The wind was blowing warm and gentle on the daybreak, the sun beginning to peek through the gauzy morning clouds.
Telar, dressed in yesterdays’ clothes, pressed his stomach against the heavy wooden railing and leaned out over the edge of the floating island, gazing down into the cloudy, swirling white and gray abyss, the wind fighting with his still bed-tousled hair.
Father had gone out early morning on his ship, The Windcutter, before sunrise to hunt Azure Windtalons and they were to return anytime now.
“Telar!” came the shout of his mother from up the hill, “Its time for breakfast!”
He stood up from his precarious lean and looked around.
The community began to come to life with the dawning day, citizens embarking on the chores of daily minutia. The village was small, their island only so big, a good 100 yards in diameter.
They had a farm, a smithy, an inn and of course, the lighthouse…the rest residential for hunters and tradesmen, 20 to 30 residents in all. The buildings were well-crafted of smooth gray-white stone and large pieces of dark, heavy timber. All of which had to be sourced elsewhere and brought here by ship as the isle initially had been barren other than a fertile soil.
They had three docks, unusual for an island this small, but they were in a major trade lane for shipping and a stopover for captains and crews looking for a good meal and comfortable bedding.
“Telar, where are you!” His mother yelled again, this time with a hint of “if he didn’t answer there would be trouble”
Telar turned and ran up the hill, the highest point on the little island, to his fathers lighthouse.
At night, Telar and his two brothers would take turns maintaining the light and ensuring plenty of Degris crystals on hand to keep the brazier lit.
Lately though the duties had fallen more to Telar as his brothers had come of age and were to either crew fathers ship or find their own way. Right now, they were out on the Windcutter, and he spit at the thought.
He had proven smarter than Gallo, and quicker than Dimetrius but soon his father would know this. He would come of age within the next few cycles and he would show them.
He had been studying, practicing his sailing technique, even talking with smithy Kas about metallurgy and munitions. This would be his year for sure!
“There you are!” Mother exclaimed as Telar burst into the small round room through the heavy, oaken door, “Your breakfast is getting cold.”
His mother brought his food and set it on the table in front of him as he took his seat. She smiled at him and smoothed back the hair from his face; a wheat color, golden and brown, his mothers’ genetic inheritance to him.
“I was waiting for father.” He stated very matter-of-factly.
“Your father will be home soon enough. You eat up and get down to the fields to help Mr. Stead with the planting. I have been told he’s managed to purchase some Yellow Boommelon seed.” The last she stated with a minute smile on her face.
The exclamation had barely left his mouth before he began to wolf down his breakfast in earnest.
Boommelons were delicious, and dangerous, treats. If not handled properly the pressure within the melon would burst, causing a surprising amount of damage for a fruit.
Despite this, the melons were a pricey delicacy especially prized by the aristocracy. The preparation of the dessert tested the most talented chef and the fruit within was delicate, sweet, an almost ghostly flavor unlike anything else.
Telar had the luck of tasting one once that had burst before being secured for shipping. It had been a couple of years ago but the flavor had stayed with him to this day. If he was persuasive enough, maybe he could convince Mr. Stead to let him have a melon as part of his wages.
He shoveled the last bite of windtalon egg and toast, washed it down with what remained of his caro juice and stood up, “Alright, done mother. I am off to Mr. Stead’s!”
His mother, who had already moved up into the light tower to tend to the daily chores, yelled down the tower to him, “Be careful and come back at lunch!”
Before he could answer, Telar burst out the door and sprinted down the hill, pulling up quickly as he realized he couldn’t see a thing.
A dense fog had settled over the island since he had come in to eat, so thick his mother had to light the tower.
He walked cautiously as he peered through the fog, just able to make out the silhouettes out some of the nearest buildings through the gloom.
Softly at first just off in the distance, the sails of a ship coming into port snapped in the growing breeze.
That would be father! He was the only one out right now and no one else would attempt to dock in a fogbank.
Telar ran over to the railing overlooking the docks and looked around, more of a gesture than anything as the fog still engulfed the island.
There were the sound sails again…but different, deeper and heavier.
The thick white fog rolled back, the island finally passing through the cloud bank they had been trapped in.
Telar’s heart leapt. Through the haze he could just make out his fathers’ flag, the bright blue material flapping proudly in the breeze…ragged, dirty and torn.
As the wind cleared away the last of the clouds a massive Galleon, a Man of War sails billowing, drew broadside behind the Windcutter. The dark oaken ship was three decks high, at least 80 to 90 cannon strong at a minimum, flying the black, red and gold flag of the Imperial Corsairs.
Time seemed to freeze as the cannons erupted, the Windcutter exploding in a hail of splintered wood, twisted metal, and ended lives.
Telar screamed, frozen in place. Cannons retorted from the island but only some of them made it through the defenses as four beams of crimson colored light issued forth from the deck of the Pirate vessel, destroying the incoming projectiles.
That would be the Captain, Telar thought, as his mind struggled to comprehend through all the confusion. He had been told of tales by his father of Captains who wielded strange, magical powers, “the greatest captains in history”, he always said.
His mind seemed to break free of the chaos at the thought of his father and he realized he needed to get to his mother.
He sprinted uphill, his breath short, panic still gripping his chest. His mother appeared at the doorway as a cluster of cannonballs slammed into the tower with a thunderous crash. She tried to run but to no avail as huge chunks of white stone and thick splintering timbers came crashing down, her body buried beneath the dusty, creaking rubble.
“Mother!” he screamed, his arms outstretched as if he could somehow pull her from her doom.
The cannons from the pirate ship barked again and the doomed island seemed to erupt.
The ground cracked, buildings crashed down or burst into a thousand pieces. A piece of flying debris struck Telar in the head, his sight filled with bright lights and pain. Struggling to maintain consciousness, he flailed about, looking for some escape, some hiding place, but there was none.
A rumbling, cracking sound issued from the island and with a groaning roaring rush of sound and fury the island cracked in half, a massive volley of cannonballs ripping their home asunder. Giant struts of stone erupted forth from the ground, the entire island becoming a storm of stone and wood. He felt himself falling, a hazy recognition in the back of his bewildered mind of the islands utter and final destruction.
“The smithy”, he thought…”the farm…mother…father,” and oddly enough he would later reflect, before finally passing into blessed unconsciousness, his last thought was of the Boommelons.