The Tale of Captain Johne

Worlds Below


The Ararat has sailed her last voyage. After surviving the rapids that carried us through the cavern and over a waterfall that spilled us into this lake, my frigate has washed ashore on an island. For the past few days, we have explored the lake and its shores with a skiff that Nosfentre and I managed to repair. What we have found gives us hope. A series of galleries leads farther into the Underworld. By exploring these passages, we may find an exit to Britannia, perhaps through one of the dungeons that Sutek can open.

The five of us plan to mount an expedition in the next week, led by Sutek, of course. Now that my frigate is grounded, I suppose I am no longer the Captain. But I am grateful to relinquish my leadership to the wizard. Guilt has plagued me these last few nights. It is I who am responsible for the Ararat's wreck; I who am responsible for those who perished in the maelstrom; and I who am responsible for the darkness that perpetually haunts us.


* * *



I saw the stars again, though sometimes I wonder if I am hallucinating. They shimmer and ripple as if they rest in a dark pool. I called for Faulina, but by the time she left the company of Astarol and Nosfentre, the bleak nothingness of the Underworld had returned.

She insists that she believes me, but sometimes I doubt her honesty. Then she offers her delicate smile and all is better.


* * *



We will begin our expedition in a few days. Nosfentre is busy honing his battle skills while Faulina studies her spell books. Astarol often joins one or the other—usually Faulina, I have noticed—delighting them with his tales and songs. He has also tried to teach me the art of juggling, but my dexterity is lacking, and my heart is still burdened with guilt. I often find myself alone, watching the other three with envy, wondering how they can be so jovial beneath these halls. Sutek, too, spends much of his time by himself, lost in the notes he has recorded about the Underworld. There are still times when I catch him glancing upward to read the stars that are not there.

Faulina is worried about my aloofness. She often asks me to study with her. Sometimes I do, but the words of the most basic magic, which I once knew so well, are foreign to me. I usually end up daydreaming of the way life used to be.


* * *


"A weapon?" Nosfentre laughed, as Astarol buckled a short sword to his belt. "Thou dost need no weapon. Thou canst frighten off our enemies with thy music."

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