It was a frightening way to discover her plan had succeeded. She was right, if the Abyss was to be defeated, it would take every living thing working together. No matter the differences they may have had before, life was all that was important.
Sitting in the bow of the ship with the wind whistling through her hair, Callindra felt a weight settle on her shoulders. She had to build on this, she had to spread the word, she had to build an army.
“What’s got you all pissed?” Reed asked, swinging down from the rigging. “That face, you look like you’re going to do something stupid and violent.”
“We have to recruit everyone we find Reed.” She said, taking out her pipe and thumbing the bowl full of tac. “The only way to defeat the Abyss is by banding together. No matter what, we can’t afford to alienate any living things.”
“What’re you on about?” He asked, sitting on the rail and pulling a book from his pocket. The boy opened it and idly flicked through a few pages before reading with a furrowed brow.
“The Taken have to be opposed Reed. We all have to work together or we’re going to get wiped out.” She lit her pipe and let the smoke trail from her nostrils. “This has to be our new mission, and the first part of it has to be finding what their weakness is.”
“How you gonna do that?” Reed asked, sounding distracted. “Ain’t like anyone knows anything about them other than how to kill the Taken.”
“That’s the thing Reed, Terevelen told me about a place in Starvale. He thinks it leads to a place where we can finally get some answers.” Callindra said, “That’s just one more reason we need to go there.”
“Yeah. Like I trust the words of a Necromancer.” Reed said, flipping to the next page in his book. Callindra looked closer it, frowning.
“Where did you get that book Reed?” She asked, eyes narrowing. “It looks familiar.”
“Uh, I found it?” Reed said, looking at her guiltily and tucking the book back into his pocket.
“That’s one of Cronos’s books.” She said, giving him a dark look. “What are you doing with one of his books? What book is it?”
“It’s his spellbook.” Reed admitted. “I didn’t want those ungrateful townsfolk to use it for toilet paper, so I swiped it. I never thought it’d do anything for me, but it’s fascinating stuff really. I mean, once I got past how hard his handwriting is to read anyway.”
Callindra paused, remembering how Reed had thrown lightning at the Dragon in their last battle. If he hadn’t they all might well be dead by now. She smiled and touched his shoulder in a fond gesture. “I think he’d have wanted you to have it.”
“It’s not like I stole it I-“ He paused, “What? You’re OK with it?”
She grabbed him in an impulsive hug, “Yeah. It’s like having a part of him along with us, but without the horrible puns.”
Reed stiffened at her embrace, but was careful not to let on that he felt the tears falling on his shoulder. “Actually, there’s an entire chapter of puns. Just wait until I decipher them and I’ll make your life miserable with the horrible legacy of Cronos’s humor.”
Her arms tightened around him and he tried not to wheeze as his ribs creaked. “Gods and demons you’re strong.” He croaked.
“Oh, sorry.” She let him go and wiped at her eyes. “I forget sometimes.”
“Starvale off the Port bow!” Connor shouted, breaking the moment.
They turned to look at their destination as the ship rounded a promontory of land. Huge colored spheres of light floated above a city devastated by war. The walls were breached in several places and fires still sent columns of black smoke into the sky. The harbor was in shambles, craft of all sizes smashed and clogging the docks. There was no sign of life anywhere within it.
“Looks dead.” Reed said, and that’s when the tentacles of the giant squid rose up from the depths to wrap around the ship in a deadly embrace.