The sea warer filled his mouth and blinded his eyes as he was buffeted violently in the waves. The flashes of lightning above registered only briefly in his mind, and the claps of thunder were merely dull groans amid the deafening white noise all around him.
He had no plan, merely sheer panic keeping his whole body moving in an attempt to avoid the inevitable. His arms were beginning to weaken, though he was too numb to feel it. His body was barely under his control now as gradually it shut itself down limb by limb. He could feel water beginning to fill his lungs, but was powerless to stop it. He no longer had any idea which direction was up or down, but for the moment existed in a state of weightlessness.
There was another flash of light and his eyes saw clearly for a second the seemingly calmness of the sea under the surface. He even fancied he saw a school of fish swimming by in the distant gloom. Everything seemed still now and the rushing by of the world around him barely registered in his mind as he closed his eyes, smiled to himself and prepared for the end.
* * *
Pushing open the brightly painted wooden door, the young woman stepped into her shop. She stood for a moment as the sunlight outside forced her eyes to adjust to the dimness of the room. Closing the door behind her, she took a few steps forward and idly ran her fingers over a large, clear globe that was rested upon a small but ornate golden stand.
"Someone is here," she whispered quietly to herself.
From the corner of the room, a figure slowly emerged, face hooded by a dark cloak. "A new door is opening." the figure said.
The woman narrowed her eyes, "Are you sure of this?"
"I am sure. Although my influence with the elements is weak, I have seen to it that he shall be delivered to us. I require you to set him on the path to the darkness."
"So I am to be your tool again? Another lamb to the slaughter?"
"You are far too flippant, Sara. If we fail this, we may never have another chance to regain the power we once weilded. You would be wise to remember that."
"Of course." she moved behind the low desk and slumped into a chair. "Well, let's get planning."
Chapter 1 : Reborn
Adol stood at the prow of the ship, enjoying the strong sea wind as if every gust were breathing a new life into his body. The afternoon sun was still high in the sky and caught his red hair like a crown of flames upon his head. He turned briefly to glance at the sails which were catching the wind like nothing he had seen before. A pair of seagulls was keeping pace with the ship, no doubt enjoying the breeze as much as he as they cried and cawed to each other. As Adol let his mind drift into thoughts of flight, a pair of weatherworn hands gripped the wooden railing beside him.
"Ah, Captain," Adol said, still watching the birds with interest. The man's toothy grin made his face crease up like an old leather bag.
"How are ya doin' my lad? Got the taste o' salt water outta yer mouth yet?" he bellowed, slapping Adol firmly on the back.
"I'm still a little shaky on my feet sir, but the worst is over I think."
"Aye," the man responded, trying to follow Adol's gaze, "Well count yer blessings boy, the Goddesses were surely lookin' out fer you that day."
Adol frowned faintly, "The Goddesses? From what I've read of your land, I though they vanished centuries ago?"
"That they have lad. But there are those of us what keep the memory, see? With all the happenings lately, we need a bit o' the old faith back."
The two seagulls began to screech and spin around each other as they kept pace with the boat.
"I wonder what's up with them?" murmured Adol, half to himself.
"I tell ye lad," the Captain said, straightening himself up and pointing ahead, "It's land!"
* * *
Adol gathered up a small bag and slung it over his shoulder. Most of his belongings had been lost to the sea, but the Captain and crew had been kind enough to provide him with a few essentials to keep him going for a while. He loved sailing and loved the open sea, but after his recent experience he was glad of the prospect of dry land for a time.
"Welcome to Minea!" the Captain bellowed.
While Adol waited for the gangplank to be lowered into place, he looked out beyond the docks to the gleaming walls of the town ahead. They were tall, about sixty feet high, with guard towers placed regularly along their length and a massive arched gateway, currently left wide open and inviting, but Adol expected that it could be dropped at a moment's notice. As he lowered his gaze he noticed there were many people about, particularly by the market stalls that lined the path into town. Things didn't look very dangerous from here.
One of the heavily tanned crewmen grunted loudly and Adol made his way down to the hard stone below - solid ground at last!