Chapter 3.2

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Sometime over a decade before the present day.

Dusk had come and gone, yet morning was still a ways off. A clear night promised a sublime vista as the stars emerged from their daily hibernation. The lazy moon lugged itself over curling waves. It hesitated, not wanting to leave its embrace with the ocean. Jackal mounted the westward pointed bowsprit with one leg and gazed out at the omnipresence of the waves. A rogue gust brought salt from the sea to his tender eyes. Jackal pulled his cloak tighter against his lean body and retreated under its dark cowl.

He stood in silence over the rough-carved mermaid; it seemed to be the source of the large ship's creaking and groaning as it anchored at sea. An intimidating expanse of the nocturnal ocean sat between Jackal's current location and the land that would soon welcome him as its usurper. All to destroy this well of technology hidden underground...Well, not if my plan unfolds as I've imagined it, Jackal thought to himself.

The distant thud of heavy footfalls roused Jackal from his contemplative daze. As he turned, another gust of wind ripped the cowl from his head, allowing the waning moon a chance to reflect silver light off his eyes like two untarnished pence. Jackal replaced the hood over his head.

"Relax Jackal, yer in my domain. Why would I let something happen to ye after the every promise we've jest made with that scamp, Gideon," the approaching burly man joked as he noticed the tension in Jackal's shallow face. He pulled his hand from some hidden pocket even with his chest, though the action was forced. Something about how the sailor laughed over Gideon's name caused Jackal to amend the plan he had been mulling over. A nautical month of sleepless nights separated Jackal from the meeting with Gideon, yet the mutinous thirst for dissention wracked his bones now even more than when he was sitting across from the man, restraining an impulse to sheathe a blade in Gideon's eye-socket.

"You think you saw fear, did you, Triton? I'm merely apprehensive for the tribulations of the times to come. And I question your dedication to Gideon," Jackal replied. He glanced up and eyed one of the deck-hands climbing to the top of the foremast. "I have a proposition. One for your ears alone, Triton," Jackal hissed.

Turning, Triton pushed back on his long mane of hair and scratched at his beard. "Finish dropping sails, and to below deck, ye scab." The deck-hand finished his task and shuffled below deck with a grunt of recognition and a nod in his captain's direction. Jackal thought of commenting on the rampant lack of verbal authority when Triton yelled aloud "Cig, come here." Was there another person yet above deck? Jackal had thought the deck-hand had been the only other person up there with him. A young girl of neigh ten years approached from under an awning of knotted nets. In her hands, she cupped a rodent. "Make yer way to my cabin with a bowl of slurry. I'll be in shortly. It had better be warm. And don't ye dare bring that rat into my chambers!" The urchin nodded without looking up from the gnarled wood deck and rushed inside. The small rat, placed with care on the deck, scrabbled out of sight. Triton attempted to kick it into the water but the rat dove and ran into a mound of hemp. He cursed under his breath. Jackal heard several vermin slurs uttered before Triton seemed to recall his audience. "This had better be good, assassin."

"You know why we're traveling to the west, Triton." Jackal waited for a moment, but the leader of Poseidon remained silent. "Somewhere in this land is the potential to reproduce all of the technology from the first age. One of many such locations scattered all across the world. And Gideon wants to destroy it. He wants to ensure that the knowledge stored at such locations disappears forever."

"Well it should," Triton butted in. "That much knowledge isn't good for anyone," he remarked, repeating the drivel that Gideon had spouted at them during their meeting a month earlier.

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