War's End

Published by Lindsay Wardell on 04/30/2018

The parade had been, in Brayand’s opinion, spectacular. The entire city had gathered to be a part of the celebrations. Banners, made by professionals and amateurs alike, had waved so thick in the space above the crowds that the sky could not be seen. All of them shared a common message: Peace for all.

None of those living within Alden, save for the small elvish population, had been alive to witness the wars before the Empire’s coming. Memories remained, etched in the stone walls and the culture of the Juralen Valley, but after five hundred years, it seemed that peace would never again be taken from the people of Alden.

At least, not during any of their lifetimes.

The parade had moved from the gates of the city, through the major avenues, past the wizard’s tower, through the market, and finally ending at the harbor. The port of Alden was a wonder in its own right; stretching the length of Alden’s southwestern point, so that it touched both the sea and the river. Enchantments kept the waves at bay, preventing any harm from befalling the ships at port. At least five ships were under construction at any time, with multiple ships coming and going throughout the day.

Brayand stood on the pier as the crowds continued their march. A band had struck up a new anthem, arranged particularly for this event. Beside him stood Lord Albindor, who appeared quite jovial for even him.

“Isn’t it fantastic?” the older man asked. “When I was a boy, I would have done anything for an event such as this.”

Brayand nodded. It was fantastic. Exactly what the people of Alden deserved.

Before them, at port in the harbor, sat the latest vessel to be completed by the Alden shipwrights. Along its fore hull was written in artistic red lettering, “War’s End.”

“It seemed fitting,” Albindor said, pointing towards the vessel. “When I heard that it would be finished at the same time as the celebration, I insisted that it be the name.”

Brayand nodded. “It’s a beautiful vessel,” he said.

The ship was massive, by comparison to the others in port. Nearly twice as long as the greatest frigates, it carried three towering masts, its sails unfurled for the presentation. On the deck, the crew moved hastily about their duties, oblivious to the goings on of the city. Wizards, stationed beside the masts, kept the wind at bay, ensuring the ship did not move from its harbor. Along each side of the vessel, beneath the deck, were six circular glass windows, each handcrafted to allow a wizard within the best view of possible threats to the ship.

“It’s the most powerful warship in the entire Ilandrian sea,” Albindor continued.” On its own, I would bet on my life it could stand against half the Daelin fleet.”

Brayand smiled. “Well, then it truly is a good thing for them that we will never need to prove such a claim.”

Albindor laughed. A trace of the old man’s youth seemed to slip into his face, a sense of giddiness. “Well, if any pirates come our way, I’ll be sure to let you know how the fight ends.”

Brayand was about to respond, when the band behind them ended its song, replaced by an enchanted voice crying above the crowd, “And now, citizens of Alden, I present our latest vessel, the War’s End!” Shouts rang from the crowd, echoing across the harbor as the sound reflected off the stone buildings.

As if spurred on by the crowd, the ship moved backwards out of the harbor, the wizards lining its deck waving their hands as the winds near the sails suddenly turned against themselves. Once the large vessel had cleared its dock, it spun on the water, as if it were a dancer. Within moments, the aft of the ship had come to face the city, the ship sailing out into the sea on its maiden voyage. As it moved, blue light shot from the glass encasements along the hull, arcing gracefully over the sea’s waves. This drew renewed cheering from the crowds.

“Does it have a mission already?” Brayand asked.

“Oh no, of course not,” Albindor readily assured him. “Merely a practice voyage. The shipwrights swore that it would channel the arcane better than anything constructed before, so we prepared a series of tests to ensure that. Nothing dangerous.”

Brayand nodded. Albindor added, “Once the test is complete, I’ll lead it on a more fitting expedition around the Suin peninsula, perhaps visit the Daelin islands.”

As the ship made its way towards the open sea, another, smaller vessel was entering. Its twin masts bore tattered sails, clearly moved by magic rather than any winds. Upon its highest point flew a plain blue banner. Albindor swore. “Of course. Geander comes into port now, of all times.”

“Geander?” Brayand asked.

“Captain Geander.” Albindor snorted. “Freelance captain from the furthest island of Daelia. He comes into Alden about once a year, always at the worst time. Last year, he showed up in the middle of a storm that had closed the port. He demanded entrance, and that the city pay for all repairs to his ship.”

The ship appeared to be approaching dangerously close to the War’s End. As it approached, the larger ship turned sharply, avoiding collision. Albindor sighed. “Typical. I’ll have a word with him when he arrives. As usual.”

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