Very few know the edge of the Earth… beyond the maps that are shown to the crowds; beyond the idea of a floating sphere in the void. At the true end of the known world, saling the dark and turbulent icy waters, doing everything possible to maintain their ship afloat━Ivan and his crew struggled to survive.
“Captain…” Tledine exclaimed before throwing himself to the ground and dodging a loose rope.
Ivan maneuvered the steering wheel as the ship passed next to giant icebergs. Enventuraly, the currents carried them towards a thin layer of ice. Aren’t they going to lower the sails?
The Land Lover broke the ice with its keel, almost going over it. The pirates managed to hold on until a sudden force sent the forward; the captain held on tight to the wheel until the ship came to a stop.
Ivan looked up… moving carefully—listening to the squealing of wood. “Is everyone okay?” he asked.
“I think we are in trouble.” Ivan said as he walked down the ladder.
“What are we going to do captain?” Jostas asked. “We’re trapped.”
“There will be time for that…” said the captain. “For now, I need to cool my throat.”
Ivan covered Jostas’s face with one hand. Then, he reached for a wooden cup and filled it with liquor from a keg. The rest of the pirates approached, watching their captain drink. “We are alive… right?”
“It’s going to be very difficult to get out of this place,” Grimoul said with her arms folded in front of her chest. She was clearly the taller of all the pirates.
“We could wait for the ice to thaw…” Jostas said before receiving a blow to the head.
“Any other ideas?” Ivan asked before continuing to drink.
“I think…” said Apolinios, “we could reverse the boat with ropes.”
“The Land Lover is not a boat,” said the captain. “But it’s a good idea, you’ll be in charge. In the meantime I need a team for an expedition.”
“He must be crazy,” Jostas whispered to his side.
“We have a volunteer,” Ivan said, putting his hand on Jostas head. “Someone else?”
Some of the pirates around the captain raised their arms, but Ivan knew exactly who he was going to take. He chose his team and they got ready for an expedition into the icy lands at the edge of the world.
“Something tells me this is going to be boring,” Sherina said, “but I’d rather come with you than drag the ship out of this mess.”
“You better bring your weapons,” said the captain.
Sherina spun… showing two pistols and a knife on her back. “For you captain… I’m always ready.”
Ivan looked from side to side. “Well… the plan is simple. The legend tells of a treasure two hours from here—it will be an easy trip. We get there, find something to bring back and return. We have to be back by sundown.”
Jostas looked at the captain suspiciously… until Grimoul pushed him. “Look where you’re going,” he demanded.
“Sorry… you are not in my sight range.”
“Easy,” said the captain. “Let’s save this for later… Tledine, ready to run?”
Tledine nodded and they all ran after him.
Running for two hours wasn’t difficult—at an expert pace, of course. The pirates ignored the cold of the snow. Tledine knew the terrain and avoided the soft snow. They crossed through the icy breeze, certain that they would be the only ones crazy enough to travel the forbidden lands—eventually captain Ivan Three Eyes’ men caught a glimpse of a shadow in the distance.
“Impossible,” said the captain, stopping the group.
“There are no clouds in the sky,” Tledine said.
Grimoul looked up, not understanding what was happening.
“It’s not a shadow,” Sherina said.
“She’s right,” said the captain, looking through a telescope. “It’s a black structure.”
“I want to see…” Jostas said, lifting his arms.
Ivan held the telescope out of Jostas’s reach—he watched him jump a couple of times before tucking it into his backpack. “We found our goal.”
Tledine couldn’t believe what they’d found, even worse that the captain guided them to perfection.
“Take us to the crystal cube,” Ivan said.
Tledine ran in front of the group again.
“You have been warned…” the words sounded inside Ivan’s mind. “These lands are off-limits to his kind.”
“What’s that?” Tledine asked as he stopped and noticed the rest of the group passing by.
“Continuing will cost your lives,” the voices spoke again inside the pirates’ minds.
“Focus on the objective,” said the captain.
Before long, they got close enough to see the immense crystal structure. A perfect cube with six hundred foot high walls. The pirates descended a snowy hill before the cube was within reach. The smooth walls appeared to be made from a single piece of marble. Although its color was too perfect.
“You two over there,” Ivan said and pulled Jostas to join him.
Tledine watched the pirates disappear to the opposite sides of the cube and he froze. Where did this come from? he wondered.
Ivan continued running. Looking carefully at everything around him. There must be something we can take. When he reached the corner of the cube, turned and stopped abruptly.
“What happened?” Jostas asked after crashing into the captain.
“Look,” Ivan whispered.
A door opened on the fourth face of the cube. Ivan, like the others, saw two humanoid-looking beings come out. They did not seem ready for the cold, their naked bodies exposed their blue skin.
“This place is beyond the limits of your land,” said one of the beings. His voice was heard in the minds of everyone present.
“TO THEM,” the captain yelled and the four pirates charged.
Sherina took a shotgun from her back and was the first to fire. Then, she threw it to the side and reached for her pistols.
Grimoul was ready to shoot what appeared to be a small bazooka. The explosion forced her to stop, as Sherina ran past her.
One of the blue-skinned beings began to spin a black warstaff in front of him and deflected the projectile. The other humanoid turned to face the captain.
Jostas paused, aiming a shotgun for an instant before firing. Then he ran after the captain.
“Your efforts are futile,” the pirates heard inside their heads, and continued running towards the blue-skinned beings—watching them defend themselves with their warstaffs.
Then, the metal net shot by Sherina fell on top of the humanoids… the spinning warstaffs got entangled, causing the beings to lose their balance and fall. Another metal net fell on them, just in time for the pirates to secure the corners with metal stakes.
“Make sure they can’t move,” Ivan said, driving a stake into his corner of the net.
The blue skinned beings looked surprised.
“Speak in my mind now,” Ivan said before grabbing a warstaff from the ground. The captain was surprised to see it shrink in his palm, then he took the other one and easily placed them in his backpack. “We’ve got what we came for. We’d better get out of here.”
The pirates runned towards Tledine and back to the ship with their treasures.