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Location: In the centre of the New Alphatian Sea, east of Ionace, north of Aquas. AS
Area: The pull of the maelstrom can be felt for miles away from its central point; the dangerous area is generally considered to be equal to that of former Sundsvall, though this may be myth rather than reality.
Government Type: Controlled by the Alphatian Empire.
Industries: Two-way transportation between the Floating Continent of Alphatia in the Hollow World and the Alphatian Sea on the outer world.
Important Figures: None.
Flora and Fauna: Some sea creatures venture near the maelstrom, but most avoid it.
Further Reading: Previous almanacs.
Description by Dariyana.
Amphimir 15: I had heard that rumour last year already. I was a freshman at the Andaire Imperial University of Magic then. I hated everyone-I still do-especially those sophomores concerned by that particular rumour. Sophomores are so mean to us-because they will become graduates at the end of the year. They are months from casting their first spell, but they let us know we're even further from it, all right. Now, I'm the sophomore this year, so it's my turn to mock those silly freshmen. That'll be fun. It'll be even more fun next year when I'm an actual aristocrat and I can bully all those undergraduates. Yeah, I know, I can't yet, but soon I'll be proficient, I'm certain of that.
Anyway, the rumour was that a group of sophomores had been recalled to the uni one month before the normal start of the academic year. [A previous Mystaran Almanac stated that freshmen were sent to the school, we don't know as yet which report is correct. Ed.] And that they weren't part of the classes for the whole year. But they graduated anyway, it was said, because they came to post-graduation classes the next year. Of course it wouldn't have been much of a story if they didn't say they spent the year in a special school for bright students-yeah right-on another plane, nothing less. Though they were aristos now, we didn't believe them-they were just trying to frighten us, or show off, depending on what rumour you heard. We're used to graduates using us as their playthings.
Yet here I am today, one month in advance, at the uni in Andaire, with about a hundred others, wondering. Hello, what's going on here? We're not mere commoners, well sorta, we're the future elite of mighty Alphatia, they could tell us. Hmm, we're not the worst of students, though, so I don't think they intend to use us as experimentation material. Okay, we're not the best either, so I doubt they're sending us to a better school-in fact the uni at the capital of Andaire is the best magic school in the world, unless its relocation from the earthquake levelled former capital at Sundsvall a few years before I became a student there damaged more than its buildings (but it didn't make a dent into its reputation, for sure). So, another school, I don't think so. In fact it seems most of the students among those here with me that I know are rather average. Alright, including me, I suppose. It still doesn't explain anything.
I wish I had paid more attention to that rumour now.
Amphimir 16: An imperial escort. What an honour. I'd be positively thrilled if it weren't for the fact that they embark us on ships bound southward. The joke among us is that they're sneaking us out of the city under heavy guard to send us to a prison camp. Well, it sure looks like it, at any rate.
Amphimir 17: Shit, sea-sick. River-sick, really. Why's my stomach so fragile? Now, where's my stash of zzonga? I know I stole some from daddy's reserve. It won't stop the throwing up, but at least I won't notice it. Some servant can clean up after me while I'm high.
Amphimir 24: Okay, Sundsvall. Gloomy, I love that. The ruins smell of death. The City Built by Magic, destroyed in the blink of an eye. There must be vampires hiding out there, away from the sun. I wonder if I could convince a handsome prince of the dark to embrace me.
What are we doing in Sundsvall?
Those quarters stink. It may have been a cosy wizard estate, but hello, it's not standing anymore. The walls of that one estate didn't crumble, true, but the place is a wreck anyway. The rubble has been cleared, and they've put a new rooftop, but that's all. Our beds are mattresses cast on the floor, and we're all bundled together. Hey, daddy pays for a private room. I want privacy. And a real bed. And a mirror. And a controlled climate, it's freaking cold here. Now I have to crowd by the fireplace, how crude.
Amphimir 25: Now we have to walk. The streets haven't been cleared to allow a carriage passage. So we walk among the debris. We move away from the harbour, into the ruined city, still in what used to be grand noble estates before the disaster, I think. We pass though and around ruined estates, bound for some destination I can't guess, circling around so much that I finally lost track of our path. I tried to memorise the way, just in case, but with all the turning and swerving I'm lost. Judging from the position of the Red Sun we're waddling in a general western direction, or maybe southwestern, toward the centre of the city, I think. The imperial guards seem to know their way, though, so we kinda have to follow along.
All that walking is exhausting. I've ruined two pairs of fine shoes already with all those boulders and rocks that litter the streets-if you can still call them streets. We even have to occasionally escalate some tumbled structures. I complain to the guards, and ask for more frequent stops, but they refuse to obey me. The captain, a bored-looking noble who seems to not enjoy that assignment, has forbidden us to address him (I think he did the same with his men, too), and I'm not tempted to try and disobey. I flutter my eyelashes at his second-in-command, a sturdy fighter with dark eyes, but my sore feet and the sweat from the exertion (and I don't want to think about the condition my hair must be in) seem to have made me lose my usual charm, as the moron seems unmoved. The others aren't successful at getting us additional pauses either. After I ruin my third pair of shoes, I sit on a boulder and pout. This time I get the second's attention, and we get an unscheduled temporary halt. Most welcome. He comes next to me, I smile and am generous with my cleavage, but the worm can only lecture me about the necessity of pressing on. I get enough lecturing already, thank you, and I don't need you to tell me what I should or shouldn't do. I'll have daddy teach you a lesson, rancid commoner, or better yet I'll do it myself, soon.
Amphimir 26: Two sleeps in a row of that treatment! Without sleep. Inadmissible. I'm dead. I'm starting to believe they're trying to kill us. If we were going someplace, they would have put commoners to work on clearing us a path. One we could ride, or sail-or they could have put a skyship at our disposal so we could have flown over all that rubble. But no, nothing of that, we are forced to sweat like slaves. Something's wrong here.
At last we arrive at our destination-or, I fear, to a stopover in our forced journey to the unknown. It probably was a pretty estate some time ago. Now, most of the extensive array of buildings are collapsed, with only a portion put back into useable condition-if you can call living in those rough, half-repaired buildings living. In the centre of the estates a large pond or pool-I'd call it a lake, but within a city that seems inappropriate-is surrounded by what used to be a park and a garden, now all in disarray, with most trees fallen and the flowers replaced by wild weed. The whole estate is guarded by more imperial guards.
I'm beat, I go to sleep.
Amphimir 27: Slept like a baby. My feet are still sore, though. Actually my whole body aches. I didn't know effort could be so painful. I'm not gonna walk again ever, I tell you, I'll learn how to fly or better yet, teleport. Oh, I'll ask daddy to give me a flying carpet for my next birthday, so I can sit and fly and never walk again.
We are herded like a slave team again, and led to the lake. I guess I like to call it lake after all. I hadn't noticed yesterday, there is a whirlpool in the middle of the lake. There is a boat waiting for us, and we board it. Seems dangerous to me, to sail near that maelstrom just to reach the other side. Now I almost regret we didn't march on this one.
Hey no! I don't want to do that. That's suicide, pure and simple. If they want us dead, there are simpler ways. They say we have to plunge into the water, and swim into the maelstrom. That's pure folly! I don't want to do that, even with their breathe water spell. They say it's not dangerous, that we will be transported to another plane, and that we'll be picked up on the other side. I know better than to believe them. Unfortunately, there's no way to flee from a boat, not without magic, and I have none.
Some dolts follow the instructions blindly, so they receive a breathe water spell, plunge, swim with the maelstrom's pull, and disappear. Well, they are dead, in my opinion. The demonstration didn't do anything to convince me to follow them-more like the contrary, actually. I argue that I can't swim, but they retort I don't need to, I just have to let the maelstrom carry me to its centre. There is no convincing these idiots. Desperately, I run away, but there's no place to run to-I'd already noticed that, but I ran anyway-so they captured me. They cast their spell on me, and as I order the two fellows that have seized me to let go of me they do that-only they do it above the water.
Ahh, the water is cold! They didn't provide me with a spell to protect me from the coldness of the water. I flap my arms, I scream, but that doesn't help with the swimming. The pull of the maelstrom drags me away from the safety of the ship. I keep flapping and kicking, rather than let go as they advised, as I'd rather try out the efficacy of their spell only when I have no other choice-being helplessly lost in the water is one thing, trying to breathe it is another one entirely! The centre of the whirlpool is closing fast! As much as I'd want it to be otherwise, that's where I'm headed. That's where I'm gonna die. I love you daddy.
I've reached the centre, and the maelstrom pulls me under. I try to hold my breath as long as possible, but with all the flapping it doesn't last long. Must hold. Must hold. Must hold. Can't hold. I breathe water. Oh, the spell's working, I'm not drowning! I was so convinced I was gonna die that I didn't expect the spell to actually keep me alive. I keep flapping-that keeps me somewhat warm, and busy too-and go down, down, crushed by all the water around me.
Alphamir 15: The maelstrom seems to be driving me up now. Or maybe I'm so lost and confused that I can't distinguish exactly what's happening to me. I fear I've completely lost my senses.
Light! I have emerged! I'm alive! Well, I think. Where am I? That's not the lake in Sundsvall. It's a much larger lake, I can't see any shore. Great, of all the planes they sent me to the Plane of Water. I wonder what I'm supposed to do now. They said there would be someone to retrieve me, but I see no one. There's another maelstrom, am I supposed to swim toward it, and hop to yet another plane? Well, that's not what I'm gonna do, anyway-all things considered, I prefer to use my lame flapping to move away from the maelstrom, if I have the choice.
What's that sun doing? First, it's yellow. Not that I want to complain, but yellow's not the best colour for a sun. I've seen the Moving Sun that colour, and it's not terrible. Anyway, that's not the biggest problem. No, what I'm worried about is that it's moving. Not moving like the Moving Sun does, but moving in the sky. Where's it going like that? Oh, I see what's wrong. That's not a real world. There's nothing at the end of the horizon, just water and sky. There's nothing across the sun either. It's a flat world of water, with a sun moving in the sky according to some pattern I don't recognise yet. Great. A flat water world. Just great. I don't want to freeze to death, I don't want to drown. I want to go back to Alphatia, to daddy's. Daddy, I'm dying here, come rescue me! Daddy!
The sun is falling into the water! Sun's drowning! I think I'll follow him into that path soon. At least it's turned red, I think it's its desperate last effort before it dies. My limbs are numb, I'm so cold. I barely have the strength to flap them anymore, only shivering. I'm turning blue in my last moment, not red, so I guess I'm not a sun. I wish I were, at least I'd be warm. Maybe if that sun had fallen nearer to me it would have passed me some of its warmth.
The sun is dead now. I don't think I'll ever be able to recount the death of the sun of this water world. It's all dark now. I see dots of light in the sky, I don't know what they are. Maybe that's just me hallucinating in my last moments. I should have swum toward the maelstrom. Too late now.
I'm pulled out of the water! Lifted onto a ship. Didn't see it approach. I think it's a dream, it doesn't feel real. They hurry me inside. I have time to catch a glimpse of the ship, looks Alphatian. It's got an imperial flag. There's another flag I don't recognise, though. The men seem to be imperial marines. They speak Alphatian.
A woman attends to me. She mumbles things I don't understand, and touches me with her hand. Warmth runs through my body, and I feel better. She strips me of my wet clothes, and dresses me with dry ones. She tells me I was lucky they finally found me despite the "night," as I had been thrown out of the maelstrom in a different place than most of the others. She says I need to rest. I do.
[Continued on Grey Islands entry.]