On the fifth day, three stout ships set sail from the Bay of the Kremel. In the first ship embarked Consciolus Greppo, who claimed this position by right as First King of Kremel. With him were certain of his retainers and Benda, who it was believed was the Keyholder of the Gate of Song and the way back to Quatria. In the following ship were Murta and Martis Ovnis, the Third and Fourth Kings and their retainers. And in the third ship were Mergolech, the Second King, and Eradus, the Fifth, and their retainers. With them traveled Benda’s wife Lualla and Sol – as proteges of Mergolech – along with the sable golek Machef, and none other than Tob Gobble.
Following what Greppo said were instructions encoded in the Scroll of Omouna, they went under sail three days to the east, until they were in deep ocean, and far from any sight of land. Thick chains held fast the ships in a column, so that they would not be separated, and they traveled without incident until they reached the doldrums where no winds blew.
Once there, Greppo ordered the sails furled, and the rowers to their stations. Each ship held forty rowers, hardy men-at-arms, who upon landing on those far shores would form their advance guard as the invaders established a beachhead on one of the outer islands of Quatria below the Bay of Erasure. Mergolech, however, as the King of the Fishers, was then called upon as he was the only one among them who was thought to know which way was Buorthus, the Lost Direction. According to the legends of his people, it was an ancient fifth direction which was neither north nor south, east nor west, nor any combination of them. Greppo signaled from the lead ship, and awaited Mergolech’s reply as to what direction they should row in.
Benda meanwhile searched within his heart, and realized he truly did not know the way. A storm-at-sea had carried him there and back. He was filled with fear and sorrow, however, that the way would be discovered, and that because of him, unarmed and peaceful Quatria would surely fall to this force of only a little over a hundred men-at-arms.
Murta, as eagle, leapt into the air and circled high above them, looking for clues to the Lost Direction.
Tob Gobble, who had been uncharacteristically silent nearly the whole trip, except to run and play below decks with young Sol, said to Mergolech, “Sire, the Great River, upon which I traveled here, is said to connect all the Wide Lands and the Thousand Seas. Would that we could find its current even here, surely it would take us to Tetharys and beyond.”
“Tell me then the way, gentle Tob,” said Mergolech kindly. “For I see it not. To me, it remains but a legend.”
“Better then, perhaps,” said Eradus behind him, “that it remain that way. Turn us back, and this future can still be averted.”
Tob, meanwhile, had produced from his sack, the reed flute upon which he had often played before, but which had been silent since leaving the Citadel. His heart was heavy too, but he put it to his lips, and he played. Unlike his normal feisty and painfully out of tune airs, he blew for them then a sad song, sweet and sorrowful. It was a simple tune of only a few notes repeating in a piteous plaintive pattern. Though not loudly played, the sound of it wafted amongst the three ships, so that all could hear. And Murta as eagle descended upon hearing it from the upper airs, landed on the second ship, and became again a man. “I have seen the way,” he said, shouting across the decks so the others could hear him.
“As have I,” said Mergolech loudly, and he pointed in a direction which was – to all of their surprise – neither north nor south, east, nor west, nor any combination of them, but was something wholly… other. They all saw it then, and understood, that though normally it lay hidden to their eyes, it was always close at hand. They wondered how they had never seen it before.
Tob stopped playing, and put away his flute. Greppo ordered the rowers to turn about in all three ships, and manuevering with dexterity, they did so. As they came to, a thin stream, as of a silver flowing filament, revealed itself just below the water’s surface, and they struck to this course, onward to Tetharys and the Gate of Song.