by Tandar in Dark Ages
A Look Back:
Pommin the Elder looked across the bow of his hulking ship, the Expedition, to the crashing waves below. The sea frothed and churned about him, and for a moment, all the old man's qualms and fears were appeased. Fear had gripped his heart in a strangehold from ther day he and the others had left. And not without good reason.
They were simple farmers. Their small village on the outskirts of Loures subsided mostly by selling apples and other assorted vegetables at the marketplace. By all means, they led a comforting, if unexciting life. Toil in the fields and a greeting to warm hearth and home was their only future. That is, until Guy Josseline took the throne.
By all accounts, Guy was a dictator. Bred of royal lineage, he had grownto despise blaspemers, traitors, and heretics. He had studied long hours among the book shelves divulging in the horrid tales of great purges by other rulers. He laughed at the burnings at the stake and hangings in the gallows. And much to the villager's chagrin, he vowed to follow in their misguided footsteps.
The troops had come early in the morn, seizing several prominent bards and artists. They were sent to the dungeon of Loures for their supposedly "heretical" works. Later in the week, Guy captured several men and women of ripe age, claiming they were plotting against the throne. Pommin had watched solemnly, with quiet rage burning in his heart, as they were burned at the stake. The remaining workforce was sent to the front lines with pike and saber to "reeducate" their sacrilegous minds. Pommin had tearfully parted with his very own son, Tiberius, fully aware he would never see him again.
Thus, Pommin was left with only small, scared children and their equally fearful mothers, and the nearly useless town elders. He realized they must take action immediately.
So, in the dead of night, he and his crew of nearly ten quarter-fold set out in the merchant vessel Expedition, in search of a land where they could live in peace, free from oppression.
Pommin sighed at a cruel past and an uncertain future.
The watchman, a young lad no older than four and ten years, saw something slowly emerge through the mists. He rubbed his eyes, once, twice, trying to believe that the sight spread before him was real. At last when hecould deny it no longer, he scurried up the post.
"Land Ho!" he cried.
The ship's passengers clamored over the sides for a look, and peering into the mist, they spotted their Promised Land. The island was a lush green myriad of towering mountains and dense forest trees. Long stretches of bleached white sand covered the beaches and continued inland, a thousand times more beautiful than the beaches of Abel. They hoisted the anchor overboard and loaded the dingy for a landing party. Slowly, they paddled through the fog, their hearts thumping in anticipation.
It took nearly three hours to unload all the passengers of the Expedition, and nearly an hour more to lug all the cargo ashore. Pommin, being the old-fashioned and proud leader he was, stepped onto the shore last. Planting his feet on the yielding sand after man trying days at sea, he wept for joy. This place, this holiest of homes, would be their land of liberty.
Pommin soon had other reasons to weep. They had lost seven,mostly children, of their nearly forty five, to the white blindness. They were simple farmers, how were they to fight such afflictions?!
Gathering their feeble, tired group together, Pommin addressed them, saying,"If we are to live in such new and uncharted lands, we must thrive on our unity. Alone we are fragile, together we are strong! From hence forth, let no man quarrel with his neighbor, but rather embrace him. We cannot afford to have enemies, for the gods know we'll have enough already.Therewerequiet murmurs, but they were halted as he delivered instructions. The scouts left later that afternoon, while some of the younger children combed the beach for food and driftwood. Until they could make a living from the land, they would have to survive on their already depleting rations. Meanwhile, the rest of the pilgrims stayed behind to create a shelter.
Their first home was built close to the shore line, atop a cliff facing the beach. By dusk of the first day, they had constructed, or at least began constuction on, three permanent houses. That night, the weakest huddled aboard the ship while the remaining ozen or so stayed on the island in makeshift wood huts.
Pommin awoke with a start the next day, feeling refreshed but exceedingly thirsty. He collected a strong lad and his mother and set off in search of water. They had not trekked far when they happened upon a shady lagoon. At first, Pommin's thirst overwhelmed him after hiking in the scorching sun, but reason prevailed, gripping him and making him cautious. The lad, named Daedalus, wasn't so lucky. He dove headlong into the water, gallivanting and inviting the others to join him.
For a moment, Pommin's fears were dispelled, and he took a step forward. In that instant, a great force pulled Daedalus under, and the great, writhing body of a serpent rose up from the water. The boy splashed around a bit, but to no avail. Pommin, much to the distress of his old, wearied body, restrained the mother from joining her son and, as they escaped the forbidding lagoon, blindly ran back to camp.
At this point, the scrolls are torn, and they seem to pick back up several months later. The serpent has been slain by Pommin and a few of the younger boys, and the lagoon has been linked to the camp by way of lined trenches. Recent developments, however, have put th camp in much more danger than before.
Pommin gathered his things, wathcing the young men scurry off to the outpost walls. Tow days ago, they had located what looked to be an abandoned village. They should not have been so blind as to wonder why the city was abandoned. Nonetheless, they found out soon enough; a great mountain draco haunted the northern part of the isle, feeding on hulking mountain bull and cyclops alike. The scouting party had inadvertently led the draco here. After a foiled night raid on the quiet village, in which the camp's greatest warrior, Sfer, had caught the draco off guard with a flaming torch, the drco had flapped lazily through the air, swooping down and grabbing men in his serrated jaws.
At last, the warning bell sounded, and Pommin's tent flapped as the draco swooped by, grabbing a hapless warrior in his teeth and devouring him with a sickening chomp. They hurled rocks and shapened spears at it, but the flying menace was far too fast. With despair in his heart, Pommin realized that without some kind of miracle, he and his roaming pilgrims would soon be slaughtered. Suddenly, Luathas blessed his mind, and he ran to Sfer with an ingenious plan.
"I have a plan, but it will take great courage and skill on your part!" shouted Pommin the Elder.
"Merely say the word and it shall be done," he answered with a brusque nod. He liostened intently to Pommin's plan and then raced off, grabbing the woolen coverings off the tents. He tiead trhem together as they trailed behind him, and Sfer dashed to the cliff. He cursed the mighty draco in every foul-mouthed way he could, and the draco, spotting easy prey, vectored in on the mighty Sfer.
Sfer's mind screamed warning to him, boggled by his resolve before such a snarling beast. At last, just as the beast was upon him, he let loose the blanket and ducked. In one fluid motion, the blnket unraveled itself, and the draco, being unable to change speed nor course, hurtled into its entangling midst. The enormously lizard helplessly flapped its wings and plunged deep into the ocean depths. The villagers swarmed in celebration out of their houses, and a great festival spanning many days was held for the two men who saved their land from the fearsome abhorrence. Pommin's only regret was, as he would say with a grin, that they'd be cold a few nights afterward.
Several years later, Pommin looked over the vast expanses of farms and houses, towards the once deserted city of Pumicem which now served as the center of his isle. They had long ago decided on a name: Liber, which mean Liberty through Unity. Pommin shrugged, hoping to displace all those years that weighed so heavily upon his shoulders. His face was wrinkled with age, and he now neared almost sixty and seven years, quite a long time for one like him to live.
"Sir, your guest has arrived," remarked a young lad under his patronage. He nodded as a figure entered the chamber. The Elder turned and warmly embraced Sfer, who now had quite a family of his own. The warrior stood before him, dressed in the finest leather and wearing round his neck the salvaged tooth of the abominable mountain draco. "Sfer, my son, how are you?"
The warrior smiled warmly and answered,"I am well, to say the least. Our fgamily has sent you this," he replied as he handed Pommin an ornately wrapped gift box.
"Thank you, Sfer. You were always like a second son. As you have suspected, though, I have not hailed you for mere pleasantries." He added with a wink, "Tho I must admit the pleasantries are by far my favorite part."
Sfer smiled but kept his silence, and Pommin continued, "I grow old in my years, and I find with frustration that every day holds something more I cannot do. This island needs fresh blood, just as it needed guidance when I first arrived. I tend not to be one to speak at great lengths, so I will say this as bluntly as possible; I'd like you to take over my title as Ruler of the Isle."
Sfer nodded. "I am not surprised. You know, when I came to this place, I wasn't sure that all you promised would come true. I now realize that things are solely what you make them. I will never forget what the blood of our people has been for, and what basic motto has kept us alive all these years. Strength through Unity, for together we stand and alone we fall. I will gladly accept such a title. I promise you, I will not let you down."
The funeral procession spanned all the streets of Pumice, and the entire island mourned the passing of their founder and hero. After a tearful eulogy, Sfer and his family announced a three day stay from harvest in mourning. He sadly raised the black flag over the golden dome of Justice Hall, watching as it flapped proudly in the breeze one last time. Finally, as the sun set on the Promised Land, he returned and cut the flag from its post. It floated decrepitly in the wind, tossing silently in the breeze, until it landed, at long last, into the ocean, to be claimed by the mists once more.
They would survive, as they always did. It was in their nature, in their blood. For one pilgrim's journey had at last come to an end.