Tempest Seas


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Neither the murmur of the surf nor the ship rocking on the waves would bring sleep. Ta'Keen stepped off her sleeping perch, stretching as she fluffed her dark feathers, for the night air was cool. The crew had grown accustomed to their captain's nocturnal "inspections" aboard the Fortune's Tide. All showed proper obeisance when acknowledging her arrival on deck, but none were surprised when her response was the minimal that decorum permitted, as was her right.   She had more pressing matters to ponder than preening displays before the crew. Windward she knew all was quiet, as it had been for too long. The Scared Wastes the Gnolls called home lay far in the mists many leagues distant. For far too many tides, they had been confined there. The windward blockade had been a costly undertaking for Clan Gubru: ul-Kraai, ul-Vonu, ul-Kobold. The tides of silence indicated success of the insightful leadership of Her Most Royal and Majestic Suprem Sahrbanu, the Scarlet Empress, the Crimson Queen, all would say openly. Whispered quietly, far from court (by fools deluded that anything was beyond her ken) were murmurs of worry, clicking of beaks, and sharpening of talons. What if the old knolls had learned new tricks?   Looking leeward, mist and haze lay beyond the rigging of Fortune's Tide. Glimmers of light from the harbor village illuminated the night, but not the prospects ahead. Had the Knolls joined forces with the Sea Dragons, rumored to have been organizing in the inner seas? Had they allied with the Fishfolk? Had Knolls spread to the Leeward Islands, with whom communications had been sparse of late, enslaving the natives, and establishing a beachhead?   A gust of cold wind blew across the deck, rocking the ship to port. All of these unknowns are imaginable, within the capabilities of my crew, my Clan, my training to respond, thought Ta'Keen. Looking in the direction of the distant Maelstrom, from whence the cold gust had blown, she tried to pondered the unponderable. Can we respond to what we have not imagined?