The chamber had no discernible walls. The shadows hid the corners and edges, creating the illusion that the room seemed to stretch into infinity and beyond. The floor was made of clouds that swirled constantly underfoot. The ceiling was made of shining pinpricks of stars and other cosmos, held up by six colossal onyx pillars that gave the room the impression of being circular. On these supports were ancient murals of the first gods, the Greater Powers, and their glory. Constellations flickered with life of their own, not the mere groupings of stars that sailors or landlubbers alike thought they were. One or two liked to move in and out of the ceiling to interact with its brothers and sisters.
In the middle of this mysterious room was its main purpose and source of light. A granite basin stood in the center of the room. The container was large, the size of a full grown man in diameter. Slim pegs stuck out horizontally from underneath. Emeralds encrusted the rim. Light smoke hovered an inch from the top of the basin, but it did not impede the white light that shined from within, casting shadows on the onyx pillars and dimming the starlit roof.
Hovering above the smoky basin was the goddess of the sea in her true form. Tendrils of her long, inky hair floated around her body, moving sinuously as if in their own accord. The light illuminated the crown of seashells and its living starfish atop her head. As well, it cast an almost human pallor unfavorable to her golden tan skin. Calypso's presence filled the observatory, but she seemed not to be the only one present. Whispering voices that were distant but no less distinct flitted throughout the chamber with no exact origin point.
At that moment, Calypso's keen attention on the basin's contents shifted. She looked up at the newcomer as he stepped out of the shadows and into the light. The crook of one slender finger beckoned him near.
Dread Pirate Robin stopped a few inches away from the pegs. The voices were coming from the basin. Like most basins Roger had seen, this container was more wide than deep, but that did not mean he could see its bottom. Looking into it, Roger's black eyes widened as he stared down at the mortal world. The smoke hovering atop the surface was actually thin puffs of clouds. In this strange device, he could see everything: chain bumps of snowcapped mountain ranges, various shades of green and yellow for either forests or deserts, and wide expanses of Calypso's domain holding up these vast and distant lands not known previously to the pirate. Amazingly, on the stretches of ocean blue were tiny ships sailing or battling each other under the brightness of sunlight or the dimness of moonlight.
"I recommend you do not touch that," spoke up Calypso, whose voice was not unlike a gentle ocean wave, and whom the pirate had forgotten momentarily about in his wonder. "Who knows what unnatural mayhem you will inflict upon your mortal world?"
Roger retracted his hand, which on its own had stretched toward the surface of the basin. His black eyes met the goddess's blue ones. They were equally at eyelevel. She had been always as tall as he was in her true form. "What is it?" He could not help the awe in his deep, muffled voice.
"Videns Mundus, the Seeing World," explained the sea goddess with a slight smile. "Named so because We frequently like to see the happenings of the world. The pegs you are very prudent not to touch can be moved around to see a desired spot better."
Roger tilted his head in contemplation. "Hmm. So the world is round. Those mad Politickans were right after all." His shook his head as Calypso let out a tiny chuckle. The pirate remembered himself and his earlier confusion.
"Why am I here? Why now?" demanded the deity's worshipper, not very polite, yet not so rude as to offend the goddess. "I haven't heard from you in three weeks."
Calypso's smile grew, but the upturned corners of her lips looked more devilish than kind to the pirate. The hair on the back of his neck prickled warningly.
"I thought you'd like the sleep, but I guess you missed me more than either of us anticipated."
Roger grunted, refraining from rolling his eyes at his goddess lest he stoke her temper. "Why am I here?" he repeated.
Calypso's smile faded. Her ocean blue eyes swept over his pale, stoic face. Finally, she asked, "How long has it been since you visited Emelia?"
Roger's entire body tensed. The jagged scar on the left side of his mouth burned. "Three years," he said emotionlessly. "Since my last report. I've been very busy, as you may have noticed because of this Seeing World."
Calypso laughed softly. The sound was nothing short of music, but nonetheless, that didn't mean it was welcome to Roger's ears. "You are so devoted to me," she crooned. "Yet I am not so vain as to believe you do not always have other motives for staying away from her. As much as I like having you all to myself, I have an important mission for you that requires your presence on land for a while." The soft edges of Calypso's face clouded with sobriety, and she locked serious blue eyes with Roger's black eyes.
"Return to Emelia with no delay. Let not a sea monster or a man or storms impede your journey," the sea goddess commanded. "The stars are aligning for your reunion." Calypso lowered her gaze to the Seeing World. She extended one of her golden tanned hands and pointed to a peninsula that Roger realized after a moment was Tarym. To the far northeastern coast, electrifying grey storm clouds moved toward the capital island, Peralta. "You will find her in the Temple of the Gods," said Calypso. "Goddess Helena will soon guide Emelia to find an important artifact that will help you both put an end to this celestial war."
"Nothing has happened yet?" inquired the Pirate King, checking to be sure he heard correctly.
"Yet," echoed the sea goddess.
"And what, pray tell, is this 'something'?"
Calypso smiled, but the warmth did not reach her icy eyes. "You shall find out when you're there."
Roger shook his head. "Onus's side is winning. He and His consort, Helena, are containing Dragus in the Feo Mountains from spreading into Tarym. This is not a mortal war, nor is it our war," the Pirate King argued to Calypso. " 'Tis the gods of Tarym and Dracon's war. What is you gain by jumping into the fray—?"
"The question is not what I gain but what I will lose because of treachery in my own house," said the sea goddess sharply, her voice turning into the roar of her domain.
Roger's body went as cold as ice, and Calypso's long hair whipped around her body in a heightened frenzy. The pirate dropped to his knees and bowed his head low until his forehead touched the cloudy floor. Fervently, he murmured, "Goddess Calypso, please accept this mortal man's most humble remorse."
The tense moment passed, and Calypso's gentle voice warmed the chill in Roger's bones. "You of all people know of Portunus's realigned allegiance. The only reason Dragus, who is far more powerful than either Onus or Helena had anticipated, has been contained thus far is because He keeps His eye on my seas, helping Portunus look for my trident."
"Yes, Goddess," her favorite said. He felt a light pressure on his head and slowly stood up. Calypso hadn't moved an inch from her place on the other side of the Seeing World. As Roger looked into her otherworldly face, it held deep sadness in its blue eyes.
"Hide now," commanded the sea goddess. "Go to that pillar yonder, and under no circumstances concerning what is to follow will you come forth."
Without question, Roger spun on his heel and dashed to the appropriated hiding spot. No sooner had he settled behind the pillar did he hear footsteps slapping against the floor, accompanied by the pitter-patter of many water droplets.
"Where is he? Where is your latest lover hiding?" hissed a voice akin to the sounds of waves crashing ashore.
The patron of ports and harbors was as tall as the sea goddess and had skin as dark as hers, but whereas her color reminded Roger of warm wood, Portunus's skin was textured like the sodden driftwood out of which Calypso had fashioned her consort.
The oldest legend of Portunus's creation told that, as a lonely young goddess, Calypso looked out into the expanse of her watery domain as Helios's fiery chariot wheel was setting below the horizon. She spotted a curious mass floating amid the dancing waves. The mass was made up of driftwood and seaweed. Seizing the idea that suddenly came to mind, Calypso gathered the debris and molded the being that would become her companion. The long, dark seaweed became his hair. The driftwood framed his body. From the dusky skies, Calypso had taken some of its color for his eyes. A cloak made of the blue water from which the debris had come clothed her husband. Then, with the breath of life that only a deity could bestow on a mortal, a monster, or another god, Calypso had made her consort. She had wanted a companion, a lover, but the debris had taken the ocean's cold and harsh nature. Portunus's features were hard and angular whereas hers were soft and round. She had built him strong so that he could manage all the ports and harbors and keep them safe, but he was stubborn as well. Worse yet, he was a jealous god.
Portunus stood very close behind the goddess of the ocean—his consort, his wife, his creator. His skin was wet with salt water; the droplets fell from his body and onto Calypso's but none of it stained her seaweed dress or her silky hair. "I shall say it again. Tell me where the salty codfish is!" he thundered.
Calypso's face was its own tempest of mixed emotions, from sadness to indignity. Only her blue eyes remained the unchanged center of the hurricane, calmly appraising the protector of harbors and ports as she turned around to face him.
"You know I do not bring mortals where they don't belong," she said.
"Liar," Portunus hissed. "You, sea witch. Tell me where he is!"
Calypso shook her head. "I created you. You are my husband," she said mournfully. "Are you not satisfied with what I have given you?"
Portunus snorted. "I am a sham of a husband. My wife takes to mortals' beds. I am made the cuckold and you the adulteress," he snapped.
"It does not have to be this way between us any longer," said Calypso with sudden heartfelt earnestness. She opened her arms out to her husband, but he responded by taking a disgusted step away from her. "Come back to me," his wife coaxed. "I will forgive all your transgressions if you break this petty alliance with Dragus and come back to my side—"
Portunus threw his head back and let out a roar of a laugh. It bounded past the pillars and into the infinity of shadows. The constellations above flitted out from view in alarm. When the protector of harbors and ports calmed down, he regarded the sea goddess with malice and irony. "You? Forgive my transgressions?" he growled. "I do not, as the mortals call it, 'sleep around' as you do so freely. For centuries I have done my duty by you, giving safe berth to the mortals and becoming your companion, but what did I end up receiving in return? A wife with a wandering eye and changing ways. Unfaithful. Unreliable."
Portunus straightened to his full height and fixed his sunset eyes on Calypso's stormy blue ones. "I am finished being second to you," he hissed. "You, a capricious being, are not meant to rule the seas." He withdrew from the folds of his watery robe a long icicle with a sharp end. He threw it to the ground at Calypso's feet, and with a mighty crack, her legs and her seaweed dress were frozen to the cloudy floor.
Calypso grabbed her skirts and tried freeing herself, but the ice stuck her in place. Her long hair whipped about furiously. She turned her piercing eyes onto her treacherous husband as he drew closer to her. "Release me," she commanded.
Portunus smiled icily. "Tell me where Atlantis is," he responded coolly.
A tendril of Calypso's hair lashed out and struck the god across his angular cheek, leaving a red mark. But a second passed and it healed. "I shall drown all your ports and harbors with all your worshippers before I allow you to take my trident!"
Portunus shook his head and raised a hand to wrap it around Calypso's neck. Her hands went to his wrist, but he was very strong—just as she made him.
"None of that shall happen, dear wife, if you are incapable of using your powers." In a blink of an eye, Portunus stood behind Calypso, her back pressed against his hard frame. His other arm wrapped around her torso, pinning her arms down to her sides. "You've been many things during your excursions in the mortal world, I believe," he said in an idle tone. "Fish wife. Barmaid. Whore. Have you ever been a slave girl?"
Portunus's hand around Calypso's neck began to glow bright red. Then, like an infection that enters the body and spreads, so did this energy disperse rapidly throughout the sea goddess. Every pore, every inch of Calypso began to burn like a thousand suns had been trapped within her. A terrible scream erupted from her lips, as if torn out of her mouth by hooks. Beads of sweat appeared on her forehead, and as the droplets slid down her face, the trails the salty fluid left painted her golden tanned skin lily-white. Her living hair ceased its whipping and dropped dead, and then the long tendrils began to shrink.
From behind the pillar which he had been ordered to hide, Roger drew out his cutlass from its sheath. He heard Portunus begin to speak in nerei, the ancient language of the sea creatures. The favorite of Calypso understood every word.
"With this power given by Dragus, I bind You in human bones," declared Portunus atop of Calypso's shrieks of pain. "I curse You to this form, Your powers lay dormant within, as trapped as You will be when this transformation is complete. Your liberation requires a sacrifice from Your lover of something he holds dear to his heart."
Portunus leaned his head and said into Calypso's ear, "I dearly hope that it shall be his beating heart."
Roger leaped out from behind the pillar, cutlass raised. The sight before him was mindboggling. Calypso's skin was different stripes of light and dark, but the white bled over the tan. Her hair was up to her elbows, of the texture and color of honey. She was shorter as well, at least two feet lower.
Portunus regarded the pirate with disgust written all over his hard face. His sunset eyes fell on the sharp fang poking out of the right corner of Dread Pirate Robin's mouth. "A Draconian? Of all—" Portunus forced Calypso's head back so that he could look into her face. "You defile yourself with this creature? Now I have my proof that you are not fit to rule the seas." To the mortal lover, the treacherous god said, "You are too late to save her now, traitor of your kind! But I shall take your heart straight from that small chest of yours."
"No!" screamed Calypso.
Roger's eyes fell on her afflicted face.
Calypso's small mouth soundlessly moved.
Her eyes still retained their bright blue despite the burning pain pulsing through her veins, but even the irises were beginning to turn to an indefinable brown color. As the rest of her body turned slowly into a flawed mortal, her eyes signified what remained of her power. And with this last ounce of magic, Calypso managed to slip her hand free from underneath Portunus's arm and hold it out to her favorite so that its soft underbelly faced him. An emerald light surrounded the hand, and the energy that came from the center of the palm flew and hit Roger straight in the chest, sending him flying into the shadows.
Dread Robin erupted from his bed like a caged wild animal set free. He had only three quick heartbeats to regain his wits before he threw on a shirt, his boots, and took his pistol from underneath his pillow and was out the door.
"WAKE UP!" the captain bellowed as soon as he emerged in the crew's quarters. "GET UP YOU PESTILENT, POX-FACED DRAGONWHORES! AWAKEN, OR I WILL SEE TO IT THAT YOUR GIZZARDS MAKE UP MY RIGGING!"
Dread Robin stood at the center of the slowly stirring men. He raised his pistol to the ceiling and let loose a round of fire.
The ringing gunshots, coupled with the captain's uncharacteristically unmuffled voice, brought on the sense of urgency the Pirate King wanted in his crew's movements. Men fell out of their cots or hammocks, bumped into each other, or cried out in alarm. The third deck soon swarmed with shouting chaos.
The first mate, as alert as any man now because of the rude awakening, bounded up to the captain. "Captain, calm yourself," he warned. Michael Turnbull scratched the right side of his mouth for emphasis.
Dread Robin took the hint but did not let up in his ardor to start herding everyone up to the main deck. "We are changing course!" he ordered, his familiar muffled voice regained. "Sail straight to Peralta! If I see any man dallying about, I will shoot him through the heart and then cut off his balls to make for a nice purse!" He repeated the sea goddess's words. "Let not a sea monster or a man or storms impede our journey! If we are not moving by the time I get up on deck, you will all suffer direly for your languor!"
"Captain," said Michael with a raised voice in order to bring Roger's attention to him. The blond man flinched as the Pirate King turned his blazing coals of eyes on him. "Why—"
"Belay that," snapped Dread Robin. "I shall explain once we are at full speed, but not before. I must get to Emelia without delay. Do your duty and tell the men to brace for storms ahead."