The Octology of the Seven Hats
Part One: An Odd Beginning
Chapter Three: The Meeting
The seven men were soon on their way to the ocean. Vilhaun had already bought a ship for the journey, so they were going to the coast to begin their voyage. The ship was already well-stocked, so that they would not have to spend any valuable time shopping. When they got to the ship, they realized there were no sailors.
“Where are the sailors for the ship?” asked Malbo as they boarded the ship.
“We are the sailors,” Vilhaun replied. “It’s fairly easy to control a ship this size with magic. Do not worry, I will perform most of the magic. However, if you like, you can practice. But I warn you, do not do any magic that is beyond your ability to perform. I would suggest starting with making things hover; that doesn’t expend too much energy.”
Malbo took his advice, and began practicing making his hat float in midair. Tagac, who, being the tallest, was the strongest man aboard, lifted the anchor and they set off. Even though there was no breeze, the sails filled with air and the ship launched into the Colba Sound.
They kept the ship close to the shore. As they passed the small towns and cities, Malbo looked at all the different docked ships. He marvelled at the foreign flags on the ships. He saw all sorts of foreign goods, foreign people leading odd-looking livestock, as well as the large barrels and crates that held foods, drinks, or gold and silver.
Night fell quickly. Since they were sailing west, they saw the sun going behind the horizon in front of them with beautiful purples, reds, and oranges around it. It was a truly magnificent sight.
The ship continued to sail all through the night. At all times, a man kept watch at the front to be sure that they would not run into anything. There was nothing dangerous, so the night went by smoothly and peacefully.
By the fifth day on the ship, Malbo was starting to get bored. There was nothing to do except watch the ship go on along the endless expanse of sea.
It was nearly noon on that day, when they saw a huge island blocking their path. Between the island and mainland ran a large, deep channel. The ship, which was about forty feet wide and eighty feet long, fit easily into this channel.
About halfway down the channel, they came to a set of gates. This was an area where sailors paid a toll to enter and exit the channel. This way, Tolben would be able to regulate the amount of ships and their goods, and get some extra profit.
There were six gates for exiting, all in a row. The only one available was the far right one, the one closest to the mainland. Vilhaun steered for this gate.
As soon as they had stopped and anchored the ship, a man in a crane came over to the ship. The crane’s arm reached to the ship to allow the man to board.
“Greetings, sailors,” the man said. “This is a normal inspection. Please permit me to access all places in the ship to be sure you are not doing anything you shouldn’t be. This should take only a few minutes, if everything is good. Everybody, please stand on the deck while I have a look around.”
All seven men stood on the deck under the main mast while the inspector inspected bothe levels of the ship. About ten minutes later, the inspector was done.
“Everything looks in good order,” said the man. “But please allow me to ask you a few questions first. Who are you?” Vilhaun told him all of their names, which the man wrote on his clipboard. “Where are you going?”
“First we are going to Shar (Shar is the capital of Tolben),” Vilhaun replied. “Then we will go to Pawi (an island nation in the middle of the Great West Sea) and from there we will go to Serg (a country north of the Sea),” Vilhaun replied. The man wrote this down too.
“What is your business?” the man then asked.
“We have business with the King and Queen of Tolben. Then we are going on an adventure.”
“What type of adventure will this be?” the man inquired.
Vilhaun said, “It is the Quest of the Seven Hats.”
“Hmm,” replied the man, tapping his pen against his chin to show that he was thinking. “Well, good luck. You’ll probably need it. I’m sure you’ve found the Destined One then?” he asked sarcastically.
“I am he,” Malbo said. “At least that’s what Vilhaun says.”
“Hmm,” the man said. “Well, the toll will be 50 Etcas. Please pay it in gold or silver. Earlier today I had a guy who wanted to pay with some sort of printed paper money. We only accept gold and silver or any other precious metal.”
Vilhaun pulled a heavy gold piece from his pocket and gave it to the man. The man returned to the mainland via the crane that brought him, and the gate opened in front of them.
Soon they were back on their way up the Colba Sound. They were now travelling north, still going close to the shore.
Near the end of their sixth day on the sea, Alechok 10, they arrived at the wonderful city of Shar, the capital and northernmost city of Tolben. The city looked magnificent in the glow of the setting sun. Its white marble walls gleamed in pristine cleanness. They saw grand towers and towering minarets stretching high into the sky. Even from the sea, they could see the palace of the King.
When they docked, many people began jostling each other to get a better look. Obviously they had been told before that Vilhaun was returning, and that he was bringing six men with him to begin the Quest of the Seven Hats.
However, one man,who was dressed like a military man, came out of the crowd and greeted them. “I am Ralinok, the Head Guard of the Palace,” said the man. “If you wish I will lead you to the palace.”
“We would heartily enjoy that,” Vilhaun said. “I have business with the King.”
“That is why he sent me to get you, Vilhaun,” replied Vilhaun. “He expected you to be here a few days ago. Who did you bring with you anyway?”
“Some fellow travellers,” replied Vilhaun. “I hope the King was not too troubled. Malbo and I were . . . held up in our journey.I also had a few difficulties in getting here; this ship was hard to find and incredibly expensive, but I’ll tell you at the palace if we get time.”
Ralinok seemed satisfied by this and the rest of the walk was spent in relative silence.
Come back next week for Part Nine!
The Octology of the Seven Hats copyright 2018 by Stewart Forthofer. All rights reserved. All likeness of any characters in this book to any person, past or present, is purely coincidental.