Bentil’s fingers lightly brushed over the burnished gold artifacts on the table before him. Silence crept into the room, as if the world held its breath to better hear him speak. When he finally did so, his voice was quiet, almost reverent. This was a story he had told himself countless times, a sacred memory, that was only now being shared.

“My ancestors, before the Sundering and the purges, lived in Rorikstead. During the Harrowing, my great-great-something grandfather captained a sky-ship against the dragons while his family was being carried on one of the last refugee ships into Refuge.”

He pauses, looking up at Azo from under his thick brow. Seeing that at least some of these names were sinking in, he continued.

“The ship from Rorikstead, as it turned out, was the very last one – a fat and slow old scow, laden with hundreds of women and children. They were too slow and the dragons caught up with them at the gates.

“My ancestor, seeing that his family were about to be incinerated, disregarded the order to close the great gates. He and his loyal crew sailed out alone against the dragons to buy some time for the refugee ship.”

Bentil pauses again. His hand hovered towards a mug of ale but, with an effort, he clasps it to the other.

“My great-great-something grandfather was the captain of the Dawnbreaker and they had a secret. He had stolen a control rod – one of the few remaining – and it was only this that enabled them to draw the dragons away from the refugee ship.

“My great-great-something-minus-one grandfather swore an oath that day. That the Dawnbreaker would be returned to Refuge and her crew properly honored. He couldn’t know that the Masons would seal us up for three thousand years.”

The tone is bitter and dark, full of the unique kind of despair that clings to lost causes.

“So, for three millennia my family has borne an oath we could not fulfill. It has eaten away at us over the generations until I am the last. Oh I had sons and daughters, once, but not anymore. Not since the Darkened Qur. Heh, I even joined the Circle of Sorrow…commended myself to the earth and darkness.

“But then, lo and behold, along comes that human, the prophecy is fulfilled and the gates are opened. I was one of the first out. I abandoned my Circle to honor an oath sworn nearly a hundred generations ago. I’ve spent the last twelve years searching for hints of what happened to that ship.”

He raises the assembled pieces of the compass, with a gleam in his eye.

“This. This is the Dawnbreaker’s compass. I can’t find the ship itself, but I have found clues – fragments of human history – that point the way to the pieces of this device. I know not how they became scattered, but if they can be reassembled then it will lead me to the Dawnbreaker itself.

“We have these two parts. A man in Ban Niwl has the lens, but he refused to give it up last time we talked. I had almost given up, you know. But this,” he runs a thick finger over the rim of the bezel, “finding this is a gift beyond compare.

“Will you help me?”


Legends of the Three Pillars occam99