Trouble at Sea

The terrifying warship known all across the Forzarrean Sea as the Soul Razer cut through the sparkling deep blue waters like a flame through butter. It was the center of a crescent formation of warships all under the command of the Dread Admiral, one of the liches of the Diosian Lodge and the loyal vassal of the Supreme Pontiff and Imperator of the Domain, Callidus Magna. With all of the ships of the Fourth Imperium under his command the Dread Admiral was one of the most formidable of Callidus Magna’s underlings. For this voyage he had seventy-five warships ranging in size from galleys and great galleys to the heavily armed sohars, galleasses, and caravels. It was a hodgepodge of ships, no doubt about that, but all of them flew the banner of the Fourth Imperium and many of the combat vessels flew the personal banner of the Dread Admiral as well. These were arranged in a crescent shape to form a defensive wall to protect the ninety-five merchant ships behind the warships that carried the supplies for the entire fleet.

The ships that belonged to the Dread Admiral’s personal fleet had the advantage of being crewed almost exclusively by undead. These were all oared ships and heavily armed for battle against other ships and fortifications on land. The other vessels fitted for fight were sailing ships and galleys belonging to the formerly independent city-state of San Marco that had been pressed into service by the Fourth Imperium. All of these warships were packed with armed soldiers who had been ordered to assault and capture the strategic island of Drepane and its’ many castled port city. Once secured under the control of the Fourth Imperium, Drepane would be the perfect place for it to launch the seaborne part of an Illyrian invasion, a strike against Kugahloo, or to begin a more intensive war with the Torkan Caliphates. No matter where the Grand Imperator wanted to attack in the Forzarrean Sea it was vital to control Drepane.

The voyage from Forkanza to Drepane had not gone smoothly, however. The fleet had moved steadily even at night thanks to the favorable winds. But during the last two night there had been a number of disastrous events that had caused several of the merchant ships to be disabled or sink, and three of the smaller galleys were blown to smithereens when a couple of ships packed with explosives were somehow ignited. Word was spreading among the crews of the ships that these were not accidents, either. Theories ran rampant that it was the work of foreign agents, or the vengeful acts of Illyrian gods, or perhaps something even more sinister. The naval officers from the San Marco contingent had sent word to the Dread Admiral’s flagship that they had serious concerns about what was going on and while none of them wanted to provoke the lich who was leading them off to war, they didn’t want to be sitting ducks as their vessels were crippled or destroyed, either.

The Dread Admiral was not known for his patience. Like the sea he claimed dominion over the lich was quick to change and prone to great destruction. Even a monster as powerful as the Dread Admiral knew when there was trouble brewing, though. They hadn’t existed for a thousand years just by sheer luck. Wordlessly the Dread Admiral sent telepathic instructions to the captains of his smaller, faster galleys. If there was treachery afoot, then they were going to root it out and destroy its source. The Imperator of the Domain had been clear in their orders regarding Drepane. The island was to be taken, and that wasn’t a debatable proposition.