The Tale of Captain Johne


I trotted along the rocky shoreline, glancing over my shoulder at the Ararat. I could see Nosfentre's dim figure still posted outside my cabin, unaware of my escape. I arrived at a stone outcropping, but still no skiff. I thought that perhaps, I had been tricked, then to the north, a horned skull with eyes like ghostly beacons floated silently out of the darkness—the third figure from the dream. I sprinted toward the apparition, knowing that it marked where the skiff was beached. A curse resounded from the Ararat—Nosfentre had discovered my escape, no doubt. My pace quickened as I rounded another outcropping.

The skull had vanished. No boat awaited me. Only Faulina and Astarol.

Faulina—my Faulina—was embracing the bard. She wept, and I heard her whisper my name. She opened her eyes, and they filled with fear when she saw me.

"Johne," she gasped.

Astarol whirled, his expression also fearful and wrought with guilt. "My Captain—" he began, but his plight was cut off when I leapt like an enraged beast and, without thought, without any sense at all, buried one of the shards in his throat.

His mouth opened in a scream. No sound emerged, only blood that bathed the shard. Faulina cried out and stumbled backward into the lake. From behind came a shout of outrage. Nosfentre had arrived, and I turned to face the warrior as he drove down on me with the sword that Faulina and I had given him many years ago.

His blade and the second shard met in mid-stroke with a metallic peal that reverberated through the caverns. The warrior's face paled in the violet glow of the crystal, and I took his moment of hesitation to strike, thrusting the third shard into his stomach.

Nosfentre fell to his knees, peering up at me with disbelief. He tried to wrench the shard free, but as his fingers touched the crystal, the shard quivered, and buried itself deeper into his bowels. His scream of agony pierced the darkness of the Underworld, and lifted the darkness that clouded my mind.

"Nosfentre," I whispered. "What have I done?"

The shard in his gut quivered again and he howled. Still, he remained on his knees, refusing to fall. "I ask but one thing, Johne," he said between breaths tainted with blood. "End this for me."

I nodded, tears rolling down my cheeks, and raised the last shard.

"Johne! NO!"

Faulina flung herself in front of the warrior, even as I drew the shard down. Silence followed, then a soft splash as my love crumpled into the lake, the shard embedded in her breast. Nosfentre glanced down at her, then up at me. "She loved only thee, Johne," he said. A solemn sigh escaped his lips, and he fell before me.


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