The Book of the Twelve:Part Six
VI-I. Polmith, the Giant
Polmith was said to have come from an island that Tradym discovered on one of her voyages. Everyone on the island grew to enormous size, and Polmith himself was said to be twice as tall as the average Skeith. The two became fast friends and when Tradym decided to return home, Polmith asked to join her and learn about the strange continent beyond the horizon.
Polmith was a man of tremendous wit as well as height, and would spend the evenings of their voyage home telling stories that reduced the crew to tears. He wielded magic common in his homeland, augmenting his size magically to become even stronger. When Tradym was eventually asked to join the Great Empire, she recommended Polmith as well.
The Cybunny was dressed in sailor’s grab, a long overcoat to shield her from the rain. Though it was hardly needed there, the tropical rain forest they had discovered on the island was lush and humid.
She stared into the camp fire as the rest of her crew danced and celebrated. It had been a profitable trip, this one. The locals on the island had been welcoming and the trade fluid. The crew would return across the Summer Sea in the morning, and sell their goods on at Kal Panning.
The Cybunny was disturbed from her thoughts as a shaking in the ground filled their little camp. She thought it some kind of earthquake, or maybe an eruption from the island’s volcano, but then a Skeith emerged from the jungle. He stood at least three times as tall as she did, and she was no half pint herself. He was one of the locals, all dressed in furs and smeared in their colourful paints.
He sat down next to her with an impact that made her bounce.
“You are Tradym,” he said. “Captain of crew.”
“I am,” she replied. “You learnt our language.”
She had seen him at the formal meetings, stood behind the King. She had thought him a bodyguard from his size, but now she doubted herself. A wise man? Adviser?
“Is not so difficult,” the Skeith said. “For one as I. Polmith. I teach King ways of magic. Ways of learning.”
A wizard. Much like Tradym herself then.
“I have request,” Polmith added. “Geraptiku, big city. My King, big King. Other tribes, they do as he say. When Geraptiku decide, Island decide. We thinking Island is whole world. That Geraptiku knows all. We wrong. I wrong. You little ship, is tiny. Can hold it my hand and break it, such is power of Polmith. But tiny ship come from big land, far away. World, much bigger than we have been knowing. Polmith know so little. How can Polmith teach King if he know so little? No, Polmith must learn.”
“You’re wanting to come with us on the return journey?” Tradym asked.
“Show me your Summer Sea,” he said. “Polmith learn, then come here again. Teach King.”
Tradym weighed him up. There was a lot of weighing to do. She wasn't sure the guy would fit in the crew quarters below deck.
“You’re welcome,” she said. “But we don't do free tickets. If you’re coming with us, you’ll be expected to work as part of the crew.”
“Polmith can work,” he said. “You will see.”
Polmith had expected storms on the voyage back across the Summer Sea. Vast waves that threatened to crush their tiny ship like it was nothing.
In fact, the seas were calm and the winds were in their favour. When he mentioned it to the rest of the crew, they laughed at him.
“That’d be the Captain’s influence,” a salty old Gelert told him. “She’s no ordinary sailor, no sir. It's magic, you know? She uses her power to calm the seas. I've not seen a storm since I signed on this crew.”
Polmith glanced back to Tradym at the ship’s wheel. He would never have guessed she had such abilities. Already, this voyage was teaching him many new things.
That was not to say that their trip was entirely without incident. They were, according to some of the crew Polmith spoke to, no more than a day’s sail from the coast off Kal Panning.
The shout came down from the Crokabek’s nest.
“Ship in trouble, Cap’n! Looks like she’s been set upon by pirates!”
Tradym steppes back from the helm and followed the directions to the thin line of smoke on the horizon. She took a closer look through her telescope.
“She’s badly damaged,” she said. “Won't last long. By the looks of it the rogues have them chained together, pelting them with cannon fire. Mister Hulfern! Set an intercept course! Deglare! Load our cannons!”
The old Gelert on the ship’s deck nodded, and began barking orders.
“You there, the giant man!” he shouted at Polmith. “Time to prove your worth. Down below, get those cannonballs loaded.”
Polmith nodded and lumbered down below deck. There, he began scooping up the balls of iron and shoving them down into the cannons while others prepared the gunpowder. For someone as strong as Polmith, the job was done in minutes.
Polmith returned to the deck to find shouts of frustration.
“They are bound too closely,” Tradym was growling. “At that range, our cannons are just as likely to hit the victims as the pirates! No other thing for it, prepare boarding parties! Looks like we are doing this the old fashioned way.”
The old fashioned way, it seemed, involved a lot of blades. Swords and cutlasses were distributed to the crew. Polmith refuses one. He had brought his own club from home. A nasty, spiked thing, that had seen more ceremonial use than actual battle. But Polmith knew it well. It would be all he would need.
“This you do a lot?” he asked Tradym as they sailed closer.
“As often as we need to,” she replied. “The Summer Sea is not as safe as we would like it. We help out as we can, taking care of one pirate crew at a time.”
“This is good work.”
“You will be able to handle yourself?” Tradym asked.
“I learn your magic ways,” Polmith grinned. “Now you learn mine. My ways good ways.”
The ship's approached quickly, and the noise of battle with them. The victim ship was still putting up a fight but they would not last for long. The chaos served to mask their approach until it was too late.
The ships crashed together with a great impact, and Polmith was one of the first over the side, club in hand and a deep war cry in his belly. He let the magic deep within him rise and course through his veins. Let it weave through his skin and plate it with power.
A pirate cutlass came down hard on his arm. The magic cushioned the blow, and the blade bounced off as if the giant were made of steel himself. Polmith gave a deep, booming laugh, and swig his club in the direction the cutlass had come from.
To Polmith, it seemed the battle was over as soon as it had begun. He was used to wars in the jungle where the enemy could hide for weeks on end. On the pirate ship, there was nowhere to hide, and the enemies threw themselves at Polmith like the fools they were.
The ship they had rescued were excessively thankful. Tradym ordered her crew to help patch it up as well as they could. They divided what treasure they found on the pirate ship, then scuttled it. Together, the two surviving ships sailed the rest of the way towards Kal Panning.
It was good work, Polmith knew. Making the Summer Sea safer for travellers so that more could come and learn from it, as he was.
He considered that he would stay, and help Tradym for as long as she would have him.
VI-II. Polmith, the Unrelenting
Polmith led the armies of the Great Empire from the north as they marched on Kal Panning, while Gyn-Marg’s forces marched from the south. He stood at the head of his army, and when Jahbal eventually gave the order to breach the walls, Polmith met them head on. In his corruption, he begun to drain the life force of the soldiers around him to supplement his own, eventually making him invulnerable to harm.
He became an unstoppable juggernaut, and the armies of Kal Panning toppled to his might. After the Circle betrayed Jahbal, Polmith travelled with Tradym again. They terrorised ports up and down the continent, but eventually the corruption forced a wedge between the two that led to an outright fight that neither survived.
Polmith watched the city of Kal Panning on the horizon. Tradym’s fleet had just finished their third cannon bombardment, but to no effect. The city was well provisioned, and prepared for a siege.
The Cybunny sidled up to the giant.
“A message from Jahbal,” she said. “Haestil is going to try and do something about their supplies. Force their hand.”
Polmith grunted, nodded.
“You seem troubled,” Tradym said.
“I have message from the island,” he said. “From tribe I not belong to. Geraptiku, she is gone.”
“Gone?” Tradym asked. “In a battle?”
“No, no battle, just gone,” Polmith replied. “They know not where. City deserted. Jungle quiet. Them say Geraptiku now cursed.”
“I'm sorry, Polmith,” Tradym said. “Once this is over, if you want to go back…”
“I not go back,” Polmith said sharply. “Is more, to me. I tell you if Letters I sent to King? Of Great Empire, and Circle of Twelve. Twelve great Neopets, steering course. King agreed, was fine idea. He made himself council. Took twelve Neopets, wise in ways, and together they rule. Fine idea, and now Geraptiku cursed.”
“You can't think they are related,” Tradym said.
“Oh?” Polmith said. “Look around, all this Circle of Twelve touch, is ruin. Xantan, he fell. Kal Panning and Temple of Roo get what deserve, but we destroy them. Part of me thinking Jahbal not what he used to be. Part of me worry for Mastermind. Now Geraptiku. Circle been broken for long time. Now, it seem to me Circle is crumbling. Polmith worry. Everything we Twelve touch, we taint.”
“You are having doubts about this?” Tradym asked.
“This? No,” he answered. “Kal Panning fall. Is right. Is good. But this is end. Feel it in my bones.”
The morning came with news from Jahbal. Haestil’s magic had worked, and the Kal Panning forces had taken Gyn-Marg’s bait. The entire Kal Panning army was marching out to meet her in battle.
Fools, leaving their flanks exposed.
Polmith took near two hundred of their finest warriors on small boats, breaking away from Tradym's fleet and making for the northern walls of Kal Panning.
Polmith began to work his magic, playing his skin with it as armour, and raising his club. But in his grief over all that he had lost, and all he felt he would come to lose in the following days, he reached out with it.
An accident at first, but he felt himself taking the power of one of the soldiers nearby and adding it to his own. The effect left him feeling more energised, more strong, than he had ever felt in his life. It was intoxicating. He did it again, and again, stealing the life force if his comrades and lacing it into his own.
By the time they beaches their ships on the northern walls of the city, only a hundred and fifty of the soldiers remained. None had fallen to enemy arrows. All had given their lives for Polmith’s power.
With a war cry and a single swing of his club, the thick walls of Kal Panning buckled inward and the giant Skeith emerged from the rubble to challenge any who remained.
Swords and arrows bounced off him like water. His club shattered buildings. Nothing could stop him. Nothing.
In the aftermath of the battle and the sealing of Jahbal, they returned to Neopia City on Tradym’s ship. The others thought it would be a victorious return. Polmith knew it would not be.
They discovered that Oberon had looted their vaults while they had been away. Gyn-Marg left, swearing to find him. Bamon-Sal left to check on the Research Facility.
Neither Polmith nor Tradym had any desire to stay and rule the city alone. Tradym returned to her ship, and with nowhere else to go, Polmith followed.
Something changed in Tradym after the battle. No longer did she wish to defend the ports of the Summer Sea. Instead, she thought they owed her for her protection. By shades, she turned pirate. Polmith did nothing to stop her. The Circle’s corrupting touch had reached the Summer Sea, and all he could see to do was ride the changing tide.
They raided the ports of the Summer Sea for years. Infamy followed in their wake, of a mad pirate Queen and a giant that would stop at nothing.
It did not escape Polmith’s notice that Tradym’s share of their spoils increased. Every haul, she took slightly more.
Eventually, it reached breaking point.
One night, he slammed his hand down over a coin that Tradym had been planning to take.
“No,” he said. “Is mine.”
“I think not. My ship, my treasure. You’re lucky I let dregs like you have anything at all.”
The rest of the crew backed away. They could see which way this was going to end and wanted no part of it. But it was too late. The rage inside Polmith boiled up and he lashed out, taking the power of every last one of them. He focused them, and hit Tradym with his club, punching her clean upwards through the cabin ceiling and up onto the deck.
“Enough!” he shouted as he pursued her upwards. “Enough if your ways. Geraptiku lies dead because of you and yours! Tonight, I shall avenge her!”
Tradym had managed to gather herself on the deck, and unleashed her own magic. The calm of the ocean was gone. Now, winds stopped the sails from the mast and great waves crashed down onto the deck in an effort to wash Polmith away.
The giant roared, and forced himself forward against the tempest, swinging his club and taking out the mast as he did so. The ancient wood splintered and fell, whisked away into the storm by the wind.
The two fought, storm against giant, each stripping more and more off the ship until the lower decks were flooding. The two of them came together in one final crash that caused an almighty crack. Both stopped, in sudden horror at what they had done. The hull buckled.
The ocean claimed them all.
To be continued…