Winds Of Destiny, by Phil Geusz

Story name: Winds of Destiny
Author: Phil Geusz
Publication date: February 17, 1998 (on TSA-List)

Date: Spring 706 CR
Location: Metamor Keep, Whales, Spake

Overview

A prophecy of Metamor Keep is revealed, and Phil tells a story about one of Whales's costliest battles.

Summary

Thomas, Bob, and Phil visit Dr Channing in his tower for an urgent meeting, leaving a King and a minor Lord in the throne room. Channing has re-translated the original prophecy of Mad Felix of Lee, and found an error in the original translation. The prophecy tells of a great battle on land and sea against a wizard, fought at a place of three gates where knowledge freely flows, led by a horse-king. In the common translation, he is said to be accompanied by a fat old knight with hair of white; in Channing's translation, they are actually two figures, a rat of might and a hare of white. The horse-king, who people had assumed was a cavalry leader, must actually refer to Duke Thomas himself.

Thomas faints, and Channing and Bob hurry for help. Phil opens a window, and is nearly blown out, which awakens Thomas. Alone, Thomas reveals that he knows not only that Phil was the Fleet Admiral of Whales, but the heir to the throne of Whales. The King in the throne room is none other than King Tenomides, Phil's adopted father.

They hurry down to call the Keep to take shelter from an oncoming storm in the Deaf Mule, the Keep's safest shelter. Tenomides calls for celebration as the storm passes. Thomas proposes that Wanderer delight them with stories, but Wanderer's throat is sore, so Thomas proposes that Tenomides or Phil tell the tale of the Great Storm of the Central Sea, and the Battle of the Wind in which it happened. Phil is angry at having to relive the memory for others' amusement, but noticing the somber looks on both Tenomides and Thomas, Phil prepares to tell the story.

He begins with a story set in Whales's tyrannical past, of a man named Greek with two sons, one of whom invented a liquid fire, the other of whom equipped it to his merchant vessel. Together they took control of the seas from the pirates who raided them, and eventually overthrew the Empire and installed a new government. The two sons would rule jointly, one as King, the other as Guildmaster of Greek Fire. While the King held a direct line of descendance, the Guildmaster would select his most capable student as successor to the secrets of Greek Fire. Traditionally, each successor is also trained in the affairs of the other as Admiral; the King's Admiral of Ships directs naval movements, while the Guild's Admiral of Fire commands the Fleet's flagship.

Someone in the audience argues that if the Guild makes money of its Fire, and the Fire determines the winner of battle, then how could it be just to let a war be decided by wealth? Phil argues that the rulers of Whales are good at heart, that the economic pressure ensures stability, and it is better that each kingdom face one commander of the seas than to face hundreds in a series of minor wars.

Phil continues: in the Eastern Kingdom of Spake, a few years before the Battle of the Three Gates, King Iro began building a navy and conquering smaller kingdoms around him. Fearing that he would threaten their domination of the seas, Whales sent most of their fleet east, with King Tenomides and the Admiral of Fire leading. Their flagship Fist arrives later with a message, that the Guildmaster has been poisoned, and that Crown Prince Hector is aboard to escape the assassination. The new Guildmaster questions the wisdom of keeping so many rulers of Whales abroad, but Tenomides believes that his son will be safer here.

In Spake Harbor, they prepare to attack Iro's fleet when a magic storm of winds renders their ships helpless as they are driven towards the Jaw of the Devil, a line of rocks jutting on the outside of the harbor. As their ships are sunk one by one, the Guildmaster orders a shocking maneuver to steer directly towards the rocks, and get enough leverage with the wind to steer around it. Very few ships will survive it, but it is better than guaranteed death on the Jaw. The flagship Fist with the Crown Prince does not survive, and in a moment of despair, Tenomides names the Guildmaster his heir.

With only twenty ships surviving the Jaw, the fleet prepares to fight Iro's fleet of forty ships. Tenomides then reveals that he has a morph ring, with which the two of them can turn into seagulls and attack the wizard causing the magical storm. They fly to a tower and peck at a window until they are let in; inside is a demon being held by a pentagram and an array of wizards harnessing his power. They ignore the gulls flapping inside, as they are not breaking their concentration as they did at the window.

Inside, the Guildmaster finds jars of chemicals, and mixes together some Greek Fire with his beak. As King Iro storms in and demands they work harder, the Guildmaster tosses it onto him, lighting him on fire. Stumbling about in agony, he breaks the pentagram and lands in the arms of the demon, who feasts on his pain as he ravages the city of Spake. The Guildmaster becomes separated from the King, and takes a full day to return. In the aftermath of the battle, only one hundred forty-three sailors remain of the ten thousand who set out.

In the present, Tenomides and Matthias ask why Phil talks as if the Guildmaster were not him. Phil replies that he should have died that night with his men, and he could never accept the crown in his condition anyway. Tenomides counters that the Battle was the greatest naval engagement in history, that he owes him his life and his kingdom. At that moment, a tornado hits the Deaf Mule, and everyone scrambles for shelter. When the dust clears, the roof is gone. As the storm clears and the Keeper goes to find, Thomas quotes part of the prophecy mentioning a storm, and asks the "Hare of White" to take his place. Phil accepts his title as Prince of Whales, but asks that he wait at the Keep until he is ready.

Characters

Main Characters: Phil, Tenomides

Supporting: Thomas, Channing, Iro

Cameo: Matthias, Michael

Mentioned: Mad Felix of Lee, King Zachary, Wanderer, Harold, Hector, Pascal, Doug Linger

Points of Interest

  • King Zachary is a minor king from the West.
  • Barricades have been erected around a special Larch tree in the courtyard; this is Laracin, introduced in A New Season.
  • Whales is located on the Strait of Good Fortune, between the Western Ocean that adjoins the kingdoms south and west of Metamor, and the Central Sea. Oyster Bay is a prominent harbor within Whales.
  • It is said that in the Eastern Kingdoms, lutins and demons work for humans; rumor has it Iro is in league with "the Evil One".
  • In the present day (or at least since Phil last heard), the city of Spake is now in ruins, and the harbor is now a vast desert.
  • Apparently Pascal has been inventing morph rings since before the Battle of the Three Gates.
  • Channing spent the whole story studying graffiti on one of the Deaf Mule's doors.
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