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Trevor Hopkins

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Featured Book
Beyond Understanding
by richard cederberg

In this fourth and final installment the intrepid crew is taken to the limits of their endurance as they brave a subterranean world filled with dangers and bizarre wonder..  
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The Desert and the Sea
By Trevor Hopkins
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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           >> View all 7

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Story 6 from Four Square Less One.

The Magicians of the Convocation unerringly converged on one particular spot where the Red Desert met the sea. The most mundane rode on horses, with trains of camels and asses for provisions and servants. Others came floating down from the sun-baked mountains on faerie wings which emerged ethereally from beneath the flyers' robes. Yet others travelled at the helms of ships drawn by Water Daemons whose fish-like tails rippled the waters fore and aft, or in boats whose sails were filled by Daemons of the Air, all but invisible except where they roiled and flowed incessantly around mast and rigging.

All of the Convocation deployed their arts and powers to best advantage: the wands and devices wielded with the consummate skill of the Master Magician, the Scholars and Readers used their knowledge of the ancient scrolls, and the Prognosticators and Diviners invoked their techniques various and arcane. All agreed that this was to be the Placement for the new Crossing to the Other World.

This Crossing was to be situated on the coast of the desert where a narrow corridor of sun-bleached sand was bordered by the sea upon the one hand, and by a range of jagged and arid mountains upon the other. The mountain wall, weathered by daily variations of searing heat and freezing cold into knife-edge ridges and corries, effectively prevented access or invasion from the central regions.

The desert coast itself was lined with reefs and shoals, sharp and treacherous, a hazard for shipping; here the corals hugged the beach while there they stretched for leagues out into the sea. It was a wreaking coast, littered by the ribs and timbers of those unfortunate vessels whose daemons had failed, or deserted, at a calamitous moment, and dealing their crews a choice of dismal fates: death by drowning or from thirst.

In spite of the reefs and hazardous channels, the sea was an important trade route along the East coast of the Dark Continent. These routes would allow for the future and no doubt profitable distribution of goods through the newly-opened Crossing, when that momentous event came to pass.

The command from the Convocation was for Fair Trade: barter and purchase, not banditry or conquest, was unanimously decreed. The merchants and traders were already planning their stratagems: the sales of the spices and herbs quite unobtainable in this world; the medicinal preparations and elixirs for which the rich and sickly would pay handsomely; the opium and hashish that so many craved, and the fine wines and spirits that would enliven even the most jaded of palates.

Of course it was this promise of future riches that had persuaded the bankers and treasury-masters to open their coffers, the idle rich to speculate some portion of their estate, the emperors and minor kings all across this part of the world to raid their strong-boxes and counting-houses.

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