Barin: Dugo, gimme a hand down at the docks. We wouldn’t want to keep Apul waiting…
Apul: I’ll give you a hand too. That way we can resume our drinking faster!
9th of August — Fructis Alley
The three friends walk the dimly lit streets toward the docks, trudging through the downpour and the howling winds. The only other person walking the lonely streets that night was Naelroe, Belatcern’s most sought after bachelorette. Walking home from god-knows-what social event, she had just turned onto her street when she ran smack dab into Dugo…
Naelroe: SMACK Ow… what the hell?
Apul: Christ Dugo! We haven’t even started drinking yet!
Dugo: Sorry Nae, give me your hand.
Naelroe: Thank you. What are the three of you doing out this late?
Barin: I just got back from the Blues. Heading to the ship to get some ale with these two. Besides, since when is midnight late?!?
Naelroe: Hm… ale from the Blues you say? Would you mind a little feminine company? Might be good for lonely Dugo over there…
Apul: We readily welcome you! I’m sure Dugo would love to walk with you. Wink wink nudge nudge.
Dugo throws Apul into a dark alley and walks ahead with Naelroe whispering in his ear.
Unknown to the four merry Belatcernians…
The western shores of the Green Isle were already under siege by a foreboding cloud of ash and smoke, and the rain that poured down so violently earlier had turned into a hail of fire. A swath of destruction was left in its path, the only survivors being the few who managed to flee to sea. Some tried outrunning the cloud by land, but were quickly enveloped by the cloud and perished amidst the darkness and flame…
Barin: Naelroe! Leave Dugo alone for a minute! We really could use a hand down here…
Naelroe: Fine! I’ll wait up on deck. He isn’t being all that talkative anyway.
The Element’s Holds
Dugo: Well… that’s the last of it. You ran a big risk taking on such a heavy load.
Barin: It was worth it. I can hear the coins dropping into my hands now…
Apul: You’ll get your money when this is all off your ship and back at the bar. Tomorrow morning the workers will be able to offload and cart it all back up. Then you and I both will be making profit. However, right now I think we can start…
Dugo: What the hell…?
Break to the deck.
From the ship’s deck, Apul, Barin, and Dugo could see the cause of Naelroe’s scream. The terrifying shadow creeping down the mountain and the flames that could be seen leaping from Apul’s manor were enough to strike fear into the most courageous of hearts. The speed at which the ash and fire approached afforded no time to waste. Barin and Dugo cut all the lines and unfurled the mainsail in record speed. They had barely made it clear of the docks when red daggers of flame erupted from the buildings of Belatcern. The screams of anyone not immediately killed by the inferno were drowned out by the raging winds and crashing waves. The brimstone hail had stopped at the shore, but the smoky fog overtook them just as they reached calmer seas. They waited quietly in shock; the darkness hid their fear, all afraid to speak of the horror that had just just befallen.
The eastern storms had been like mild showers compared to the fury of the western tempest. The utter destruction laid out of eyesight just beyond the flickering shadows, but the four knew that their homes and friends were all lost in that inky night.
An hour passes
the ship slowly emerges from the cloud
and the time comes for a decision to be made.
Which Gate Do You Choose?
Naelroe: We should go back! Help look for people and stuff…
Apul: I do have a sort of duty to the town, but that cloud is thicker than death. I suppose we could wait it out and head back when it all clears.
Barin: The port of Samghon on the western shores of the Red Isle will shelter us.
Dugo: If this storm speeds up and follows us, we are screwed sitting out here. The cave networks on the Red Isle would provide safe haven. Let us make haste.
This poll ends on April 7.