Read it. It is good indeed.
|1. The Guest from the Ocean Depths.
The Kouza Sea breathed steadily, spilling over the golden coast. Within a stone's throw from the water, a fellow in black trousers and a shabby gray shirt was lying with his face buried in the sand. The guy hadn’t been showing the tiniest signs of life so long that a few silver seagulls had already landed near him many times putting out red claws in hope of getting some carrion. Yet the scavengers were awfully ill-fortunate. When their ginger beaks touched, say, one of his protruding ears the seagulls had nothing to do but fly away. Why? The fellow seemed warm enough not to be called a drowned – he was alive!
It was a pity that no bird had enough courage to hurt the man (they were afraid of being caught and plucked). If a seagull had pecked either his arm, grasping a strap of a small brown backpack, or his muscular back in the severest way, the fellow would have come to and even been quite grateful to the hooligan. In fact, he lay till the night fell and the cool breeze made him open his eyes.
“Where am I?” – the guy raised his head with an air of wonder and dusted down his face and auburn hair. – “Well, it’s rather difficult to guess. Let’s try to answer the simpler question. Strictly speaking, who am I?” – His face exuded anguish. – “I’m Nick Beovel, a field-marshal and a deserter of Primaris Kingdom’s army, a hero and a betrayer of Alder city, a savior of princesses and other charming ladies (as well as number one gawk in Sorolita Empire). – Nick frowned on the last title. – Venus and Ann... My precious girls... – the fellow looked around. – You are not here. Neither are Serge, Jean and Svetlana... Where should I seek you? What happened to my friends? – The puzzles leaded Nick to a deadlock. He had nothing to do but change his posture and support his sharp chin by his right hand. – “No, it’s too early! I should first understand what occurred to me.” – Beovel glanced at the beach once again, but, unfortunately, he didn’t notice any empty bottles. – “Everything is much more complicated than it could have been... M-m, I’ve waken up in such a pitiful state ashore. Could I be a shipwrecked?” – Nick quieted down for a moment and then he boiled: - “Damn the shoes! What a pain!” – Nick Beovel took off his high boots and shook out all the pebbles. On pulling the shoes back he jumped up: – “I’ve remembered! The Submarine and Lord Urenator! We fought him and won! Then the sea dragon broke a hole in the hull and the Orb of the Two bundled away into the ocean. As a result, I’m here. Alone.” – the fellow rushed to delve in his bag and pulled out a small blue flattish glass. – “The fifth Orb... My jumping after it was not in vain after all! There are four orbs left - and the task given by Revird will be fulfilled... However, it is not as urgent as something else! I must inspect the beach: some of my friends may be ashore, too.”
The guy got down to the scheduled plan again and again shouting “Venus!”, “Ann!” and “Fellows!”. But no matter how he’d been excruciating his vocal chords nobody answered the calls. Even after a few hours.
Fatigue took a toll on Nick at last. He nestled on the sand and turned his knapsack upside down. The bag appeared to be affected by some room enchantments: so many odds and ends fell out of it.
“Well, what we have got... – said Beovel, sorting out the bits and pieces. – There are five orbs. There are two artifacts (a helmet and a shield). There is a four times forged sword of my father, a trophy musket made in IGW*, a wristwatch “Ever Midnight”, a pair of comfortable lizard-leathered gloves and a billycan, whereas the number of cured pork, stewed beef and fried chicken is zero...” – mumbled Nick listening to his displeased collywobbles. – “Aha! Here it is! Flashstick (or, scientifically speaking, the Branch of Eternal Flames).
Nick fiddled with the burning thin stick. The harmless blue fire heated both his body and soul...
“Such a branch goes out in only one case: if the person who performed the spell (namely Venus) has died. That is why she is alive. If she is sound and safe, so is Ann and every other” - The conclusion was a load off Nick’s mind. Beovel found strength to lay a bonfire and to cook the supper. Scrambled turtle eggs and boiled crabs appeared to be quite tasty (although nobody knows how Nick’s stomach will cope with such an unusual meal). The calming breeze didn’t cease blowing from the sea. The woods were crackling, casting an atmosphere of joyful memories. Nothing portended any trouble, and...
The branch went out.
* - Independent Gnomes’ Workshops