The Tempest Guild
Emeline lay naked on the cool stones of her garden as her translucent green skin
soaked in the sun’s energy. The longer she stayed in the sun, the more opaque her skin
became until her body could not absorb any more sunlight. She was approaching that
point of complete absorption when she heard footsteps approach.
“Pardon, Madam Prime Minister, but there’s someone here to see you,” Leana
Leana was Emeline’s assistant. She wore the traditional clothing of the Borean
people: a loose-fitting white smock tied at the waist with a green band. Her translucent
skin reacted to the direct sunlight by turning cloudy.
“I’m done here anyway,” Emeline said as she sat up. She put on a similar smocklike garment. However, Emeline’s had the seal of Borea on it: an outline of the Sun in
orange and filled in with solid green. She paused at the symbol and thought of the way
dissidents were altering it to their preference. “Do you think those who desecrate our
seal really understand what it would be like to live amongst the Krag?”
“I’m not sure they understand anything, really. Perhaps we’ve been at peace too
long?” Leana traced her finger lightly around the symbol on Emeline’s garment.
Emeline watched Leana’s finger move slowly over her abdomen. Leana retracted
her finger, and the pair turned and walked toward a large, white building. “Their numbers are growing, along with their annoying protests.”
“Perhaps you should authorize a peace mission and send them into the mountains? That should take care of those ungrateful souls.” Leana lopped off the head of a
flower with a quick swipe of her hand. “Or send them to Sinistra as a gift to the king.”
Emeline stopped and frowned at her assistant. The Prime Minister bent over and
picked up the broken flower.
“I’m sorry, Madam Prime Minister. That was inappropriate.” Leana inclined her
head toward Emeline.
“Don’t ever let anyone else hear you say things like that, Leana. Not only would
they be poisonous to me politically, but it would be detrimental to your personal safety.”
Emeline laid the flower on the grass, off the beaten path.
“You’d think five hundred years would be long enough for those wounds to heal,”
Leana said as she straightened up and gave a wry smile.
Emeline shook her head. “You do like to push things, don’t you?”
“That’s why you have me around, isn’t it? To counter the fawning of Lord
It was hard to keep the fact that she agreed with Leana’s thoughts and feelings to
herself, but as the Prime Minister of Borea, she had to represent all of her people, not
just those she agreed with. She wished she could totally be herself when it was just she
and Leana, but something inside Emeline told her to hold back, to preserve those deep,
dark truths to herself. “Perhaps, but why do I have the feeling you’re going to be the end
of my distinguished career?”
“On the contrary, Madam Prime Minister. I make you shine in the eyes of the
“Yes, well, not if anyone gets wind of some of the comments you make in private.”
If Leana only knew how much I want to resign and run away with her, she might flee
“I will endeavor to watch myself, PM.”
Emeline stopped and pulled a small lock of Leana’s hair, and then leaned in
quickly to give her a peck on the lips.
“You manage to serve me in many ways,” Emeline cooed.
“I serve at your pleasure.”
The office of the Prime Minister looked more like an arboretum than the seat of
the Borean government. Ornate, white steel buttresses rose thirty feet into the air, giving
the room the feel of open space. Large bay windows overlooked the lush countryside,
and plants of all varieties filled the air with a sweet, aromatic scent. Thankfully, the large
mountains that ringed Borea kept the Convulsions out and enabled Boreans to build
As Emeline and Leana entered, they were greeted by two rustic-looking Boreans
surrounded by men from the Capital Guard. The disheveled young men looked to be
from the harbor as their clothes matched the gray smocks worn by those who worked on
In front stood Lord Hyama, the prime minister’s chief counsel and political advisor. Most Boreans had slender frames, but Hyama was the exception that proved the
rule. He was large and round like a cue ball. His clothes were specially made just for
him, as there were no smocks that fit his size in the local shops and marketplaces. While
most Boreans did not eat much food, Hyama liked nothing more than a large, wellcooked meal. Rarely could he be found out in the sun absorbing his nutrients.
“Welcome, fellow citizens. How may I be of service today?” Emeline said. She indicated for the boys to have a seat on the fancy chairs, but they simply looked at each
other and then back at the Prime Minister.
“Perhaps we should just get right to the matter,” Emeline said, pursing her lips.
Lord Hyama turned and grabbed the smock of the young man on his left and
shoved him forward. “Stop wasting the prime minister’s time. Tell her what you’ve
The boy from the harbor spoke. When he was through, Emeline had to take a
seat. “Take me to him.”
“Surely, Madam Prime Minister, that can wait until the healers have confirmed—
“Lord Hyama. I want to see him. NOW!”
“As you wish.” Hyama attempted a bow, but his large belly only allowed him to
make a slight lean in Emeline’s direction.
The group walked briskly outside toward two waiting carriages. The two young
men and Leana got into the first carriage while Emeline and Lord Hyama climbed into
“We don’t know it’s him yet, Em,” Hyama said.
“Ham, would those boys be here if they weren’t sure it was my father?”
“If it’s true, then we have a big problem.”
Emeline clutched at her throat and tried to stay within herself. “If this is true,
then we’re at war.”
“I could give you an answer, but I don’t think you’d like it,” Phaedra said, picking
her teeth with the stock of a green, weed-like plant. She wore a brown leather vest,
rubbed shiny with use, over a dirty long-sleeve blouse that was once white. Her black
wool pants had frayed hems and poorly patched holes in the knees. Her unwashed black
hair stuck out in all directions and stood out against her pale green skin.
“You think I’m going to buy that now that you’ve stuck it in your mouth?” the boy
said. “I want one that hasn’t been slobbered over.”
“Want has nothing to do with it. Show me the coin or start walking.” Phaedra
looked around at the nearly empty harbor area.
The slight breeze coming off the water ruffled the boy’s shirt as he contemplated
his decision. Phaedra took a pull from the leather wine skin and wiped the excess on her
“See, I told you this one didn’t have the coin. Just here to harass me,” Phaedra
said to the seven-foot tall rabbit sitting on the opposite side of the log Phaedra was
“Who are you talking to?” the boy asked.
“A tall, furry rabbit.”
The boy held up both of his hands as if in surrender. “Wow, they were right.
You’re crazy.” He turned and started to walk away.
“So, that’s a no on the purchase, then?” Phaedra laughed as she took another
“Forget it. I’ll go find Persillian weed somewhere else. And from one who’s not
ugly and crazy at the same time.”
“Is that the best you got?” she said as the boy walked away.
Phaedra turned to the rabbit. “There goes the future Captain of the Royal Guard.”
“Perhaps the boy is right? Picking your teeth with the product is probably not the
best way to go about selling it.”
“For something that doesn’t exist, you sure do bust my ass a lot. I’m not sure why
you’ve suddenly come along, but I must have done something wrong to piss off the
Gods. Can’t you go haunt someone else?” Phaedra said, putting the long, thin green
weed back in the leather pouch tied around her waist.
“Regardless of what you think, I am not a figment of your imagination,” the rabbit said.
“You use funny words. I don’t even understand you half the time,” Phaedra
slurred before taking another drink of wine.
“Perhaps if you stopped fogging your brain with that wine and actually paid attention to life with a clear mind, you might learn a great deal about me and the world.”
“See, right there. What does that even mean? Seriously, leave me alone. It’s hard
enough being a Crosser in Warrington as it is. When everyone thinks you’re crazy on top
of it, it’s damn near impossible to sell any weed.”
“Precisely. Time for you to give up selling a mind-altering substance, which, by
the way, happens to be against the law.”
“I’m not afraid of the watchmen. Thanton has them pretty much in his pocket.
Anyways, they don’t ever seem to bother me,” Phaedra said, finishing the last of the
wine. “There you go. You distracted me. Now I’m out of wine. Guess I’m done for the
“And to think, you almost lasted until the midday sun.”
“I don’t need a mother. Go back to where you came from, Rabbit!”
“My name is not Rabbit. My name is Fiona. You know this.”
“Why would I name a hallucination? Then I really would be crazy.”
Phaedra tilted the wine skin up over her mouth and held it open to get every last
drop. She stumbled up the hill away from the harbor and toward the city proper. She’d
had another unsuccessful morning, and she knew Thanton wasn’t going to be pleased
with her lack of sales. If she kept it up, she would be out on the streets again. How would
she be able to afford wine? She would have to steal or beg or sneak into the taverns and
drink the dregs left on the tables.
As she topped the rise of the small hill that overlooked the bay, a group of boys
rounded the corner. Phaedra attempted to sidestep out of their way, but she stumbled
into one of them. He shoved her to the ground and the boys surrounded her. She sold
Persillian weed on behalf of Thanton, and that afforded her protection. However, at that
moment in time, she didn’t think the boys standing over her cared. Thanton wasn’t there
and neither was Yokrath, which meant she was on her own.
“Look what we have here, boys. A Crosser,” the boy she had run into said.
“Man, is she ugly. Can you imagine giving birth to something that grotesque?”
The first boy leaned in close to Phaedra’s face. “Your father should’ve done the
proper thing and drowned you in the sea instead of forcing us to look at your disgusting
Phaedra spat in his eye. The boy backhanded her across the cheek, but instead of
sobbing and crying like he expected, she put a hand to her face, checked for blood, and
then smiled at him.
“I wouldn’t get in many fights if that’s the hardest you can hit,” Phaedra slurred.
The boy grabbed her by the collar and slugged her in the face with a closed fist.
She could feel blood rush into her nose and out her mouth. She spat at him again. He
picked her up until she was standing and then he punched her in the stomach. Phaedra
collapsed to the ground, struggling for breath.
“How about that, bitch? Hard enough for you?” the boy said. He surveyed his
mates around him with a proud grin. He stopped smiling when he felt the breeze suddenly rise out of nowhere. It blew their hats off their heads and ruffled their hair.
“Is that a Convulsion?” one of the boys said, terror in his voice.
“Impossible, it’s not the season yet,” another said.
“Let’s get out of here,” a third boy said.
The boy standing over Phaedra leaned over and grabbed the pouch around her
waist. “We’re not leaving until we get her weed.”
“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” a voice said from behind them.
All of the boys turned to see a Farragate man with an enormous battle axe slung
over his shoulder. He stood around six feet tall and had short black hair. He didn’t wear
the typical naval outfit of a Farragate, but instead opted for Sinistrian dress, tailored
down for his smaller stature. Even though he was a full grown man, young Sinistrian
boys easily matched him in height. “You boys best get out of here before I take this axe
off my shoulder. Once it comes off, it thirsts for blood.”
“Let’s get out of here,” one of the boys repeated.
The boys ran off, except for the one standing over Phaedra. “A Crosser and now a
Farragate. This country is going to shit.” The boy reached quickly for the pouch on
Phaedra’s waist. His hand was smacked hard with the blunt end of the battle axe. The
boy withdrew his hand and hustled away mouthing a litany of profanity.
The breeze had begun to turn to a brisk wind. The Farragate man looked to the
skies for a clue, but they were clear. “This isn’t Convulsion season yet,” he said out loud
to himself. His amused face turned to worry.
“Easy, child. Try and calm yourself,” Fiona said, putting a hand on Phaedra’s
shoulder. “Just try and breathe easy.”
As Phaedra caught her breath, the whipping breeze faded until it disappeared altogether.
“Nice axe,” Phaedra managed to say through labored breaths.
“Why, thank you very much,” he said as he helped her to her feet and held the axe
out in front of him.
“I didn’t say I wanted to look at it.”
“I don’t think you quite understand what’s happening. I will be taking that Persillian weed off of your hands.”
“What? Are you serious? Do you know who I work for?”
“I suspect his name is Thanton?”
“Right. Now, let me pass.”
“The weed, please?”
“Are you serious?”
“I’m afraid I am,” he said looking around to see if the boys were returning. “Now,
hurry up. I wouldn’t want to ruin that pretty head of yours.”
“Go spit on yourself. I’m not giving you my weed.”
Before she knew what was happening, he slammed the butt of the axe into her
stomach. She fell to the ground again, the wind knocked out of her once more. He
reached down, ripped the leather pouch from her waist, and stood.
“I’m sorry about that. I’d really rather not hurt you. Zack’s the name. Be sure and
tell Thanton I said hello.” Zack turned and walked away.
Phaedra leaned against the building as she caught her breath. “Now what am I
going to do? You know Thanton is going to make me pay for that missing weed.”
“Tell him what happened. You can’t be held responsible if someone steals it from
you,” Fiona said, sitting next to her.
“You don’t know Thanton, do you? He won’t believe that it was stolen from me.
He’ll think I kept it for myself or pocketed the money. No, I’ll have to pay. I’ll never get
out his debt now.”
“Is that why you do this? Because you owe him?”
“I’d rather not talk about it.”
“How about you just forget him? Leave the city and never look back. Go find others who are like yourself and make friends. You said you always wanted to see the world.
Take them with you. Now is your chance.”
“I don’t have any friends because no one wants to be friends with a Crosser.”
“You’re not the only one in Talam with a mixed heritage. Anyone who spends
time with you knows you just want to be a part of a group, surrounded by people who
care about you,” Fiona said as she grabbed Phaedra by the shoulders and looked at her
“What do you know about it? Or me? Nothing! Besides, one has to have money to
see the world. Not to mention there aren’t a lot of ships that take Crossers.”
“The Farragates are a fair people. They do not care what color your skin is. They
only care about the color of your coin.”
“Coin. Great. Yeah, I don’t have any of that either. No, I’m stuck here.”
“I wish you would reconsider. There’s so much more for you out there. You just
have to grab it.”
“I wish you would finally disappear and leave me alone. Now, if you’ll excuse me,
I have a severe beating to endure.”
The young prince sighed heavily as he climbed the steps to the old man’s room. It
was obvious the king thought highly of the old man, because he was always quoting or
sharing some comment or thought that came from the Druid. He was supposed to be
some all-knowing wizard, but as far as the prince could tell, he couldn’t do anything to
stop the king’s obsession with Borea and war.
He rapped on the solid wood door, but there came no response. The prince
banged with his fist and he heard a weak “Enter.”
The young man stepped into the large room that seemed more like a jungle than a
bedroom in the highest tower of Warrington Castle. Tower was a bit of a misnomer, as
there weren’t really towers in Sinistra that stuck out above the rest of the castle. If there
were, they would’ve been destroyed by Convulsions long ago. But as far as being the
highest room in the castle carved out of rock, the Druid Fermoy’s was higher than anyone’s. This was a source of constant bitching and moaning from Prince Aeron’s younger
brother. Crawling up each of the four walls were strands and strands of ivy that
stretched up to the ceiling. Plants adorned the sills of each of the two windows, and a pot
of flowers flanked each side of the old man’s bed. The plants didn’t bother Aeron as
much as the number of bugs and flies buzzing around the room.
“Ah, Prince Aeron. What a pleasure to see you,” the Druid said. The old man had
a piece of Persillian weed sticking out of his mouth. Aeron couldn’t remember the last
time he saw Fermoy not chewing on that weed.
“Master Fermoy. My father has requested your presence.”
“And he sent his son to fetch me? Must be something serious to make the prince
walk up all those steps,” Fermoy said as he finished watering the plants on the window
sill facing the crashing ocean below.
“It’s a matter of some importance I suspect,” Aeron said.
“If the king has summoned me, it is always important, young man.”
Another reason Aeron disliked Fermoy so much: he constantly treated Aeron as if
he were still ten years old.
Fermoy put down the water can and stroked his wooden walking stick that lay
against the side of his headboard. Fermoy treated the stick as if it were made of gold instead of just some old rotten piece of wood. Aeron had been meaning to ask the Druid
about it, but he hadn’t drummed up the patience yet to hear the undoubtedly longwinded answer.
“Lead on then, my boy. It’s not every day I get escorted by a prince.”
The old man grabbed the walking stick and they were out the door.
The king stood at a large wooden table that had several detailed maps strewn
across it. At present, the king and his advisors were poring over a map of Borea. The
land of their enemy was a large island, about two thousand miles off the east coast of
Sinistra. The Boreans lived on the lush valley floor while their blood enemies, the Krag,
lived up above the clouds in the mountains that ringed the island.
“We have reports of several Farragate captains docking at the port in Erast and
meeting with the Borean prime minister,” one of the advisors standing next to the king
“Bitch is probably plying them with a lifetime’s worth of free ale. Wouldn’t take
much more than that to buy off those sea-faring rubes,” the king said. Everyone around
the table nodded in agreement.
Aeron and Fermoy stood at the bottom of the steps waiting to be acknowledged.
Finally, the king turned and noticed his son and the Druid standing there, and he dismissed everyone.
“Come, Aeron and Master Fermoy. Let us have a drink out on the terrace. I need
to get some fresh air.”
The three strolled outside onto a large terrace that overlooked the ocean below. It
was almost the exact same view as seen from the Druid’s chambers but much closer to
the water. It was hard to hear each other talk over the crashing waves below. A steward
brought out a jug of wine and some fruit and cheese before being waved away by the
“Did you know, Master Fermoy, that my ancestors used to throw Boreans out of
the window in your room to their deaths in the ocean below?” the king asked as he
poured himself a glass of wine. He took a sip without offering any to his son or the
“Yes, your Grace. A horrible time that we would all be better off forgetting,” Fermoy said.
“I must disagree. If we forget what happened before, it will likely happen again.”
“Very wise, your Grace.”
“Don’t patronize me, Druid! I don’t keep you around to suck on my toes like all
these other thankless kiss-asses around here.” The king shot a quick glance at his son.
Aeron stared down at the ground. “I think chewing that weed has softened your brain
over the years.”
“My apologies, your Grace,” said Fermoy. “I only meant that what happened so
long ago caused so much pain the world is still dealing with today. I believe it would be
better for all concerned if we could keep the past where it belongs and concentrate on
the here and now. Unfortunately, as witnessed by the council meeting we stumbled
upon, it seems we are bracing for yet another war with Borea. One that could be avoided, I believe.”
“We have been warring with Borea ever since their emancipation. They can’t
seem to take an apology at face value. Bent on revenge, the lot of them.” The king gulped
down his wine and poured himself another glass.
“Wouldn’t you be mad, father, if we were the ones enslaved for centuries?” Aeron
“See, Fermoy. Even my son can’t seem to let go of the past. Studies everything
there is to know about the Boreans and their land. I used to joke that perhaps my wife
had slipped over to Borea and bedded one of theirs. But alas, the lad has no green skin.
So he must be mine. Keeps bugging me about sending him as an emissary to Borea to
head off this coming war. I keep telling him that I’m afraid if I send him over there, I’ll
never get him back, and he’ll probably end up fighting for their side. He knows too much
about our defenses though. Can’t have that. So the boy stays here.”
Aeron’s hands were balled into fists as his father spoke, and he had to consciously
tell himself to relax them lest he push is own fingernails through the backs of his hands.
“I think Prince Aeron would make a fine emissary, your Grace. Perhaps you
should think on it some more?” Fermoy said.
Maybe the old Druid wasn’t so bad after all.
“Bah!” The king gulped down another glass before pouring another. “Enough of
this nonsense. Down to the reason I sent for you. Despite pending hostilities, it’s still our
turn to send a scout ship up north and report back on the Northern Ice Pack.”
“I don’t know why we keep sending ships up there. Nothing ever changes. That
ice pack isn’t going to melt. At least, not anytime soon,” Aeron said. He never understood why his father worried about such insignificant things.
The king and prince seemed to pause and wait for a response from Fermoy. The
old Druid was holding up his walking stick and staring at it, as if waiting for it to talk to
“Well, sir. What say you?” the king finally said, growing impatient.
“I think checking on the Northern Ice Pack is an excellent idea, Your Grace. But
I’m curious, why summon me for this discussion?”
“Because I want you to go and report back to me directly. I don’t trust anyone else
right now. Frankly, I can’t spare any of my good men so I thought it might be nice to get
a report from you.”
“Meaning I’m expendable?”
“No, not at all, Master Fermoy. It’s just you’re needed elsewhere at the moment.
As a matter of fact, I want you to take the prince here with you.”
“What?” Aeron said. “I don’t want to leave and go on some boring expedition up
north to look at a bunch of ice. Not when there’s a war about to happen.” His father never seemed to tire of sending Aeron on foolish errands in an attempt to show him the
world and how it works. Aeron supposed it was smart of his father to want his heir to
know as much about the world as possible before taking over as sovereign, but most of
the trips were trivial in nature. Going to see a large chunk of ice topped them all in the
waste of time department.
The king put down his wineglass and grabbed his son by the collar. “I am your
king. You will do as I command or I will throw you in a salt cell. Would you like to see
how long you can hold your breath?”
Aeron shook his head. His father was quick to temper recently and Aeron didn’t
understand why. If the king wasn’t hell bent on starting a war with Borea, then there
would be peace. Perhaps his father didn’t want peace. Aeron’s grandfather had waged
the last war with Borea and he brought much glory to the family, but there hadn’t been
open hostilities since. Something had happened to make his father angry with the Boreans.
“Why can’t you be more like your brother? He and I see eye to eye, whereas you
and I—well.” The king let go of his son’s shirt.
Aeron began to protest, but something in his father’s eyes told him now was not
the time to tweak his father. “Yes, Your Grace. As you command.”
The king picked up the wineglass. He took a sip and then reached back with his
arm, and threw the glass over the edge into the ocean below. “Fine. The ship awaits you
both at the dock. You’re to leave first thing in the morning. Now, if there’s nothing else,
I’ve got a war to plan.”
The king left Aeron and Fermoy alone on the terrace. Aeron poured himself a tall
glass of wine and attempted to drink it in one gulp like his father, but he coughed halfway through and ended spitting most of it out. “Some day, I will be king. And I will piss
on his grave.”
“You’re too hard on your father. He is a good king. He just has a lot on his plate.”
“The story of my life.” Aeron threw his glass over the side, but a sudden gust
picked it up and the two had to duck to keep from being struck by the flying projectile.