It is a dark, dark night. So dark that the stars themselves seem to have retreated.
A girl steps out on a ship, somewhere in the night. She looks out. "Do you think we'll ever get there? Tell me the truth, please."
She says it in a whisper, as if the night will hear her and punish her.
The man beside her hesitates. "I don't know," he admits finally. "I just hope we will."
The girl looks out into the shadowy darkness and her eyes narrow.
This is what has been written down by the captain of the Silent Voyager. The only deal that he would agree to was that he would take them up to two miles from the supposed location of the island. There are stories about it that you don't know, he'd said. No offence, sir, but you obviously got a posh upbringing. Them lot, they only tell you the good stories.
What is not known for certain is what the stories in FoF have always said. The tale that she saw them in the water. A pair of red eyes, looking like gleaming diamonds.
There are many, many creatures in FoF. There are hellhounds. There are dragons. There are dark unicorns.
But the most feared of all are the Nyoka, the water-snakes. They are as black as night, in their true colour, but they can change at will. They will bite a person, and worse than just killing them, they will suck a person's will out from them. Then their mistress, (:medusa:) Ambika, the Goddess of Destruction, can order you to do things and you are forced to do them. She tells you to murder and you do, though you hate yourself and feel guilty and wish you'd stood up to her. But she has your will. You are physically forced to do whatever she says.
The Nyoka have eyes like crystals, but their eyes reflect their mood. If a Nyoki (singular) is angry, their eyes turn red.
Was this what Mary saw, that night? Nobody could possibly know.
But it wouldn't be the last time that the group met the Nyoka.
Three weeks later, they were left to row the last couple of miles towards the Ice Island.
That is when all solid fact is left behind.
That is when we follow the stories.