Like flies drawn to a quince or perhaps more like maggots generating from rotting flesh, the desperate ships of scavengers erupted each day on the wide horizon. The temple guards kept to their now-floating posts as best they could, but it was an unsurprisingly damned effort in this thrice-damned world.
Each passing day, after that long wet night, more of them added their blood to the waters. Dozens dwindled down to a dozen sleepless men and women. Harried and hopeless they endured. Drained and never dry, they held swords in shaking fists. Haggard shields hung heavy on bent backs.
Worse still, only six Sisters remained. There were no more to replace them. When the dance failed, the Screaming Lights and Ruinous Stones would awaken. The terrible gods of the temple below that now singular sea would issue forth and damn the world again.
It was a doomed effort, but this hard knowledge gave the guardians strange vigor. Six to the north and six to the south rose almost as one. In center, the six remaining Sisters danced madly atop the waves; their waning lives granted sleep and succor to the horrid things below. A distant hint of an ominous orange sunrise swept in from the east.
From the south ran the swift river-ships of a dwindled Tuskmen tribe. From the north a great trireme lumbered ahead, carrying with it the yelping war-cries of Dogmen.
The Tuskmen arrived first. With precise and practiced motions, they broke rank and shortly encircled their prey. The guardians had fired their last arrows days before and so waited bravely. The Sisters danced madly upon the waves.
A short, sharp, careful volley of slings and driftwood spears sent the broken guardians tumbling to the temple below. Their hot blood joined the cold waters. The Sisters danced madly upon the waves.
Then did the Tuskmen approach the Sisters, slowly and unsure in their curiosity. Their leader looked below, and in the growing light she spied the temples golden dome gleaming beneath the waves. With a forceful bellow and some few threats she called the tribe to retreat. The Sisters still danced madly upon the waves.
The Dogmen took no cautious tact. The sharp, bronze wedge on their stolen ship’s mighty prow smashed the Sisters into a bloody waste.
Almost without pause, a thousand angry orbs of screaming violet starlight tore out from the frothing ocean and rent the great ship asunder. Before a breath could be drawn, the baleful lights exploded forth in a hundred whirling arcs, passing quickly out of sight.
When the stony leviathan reared its alien head into the morning sky, it seemed almost a proper and natural being in comparison.