Call of Kerberos: Twilight of Kerberos, The - Jonathan Oliver

Chapter One

Stealing a ship from the harbour at Turnitia would have been an audacious enough task in itself, but stealing a vessel belonging to the Final Faith was another matter entirely. When Dunsany had first suggested it to Kelos he had stared blankly at him for a moment and then said: "Have you seen what they do to heretics? Have you seen the rather fetching collection of heretic skins Makennon keeps as mementos?"

Katherine Makennon was the flame-haired, hot-tempered, Anointed Lord; the leader of the Final Faith. A religious tyrant who kept a firm hand on her church and made sure that its message was heard by all, whether they wanted to listen or not.

"I may have no love for the Faith, Dunsany, but I rather value my fingernails."

"But we're in a perfect position to do this." Kelos said. "We have my contacts on Sarcre and a hiding place that's virtually impossible to find. Besides, who's in a better position to pull this off than the Chief Engineer and the Head Mage on the project?"

The designs for the ship had been found almost a year before in an elvish ruin near Freiport, by an adventurer called Kali Hooper. Hooper had been forced to part with her find once Makennon's people had got wind of the importance of the artefact. Ancient texts had spoken of the elves' mastery of the rough Twilight seas and of how they had ventured far beyond the Storm Wall and the Sarcre Islands but, until now, no reference had been found as to the design of their ships.

And just as Kali Hooper had been forced to part with her find, so Dunsany and Kelos had been forced to work for the Final Faith.

Dunsany had been working as a shipping engineer in Turnitia for the last ten years, before that he had been the Captain of a merchant vessel plying its trade between Sarcre and Allantia. He was a master of the rough seas that surrounded the peninsula and the ships he sailed, and later designed, were considered to be some of the finest in existence. When the Anclas Territories fell to Vos and the Final Faith tightened its grip on the city, Dunsany was the first person corralled into working for the church's naval division.

The second was Kelos.

With the subjugation of Turnitia, Kelos had considered fleeing across the border to Andon, but before he could act on his decision booted feet had kicked down his door and he had been dragged into the night.

Makennon had heard rumours of this powerful mage who worked his magic at the Turnitia docks; of how his wards protected the ships against the ravages of the sea and how his mastery of the elements had guided home many a battered vessel. It was true that his magic was no match for the angry waters beyond the Storm Wall but, even so, it was reckoned that his power was one of the main reasons Turnitia thrived as a harbour town.

When Dunsany had looked up from his diagrams one night to see Kelos standing over him, he had grinned and said: "What took you so long?"

So the two men applied themselves to whatever marine problem Makennon threw their way; Dunsany maintaining the fleet and mapping routes while Kelos empowered the ships with his charms and wards. The crossed circle of the Final Faith soon became a familiar sight at the docks, as it was painted onto the ships preparing to bring indoctrination to Twilight's coastal towns.

As the Faith's power had grown, so Kelos and Dunsany's resentment had increased. It was true that they were spiritual men, to a certain degree, but they resented being forced along one path of belief. "All paths lead to Kerberos," Kelos's mother had once said. But if either Dunsany or Kelos dared mention the old ways, the penalty would be severe indeed and they'd soon be joining their ancestors.

And so they strengthened their comradeship in the hatred they held for the church and, with the discovery of the designs for the ship, that hatred soon found purpose.

It was called the Llothriall and it was a song ship. As Dunsany and Kelos had been presented with the ancient scrolls, detailing the schematics for the vessel, their awe had been palpable. Both men had heard of the song ships but neither had ever imagined they'd see the plans for such a vessel. Dunsany had never thought that a ship could be so beautiful, or so difficult to build. As he and Kelos