8- Journey to Taelosia

In the dead of night, the crew of the Queen of Thorns let loose the lines of the mighty ship. It crept out from Nedaria's Landing and into the Abysmal Sea.

Morden Rasp, Nedaria Debeian, Tondal Di'Xevar, and Calliav Giniuar stood at the helm, watching the Grozmok Stone float on a magical axis. When the stone turned, the crew steered the boat in the same direction.

As they got into the heart of the currents of the Abysmal Sea, the water churned and whirled around them. Waves crashed across the mighty bows of the ship, and eddies pulled at it from underneath. The ship creaked and groaned from the strain of the angry sea.

They sailed through the night and into the day. The sea did not let up, but got worse the farther they journeyed.

Morden consulted Nedaria and Calliav several times, fearing they may be leading the crew to its death. Without hesitation, they both told Morden they must press on -- that they had to weather the seas.

The Grozmok Stone led them west, then north, then west again, and then it guided the ship around to the south, and east again. Morden became more skeptical with each change in course, but commanded his crew to obey the will of the stone.

Morden, wet with sea spray at the helm, felt a frenzied tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Calliav, clutching his robes about him as the wind tore across the deck.

"We must stop here!" Calliav yelled over the wind's roar. "We must anchor here and send scouts out east. There is land there. I can feel it. We are here!"

"Ye want me to be sendin' me best people out into THAT?" Morden said as he pointed to the hectic chop of the sea.

"We have magic to protect them through the seas, Morden. We've been working on it for months. It does work and now is the time to use it. We also need to set up buoys around the ship to protect it from the currents," Calliav said. "We pieced together some of the ore we've been finding in such a way that it provides a protective barrier for us. The brotherhood is ready to set them up. It's all been planned."

Morden raised an eyebrow. He was skeptical, but he was not one to shy away from great challenges. He'd never had the advantage of so much help before or had so many scholars of magic at his disposal. He was starting to warm to the idea.

"Ye really are mad, Calliav. But, alright. I will let you lead this expedition into the abyss," Morden said.

It took several hours to anchor the ship and as each buoy was laid in the water -- thanks to the skill and ability of the iksar and froglok crew -- the waters around the ship calmed and a shimmering field of magic enveloped the Queen of Thorns.

Three crewmen were chosen to venture out in a small boat to find land. Morden quietly admired them for their fearlessness and loyalty as they pushed off from the docks in a hefty rowboat, their oars moving in unison until they disappeared into the dark sea.

It was a full day before a battered boat emerged back through the protective barrier around the Queen of Thorns. Only one crewman remained of the three. It was Ebbo Driblot, a bleeding troll struggling with one oar and wheezing with every breath. Several crewmembers dove into the sea to heave him aboard the ship. He was fatally injured, but his eyes were languid, almost pleased.

"We founds it. Dere is land dere. Not far. Dere a pretty peoples dere, but also sometin else. Dey attack me and crew. One stay on shore, one dead, and me come back to tell yous. Dey caught me before me gots in da boat," he said. "Dey beat me, laughed, and left Ebbo for dead, but me gots to boat."

Morden was standing next to Ebbo, his hand on his shoulder, while others tended to his gaping wounds.

"Who are 'they'?" Morden asked.

"Most evil tings. Dey most ugliest, dark, and deadly beasts," Ebbo said. "Dey hurt de pretty peoples and me. Don't go dere without lots of peoples. Won't survive," Ebbo coughed and started to choke on the blood that filled his lungs and throat. He lifted a great, green quivering hand and Morden grasped it with his own as Ebbo's life washed from his body.

Several days later, a wood elf ranger appeared in Nedaria's Landing -- the first to make a successful trip by the Farstone magic back to Antonica from the Queen of Thorns. There were others that tried, but they were not as lucky in reaching the intended destination. The magic around the great ship city was chaotic somehow.

Relieved, Dadein Shadowbow checked his arms, legs, toes, and slender, pointed ears to be sure he was all there.

Magus Wenla was startled. It had been some days since he'd last seen those who set sail on the Queen of Thorns to the Abysmal Sea. Slowly, others in the Wayfarers Brotherhood that were preoccupied by other tasks at the docks recognized Dadein and rushed over to hear any news he may have.

"Well, what of it? Where is everyone? Where did they go? What has happened? Come on! Tell us all! We've been in such a state wondering what has transpired on the seas!" Wenla urged.

"The news is mixed, my friends. It was a terrifying journey as we followed the will of the Grozmok Stone. The seas were rough and treacherous and there were moments we thought we may not survive, but then we found our way to some battered shores," Dadein said. "We stumbled onto a new continent, named Taelosia. There is a quiet race of Norrathian to be found there. You must know that we found much more than a land to find adventure and exploration."

"Gracious me! That is some news! How could we not see a whole continent? An entire race? That's preposterous!" Wenla added. The onlookers all murmured melodically with tones of surprise and doubt.

"There is so much more, friends. . .so much death and destruction," Dadein said, his eyes narrowing. "There is something else there. . .or rather some others. They are the foulest creatures. They cannot be of this world."

Everyone around moved in closer, not wanting to miss a pronounced breath of the wood elf.

"Something terrible has happened on Taelosia. We sent scouts out to learn more about what has happened there and have already lost most of them. So, now I've come to tell you and the rest of Norrath a very important message," Dadein said.

"What is it? Don't just stand there!" Wenla shouted above the crowd.

"Make ready, everyone. Gather all who are able and willing to fight," Dadein said. "Norrath is at war..."