Those events in history which alter the course of the future seldom leave any survivors to record it. Fortunately for us, though the dawn of our newest age was bloody and savage, many yet live to remember it. However, if it’s morn is any indication, this age will be a dark one, and we ought to fear oblivion as much as we fear death – for some things must not be forgotten. If you read these lines in the years of decades that have not yet passed, not knowing the outcome of the tale already, it means our outlooks are grim. For if you know not what happened during the War of the Dawn, it means all of us who were there live no more. And yet, if you are reading these lines, at least my efforts to record our deeds were not in vain. The history of every civilisation is filled with many events of significance and influence, however sometimes a single event, a single period or single turning-point can be considered to be of the greatest importance above all others. I imagine that in our history, the point of greatest change will be remembered as when we learned we were not alone – but I get ahead of myself. My name is Rangatira Hautoa Hoia. I was a warmaster of the Ixamil soldiers in the War of the Dawn, and I fought beside Kotahitanga Iku’anga Ohipa. Much of what I recount here today, I heard from him and his companions. This tale – his tale – like so many others, began on a beach…
Iku lazily scanned the distant horizon for the thousandth time that day. The sun had just begun its descent from high noon, as evidenced by short shadows growing at the base of the three poles that formed the structure of Iku’s humble guard post. He had just awoken from a not-so-short nap which he could allow himself due to the mundanity of his task. He was the only guard stationed on the southwest shore of the island of Tnipatla. While Tnipatla was the second largest island of the Ixamil Archipelago, no danger ever approached from the southwest. For starters, the island itself was the southwesternmost inhabited land of the Archipelago, with only the Talons of Lixam beyond. Those ominous stone fangs were uninhabitable, and no ship would venture near them. The majority of Tnipatlan cities lay on the northern and eastern shores, making this stretch of coast a poor target for raiders. The coast was of so little import, in fact, that it was one of the very few places in all of Ixamil with no name. That said, due to the local’s love of naming things, this characteristic resulted in the beach being christened “The Nameless Coast”.
In all honesty, Iku’s task was no task at all, but punishment, for a task that provides no challenge yields no honor. Kotahitanga Iku’anga Ohipa was a young warrior who hastened the dusk of his career early on in his life with a grave mistake. He was formerly a guard in Koura, the largest city of Tnipatla, which was a rare honour for one as young as he. However, in his negligence, he allowed a group of thieves to make off with a prized trinket that belonged to a wealthy local merchant, who happened to be the brother-in-law of the Captain of the Guard.
And so for the past three months, Iku watched the same calm waves wash up on the same shore, with nothing of interest ever occurring. He made note of a small crab scurrying past on the sand in front of the small tent. It was the fifth that day, and the sixty-third that week.
Interesting. – Iku thought to himself. – There were always more gulls than crabs before today. – The local wildlife was his only company. He made it a habit of picking up and placing his spear in a different part of the small tent everyday, if only to prevent it from accumulating dust. Countless hours still remained until dusk, which was his favorite part of the day, as the multi-colored stars on the sky became visible early, and provided a truly beautiful sight in symphony with the warm orange, pink and blue hues of sundown.
He once again trailed his eyes across the far horizon. The slight difference in color was the only way to differentiate the sky from the sea, as the waves were so small that the horizon seemed to be a straight, unmoving line. This was only broken in one place. In the distance three ominous, sharp pillars rose from the water, seemingly piercing the sky itself. They all grew, so to speak, from a single area, but jutted in different directions. The Talons were a mystery to all, for none who approached them ever returned. Iku returned to his tent and decided to doze off again, lacking anything else to do. Just as he was about to drift into sleep, an extremely loud crash tore through the air. He quickly peered out of the tent, spear in hand, looking along the coast in both directions. Not seeing anything, he quickly scurried to the back of the tent, feathers on his scalp quivering. He scanned the treeline of the distant jungle, but nothing was amiss. Turning around, for the first time he saw something new on the horizon. From behind the Talons of Lixam, a thin trail of smoke rose into the sky. Whether is was emanating from the stone pillars themselves, or another source, Iku could not determine. He ran up a nearby flat stone sitting in the sand of the beach which gave him a slightly better vantage point, but he saw nothing still.
For the next few hours he remained perched on the stone, keeping his eyes on the Talons, feathery hands gripping his spear. The trail of smoke slowly grew faint until it disappeared entirely. By the time dusk was setting in, Iku had begun to doubt the crash and smoke was even real. It must be this beach. – he thought. No good can come from seeing those accursed pillars every day.– He settled on the stone, dipping his bony feet into the warm seawater. The dance of colors in the sky and their reflection in turquoise water had begun while he was observing the Talons, and he lost himself in his thoughts. After some time – it could not have been long – he made note of a dark spot out at sea. The distinctive color of the water could not be seen, nor the colors of the sky. The same feeling of anticipation mingled with fear that he felt upon seeing the smoke had returned. His eyes have not deceived him. Something was being washed ashore…
Next: Chapter 1