The Legend of the 1500, Part 6

Day 107. 81 pages, 36,200 words.

To my surprise, although I should probably have expected it, Creepy had rather huffily departed to achieve honour and glory on his own by the time I finished my noodles and had set up my next series of malfunction tests in the garage. There was also a letter, written in blue biro and pinned crudely to our front door. I wrenched out the hatchet holding it in place and tucked the weapon absently head-first into my jacket pocket while scanning the note.

I recognised Yoru’s handwriting – unexpectedly fine and tidy and correctly-spelled, if haphazardly capitalised – from the ancient excerpt-scans in the Book of Yoru.

Sir Garçon[1],

We ride on the Morrow for the northern coast of this land you call Cola (but which is not in fact called Cola at all), and the Great shoal where lies the shipwreck of the Roman galley the Fera Anser, which was lost with all 1500 Men – and of course the great Treasure they were guarding.

Against the advice of my Comrades, I leave you this Message in the hopes that you and your Squire will abandon your attempt to beat us to the wreck and wrest this Prize from our hands, as the attempt will surely lead to your deaths.

Death is not, I understand, something From Which you can so easily recover in this world[2].

Hail and Farewell,

Yoru

I studied the paper for a moment, shaking my head. It was clear that Yoru had ‘delivered’ this message at some point while I was working, and it was just as clear that Creepy had found it, and had left it behind either for me to see and follow, or in order to deny he’d ever seen it in the first place. That way, he could claim to have known about the Fera Anser all along without needing any help from Yoru.

Which was funny, because there was no such galley as the Fera Anser. Even if Roman galleys had been known to sail around this area – which they hadn’t – there was no way one would have been able to hold fifteen hundred men. The fact that her name meant Wild Goose Chase in the not-quite-exactly Latin that was for some reason a shared language of bygone eras in Xix as well as here … that was just an unnecessary additional clue. Yoru had a bit of a mean streak even before his non-cobbling-related ironmongery came out to play.

I folded the paper, strolled out to the verge, and looked across at the neighbours’ yard. The pool was still sitting out there, but Yoru was gone. Indeed, all of the Barbarians seemed to have gone. If Creepy hadn’t also been gone, it would have been ideal.

Checking my pocket to make sure the little axe was still there, I crossed the road and stole into the house, the front door of which was standing open. There were hoofprints, punch-dents, and unspeakable stains everywhere, but no sign of the Barbarians. Except for all that stuff I just said, which is arguably sign of them.

I stood for a moment in the wreckage of the kitchen, thinking.

This isn’t milk. It’s nagilabeast blood.

You didn’t realise there was a nagilabeast gestating in your neighbour’s basement?

“What were you doing down in the basement of this ordinary suburban home, Yoru and Friends?” I murmured quietly to myself. “Aside from saving the city from a rampaging fledgling nagilabeast, of course … ”

I found the stairs leading into the basement – the hoofprints were concentrated at the door and the stairs beyond as if the horde had ridden down there, swords waving, which was probably exactly what they’d done; there was nagilablood splashed everywhere; and the door itself was hanging off its hinges – pulled the hatchet from my pocket, and descended into the briny gloom.

Endnotes

[1] Hatboy went by the legendary alias Sir Garçon de Chapeau of Cola, although he was colloquially known as Hatboy, when he was the saviour of Xix. See Torquis in Machina, Issue #1! – Edpool

[2] Travel to the world of Xix, for reasons unknown, bestowed great power on Hatboy and Creepy – and if they died there, they merely returned to their garden, see Torquis in Machina, Issue #18. – Edpool

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