The sun was still high as they at last reached a suitable clearing for a camp. They could continue on, but many an expedition had become lost thinking they could chase the last bit of light. Early morning was the best time to travel. The swamp was sleepy and full come dawn. Matius set to gathering what he would need for a fire, taking care to stay near his companions. He decided to look for sticks and ferns as well. They could be used to hide the light, which Matius knew was a wise thing to do this deep in the marsh. He chose to say nothing of this to his new companions, who were as tired as they were bored.
"They say the ancient Argonians had golden scales that could blind lowly men and mer." Matius hoped reminding the crew of the significance of their mission would raise their spirits. And the embellished version always made for a better campfire tale. "They built their greatest city higher and higher until they reached the sun."
"What happened then?" young Riffen asked.
Matius had to admit he enjoyed the young man's curiosity. He intentionally held his answer, half-hoping River-Gills would volunteer his own. Everything Matius knew of these legends had been the work of other Imperial explorers and scholars. He had never managed to get an Argonian to speak of it.
River-Gills simply sat basking in the sun as if he wasn't listening at all. As far as Matius could tell, the Argonian was asleep.
"Some say it destroyed them," Matius continued, dropping off a bundle of sticks. "Others say they cracked it open like an egg and became gods."
The Elf Salara scoffed. "That's ridiculous," she said. "Everyone knows the sun isn't an egg." Thus far Matius had learned little of the battlemage other than she was wholly committed to her own beliefs, most of which he recognized came from Guild teachings.
"What is it then?" Riffen asked.
Riffen scrunched his nose and looked up. "That's supposed to be a hole?"
"Don't stare at it." Matius sighed.
"Do you not believe in the golden city, Lady Salara?" Riffen asked. "A sailor told me it was just a story."
"She needs to be sure," Matius offered. Salara had refused to give her personal reasons for joining the expedition, so he guessed.
Salara turned away from them and stared into the brush. She took out a broken compass and held it tightly.
"I expect something of value could still be learned," Salara answered. "Even if everything they believed is wrong."
River-Gills opened his eyes.
|Lost Tales of the Famed Explorer|
|Lost Tales of the Famed Explorer: Fragment I||Lost Tales of the Famed Explorer: Fragment II||Lost Tales of the Famed Explorer: Fragment III|