost?" Menarra asked.   "I didn't say that," Drerdyn said, his tone defensive. "I said I can't tell where we are. I can tell that we've moved a lot, but it's hard to tell where to." Olarae pushed past, purposefully brushing her thigh against Drerdyn's side as she leaned in to look over the maps, her cleavage spilling over in a calculated tease. She cocked her head to the side slightly, looking at him. "Mind if I take a look?" Drerdyn shook his head meekly, glancing down at her breasts and then up again. "Uh, no, not at all." He stepped back to give her more room to see.   Menarra shook her head at Olarae's brazeness, running a hand through her hair. "Well, we can't just sit here waiting for the storm to clear forever."   "We could, but it would be a miserable way to live," Olarae interjected, grinning and flashing her teeth. "At least, it would be for me."   "Then why don't you go?" Somorin said, crossing his arms over his chest. "I'm sure Marvin can keep you some company."   "Oh, come now, Somorin," Olarae said, faux-dramatically. "It's no fun if you're not there to see my face."   "I don't care what you do, as long as it doesn't get in the way of what we're trying to do," Somorin retorted.   Olarae held her tongue, holding her gaze on him, lips curled in a cocky smirk. It was only a matter of time before the two of them inevitably argued. Their relationship was turbulent, to say the least. It hadn't been so bad the first few months they had all started traveling together, but now it was a constant source of frustration for Olarae.   "Enough!" A woman rose to her feet, standing almost a head above all the rest, her hair as pale as moonlight pulled back into a ponytail with a thick golden chain and a small medallion of an eye hanging down its length. Her face was stern and proud, her features sharp yet still elegantly feminine.   Before Somorin could interject, Yuvileine silenced him with a look.   Somorin sighed, slumping in his seat, muttering something to himself that the others couldn't hear. Olarae could only smirk, watching him with an air of satisfaction.   Yuvileine turned to regard them all. "I've had enough of this bickering and fighting. " the woman growled, her voice low and commanding.   Menarra, Somorin, and Olarae exchanged glances. Olarae pursed her lips, letting out a sigh. She knew that tone. It was the same one she used when she had to deal with "Marvin" Mal'vindores.   "I am well aware we have been stranded here for over a week now. The weather has not cleared and we are in dire need of food and supplies. I know that the map has not yet yielded its secrets, but it is the only lead we have. We must stay patient, and continue to search the isles. We can't just give up now. I won't allow it." Yuvileine spoke loud and defiantly.   "How can you be so sure, Commander Yuvileine?" Arjil said, hesitancy evident in his voice.   The woman's eyes narrowed. "Because, if it was not true, I would not be here, standing before you. I would not have led you this far."   Arjil looked down, chastised.   "The rest of you, get back to your tents. We are still vulnerable here, and I expect all of you to be vigilant."   "But, what about the-" Menarra began, but Yuvileine silenced her with a look.   "There will be no discussion of what you saw. We are still at risk here, and we cannot afford to waste time chasing shadows. Do I make myself clear?"   Menarra sighed, but didn't argue. The company rose, taking their belongings. Some grumbled and complained, others meekly obeyed Yuvileine's command. Olarae took her time, glancing at the map as she stood. She paused, narrowing her eyes in scrutiny, her lips pursed together. Something was amiss, but she couldn't put her finger on it. "What is it, Olarae?" Drerdyn said, glancing up from his work.   Olarae shook her head, dismissing the question. "Nothing Drerdyn. Just thinking about something." She turned, following the others out.

A piece of prose I've been writing along side the re-write of The Etherian Gulf. The idea was to introduce on of our central characters as a member of the Relic Hunters Guild being stranded with her company by the unpredictable weather of the mist seas. I had a lot of plans, even to indroduce one of the Etherian Gulfs most monsterious creatures - but I capped myself at 2,000 words (Which I slightly overran), and the artwork for this creature has unfortuantly not been finished, so this will be something I will come back to another time!   It was nice developing some of the relationships and tensions in the company, there are certain things I will come back to and change- like how Somorin is just come accross as a bit too arrogant and unlikable for me- I might change this character down the line. But for now, I hope you enjoy.


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