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Part I: The Revival
"The brightest light can sometimes cast the darkest shadow."
Gred Tathiraal of the House of Malas, The First Age of Malas

Through the Gatewater
The vast oceans of Britannia seemed to stretch out for eternity from where Greyn perched near the top of the ship's mast. The seas around him seemed to be growing ever more turbulent with the coming storms. Dark clouds coated the sky as if the world was underneath an old, worn blanket. Although his grip on the mast was strong, the winds were becoming colder, and the ship was starting to tilt to and fro as the waters angered. Looking down at the deck he could see his brother, Mordin, standing near the bow of the ship, gazing over a map, seemingly impervious to the nearing danger.

"Mordin! We have to turn back!" Greyn called down. Mordin continued gazing at his map, motionless, save for the dark curls of his hair blowing in the breeze. Greyn wasn't sure if the creaks and groans of the Highwater combined with the winds were drowning out his voice, or if Mordin had just become distracted again.

"Mordin!!" He bellowed. Still, Mordin did not move. "That fool wouldn't hear an angry dragon coming for him…," Greyn mumbled as he climbed down the mast and dropped to the deck of the ship. "Mordin, help me get the ship turned around. This storm doesn't look like something we want to try and…Mordin?" He stomped his way across the deck and stood in front of his shorter brother, staring down at him. His long, dark hair swirled in the wind behind him like an angry cat's tail, which suited his glare well.

"Greyn…I think we should go west. We haven't checked west, we need to check west," Mordin said without looking up from his map.

"I think you should check the sky. We need to head back." Greyn pushed the map down and finally his brother met his gaze. "This storm will have us for supper if we don't try to get out of it now."

"We haven't looked west yet. Greyn, he could be to the west." Mordin's gaze was strong and sad.

"We haven't seen him in 2 years, Mordin." Greyn clasped his brother's shoulder. "And if we're not careful we won't ever see him."

Greyn sighed and looked away. "Maybe we should take some time away from this."

"What do you mean?" Mordin sounded hurt.

Greyn slowly paced the deck. "We have been searching for well over a year. I miss father as much as you do but… Mordin, we have to be honest with ourselves. He's probably not going to come back. It wouldn't have taken him so long to come back home."

"He was an explorer, he could be anywhere." Mordin stared out towards the west.

Greyn's shoulders slumped. He felt as if he had lived through this conversation hundreds of times. "If we're meant to find him and he's alive…."

"He's alive."

"If we're meant to find him, we will. We can't find him if we lose the Highwater with us in it." Mordin's face remained blank. "Help me change course; that storm doesn't look like it's going to go away." Mordin gazed back towards the west once more and then reluctantly began to help his brother.

For hours they sailed under the dark clouds, trying to escape the embrace of the storms, but more and more the seas tossed the Highwater back and forth with foaming waves that made the ship groan like an aggravated sea creature. The winds grew so fierce that the brothers were forced to close their sails. They clung desperately to the rails of the ship as the water forced their eyes nearly shut.

"Something is wrong!" Greyn yelled through the winds.

"Nothing gets past you, does it?!" Mordin roared back.

"No, the Highwater! Something is wrong with the ship!" Greyn replied, looking around as another wave made the mast creak under the strain. "The ship is moving faster! We closed the sails, but we're moving faster--we're being carried by a current!"
Through the shower of raindrops, Mordin's eyes grew wide. "Greyn! I think I see where the current is coming from!"

Greyn looked across the bow of the ship and his face froze. In his shock, he pulled himself forward along the deck and looked across the waters. It was as if the ocean suddenly dropped out of the horizon into nothingness. Through the haze of the storm he could see a great chasm in the seas roaring like a dozen tidal waves. It wasn't until the speeding currents drew the Highwater ever closer that he knew what awaited them.

He spun around and scrambled his way back to Mordin desperately. "Whirlpool! Hold on as tight as you can, it's a whirlpool! Mordin! Grab onto anything you can and don't let go!!"

The ship, nothing but a speck in the tempest, rushed towards the whirlpool faster and faster. The Highwater hit the edge of the massive vortex and was jarred hard to its starboard side by the deadly spinning waters, nearly throwing the brothers from the deck. The ship shot faster and faster around the edge of the swirling ocean chasm, building up speed and howling through the winds. Through the piercing rains, Mordin could see the edge of the whirlpool stretching further away as if the boat had fallen from a massive cliff. As the ship fell deeper, darkness folded in around it and covered the vessel, burying it in the black seas. The last thing Mordin heard was the mast snapping into splinters.

*     *     *

It seemed as if ages passed, while nothing existed but the rushing cold. No light or sound, no air or warmth, only a chilling darkness that felt as if it were rushing past. The world was still and quiet, yet in turmoil and twisting. In his mind, Mordin wasn't sure if he was dead or somehow aware of being unconscious; the sensation numbed him, yet he could think through the chaos. Time felt as if it had slipped away, yet he wondered if he was trapped in eternity.

Shattering through his confusion, a light cracked through the darkness. All at once, he could faintly see that he still held onto the deck of the Highwater as it tumbled through the darkness of the ocean, end over end. The ship appeared to have broken in half and the mast was a jagged stump jutting forth from the remains of the deck. Briefly in the spinning light he caught a glimpse of Greyn, although he could not see if his brother was even alive or dead. The light grew ever brighter as if a crack was breaking open in the darkness and the ship was tumbling towards it. As the remains of the Highwater passed through the fracture of brightness, the light became as the darkness once was, enveloping everything around it and dulling the senses.

As quickly as it had broken, the light vanished, and Mordin finally succumbed to the blackness.

*     *     *

"I think this one's coming around, Fallah."

Mordin could feel warmth creeping back into his limbs and light dancing on the other side of his eyelids. He could feel the grit of sand on his face and in his hair. His robes were soaked. As he slowly broke his view of the world open again, he could see a huge barrel of a man leaning over him, smiling. A few paces away, Greyn was beginning to stand with help of a pretty young woman.

"What…where are we?" Mordin's legs buckled as he tried to stand. The stranger standing over him caught him by the shoulders and helped him to his feet.

"Easy lad, you're in no hurry," the man said with a deep rumble. "You're lucky to be in one piece after being on such a journey. We get just as many bodies as we do survivors on the shores of Gatewater Lake."

Greyn stumbled over to Mordin with the help of the young woman and held his brother's head in his hands. "Are you alright? Mordin?"

"Yes…yes, I think I am," Mordin said dazed, but still smiling slightly at his brother. He turned and looked at the stranger who had awoken him. "Where did we land? Are we far from Trinsic?" Besides the waters, he could see nothing but desert all around them.

The man looked uneasily at the young woman and then back at Mordin. "Yes lad, I'm afraid Trinsic is very far from this place. My name is Grevel Brandsmen and this is my daughter, Fallah." He gestured to the woman.

She smiled at the brothers and in a small voice said, "Welcome to Malas."

Published: January 2003
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
Ultima Online ESRB Rating
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