Deep Sea Embers-Chapter 661: The Direction of the Home Port

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Chapter 661: The Direction of the Home Port

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The prison was housed in a heavily fortified cabin aboard a ship, transformed into a stifling, damp, and narrow area. The cabin was divided into a maze of small, dim cells made of iron bars of various sizes, serving as the grim holding spaces for individuals labeled as sacrifices.

Even for someone accustomed to such dreadful environments, entering this intimidating space caused discomfort. Despite her experience, Lucretia showed a trace of unease on her forehead as she entered the makeshift dungeon.

Upon his arrival, Duncan noticed that the original occupants of these iron cages had been relocated to a slightly more bearable section near a ventilation duct at the far end of the cabin, which seemed to serve as a temporary resting area for the guards and was comparatively more airy.

The air was heavy with the repulsive odors of blood and decay. The iron cages bore marks of recent violence, stained with both fresh and old blood. Various ghastly torture devices, designed for bleeding, skinning, and impaling, hung from the walls and pillars, enhancing the already sinister ambiance.

Guided by Lucretia, Duncan walked past these gruesome sights and implements of torment toward the back of the cabin, where the remaining victims were assembled.

Their arrival sparked panic among the prisoners. Enveloped in spectral flames, Duncan appeared to them like a fearsome spirit materializing from a nightmare into reality. The remaining sacrifices reacted with terror, pressing further into the corner, but their weakened states prevented any real escape, leaving them huddled together, their eyes wide with fear and uncertainty at the sight of the ominous, flaming figure.

Duncan felt a deep sense of helplessness. He knew his ghostly appearance was intimidating, but his presence was necessitated by an artificial beacon created by Lucretia, requiring him to maintain this spectral form to align with the beacon.

Despite the fear, not all were cowering. A small, frail figure, a young girl about seven or eight years old, sat silently on the floor, her clothes tattered, her body scarred and bloodstained. She looked up at Duncan and Lucretia, her eyes void of any discernible emotion.

Driven by curiosity, Duncan knelt before her, meeting her gaze. Arent you afraid? he asked.

The child remained silent, her eyes reflecting the strange green glow of the flames but showing no reaction.

Lucretia leaned in, whispering to Duncan, Her parents were sacrificed by those cultists right in front of her. Since then, shes been like this, living on this ship for a year. Lucretia paused, then added, Children are particularly valued by groups like the Annihilators for their rituals. They often reserve children for their most significant ceremonies.

Duncan remained still, his back to Lucretia, concealing any expression that might have crossed his face upon hearing her words. In the shadowy depths of the cabin, the ethereal green flames continued to spread, emitting a soft, crackling sound.

After a moment, Duncan gently placed his spectral hand on the young girls head in a comforting gesture.

You will get better, he whispered softly, his voice barely audible.

Then, standing up fully, he turned slightly to Lucretia and asked, Lucy, do you have any candy?

Surprised by the question, Lucretia shook her head regretfully. No, I only have some essential potions with me Ah, but I do have cookies baked by Luni.

She quickly pulled some cookies from her pocket and approached the girl, gently placing them in her small, trembling hands.

At this gesture, the girl finally showed a flicker of life. She glanced at the food in her hand before silently eating it, her movements quick and almost mechanical.

Eating seemed to be one of the few instincts she retained after a year in such a terrifying place.

Soon after, two more emaciated figures timidly emerged from the shadows, approaching Duncan and kissing the ground where he had stood.

Duncan looked around the dimly lit cabin, taking in the vacant, haunted stares of the survivors. After a moment of heavy silence, he asked softly, Are there any living cultists left on this ship?

Theyve all been killed, Lucretia replied. By your standards, no one survived, except for that Saint.

Good, Duncan said, nodding slowly with determination. He then commanded, Have your servants bring some food and water. We need to start by restoring some strength to these people.

Alright, Lucretia agreed.

Together, Duncan and Lucretia left the oppressive confines of the cabin and stepped onto the ships deck.

Despite significant damage, the ship continued its voyage toward the Holy Land. The rear half of the ship was nearly destroyed, with large cracks across the deck and hull. Signs of a massive explosion were evident, creating a haunting scene of destruction that seemed frozen in time. Green flames flickered in the gaps, marking the ship with the scars of its calamity.

Above, Vision 001 slowly rose into the sky, while mysterious layers of fog began to form over the sea. The fog thickened, mingling with the ship, dimming the sunlight and casting a surreal, misty glow over the area.

The essence of the spirit world is rising, Lucretia noted, her eyes fixed on the eerie fog. She frowned slightly, adding, Were in the Barren Sea Area, far from major shipping lanes. The spatial stability here isnt as strong as near the city-states.

Will they cause trouble? Duncan asked, his tone laced with concern for potential dangers in their location.

No, Lucretia mused thoughtfully, then shook her head decisively. Your power holds sway over this ship, keeping those shadows at bay. However, we should prioritize evacuating the ordinary people on board. Their mental state is already fragile, and prolonged exposure to the spirit world could lead to unpredictable transformations.

Ill ask Ai to create a portal to help transport these people to Wind Harbor, Duncan agreed, then quickly changed the subject. Can you determine where this ship is actually headed?

Unfortunately, the explosion destroyed the observatory, making it difficult to pinpoint our exact course. However, based on Rabbis rough intuition through the spirit world, it seems were heading southeast, towards the border.

The border? Duncan asked sharply.

Yes, Lucretia confirmed with a nod. Its unexpected, but there arent any other city-states or known islands in that direction. Since the ship is now under your control, the only plausible destination is the Eternal Veil at the border.

Duncan looked surprised, considering whether an undiscovered island might be near the mysterious mist known as the Eternal Veil or if the ship was actually heading toward the mist itself.

Noticing Duncans confusion, Lucretia elaborated. The Church of the Four Gods has long stationed fleets to patrol the borders of the civilized world. Theyve thoroughly explored all islands near the Veil, and all landing sites are under Church control. Therefore, the most logical explanation is that this ships true destination lies within the mist, in a region unseen by the Church.

Duncans expression shifted to disbelief. Theyve established a secret route right under the Churchs nose?

Crossing the border and avoiding the Churchs blockade or the patrols of the Ark Fleet isnt as difficult as one might think, Lucretia explained. The border is vast, and its not feasible for the Church to monitor every part of the Veil. The primary role of the patrol fleets is not to intercept illegal vessels, but to monitor changes in the border mist. In the gaps between patrols, theres enough opportunity to establish several secret routes. I could navigate to the Eternal Veil without anyone noticing if I wanted to.

Her tone then became more serious, Whats truly remarkable isnt just these secret routes, but the implication that this ships home port might actually be hidden within that mist.

Duncan understood the significance of Lucretias words.

Navigating the vast maritime border without attracting the Churchs attention was feasible. The real challenge was surviving within the mist once they had evaded the Church.

The dense fog barrier called the Eternal Veil marked the edge of the known, civilized world. Since the era of deep sea exploration, the rule avoid that dense fog at all costs had been firmly ingrained in the minds of sailors and adventurers.

As Duncan and Lucretia continued their conversation, Duncan was overwhelmed by a surge of emotions. The topic reminded him of the incident a century ago involving the mysterious disappearance of the Vanished. At that time, Duncan Abnomar had daringly, perhaps recklessly, ventured into the depths of that dense fog.

The mysteries of the fog had always been a source of fascination and conjecture. What secrets did it hide? Was there an end to its impenetrable veil? Could there be a vast, undiscovered world lying beyond its misty borders? And most crucially, what had the Vanished, including a former version of himself, discovered in those hidden depths a hundred years ago?

These questions were not just his burden; they cast a long shadow over all of Duncan Abnomars descendants. Even now, with the return of Duncan and the Vanished to the world, these unresolved mysteries continued to weigh on Lucretias mind, like a persistent, dark cloud.

Indeed, the implications of these mysteries loomed large over the entire world.

With these thoughts swirling in his mind, Duncans expression became increasingly complex and contemplative. He walked slowly to the bow of the ship, his steps measured and deliberate. Leaning against the railing, he rested his hands on it as he looked out towards the sea, now shrouded in mist.

Under his command, the ship was steering full speed towards that mysterious, fog-enshrouded horizon. It was a journey into the unknown, back towards the enigmatic shroud that had once engulfed him and the Vanished a century earlier.

This content is taken from fr(e)ewebn(o)vel.𝓬𝓸𝓶

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