I awoke in the night, a slippery handle was pressed into my hand. Moments later, I heard a heavy splash. I refused to believe the truth of the bloody dagger in my fist, but then the cruel morning light left me no comfortable denial. We had been four; the red dawn shone on only three.
There were some few days when this barge held thirty.
I am Androndasta. I am a simple man; you will have to forgive my simple words. I shape boards not words.
Perhaps somewhere there are still some breathing folk with silver tongues, but that is only wild hope. I am hoping heavily that it doesn’t fall to me to mark down all these things.
I am hoping for westward mountains. I am hoping to find decent folk still floating dry. I am hoping for solid ground. I have little left to me but hope and wide waters.
It began when the silver rain fell, and I saw the end. I told all who would listen, the world would be drowned. I got denounced by priests. I got spat on by the faithful fools. The faithful fools got black eyes.
Even the Prince denounced me, right along with all the other nobles. He’d had my work since we both were lads so that hurt far worse than my bruised knuckles.
In secret, he supported me. Prince Xendondrost gave to me many months stores of food. He gave me all the precious sunsap wood he could get. I built for him as quickly as I could, a sturdy barge. It took nearly all the tar in the town, but I made it watertight.
In public, he prayed and bargained and kowtowed to the town’s terrible god. Him and most other folks desperately clung onto the skirts of our ancestors.
Heldon’s Cage was built atop a great hill. This was the only thing that saved us.
As the outer gates were flooded, we climbed shaking into the half completed barge: 10 laborers under my office, 6 guards, the Prince, his young son, and the boys aged tutor.
The barge held fast, well enough. We had much room. We shared our hope and our boat with any we came across in those first endless hours of night.
We saved them, and they paid us in mutiny. The bronze adze of my Office cut through bone and traitor as well as it did wood.
We dwindled as every soul we met, heading west, tried to take our ship. The endless sea has drank much of our blood. Now our stores have dwindled too.
With one less mouth to feed, we may yet make it to the World’s Spine. I must wash clean the Prince’s blade before the Young Prince awakens. He has lost his father in the night. There is no need for the lad to know the truth.