The Dream Treader, pride of the Dawn County fleet, was on the horizon just as the sun rose. Their elder countess, just on the cusp of Solace, knew the importance of timing. The countess had summoned her barons to the Rust Pier, an iron and orichalcum dock jutting out into the ocean, a monument the Sorcerer King’s left behind, made to dock ships not seen since the Sorcerer King’s departure. Some said they departed to other worlds in their sorcerous arks.
The countess’ House Guard docked first, in their smaller vessel, taking up points all over the pier, spears on their shoulders, free hands on the small of their own backs. Two veiled guards stripped down and went into the water with only their veils and their spears. When they climbed out of the water, having checked in the depths around the dock, the barons could see a spider-web tattoo over the veiled house guards’ hearts.
The Dream Treader was made by the countess’ brother, who crafted ships the way the Blooded of the Fox made opera. They say he built the Dream Treader after a vision sent to him by the Suaven. He was long dead, taken by a tentacled orc with marble white skin and veins pumping green blood to some dark heart or hearts. Old as the countess was, the whispers at the capital said she hunted for that beast still, hoping to avenge her brother. Darker whispers from the Blooded of the Serpent said she hoped to yet find her sibling alive. Others say she wandered the seas because she was an elder Blooded of the Falcon and the roads held no thrill for her anymore. Being so close to solace gave her an appreciation for the ocean’s deep mysteries over the road’s dangers.
Her clothes were white and blue, silk waves crashing into one another, brown wooden buttons of small brown boats up her side. I am ready for Solace but there are mysteries I want to unravel and there is work to do. The colors varied in their proportions but as the seasons passed, she made it clear that she was ready for Solace, ready to join the suaven as a revered ancestor/demi-god but some lore eluded her and finding that lore was work yet unfinished.
Her slow approach from her brother’s masterpiece on to the rusted metal dock was finished when the sun turned the dawn into a bright morning. Her barons bowed and her feet turned to a fencing ready position and she muttered, “Tell me of love, fiend!” but her eyes became clear again and she looked suddenly surprised to find her barons before her.
“I’m back, my barons,” she said, smiling. “I’m before you.” Even as she said that, her eyes clouded over and slight twitches made it clear that she was reliving some part of her life, some past moment, like watching someone dream while standing upright. Her hair had strands of what seemed to be a sticky webbing, as if she was falling through a cloud and some stuck to her and her eyes had grownmilky.
One minute and wind. Two minutes and spray off the docks as the tide became angry. Three minutes and the Dream Treader took some water from incoming waves. Four minutes and the barons stayed still, suddenly in a silent contest to see who would move first, who would show bad form. The serpent’s daughter, not yet old enough to wield her sword, didn’t move, didn’t flinch, didn’t even shift her weight while the countess drifted away and back.
She returned to the present with a smile at the youngling and the little girl smiled back. “What does it feel like, countess, great crone of the sea? What does it feel like to be this close to your honored end?”
Her father showed no expression. The other barons held their breath.
“Children. Lovely,” she declared, her posture and tone expressing dangerous anger while staring at the girl’s father but then the anger lifted and she smiled at the child, “It feels as if my life is a book that is almost entirely written and the winds of my life are rifling through the pages. I find myself in the midst of old chapters, passionate moments, those moments when the dice were rolled and my fate was decided through style and cunning.” Her eyes became clear and suddenly she was rooted in the moment, pages no longer turning in the wind.
“Your child belongs in the capital, baron. I will see to her appointment as a handmaiden for the Duchess of the Fox. She will do well there. She is wasted playing petty games on the frontier.”
“Thank you, my countess.”
And that was how she came to the Hub of All Revenge, capital city of Shanri.