The Dead Men

30 minutes read


Anodyne and Sylum stood floating in space, staring down at the planet Dolor.

“Why create a new planet?”

“Because I need more praise, it is one of the best ways to achieve greater power. I mean, that is what you told me.”

Sylum, while listening, started to create small bubbles of water to play with.

“It is true, but how are you going to have an active presence on all of them? It could be difficult to get praise if you are not there.”

“I thought about that, so I linked all my worlds to Hollow, but not each other. They all have Hollow in their history, and along with that comes stories of me. I only need to make minimal appearances to keep the memory of me alive.”

“That is actually really smart.”

“Now I have multiple worlds where I am a low-worshiped deity; I just need to keep visiting them to raise my ranking in their society. Soon I will be able to crush Xarius and re-claim Hollow.”

“You said you were designing new types of worlds, right? What type is this one?”

“I went for a completely magic-filled world with multiple races.”

“Probably one of my favorite Cliches, to be honest.”

“Me too; guess while I am mad, I cannot come up with creative worlds because the other ones fill stereotypes as well. Come, I will show you the other ones.”


Sylum stopped playing with the orbs of water and started to focus on the planet below.

“Did you learn how to create life? When did you figure that out?”

“I can’t, really; I made these all while I was in a blind rage. I did not create singular life either; I created the planets with life in motion. I never sat down to create people one at a time.”

“Still a step forward, even if you are the only god I know that can’t create life.”

Anodyne grinned his teeth as he listened to Sylum mocks his lack of skills.

“We are going to the next one, so shut up, and let’s move on.”

Anodyne and Sylum disappeared from the space around Dolor, but down below on the planet, waters sailed a boat filled with prisoners bound for the prison island Duress. On board, the guards sat on deck playing cards as the surrounding sailors attended to the ship’s needs.

Heas wandered past three other guards huddled over a barrel covered in coins and cards.

“Just throw your money in the water; judging by the way you two have been losing to Mesca, you have a better chance to get it back when it washes a shore in 100 years.”

No one looked up from the makeshift table, each one staring down one other and adding more money to the pile.

Adding another silver to the pile, Jester discarded and drew a new card.

“We may have lost to him plenty in the past, but I am about to win back all my money and more. Just look at this hand.”

Jester laid down her hand of three cards to show a triple. Marcus scrunched up his face and threw his cards face down onto the table.

“How about you, Mesca? What do you have?” Jester stared intently at Mesca’s face as he laid down his cards.

“Triple, just like you. Except my numbers are bigger.”

Mesca grinned and reeled in his winnings as Jester stared in disbelief.

“Cheater.” She shouted as she plunged a dagger deep into the top of the barrel.

Marcus turned to Jester as she stared intently at Mecca.

“You know what you are doing right?”

“I know the rules, and I, Jester am calling out Mesca to be a cheater.”

Heas sat down on the deck and proceeded to eat an apple he grabbed from a nearby Barrel.

“Hey, Mesca, if you get away with cheating, I still have that item you wanted.”

Mesca and Jester stood up, Jester placing another bag on the table.

“The rest of my last pay; now let’s see if you were cheating or are just the luckiest man alive. Hey, Captain, we have a cheater here.”

The man who was standing a deck higher manning the ship locked the wheel in place and slowly made his way down to the group. The captain’s gut bounced as he made his way down the stairs to the lower deck. Using the railing, he braced himself as he walked. Arriving at Jester’s side, he stood slightly hunched and mildly out of breath.

“First payment, then show me which one here is the supposed cheater.”

Eyes still locked with Mesca, Jester grabbed the bag of money and handed it over to the Captain.

“Five silvers, as agreed.”

While the Captain started to open and look into the bag, Mesca tried bargaining.

“Come on, Jester, is it really worth the risk? I know you have money saved from other paydays, but is it really worth throwing away an entire month’s pay just to be proved wrong?”

Jester was unwavering; she continued to stare.

“I am getting back my twenty-five silvers; just you watch.”

The captain laughed and dropped the small coin pouch into his own, walking calmly over to Mecca.

“Alright brown skin, you know how this works. Stay still, and this will be over quickly.”

The Captain fiddled with one of the many jeweled rings and started to sound off a small incantation.

“Ves arlure comos sae”

The ring started to give a hand-wearing it a faint glow of green energy. As his hand reached its brightest, he pressed it against Mesca’s head.

“You have been accused of cheating in cards. Did you cheat to win?”

Mesca did not try to resist the magic at all and let it flow through him; the same green glow started to emit from his eyes and teeth.

“No, all wins were by chance. I had no external pressure towards the games.”

The captain dropped his hand, and the glowing stopped shortly after. Mesca shook his head to clear the dazing effects of the ring.

“There ya go, love, your fellow brown skin is nothing but a fortunate fool.”

The captain began his slow waddle back up the stairs to his post.

“But he did cheat; he had the only hand that would beat mine. I know he did, captain. I have five more silvers; come get him.”

“Too far, kid, I’m not going back down.”

The captain re-took his seat behind the wheel and unlocked it, once again tending to their course.

“I know he cheated; come re-test him.”

“The ring can’t be cheated, love; it can be resisted, however. But seeing as he started to glow with arcane energy, I’m assuming he failed to resist. Take the loss, save what’s left of your coin.”

Jester walked off grumpy and made her way under the deck.

“I’ll go make sure she is ok.” Marcus said as he followed.

“Yea, you do that; I often noticed poor people hang out in groups.” Yelled Mesca.

Marcus gave no response; he simply stepped up his pace in order to catch up to Jester.

“You have that item for me?”

Heas looked up and grinned.

“You have thirty spare silver?”

“I can’t believe I am saying this to a trader, but didn’t we agree on thirty-five?”

“Thirty since you gave me a little entertainment for the day.”

Mesca did a little dance and made a request.

“If I dance a little longer, can I cut down the price some more, you know, because this entertains you?”

Heas chuckled a little. “Well damn, it is entertaining, just not quite enough.”

He raised his hand in a gesture to help him up; Mesca stopped dancing and helped to lift Heas onto his feet. They both started to walk to the lower deck, altering their steps as the boat swayed from side to side.

“Where do you get all the things you have?”

“Everything I have in my pack is things I have gathered from our service in the guard. Nearly four years of gathering, and I still can’t fill one moderate duffel bag. When everyone else is relaxing, I go for walks and explore for anything somewhat valuable. Alternatively, I will read about the area in hopes to find out what might be useful to me.”

“Sounds like a lot of work; glad you do it and not me. Means I get to relax while you work, then I get to use my winnings to buy your things with other people’s money.”

Heas smiled once again. “You know that luck of yours is likely to run out eventually; no one keeps it for life.”

“Near four years of service, and never once have I noticed my luck alter. I am going to have this forever.”

“If you were truly lucky, you would already have your item because everyone, including yourself, walked past it the day before we boarded this ship.”

“Look, your search skill is clearly higher than my luck stat. I will need to invest some more points into it when I level up.”

Heas let out a loud laugh as he opened the door to the sleeping quarters. Inside, the rest of the guards sat looking rather sickly as half of them lent over buckets. In the far corner, Jester was lying down on her hammock facing inwards into the room, and Marcus sat on the hammock below her. As she watched Mesca walk in, she rolled over and faced the wall. Marcus noticed and walked over.

“Come on, just admit you cheated and give back Jester’s money. You took over two-thirds of her last month’s pay. This might make things awkward for our group.”

Heas quietly walked towards his duffel bag.

“Staying out of this one; if you have money after this, come on over.”

“She lost fair and square; this is my coin, soon to be Heas’s coin.”

“Come on, Heas, you can’t seriously be willing to take that money.”

“Staying out of this.” Heas yelled as he started to sift through his bag.

“Mesca, give back her coin, or I will kick the shit out of you and take it back.”

Those who did not have their heads in buckets looked up and stared at the scene lying out before them; Heas quickly jumped to his feet and ran out of the room, bumping into Mesca as he went.

“You want to fight me over someone else’s pay? How about you go back to your hammock, lover boy? We are not doing this here.”

“Oh, you miss understand; you are giving back her money and mine. We know you cheated.”

Mesca pushed past Marcus and lent against the closest wall.

“Wrong, you want me to be a cheater. Jester had a magic ring to tell you that I did not cheat, so now you are just being a petty loser.”

“Alright, wise-ass, that is it. I am going to kick your ass right here, right now.” Marcus started to roll his shoulders and raise his fists as Mesca started to look for an exit.

The door to the room slammed open, and the entire top crew of the ship rushed in and grabbed Marcus and Mesca. The whole time chanting.

“Fight, fight, fight, fight…”

All the able bodyguards followed the sea men up onto the deck. Everyone created a circle holding the two contestants on either side. Heas took position on a large crate.

“Boys and girl, men and woman. Please line up for this our sixteenth ring fight of this journey. As always, I am running the odds. We have Marcus, the hammer-wielding, ex-blacksmith. Built like the shit houses in the castle districts, and standing an impressive 210cm. On the other side, we have the much smaller Mesca, the fortunate. This man takes pride in dodging all dangers in life with his much smaller height of 176cm, but can he dodge the swing of the mighty hammer’s fist?”

Heas quickly amassed a small group, all throwing coins at him for the fight. Bets being yelled, he noted everything down in his small journal and was now makeshift ledger. The captain once again locked his wheel and moved his chair to get a better view.

“You all know the rules on my ship; you want to fight, you fight on the deck. My men need entertainment; you don’t get to hide that from us. You there.”

The Captain pointed at Heas.

“Do not forget the house tax.”

Heas waved to acknowledge his statement. The Captain waited till he noticed the coin stop flowing, then yelled out.

“Alright brown skins, let the fight begin.”

A big cheer sounded, and those standing in front of Heas ran over to get a view. Heas hopped down from his post and headed up to the captain to count his coin.

Marcus lunged towards Mesca, throwing a blind right hook; Mesca used his lighter frame to move much faster than Marcus. Marcus threw a repetition of jabs and straights, every single one missing their target as Mesca took the back step to stay out of range.

Heas pulled up another seat and sat next to the Captain.

“So, brown skin, which one of your friends is going to win?”

“Well, the odds are as I laid them out. Marcus is much stronger and used to work in a forge, but Mesca used to be a… sneaky individual. He has very good stamina, so the longer the fight goes, the better his odds.”

The captain turned to Heas.

“You know I don’t care if he was a thief; I am not going to rat him in. Nothing in it for me.”

Looking back at the fight, he watched as Mesca received a harsh blow to the stomach.

“Ouch, that wasn’t too bad. Which one makes me more money if they win?”

“Mesca, the little one, not a single person put money on him.”


The Captain un-locked his wheel and held it with one hand, dragging it down and letting it spin in his hand. Grasping it again, he spun it the other way; the ship started to sway from side to side, and Marcus very quickly started to lose his footing. Marcus went to step inwards for a strike, but miss-stepped as the boat rocked, and he corrected the wrong way. Mesca saw his in and stepped under Marcus, delivering a crippling blow to his liver, dropping Marcus to his knees. With one final effort, he placed his hands on the back of Marcus’s head and drove his knee into his nose, finishing him off. The captain locked his wheel back into place and opened his coin purse towards Heas, dropping a small collection of coins in and pocketed the rest Heas stood up and headed down the stairs.

“Thanks for the business, brown skin.”

“You know we are more than just the uniform, right?”

The Captain scraped his chair back to his captaining position, muttering under his breath.

“No, you’re not; you live in that leather, you’ll die in that leather. It is more your skin than armor now, lad.

As Marcus lay near unconscious on the ground, Mesca took the time to sit down and take a breather before he felt a swift kick to the side of the head. Jester, now standing over him, started to scream in his ear.

“What did you do? He was just trying to get the money you stole from me. Hand it over, his too!”

Mesca lay on the ground with his hands raised above his head.

“Take it; I really don’t care. The satisfaction of beating his thick skull was worth it. Besides, I feel like shit, so no way I am going to be fighting anyone again soon, not even you.”

Jester started to search his belt but found no pouches.

“Where are you hiding it? Give it back already.”

“Urgh, damn idiot. I am not hiding it; it is right…”

Mesca fell around blindly on his belt but felt no coins; he sat up and started to search more in-depth. But once again found no coins.

“Someone’s robbed me. Hey Captain, one of your men has taken my coin from me during that fight.”

The Captain lent out from behind the wheel.

“I really don’t care; consider it payment for my men having to put up with the vile smells you lot produce when you vomit all over my ship.”

Mesca and Jester looked around at the crew as they all continued their work, none of them seeming interested in either of them. Jester leaned down and whispered in Mesca’s ear before storming off.

“If I find out you hid that money from me, I will get it back.”

Mesca settled his head and stared over to the groaning body of Marcus.

“Hey, Marcus, if you can hear, I know you are looking for a woman to travel with, but she did just leave you up here. Jester is a piece of shit; give this woman a miss. I think it is beneficial to your health if you do.”

Marcus groaned and shooed Mesca away with a dazed wave of his hand.

“Good fight, really good actually. You made the captain and I a fair bit of coin.”

Heas stretched his hand out in a gesture to help Mesca up.

“Ready to buy that item?”

Mesca knocked away the hand.

“Na, not moving right now. That kick got me good; besides, I can’t. Someone stole my coin.”

Heas let off an unimpressed moan before tossing a coin pouch into Mesca’s lap.

“Wait, is this?”

“Clearly, she messed you up with that kick; yes, that is yours. It is all there, less the thirty I took.”

“When you bumped into me, how did I not notice you taking this?”

“Clearly, you taught me too well. Now hurry up, since you paid me, your stuff is taking up room in my bag.”

Mesca got to his feet and lent against Heas.

“Ok, we go now, but no talking, my head is ringing, and once you hand it over, I am going to lay down.”

“Done; I’ll even let you lean on me as we make our way down as a bonus to you.”

Heas helped Mesca make his way down into the ship; as it swayed one way, his head would tip the other. Constantly throwing Mesca off balance and stumbling, despite his human crutch. Eventually, making their way into the sleeping quarters, the smell of vomit got to Mesca’s head, causing him to gag. Jester spied them entering the room and decided she did not want to remain; she stormed past, knocking into Mesca, making him stumble a little.

“That woman is a Harpy. Glad she is our side.” Mesca said as he steadied himself.

“Well, she is possibly the worst archer on this ship, but sure, I guess she can just scream like a banshee till the enemy leaves with a headache.”

Both the men gave a little laugh before sitting down.

“Alright, master fighter, here are your spoils of war.”

Heas pulled an ornate dagger from his bag, a dagger with golden inlay in the handle and a silver blade that shone as if it was made earlier that day.

“One rather pretty silver dagger for you. I don’t know why you want this; I mean, the silver is a nice look. But not the strongest of blades.”

Mesca laid down on his hammock and stored the blade in his own bag.

“My dad used to hunt ghosts and other apparitions; he had a lot of silver weaponry. Just a little reminder of home, I guess.” Rolling over, Mesca slurred out a final sentence. “Now get out of here; I need to sleep.”

Heas tied up his bag and picked it up, heading up to the deck. He watched as the sailors walked around Marcus as they continued with their duties. Further up the deck, he watched as Jester was flirting with one of the sailors.

“This could be interesting to listen to.”

Heas walked up to Marcus.

“Look, that was a good fight, but you have the worst balance ever. Maybe ask Mesca to help you out with that. As for trying to win Jester’s heart, I wouldn’t bother. You have been trying for two weeks, and all she does is use you. She is a talented team member but not the partner you are looking for.”
Heas continued by, leaving Macurs with his concussion, and sat down nearby Jester, getting close enough to hear her conversation. He then made himself comfortable and looked as if he was sleeping.

“Really? You can pull this tight string on your bow; it is so tense? You must be so strong.” Jester said as she struggled to draw the bow.

The sailor lent against the mast tensing his bicep as Jester continued to fail, pulling the drawstring.

“Yea, we work hard on this ship; sometimes we have to defend it against others who seek to take what we have. It is rewarding work, but it can get rather lonely though; we never stay in one place long.”

“That is so sad.” Jester said as she caressed the sailor’s shoulder.

“Well, if you ever feel lonely, you can always call on me; if you want, we can go somewhere private so you can talk about your feelings?” Biting her lip, she stared into the man’s eyes with a craving.

He looked around the deck with haste, and his eyes lit up.

“Yea, I know there is no one in the cargo bay now; I could really do with some alone time right now.”

Jester looked out to the horizon at the approaching landmass before turning back to the sailor.

“Ok, let’s go down there and bring the bow. I think it could be good for therapy.”

She winked before walking off towards the lower decks. The Sailor stayed and watched as she walked away, waiting for her to fade from sight before moving.

“Careful friend, she is a cold bitch.”

The sailor turned to see Heas relaxing. “Yea, whatever, I think I can handle a little girl.”

“I warned you.” Heas said, but the sailor had already walked out of earshot.

Heas decided to stay where he was, enjoying the light sprays from the sea and the cool wind under the hot sun creating a perfect combination of temperature to lull him to sleep for the remaining hours of the journey.

“All right, lads get into the position. We will be making landfall shortly, and I will not make an impression on this beach like Captain Sharn.”

A loud laughter burst out from the entire crew except one who seemed to lower his head and stick to his duties. Heas lifted his head and quickly rolled from his crate as a couple of sailors used it as a platform to stand upon.

“Well, the ending of this trip was almost nice.” Heas said as he lay on the deck.

Jumping to his feet, he ran off through everyone and took position next to the captain as he continued to yell to his men.

“Where is Stamos? He should be on deck? Someone remind me to give that kid some severe lashings when we find him next. He better not be napping, or I am tossing that waste of space to the Kraken.”

The shoreline approached quickly, revealing a clean beach with a single dock that appeared to have the front split from a direct collision. Behind that laid a single path with a collection of brown-suited guards standing next to six prisoner carts being towed by camels.

The ship slowed to a crawl as it approached the splintered dock.

“Oi brown skin, make sure your crew is all ready to jump ship. As soon as we land, we are kicking all of you off. Along with those prisoners of yours.”

“Aye, aye, captain.” Heas said sarcastically before heading down to the sleeping quarters.

“All right, everyone, we are nearly there, pack up; we are on deck by a feathers fall.”

The guards all started to gather their belongings lazily, as most of them were still suffering from seasickness. Heas left briefly before popping back into the room.

“Oh, and I saw a red helmet. So be presentable unless you want to walk to the prison camp.”

Heas once again left, this time to the sound of hustle from his fellow guards as they collected everything they owned and tidied up their uniforms. Heas made his way onto the deck just as they landed on the half-destroyed dock. A boarding plank was already being lowered as Heas took position and stood at attention, making sure his spell books were hung appropriately and his uniform was in order. Mesca was the first to stand at Heas’s side as he sheathed his new dagger under his sword.

“First, as always, I see your plans have not changed.”

“Not even close to wavering; I am getting what I am owed.”

Jester hurried to the other side of Heas, placing down her duffel and correcting her chest plate. Heas turned and quickly tightened a loose strap from her side before turning to face forward once again, watching the boarding plank being fixed into position.


“No worries; I like your new bow, by the way.”

Jester swapped the bow from her left hand to her right.

“I didn’t steal it; it was a trade. You can’t judge me for that; you trade all the time.”

“Did you trade material position or the goods?”

“We have been on this boat for weeks; he got the goods and my old bow.”


“And a concussion.”

Heas grinned as Mesca grabbed his head.

“Poor bastard, I know what he is going through.”

“Sorry about your head; that was a mixer of being angry, tired, and sick.”

“Horny and broke too.” Marcus took his spot next to Jester with his nose plugged with paper, dropping his hammer to the deck and using it as a leaning post.

“Next time we fight, we fight on solid ground, you prick.”

“Not a chance; you crush me when we fight on solid ground. I need the edge when I go against a behemoth like you.”

The four stood at attention in front of the boarding plank that was now secured and ready to use. Down below, a man with a red helmet stood at the base of the plank; Heas watched as the man removed his helmet and rubbed his head. Beads of sweat flicked off his prickly short brown hair. A long sigh escaped his mouth as he scratched at his eyes before placing his helmet back on his head. He stood for a brief moment as he stared at the ground before marching up the plank with his head up high. Heas altered his vision to avoid eye contact. While the commander was walking up the plank, the remainder of the guard filtered in and stood in formation, awaiting the arrival of the commander. As he reached the crest of the plank, he watched as the last few guard ran onto the deck.

“All who are still moving will stop as I do.”

The commander stood still, and all those who were running hastily stopped, one individual falling as he stopped too quick for his legs to manage. Quickly standing and correcting himself, the Commander glared from behind his helmet.

“Name, now.”

The guard, who fell, panicked and started to stutter.

“What do you mean?”

“I am Commander Fain; what is your name?”

“Darius, Darius Fole. Sir!”

“Well, congratulations, Mr. Fole, you get to be the first individual who will be walking behind the carts today. Everyone who was still moving when I stepped foot on this boat shall drop and start doing crunches until I say stop. This includes you, Mr. Fole.”

Everyone who was in motion dropped to the ground and started to do as Fain said.

“As for the rest of you, please now divide into your teams. If you are currently lying on the deck, you will shuffle to your respective groups.”

Heas and his friends stayed at attention, standing directly in front of Commander Fain as the others separated into three distinct groups.

Fain stared down Heas and his friends.

“What is wrong with you four? From experience, the bottom of the barrel always seems to gather in small groups. Exiled from the more capable masses.”

They all stood resolute and waited for Heas to speak.

“You are correct in all aspects, bar one, Sir!”

Fain stood directly in front of Heas with his ear turned towards him.

“We are not the bottom of the barrel; they are. We did not want to be tied down to a sinking ship; they have let more people die than I feel comfortable with. I trust these three to keep me safe more than the entirety of them combined.”

Commander Fain grinned.

“Well, looks like we have an elite team; since you are so confident in your abilities, you can give my men a break and can join Mr. Fole in walking duty.”

Fain took a step back to acknowledge the mass of guards standing before him.

“Now, everyone, takes your duffel bags and loads up on the carts; I want those inmates in those cages before I see a single one of you drop from heat exhaustion. Move, move, move.”

As soon as Fain finished his sentence he moved to the side to let everyone move past. Heas and his friends ran off the boat, followed by the remainder of the guard.

“We don’t place anything on those carts; we stand at attention behind those carts and wait for our orders. Agreed?”

The other three spoke in unison. “Agreed.”

All four lined up at attention behind a singular cart as the other guards loaded up. Fain ran behind the group, yelling them on. Upon arriving at the carts, Fain looked at the four standing fully equipped and made his way over to them.

“I commend your dedication, but if you are not careful, you will kill yourself. Load up Initiates.”

Marcus went to move, but Jester grabbed his arm and pulled him back, returning the line to full attention.

“Well, looks like you are not an Elite team; looks like you are a squad of Dead men. Now go fill up your canteens and start bringing in the prisoners.’

Fain turned back to the mass.

“I want to see every prisoner in these cages before I take my spot as driver. If they are not, you will have to run them to catch up. Move, you ingrates.”

Everyone ran off, handling the prisoners into the cages and filling canteens. The Dead Men secured the most prisoners, all while Fain seemed to be investigating the groups individually and passing down words to another individual who was writing down what he said.

“Why have we stopped?” Fain yelled as all initiates stood off the boat, staring at it.

“We are waiting for Heas and his group to grab the last individual.” Yelled an initiate.

Fain turned to see prisoners packed into the cages, with one left completely open.

“One prisoner left, and he gets his own cage? Does anyone here know how to manage stock?”

One of the prisoners shouted out from her packed cage.

“I would rather be crammed in here in a hamster pile than on an open plane with that beast.”

Fain looked back at the boat with a little fear in his eyes.

“They never said we were getting Skelegeist.”

Jester came flying out from the lower deck, sailing towards the mast at a rapid pace. A blue shimmer surrounded her, and her backward momentum stopped, and she fell directly downwards and onto her feet, running back into the bowels of the ship. A baritone roar sounded from the lower deck as all four of the Dead Men squad wrestled a beast from the interior of the ship onto the deck.

The Humanoid creature managed to make his way to his feet; Marcus stood before him, looking up to lock eyes.

“You’re a tall bastard, aren’t you?”

“I ain’t tall, your all short and weak.”

The Skelgeist raised his leg and kicked Marcus directly in the center of his chest, sending him flying back towards the upper deck. Heas grasped his book and quickly chanted.

“Vem Allure eye.”

Marcus was surrounded by a blue glow, and his backward momentum stopped, dropping him directly to the deck and safely to his feet. All four of Heas’s group surrounded the Skelegeist. He scoped his options staring at all the individuals surrounding him; spying on Jester again,. He decided to move. Sprinting full speed, he charged at her with his shoulder, attempting to pin her with his hard bone exterior.

“Kei es.”

Heas cried out as Jester felt her body warm; she waited till the Skelegeist was directly in front of her and leaped upwards. Enhanced by Heas’s spell, she rocketed into the air and grabbed onto the nearest rope, preventing herself from falling. Down below, the Skelegeist rammed his head into the mast and knocked himself to the ground. Marcus and Mesca ran over, grabbing the Skelegeist’s arm; dazed and sluggish, he walked as Marcus and Mesca held either of his arms and led him to his cage.

“Kei un.”

Jester let go of the rope and dropped; as the words from Heas’s magic took hold, her descent slowed, and she landed gently on the deck.

“Hurry up, we need to catch up; I will not allow us to appear weak in front of Fain.”

Heas and Jester ran back to the others; once secured, Marcus and Mesca took formation with the rest of their squad and stood at attention.

“I have seen enough; while at this camp, you will be tasked with multiple duties, duties that will be completed by your respective groups. Your group.”

Fain said as he pointed at the largest squad of initiates.

“You will be known as group sheep. Because you all clearly grouped together without thinking.”

The next group he pointed to all looked out of breath already and had managed to finish their canteens.

“You will be known as the pigs because I don’t think I have seen a group as fat and unfit as yourselves.”

The third group were all muttering under their breath as the events occurred, silencing as Fain pointed towards them.

“You will be the banshee squad because of how much noise you make when you all bitch and complain about simple tasks. Finally, there is this group.”

Fain walked in front of Heas, staring him down.

“You will remain as the Dead men because I don’t think you will survive out here. Don’t think the tasks we assign your group will be any easier because your group is smaller. No, if it is your turn to have all the weapons on camp cleaned by sunrise, you will have them cleaned by sunrise, or you will feel the wrath of the desert and me.”

Fain stood back and screamed.

“Last chance, fill canteens, then I want to see you on top of our prison carts ready for a long journey. We have two full days of making our way through this desert. Make sure you ration your water supply as it will not last, and I do not share.”

Everyone topped up their canteens and helped to refill the water barrels that resided on the top of the prison carts. Heas re-secured his spell books and fixed up his uniform before slinging his duffel over his shoulder and began to walk behind the carts. The other three looked at each other and mustered up the energy to follow suit. Meanwhile, Fole lagged behind at a much slower pace, already drinking heavily from his canteen.