The First Disturbance
Zeventrech lowered himself down the last part of the cliff face, and stood on the thin strip of sandy beach. The ocean reached far to the horizon, sighing along with him. Lenet, his Jakei escort, and Korin had stayed in the outskirts of Ironfist to handle the new Valdeci problem, so Zeventrech was alone. He was used to it.
The great Sea of Separation spread out before him, and Zeventrech was struck with a rare sense of nostalgia, for the land that he knew lay somewhere out there, beyond sight, which had once been half his home. Long dead... long dead. He turned down to the water at his feet. As expected, there was wreckage in the surf. He had heard reports in J’Thir, passed on up from the Forglar coast, concerned, but uncertain, idle reports. Here it was, though, along the Peaks coast as well, were Zeventrech had worried it would be.
With slow, laborious breaths Zeventrech dropped to one knee. He prodded a small piece of metal -- shipping hull of some kind -- with his staff, and then picked it up. It now made sense why the Salaman investigators were confused. If Gekaal had seen it, there was a chance he would have recognized it, but even that was unlikely. The metal shard hummed deeply with nora, but it was an empty hum, like the sound an instrument makes when touched by a buzzing tuning fork. The nora in the wreckage was inherited and accidental.
Zeventrech had never before encountered this kind of resonance. But he had heard of it. This nora pattern also bore a striking similarity to that which had destroyed the old Empire: the nora of the Separation. But what did it mean for these shards to wash up on Pox’s southern shores?
“It couldn’t be another Separation.” Zeventrech muttered. “The traces appeared after the fact. We had no warning.”
Zeventrech was about to look at the fragment itself, when he heard growling off to the left. With some effort, he stood up, and held his staff at the ready. Zeventrech wasn’t eager for a fight at the best of times, but was a willing and able sorcerer when the need arose. Recently, however, with the Arroyo breaking through and this new disturbance in the nora weave, he was leery of casting any magic at all. Had his personal inspection of the shoreline wreckage not demanded speed, he would have even forgone his teleportation spell. This handicap on his mind, Zeventrech squinted along the surf.
A pack of four beasts, wolflike and on all fours, loped along the water’s edge, alternately smelling nora exuding from the detritus, and eating carrion that had washed in. Spotting the cyclops, they eyed him warily. They were obviously hungry. The front two of the pack approached, testing Zeventrech for a flinch, or weakness. He knew this game.
He took a deep breath. Zeventrech grasped his staff at both ends and raised it high over his head. Then he let out a great roar -- a slight risk, that he would attract something worse, but worth the chance. It had the desired effect. Over a dozen feet tall, robe billowing out and staff splitting the sunlight, with his red glowing eye as though bloodshot and backlit, Zeventrech was a fearsome representative of his race. The mongrels, in due form, fled back the direction they had come.
After a few moments, Zeventrech brought his staff back to his side and coughed. The brutish, barbaric nature of his present-day kin disgusted him, but he could ape it well enough when the need arose. Better to let his enemies think he could crush them with a giant stick, than have to walk over and try.
Zeventrech knelt back down to examine the discarded metal. He turned it over twice in his hand, rubbed it between his fingers, and then tossed it aside to examine another piece in like fashion.
“Fishing boat? Seems unlikely.” He mumbled to himself. “Nora like this doesn’t show up on a fishing boat. A trade vessel, perhaps? The Salaman and the Draksar are trading -- maybe something exploded on a ship? But then, there are pieces of two ships here… hrm.”
Zeventrech tossed the fragments away and collapsed into a sitting position. He looked off to the horizon, as though searching for the source.
“Multiple ships … a battle? Did someone renege on the treaty? But we would have heard about it. And the Salaman would have reported something that took out multiple vessels. Hm. So those were Wrath ships out there, Draksar ships almost certainly. In secret. But what those old sons of Valdec would want with this kind of magic on the open ocean I have no id--- “
Zeventrech felt a chill. A deep tingling ran through his skin, something different from the harsh ice of the Tundra, something different from the chilly breeze which wafted off the waves. He was uncertain, but also very, very afraid. Hastily, he pushed himself standing, as though it would help. His breathing had thickened without him noticing.
He steadied himself. Zeventrech had not become agitated in many years, certainly not since Sarinda returned him to life.
Zeventech closed his eye, channeled nora, and teleported away. Speed was paramount. He would need every moment possible if there was to be any chance of preventing the horror to come.