A Portent of Things to Come

Only a few days had passed since the Dread Admiral had overseen the wildly chaotic Battle of Drepane. The Illyrians had shown up as expected, but what had been quite unexpected was the amount of damage that his fleet has taken in the nights leading up to this confrontation and the interference of the leviathan that arose from the depths of the sea solely to meddle in the doings of this seafaring lich. There was a great deal that the Dread Admiral could discern from his experiences on the high sea and his past dealings with various naval powers. Magical divination could assist him greatly as well. And yet there were still the unknowns to contend with.

Liches do not, as a rule, appreciate surprises. Nobody has ever caught a lich off guard and found them thankful for the experience. The Dread Admiral was no exception to this rule. He did all he could to know what he was up against and how to best defeat any obstacle that stood in his way. There had been too many unknowns of late. The Dread Admiral found it frustrating and angering. All of his considerable power and magical prowess had been tied up during the Battle of Drepane just trying to extricate himself and his ship, Soul Razer, from the clutches of the leviathan. Eventually the beast had given up the fight and released the Soul Razer but not until it had prevented the Dread Admiral’s flagship from being able to contribute in any meaningful way to the overall naval battle. If anything the magical energy that was unleashed had served to undermine the lich by destroying a number of his more capable warships that happened to have been in close proximity to the Soul Razer and leviathan’s fight. This unexpected diversion had given the Illyrian fleet a chance to cause some truly impressive destruction of their own on the Imperium’s invasion forces and by the end of the day the Dread Admiral had to cede the waters around Drepane to his enemies and withdraw.

Humiliating as this had been it seemed to only get worse. Some of the merchant ships pressed into service by the Imperium to haul troops and supplies were attacked by what the Dread Admiral could only define as pirates. These ships full of vital invasion supplies were savagely mauled by the seaborne raiders that sank or disabled many that were unable to keep pace with the withdrawing Imperium forces. The Dread Admiral was less concerned with these ships than he was with his own warships that managed to avoid any serious harm after disengaging with the Illyrians. Enough damage had been done to both sides that there was an unspoken relief to be able to sail the other way and end the fight. All except those confounded pirates.

This is when the unthinkable happened. One of the Dread Admiral’s own scout ships, a small galley called the Eel, was making its way slowly back to Sikilian waters and relative safety when something went terribly wrong. The captain of the Eel was a necromancer who had faithfully served the Dread Admiral for years. Their connection was unshakeable and the lich could see through the eyes of this minion as if peering through his own. But something unexpected happened. Again with the surprises! No sooner had the necromancer indicated the presence of an unknown sailing ship than the Dread Admiral had lost all contact with his minion and indeed lost all track of the Eel and the rest of its crew. This was no minor annoyance. Scouring the area using magical scrying the lich could not see anything through an impenetrable fog that seemed to have arisen from nothing and now enveloped the lich’s divinations utterly.

Less than half an hour later the Dread Admiral had a sinking feeling that all was not well with his errant scout ship. The sorcerous cloud lifted and the lich could see the unmistakable presence of debris floating in the water where the Eel had been. No sign of his ship or its crew was anywhere to be found. If this was a portent of things to come, the Dread Admiral had an incredibly powerful enemy running loose. This would not stand. Liches hated unknown enemies even more than they hated being caught off guard.