Chapter 11 - One, Two, Freddy's Coming For You...

"Hooray," a boorish voice called, dripping with sarcasm, "the heroes have returned. Finally." Avner was walking Thunderstrike on the shore while he had the chance. "What in the Abyss have you got there?"

Saris was quick to loudly expound upon his own heroics, "We crossed paths with a basilisk and rescued two adventurers after dispatching of some other nasty critters. It was nothing, really." Saris smiled devilishly as he took notice of many other passengers perking their ears and listening to the story.

"Hmm…yes, congratulations. You're outstanding." Avner jested with Saris, "…that is what you were waiting to hear, was it not?"

"Well, if the boot fits, Avner," Saris beamed.

"Where's Lavinia?" Viselys was quick to change the subject.

"She's on the Blue Nixie," Avner responded. "I'll have you know, I'm not sharing any of my food with these…new people."

As if summoned by the mention of her name, Lavninia must have been on her way towards the group as she chimed in, "Don't worry, Avner, nobody wants to share with you, anyway." She smiled a bit as Avner gave her a flustered look.

"Glad to see you're all back," Lavinia began. "Who are our new friends?"

Cedrick and Malcolm introduced themselves. Everyone began to mix in with each other. Adameus and Saris took turns imbelishing upon each others' stories as curious crewmen listened.

After a while, during a brief pause in the commotion, a distinctive sound could be heard. "Ahhh…hem." Avner was loudly clearing his throat and looking wide-eyed at Lavinia.

With an audilble sigh and a slump of the shoulders, Lavinia consented. "I hate to say it, but Avner's right. We do have a schedule to keep, afterall."

Avner grinned smugly as everyone boarded the ships and began to sail away from the Tamoachan ruins.

On board the ship, the crew was fascinated with the stories Adameus was telling. It seemed that every time he told it, some new (and possibly embellished) detail ended up as part of the story. Malcolm and Ornrik, however, headed for the quarters to study and learn what they could from each other.

A short while later, there was a knock at the door. Ornrik looked up from his studies. "Yes?" he called.

"Ornrik? It's Skald," he answered. "I think I need to talk to you. It may be important. Can I come in?"

Opening the door, "Sure, Skald. Come right in," Ornrik motioned to Malcolm to leave and allow them a little privacy.

Sitting down, Skald began, "Ornrik…I've had another dream. It made me very uneasy and you seemed interested before, so I thought I should share it with you."

"Go ahead," Ornrik insisted as he listened intently.

"Well, you see," Skald resumed, "it was strange. Everything was very dark. There was a volcano. Then, out of the volcano came a shimmering bat. It drifted away. The ground began to rumble. The volcano erupted, spewing lava all over the place, and then a winged creature flew out of the volcano, screeching as it flew. The whole thing was very unsettling."

He paused, waiting for Ornrik to say something, but Ornrik just furrowed his brow, deep in thought.

"I tell you this," Skald continued, "because I overheard from the crew that you guys dealt with some sort of bat-like creature amidst the ruins. It seems a bit much to just be a coincidence, and I wanted you to know about it."

"You were right to let us know about this," Ornrik reassured him. "Could you run it by me one more time? I want to be sure I'm hearing this correctly."

Skald retold his story, finishing with a question, "What do you think it means?"

Ornrik thought about it a bit. "Well, I'm not certain, but it may have something to do with a little trinket that we found in the ruins." Ornrik retrieved the bat idol from his bag. "I believe this is some sort of key…"

Gasping, Skald interjects, "That's it! That's what came out of the volcano!" Skald started to look even paler than usual.

"Really?" Ornrik asked. "Are you sure?"

"Positive," Skald reassured.

"Hmm…well, it may be that this key needs to be returned to prevent some sort of danger," Ornrik proposed.

"You think that it needs to go back into the volcano?" Skald asked.

"Could be…but maybe not. Dreams are a tricky thing. Things aren't always what they seem," Ornrik tried to calm Skald's nerves.

"Hmm…ok," Skald started again, "well, I thought you ought to know. I didn't mean to interrupt your studies with Malcolm. Thanks, Ornrik."

"You're welcome, Skald. If you have any more dreams," Ornrik said, "don't hesitate to let me know. I'm happy to listen."

Skald left the room, heading back to the deck for some fresh air. Adameus was in the middle of a grand story, detailing their heroics. Malcolm and Ornrik returned to studying.

Two full days of sailing passed with the Blue Nixie and Sea Wyvern making great time as the winds cooperated.

Late, late that night, Jacob was helming the wheel and Skald was walking the deck. Adameus was having trouble sleeping, so he tried to start up some cheery conversation with the usually morose Skald.

"Hey, buddy…how's it going?" Adameus asked of Skald.

Sitting down on the stairs, shaking his head and looking up at the full moon, Skald responded, "You know…none of this is real."

"Huh?" Adameus asked, puzzled.

At that moment, a boat that seemed to appear out of nowhere between the Sea Wyvern and the Blue Nixie erupted into flames.

Stunned, Adameus shouted out a warning that there would need to be help on deck if the burning ship would be salvaged. "Fire, ho!" Jacob echoed the sentiment from the upper deck.

A moment later, a glowing ball of light seemed to launch from the flaming boat. It came soaring through the air and struck the mast of the Sea Wyvern. It appeared to be a glowing bolt…fired from a ballista.

"What in the Abyss is going on?" Adameus shouted.

The crew began to assemble on the deck when a burst of flames erupted, covering much of the main deck. Chaos ensued as a man in heavy armor seemed to be flying towards the ship, whirling a heavy mace around his head as he seeked to engage everyone on deck in combat.

Moments later, more men took flight and headed towards the ship. It seemed to be that there was a small invasion on the way.

As an archer flew around the ship, peppering everyone on deck with arrows, a sorcerer blasted away with bolts of fire, and a creature that seemed to be composed entirely of flames engaged the shipboard combatants.

The deck became flooded with crewmen as Viselys, Ornrik, Saris, and Adameus tried to fend off the intruders.

Meanwhile, boarding undetected through a window in the passenger windows, another assassain climbed on board.

Avner Meravanchi exited his room, trying to find the source of all the commotion. "Who are you? Why aren't you helping out?" he asked the mysterious passenger, who he just assumed to be another nameless passenger that he so often overlooked.

Without a word, the assassain drew a pair of blades and cut Avner down. He next made short work of Avner's servants, who cowered for their lives before the unforgiving man.

On the deck, after successfully dispatching the heavily armored man, the crew turned their attention to the airborne assailants, not noticing a hulking brute of a man who climbed up the side of the ship. He boarded quickly, drawing a greatsword and whirling it about, dispencing pain to all around. He quickly became the center of attention.

The fight on the deck raged on for quite some time. The greatsword-wielding brute proved to be quite the opponent. Eventually, he was slain, but not before he slaughtered Captain Amella, Skald, and fatally wounded Saris. Once he fell in battle, another burst of flames filled the deck of the ship…many more crew fell in battle.

Emerging from below deck, the assassain struck Diamondback with her guard down. She fell to the ground and began to bleed to death.

Things certainly looked grim.

Suddenly…all was dark.

Ornrik felt a nudging at his side. He was in his bed.

"Who's there?" he asked. "What is it?"

Skald replied, "Ornrik…I've had had another dream. It was awful."

He began to describe the attack, "They killed everyone on board the ship, Ornrik…they're coming tonight."

Continue to Chapter 12...

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