A streak of lightning rips across the sky to the West—a sky swallowed by a dense shadow of clouds. It seemed far at first, but it’s slowly been slinking its way across the expanse of the Escatel continent’s horizon, taking the sun along with it through each mile. And at the epicenter of this storm is where the fabled Eve’s Demise is said to be. Could its location and this storm be connected?
Another rumble, though this one louder and closer.
Citizens in the towns nearest to the Escatel border hold their breath, and there’s a passing moment where nothing happens. Save for the drizzle beginning to sprinkle through, there is no more thunder—the lightning is nothing more than a dull flash, and it too is swallowed up by those thick black clouds. This was how all of the storms rolled in during these times. It wasn’t rare the water played tricks on their neighboring folk, just to keep them on their toes. Apparently a premature fright.
Until the very belly of the ocean leaps up in a massive tidal wave, looming over the shores of Tidaefel with fierce intensity. It lingers there in the air for what feels like hours.
Then, just as suddenly as it had emerged, it slams down into the land beneath it.
One by one the cities that made home on the land, as well as many of the other various landmarks, are quickly vanishing: Ennazeo Archipelago, Aargdenbur, and half of Vuurtera have been completely wiped out; Ennaza, Imata, and Nenlemn all have so much water within them that it’s hard to even see their buildings. Reenah Village, Naeeyouk, Cireyeyah, Oleande-Niarine and Gaguro seem to have been spared with some reprieve but only for a short while. The waters are uninhibited and working fast to flood the entirety of all remaining cities.
If every resident of each city was able to breathe underwater then tidal waves of this magnitude would have no significant bearing on daily life. However, this is not the case, and those without the gills and fins to maneuver the underwater landscape would surely drown if not for the sailors and other water creatures that rush in to help.
It takes a full day before scrambling to rescue the semi-drowning residents of each city turns into less of a scramble and more of an organized effort. Leaders divide rescuers into teams and parties to go to these affected areas. In this time, talk of what has happened has already caught the attention of the experts as they make calculations for what could have caused such a phenomenon to occur so unprecedentedly.
“It appears the tsunami was created from an earthquake. The earthquake itself came from the direction of Eve’s Demise, as we suspected,” meteorologists say. Yet no one thus far has put in the effort to double-check their findings. That would imply venturing into the infamous isle, and lose their sanity to its namesake. What brilliant meteorologists would they have been then without their minds? For now, it’s safer to focus on the relief effort than the ‘why’s and ‘how’s.
You, brave soul that you are, decide to aid the rescuers in their mission. The town looks as haggard as you might have expected an overflooded city to look; buildings unlucky enough to have been made with some sturdier material have been chewed through by saltwater, and the air feels thick and humid still. Those who have already been helped by others are quick to flag you down, gossiping about the hearsay in hushed tones.
“They say it’s a natural disaster but... I’m not buying it. Too sudden—someone should have predicted this coming. Waves have never been this bad.”
“Eve’s Demise sounds like an awful convenient scapegoat. What if they’re hiding something?”
“I always thought Escatel was full of scoundrels. Maybe some of them there mercenaries ran short a few loonoles and needed a quick fix.”
Like with all gossip, it’s difficult to make heads or tails of what’s truth, what’s fiction, and what’s been spun out of the fears and ire of the people. All that’s left to do is pick up the pieces and prevent more casualties from spreading. With time, hopefully someone will have the answers. Or maybe we won’t know, as nature has always been an untamed beast. Though it can’t be denied that something feels a little off.
It’s been a whole week, and an exhausting one at that. Back and forth, to and fro, everyone’s been running and bumping into each other as they try to reshape what’s been lost or help the refugees find shelter for their coming days. Is it still Monday? You could have sworn it was Monday yesterday. And the day before that. Yet despite the grueling nature of it all, there has been some progress, especially on the side of rumors.
What had started as something more whispered in confidence has grown into more of a public hearing. Pairs and trios will gather around off to the side of work being done in order to chatter about what really caused that tidal wave. How could they possibly believe the word of meteorologists if they had yet to go and confirm their findings with their own eyes? It was too naive to trust their word when they’d been unable to identify the seismic wave of the earthquake on a Richter scale. An earthquake could have caused a tidal wave, perhaps, but it certainly wouldn’t have created a storm so intense that the heat of each lightning strike could have singed the leaves off the trees. If they were so sure, why had no one still gone there? Why?
Gossip and uncertainty wasn’t the only fog clouding the continent; from the northwest, a dense haze has been layering over the lands, reaching as far as Hafal. Every so often, those same thunders from before warn of their arrival in the skies. Yet no rain or precipitation has gathered in the clouds. The weather itself has not been consistent, from dry to cool temperatures, but one thing has, and that’s the thunders.
Between aiding the missions and the people, the only solace in the day can be found during sleep. Or at least that was usually the case. Those resting peacefully are abruptly awoken by a call from one of the night watchtowers; lights have been spotted underneath the water, moving and curving like the body of a Natbaktera. The call comes from the shores of Reenah Village. Curious, you go to investigate. It seems you’re not the only one drawn in by the noise, as there’s quite a few onlookers on the shores, staring on in bewilderment.
“Up and on your feet!” a voice calls out from the darkness of the ocean, brandishing a rapier in the crisp night air. They’re commandeering a group of similarly bodied creatures that dive and swim one by one. “No sense standing around and being useless!”
You’ve heard of pirates before—they’re quite abundant in Escatel amidst the mercenaries and scavengers that are often spoken of. Every city is not without its thieves and adventurers. These individuals seem to belong to that same kind, so what in the world could they be doing this far into the ocean? It definitely sounds worth investigating. You decide to follow these ‘pirates’. It could be worth noting just to quell some of these rumors still floating about.
News has been abuzz since the addition of the sea-faring crew making their appearance to the masses. If one thing has remained consistent, despite their introduction, it’s the wave of confusion since the beginning of the floods. As you would expect, many of the denizens that night upon the pirates’ proclaimed arrival were nonplussed by their entrance—as nonplussed as they were suspicious. Pirates didn’t always translate to ill will, and yet the stories of their good deeds were few and far between. The lands were already struggling to cope by a ravaged and angry ocean. What more would the pirates have been able to take from them?
Fortunately for most of those displeased individuals, they take great pleasure in the fact that the pirates haven’t committed many other crimes. Unfortunately, however, they haven’t completely disappeared either.
The Gea Isles house the pirates for the time being; you discover this because one-by-one curious folk have headed in that direction. Whether they had originally belonged to the town you helped in the relief effort, or whether they had been pirates all along in the fray, is hard to deduce. Nonetheless, there’s an air of outsiders unwelcome. Thus, you dress yourself to play the part—don in hats and coats and other pirate memorabilia to hide the outsider you are. Staying at the very back of the crowds, you watch as a hulking Wolfren steps up at the crowd’s peaking point. Scars litter their body. Their mane of dark fur is wild beneath their black captain’s hat, and their jowls framed perfectly by two sharp canine teeth. Despite their peg leg, their posture is straight and undeterred by physical disability. If not for seeing the wooden prosthetic yourself, you may not have even known it was there.
When they turn to face their captive audience, a grin to match their mane splits the face.
“I would say this has been a success, wouldn’t you all agree?” The Wolfren captain’s voice is a bellow in the cave, making you feel surrounded. “And it was not easy, my friends, let me share with you that. One day was all it took to raise the waters and look at where we’ve gotten now.”
A few cheers ring out amongst the crowd.
“But far be it from me to say we’re done,” the Wolfren captain continues, large paws sliding behind their back in an at-ease pose. “Because we most certainly are not. I still have big plans. Very, very big plans… These few cities were only just the appetizer, and I know you all must be as hungry as I am! And there’s still so much more ground we need to cover if we have any hope of traveling these waters as freely as we wish.”
“What’s next, cap’n, sir?” someone from the front asks.
“Well, we wash, rinse, and repeat. Once we generate yet another heat wave to unsettle the wind currents of Escatel, the process starts anew somewhere else. I’m willing to bet my other leg and a fang that the silly folktales I catch in the pub aren’t just a pup’s bedtime story. Zytrur’s as connected to the oceans as you or me. And when they awaken, you can say goodbye trees and dirt and hello hundreds of thousands of sea-miles for us to lay claim to!”
The response among the audience is mixed and tepid as some shuffle on their feet, murmuring their agreements. The Captain clicks his tongue at this, grin fading to a smirk.
“Tonight, we set sail to Naeyouk,” he says. “What’s theirs is ours for the taking. And after we’ve filled our bags and our pockets, we’ll find the Atlasean.”
This creates more of a ruckus from the audience as they whoop and holler. In the mix of their enthusiasm, you take a moment to slip unnoticed from the group. It feels like a lot more has been thrown at you. All you’d come to do was help in the relief effort.
Now, what will you do?