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Somewhere in the Great Northern Ocean, Summer 620 The wind blew wild, as it probably did since the beginning of time at that latitude. Despite this, the sails were still more or less intact, waving in the cold air as if they were still pushing the ship towards the horizon, something very sad to see for a sailor. In the temples, the preachers always described Tartarus as a desert of fire and flames… probably because they had never been so far in the North! It had probably been an Oleander ship, a small but elegant schooner: "Le Terreur", according to the copper plate on the stern. Surprisingly, it didn't seem fit for fishing or whaling, the only two things that people could do in those waters. "Nobody on sight, Captain!" Yelled a sailor, trying to overcome the continuous whistle of the wind. It was midsummer, but that only meant that freezing to death was a little less likely. "This ship must be here since the last winter, or they wouldn't have abandoned it yet." Sometimes it happened that imprudent whalers didn't leave the northern waters soon enough, and they remained trapped in the pack. When this happened, their only chance of survival was remaining on their ship, trying not to starve and hoping not to be crushed by the sheer force of drifting ice. Most often, ship and crew simply disappeared, and some whisky was poured on tavern floors in their memory. "Probably even longer. No big thaw has occurred since the 617, probably it was trapped that year, when the long night came back again. And only Zeus knows where it happened... those blocks of ice are alive, and when they grow southward they can carry anything with them." Probably they were just high tales, but the captain remember well the stories about polar bears or whole native families that drifted on icebergs as South as Pontilla. "But don't get distracted again, Tom! If the natives stole our boat we would be in a real mess!" The captain continued: "They must have left the ship when the food started running low, but I wouldn't bet a coin on their survival. Even if they were near to the Northern Coast, they could have been at least five hundred miles far from the nearest civilized settlement. But, if they were lucky, they could still have found a native village." "If natives didn't slit throat to them all first when the ship was trapped. Like rats in a barrel" Unsurprisingly, this comment came from Arana, the tattooed harpooner from the Unconquered Islands… probably not a nice place to visit, considering how lightly he talked about killings and violence. "Maybe there are no corpses because the natives ate them." Nobody really wanted to know why, now and then, Arana talked about cannibalism, but probably it was a reason more to avoid his motherland. "Mmm, I don't think so… we have found some supplies, down in the hold, and everything seemed in quite good order. No, the ship wasn't sacked! Wait… I think I've found something!" A little envelope of oilcloth emerged from the snow covering the deck. On the wax seal, a little crown and a Fleur de Lys flanked two crossed anchors. Every sailor in Halos would have recognized that little symbol: that unfortunate crew was on a mission for His Majesty the King himself, and for sure not for some fishing! "Guys, the whales will be safe for a while! We must return to the motherland as soon as possible!" The sailors replied with some grunts… losing a whaling season could mean hunger, but the captain usually knew what he did. For sure, that little envelope jingled as if it contained some shiny, glittering doubloons... handling it intact to a crown officer, however, could be even more remunerative! This is a little anticipation of my AMRCA, which will probably be frozen (sorry for the bad pun) until the end of the challenge! It will start with the search for a lost expedition, somewhere in the icy North!