Tancred and Crystal Cove
Ch. 1 The siege of Crystal Cove
Ocean waves slapped up against against the jagged rocky shore; quietly, the ships hoisted sail. Slowing the advance to a meer float,
"Signal for all ships to get into firing position and do it quietly," came a harsh scared-throat voice at barely above a whisper.
The messenger dashed away, silent as the night. A pair of torches waved the indicator cross, then a sweeping motion signaling for the armada to get into position silently, and to fire upon the sleeping port-city.
The ShipWright inn was packed and filled with excitement. The whistles and applause filled the dining-common room as the Storyteller finished another epic performance—a telling of the conquests of the TanCred Empire. He had needed a break, to "lubricate his old bones," but as with any entertainer, a break is required.
Before leaving the stage, he had given them a taste of his next telling, which was to be the fall of the TanCred Empire.
This hooked the masses and contented; a buzzing filled the air. Storyteller shuffled over to the barman and slurped down a beverage.
A loud boom echoed throughout the cove. Lightning streaked across the darkened night. Tree root impressions painted the clouded sky. "You've got them again, like fishing out of a barrel," said the barman, "are you going to tell them about King Jhojan?"
Storyteller smiled and winked," I think that story would be better served during one of the harvest night festivals. Besides, I want them to leave in happier spirits. "
Every minute the thunder would intensify, innsfolk began to jump as the crash of thunder struck the port city. "A big storm must be blowing in," the barman exclaimed almost to himself," get those doors closed if you know what's good for you," he said in a louder voice.
Then suddenly, before a pair of guys could get the doors even closed, a woman's scream pierced the stillness of the night and sliced through the humming of the crowd. The sounds of falling stone stunned the room, including the Storyteller.
Without warning, a section of the roof was ripped off over the commons, and rain began to pour in. A boulder smash landed on the corner of the inn, leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling.
Accompanying explosions echoed throughout the night, cannon and catapult projectiles tore massive chunks out of the surrounding buildings.
Storyteller got to his feet amongst the chaos; the mob pushed and shoved its way out onto the docks knocking him off his feet.
Peering through the falling rain, he brushed loose grey and white hair from his face. A look of shocked realization adored it; the masts of those ships carried a familiar banner.
Ch.2 Revenge of the Satjons
Satjon banners flew from the masts of the massive ships, as the cannon fire continued with vigor. Columns busted into pieces, rooftops collapsed and fell onto lower buildings bursting into flames, as the city fell into chaos and ruin.
One of the ships docked heavily armored units poured and marched in a snaking pattern. Spearpoints jutted out from the flanks, while the vanguard held massive shields. Short bows fired from the 'eyes of the snake.' As a soldier fell, another would collect the fallen soldier's shield and fill the hole at the nose of the column.
The Satjons poured out of the docking ships, seemingly without end. A flood of black-yellow-red mailed soldiers filled the docks. They slew all townsfolk as they went about clearing the city, no initial quarter was given.
Storyteller felt a grab at his shoulder, observing the coral snake familiarity to their movements, and as he turned, the barman's voice said quietly, "There's a way out the back, come on."
The barman then pulled his friend into the kitchen and out the backdoor, just as the last remnants of the city guard fell to the Satjon serpents. The technology of the invaders far outstripped those of the defenders. The Satjons welded weapons the townsfolk had never seen before.
The sidestreet was empty, bits of rock and building lay strewn about the walkways. Lights began to illuminate undamaged buildings as waking townsfolk lit candles. Storyteller and the barman sprinted up the cobblestone street, calling to the townspeople, "Wake up, the port is under siege!"
Getting to the top of ShipWright hill, the pair stopped to watch the largest ship dock, and a golden serpent spilled out, flanked by a couple of massive six-legged creatures. A towering figure exited the Galleon, clad in gold with a black-red-trimmed patterning; his helm was fashioned into the head of a dragon. A gruff scarred voice ripped through the night air, "Welcome, Ha Ha Haaa," he laughed maliciously, drunk on the euphoria of victory, " Welcome Satjons to your new home!"
The two friends turned to one another, thinking quickly, " we have to get out of here. To the outpost? The Stables? What about..." Storyteller thought out loud; the barman cut him off.
"We need to seek passage to the stones; we could go back to Scotland and live in the highland areas." Storyteller held his chin, leaning on the railings, looking out on the flawless siege.
They had lived in remote peace for a few centuries, living in balance with the seas, which gave the four hundred or so inhabitants all they would ever need.
Jagged, impassable mountains crowned the eastern half of the island. They created unique weather patterns, similar to the Caribbean within the cove, even as the peaks adorned thick blankets of glacial ice and fresh snow. "No, it was a one-way trip."
A slice of flat land swept to the west and gradually sloped to the sea, where a small village with stables, rice farms, and fishing docks could be found.
Halfway between the town and port-city was an outpost, which was the beginning of a mining effort to capitalize off the mountains for housing, opening-up flat land for farming and agricultural efforts.
The Outpost consisted of a watchtower like structure that butted up to the mountainside; makeshift tools could be found there.
"We should arm ourselves," the barman stated, still watching the scene below unfold.
The serpents struck at the city, hitting clusters of resisting townspeople with lethal precision, slithering in unison, in silent, deadly perfection. Other townsfolk were being gathered down at the docks, a voice rang out, echoing the will of their new king.
Orders to surrender or be killed were given as the dragon helmed man looked out from his custom perch upon the King's Galleon. The massive helm effortlessly looked about taking in the movements of his forces. Then he turned to communicate with a trio of light blue mailed figures—apparently advisors of some sort.
"We stored our old things in the barns, over by the stables." Storyteller reminded the barman, he too watched in horrid awe as the Satjons quickly wiped away ShipWright's defenses. Or, no, the city formerly known as ShipWright, thought Storyteller.
"You go to the stables; I think it will be better if I stay at the inn. Some people will be looking for me to know what to do; I can't just leave them," he put his hand on Storytellers' shoulder, " besides, this new army has to eat somewhere, might as well be at my inn, and can you imagine what chef will say about this? I wouldn't want to miss that."
Storyteller stifled a laugh, preferring to remain silent. The lightning continued to slash through the sky, yet the rain had stopped. The night grew cold; a chilling breeze crept through ShipWright, which sunk into the bone. Barman shivered, set on his course. He would gather chef and the rest of his staff and meet the new rulers, hopefully to workout feeding their army in exchange for their lives and the lives of their future generations.
"I could come back with you," Storyteller said after a pause, most of the serpents had returned to their ships. Tents and a Pavillion had been set up at the mouth of the docks, only a pair coral and the royal gold companies remained ashore. The Satjon king and his trio of advisors entered the Captain's quarters and through the windows could be seen ascending to the royal apartments.
"No, you can't," responded the barman, "your beard and hairpiece, well, caught fire at some point." He pointed over to the Bilbo tree and down at the reflective pool below it. Storyteller walked briskly over to the tree to reveal his disguise had become patchy and scorched in places. His natural hair color poked through the mask, and with knowing resignation, he took off his storyteller disguise.
"I guess my decision has been made for me," Tancred said, "there is no way I can show my face down there. Your lucky; shaving your beard hides your identity." He gestured with his hand below his chin as if stroking a long beard.
Jhojan laughed a silent laugh; they had played Storyteller and Barman for nearly half a millennia. Tancred had been immortalized after his heroic victories for the Kingdom of Fraunki at SaxenMark and the Western-Trinity Alliance at Vladimark, at Chinhun. During the Romiton rebellion, Tancred had established an immortal legacy by accident.
He had given Jhojan, his friend Shofu, and many of his other Generals a code to noble victory through discipline and perfect execution. All achieved through extensive training and practice of martial arts, weapon play, formation drilling—all to cultivate a sense of togetherness and to work together as one.
The first Satjon encounter came in the third millennia, near the end. During this time, the Satjons had been uprooted by the Huncheni and forced west onto Fraunki lands. Thereupon moving around the fort at Riverbridge and south of the capital city, then later besieging the town. Then, King, Jholjito fell, despite winning the battle. His forward direction held off the incursion long enough for TanCred forces to mobilize. His death left the kingdom with no heir, his concubines numbered high, but he'd not yet married.
After a long debate, Jhojan was crowned King of Fraunki. Immediately, Jhojan, having experienced what he believed to be the deaths of two close friends, changed the name to the TanCred Kingdom—triggering a new age that lasted until the start of the 4th millennia. In contrast, Jhojan expanded his kingdom around the solid continent. The TanCred empire lasted through the continental drifting, maintained through a series of pyramids.
After that, the empire began falling into discord as communication became impossible, and various humans evolved and rebelled against their immortal royals. They forgot the truth of the code, which few now still remember, and fewer remain.
Jhojan was stranded at a place that today is known as Scotland—hunkered down in underground holdings, with sophisticated agricultural and farming societies that survived thousands of years—eventually becoming a knight of Arthurs court.
Shofu was stranded in the frozen northern American tundra and moved across the ice bridge to Mongolia, traveled about ancient china, eventually joining up with the Great Khan.
Other "gods," or "pharaohs," as some were identified in Eygpt, dotted the planet.
Tancred traveled up through Africa, moving up through Mesopotamia, got caught up in the Macedonian conquests, and eventually got holdings in Rome during the height of the empire.
Tancred became Storyteller, after the splitting of the Roman Empire and ended up in a captured roman town in the northern germanic territories. He was found in the town tavern, in full disguise, entertaining the children, elders, and women who had gathered there for protection.
He moved up through northern Europe and ended up in Viking Sweden/Norway to which he took up storytelling in the great halls entertaining the Norse with Tales of TanCred and reciting Norse lore bequest the Kings he treated.
Jhojan got recruited into the French army and fought in the heavy calvary. Tancred was in Paris at the time of the siege in 1429, Shofu saw through the disguise and confronted Tancred to which he revealed himself. Shofu dropped his allegiance and became Storyteller's horse handler, and they traveled to the French camp in order to help Shofu assume his new identity.
This is where Shofu spotted Jhojan brushing his warhorse Thor, named after Jholjito's mount all those ages ago. Asking whether his horse would like a blanket, Jhojan turned to brush away beggar, saying, "go away; I am not accepting any gifts from well-wishers or purchasing goods or seeking long lost relatives" and found himself staring at an ancient friend.
"And what about an ancient friend?" Shofu asked quietly, smiling. The shock only doubled when Jhojan saw a ghost, and the three companions traveled north to meet with Celtic druids in the heart of Scotland.
"I'll update Shofu, shall I?" Tancred said after adjusting to the situation. The town had stilled as patrols began to leave the tents and go about the city. "We better hurry, don't want those patrols to catch us."
The pair split up, Tancred sped into the night's dark, towards the forested slopes of the mountains and out of sight.
Jhojan slipped down past a patrol and into the back door of his inn. Pulling it closed, he pulled up a chair next to the ordering window and the coffee pot. Where he could easily see and not be seen, then closed his eyes as fatigue to him.