This is part four from a story I was writing a long, long time ago.
The material contains reference to copyrighted material owned by TSR and now Wizards of the Coast. Disclaimer, blah, blah, blah.
“Why? How? How could this happen?” A voice was tense, panicky.
“The Smalljammer that had been altered by the Star Dwarf has returned.” The second voice was soothing, contemplative.
“But, but no portals in the crystal sphere have opened in Creation in centuries.” The first voice was gaining control.
“You are correct.” The second voice was flat.
“Then how…” A new panic edged the first voice.
“A new method of travel has surfaced. Spelljamming ships that originated on, or were altered on, Creation can access tunnels that link the different planes together. That Smalljammer has been traveling between the Prime Plane of Existence and Creation.” The second voice gained no emotion.
“How do you know this?” Curiosity had dispersed the panic in the first voice.
“The Smalljammer is in communication with me. It…ungh! Noooo!” Anguish rocked the second voice’s scream.
“What’s wrong?” The familiar panic had returned.
“Nooo! The Father! Gone! Nooo!” Anger, hate, anguish, and a deep sadness filled the second voice.
“Calm down! Tell me what’s wrong.” A new sound, the sound of taking control, entered the first voice.
“The Father! The Fa–I’m ok. Like I had said, the Smalljammer was in communication with me. It’s anguish was so complete that I had to fight it off. The Spelljammer has been destroyed. This Smalljammer was the one that heard the cry of the dying ship. It shall now begin to grow. Here.” Total flatness had returned to the second voice.
“Here? By Cerin, is anything predictable anymore? Anything could happen with the magic of the Star Dwarf influencing the growing ship.” Panic, mixed with rationality flowed through the first voice.
“The First Battle draws near.” The simple statement brought a touch of apprehension to the second voice.
“No! That can’t be. It’s too early. Wait, what’s happening in the Far?” The first voice was finally learning to calm itself down.
“The Keeper of Darrowilk seeks to destroy Cerin’s Crystal Sphere. The two planes of Creation draw near to each other.” Total flatness returned.
“So our original conclusion was correct. At least partially.” A hint of relief showed itself in the first voice.
“Yes. At least partially.” The flatness in the second voice seemed eternal.
Trident gazed at the rising Enimyd, as he now knew Telrin’s ship to be called. “Ah, well.” He had known that their meeting would have had to be concluded soon. The reason, though, sent shivers up his spine. His ship, the mighty Spelljammer itself, was diving towards the planet below at an alarming rate. From the bridge, positioned at one of the “eyes” of the giant red manta ray, he could see the wisps of clouds streaming away from the huge ship.
The Spelljammer had completely severed its contact with him. From what Trident had read, along with what his ship, his partner, had told him, he knew that only one Spelljammer could exist at any one time. He also knew that the last Spelljammer had been destroyed by a swarm of Neogi ships. Neogi were loathsome, spider-like creatures with snake-like heads and necks. Their only goals were to kill and to enslave.
Now, a great burden had been lain on Trident’s shoulders. He was the Captain of the greatest ship that traveled the known (and, apparently, the unknown) spheres, the Spelljammer. But this was all different. First of all, no spelljamming vessel had ever talked mentally to its captain. Not even a ship as great as this was. His ship, however, had.
Spelljammers were also supposed to be a light purple color, with a white “underbelly.” His was a flame-like red hue, dimming to a soft orange underneath.
And lastly, Spelljammers could not land on either land or water. Yet his was spiraling down to the surface of this Creation, seemingly not knowing the rules that governed its own existence.
A continent passed below, its speed nauseating, yet exhilarating. Mountains, a forest, huge plains, and a desert. Light from the sun reflected off the sand so brightly that he had to look away, or risk losing his vision. When Trident dared to look back, there was only water stretching out below him. Vertigo seized him, dropping him to his knees, robes clasped in his hands. Somehow, he knew that these were the effects of the Spelljammer’s and the planet’s gravity centers melding together. Trident shoved his head between his knees, bracing himself for impact.
The giant manta ray dropped from view as the Enimyd rose into wildspace. Gossip around the ship was that Telrin was going to try something new and exciting with his spelljamming ship. Being an Inanimate, Flard Snet didn’t understand all of the mumbo-jumbo about “becoming one with a living ship and “new dimensions of travel.” Why couldn’t they just use a teleport spell or a portal? All of these new ideas got on his nerves. Most of the old ways were much better than the new. Ah, well. As time wore on, he knew that he would have to confront the future, or die trying to live in the past.
Looking at the stars always used to calm Flard down. He had had many reasons to be upset. As a Dwarf, being any kind of a wizard was only now being realized as being as noble as the strongest warrior. He had fought many times to push his point, verbally, and sometimes physically. It was usually after these fights were that he’d climb up to his favorite ledge and gaze at the stars, trying to discern a pattern in their random dusting across the sky. Now, from up above the clouds, or any air to speak of, he could see the stars as clearly as if they were new. It all seemed wrong, somehow, that they didn’t sparkle or gleam as they had used to.
As Flard pondered, a tunnel of crackling blue energy filled his view of the stars. It raced toward him, giving him a sickening sense of vertigo. Then all was dark.
Trident finally dared to peek at his surroundings. ‘I must be dead,’ Trident thought, ‘there was no impact.’ He was in the bridge of the Spelljammer. Everything looked normal. The sound, it was the sound that was different. The silence of wildspace was gone, replaced by the sound of small waves breaking on the fire-red hull of the great ship. Trident turned around, amazed at the sight that lay just outside the “eye” window. Directly ahead was what looked like a giant crystal ball, filled with a dark mist, that was floating halfway out of the water. A gaping, yet perfect, circular hole lay in the side of the sphere, with a wooden longboat bobbing on the waves next to it. The only way that he could survey everything was to go above decks.
What Trident saw took away his breath, both on and off the “back” of the giant manta ray. Towers, buildings, and pre-constructed homes for the ship’s future populations had been demolished, leaving scattered debris everywhere. Already, though, the shivaks, minions of the Spelljammer, were repairing the damage. He shook his head, trying to figure out the nuances of the faceless creatures.
Shifting his view, he concentrated on the water. To his astonishment, he saw an anchored ship, about a tenth of a mile out from the floating sphere. He correctly guessed that he and Silver weren’t alone in their quest. “We need a boat to get to shore, big enough to carry me and Silver. Oh, and could you summon him to the deck, he’ll be glad to know that we’ve landed, wherever the hell we are.”
‘Uh, yes, yes, sir.’ The thoughts rang in his mind like his own, but with a strange hollowness in the mental voice itself. It was detached, preoccupied.
A tap on the shoulder brought Trident out of his daze. He looked over his shoulder and saw, to his immense surprise, five shivaks carrying a longboat. The longboat was made of the same material that his ship was. “Will the surprises never stop?”
As the longboat was lowered into the water, he decided that they would not, at least as long as he was alive. Lowering himself into the boat, he wondered how the Spelljammer was afloat, being such an immense ship. He soon received his answer.
“Holy—” The Spelljammer was hovering about two feet above the actual surface of the water. A fiery red mist seemed to be holding the Spelljammer. No, the surprises would never stop. “Ah, well. Only way to go is forward.” Two shivaks entered the boat and paddled it to the misty, floating, giant crystal ball.