Hail, adventurers! I just wanted to briefly preface this so that it has some context. I've been working on worldbuilding for a for almost a year now on a world for a planned book series (eventually maybe hopefully possibly) called An Age of Ruin, based in a medieval fanasy post-apocalyptic setting. I am not done world building by any stretch; there are so many tiny details to consider, it gets overwhelming sometimes. That is exactly why I decided to start writing a bit. I think worldbuilding is key to giving a story consistency and context, but I also have discovered that worldbuilding without knowing the direction of the story it will serve as the backdrop for is equally fruitless. So I've got a very ... let me say that again ... VERY rough work on what might eventually become the prologue for the first story. IDK if I will post a ton about this because I don't want to put out too much stuff if it'll just get changed later, but for this I did want some feedback to see what you guys think. Any comments and critiques are appreciated!
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Salt. Water. Wind. These things may have been bearable at one time. Pleasant, even. That time had long since passed for Hakkim. He had grown to despise the constant noise of the waves, the paradoxical dryness that the salt caused in an ocean so vast, and the creaking and moaning of the ship as the steady wind propelled it through the sea. It wasn’t the desolate feeling that came from the vast emptiness of the ocean. No, Hakkim was used to that. Once upon a time, desolation was all he knew. Beyond the walls of the Seven Cities, the dry sands of Ukkashyrr were just as vast, and perhaps filled even more with the hopelessness of isolation.
What Hakkim hated most about this Lords-forsaken ocean was its horrid consistency. Day after day, it was the same. His skin would be just as dried from the salt in the air one morning as it would the next. Each week the boat would rock and move just as sickeningly as it had the last, and as it would the next and the next. If one could look out at the ocean sleeplessly for a month, Hakkim thought, one might have thought they hadn’t moved at all. Eleven Hells, Hakkim might have even prayed for a good storm to mix things up, if the Lords would hear his prayers anymore.
It had been a long time since Hakkim had heard from his Lords. For that matter, it had been some time since he’d prayed to them at all. Once, there was a time when Hakkim would spend hours on end in deep fellowship with them. He had truly heard and understood their words to him, and they had heard and understood his to them. He had truly believed in their teachings, the moral standards that they set forth to mortals, and at that time he might have done anything to uphold them. That time felt like an age ago. More than an age. Perhaps two ages had actually passed and Hakkim just hadn’t been aware of it. What did he know anymore?
Heaving a sigh carrying the weight of death itself to nothing and no one but the nighttime ocean air, Hakkim turned from the post he had taken up at the stern of the miserable ship. He couldn’t bear to look at the ocean any longer, but when he turned around all that greeted him was more of the endless water. He looked down below at the main deck of the ship where what remained of the old crew scurried across it, making small adjustments. They had learned to mostly stay out of his way. Hakkim had a tendency to be somewhat disagreeable of late. In fact, agreeableness was a hard trait to come by these days. Pleasantness was an unnecessary commodity in Drenn now.
As he stood on the upper deck of the ship’s stern, staring down at the crew with all of the grim stillness of a stone sentinel, the crewmen below began to shout excitedly. Hakkim looked up from the discolored boards of the deck and out beyond the bow. There in the distance, hazey through the sight-defying combination of slight mist and moonlight, the barest outline of land became visible. Something like relief sturred deep within Hakkim, although the feeling was offset by an underlying sense of dread. He had journeyed far to come here in search of hope. Some glowing scrap of it in the ruins of the world, but as he had quested for it he had become increasingly certain that it wasn’t there; that hope was, in fact, a sort of illusion meant to lure human hearts to an even longer and more agonizing demise.
Nevertheless, the relief persisted. Finally, a break in the endless ocean had presented itself. Hakkim had finally reached the Isle of Lords. He had spent a considerable amount of time here in his youth, specifically at the Temple of Sal’amat, Lady of Tranquility. She had other names that he had been taught too. Eirinay, Vrede, Raha, Roheim. Every people in Drenn had named her differently but thanks to his childhood in Ukkashyrr, Sal’amat was how Hakkim would always know her.
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It was several days before the ship finally came close enough to the land to dock. Unfortunately, there was no pier on which to dock. The crewmen remained convinced that there had been one in this location at one point, but for all their blustering and surprise no dock would appear. The dread in Hakkim’s chest began to grow, but he forced it down with as much strength is he could. They eventually reached the decision to anchor off-shore and use the smaller boats that were housed on the ship to reach the shore. Hakkim assisted the crewmen as they carefully lowered the small boats into the water. Once the first boat was in the water, Hakkim climbed down the ladder that had been thrown over the side of the ship and dropped into the boat. It took him a moment to steady himself. After so long on that Lords-forsaken ship, his legs needed to acclimate themselves to a new sort of surface.
As the men paddled the boat toward the shore, Hakkim noticed another odd fact. Beyond the first hills above the beach, Hakkim couldn’t make out anything else. Just open air. He recalled the Isle of the Lords being relatively mountainous and elevated. True, he had only thoroughly explored the island around the Temple of Sal’amat, but surely he’d be able to make out at least some other parts of the island from this distance. Again, the dread swelled, but he forced it down once more.
The nose of the little boat gently brushed the fine grains of sand on the beach as it finally touched land. If standing in a new boat was strange, standing on solid land was even more so. It took Hakkim a few paces of stumbling about to steady his gait, adjusting to a stable and non-mobile ground. Once the other boats arrived and they had all stabilized themselves on the beach, the men began to talk of spreading out along the island in search of the dock. As they made the plans, Hakkim decided to walk up the hills a ways to see what was beyond them. His legs still felt odd on solid ground, and it took much more conscious effort than usual to place one foot steadily in front of the other.
Hakkim may have finally separated himself from the vast empty water of the ocean, but the salt and wind persisted. Light grasses covered the rolling hills that formed the barrier between the beach and the rest of the Lords’ Isle. They were dry and encrusted by a thin layer of white salt, and their blades waved lazily on the breeze.
As he crested the last hill, Hakkim fell to his knees. His legs simply gave out beneath him. He might have attributed this to what the crewmen called his “sea-legs” were it not for what he saw before him. His legs had grown used to the land once more, but it was his eyes that showed him what had caused his fall.
Hakkim blinked and blinked again. He wiped his eyes with his arm, he prayed to the Lords, he cried out in despair, but nothing changed what he saw.
He was seeing nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The Isle was gone.
Hakkim lost conciousness.