Prophecy, Part 1: The Landing of the Fleet
A storm interrupted the calm, warm night. It crept in like an assassin, catching them unawares.
First, the air turned cool, eerie but not suspicious. The chilled air brought with it a soft breeze, and the breeze carried a fog.
And then, splintering through the darkness like shattered glass, a bright flash of lightning illuminated the fog. Thunder cracked and then rumbled, lingering far too long.
By the time the helmsmen were aware of what lay ahead, it was too late. Passengers sleepily wandered onto the deck to investigate, and before anyone realized it, the sea had begun to churn. Crewmen struggled to maintain their balance as they herded the civilian passengers back inside.
Another flash of lightning, another roar of thunder. Shouting could be heard from the other ships.
As sudden as this all had arrived, the rain came even quicker. One moment it was dry as a bone—the next, it seemed as though the sea itself had engulfed their ships. The pounding of water on the decks and on their backs was all but deafening. Children screamed, now awoken by the thunder and the violent rocking of the boats. The fleet was overcome with panic, fear, desperation.
Later, some would swear to have heard a deep, primal chuckle. No one could identify the source. It wasn’t loud. But it was heard on every ship.
Another horrifying crack was heard, this one not brought on by lightning, followed by more shouting from another ship. It grew louder. Why were they shouting more?
But they weren’t shouting more. They were getting closer.
By sunrise, three of the four ships had run ashore of some strange new land. The fourth had vanished, though the flotsam drifting in from the sea indicated its fate.
The survivor count was just over 100, mostly equal amounts from the three surviving ships. Mothers and their children wandered the crowd, searching fruitlessly for the second or third time for their lost husbands and fathers. Some sat silent and still, mourning their inability to save more passengers. Those crewmen who survived had set to work salvaging food and other goods from the wreckage, or else helped tend to the injured.
By late afternoon, the survivors had set up a makeshift camp on the beach, using wood and pieces of sail from the ships. Most of the uninjured civilians sat at the center, sitting on logs and rocks, still waiting for someone to figure out what to do next.
All of a sudden, the sky grew unnaturally dark. People all looked up—some of them pointed off toward the sun, and the sight before them was awesome and terrifying.
The sun, it seemed, was being extinguished. In a matter of seconds, all that remained of the sun was a glowing ring of fire set against the dark sky.
A young child, no older than 8 years old, stood up silently. The crowd turned toward her, curious and afraid. The girl opened her eyes, and as she did, the sky lit up—not with sunlight, but with speckles of starlight. The heavens blinked to life in the sky. And then, as they turned back to the child, they realized so too had her eyes been filled to burst with stars. Thousands of bright lights swirled in her head.
And then she spoke. The voice maintained the innocence and benevolence of a child’s, but it had an ancient quality to it. To some, it sounded like multiple voices overlaid upon each other, Others heard the voice all around them, rather than coming from the child. Regardless, the voice spoke through the girl, and they listened.
Three figures rise with power great,
The strength of the holiest kings,
Guided to lead by the hands of fate
And marked with golden rings.
First, a solder, honored and proud,
Raised on comrades’ shields,
Battles his nemesis, foe of the cloud,
And weakness leaves wickedness sealed.
A pupil, next, of the highest of arts
Whose master abandoned the craft,
Follows his precursor, fails, and departs,
Leaving his duty abaft.
Final and third, the greatest of three,
A champion of lineage lost
Infected with madness, the words of the sea,
Finds victory won at a cost.
With the final line, the voice morphed back into that of a normal child. And as soon as she'd spoken the last word, the girl collapsed. Her eyes illuminated completely, shining bright as the sun itself; the stars in the sky disappeared, and the bystanders watched as the sun began to reemerge. Soon enough, the sky was blue and the sun was shining as if nothing strange had ever happened.
The girl awoke, blinking in confusion. She looked to her mother, who pulled her in close. The survivors all glanced around at each other. Few knew how to interpret what they’d just heard. But they all silently agreed: whatever it meant, it would determine the course of their entire future.