The Storm

It was coming, everyone said so.  The sun was bright and the skies were clear but tomorrow or the next day would be different.  A storm was coming.  The fishermen were either beaching their boats high upon shore or heading far out into the open sea.  Gifnear, the local weather mage, had delivered the message of the impending storm and proceeded to drink himself into a stupor.  Such a storm as was coming was more then any one could hope to affect, he had said, and he did not want to be sober to suffer any feedback it might kick through any lingering magics.

“Calling a hyrakain a storm is like calling a berserker a wee babe.  The only thing you can do is crawl into a hole and pull it in after you until it blows over.  The last one I saw was over fifty years ago and it stretched over a hundred miles.  Winds blowing faster then you could believe spinning in a circle, rain just hammering down and blowing up six and eight foot waves.  Cilicia was preparing to invade Bormad only to have their entire fleet destroyed and half their capitol destroyed.  Now they pay tribute to the Bormadians.”

The old man paused, taking a long pull from the jug of wine at his side.  A young man sat at the ground beside him, back against the wall of the house and legs stretched out before him.  “So these…hyrakains roll right over islands but die out on the mainland?”

“Aye, so it appears.  Although they can affect weather patterns far into the continent.  There was one fifty five years ago that hit against Saladan and caused storms all the way up into the Wailing Mountains.”

The young man whistled appreciatively, listening even as he watched the people of the villages bustling around, preparing for the coming storm.  Windows were boarded over, every available container was being filled with water and food supplies laid by.  It would not be unusual for the villagers to be holed up in their homes for a full day.  “I wish I could help.  All I’ve been doing is lying around eating people’s food.  I want to contribute somehow.”

“One does what one can,” the old man said with a shrug.  “You have a broken arm and can barely walk on that leg.  What exactly would you do?”

“I don’t know.  I just feel so…useless.”

“Then when you are well and find your way back to your homeland, send some payment.  Buy our fish and clothing.  Nothing needs to be done now.”

“If only I could remember my homeland, or myself,” he muttered.

“It will come.  That was a hell of a shipwreck you survived.  You need to learn some patience.”

The young man grunted.  “Well, at least we know something about me.”

“Look at those hands.  We know you are not a farmer or fisherman or other type of labourer.  In fact, those look like the hands of a swordsman.”

Looking down, the young man idly rubbed the callus at the base of his thumb.  He opened and closed his other hand as well, the arm hanging comfortably in a sling.  “Both of them?”

The old man shrugged.  “I do not know the ways of swords.  I used to swing a mean scythe though,” he laughed.

“Are you sure there is nothing I can do?”

“Relax, my young friend.  All will be taken care of.  We will close the shutters tonight, open a jug of wine and listen to the storm.”

Sighing, the young man rose to his feet, far more gracefully then most would accomplish with one arm in a sling.  He nodded to the old man and started to walk, taking the path that led from the town into the nearby woods.  The old one studied the man, noting the easy way he moved.  Tall, with a lean yet muscled build, he seemed like a cat prowling about.  Intelligent, he often seemed to know things but could not remember how he knew them.  It had been a month since one of the boats had fished him out of the sea and brought him into town and he was no closer to knowing who he was.  It would happen when it happened, the old man thought.

 

The first bands of rain started that night but it wasn’t until mid morning of the next day that the hyrakain struck.  Those fisherman who were the last to come in said it was a monstrous storm and it was expected to affect the entire Scotay province as the hyrakain roared on its northeast path.  Other then a narrow spit of land connecting it to the mainland, Scotay was practically an island and none of it was more then thirty odd miles from the sea.  Damage was expected to be widespread and flooding was all but guaranteed.

The skies grew grey as clouds covered all that could be seen.  Now the rain truly started, thick heavy sheets that pounded the ground.  Thunder crashed and lightening flashed.  The old man sat calmly in his rocking chair in the middle of his small but snug home, a jug of wine in his hand as the young stranger stood at the window, staring out over the town and harbour.

“There is something…captivating about all of this,” he murmured, almost to himself.

They could hear the roaring of the wind as it flew through the village, seeking what could be carried away.  “Aye, the fury of nature can be beautiful,” the old man said as the other started pacing back and forth.  “Restless?”

“Yes.  I feel like I should…”  He stopped and shook his head.  “Its crazy but I want, need to be out, out in that,” he gestured at the window with his good hand.

“That wouldn’t be a good idea.  If the rain and lightening isn’t enough, think of the wind.  I’ve see boats tossed a quarter mile off the shore.  Wouldn’t one of those to hit you.”

“No, you are right, Kellan.  It would be wise to stay here but…”  He went to the door, trying to unbar it with his good arm.  “I have to.”

The old man sighed and went to help.  “Very well,” he said.  “Try not to kill yourself.”

The young man flashed a grin and slipped through the doorway.  Kellan watched him until the rain hid him from view, certain that the man had been stripping off his clothing as he went.  Who was this man that had been living with him for this past month?  A flash of lightening revealed a man standing on the slight hill on the outskirts of the village, nude and arms outstretched.  Shaking his head, he closed the door and settled the bar back into place and dropped back into his chair, picking up his jug and taking a long pull of wine as the wind blew and roared around his small island of calm.

 

The hyrakain that blew through the Middle Sea in the fifth year of King Silius IV’s reign was one of the largest on record.  It took several days for all the reports to come in from the scattered weather mages and the government officials.  Blowing right over the Scattered Isles, it had caused widespread flooding and loss of crops.  Then it had turned instead of continuing to the mainland and traveled over open ocean, although its passing had caused extremely high storm surge along the coast several hundred miles from its centre.  It travelled right along the coast of Scotay, dumping huge amounts of rain upon the province with strong winds causing a good deal of damage.  The port city of Hagilon, with one of the largest known harbours in the world, had taken a good deal of damage.  Three ships, one of them a man of war, had sunk and half of the docks had been washed away.  A day’s journey by foot along the coast, an unnamed fishing village on the shore of a small harbour, escaped the storms wrath.  They had seen summer thunderstorms hit harder.

Kellan never did see his young friend again although they had found a pile of clothing and an arm sling in the centre of the village.  No body was ever found.  A month later, a merchant caravan stopped by, wanting to buy up all available items of clothing the women could spare.  An investor of the merchants had been singing their praises and he wanted to take the items to sell in the lands over the mountains.  The colour and texture (Five hundred thread count!) would sell amazingly.

“What is that pendant,” Kellan asked the caravan leader.

“What? Oh, this is the emblem of the storm god.  Why d’ye ask?”

“There was a young man here, he had the same emblem tattooed on his bicep.”

“Not very likely.  Not even the priests are allowed to tattoo his sign on their bodies.  Only those claimed by the god or his descendents.”

“Descendents?”

“Aye, you know how randy the old buggers are.  Brats all over the place.”

“How would you know one of these children of the god?”

“Hell if I know, old one.  They are men much as the rest of us, although it is said somewhat more.  Some have longer lifespans; some are born with the use of power.  I hear they tend to be a lot like ol’ Red Beard himself; warriors sell swords, some are healers.  Only thing that seems to be in common is that the weather bends around them.  An area around them somehow falls into a trough in the worst storms and is protected.  Who was this man you said had this mark?”

Kellan smiled softly.  “A friend.”

 

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