Having passed the veil of the Stormwall, the three chained-together Kremellian ships found themselves floating upon a calm blue sea. Though bruised and battered, and some among their numbers lost in the tempest, they continued under oar. In this they had no choice, for their masts were largely ruined, and their sails in tatters.
They had, however, not far to travel, for across the calm blue sea their quarry lay in sight: the place called Tetharys. As they came closer, gathering their wits again after the terror of the storm, they could see it plainly. Though once an island waystation between Kremel and Quatria, all that remained of that sunken isle was the upper halves of two massive columns jutting up out of the water. They had once stood atop the Temple Mount there, within the arx, supporting a long-since crumbled archway. Together, they formed the Gate of Song.
Legend had it that the Sea Bull, Kominthu, when the world was young, and after many adventures, had charged out to this place of deep waters, gravely wounded, and vanished. He left behind only his immense ivory horns, jutting up out of the mountain, which the Quatrians who later discovered and colonized the island carved into the pillars Kominth and Serus.
Benda, and all aboard the three ships, felt their hearts leap as their boats passed one after the other between the twin pillars of Kominth and Serus, and on through the Gate of Song. Though their hearts had lain heavy in their chests in the gale and in its aftermath, hope sprang anew, in each after his own fashion, and after his own virtue.
Whatever power held intact the magic of the Gate of Song, it recognized Benda now as the Keyholder. As the last boat passed, a distant sound of bells ringing which had begun when the first boat nosed through became now much louder and present, until it was all around them. The sound rang through each of them bodily, affecting them greatly. Whatever fears, strains, or worries had gripped them previously, whatever their intentions had been, they could feel them being melted down by the sound resonating within, and they were exceedingly glad.
Even gladder were they when they passed well beyond sight of sunken Tetharys and the Gate of Song, and in the distance saw land rising up out of the vast deep ocean.
“Quatria, at long last,” exclaimed Greppo in delight to no one in particular.
Benda, coming up beside him corrected him, “Nay, that is the island of Gilla, outer-most of the many isles of Quatria, near the borders of the Houses of Wealth and Song, and leading beyond it into the Bay of Erasure, and Quatria herself.”
It had been their plan under council to sail and make camp at Gilla, and thus proceed from a place of greater strength on to Quatria herself by and by. They were to send for reinforcements if necessary. Instead, however, a kind of mad fury gripped Greppo instead, upon his eyes catching sight of these shores. His imagination leapt into the void of the untold riches and glory which surely lay just beyond.
“We row on to Quatria, now,” Greppo said forcefully.
Benda looked at him, and saw the mad blood behind his eyes boiling. “Oh my king, it is not my place to question, but the men-at-arms and rowers are deathly tired, and our vessels badly damaged. Let us set ashore awhile, recover, and consolidate to the best ships remaining which will hold us all.”
The madness mounting in Greppo’s eyes subsided just long enough for him to see the reason in Benda’s suggestion, and he ordered it to be so. The rowers rowed, and after still a long time, when the shadows had well lengthened, they arrived and set anchor in the small seaward bay of Gilla.
Greppo, however, did not allow them to rest or go ashore until the ships had been inspected under torch-light, and the best among them discovered. It was found to be the third vessel, that upon which had embarked Mergolech, Eradus, Lualla, Sol, Tob Gobble, and their retinues and men-at-arms of Kremel. They had taken the least storm damage, and had a mast which would be salvageable come light of day. They spent that night, however, transporting provisions from the badly damaged first ship (which in point of fact would have sank before ever reaching Quatria proper), and distributing them to the others, and unchaining them one from the other.
Greppo took command of that ship, while Murta and Martis Ovnis in the second ship (still damaged, but less so than the first) received their share of provisions and men-at-arms to replace those rowers lost at the Stormwall. The first ship, which was already taking on water, was abandoned to soon sink, and the assembled company at last slept, and dreamt feverish dreams of what they’d find in Quatria.