A storm came as night fell.
Vicissitudes of life had hardened his heart, and now his hatred against the world had morphed to a chilly cold blade that made everyone who had approached him quiver.
He had been in disguise for long and only in dark nights would he strip off that mask.
Sam was sitting in the crow's nest, and was embracing the howling wind whooshing past. Sea water splashed onto him because the sea was churning so violently. Sam had suffered much more when compared to Glenn, an orphan.
Fifteen years ago, on a usual tranquil evening, two black sorcerers came to the town where Sam lived. They captured a great mass of humans as experimental materials, who would then die tragically, and those who had dared fight back were all eradicated.
Sorcerers such as the two who had gone astray on their way of gaining sorcery knowledge would do it at any cost, even if it meant killing their own kind, not to mention a bunch of weak humans. Inconceivable as it may sound, keeping humans safe from attacks and from enslavement of people from the Foreign Land was the original purpose of sorcery.
Sam was among the victims of the brutal act and he was imprisoned in a cage. He was just a little child back then.
The two black sorcerers tested drugs, potions and a great deal of weird things on him over and over again. For every failed test, he would then be sent back to the cage. Days and nights, he witnessed his parents, his friends and complete strangers being tested and die tragic deaths. However, he survived all this, to the astonishment of the two sorcerers. It had been said that mere one out of 10,000 subjects would have made it out alive from the test table of a sorcerer.
Ten years of eating and defecating in a cage, as well as the torture of hearing constant screaming from the hapless souls, had melted his feelings away and he was now as cold-hearted as the black frozen ice deep within the Weeping Abyss.
His fate turned a few years ago when two Demon-Hunting sorcerers from the Black Isotta School of Sorcerers appeared and killed the two black sorcerers. Sam was then saved, along with the rest of the prisoners. Sam's legendary survival sparked the attention of the sorcerers in Isotta, who ran through several rounds of gene tests and concluded that Sam, to their great joy, was a genius for learning sorcery and, based on his talent, he was very likely to win the Holy Tower tryouts.
Sam had settled in the Black Isotta School of Sorcerers since then and he felt deeply indebted to the kind sorcerers who'd rescued and accommodated him.
An opportunity for Sam to repay his debt of gratitude soon emerged. The school had learned that there were two geniuses on the East Coral Island, which was under the jurisdiction of the Lilith's. And a bamboo telegraph had information that the Lilith's had already recruited them and they were on a ship back to the school.
Driven by the code of conduct of "Survival of the Fittest", the Isotta school had figured out a thorough and dark plan.
"Hoo, Hoo" An owl flew through the storm towards the main mast and landed on Sam's shoulder.
"This ship will reach target waters 7 a.m. tomorrow at the current speed. Spray this into the sea then and your mission will be completed." The owl talked to Sam and dropped a small bag of black powder from its beak into Sam's hand.
"I see," mumbled Sam as he took the bag, and his grim eyes didn't move from the gathering clouds in front of him.
The owl then went into Sam's sleeve.
Glenn had been perusing the Canine Olfactory Enhancement in his cabin all night. The room was brightly lit by candles, so he couldn't tell if it was already daybreak. He massaged his bloodshot eyes and stretched his body.
"It has been a while since I've seen Robinson. Why not go hang around with him for a rest?" Glenn rose up from his chair, and his bones made a burst of creaking sounds.
Hiding the sorcery books and the magical stones, Glenn strolled out of his cabin. Suddenly, a huge sound erupted. It was so loud that Glenn thought it would have brought a house down.
Almost simultaneously, the large ship keeled and gave Glenn a stumble. The first thought Glenn had in his mind was that the ship had struck an iceberg. Then he was jerked out of that thought by a shrieking voice: "Sea monsters! Help!"
Many of the students rushed out of their cabins to see what had happened and what greeted them was an over-eight-foot-long monstrous creature. The thing was creeping on the deck and it had a torso exactly like a human's while its body's lower part was that of a snake, yet both parts were covered with dark green scales.
The monster was glaring at the dumbfounded students avariciously, holding, in one hand, a sharp halberd that was so shiny that anyone at the scene could see the thing's ferocious face in the blade of the halberd.
The crowd gulped.
"What's going on?" More students on the same deck stuck out their heads from their cabins, which whetted the being's craving even more.
The creeping thing raised its human bust slowly and leapt as it flashed the halberd into a boy's chest, who was the nearest to it. The creature stabbed the unfortunate boy with so much force that the weapon stuck out from the boy's back. The next moment, several segments of intestines were plucked out of the boy's belly as the basilisk drew out the halberd.
Blood spurted and intestines were strewn on the deck.
The sanguinary horror made the students scuttle around in a panic, crying for help. The students who were lodged on lower floors were confused about the terrifying cries, and hustled to have a look.
For an instant, the whole ship fell into disarray.
"Glenn, over here," Chris called for Glenn to come to his room. And Lafite, who was on the same floor with Chris since she had grabbed the fifth-floor room from Andrew, rushed to follow Glenn in. Now Chris and Nina, Lafite and Glenn, along with two other students who had squeezed in, were shouldering against the door with all their might.
Spooked by the bloodbath, Glenn couldn't help shuddering and sweating. And miserable screeches kept coming through the door.
"There must be more than one of that creature." An acute panic ran through his veins.
Chris and Glenn dragged the wood bed, chair and everything in reach, up to the door to weigh in, and after a minute of bustling, the room was submerged into complete silence and nothing, except for the whirring sounds of breaths and thumping of heartbeats, could be heard.
"More than twenty students must have been killed." Chris spoke out his guess of the death toll, at the most inopportune moment.
Then came the whoop of a battlecry and thudding sounds of stamping on the floor. Glenn wished it was the knights who had arrived to take on the sea monsters.
The terrible screams from the students did not subside at all. The knights weren't able to take the enemies down.
Wishes for the knights to make a difference were dashed when the next door was broken forcibly and a boy's life was taken.
No one in Glenn's group dared make a move for the following seconds and their eyes were showing signs of despair.
"Don't worry. We still have Sorcerer Dior. He will..." The student in Glenn's group didn't finish the sentence.
He had been hit by a sharp wood stick, right into his chest and he died without much struggle.
It turned out that as the ship wobbled again after an outburst of a deafening sound, swarms of wood chips were shooting towards them and sadly the boy was hit by one.
More cruel than an instant death was the fact that you had to live in pain.
A stick had plunged into Nina's left eye. Chris held his sister in his arms and tried to soothe her down. Glenn's right ankle and Lafite's left shoulder were scratched, too.
The group crawled up as the wood chip storm ended, and rays of morning sunlight shined before their eyes. It turned out that the hull had been hit broken, and made a hole in it that was around 30 feet wide, and sunlight peeked through it.
In stark contrast with the light, a dark sea snake-like creature, which was about three feet wide in radius, was crawling along the hole up to them.
Now, everyone had lost their remaining glimmer of hope.
A crow's nest is a structure in the upper part of the main mast of a ship or a structure that is used as a lookout point.
A halberd (also called halbard, halbert or Swiss voulge) is a two-handed pole weapon that came to prominent use during the 14th and 15th centuries.