The Tale of Captain Johne


"Sutek, damn him. He has abandoned us. Abandoned us in this accursed realm to die and rot!" Nosfentre pounded the desk with his fist. His beard quivered while he continued. "I never should have taken my eyes off of him. He spoke about another expedition, but refused my offer to join him. When I awoke this morning, I found the skiff gone. This was left in its place." He tossed me the scroll, which was unopened and addressed to me. "He has doomed us all! With the skiff gone, we are stranded on this island. Damn him to the Abyss. We were fools to have trusted him. Look at what he has done to you, Johne!"

"'Tis not Sutek who causes Johne to suffer, dear Nosfentre," Faulina said, rising from the bed.

"Then what is it?" he demanded. "I have never seen such a sickness."

As they argued, I unrolled the scroll, and read Sutek's spidery script:



I am sorry to leave, but time grows short. I must find a way for us to reach the surface. I could not allow one of thy companions to accompany me. They would only hinder me, and there is a darkness that shadows those three.

But rest easy, Captain, the illness that plagues thee will have subsided when I return.

—Thy friend,



Nosfentre and Faulina had ceased arguing, and both regarded me. "What did that foul mage have to say?" the fighter demanded.

I rolled up the scroll, and laid it next to my side. There is a darkness that shadows those three. "He offers his apologies for leaving so abruptly," I lied. "He will return in a few weeks."


* * *



I dreamt of comets again,

And often I hear voices . . .

"Avenge us," they say.


* * *



The days pass slowly, and I am recovering. I spend much of my time with the others, yet their presence offers no companionship. They watch me, the three of them. They hide it well, but I know. I hear their whispers, if not the words. I see their glances. Astarol may continue to sing and recite his tales, but his gaze flickers with envy and hatred when Faulina and I are together. Nosfentre's fear and suspicion of Sutek's betrayal grows with each passing day, and I fear that he is beginning to feel that I am in league with the mage. Still, he is the only one I can trust. And Faulina . . . dear, dear Faulina. I hear the lies beneath thy nightly proclamations of love; I see the uncertainty in thy beautiful eyes as thou dost choose between me and the bard.

I often read Sutek's last message . . .

There is a darkness that shadows those three.

. . . and when I read it, I often sense that I am not alone, that others read the scroll with me. But when I turn to confront them, they are not there.


* * *


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