Origins of the Order of the Skull

Greku the Goblin shark approached the undersea volcano slowly and carefully, a slight shadow amongst the deeper shadows cast by undersea ledges and the naturally rocky terrain common among the shallower sections of the Pacific Islands. While the volcano ahead of him was dormant, the heat from molten rock and lava not far below the surface kept the region far warmer than the surrounding seas and as such, was a haven for numerous aquatic species. Such was the challenge presented by the Order of the Skull using this region as its main sanctuary. One had to approach completely unseen to gain entry, whether it was your first time arriving as a new supplicant hoping to join the fraternity of assassins or your hundredth on a routine visit. You always needed to retain the skills necessary for an unobserved arrival or risk the loss of your credentials. 

Greku was a veteran of the Order. In some circles, he himself had reached near legend status, but he cared not for such honorifics, indeed, it irritated him given what he knew of the storied past of the Order of the Skull. Adjusting the torn Atlantian uniform he had taken from the straggler fleeing Atlantis shortly after its fall, he approached and entered the sanctuary unobserved, almost without conscious effort, such was his skill and dedication to his calling. The inside of the volcano consisted of numerous caverns that used to hold stores of magma and were now smooth rock amphitheaters for assembly and combat training. Old lava tubes had become worked corridors leading to private rooms, dormitories, armouries, storerooms and an elaborate war room for strategy and planning by the Order Masters. Greku skirted the training grounds, although he did slow to assess the quality and precision of the new recruits being schooled by the Order’s instructors. 

Taking a long circular corridor that wound deeper into the bowels of the volcano, Greku swam slower as his gaze followed the intricate and detailed murals that ran floor to ceiling along the corridors. Here were the origins of the Order in pictorial form. Greku had seen them all, dozens of times over the years, but he always paused to re-examine them, his passion for the history of his Order undiminished over his eighty years. The slightest disturbance in the electrical fields along the corridor alerted Greku to the presence of another, but he did not outwardly react, nor did he seek to hide or flee. He simply waited, patiently and unmoving as the newcomer approached. 

“Greku?” An elderly shark approached slowly, surprise in his voice at seeing his old friend at the sanctuary. “I don’t know why I am surprised that nobody has reported your arrival, given I suspect I am the first to actually see you,” he finished with a chuckle. 

“Master Horvath,” Greku greeted him with a warm smile. “It is good to see you again. It has been far too long.”

“You are always too busy my friend, you have no time for social calls. I heard the assault on Atlantis was a great success?” He asked, although Greku knew full well that Master Horvath was just being polite and already knew every detail of the successful capture of the Atlantian capital. 

“It was well planned and exceptionally well-executed,” Greku advised him. “But the war is far from over, as I know you are aware.”

Horvath nodded slowly once and turned to face the detailed murals along the walls that Greku had been admiring.

The mural before them showed a vivid scene. A mermaid with wild hair and seemingly fire in her eyes had been captured in a barbed net, a crude spear piercing her lower abdomen. Humans were trying to pull her onto their vessel, one made for war, not fishing. From the depths, several sharks approached and attacked the vessel, striking it with their bodies and heads until it began to take on water. As the vessel began to flounder, the sharks renewed their attacks, eventually capsizing it and throwing the humans into the water. Freeing the mermaid from her bindings, the mural then depicts the very first meeting of the sharks and their eventual Shark Queen, the progenitor of the Mermaid race, Nammu.

“To think, that was four thousand years ago,” Horvath murmured reverently.

“Such a moment in time,” Greku agreed with open admiration.
“To think, that although it would take another hundred years or more, this was the founding moment of our order.”

“And it would define one of our prime directives for all the millennia since,” Horvath agreed. “The protection of our Queen and her family.”

Gazing down the long, gently sloping corridor that would lead to the numerous rooms in the complex below, Greku smiled at the memory of the ongoing mural depictions of their history. 

“And just one of so many incredible moments in our history.”

Horvath nodded once and started down the corridor. “Come, let us find the other Masters and consider the news you bring, for I know this is no social call.”

Greku nodded, unsurprised at how well his old Master knew him and continued swimming down the corridor.

Swimming past countless pictorial stories of their history, Greku did stop just one more time as he came upon another mural, this one faded so badly with age that it almost appeared as a blank section along the corridor. Nearby, an octopus servant moved along the opposite wall of the corridor, four whale-bristle brooms in its many arms as it slowly swept and cleaned the corridor. Stopping at the mural, Greku paused and studied it again, for possibly the hundredth time. Horvath paused as well, expecting this brief interruption to the journey.

“Here so long before this became our sanctuary,” Greku murmured as he ran a fin along the edges of the mural, tracing the outer line of a shark that would dwarf anything in the oceans of their current time.

“The so-called ancients are a myth Greku,” Horvath explained patiently. “Dreamed up by those seeking sanctuary from the prehistoric monsters of an era before time began.”

“But, if they existed, what an ally we would have,” Greku murmured while also nodding at Master Horvath’s statement. 

Horvath scoffed and chided him gently, “Myth my friend. No more real than the Kraken,” as he gently guided his friend further down the corridor. “Come, Master Greku, there is much to discuss and more battles to be planned.” 

As the two Masters of the Order of the Skull disappeared around a bend in the corridor, descending further into the volcano, the octopus servant watched them go, it’s arms continuing to sweep the corridor of their own volition. It’s gaze then also returned to the faint and aged mural of the gigantic shark, it’s eyes dark and inscrutable as it muttered low under its breath. 

“Megalodon… myth.”