|“||Ships can be mended. Not so, the fallen.||”|
— King Whitson Mariner, The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner
The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner: Tales of Old Natalia 2 is the second book in the Tales of Old Natalia series. It was written by S. D. Smith and illustrated by Zach Franzen. It was published by Story Warren, LLC on December 3, 2018.
"Old Natalia, soon after Captain Blackstar saved king and cause on the shores of Ayman Lake.
Battered, but determined, Whitson Mariner leads his displaced rabbits into new dangers on a journey to their undiscovered home.
Whitson the king, Lillie the queen, Prince Lander, and loyal Massie Burnson must rise from the wreckage of betrayal to rescue the cause once more.
A community rises.
My place beside you
My blood for yours
Till the Green Ember rises
Or the end of the world."
Aboard the Vanguard, King Whitson Mariner welcomes his lords and captains into his cabin for a toast. Whitson engages in a heated exchange with Lord Grimble and his son, Captain Grimble, prompting Queen Lillie to quell the rising storm by calling for a toast. Grimble toasts to "a new kingdom", which so riles Whitson that Lillie is forced to take him out of the room before his temper can further elevate.
Whitson soon returns and calls for a toast with all of his captains, during which he recalls the bloody events of Golden Coast and expresses his good wishes for their future home, to which they are currently sailing.
On the decks of Steadfast, Massie Burnson wakes Jimmi Docker, who orders the others back to their posts. As Lander arrives and all the captains return to their ships, Whitson expresses his concern over provoking the Grimbles to Massie.
Steadfast remains an extra day at Halfway Harbor, but the other two ships continue on. As the river grows steadily more perilous, Burnley is sent before Vanguard. Fog surrounds both ships, and Massie becomes nervous. He sends Hayes to wake Whitson, and attempts to hail Burnley, but, too late, Vanguard collides with some unseen rocks. As procedures to abandon ship begin, Whitson orders that Queen Lillie be fetched, but she is nowhere to be found. Lander realizes with horror that the queen has been kidnapped by the Grimbles.
Whitson remains onboard as the rest of the rabbits flee to the shore of a long river-island, resolved to look for Lillie.
Massie reaches the shore with Lander, seething at the Grimbles' betrayal. Suddenly, Lander is nowhere to be found. Massie plunges into the nearby woods, where, upon following the young buck's tracks, he soon finds the prince. Lander urges Massie to keep his voice down and points out some unfamiliar tracks, which he thinks could be those of monsters. The two bucks enter deeper into the thicket.
Meanwhile, back aboard the Vanguard, Whitson searches every waterlogged corner of the sinking ship for Lillie. Trapped in the wreckage, he almost drowns before he is rescued by Brindle Cove.
Back in the forest, Massie and Lander push on. Without warning, Lander suddenly dives into the edge of a clearing, having spotted movement. Massie follows, only for both bucks to be whipped off their feet and suspended upside down in a net-like trap.
The trapped Massie and Lander are approached by a masked rabbit carrying a sword, who reveals himself to be Galt, an old friend of Fleck Blackstar who abandoned his own during the Battle of Ayman Lake. Galt frees Massie and Lander and offers them his help in finding Lillie in exchange for a pardon for his crime, to which Lander agrees. Galt then proceeds to tell the bucks of his backstory. After he had abandoned Fleck, he trekked along the river until he reached the island, where he made himself a home. One night, he awoke to eerie music, which he had traced to a group of hooded dragons sacrificing a rabbit. Galt tells Massie and Lander that he believes it is these dragons who have captured Lillie, with the help of Captain Grimble.
Back on shore, Whitson impatiently awaits the arrival of Steadfast. Just then, he is hailed to a tree at the edge of the wood, where a masked Galt is hiding. Galt shows Whitson the Green Ember as proof of having seen Lander, and requests a private audience with Whitson, to which the king agrees.
Meanwhile, Massie and Lander continue to hack their way through the brush, hoping to find the camp of the dragons. Eventually, they emerge onto the edge of a cliff, from the top of which they can see the camp, including a shack in which they suppose Lillie is being kept.
While Massie and Lander formulate a plan, Steadfast arrives on shore. Whitson orders Captain Walters to bring the ship in, then turns his attention back to Galt, who tells him everything he told Massie and Lander. Whitson pardons Galt, who then takes his leave of the king to find Massie and Lander. Whitson addresses the community, telling them of the Grimbles' betrayal. The king then resolves to take a skeleton crew aboard Steadfast and attempt to catch up with Desolation.
In the camp of the dragons, Lillie awakes, confused. Peeking out of her window, she spots Lander attempting to infiltrate the camp by lying prostrate on a raft, drifting towards shore. Just as a dragon is about to seize Lander, the young buck kills it with his sword. Taking advantage of the commotion, Lillie crashes through the door of the shack. Just as a group of rabbits is closing in on her, Massie appears. He, Lander, and a newly-arrived Galt temporarily take down their attackers. Massie and Lillie interrogate Tarn, one of Grimble's thugs, who reveals that the Grimbles are on their way to the island.
Meanwhile, aboard Steadfast, Whitson keeps a sharp eye for Desolation as they approach rapids. Just as Steadfast is about to collide with a massive rock, Whitson calls for Hamp, but the buck is no longer at helm.
Back in the camp of the dragons, Lillie and company hide, watching the dragons mourn their fallen comrade with an eerie rite. Just then, one of the dragons spots the group and orders chase, prompting the rabbits to flee back into the forest. They emerge onto a precipice of land above a churning river just as two of the swiftest dragons catch up with them; they try to escape by sliding down a steep mountainside.
Just as Steadfast is about to collide with the rock, Brindle Cove reaches the helm. The ship careens out of danger, and the crew hurries to make things shipshape as they continue sailing. As they approach a cliff, Whitson spots Lillie, Massie, and Lander running along its top, chased by dragons. The king orders the crew to drop anchor, and catches his wife as she and the other two jump down onto Steadfast's deck. On their way away from the cliff, Whitson sees Lander on his way towards them, pursued by dragons. Lander leaps onto the deck, bringing two dragons with him. One is dead, but the other lunges for Lillie; it is slain by Galt.
Whitson learns of Lillie's and Lander's ordeals, then hurries back to the bow. As Steadfast continues downriver, the king promotes Massie to captain for his service.
As evening approaches, Massie spots movement on the edge of the island. Whitson orders Brindle to take them closer to shore. Massie recognizes the creatures as the supposed dead of Vanguard's wreck, Mother Saramack included among them. Whitson quickly holds a hurried conference with his captains, during which he explains his plan. Just then, Desolation emerges out of the river beyond.
Lillie and Lander, followed by a few others, swim for shore as the rest prepare for battle. The crew of Steadfast feign continuous mistakes, allowing Desolation to quickly gain on them. Whitson orders Brindle to pull hard to port, then back to starboard so that the ship is now aimed squarely at Desolation; the bow of Steadfast crashes right into the bigger ship's side. Though momentarily stunned, Grimble soon regains control and sends his bucks onto the decks of Steadfast, but they find the deck empty.
Just then, a buck spots a group of actively burning blastpowder barrels in the corner of the deck, and most of Grimble's crew abandons ship in their panic. Grimble, however, breaks open the barrels to find them all empty. Suddenly, Whitson and his crew surge on deck, and a fierce battle ensues.
Meanwhile on shore, the survivors of the wreck, Lillie and Lander among them, prevent Grimble's bucks from returning to the fight on Desolation.
Back on Steadfast, Whitson continues to parry Grimble's thrusts. Just as Grimble is about to bring the final blow, he stops when finding himself surrounded by Whitson's supporters. Jimmi Docker brings an oar around into Grimble's face, successfully knocking the younger buck out cold.
On shore, the survivors and soldiers reunite. Whitson is approached by Mother Saramack, who tells him that one of Grimble's bucks brought a message from the dragons. The message stated that the dragons intend to report to their king of the trouble, and that they will return to finish off the rest of the rabbits. Whitson is depressed by this news, but he is soon cheered when Mother Saramack directs him, Lillie, and Lander to the wreckage of Vanguard, where a crate had been found with King Gerrard's seal on it. Inside, much to their awe and relief, they find the Stone Sword of Flint. Quoting a prophecy, Lander murmurs, "We must do our part 'till the old blade is broken."
- The book is dedicated to "Norah Claire", and has the following Latin words on the dedication page: Laetare ergo iuvenis in adulescentia tua et in bono sit cor tuum in diebus iuventutis tuae et ambula in viis cordis tui et in intuitu oculorum tuorum et scito quod pro omnibus his adducet te Deus in iudicium. This translates to "Rejoice, o young childhood and let your heart in youth and walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of thine eyes, but know thou, that for all this will bring you to trial".
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