124 An Island Built by Traders*
Rassa had lost count of the amount of small Islands they'd past that morning. Some of the larger ones had small villages or farms, but most looked too small to have anything living on them. Still, the closer they got to Rouke, the more Islands there were, and the larger they became. Several of them seemed to even have mountains on them, or what Jorl referred to as volcanoes. Apparently they were mountains that the gods controlled, mountains that spewed molten earth and clouds of black ash when they gods were displeased. Rassa had wondered why on earth their were people living so close to such dangerous places.
Jorl had just replied simply, "The gods can never be unhappy when they see their children prosper as the Southern Isles does".
Rassa figured that was a gamble, but one that these people were clearly willing to make. Seeing as he had no memory of Victor or any of the other vampires knowing what a volcano was, it was likely that they had never come across such things, that they were rare. Even then, the vampires never believed in gods, only in Order and Chaos. So, Rassa could only conclude through logical assumption that the volcanoes were naturally formed, likely from Chaos considering their nature, and that the lack of Chaos in the current world and led to their dormancy. It was a thought rather than a theory, but the thought did make him question whether or not it was safe for him to step foot on the islands, like his mere presence would cause them to erupt.
With his luck, he couldn't completely dismiss it.
Still, the first time Rassa laid eyes on the Island of Rouke, he put all thoughts of molten earth and Chaos behind him. Because no matter what its origin, he'd never seen anything like Rouke.
The Island looked to be the biggest they had seen so far. Big enough that Jorl proclaimed it would take half a day to sail around from the north to the south side of the Island. It seemed to resemble a crooked triangle, the Western point that they originally sailed past was a massive Port settlement. Port Tegi, it was called, apparently in one of the Western Continent's languages, 'Tegi' meant West. Even though they were still a ways out, the Port appeared bustling with life, a mix of architecture from multiple cultures that seemed to somehow fit together and compliment each other despite the puzzle-like arrangement.
Behind the Port as they travelled further East, the Island had several high cliffs, which made it hard for Rassa to see beyond. Jorl informed him that aside from the Ports, and one Trader's Union Establishment near the centre of the Island, Rouke was mainly forest. Apparently there were no largescale farms or livestock on the Island, Rouke mainly relied on its nearby neighbours for food and supplies. In return, Rouke provided all manner of finances and craftsman. The dependant relationship the Islands had on one another allowed them to function as a semi-unified nation. The only thing seperating them was the water.
One of the cliffs jutted further out, blocking off the view of what lay beyond, at the very top of this cliff, perched like a bird on a thin tree branch was a tower, one that seemed overgrown and abandonded, but carried about it some sense of ancient pride. Rassa was both in awe and unsettled by it as he took in its countenance.
as then rounded this massive cliff, the view became all too picturesque.
On the eastern side of the cliff, the land dipped steeply towards the water level, and retreated back and around in a half circle to form a crescent chaped bay. And from the base of the cliff, all the way around to the opposing tip, their was life. Buildings of varying degrees and cultures fit together to create their own style, one that seemed more well-rounded and thought out that Port Tegi. As if when this Port had been built the builders knew what to expect and planned accordingly.
The land from the port edge heading inland was on a slow incline, much like Port Lovolon, only it seemed in this case that the farther from the shoreline one was, the more magnificent and majestic the buildings became, culminating in a grand structure at the top of the hill that overlooked all of those below it. It was not however, gaudy like a King's or an Emperor's Palace would be. Though large and magnificent, there were no apparent signs that the owner was attempting to show off their power. It felt more...welcoming. Like it was a place for everyone.
"Fold Sails!" called Midas from the Quarter Deck.
Rassa snapped out of his mesmerised state and rushed to obey, scrambling up the ratline of the foremast in order to pull in the the sails and slow the ship's progress into the bay.
Four smaller ships approached as The Miranda slowed, and Midas, who was at the helm, followed their directions to one of the many docks. Aegin on the deck below helped toss the thick guide ropes to those on the dock, Rassa climbed unhurriedly down the ratlines, admiring the hustle and bustle of the port at midday. The ship gaze a short jolt as the ropes tying it to the dock pulled taut, then Midas immediately began ordering the cargo hold open so that the supplies could be unloaded before sundown.
As Rassa helped, he noticed a man from the dock walk up the newly situated gangplank to greet the waiting Jeremiah. They shook hands. The new man was older than Jeremiah by at least a decade, but if possible, had twice the aura. He seemed powerful, more so that Rassa had expected from a mere human. His stormy grey eyes swept over the deck before turning back to Jeremiah.
"It's good to see you," he said.
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"You too, President Griffith," Jeremiah replied.
"You'll be joining me for dinner tonight I hope, once you've parted temporarily with your ship," the President smirked.
Jeremiah sighed, "Wouldn't miss it".
Rassa could see the lie on Jeremiah's face, and so could the man he was talking to. The last place Jeremiah wanted to be was anywhere other than his ship. Old friend or not.