of the sea—serpents and tentacled creatures, behemoths and leviathans roaming the wide ocean; some I would later come to know as whales and dolphins and large schools of squid, others vanished from the Earth before mortals could observe them.
I saw what seemed to be human faces of creatures as they swam, clinging to the backs of rays and long narrow fish as they moved along the surface of the water.
As we soared farther, the sea calmed as if dead. It grew heavy and impenetrable with weed and grass at its surface.
This made me think there might be some island nearby. As we went into the fog that thickened around us, I had nearly lost hope.
The stillness of the mist, and the quiet of the water—not twenty feet below where we flew—gave me an ominous sense that we had somehow left the sea itself and had crossed the Veil.
After an hour of flying through this, I began to feel the hackles of panic along my wingspan. Within the stream, I felt Pythia’s movements draw me from the moonless sky, to a great ship with its sails slack, a prisoner within this silent calm sea.
Here was our island for the morning.
We would have extinguished in the sunlight above the great sea to the west of Aztlanteum had Pythia not seen the ship, still in the middle of the sea, as if docked.
With less than an hour to sunrise, we dived down as if falling toward the vessel.
T HE S TORM D REAMER
The ship had seven masts, and was longer and broader than any ship I had ever seen. In my youth, I had sailed on wide vessels off to the Holy Land for war, but these seemed like little more than planked log boats compared to this magnificent trader. Its sails were not square, but turned to the side, and hanging like rolled mats. It smelled of spice and the sea and rot. The wood of it was a deep, rich earth color and with a ruby-throated prow. The craftsmanship was of a wealthy nation—for all around it were carved wooden statues of sea gods and doglike dragons and fish and even turtles. This trading vessel looked as if it would contain the wealth of its country of origin.
At its prow, the red-painted statue of some goddess who seemed the very image of Medhya herself—for she seemed to have the aspect of a dragon, with spines along her back and arms, and what might’ve been wings in the sails that drooped along her shoulders. Her breasts were bounteous, and the smile upon her face was as fierce and dazzling as Pythia’s. The banners along the quay poles bore a cuttlefish with a warrior in armor upon its back, a spear in his fist. It was outlandish, this ship, an alien presence within the mist. As we descended I saw what might have been several masts of other such ships thrust upward in the dense atmosphere, similarly stuck in the silky waters.
During the lost century, ships often foundered on the sea as swift ice storms descended, and at other times, the wind died for many days and nights, and the sea calmed as if it were no more than an enormous lake. Days grew short, nights long. Such were the signs of the rips in the Veil, and of Medhya’s hunger to return to this Earth in flesh and blood.
Despite the size of this craft—for surely it contained many decks beneath and could have housed a village if not a small city—I did not see many men guarding its decks. Evidence of warriors lay strewn about the forecastle deck, which curved upward in a bow—armor lay heaped there, and piles of crossbows as well as shields.
Out of some hidden place, a stream of arrows shot out at us—Pythia went back up into the mist, but I was struck at the arm by one of these darts. I grabbed one of the topsail masts and clung to it. I drew the arrow out, sealing the wound quickly. I glanced down along the decks, and spied what seemed a huddle of men-at-arms, their spears and bows at the ready. They scanned the sky, but the mist covered me. To Pythia, I streamed a thought, I will deal with them, wait above until