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To Sail a Sea of Stars

Author: 
Chaos_Theocrat
Old Vault Category: 
fanfiction
Old Vault ID: 
520

Prologue: The Dark Wanderer



It was a gray afternoon, and the light of the setting sun did cast the rolling hills beyond the old Zakharan sands into an orange glow. The darkly hooded woman urged the camel she did ride upon, to hasten along the journey it was bound by its' mistress's command to finish. In one hand... she held the reins of the beast. Whilst in the other she cradled a large tome as ordinarily leather-bound as any other. She seemed but a lonely scribe under a fading sun.

Perhaps it was days she traveled... or perhaps it was a lifetime, instead. So many towns, and so many cities, she had seen! Amidst the camps of nomads, she had dwelled... and everyone, from the commoners to philosophers had availed themselves of her wisdom wherever she did journey. Yet, never could anyone be certain of her appearance. Some people believed, they had spoken with a more matronly woman in her middle years... whilst others swore they had met but a child. All were illusions designed by her, to protect their sanity from the glory of her true visage. Fast upon the horizon, she spied a misty line of date palms that were the last between this old land and the more familiar nations of Faerun that were frequented by her in ages past. It was time, she mused, to return to that part of the world.

She had found... what she had sought!



Chapter One: The Old Tome



Jafar Ashkat, was born in a tiny village amidst the Dales, although he was of the blood of an old family from Calimshan. His mother kept him in the ways of her people, but his father was a practical, if lazy, worker for some trading company that operated out of Baldur's Gate before the prosperity of larger organizations drove it to close down. Jafar... was not at all like his father. He was determined to make his own fortune, not content to be given it by others. And so, he was determined to become a scholar and he made his way to Candlekeep... to learn from the wisest scholars in the land, or so he had been assured. If knowledge was truly power, and power was wealth, then Jafar deeply believed he was on the path to riches.

However, in all of his thirty years, he had not made so much as one coin. Even thus, he was determined to try! It was during this time that he made the fair acquaintance of a most mysterious young woman from Zakhara, who had arrived at Candlekeep on the same day he did. It was an omen... and one that would bode strangely. "Milady, may I help you with that tome? It seems to be a burden for you to carry." Said Jafar, bowing low, politely. The woman clutched the book even tighter, hissing: "It is not for anyone but I, to bear this burden!" and this made him a little uneasy. Even so, he accompanied her down the hall to see the Lore Master who was awaiting these newcomers in the Great Library. The old man heard their sandaled feet upon the marble floor even before they arrived at his desk. He so looked upon them as they opened wide the library doors... a young man, bearded, and perhaps a bit mature-looking for his age. Or is that look what they call careworn? The young man was Calishite, by his dress. Those black robes, and the kafiah headdress.

And, then, there was the young woman.

Her hair was a very long mane of raven black, her eyes bright green. She wore baggy pantaloons and a rather ordinary peasant blouse, with a black cloak that billowed past her as she walked. All of her steps... they were delicate... but she seemed very labored by the tome she bore. And, a most familiar tome it was!



Chapter Two: Two Bound by Fate



The Lore Master said, solemnly and gravely: "So... you have arrived. Two, and dressed in black! Two, to be bound by fate." Jafar looked at the old monk, and replied: "I think you are mistaken, master, for I have only just so arrived this day, and I did not travel with the lady. Rather, she was right here when I arrived, having come hither on the same day as I but not ever in my company."

The old man looked from Jafar unto the woman and back again. "So it seems, but even so I have foreseen in a dream that you share one fate together. My dreams come from the god Oghma, a Lord of all Knowledge... and they are never wrong."

The woman rushed up to the big desk and slammed the old tome down upon it that she had been carrying; that she had, to this very moment, carried so far. "In Zakhara..." She began, "They still call this 'The Book of the Black Moon', and it is said that to read of those pages is to lose mind and soul alike. Yet, I have looked upon them! I have seen the things that lie beyond this tiny world.

Worlds, beyond worlds, indeed a whole multiverse we can scarcely imagine even in the dreams Oghma may be kind enough to send us. Once, you had called me a blasphemer and a heretic. Now, I stand in contradiction to all your prejudice!

What is more, I have been between the worlds, and I have been changed by my experiences amongst the stars." Then, the Lore Master went very pale and was frightened by the woman’s claims. "Have you... proof?" he stammered. She showed him an odd parchment and then the old man was truly frightened. "So... some of our gods are not truly unique to our world? They are worshipped on others!

Then, how are our priests at all unique in the cosmic scheme of things..." With that, the woman approached Jafar. Long did she look into his blue eyes, before saying: "He cannot grant you, the true knowledge that will bestow power... and wealth. Only I can give you that! Come with me, Jafar Ashkat, and I will show you wonders beyond anything this world can offer you." Jafar, without a hint of hesitation, replied: "Our road, is now one. Lead me on the paths you have tread down and I will follow in faith."



Chapter Three: The Forgotten Way



They stayed just to watch the Lore Master rather ceremoniously hiding away the tome and the parchment that he was given. Then... the mysterious woman led Jafar a long way out of Candlekeep, and so they had begun a journey to a remote monastery off in distant Kara-Tur. "The highest of all of the mountains in this world, lies in the far east." Said the woman one day, when Jafar did ask her of their destination. "There... lies a secret from before mankind walked the soil of this world you call Toril. It is a ship, used by the gods when they arrived here in another time, a vessel they left behind, which man can use if he has the correct knowledge. I learned it within the pages of the Black Moon, and with it I will take you beyond all that you know." As they made their way across the borders of nations, through paths rarely taken, and donned the garb of many locals... they became just two wanderers upon a forgotten road that so winded all throughout those "Forgotten Realms" as the woman called the lands of Toril. "Why do you say that they are forgotten, though?" asked Jafar... and his companion replied: "It is because, compared to other worlds, this one is old, ancient even... and venerable in the memory of those who sail the stars.

Some have simply forgotten the way to get here." Much the same way that, as they journeyed on, Jafar was forgetting the way back, mused he. Eventually, and with an uncanny good fortune, they had arrived in the east with not any real difficulties and soon were on a rough track through a high and snowy range of mountains. "The locals call this peak, the Mount of the Heavens... for their ancestors remembered what they have in truth lost the memory of. We will reach a cave at the end of this trail, and it will become a tunnel that, eventually, opens up into a chamber hollowed out in the mountain's crown... which is a dome covered in ice." Said the woman who was Jafar's guide for so long. So they took that way, and eventually to his shock and surprise, Jafar stood within that very chamber, filled with icicles and chilled by frost. But, it was not the cold that shocked him. It was what lay inside the center of the huge chamber: seemingly... a sailing vessel, but one the likes of which he had never known of. The woman looked at it familiarly.



Chapter Four: Between the Worlds



She stood there at the helm like a mariner, all dressed in a loose pair of knickers and the blouse she was wearing when Jafar first met her. She chanted some sort of arcane spell... and pulled two odd levers... which seemed to make the craft they were on float off of the ground, cracking the ice it was trapped in, and splintering the ice as it rose.

Jafar was still wearing the heavy furs of the people of this snowy region, and began to feel heat coming from within the hull of the vessel itself. He went into the cabin the woman had appointed for him and changed into his old robe, but did not wear his kafiah. The heat was too great for it. He emerged just in time, to witness the icy dome that was the top of the mountain melting to allow the airship to emerge into the night air. But it was more than just an airship! A bubble formed about it, and within it the air grew very cool... and breathable again. He glanced up in pure wonder, for they were sailing but not merely through the air, like unto the wizards of Halruua, but beyond the air and soon through the stars themselves.

Looking down... Jafar saw the vast orb that was the world of his birth, as it was growing smaller and smaller until it was gone from his sight. He ran to the woman, the captain of this vessel, and said to her, feverishly: "Have I gone mad? Am I in a dream, good lady!

Please, tell me if this is so." Then, the woman started to sing an odd song that Jafar had never heard before, in a voice that moved him almost to tears...

"Mad is the captain of Alpha Centauri!

We must be out of our minds... Still we are shipmates bound for tomorrow, and everyone here's flying blind! Oh, we must believe in magic! We must believe in the guiding hand... If you believe in magic... you'll have the universe at your command! Mad is the crew bound for Alpha Centauri! Dreamers and poets and clowns... Bold is the ship bound for Alpha Centauri! Nothing can turn it around! Oh, we must believe in magic!

We must believe in the guiding hand... If you believe in magic... you'll have the universe at your command!

La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da...

La-da-da-da-da-da-da!

La-la-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da...

La-da-da-da-da-da-da!

Oh, we must believe in magic! We must believe in the guiding hand... If you believe in magic... you'll have the universe at your command!" And so... the woman's song went on and on for a long time, as the vessel journeyed deep into the starry unknown as if by magic.



Chapter Five: Mad is The Captain



Jafar was looking longingly, and lovingly, at the captain as she steered them on through the darkness that lay between galaxies, where not any stars illuminated the way. She seemed to be the only light present, and like a moth he was drawn to her. "What is the name of this vessel, my lady?" he absently sighed. "The Alpha Centauri... like in the song." Said she. "And, are you mad, my lady? Like in the song..." inquired the young man. "Perhaps..." smiled she, and in that smile it seemed that Jafar caught a glimpse of something which he equated with paradise. He sighed again, and like a little boy just watching his first snowfall, he sat by the railing near the helm and he gazed deeply into the infinite blackness. As if in some trance, he entered a reverie in which he found sleep. When his eyes opened, the Alpha Centauri had reached another world and was circling it in what the captain called an "orbit". She sternly said: "That is the world that is known as Krynn. Here... the stars themselves are gods and goddesses, and the people have in age after age fought many great battles against the forces of darkness and evil. Beyond this galaxy, lie many others. Worlds such as Oerth, Athas... and the place where I learned that song I sang to you earlier... Earth." Jafar nearly fainted at the sight of the new and unfamiliar constellations all about him, and that strange world with even stranger landmasses beneath him. "It is truly not meant for mortals to see many of these sights! This was meant for the gods alone to behold. I am overwhelmed!"

He whispered. She then did caress his cheek and she whispered softly into his ear: "Perhaps one time... the gods you revere were just men and women like us, flying in crafts like this through the stars. Visiting distant worlds... even colonizing them on occasion, only to be revered as creator deities for having done so." Then, Jafar asked the woman her name, and she did reply: "If I told you, you would not know it, for it is in the tongue of another world. But in the common talk of Faerun, I am known as Selune." Jafar recognized the name of the goddess of the moon, and fell to his knees before her. "Impossible! Your tears do shine, in the night sky above Toril every eve. How can you be there, and yet stand here, at the same time?"

At these words of his, she laughed: "Is that what people believe? Allow me to show you what the truth of my 'tears' are!" and she piloted the craft back towards Toril once more, smiling slyly.



Chapter Five: The Tears of Selune



It was a moon, with several large chunks of rock all about it. Not truly a goddess... not even a divine being of any kind. It was only a moon, and some rocks. "All of my life, I believed the legend that you wept and so your tears formed those very rocks." Said Jafar to her, mournfully. "Are you than, just a mortal like unto myself, and not truly the powerful goddess that we have long thought you to be?" he did almost weep as he said. Selune gathered him up into her arms like some child and soothingly she said to him: "In this form... I am mortal. But liberated from this form I am divine and very much the goddess you have worshipped." Jafar looked into her gleaming green eyes and said: "Selune, why have you brought me above all men into the knowledge of divine and sacred things such as this?" Selune drew her lips close to his and said: "Because, in all truth, your time had come and I could not allow you to perish without a glimpse of all this celestial glory!"

And when she kissed him with all of the warmth of Toril's sun, he saw the hour of his own death. It had happened as he neared Candlekeep. He had slipped upon the rocks near unto the cliff edge that bordered the path, which led up to that house of learning, and tragically... he had fallen. "Then it was your own power that made me forget my death. Your will that brought me back, to life..." said Jafar when the kiss was over. "Yes, but at some cost." She then explained... "I could but bring you back to life for a brief time, and so in that time I have chosen to show you all that you ever so hungered for in your breathing life... the knowledge that brings one power and riches." Then Jafar at last understood his own foolishness. "What good is any knowledge... if you have not anyone to share it with? Of what use are riches, when you need them not once fast beyond this life!" Then it was that Selune was proud, for she had taught this man the lesson he had needed to learn. "In our journey together, Jafar, you have truly become a wise man. Before... you were a good man, but not a wise one at all. I will make an exception and allow you to return to true life, but under a single condition... you must remain with this avatar of mine for so long as you both shall live, and you must travel these stars together, calling no world your home... but sharing as much wisdom as you can with those of other worlds who are in need of it." Jafar agreed, and suddenly the woman was just as she had been, before the startling revelation that she was, in fact, Selune. She and Jafar embraced as if they had met after long years apart, and she said sweetly unto him: "Oh beloved, for so you have become to me... let us embark once more upon a journey. It will be the journey of our lifetimes... and we will make it together." Jafar held her close to him, and they kissed once more as all around them billions of stars glistened, and a world turned... beneath the deck of the old vessel known as the Alpha Centauri.

Selune wept then, tears of joy. And for the first time in ages... a wise mortal was there to help her wipe them away.



Epilogue: The Cosmic Scholars



There are many legends that try to relate how the knowledge of one world, could so often be found on others. Some have told of old gates or portals, that could take one between... whilst others say it was because of the gods. But for two souls bound by one divine will, it was the sacred duty of their lives to be the messengers that brought cosmic knowledge to one world after another.

Soon, they became known as the "Cosmic Scholars", and every world had a story or myth that told how they came down to enlighten mankind in its' greatest hour of need. Over a long series of years... the scholars amassed a large crew that accompanied them on their great voyage.

However, it came to pass that they were taken into Selune's greater glory just before they were to go to their final destination: a planet called Earth. And following these events, a lonely ship pulled into port at the bustling city of Waterdeep, on the old, oft forgotten world, known as Toril. The name of the ship was the Alpha Centauri, a name as alien upon that world as it was upon countless others. She was even still captained, some say, by a lady and a gentleman, and she held a sizeable crew of, mostly, poets, dreamers, and bards who by their looks were, a number of them, not at all from Toril. However, when any of them did step to disembark, they just disappeared... and the vessel vanished, along with all of them. They can still be seen, they and their ship, on certain years, whenever the Tears of Selune are fully visible in the autumn.

And even on Earth, who can say that the occasional ghost ship is not, perhaps, the Alpha Centauri... it's fair captain attempting even beyond life itself, to deliver her knowledge to wherever it is needed. The wisest scholars cannot say.





To Sail a Sea of Stars © Chaos_Theocrat

Migrate Wizard: 
First Release: 
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