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|Monday, April 23rd, 2012|
|The Tale of Gwendolyn Gwilt: Chapter 5 - Aboard the Ghost Ship
Chapter Five – Aboard The Ghost Ship
Each of the three longboats carried five or six men across the waters to the ghost ship. The longboat with an anxious Gwendolyn lead the silent and slow-moving charge. She didn’t dare make eye contact with any of the three mages, who insisted that they remain in the same boat as her. She kept her eyes on the ship before her.
As her boats approached the silent vessel, she began to make out a name through the thickening fog clouds: Deimos. Gwen almost laughed. She was still unsure whether this deserted galleon was meant to be a trap or was just an unfortunate victim of pirates, abandoned and left for the sea to eventually swallow. Either way, she kept her eyes forward.
But her ears remained open. Her fantastic ears that could hear even the quietest mouse on the lower levels on her ship. She listened to her three guests on her boat as they futilely attempted to speak without her knowledge
“Blood?” Skylana whispered?
“Aye,” a hushed Talis replied. “It wasn’t much, but from where it was bleeding… well, a normal physician might take notice of it, and yet she reacted as if it were a normal occurrence.”
“So there really is something wrong with her. She’s not just luring us into a trap.”
“Oh I wouldn’t be surprised if she was still doing so.” He shot up his hands to Skylana that asked her to let him continue, “But I understand what you mean. Whatever is wrong with her, there’s something about it that hurts her, that makes her weaker. It might even be killing her...”
Ryder remained silent, keeping his watchful eyes on Gwen. Something about her posture at the front of the boat told him she knew exactly what they were saying about her. Perhaps it was that slight movement of her whole body that hinted at a small chuckle at their guess. He knew she was listening to them just as she knew Ryder was watching her.
"Do you think it's a trap?" Skylana asked.
"With the luck I've been having before this trip," Talis continued, "I suspect everything is a trap. Perhaps that's why I've lasted as long as I have. What I don't understand is if this is a trap and she knows it, why board this ship and take her entire crew? Wouldn't it make more sense to just leave them on the ship?"
As the two mages questioned and the third watched her, Gwen took a long deep breath. There were times throughout this journey where she debated telling them outright. Even as they spoke of her, they still had no idea what they were getting into. But as came her prejudices with mages, so did ones from mages. They saw her as nothing but a ruthless killer, the enemy, and rightly so. If it were difficult to trust her as she was, would they even trust her knowing what she was?
It's easier this way, she thought to herself. If I can make this whole journey without letting them see, perhaps it would be easier for them...
“Captain?” The words almost startled Gwen (which was a first in a long time). She turned her head slightly towards her first mate. Nemo tried to look her in the eyes, but she refused to meet his. He knew her long enough to know what it meant. She was filled with guilt. It wasn’t often that she felt guilt, let alone acknowledged it.
Warmth suddenly enveloped her hand. She looked down to see Nemo’s hand covering hers. “We’re with you. You know this, Gwen.”
She wanted to let out a smile, if only to tell him not to worry about her. She missed smiling for him. Not a devilish smile that hinted at wickedness, but a genuine, happy smile. There were times when she wondered how long it would be before she smiled like that again... if she would ever smile like that again.
Soon enough, the longboats came within reach of the ghost ship. Carefully, Gwen stood upright, looking for the footholds in the ship as the rest of her crew drew out grappling hooks. Though night had already fallen, Gwen's eyes were able to find what she needed. She climbed up the side of the Deimos quietly yet quickly.
Ryder never took his eyes off of her and tried to follow quickly behind her. He was impressed with her grace as she climbed. The waves were increasing in strength, making the ship rock slightly. Yet as Gwen scaled the dark ship, her form did not falter. She didn't need to adjust for a rogue wave that would hit the side of the dark ship. She climbed almost fluidly upwards and effortlessly pulled herself over the side and disappeared onto the ship.
Skylana and Talis followed afterward, watching the rest of the crew scale beside them as silently and as deftly as their captain did. For a brief moment, Skylana felt a bit of competitive spirit and tried to climb faster. A sudden jolt from the ocean caused her hand to slip. With her other hand, she caught herself and clung to the ship's hull.
"Are you well?" Talis called after her. She nodded quickly before resuming her journey upwards more cautiously. Talis quickened his pace in case she slipped again.
As the two reached the ship's edge, Ryder's hand met Skylana's and pulled her over onto the main deck. The moment she set foot upon the ship, she froze instantly. Once Talis did the same, he also went stiff. A dense, unseen shroud of energy seemed to envelop them. “You feel it too, Talis?” she whispered.
“Aye,” he whispered back. This feeling unnerved both of them. Both mages felt their magic dampening. Gwen, hearing their whispers, turned to face them. Talis tried to ignite fire in his hand, but nothing happened. He gave Gwen a look asking if this was her doing. It felt the same way he felt when she slipped him the coin, only it was a heavier presence on the ship. Gwen slowly shook her head. Skylana and Talis gravely looked at each other. Ryder removed an arrow from his quiver and nocked it to his bow.
The winds howled softly as the clouded skies began to turn black. One by one, the rest of Gwen’s crew set foot on the Deimos. By the time Nemo had made it on the deck, Gwen had turned to face her crew and the mages. "Gentlemen... and milady," she nodded to Skylana, "be alert." Without raising her voice, she gave her commands. "Search this ship but touch nothing. Go in groups of three and do not let each other out of your sight. Nemo, you and Hands are with Skylana -"
"She stays with us," Ryder snarled. Skylana twitched, expecting another fight as the crew spun to face him.
Gwen merely shrugged her shoulders. "Fine. She can stay with you." Ryder was taken aback by her response. He did not expect any compliance. "And Talis can stay with you both. If you run into trouble, I'm certain you'll be able to handle it all by yourself, won't you, Swiftarrow?" Ryder found himself struggling to answer her, but she was right. Without their magic, Skylana and Talis would be almost useless in a fight.
"Talis can stay with Ryder," Skylana chimed in. Ryder almost protested before she quickly continued. "I will be fine with Hands and Nemo." Gwen gave an acknowledging nod. Ryder and Talis still tried to argue, but Skylana returned with an assuring gaze. Once she saw them slowly withdraw, she turned her gaze back to Gwen and nodded.
"Very well. No matter what happens, do not separate from each other. We shall regroup within fifteen min time." Everyone nodded in acknowledgment before separating into their collective groups before separating. One of the groups traveled to the forecastle while others ventured below towards the holds. Ryder and Talis lingered a moment before one of the crewmen approached them and offered to take them below deck.
Skylana remained between Hands and Nemo as they climbed up towards the forecastle. She kept her eyes on Ryder and Talis until they disappeared, then her gaze wandered to Gwen, who stood alone on the deck.
"She'll be fine on her own." Skylana didn't turn to Nemo that time. She was too curious. Soon enough, Gwen caught her gaze, but Skylana didn't turn away.
"I thought she said that no one should be alone?"
"Cap'n's a diff'ren' story, love," Hands called back. "Besides, she can take care o' 'erself. I'm surprised ye 'aven't learned tha' by now."
She did learn. She asked to see if their answers would be anything different aside from "she's a tough girl who can handle her own in a fight." Skylana assumed that the same could be said for all of the Fenris' men as well and yet they had to stay in groups.
"I get it," she smirked. "Do as I say, not as I do, right?"
Nemo let out a small chuckle. "Something like that." Something about that remark made the situation seem more dire than it already was. She wanted to keep an eye on Gwen while she was still on the main deck. But night seemed to be getting darker (though it had already fallen) and she was on a potentially trapped ship. She needed to focus on herself first. Skylana broke her gaze with Gwen and began her search on the forecastle.
After most of her crew had traveled down to the lower levels, Gwen remained on the deck. She closed her eyes and inhaled slowly and sharply for several moments. A multitude of scents rushed through her nostrils. The burning oil from the lanterns her crew had brought with them stung the most. Next came the smell of the wood, rotted and warped by the sea. This was an old ship, something that should not last much longer. She was even surprised that she was still sailing (or rather that someone had chosen to sail her).
There were other scents that entered her nostrils. Ones that continued to burn her senses. They were exotic scents, but not something that hinted at spices like she would expect. No cinnamon or curry. Every time she inhaled this scent, she felt herself wanting to cough or gag. It was almost volatile, but it was also faint. It had to be contained somewhere on this ship. Poison, perhaps? No. It was something else. This had a bit more of a charcoal-like scent to it. If this is a merchant ship, I'd hate to meet the clientele, she mused to herself.
Though it was odd to have vile contents stocked on a ship, it didn't necessarily mean much. She knew better than to assume the worst already. She needed more evidence before she could make any judgments. Frustrated and tense, she let out a deep exhalation before continuing her search on the main deck.
The gun deck reeked of mold and gunpowder. Talis wrinkled his nose as he and Ryder passed through along with the rest of the crew. Soon enough, they reached the steps and asked each other who would go to the lower decks.
Ryder already knew where he wanted to be: as close to the main deck as humanly possible. The further away he left Skylana with her "protectors", the more uncomfortable and worried he became. Before any of them had their say, Talis spoke his choice, as if to read Ryder's mind.
"We'll search this deck. The rest of you can go below." Though he meant it as a suggestion, it came off in an authoritative manner. The crew turned to face him, but Scarbeth spun on him sharply. He twitched at the thought of a mage telling them what should happen. However, as he took slow steps to confront Talis, a skinny and dingy man with weasel-like features stepped between the two men.
"Fine. I'll stay with them. The rest of ye can head down below," he stated in a matter-of-fact tone. He eyed Scarbeth defiantly and it was apparent that Scarbeth wanted to act. Harsh breath hissed through his teeth as the two stared each other down. Another crewman tried to get Scarbeth to come with him, but before his hand could touch his shoulder, Scarbeth spun around and stormed to the lower decks. One by one, the rest followed except for the man who stood against him. The remaining crewman turned to face his new companions.
"Thank you," Ryder acknowledged.
"Someone had to stay with ye," the man replied. "No one else will."
"You speak as if we are horrid children that someone needs to keep an eye on," Talis huffed as they began their search on the gun deck. The man let out a small laugh.
"No offense meant, but we don't exactly trust ye."
"Really? You think so?" Talis snorted.
"I guess it's too much to ask if you trust us then...?" Ryder asked, letting the end of his sentence hang after realizing this was a crewman whose name he did not know.
"Call me Crow." Ryder tried not to laugh. A jolly pirate club with jolly pirate nicknames, he thought to himself. "And ye haven't tried to kill us yet. S'good enough for me, anyway."
"How kind of you," Talis sneered. The three men skulked around the gun deck, cautious of each cannon that was in their path. They had been brought back and the gun ports were sealed away, which slightly eased the tension, knowing that this ship wasn't quite prepared to destroy their own.
"Can ye at least understand why?" Crow asked. Talis paused his search as Ryder's eyes wandered about the deck looking for something out of place. "We be in a bit of an awkward situation. We've hunted the likes of ye for years..."
"Why?" Talis barked. "Why hunt mages? What have we done to you that we need to be hunted down like animals?"
"I'm sure ye have enemies as well. People ye've been raised to hate?" Instantly, the two mages thought of the Draco Disciples. "And yer experiences with them never once hinted at any sign of goodness?"
"But that doesn't mean that we are all evil!" Talis almost shouted. "Mages are found everywhere, even in the company of good men. Surely you know of this!"
"Some of us do." Crow kept his voice hushed; it contrasted with Talis' booming voice and forced him to listen. "But every one of us has seen what mages can do to innocent people. Mothers who were used as puppets for twisted necromancers to bring their loved one from the grave. Fathers who were compelled by enchanters to kill their whole families. Brothers and sisters used by sorcerers as ritualistic sacrifices. All of us have witnessed it firsthand. It destroyed a lot of us. Made us believe that mages shouldn't even exist in this world anymore.
"The mages we hunted were ones that took advantage of innocents. Those who did those unspeakable acts for selfish reasons. I do believe we did make the world better by eliminatin' these mages, but I know better than to think all mages are alike. S'like sayin' every person acts exactly the same. Some of the crew realizes this, but..." Crow stopped moving and turned ominously towards Talis. "The majority... doesn't."
Without warning, Crow drew his pistol and aimed it straight at Talis. Responding quickly, Ryder aimed his bow at his throat, ready to shoot as Talis stood wide-eyed and gripped his staff tighter. "Move slowly," he almost whispered. "Do not make a sound."
Before Talis could react, he caught how the pistol was pointed. Crow was only a few feet away and yet he could see that the barrel was facing him, but not pointed towards him. Slowly, he turned his head to see what was behind him, fearing someone who was already holding him hostage. In the dark, he was able to make out an object made of wood. As he slowly inched to the left, he saw the handle and hinges of a door. Ryder noticed how Crow's pistol lingered on what looked like a closet next to one of the cannons. He followed suit and turned his arrow towards the door, waiting for something to pop out.
Without uttering a word, Crow nodded to Talis to very slowly open the door. A cautious hand inched towards the handle and gripped it without making a sound. Ryder tightened his grip on his bow. Talis let out a few breaths before counting down with his remaining hand. Crow synchronized his own steady breathing with Talis' counting.
At that final moment, Talis pulled the door open as Crow and Ryder prepared to release their shots. He stumbled over something behind him as a loud thud erupted before him. However, no human figure fell out, but the cannonball that had dropped began rolling along the deck. The three let out a sigh of relief as the cannonball stopped near one of the cannons. Crow uncocked his pistol and placed it back in the holster.
"Do ye understand?" Crow asked as he extended a helping hand towards Talis. He was thankful that both his skin and the deck were dark so that Crow would not see his face flush red in embarrassment. Nevertheless, he grasped Crow's hand and pulled himself up.
"Right then, shall we?"
Gwen slowly climbed the stairs towards the stern. She paused when she head the loud thud, but continued after hearing no sign of a fight. Whatever it was, it was not a threat to her or her crew (at least not anymore). She had heard the sound of iron rolling along. A cannonball, perhaps? Careless, she thought to herself, or clever. It certainly added tension every time there was an unfamiliar sound. Either way, she resumed her journey until she reached the ship's helm.
Keeping her eyes closed, she grasped the wheel and stood still, letting sounds fill her ears. When she concentrated all of her effort into listening, it was easy for her to get lost in the moment. Mostly, all she could hear was the waves beating against the ship's hull and the whistling wind that had gotten stronger and colder since they boarded. From how the skies were almost pitch, she gathered there was a storm approaching. She felt the shift in the wind from eastbound to west. It was coming soon.
But there was something else that was riding on the winds. Some kind of rhythmic wind softly echoed throughout the ship. Very controlled. She heard several different beats throughout the ship. Five... no, six... seven? The more she concentrated, the more of these sounds she heard. Some of these beats seemed to even have more than one being following it.
She sniffed once more, expecting to find a sharp, cold scent that most people couldn't even sense. To her surprise, she didn't find that scent. Whoever these people were, they were not hiding out of fear. They were waiting.
Gwen let out a heavy breath. She hated her senses, sometimes. Though she had learned to adapt with them over time, it was always nothing more than a constant reminder of...
"What say you, Captain?" Her eyes slowly opened as Nemo approached her. She looked behind him to see Hands and Skylana coming down from the forecastle. "This ship is too good to be a prize. We found no soul on board."
"Then they're very good at hiding." Nemo barely shifted. He knew it. Shame. It was a good ship. "I know there are men here. They're watching us."
"How many do you figure?"
"I'd say as many as we have," Gwen scanned the deck as the rest of her crew, Ryder and Talis began to emerge from below. "What I'm unsure of is why they haven't shown themselves yet. What are they waiting for?"
Gwen tried to find the answer herself. Her crew has done raids before on other pirates, but never once on an "abandoned ship". If it were her, she would have waited until everyone was separated and then begin making their moves. Her and her crew had been searching this ship for some time now and almost everyone was back up on the main deck already. Why were they waiting so long?
"Perhaps they need a trigger?", Nemo answered.
That thought clicked in her head. It somewhat made sense. If there were enough men on this ship to take them out, why pick them off one at a time and risk suspicion? Better to take everyone out all at once. It seemed like a sloppy plan to Gwen, but if executed properly, it could work. Fortunately for her, she knew they were here. That might give her an advantage.
When she saw that everyone was back on the main deck, she stood at the top of the stairs and addressed her crew.
"Anything?" Grunts and "nays" filled the ship as some shook their heads. She was afraid of this, but she knew what she had to do. "Very well. Take what we need back to the longboats. You find anything unusual, tell me about it before touching it! Leave them next to the longboats."
As the crew slowly went to scavenge the Deimos, Ryder, Skylana and Talis remained unconvinced. They stared at each other and instantly knew what the other was thinking. If there was one thing their Lunar and Sun bloodlines shared, it was the distinct and palpable feeling that something was very wrong.
Skylana turned to Hands who still remained near her before everyone started moving about. She tugged at his sleeve to catch his attention. Hands turned towards her, but before he could say a word, Skylana beat him to it.
"So that's it? No one's here so we just take all this stuff?"
"Aye. Tha's generally 'ow it works." Hands, responded. He attempted to sound lighthearted, but his concern was plain as day.
"We haven't even searched the ship for long. That doesn't necessarily mean that this isn't a trap," Ryder retorted. "I think we should do a more thorough search before we take anything. Just a few more minutes..."
"We be on a schedule, lad," Hands interrupted. "We been searchin' this ship long enough. Unless ye found somethin', we ain't got no more need to look abou' 'er anymore."
Ryder steeped in anger. Why weren't they listening to them? Everything about this ship screamed that it was a trap. He could feel it. Even Talis somehow knew that there was more to this ship than met the eye. Skylana took Hand's arm before he could walk away.
"Hands, please," she begged. "Just let us look around for a little while longer. Just a few minutes."
A moment lingered between them before Hands made a single move. Once he turned to Skylana, he almost wanted to obey those huge eyes of hers. But he knew what had to be done. He took both of his massive hands and enveloped her petite ones within. Skylana slightly recoiled when she realized that she felt more than just sweat and skin in his hands.
"I understand tha' this is difficult to accept, but all we ask now is for ye to trust us." With that, he took his hands away from hers and rejoined the rest of his crew.
Skylana looked down at her hands and saw that three white strips of cloth remained in her hand. She cocked her head to the side, confused. Ryder and Talis came forward to see what she held, each of them taking one cloth.
"They know it's trapped," Ryder breathed.
"So if it's trapped, why are they taking everything?" Talis questioned.
"I think... they want to trigger the trap." Ryder didn't agree with the method, but he understood what the crew might be attempting to do.
"I don't like this," Talis thought aloud.
"Maybe this is a good thing," Skylana replied in an effort to comfort him. "If she knows about them then maybe she can turn this around."
"Unless she has more men, I doubt it."
As the mages argued and the men began to gather materials, Gwen sauntered about the deck. She let everyone do what was needed. One of them might trigger the trap. If so, her crew had done this trick enough times to know how to react. She trusted them to do what was necessary for themselves and for her purpose. Still, she couldn't deny that she relished finding the trap before anyone else. It was almost like a game to her. It showed how many times they had played their own games against unsuspecting pirates. But this was still a unique scenario. She had expected them to have attacked already instead of waiting for a trap to be sprung.
Then she saw it. She was surprised that she didn't see it before. A lone, old, ornate chest sat at the base of the main mast. It was dull enough not to catch too much attention and seem obvious yet its subtle and rusted design on the cover was enough to entice someone. She inhaled sharply and she smelled the same scent she caught earlier. This had to be it.
Gwen carefully knelt down next to the chest and ran her fingers over the whole of it. Instinctively, they went for the latch that had no lock to secure its contents. It was an obvious trap to her. An unlocked chest? Even a novice thief would think twice before touching it.
Her gut told her not to unlatch it. For her purpose, she chose to ignore it, but something was wrong. The feeling was stronger than it normally was. Every impulse told her not to open that chest. It told her to take her crew back to the ship and continue their journey to Carnac. Something told her that if she opened that chest, she would be endangering her crew and the mages.
She shook the thought away quickly. This had to be done. She took one more sigh before flipping the latch on the chest. Gently, she began to lift the cover until she heard a soft *click*. There it is. That was the trigger to the trap. There was no turning back anymore.
"LOOK OUT!" she screamed as the chest flew open and dark smoke erupted from the chest and crates littered the ship. Ryder, Skylana and Talis had little time to react, but were able to cover their moths and noses with the cloth Hands had given them. The smoke was thick; they could barely see five feet in front of them. They heard the rest of the crew coughing, trying to stay conscious.
They had to get out quickly. Talis grabbed Skylana's hand and pulled her to one of the sides of the ship with Ryder following close behind. Unfortunately, they didn't get far.
Talis was soon face to face with another flintlock pistol. As Skylana kept coming forward, she met her own pistol just before Ryder met one as well. His bow shot up and his arrow was nocked quickly, but he couldn't shoot. The standoff was very one-sided in the enemy's favor. The three mages backed away as the smoke began to clear.
Soon, they rejoined the Fenris crew. Their blades were drawn but no one was fighting. When the smoke completely dissipated, they saw what seemed like a score of men of different builds and sizes, but all of them had a diabolical look in their eye. They had their crew completely surrounded with pistols drawn and ready to fire.
“Stand down, men!” Gwen roared over the screams. Her crewmen halted at her command, but Talis and Ryder still tried to find an enemy they could attack. "I said stand down!" she howled again after they refused to listen. "They've overpowered us."
They didn't want to believe it, but she was right. The derelict crew held the men at gunpoint. Each man who sailed on the Fenris knew that even if they all moved, there were more guns on them. It was a fool’s errand to try to escape. Even Skylana and Talis were helpless without their magic aboard, and Ryder would only be able to do so much before he ran out of arrows. They had no choice but to surrender. Gwen’s crew eased their posture and dropped all their weapons, allowing the enemies to advance close enough to apprehend them.
To their surprise, the Deimos crew didn't even touch the intruders. Gwen took this opportunity to address her captors.
"We wish to parlay. I demand to speak to your superior." The Deimos crew remained silent, but that wasn't what made her shiver. In fact, everyone who wasn't a member of the Deimos felt that chilling sensation. Their smiles made her want to scream out.
Then a thunderous noise erupted from the doors of the captain's cabin. The Fenris crew then realized the reason why they didn't need to be held...
|Saturday, November 12th, 2011|
|The Tale of Gwendolyn Gwilt: Chapter 4 - My Body Is A Cage
It was hard for Skylana to sleep that night, but when she did, it was hardly pleasant. The cold wasn't too bothersome thanks to the heavy cloak that Gwen had given her. The events of last night had her mind riddled with thoughts before she finally succumbed to sleep. She kept dreaming of how she could conduct herself on the ship. Every scenario either had Ryder pulling his dagger and starting a fight, Talis throwing someone overboard with his telekinesis and starting a fight, someone throwing her overboard and starting a fight or Hands stepping between her and the everyone else and starting a fight. Every solution seemed hopeless. It was a wonder how she made it to morning.
She rose from her hammock and yawned as she stretched her arms out. It was good that the sea was calm at this time so that she didn't fall out of the hammock. Skylana had adapted to her sea legs adequately enough. She could not say the same for Talis. He had looked a little green ever since they left port in London. He kept a bucket near his hammock last night when she told him and Ryder of the events of last night. It didn't make Talis feel any better to know that even the crew was afraid of their captain. Ryder, surprisingly remained silent throughout the night, not saying a word even after he returned from his watch.
Skylana stepped out to a dim morning light, expecting to see the crew bustling to work. Instead, she stepped onto an eerily silent ship. Even the waves didn't dare to produce any sound. As she looked around, all of the crew was looking towards the captains quarters like a vigil. No one was willing to move or speak until the doors opened and their captain (or someone) emerged from within. The silence itself was hypnotizing, drawing her in. She wanted to open those doors. She wanted to see what was inside...
"Sky!" She jumped at the sound of her own name, waking her a second time. Talis' voice always had a booming quality to him, even when trying to be quiet. She always thought that was just the Order blood within him. She slowly made her way to her companions, not taking her eyes of the captain's quarters.
"What's going on?" she whispered. Even she was afraid of breaking the silence.
"We don't know." Talis replied. "We woke up not too long ago and they were just staring like this. They haven't taken their eyes off those doors in at least a half hour."
Indeed, the men had stared, almost zombie-like, towards those doors. Little, if any sound emerged from it. Skylana looked around the deck, praying that she might be able to find someone who could help. Anyone with any sort of insight...
"The hell are you all lookin' at?" The harsh voice cut the silence like a knife as Nemo emerged from below. Some of the crew flinched, but not everyone's gaze had broken from those doors. Nemo took note of this and smiled again.
"Be lucky you ain't the one in there, gents. Now get back to work!" The whistle cut through the morning air. One would think that was what broke the spell that kept the men looking at the doors to the captain's quarters, but the threat was obvious enough. All three of the mages could see it.
Without warning, Skylana began to weave through the crowd of men making her way towards Nemo, despite Ryder and Talis' protests. They were able to pass through the crew with greater ease than expected. Men who saw them coming stopped what they were doing and backed away. Each of the men's eyes held either fear or contempt, but it was not enough for them to lash out at them. Skylana tried not to look at them. She only focused on her target.
"Nemo!" she called out, almost expecting him to keep walking. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on perspective), she saw his teeth peering out from under his unkempt mustache.
"Good mornin' my dear," he began in an almost too cheerful tone, as if he didn't just yell at the rest of his crew mates or threaten them. It caused Skylana to pause, giving time for Ryder and Talis to catch up to her. "It's good to see that you are still unharmed. I assume Hands was good to you then?" His sneer would have caused an itch in Ryder's fist had Skylana not explained Hands to him already.
"He was fine, sir. What's going on? Why are all the men so quiet?" The first mate let out a chuckle that only made his smile seem more sinister.
"I told you that our captain made it clear to all of us that you three are not to be touched or harmed in any way. One of our crewmen apparently didn't quite understand the message." Scarbeth, she thought to herself. A chill went down her spine. "Our captain is making certain that understanding is not breached again."
"Isn't this a little extreme?" Talis asked. He tried playing the devil's advocate, hoping that Nemo might let something slip. To his disappointment, Nemo shrugged his shoulders and his smile only grew larger
"Better safe than sorry." Nemo casually looked about the ship to his crew mates as they each performed their duties. With nothing left to tell the three, he gave a polite nod before heading down below, Ryder, looking after him. He noticed that as soon as Nemo passed the crew, they tried to sneak a peak at the doors, still wondering what could possibly happen. From the looks on their faces, they almost didn't expect to see Scarbeth again.
"I think this matches what you found out, Sky. They're afraid of her."
"But we still don't know why," she argued. Skylana watched as the men continued to walk about the deck, occasionally glancing at those doors. It should have relieved her to know that he was in trouble and that Gwen did have their well-being in mind (at least that's how it seemed), but she couldn't help but feel guilt rising in her. If there was trouble on the crew, especially with Scarbeth, it might as well have been her fault. She almost regretted even going up to the men last night. If she hadn't...
"Then I think it's time we did." Ryder's words snapped her out of her thoughts and caused her to break her gaze with the crew.
"What are you talking about?"
"I mean doing what we're good at. We look for something that might tell us more about Gwen. Hell, more about this entire crew would be nice."
"I agree," Talis chimed in. "If no one is going to tell us what we're getting into, we may as well figure it out ourselves."
However, Skylana was torn. Scarbeth was called because of how he conducted himself to her. She no longer wished to cause any more tension on the ship than she already had done. If they were caught sneaking in places they shouldn't be, all the trust that she had been trying to accumulate could be lost. She considered it luck that Hands had even warmed up to her.
Before Skylana could say a word, a creaking noise rang out above the winds. Every head on the Fenris turned towards the captain's quarters, where the sound came from. The door had creaked open and out came a pale, sluggish-looking Scarbeth. Half the crew breathed sighs of relief, happy to see their former crewmate had returned unscathed. Even Hands, who was ready to throw him overboard the night before, seemed pleased to know that he had made it out of the beast's maw safely.
Scarbeth's eyes looked tired and worn, as if he had just stared into Death, itself, and dared not blink. it almost made Skylana pity him. Suddenly, he looked up and caught her gaze. Her elven eyes allowed her to see what Ryder and Talis could not at that distance. She expected him to scowl at her with hatred in his eyes, but something was wrong. There was something about them. Perhaps it was the redness that she saw around the whites of his eyes or the fact that they looked like empty, soulless windows. He just stared at her with a blank expression, as if there was nothing he could do.
It was here that Skylana knew Ryder and Talis were right. Even if the crew feared their captain, no one was going to tell them anything. Not even Hands was willing to comply with her when she asked him last night. These men might be afraid of the power their captain holds, but none of them would dare to speak of it. No. There was no other way. They had to know.
"All right," she sighed. "What do we need to do?"
When night fell, most of the crew had remained within their cabins. After Gwen's little "meeting" with Scarbeth, none of them wished to anger her further. Most of them were happy (although very surprised) that he even emerged unscathed from the encounter with their captain. For Ryder, Skylana and Talis, this came with a slight benefit. Though most of the crew still had some contempt or fear of them, they didn't dare approach the three or even get in their way.
The wind had begun to blow to the east when night fell, so Gwen had asked Skylana to remain awake to help direct the Fenris in the proper course. She remained at the stern of the ship concentrating the magic she gained from Aria when she trained with the Paragons. As she cast her spell, she could not help but feel a twinge of sadness. She could have used Aria's cheerfulness right now to make her feel less anxious on the ship.
Her eyes glanced down the deck and towards the cabin quarters. There were not many men on deck this night and Gwen had already retired to her cabin. No one else on the crew would have been able to see it in this dark night, but her eyes saw the crack in the cabin door and a familiar stern face looking back at her, signaling that he was ready. Skylana blinked once to return the signal before muttering an elven spell she learned in Atlea. This spell would only work for a few moments, but if Ryder was half as good as he truly was, a few moments was all he needed.
The night was already dark enough even with the lanterns illuminating the ship. It wasn't long before the small group of crew members noticed a dense cloud heading their way. With the speed that Skylana was making the ship move, the Fenris was quickly enveloped in it's thick coat, severely limiting their vision. One of the crewmen that Skylana did not recognize approached her in the fog. Her eyes were now illuminated and she spoke before he could ask what was going on.
"I'm trying to get rid of it. It should only take a few moments."
"Well ye'd best hurry. Wouldn't wanna get lost here, now would we?" She gazed at this man with her blank yet brilliant eyes. He stepped back to both stand his ground and distance himself just in case.
"No, sir... we wouldn't."
Ryder had heard some of the men stirring to their posts in a hopeful attempt to navigate through. Once he saw that no man was in sight, Ryder took this opportunity to make his dash for the door to the cargo hold. He knew there wasn't much time, but as long as no one was in his way, he would have no issue. Fortunately, this was a the case. He had studied the deck during the day, noting every post the men took, every apparatus that lay on the deck, every barrel that was toppled over. He had studied well.
Ryder found the door to below deck and slipped inside seconds before the fog lifted away. He was somewhat surprised that he was able to sneak past this group so easily. Still, it proved to be more beneficial to him. This way, he could scout the ship and look for clues or possible traps in the ship. Perhaps there was something in this ship that hinted at Gwen’s mystery sickness or why the crew was so afraid of a captain they claimed to be loyal to.
Though the waters were not harsh, he could still feel the sway of the sea gently rocking the ship. He was unsure if he felt it more below deck because he felt more comfortable in open air and did not notice or just because he was in a confined space that made him notice the movement more, but it momentarily caught him off balance. Fortunately, he quickly adapted to the rolling ship and continued his descent towards the cargo hold. It took a moment or two before his eyes had adapted to the low light emitted only by dim lanterns. He had almost wondered how full-blooded humans could find anything in this light. There were times he nearly missed a step or ran into a crate or a wall. Thankfully, his cloak padded the harsh impact the wood would make on him, although the occasional sharp corner of a crate would hint at a later bruise.
As he continued his descent into the hold, he tried to find anything that would be considered unusual cargo for a ship. Vials of strange contents. Boxes with strange markings. Anything out of the ordinary would have sufficed. As Ryder made his way around, he knew he did not have much time left. He knew better than to assume the crew was in any way incompetent. It wouldn't be long before they suspected foul play and went looking for him. Ryder looked around to see if he could find any semblance of oddity. All he saw were more crates, barrels and a wine rack that was almost completely filled. He had to know what was inside them. As he closed his eyes, he whispered a small elven incantation to himself.
"Jhaer ti mi shar air codael shorol.”*
Upon opening his eyes that burned a bright green, he could now view the contents of each crate and barrel that he looked at. To his dismay, none of the barrels held foreign contents. Food and general supplies was all he saw. Some contained ordinary weapons for the crew, some were ordinary, but others had two metals like he saw before. As unusual as that was, it still wasn't a surprise for him to find more of those weapons. Other than that, there was nothing extraordinary. No strange artifacts, no odd poultices or potions, nothing that even barred his vision from looking into it. Everything seemed in place. There was nothing for him down here that would tell him anything other than this was a normal mariner’s ship that was fully prepared for a long voyage.
He knew that he wasn't going to find anything more down here, but it didn't deter his resolve in the least. Ryder turned and made his way back up the ship, hoping to try to find some secret compartments. The more he traveled, the more disappointed he became. This ship was too much like a normal ship. With every solid wall protecting the vessel's contents from the sea, he grew frustrated. With every mundane item he saw, he grew more aggravated. Nothing that he was finding was worth anything.
Suddenly, something caught his attention out of the corner of his eye. Ryder stopped moving forward to survey his surroundings and noticed that he was in the brig. As he turned around, he noticed the oddity was in the cell bars. Ryder moved closer to the cells to investigate, running his fingers along the cold metal. He uttered a second incantation to himself. "Tia jhol." A small orb of light illuminated his hand, allowing him to investigate. The edges of the cell bars were already rough and rusted, but it felt rougher in other places. As he ran his fingers along these rougher places, he brought the light up and noticed that the bars were carved with symbols. Not just symbols from one particular set, but many kinds. Norse runes, alchemical symbols, even a druidic script that he barely recognized. But he didn't need to translate any of the symbols to determine their purpose. This was a brig, after all. They were most likely used to disable all magics. To prove his point, he stuck in his hand that contained the light. Once his hand was completely through the bars, his light was extinguished. He explored the rest of the cells to find they all were inscribed with similar runes.
Then he came across one cell.
This cell was located across from the other cells and stood alone. As he approached, he noticed that the bars were not inscribed in runes but there was something else that attracted his attention. Parts of the bars were stained oddly, almost like it was tarnished, instead of rusted like the other cell bars, indicating that these were not made of iron. His fingers wrapped around the metal and he felt a strange sensation on the interior of the bars. It felt rough and charred like leather that had been left in the sun too long. As he tried to get a look at what he was feeling, he noticed the strange patterns inside the bars. Some parts were metal, but there were other bits of red and black that varied in size and shape and were scattered on the interior side of the cell. He deftly moved around the cell to get a better view of what he was feeling. When he was finally able to see, he noticed the same leathery texture underneath his fingers. The more Ryder investigated the cell, the more he started to notice a faint smell. It was hard to make out at first, but it was slightly unpleasant enough to make his nose wrinkle a bit. The scent had faint traces of something like burned hair.
Suddenly his eyes widened as he put the pieces together. The leathery texture, the red and black charring, the way it stuck to the bars, the smell. This wasn’t some decorative pattern on the inside of the cell.
It was skin.
Ryder quickly removed his hand from the bars and began to back away before he felt himself run into something he didn’t remember being there. His hand flew to his dagger as he spun around to find Nemo’s figure imposing on him. His heart stopped briefly. He thought that Nemo would throw him into the cell he just discovered. He can try, he thought to himself. Nemo stepped forward once as Ryder matched his step with a backwards retreat.
“I hope ye weren’t planning on staying in one of these cells,” he spoke as the two slowly circled each other. His manner unnerved Ryder. He seemed too aloof to want to imprison him, but at the same time, his words had a hint of hostility.
“No," Ryder said quickly. "I hope you were not trying to imprison me. It would not be a smart thing for you to do on your end.” Ryder expected to see that grin that often draped across his face. But something was wrong. There was no smile. There was no laughter. Nemo merely nodded once and briskly walked past him towards the lonely cell.
“Yer lucky ye didn’t get lost in this ship.”
“I’m good at backtracking,” he replied a little too quickly.
“I’m sure you are.” Ryder was unsure of what Nemo's angle was now, but it confused him. He had assumed that his demeanor when he greeted them on the ship was his default mannerism. This was a whole different side and too drastic of a shift. Ryder began to wonder about his intentions until Nemo slowly stepped forward and placed a hand on his shoulder that was both comforting and menacing. He began to lead him back up to the main deck. “Next time, for yer own safety, ye might wanna think about an escort.”
Ryder gazed back at Nemo. He was almost positive he had just stumbled onto something he wasn’t supposed to see. If that wasn’t clear enough, Nemo’s face made it crystal clear. His trademark smile was still nowhere to be found on his face. Its absence only made him more uncomfortable and cold. Ryder gave a quick nod before moving away from under his hand to the main deck. Nothing more needed to be said between them and Nemo returned below deck.
A long, exasperated breath escaped from Ryder. His heartbeat was almost erratic with this new information. What was the purpose of that isolated cell? Was it used for torture? He knew that these people were uneasy around magic and their captain was very competent fighting against magic, but just how ruthless were these people? He knew that the crew was still hiding a secret on the ship, but what puzzled him the most is how Nemo subtly explained it to him. At first, it seemed like a covert threat, meant to divert the path in a way without being intimidating. Then he remembered his face. It didn’t seem like a man who would kill to keep a secret. His eyes seemed more like he was trying to protect him against some terrible force. It was as if discovering the secret would cause them to turn away, or the secret was even more dangerous than the mission itself. Ryder was unsure of it, but ultimately, he decided he found something worth reporting to Skylana and Talis. That was enough for him.
Perhaps, if they thought the evidence was valid enough, this might even warrant a confrontation.
The third day had come and gone quickly and uneventfully when Talis decided to finally approach Gwen. Despite Talis' urgings, the three of them had taken the day to go over everything they had figured out about Gwen. They knew that even with what they had discovered aboard this vessel, she was shrewd and would somehow find a way to avoid the questions. They had to assess their evidence to ensure that they had proper grounds to ask such questions and find a way to make her answer questions without coming off as a threat. Talis had stewed all of those thoughts in his head, but he had done everything the Lunar Tribe way. It was time for him to do things his way. He had to confront her.
On this night, the sky was filled with blackening clouds, but once again, Skylana was in control of the winds. As long as they stood in her favor, Gwen did not need the stars to aid her at the moment. Talis found her standing at the bow, letting the sea spray her face. He walked up silently behind her, but she had already turned her head sideways to meet his gaze. It unnerved Talis that she could always hear him coming. When she acknowledged his presence, her gaze returned to sea.
“We need to speak,” he began quickly.
“Come have a look at this,” she replied as if she hadn’t heard him. Talis blinked at her audacity.
“Did you not hear me?”
“I heard you, but I want to show you something.” Talis let out a very annoyed sigh and joined Gwen up at the bow. When he arrived next to her, he noticed what it was she was staring at. A lone ship was adrift some distance ahead. Talis eyed Gwen suspiciously.
“Is it unusual to see another ship out at sea?” he mocked.
“It is if it has not moved at all since it was first spotted. You’re supposed to be an intelligent mage. Use your damned eyes and tell me what you really see!” Talis rolled them first before looking a second time. It irritated him no less than it did the first time, but he still took extra time and did notice one peculiar fact.
“I see… nothing…” he breathed.
“Exactly,” Gwen confirmed. “No lights. No movements. No sound. The anchor has not even been dropped and yet is has not moved from that very spot.” Talis ran his eyes along what he could see of the ship. From what he could tell, it looked completely deserted. No signs of life were apparent.
“Was it attacked?” Talis asked, fearing the worst.
“I think not. If so, then the ship would be burning. Instead it looks as if every crew member just vanished.”
“So what do we do?” Talis asked.
“We investigate. See if we can find out what happened.” Talis raised an eyebrow to Gwen. This seemed so uncharacteristic of her as of late. She kept herself away from the mages for the majority of the trip, almost not caring about any other living soul. She even hid herself away from her own crew, only coming out to give a fearsome glare to each of her men, as if she were casting a spell on them.
Gwen turned back to catch his gaze. After a moment, she let out a sigh. “We also might commandeer any unused supplies if the ship is truly deserted,” she said. Every previous thought about Gwen actually having a soul was tossed aboard with that comment. Though she denied it, she was a pirate, albeit a resourceful one. Talis wanted to argue, but even he agreed that if there was something useful on that ship, then it should be put to use.
“You haven’t the slightest suspicion that it could be a trap?”
“If this was a trap, it would be one to use on richer ships to steal gold. Does this look like a rich lord’s vessel to you?” she retorted. "And even if it is a trap, they will regret springing it on us." Gwen brushed past him to bark more orders at her crew. Talis immediately turned to follow Gwen, still intent on asking her several questions that should have been answered the moment they met.
“I still need to speak with you,” he shouted after her. She had already passed Ryder to tell Skylana to cease her spell so that they could board the ship.
“It can wait until after –”
“No!” Talis boomed, grabbing Gwen by the arm and forcing her to stop. “You have avoided us this entire journey and we WILL speak!” He could feel his fire burning and Gwen could see it in his eyes. For once, his ferocity was greater than hers. The crew halted their duties when their captain’s arm was snatched. Several hands instantly went to the hilts of their swords, ready to fight for their captain.
Interesting, Talis thought. They fear their captain, yet they are willing to fight for her? He began to wonder whether it was out of loyalty or fear that these men were about to draw their arms.
Gwen gave them all a look that stopped them from continuing. Once she made it clear that she was in no danger, they removed their hands from their blades and skulked around them to continue their duties, still keeping a watchful eye on their captain. She relaxed her arm and turned to fully face Talis as the boatswain whistled his commands.
“Fine. Speak,” she spat out.
“I hope you understand how much I do not trust this voyage,” he began loud enough for her to hear but hushed enough to let others know the intimacy of the conversation. “I have been in dangerous situations before, and nothing is more precarious than being kept in the dark when facing an important mission. All you’ve told us is where we are going. You’ve told us nothing about the place–”
“I told you it was magical.”
“You never mentioned the sort of magic. For all we know, this magic intends to unleash a terrible force that could destroy the world in the process, but we will never know, will we? You refuse to tell us. You seem make sure that we do not even know what you are sick with.” He noticed Gwen make a slight uncomfortable shift as his voice filled with rage. It was as if he had spontaneously inherited Ignis’ fervor. He knew he was getting to her and pressed on. “We might have blindingly agreed to this voyage, but do not make the mistake that we are ignorant. We are far more observant than you give us credit for. We know about the cells. We know your crew’s blades all have another sort of metal on the edge. Not to mention all the hostility we seem to be receiving from both you and your crew. Oh, and don't think we don't observe how the crew looks at you... how they talk about you.” Another uncomfortable shift. For the first time, Talis swore he saw a hint of fear flicker in her eyes. “It's obvious that your crew consists of nothing but mage hunters, but you... you are more than you claim to be.”
Gwen’s breathing became hard and heavy, as if trying to contain something. “And what of it? You going to make me talk using your charming magic?” Venom filled her voice. She was trying to fight back, but Talis was onto her game.
“No,” Talis replied. Gwen's eyebrows raised in surprise. “As you said, I would only be stooping lower than you to get what I needed.” He took two steps forward, greatly imposing himself on Gwen. To her credit, she stood unflinching. “But know this: if, at any moment, one of us suspects that you are leading us to our doom because you have not told us what is happening, then we will be forced to defend ourselves, even if that means stopping you by any means necessary.”
He leaned in close for Gwen to hear, but paused briefly when he noticed a small trickle of blood running out of her ear. A fine trail had barely reached below her earlobe and was slowly dripping downward. From how thin it was, Talis did not think it to be too urgent at the moment, but he deduced that this was a symptom of Gwen's illness and any sort of bleeding from the head usually told of an underlying physical condition. He began to rethink his opinion of her and started to see how genuinely in need she might be. She may be withholding information from him, but now he knew that this sickness of hers was no rouse.
It almost pained him to say it now that she knew she really needed help, but she was risking too much by her silence. He had to make his point clear to her. Talis had to look out for himself, Ryder and Skylana. “If you lead us to danger we cannot handle, we will leave you to die and I will take that scroll by force. Is that in any way unclear?’ He expected Gwen to growl back or strike him. Instead, she slowly leaned back and wiped away at her ear, noticing the crimson blood on her fingertips. Her emerald eyes blinked back to Talis as she somberly nodded.
“I assume then you three are coming with me on this ghost ship?” she asked. Talis slightly cursed, thinking he had persuaded her to speak, but at least the conversation (or rather lecture) was not a complete loss. She knew how serious that ultimatum was. If he was lucky, she would tell them more later.
“I’m not certain this is a trap, but entire crews do not just disappear. There’s bound to be some trickery, perhaps even magic.”
“I can handle magic,” she chided.
“Even so, you need some contingency plan,” he responded back. “Besides, we’re not letting you out of our sight anymore.” He saw Gwen’s face twitch into an annoyed smile before Nemo rushed up to her. Ryder and Skylana had also walked up to join Talis.
“The longboats are ready, Captain.” Gwen turned her silent gaze to Nemo. Talis took this time to let Ryder and Skylana know that Gwen’s silence still remained. That head shake annoyed Ryder, but only made him more stalwart. Gwen placed a hand on Nemo’s shoulder and headed over to the longboats, Nemo following beside his weary captain.
“They’re not coming along with us, are they?” he worriedly asked.
“Do you know what happened on that ship?”
“Then why are you letting them come with us? There’s no tellin’ what could happen.”
“They’re not stupid, Nemo,” she sighed. “They know I’m hiding something. I should have expected them to find out before we reached Carnac.” They settled themselves in the longboats quickly and Gwen turned away from Nemo to face the deserted ship. Nemo absorbed the silence before speaking again. "I was hoping to avoid this..."
“So is that why you're bringing the whole crew?” Nemo’s words felt like a heavy load on her shoulders. "You know this is a trap."
“I am not sure… If not, then there is no harm in leaving the ship unprotected for a short while. But if it is... we could still turn to our advantage, but I do not wish to take any chances." Gwen turned to face Nemo with a stoic face. "It’s been building up again.” Suddenly the air seemed a bit colder. Even the men who were in the longboat with her seemed to let out a shudder. They knew exactly what she meant.
“If this is a trap, how are you gonna make sure they don't follow you?” Gwen let out another heavy sigh and turned back to watch Talis, Ryder and Skylana make their way to their boat, all of their judging eyes on her. She felt exposed, naked. Something that she hadn’t felt in a long time. They had every right to look at her like that. She thought she was protecting them, but things might have only gotten worse.
“To be honest, I think t’will not be my choice how they find out, but they will soon.” As the trio stepped into the longboat, Hands shouted his orders to lower them into the dark, unknown waters.
|The Tale of Gwendolyn Gwilt: Chapter 3 - Tension on the Fenris
Ice was beginning to coat the early November wind, signaling the foreboding approach of winter. No one seemed to notice how premature that chill was to the season. Then again, an icy chill always seemed to follow the Fenris. The fog that crept along the docks was also no stranger. The last of the stars’ lights had already died at the docks. A purple haze had already begun to color the sky. Daylight was approaching soon; it brought more than just the windy chill to the Fenris.
Gwen had already given the word that the ship would leave at first light and her crew followed her instructions to the letter. Each man prepared the ship for departure and storing freshly acquired supplies. Nemo had already told her that they were ready to make wave, but she stood at the helm with a stoic face. No activity was seen on the docks. For a moment, Gwen wondered if offering the Scroll of Alchemy was enough for Talis. He seemed too much like the man who swore to defeat all evil in the world. She nearly laughed to herself for thinking that a man like him would ever consider helping her. If it weren’t for the coin, she would not have lived through the night. As much as Gwen didn’t want to admit, she was expecting to leave London empty-handed.
Traces of daylight were beginning to creep over the horizon before a voice cried out from the crow’s nest. Quickly, the crew rushed to the port side, still viewing the empty docks. Through the fog, some of the crew pointed to the hazy figures approaching. As they drew closer to the ship, their outlines became clearer, indicating two male figures and one female. They could see the bags that each individual had packed bulking out from behind their backs. The three had also anticipated the cold that would linger during their journey and wore cloaks, although it seemed they were of a weaker material. Gwen feared more for the elf, for her thin leather attire would not protect her from the chill. Nonetheless, she let out a sigh of relief to know they had agreed. She called forth for the walkway with one booming command and her men responded quickly. She nodded to Nemo and he made his way to welcome them aboard the Fenris. As they prepared the walkway, Gwen could not help but feel her heart racing. She would have gone to greet them herself, but there was so much running through her mind. There was so much they didn’t know, not necessarily because she lied, but because she did not tell them. In her mind, if they did not ask, she had no reason to tell. It would be safer for them that way...
Skylana was the first to approach the ship with Ryder very close behind. The moment her figure set foot on deck, the crew fell silent. Eyes stared not only at her, but at Ryder and Talis as well. They were eyes filled with contempt and hesitation, as if they were unsure of what to make of these guests on their ship. For a brief moment, Skylana did not wish to advance any further and pulled her thin cloak tightly around herself. Though staring men was not uncommon, especially human men, she was with pirates and suddenly began to fear what they would try, even with Ryder around.
Almost as if on cue, Ryder immediately took a step in front of Skylana, casting an almost possessive glare to the crewmen. He didn't mean to, but his hand absently went for the hilt of his blade, which the men noticed immediately. A signaling shout erupted and the sound of blades erupting from their sheaths rang through the morning air and Ryder found a blade pointed at him and then another, causing him to draw his own blade. Talis took up his staff and infused it with his magic. Strangely, the men did not flinch at the sight of Talis' power. For tense moments, every man stood still, neither side backing down even in the midst of a storm brewing.
It's in these moments that most men just freeze, but Ryder has been in enough battles. He knows that in this crucial moment, the most important information about an adversary can be found. He noticed that the crewman standing in front of him was struggling to keep straight and was slightly teetered to his right side. A blow to his right leg would put him at a disadvantage. The crewmen behind him squinted his left eye, showing where his blind spot was. Several men had visible scars on their faces and arms. The man to his left even had a healed one on his neck. These men had seen plenty of battles and survived them all, so these men were not going to be easy to deal with. He could take a look at each man and find his weakness, but there was something that caught his attention longer than most. He wouldn't have caught it if it weren't for the morning light that gleamed off all of their blades. There was a slight difference on color on the sharp and dull edges of the blades. The sharp edge was a lighter metallic color and caught the rays of the sun in a way the the duller edge couldn't do. Never had Ryder seen swords made of two different metals before.
“What’s wrong, gents? Is this any way to treat guests aboard out vessel? Stand down, now! The lot of you!” A voice cut through the silence. The men seemed to snap out of their trance and let Nemo slide through. He had abandoned his mask, but still had that fierce look in his eye and that jester-like grin. Talis sneered as he saw him approach and tightened his grip on his staff. Ryder even tensed a bit as well. Skylana, who had stayed passive the whole time, place a comforting arm on Ryder in an attempt to get him to relax. “Any of you so much as breathe an improper word to them, I’ll have yer hide and feed ye to the gulls.” The crew shifted uncomfortably around the group. Skylana turned to Nemo and nodded to offer thanks before he bellowed again. “What are you dogs standin’ about for? Get ready to make wave! Move, ye slack-jawed sots!” Crewmen spurred into action as they hurried to their posts. As soon as Ryder and Talis set foot on deck, the walkway was lifted from behind them. Both gentlemen felt a sense of dread creep over them as their path back to land was removed.
“My humble apologies,” Nemo added, turning to Skylana and offering to carry her bags. She stood still, staring at Nemo’s hand for a brief moment. The howling wolf tattoo on his hand stared at her and it sent shivers along her spine. Nemo saw her eyes wander to the ink on his hand and lowered it out of courtesy to her. “Though they seem uncultured, they’ll not touch you. Captain’s orders.”
“Oh, well that’s comforting. ’Tis good to know that a woman who could kill us at any moment will save the honor for herself,” Talis muttered under his breath. Nemo cast a look to Talis before letting a Cheshire grin spread along his face.
“Still bitter about our last encounter, Riverwind?” he asked. Talis only glared as a response. “I promise you there shall be no subterfuge between us.”
“Because I can trust a man who stalked and attacked me.” Talis replied bitterly. He angrily brushed passed Nemo without a second glance.
“Is there no way to make it right?” Talis stopped dead in his tracks. For a while, the only noise was the waves that beat against the ship. Talis turned back to Nemo with the smuggest expression on his face. Tightening his grip on his staff, he thrust it forward into Nemo’s stomach. Nemo doubled over and began coughing. Some of the crew stopped and even began to approach Talis, but Nemo quickly put up a hand to stop them. As soon as he caught his breath, he looked back up to Talis, whose smile had grown just as wide as Nemo’s had been.
“Now ‘tis right.” Talis turned and forth to the cabin quarters, trying hard to suppress a child-like giggle. Nemo let out a small laugh as he got back up on his feet.
At the helm of the ship, Ryder and Skylana made their way to Gwen, who had her gaze locked to the darker horizon. In her arms, they noticed she held a thick wool cloth. The southern wind brushed her hair to the side. For a brief moment, she seemed peaceful. Neither of them wanted to snap her out of her meditative state just yet, but Gwen broke the silence for them. “I am honored you both could join us. ’Twill be a long journey ahead of us.” Ryder stepped forward; he was ready to ask a few questions that had pestered him the night before. Skylana had beaten him to it.
“So, where should I be to help this ship go faster?” Skylana asked. Ryder wanted to keep asking more interrogating questions, but Skylana knew now was not the moment to ask. She knew Ryder was aware of that as well.
“That need not happen until we get out to the sea, around midday,” Gwen retorted almost too quickly. She turned to face a slightly disheartened Skylana. “The river flow will take us there quickly enough. But if the wind stays true, you might not be needed until we get further out to sea.”
“Well then what is she supposed to do until then?” Ryder demanded.
“Get yourselves settled in,” Gwen replied curtly once again. Ryder flinched. Last night, she seemed willing to let Skylana make the ship go faster and now she had changed her mind.
“She could make the wind stronger.”
“There is no need for that now.” Gwen turned away from the duo towards her crew, but Ryder cut off her path.
“The journey will be much faster that way –”
“And suppose we crash into some shallow rocks, especially this close to land?” Gwen sneered, meeting Ryder’s eyes once again with a calm yet powerful ferocity. Skylana flinched at the harshness of her voice. Gwen slowly advanced to Ryder like a predator cornering its prey. “I’m going to give you a courtesy and assume you’ve never sailed on a ship. You’ve not the slightest idea what it takes to sail. Having the wind go right is a luxury and that is all that is required. Too soft of a wind and we will not budge in open water. Too powerful, and it has the potential to throw us off course, and that is the slightest of problems that might arise. I understand that you have the potential to manipulate the winds and make things go our way, and for that, I am grateful, but never have the inclination to tell me how to sail my own ship!”
Ryder glared back at her, trying not to back down. The tension between them was too apparent, even to Skylana. She almost thought that she heard Gwen growling.
“I understand,” she cut in, diffusing the anger slightly. “Just let me know when I am needed.” Gwen’s eyes briefly ran to Skylana before matching Ryder’s gaze once again. She tossed the wool blanket over to Skylana, who caught it quickly.
“You’ll need this. That rag on your shoulders will be torn to pieces in the sea wind.” She let out a quick huff before walking away to the main deck. “Enjoy the sea life. I hope you have a strong stomach.” As soon as she reached the bottom of the steps, barking at the crew to weigh anchor. Talis brushed past her and watched her rub her ear as the boatswain’s whistle blew. He continued up the stairs and joined Ryder and Skylana at the helm. He quickly noted Ryder’s agitation and opened his mouth to say something.
“Don’t ask,” he started, holding his hand up as he walked back to the stern of the ship. Talis cast a look to a concerned Skylana, who looked to the blanket and realized it was actually a cloak. Not wanting to endure any more cold, she slipped it over the cloak she was already wearing before turning to Ryder.
“If we just keep to the plan, we should return here alive,” Skylana tried to comfort as she walked over to Ryder and placed a hand on his back.
“I still think I should take the first watch,” said Talis as he walked to the edge with the two. “Did you see those men when we got on the ship? They hate us. I'm willing to bet all these men are experienced in fighting mages. None of them flinched when they saw my magic.”
"I don't doubt that" Ryder mentioned. "Did you see their swords? They have two different metals on them. Maybe iron infused with steel. If that's the case, they know how to fight the supernatural."
“The first mate seems to have made certain they won’t do anything to any of us and if not him, surely Gwen has,” Skylana replied. Though she knew her retort was weak, she hoped that it might quell some tensions.
“You trust pirates not to do something awful?” Ryder questioned, turning back to face her.
"In all fairness, you put your hand to your blade first. If they are mage-hunters, then they probably don't take chances."
"Are you saying you trust these degenerates?!"
“I trust that Gwen needs us. Alive and unharmed.” The men looked at each other. Both of them were thinking the exact same thing. Neither of them trusted one strange man alone with Skylana, let alone a ship full of pirates. But if Gwen's plight was real, then the three were no good to her dead or worse. Ryder sighed heavily and placed his hands on her arms, letting the thick wool cloak warm his hands.
“I swear if they so much as touch you…” he began.
“I know,” she purred. As much as she did not wish for him to fear for her, she could not deny the anxiety that filled her as well. Even Talis felt a little touched. At least someone in the Lunar Tribe knew something of loyalty and honor, he thought.
“So she keeps first watch tonight to make certain Miss Gwilt is not leading us to our death or tries to slit our throats whilst we sleep.”
“I shall take the next watch,” Ryder spoke softly. He picked up his belongings and tried to exit as quickly as possible. Skylana caught his eyes again for a brief moment. In those eyes, she tried telling him to trust her, but Ryder’s concern outweighed her confidence. He sighed heavily and wandered over to the cabin’s quarters, leaving Skylana and Talis alone on the stern.
“You’re certain you want the first watch?” Talis asked, looking after Ryder. “Your magic might be needed tomorrow.”
“If I stay up first, it might be considered an act of good faith to Gwen. Make her trust us a bit more.” Talis could not help but let out a laugh. He thought it adorable how innocent her way of thinking was. "And then when Ryder takes over, I can get the rest I need."
"Something is not right about that woman," Talis said. "She may say she needs our magic, but this whole crew is uncomfortable around us. It concerns me to think about what might happen when we're no longer needed." Skylana pulled the wool cloak tighter around herself, which shielded her almost perfectly from the cold. A small, toothless smile ran along her face, despite the chill that ran up her spine.
“I think we will be fine.” she responded. “And if not for that reason, then it could be a tactic to lower her guard and drive her to a false sense of security so that we can take control of her mind and manipulate her into doing our bidding.”
Talis’ face twisted into confusion as he eyed Skylana curiously. Her only remark was widening that innocent, child-like smile. “You’re not allowed to stay at my house anymore.” Skylana let out a soft giggle as she ran off with her belongings to catch up with Ryder. Talis gazed out into the Thames as the anchor was being brought up. The ship was ready to leave port. There was no turning back now. As the Fenris began to make her first movements towards her journey, Talis raised his head to the heavens, praying to the Lord of Light that he returns to see this port once again.
The journey down the river went smoothly enough, and Gwen was right. The wind had kept Southward when they exited the mouth of the river. By the time night had fallen, the wind turned slightly westward. Once the ship left the Thames and they sailed into open water, Gwen ordered the ship’s true name to be shown. She gathered that Skylana would not be needed until the next day.
Much to Ryder and Talis’ dismay, Skylana insisted on keeping the first watch. As the two men retired to the cabins that night, Skylana remained on deck admiring the stars. Though she did not mind keeping the first watch, she was still glad the night sky was clear. It reminded of her home
A small commotion came from behind her. She turned around to see that the boatswain had some of the crewmen gathered around on the main deck, saying he had a surprise for everyone. She could still see his silver whistle glimmering in the torchlight, even as he crept. The event was hushed so that others might not catch wind of it. Each man eagerly waited as the boatswain snuck along the deck in a mocking fashion. Chuckles ran through the night air, catching Skylana’s attention further. Silently, she watched the men, leaning on her elbow on the edge of the ship. As the boatswain approached the group, he seemed to be hiding something in his chemise, making him seem burlier than he already did. Skylana squinted her eyes to try and get a better look, but it became unnecessary as he slowly yet proudly produced it in front of the men.
Groans and jeers suddenly erupted from the crowd. One man even took off a boot to throw it at the boatswain. As he turned around to protect himself, Skylana saw the object in his thick hands. It looked like an emerald-colored bottle with a dark liquid inside. She cocked her head to the side. This is a new sight, she thought to herself: I never thought I would live to see sailors admonishing liquor.
The boatswain tried to explain, but the men wouldn’t hear of it. They shouted remarks such as “You daft or summat?” or “I dinnae think ye drank the weak stuff” and “Whassa matter, Hands? Too soft for the real thing?”
A smile ran across Skylana’s face. For a moment, she pitied the man called Hands, but wondered why he was being ridiculed. She had never heard a sailor, let alone a group of them, refuse liquor. Wasn’t it something they lived on at sea? The situation fascinated Skylana. She wanted to go to the men and learn more of the situation. Also, it wouldn't hurt to try and relieve some of the tension that the crew might have towards her, Ryder and Talis. Perhaps she could show them that they shouldn't be afraid of her and that they could relax.
Finally letting her curiosity get the best of her, she straightened herself up and sauntered over to the group. Instantly, they heard her approaching and turned towards her footsteps. They quickly silenced and their faces hardened into stone-like expressions. Some removed their caps as a gentleman’s gesture, remembering Nemo’s threat. Skylana tried hard not to seem uncomfortable. Her eyes fell on Hands as she neared him and extended her hand to the bottle. For a moment, he didn’t seem to understand. Then he looked down at the bottle as if he’d forgotten he was holding it. Cautiously, he offered it to Skylana. She smiled and nodded her head in thanks as she popped the cork. The dark glass rose to her lips and she slowly sipped the liquid inside. She brought the bottle down slowly, but let the sweet drink linger on her tongue. Her eyes widened instantly. The drink had a flavor that she had only tasted once in a drink. It chilled her throat, but tasted like a sweet candy. As the last of the sweet liquid trickled down, she turned to Hands.
“Ice wine,” she commented.
“Tha’s right,” he replied, very surprised. He did not even think that anyone else would know of it. Somehow, this notion warmed him to her, but only to the point of reducing hostile feelings to a minimum. It was a small success, but a success nonetheless. “We normally drink rum and whiskey on this ship… but I prefer the finer tastes…”
“And the most exotic,” she finished for him. “Very admirable.”
"I didnae think elves knew of this sort of drink." Hands extended his hand back to receive the bottle from Skylana. Not wanting to cause tension, she gave it back.
"Tha's 'cos knife-ears cannae 'old their liquor," one of the crew shouted from the group. Skylana tilted her head towards the voice, which came from a skinny man in the middle of the group. His cold eyes stared down Skylana, almost freezing her on the spot. The man stood up, revealing a deceptively lanky figure. The over-sized pantaloons and sleeveless chemise made him seem smaller, but the well-toned muscles caused Skylana to take a small step back when he stood straight up.
"Scarbeth," Hands interrupted. "Ye know wha' Nemo said--"
"I know wha' 'e said," the man called Scarbeth spat back. His gaze met Skylana's with a sinister stare. She tried hard not to visibly tremble. The icy night wind didn't help. "I merely wish to point out simple fact."
"He is right," Skylana said quickly in a futile attempt to diffuse the situation. "I know I have a low constitution when it comes to alcohol, but I do know that this is a really rare wine that could fetch a hefty price for you should you ever decide to sell it."
"How cute," Scarbeth crooned as he paced towards her. "The little elf wishes to 'elp us poor unfortunate souls." Behind him, the crew let out devilish chuckles. "Ye think we cannae make a livin' on our own?"
"No, I didn't mean to imply that at all."
"Ye think ye be so much better than us?" He finally got close enough to her to reach out and twist a lock of her hair in his fingers. Skylana's breath was shaking. "So superior with yer little lightnin' fingers and siren voice. But without yer magic, ye'd be nothing more than a forest floozy--"
"I said enough!" Scarbeth was suddenly thrust backwards into the crew by the burly arms of Hands, nearly stumbling as he went. "We were told that we are not allowed to bring harm to them so long as they are on this ship and you will abide by that order!" Quietly, Skylana peered out from behind him. Scarbeth stood up glaring at Hands.
"We knew ye 'ad a soft stomach when it came to booze, 'Ands, but now ye defend this mage? Ye'd betray us for this knife-eared wench?" Some of the men behind him started growing tense, begging him to let it go. A couple others started cheering him on. Still, Hands stood his ground between Scarbeth and Skylana.
"Captain Gwilt trusts this woman and 'er companions on this ship. Tha' should be good enough for the lot of ye!" Hands yelled, pointing out to the entire group. "Besides, this girl's done nothing to deserve our ire. She may be a mage, but she 'asn't so much as provoked us. If ye truly wish 'arm on this girl then you can try, but ask yerselves this," Hands' voice softened into a low growl before asking his question. "Do ye really wanna endure the Captain's rage?"
Whatever bravery that drove the men to a near mutiny was quickly extinguished after that. Each of them looked at each other nervously, hoping that no one would dare step out of line. Even Scarbeth, who was ready to strike Skylana, stepped down from his aggressive stance and sat down pouting like a child. Skylana watched, amazed, as each man brought himself out to the situation by turning away from them. She watched as Scarbeth gave her one last icy glare before turning back to the crewmen
"Apologies, miss," Hands said softly, turning back to Skylana. He led her back to the ship's edge, widening the distance from the hostile crew members. "Ye must understand tha' the men are not used to working with mages. It makes them... uneasy."
"You don't need to apologize," Skylana said, finally able to breathe in safety. "If anything, I should be thanking you. It must have been difficult to stand up to your own crew."
Hands responded by merely shrugging his massive shoulders and smirking to the elf. "This life ain't easy, I can tell ye tha' much. But please don' blame them fer 'atin' ye..."
"Why?" Hands almost flinched, as if he wasn't expecting her to ask. He sighed heavily, struggling to look for an answer. "You must know that not all magic is evil..."
"We know tha', love," he began as an attempt at a saving grace. Failing that, Hands composed himself to try again. "Tell me: who do ye think we are exactly?"
Skylana struggled a bit. This question caught her off guard. She wasn't sure if he was asking her truthfully or sarcastically. Either way, she didn't feel any hostility directed to her, so she decided to answer as truthfully as possible.
"I don't think you are pirates," she began softly. Once she noted that Hands remained calm and unflinching, she believed that it was okay for her to speak her mind freely. She continued on. "I think you are more like mercenaries, but a special kind... You hunt mages for profit." Here, she saw a grin unfolding across Hands' face. She stopped thinking that she had said something wrong, but he merely waved his hand, urging her to keep going. "I think that every one of you on this ship knows how to fight against mages and you have all spent the last few years hunting them down-"
"I'll stop ye there, love," Hands cut her off quickly. "Ye've mostly got it right. We do hunt mages, but not fer the reason ye may think. Profit's a nice way of gettin' by, but the reason's a bit more... personal." Skylana inched closer to Hands like a child listening to a story. It surprised her that pirates would do anything for more than just profit. "We mostly just hunt rogue mages. Those who take advantage of others, kill innocent people. On an occasion or two, we get hired by superstitious lords who know tha' something wicked is happenin' to them but cannae go through the authority to take care of it. So we do."
"What do you mean it's 'personal'?" Hands remained silent for a moment. "Did something happen to you?"
"Somethin' 'appened to all of us, love. We witnessed wha' mages can do first'and. Eventually, one by one, Gwen found us and recruited us on the Fenris. We never looked back." Hands took a sip of the ice wine still in his hand.
"That surprises me. If you just hunt mages, then why do you have a ship?"
"Surely ye don' believe mages stay in one spot. They travel jus' like normal people do. Sometimes we follow them. Sometimes we find magical sources an' study them so we know what we're fighting against. Some of us 'ave been in this business for so long, it's become them. They know only to 'ate mages because they see 'ow the power can easily take control of them. Sometimes, 'tis not even their fault. The power consumes them until they become somethin' less than human. And we stop that. For some of us, this 'ate is all we know. The mere sight of a mage makes them uneasy."
"If the crew hates mages," she interrupted softly, "why did you defend me?"
"As I said, we ain't fools... at least some of us ain't," Hands said softly, looking back to Scarbeth briefly. Once he saw that Scarbeth paid no more attention to them, he slowly turned to face Skylana. His silver whistle gleamed so brilliantly in the moonlight as he turned that it nearly distracted her. Then his pale eyes caught her attention. "Like I said, Gwen trusts ye out on the Fenris, so we've no right to doubt ye. But out of all three of ye, ye seem to be the one who wishes peace on us. Yer willin' to be civil and seem to genuinely wanna look out for us. Tha's somethin' we 'aven't really seen in a long time... and tha's reason enough for me to respect ye."
"I do want to help," Skylana replied softly. It relieved her to know that not everyone on the ship was uncomfortable around them (or her at least) and that when Ryder wasn't around, she could still feel safe. But there was still something bothering her. She turned up to Hands and asked him, "Can you tell me one thing?"
"Depends on the thing, love."
"When we first met Gwen, she told us that she was sick..." Before she could continue her question, she saw an uncomfortable shift in Hands. It was slight, but noticeable if one was really looking. After the shift, he cut her off.
"I'm sorry, love," he began, "but I cannae help ye there."
"Why not?" Skylana pleaded. "We need to know what's wrong with her so we can help her." Hands turned away, but Skylana was not about to just let this go. She grabbed his massive arm and tried to stop him. "We can't help her if she keeps us in the dark like this! We need to know!"
Instantly, she felt one of his giant hands grip hers. Normally, she would have flinched, but she was so frustrated that she stood still and stared Hands down as he looked back at her.
"I really do respect yer kindness, love," he spoke somberly. "But the Captain 'as good reasons for not tellin' ye. She migh' think if all goes well, tellin' ye would be a waste of time. Per'aps ye would not believe her even if she told you. Or maybe she's just afraid."
Skylana half-scoffed. "Afraid of what?" she asked. She couldn't imagine Gwen having any fear.
"Maybe she's afraid of what ye might do if ye found out." Her eyes widened. Though still partially confused, she could still feel the gravity that Hands was trying to convey. Skylana relaxed her grip on Hands' arm as she began to understand his words. Though she still had no clue what Gwen's sickness was, if it was something truly horrendous, would Ryder have agreed to come with? Would Talis agree? But Skylana knew that if Gwen's desire to be cured was legitimate, then at least she would have stopped at nothing to help her.
"You cannot possibly tell that nothing will go wrong. If the effects of her sickness come out and we are not prepared for it then we are in even more danger." Hands looked as if he were about to answer until Skylana saw his eyes wander behind her. Briefly, she saw something flash behind his eyes, as if something was halting his speech. He took a large deep breath and sighed.
"I understand, love," Hands replied, "but this is the Captain's request an' we need to abide by it." Skylana let out an exasperated sigh and slumped against the side of the ship. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a figure near the captain's quarters. She didn't need to guess who the figure was. The familiar chill went down her spine as those golden eyes seemed to try to stare into her soul. His words from before echoed in her mind Do ye really wanna endure the Captain's rage? These men were afraid of their own captain. Why?
Skylana shivered and pulled her cloak tighter around her. "The nigh's gettin' colder," he said. "Ye should tuck in, love. Ye might be needed tomorrow."
An exhausted gasp escaped her as Skylana took her leave. She wished desperately that they could keep talking, but knowing that they were being watched limited what she wanted to say. While she gained a supposed protector on the Fenris, she retired to the cabin with far more questions than answers. She took one last look at Hands before turning in that night. A small smile spread from her face and she could tell he wanted to smile back as a sign of peace. She liked him.
Sadly, he was the only satisfying part of the night.
|Friday, November 11th, 2011|
|The Tale of Gwendolyn Gwilt: Chapter 2 - The Hunt Begins
A moment later…
Talis appeared in his workshop, where he had always retreated to whenever he had a magical task to be done. This situation was no different. If he could not be told where this Gwendolyn Gwilt was, he would have to resort to scrying in order to find her. Talis removed his cloak and set it on a one of the hooks before sitting at one of his tables. Exhausted and weary, he rested his face on his palm and let his other hand rest on his hip. So many thoughts swam through his mind. All of those pirates that needed to leave London. Meeting the one woman who could make them all go away. He had no desire to even deal with pirates, as he tried to tell everyone, but no one seemed to care about his thoughts.
What would he have to tell his wife again? He was looking forward to spending a quiet season with his family after risking so much for their sake. Was that so much to ask for in life? A well-deserved rest is really too much to ask for, he figured. But that was another thing he was not looking forward to. How he had to explain to his family how much in trouble he was in again. He wondered why his wife stayed with him. Why his children didn’t despise him for living such a life. Why he deserved them.
All these thoughts and more rushed through his mind. Talis took one last deep breath and decided to get this situation over with as soon as possible. But before he could stand, Talis noticed an oddity. Something felt out of place in one of his pockets. Something was resting there that he didn’t remember putting in there. He clasped his fingers around the object and pulled it out. It was a small coin made of iron, but what caught Talis’ attention were the glowing runes decorating the coin in the shape of an eye. Immediately, Talis tensed. This wasn’t in his pocket before. How in the world could it have gotten in his pocket in the first place? And what were the glowing runes? Already he could guess that whatever magic it was doing, it was already activated.
Talis figured that he might as well try to get a read off of the coin and see what sort of purpose it had. He closed his hands around the coin and closed his eyes to concentrate. Softly, Talis muttered another incantation.
“As far above and so far deep below,
Reveal to me the way this magic glows.”
Talis opened his eyes and let his hands reveal the coin. The runes were still glowing, but Talis saw a different colored hue. A light reddish color lined each of the runes. This told Talis exactly what he needed to know.
“Interesting,” he mused to himself. “Magic suppressing.” The object was meant to disable his magic, but there was one thing that puzzled Talis. If it disabled magic, how could he use magic to determine its purpose? Talis paced around the room, thinking. As he held the object in his hand, he watched the runes glow. Suddenly an idea struck him. He took his free hand and tried to focus his energy to create a fireball. Nothing happened. He concentrated harder and still nothing appeared. Talis looked at the coin and noticed that the runes were glowing with a fiercer intensity. The moment he stopped concentrating, the rune’s glow softened. He decided to put the coin down on the table and let it go. The moment his fingers left the metal, the runes stopped glowing. Talis concentrated again and immediately, the fire began to grow again in his hand. Talis grabbed for the coin again and once he touched it, the fire in his hand dissipated and the runes began to glow again. He took his fingers back off and the fire returned.
“So this disables my offensive spells,” he thought aloud to himself. He left the coin on the table and thought about how it could have got onto him in the fist place. Suddenly, he felt himself wincing at the pain in his stomach. He had almost forgotten about what Nemo did. "That's it!" he thought to himself. Nemo must have planted it on him before he escaped. He must have meant for Talis to battle Captain Gwilt without the use of his magic. Talis smiled to himself. “You foolish pirate. Instead of sending me to die, you led me right to her.” If it only disabled his offensive spells, then he could still use divination to find her. He had only hoped that the good captain had given it to Nemo herself.
Talis quickly walked over to the rock pool in the middle of his workshop and leaned over the water. Holding the coin in one hand and holding his free hand over the water, he spoke another incantation to himself.
“Beyond the winds that carry breath and storm,
Show unto me this object's owner’s form.”
Slowly, the water in the pool began to ripple. The clearness suddenly grew gray until the black bottom of the pool could no longer be seen. Talis gazed into the murky waters anxiously. After a few moments of swirling, colors began to mix into the waters as if someone had poured dye into it. Colors swam through the waters until they slowly began painting a scene in the water. The image was muddy and unclear still. Talis only had to wait moments until it became clear. Eventually, Talis could see a torchlight and cobblestone. So she was still in the city. Talis began to make out other markings. He saw wooden crates everywhere and wooden supports where the cobblestone ended. Somewhere alone the river, he imagined, maybe one of the docks, but he saw no figures.
As the image in the pool cleared even further, he saw it. A dark figure stood at the dock’s edge, staring out into the dark river. Talis leaned closer to try to get a better look, but only saw a female figure cloaked in black. Talis silently cursed. Getting a full visual would be ideal so he could actually see what he was up against. He had to trust that this was Captain Gwilt. He had no choice otherwise.
Thoughts rushed through Talis’ head. He had to confront this woman and somehow convince her to make her crew leave London. Talis looked at the coin still in his hand. The runes were still faintly glowing when suddenly, a plan formulated into his head. He assumed that Gwilt would think he couldn’t use any of his powers. If she tried anything, he could be able to catch her off guard and subdue her easily. Talis thought this plan over and saw that there really wasn’t much else he could do. Talis decided to grab his staff this time. He had thought about remaining diplomatic. But how can I trust a pirate? he thought. He knew it was better if he went prepared for anything.
Talis took a piece of chalk and drew a circle around himself and the pool with the vision still clear in the waters. He hoped that by combining a teleportation circle with the image, he would be transported to wherever that image was. When the image was finished, he placed the coin outside of the circle. Talis took a deep breath and prepared himself, still uncertain of what was to unfold. Quietly he muttered an incantation to himself and took a step through the pool of water.
Talis’ form reappeared in the same image he saw Gwilt completely dry. The place was not lit very well and smelled horrendously, but it was a private section near the river. If there was to be a confrontation, he could use his magic without drawing too much attention. Now that he had removed the coin, he felt his energies flowing through him again like a fiery elixir. He had no idea who this Gwendolyn Gwilt was, but for the sake of a good challenge, he hoped she was not as much of a fool as her lackey.
He stepped forward out of the shadows towards his prey, her back still turned to him. He readied himself for a possible attack and approached slowly.
“There’s no need for such cowardice. We can face each other with dignity.” The remark surprised Talis, stopping him in his tracks. He was still several feet away and was walking as silently as possible. No human should have heard him over the river flowing. He steeled his mind and body even further. This would be more of a challenge than he thought.
“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a pirate even consider using dignity.” Gwen laughed softly before turning to him.
“I’m impressed with your speedy arrival, Talis Riverwind.”
“And we are far from done here. I have several questions for you, captain.” Once again, Talis spat out the last word in disgust. “For starters, how do you know my name?”
“You are correct, Talis, in the fact that we most certainly are not finished,” she sneered as she slowly sauntered across the street. Talis never took his eyes off her, but held a hand behind his back, preparing a silent energy behind him. His other hand gripped his staff tightly. Suddenly, over the stench from the river, he smelled something else. Something that smelled very... “You’ve proven yourself to be a more than adequate seer. Let’s see what else you’re good at.” Talis knew what was coming, but so did Gwen.
She saw his muscles twitch, but her pistol was ready in her hand. She fired at the street lamp in front of him. It fell before him and flames erupted around him. Talis was taken aback at first. He should have noticed the oil on the ground, but quickly dispelled his fire and used his force magic to wipe away the flames licking at him. When they were gone, the street was dark and Gwen could not be found anywhere. Talis summoned his fire back again and the flames enveloped his hand. He knew he was making himself an easy target for Gwen, not only giving a light source, but giving away where he was at all times, but he saw no other choice. He cursed at himself during those tense, silent moments. She had been waiting for him this whole time. She somehow knew exactly how he would react. Just thinking about this notion sent shivers down Talis' spine, but she shook it off quickly to search the dark for his opponent.
Suddenly, he felt a disturbance coming from behind him. A shot fired from the darkness just a moment after he turned to meet it and fell just to his feet. Immediately, he shot a fire bolt down the darkened alley. Though the shot missed, his eyes didn’t. He saw the faintest glimpse of her form illuminated by the passing bolt. Immediately, he shot bolts of arcane energy from his staff again and again and again. She was very dexterous and agile as she seemed to leap along the alleyway towards him. He wasn’t sure how she was dodging each of his attacks, until finally, one seemed to strike her. He hit her just above her stomach and sent her flying back into a barrel of crates.
Talis silently cheered to himself as he rushed towards her, ready to apprehend her. Upon approach, he sifted through the crates to look for her, but once again, she was gone.
Impossible! Talis thought. I hit her solar plexus. There’s no way she would be gone already! Before Talis could think anymore, he heard footsteps coming from his left side and saw her lunge out at him. She was able to tackle him and the force knocked Talis to the ground. For a while, they struggled on the ground with Talis' staff being the only barrier between them. Talis had no time to wonder about her now. Instinctively, he pressed his feet on her stomach and sent her flying over him. Gwen tumbled and regained her balance on all fours like an animal. Talis regained his composure quickly, aimed his staff at her and glared back at Gwen, now on two feet with her cutlass drawn. Talis instantly saw that her hat had fallen off and saw something familiar, an emblem on her maroon bandanna. It was the same emblem tattooed on Nemo’s right hand, the howling head of a wolf. Then it clicked into his head. Skylana dreamed about him being chased by a wolf. Was Gwen the wolf? What did this all mean?
Gwen circled around him, waiting to see what he would do next. Talis wanted to end this quickly. He sent a lightning bolt towards her. This time, she let it hit her right between her collarbones. She flew back, hitting the side of one of the adjacent buildings and coughed as Talis slowly approached. Gwen rose slowly and smiled at Talis. She saw his eyes widen in shock. Talis was about to conclude that she wasn’t human, in which case she needed to be taken care of by any means necessary. Suddenly, he saw something small and silver roll across Gwen’s fingers. She stopped rolling it just long enough for Talis to see that it was the same coin that was planted on him. There was more than one. Talis aimed his lightning once more at her. At least the force of the impact could subdue her, right? But as soon as the bolt neared her body, he saw it dissipate and the runes of the coin glowed fiercely in the night. Gwen smiled. His magic had never hit her. She only made it seem like they did. She was experienced with fighting mages. She knew he’d find the coin and take it off of him. She had been counting on it. Everything from the moment Talis found Nemo was all planned.
Talis began to panic. What good was he if he couldn’t use his magic? Gwen eyed Talis and challenged him to come forward if he dared. For a brief moment and for the first time in a long time, Talis truly felt like there was nothing he could do. He still held his stance and tightened his grip on his staff. Regardless of what little could be done, he still held true to the Order. Never surrender to an enemy. Fight until the bitter end. With that code in mind, Talis ran forward and attacked Gwen with all of his fervor. He knew he would not last long, but without his magic to harm her, he saw no other option to overcome her. Gwen was able to gracefully deflect all of his blows to her. She was a very skilled fighter, but all of her moves were defensive. Then Talis realized that she never really attacked him. She meant to miss the shot at his feet. When she lunged at him, she wasn’t really attacking him back. She wasn’t fighting him. She was toying with him.
"Fight back you coward!" Talis shouted. He grew more enraged as he continued to fight. Somehow, he had to beat her, but she was able to deflect every attack to her. He thrust his staff one last time towards her core, but she grabbed it from him in one hand and let his momentum run into the hilt of her sword. Talis doubled over as she tossed it aside aside. It was over. All of Talis' weapons had been rendered useless. He didn't want to admit it, but this just might be the end. Gwen placed her blade at Talis’ neck. Talis looked up at her defiantly as Gwen stared back at him coldly, almost disappointed.
“You’re not what I expected,” she replied. An eternity seemed to pass between her and Talis as he waited for the inevitable. Suddenly, Talis saw her expression change for a brief instant before she leapt backwards. In her place a flaming arrow was shot. Then a flurry of arrows shot out of the darkness as she bounded back with each attack. Talis looked up to where the arrows were coming from. On the rooftops stood a familiar male figure firing arrows with speed and grace towards the assailant. Immediately after, he felt a pair of hands drag him back.
“Skylana! What are you doing here?” Talis asked.
“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m saving your skin!” she shot back as Ryder quickly shot another arrow towards Gwen, who dodged it.
“That fire doesn’t happen to be magical, does it?” Before Skylana could answer, one of Ryder’s arrows finally hit a mark. Gwen tumbled as an arrow shot straight through her leg. Skylana helped Talis up and they both slowly approached Gwen, Ryder’s bow still drawn. The fire had dissipated, but it didn’t matter. The arrow remained real.
“You’re welcome, by the way,” Ryder spoke as all three approached Gwen.
“Good to see you too, Ryder,” Talis shot back. Slowly, Gwen laughed as she struggled to stand.
"I'll admit, I'm very impressed" All three exchanged looks briefly before turning their eyes back to Gwen. "I expected no less from mages."
Talis approached Gwen and sized her up. Even though she was wounded, she didn't let Talis intimidate her. He grabbed her by her shoulders and pinned her against the wall. "Now then," Talis spat, "to resume our conversation, how do you know my name?"
"I was told you could help me."
"Help you?" Talis yelled. "Why would I help someone who attacked me?
"You know I never really attacked you, Riverwind… I wanted to see your skills both with and without your magic. Apparently, even though you can't fight well enough to save your own hide, you have been blessed with amazing luck." She looked over at Ryder, still aiming at her and Skylana, eying her. Talis tried to come back with something, but he realized she was right (much as he would never admit it). He let go of Gwen and pressed on for another matter.
"Anyway, why would I help a pirate?"
"I am not a pirate," she replied smugly, "I've never smuggled anything in my life. I haven't done anything illegal. Anyone who I might have killed, I did in self defense."
"And your crew?"
"They follow my command. They may have been pirates in the past, but under me, they have broken no laws. You'll find that none of these men have made any remarkable or illegal disturbance here. I'm not even a wanted woman. In the eyes of the law, we are innocent. Now I'd like to discuss business, so if you don't mind, please lower that bow."
For what seemed like an eternity, Gwen and Talis glared at each other with equal ferocity. However, Talis struggled with the fact that in every aspect, she was right. He had never had any real problems since their arrival, as much as he didn't want to admit it. He couldn't touch her. He looked to Ryder and slowly nodded. Reluctantly, he lowered the bow from Gwen's face "I trust this is all legal business."
"Of course. Could I do business with you otherwise?"
"What do you want?" Talis demanded before Gwen let out a small grunt of pain as she snapped off the arrow tip, much to Ryder's discomfort.
"Like I said. I need your help." She slowly sank down and sat on one of the unbroken crates. "I need two specific mages in order to do it, so I need to find another, but I promise you that your assistance will not go unrewarded. I need your help opening a gate." Talis raised an eyebrow to her.
"You have cannons. Can't you just break it down?
"You think I would ask for mages if I could? It's not that kind of gate," she replied. Before she answered again, she took several deep breaths before quickly pulling the arrow out of her leg. All three winced, surprised that she barely screamed. Gwen pulled out a bandage and began binding her wound. Skylana stepped forward to offer to heal, but Gwen gave her a halting glare and instead continued. "It seals the entrance to a cave off the coast of Carnac in France. It's a magical gate that is said to only be opened by pure light." It took Talis a while to understood what she meant. Even then, Skylana was the first to say his thoughts aloud.
"You need a mage from the Order of the Sun and one from the Lunar Tribe."
"Precisely," said Gwen. Talis thought about this fact for a while.
"What lies behind the gate? No doubt some 'unclaimed' treasure from some long lost pirate king or some object with untold power…"
"If it were the latter, Riverwind," Gwen interrupted, "I would be a fool to try to take it with you around." Talis smirked. At least she didn't underestimate his power, but Talis did notice that Gwen almost began to falter. Talis thought she was going to attack again until her figure seemed to sink against the wall. "The truth is… I'm sick." Both Talis and Ryder let out some noise that sounded like a scoff. They couldn't believe they had to fight a sick woman. It didn't even seem like she was sick. "The place I need to get to has the only cure. I need to you help me."
"What are you sick with?" Skylana asked her, almost with concern. Talis glared at her to even consider helping a pirate, but Skylana refused to meet his gaze. It was not an unreasonable question, but Gwen seemed to ignore it.
"It is a magical sickness. There is no earthly cure for what I have. Carnac is a magical place. The cave that I need access to has mystical properties unique only to that cave. The only problem is that the cave has been sealed for centuries, perhaps even millenia. Very few people today even knew that the cave still exists."
All three listened in on her plight. Skylana took pity on her, but was still annoyed that she didn't know the curse. Ryder remained stoic, but continued to listen for any hint of lies and finding none. Talis, on the other hand, still looked at her with skepticism. Then again, if this place truly held healing properties, he could use it to help others who are ill. Perhaps it cured universal sicknesses as well. "I need to get to that cave. I'm tired of having this... disease."
"She's telling the truth," Ryder announced. Talis was about to interject before Ryder continued. "Unless you're a really good liar. But you fight as if you have no sickness. Which means if what you're saying is true, either it comes at certain times or instead of making you sick, it makes you into something you don't want to be." Gwen glared at Ryder for a moment of silence as he waited for her to answer. Moments passed as the two glared at each other. Suddenly, his hand reached forward to take the rune that hung around her neck. Her hand instantly snapped to his wrist and squeezed tightly, even when Ryder gently pulled the rune closer for him to see. It glowed with a faint silver light and Ryder immediately felt her tense. "Isa… correct?"
"The rune for stability. Whatever you're sick with, this is preventing you from feeling the effects. Why not just keep it?" Ryder eyes her suspiciously. He had no reason to trust her more than Talis did. All three waited on an answer.
"Why settle with a temporary release when a permanent cure is obtainable?" No one could answer her back. Gwen took the rune carefully out of Ryder's hand and turned to walk away. "Of course," she continued, "if the thought of possibly helping others doesn't intrigue you, I have other offers for you."
Talis snapped out of deep thought to hear her words. "Oh? Such as…?" Gwen paused a moment and smiled.
"On a recent venture, I came across a curious artifact. A stone scroll case." Talis immediately took note and leaned in to Gwen's words. "No matter how hard I tried, I could not open it. There was a design that looked like all of the elements swirling around it. Also, there was a curious symbol..."
"What sort of symbol?" Talis quickly asked. Gwen slightly raised an eyebrow before reaching into her pouch. Talis could also see the faint traces of a sneer. She got him curious and it was all that she needed. Gwen pulled out a piece of parchment and handed it to Talis. On the parchment was a drawing of a scroll case exactly as she described it. In the very center was an odd symbol that he recognized instantly.
"Quintessence*," Talis whispered. Gwen turned to Talis half impressed. Talis knew exactly what the drawing was. This was undoubtedly one of the seven Scrolls of Alchemy and based on the symbol on the case, it was the Scroll of Life. It shouldn't have shocked him to know it had fallen into a pirate's hands, seeing as how she seemed to travel the world seeking treasures.
"It seems like you know what this is. Then I needn't to tell you that I've no use for it. If you help me, 'tis yours." Talis paused at this moment.
"That simple?" he asked?
"That simple," she replied. Talis used this moment to try another underhanded tactic.
"You do realize that I could just simply kill you and take the scroll for myself." Both Ryder and Skylana shot a glance up at Talis, astounded that he would even think that, but Gwen caught him first.
"Then you'd sink even lower than a real pirate. I'm offering a fair and legal trade: your services not only for a prized artifact in your eyes, but the chance to help others as sick as I… and you want to sink to a scurvy dog's whim?" Talis faltered. She had caught him.. again.
Skylana let out a small giggle. "I like her."
"She has a point Talis," Ryder pointed out.
"I know that!" he shot back. Talis let out a long sigh before staring down Gwen. "Fine, Gwendolyn Gwilt… We have a deal." Talis, reluctantly held out his hand and waited for a similar act of deception such as the one Nemo had shown him earlier. Gwen was not so cruel, as she took his hand gently and shook it once.
"Count us in as well," Skylana exclaimed. "You need a Lunar mage too, right?" Gwen looked towards Skylana with a hint of surprise.
"Sky, what are you doing?!" Ryder protested.
"You're of the Lunar Tribe?" Gwen asked surprised.
"Aye. I am Skylana Softbreeze. This is my companion, Ryder Swiftarrow" Gwen's eyebrow arched at the curious surnames, but dismissed it quickly.
"I didn't think any Order and Tribe members traveled together."
"We don't," Ryder interrupted. "Sky, why are you agreeing to this?"
"She requires mages of the Order and of the Tribe. We are all here so why not make the best of this offer? Besides, Talis might need our help. You saw how helpless he was a moment ago."
"You know, I can hear every word you're saying and I can handle things as well as you –" Talis said annoyed.
"When do we leave?" Skylana continued before he could get another word in. Talis silently cursed the heavens.
"This will not be a short journey. We are sailing to the west coast of France. On average, it would take us ten days to reach it."
"And if the winds were constantly in your favor?" Skylana asked.
"Then perhaps a week," Gwen imagined. "Can you manage that?"
"Oh, I think I can manage easily," she replied with a sly grin.
"Then it's settled. We leave first thing at morning's light. I gather 'tis around midnight, so you have plenty of time to gather what you need. When you're ready to leave, I'll be waiting by my ship at the dock. Look for the one called 'Maiden's Call'…"
"Is that the name you assumed?" Talis sneered at her.
"Shrewd as ever, Riverwind," Gwen replied with grace. "Yes. I don't like the same name I use on the sea. Better business that way. You understand."
"Of course," he replied dryly. Talis was in no way amused. It would be half a month away from his family again. Talis did not want to be in any way associated with pirates, especially one who always seemed one step ahead of him. He didn't trust Gwen any further than he could throw her. But he saw no choice. If she truly had the Scroll of Life, he'd be a fool to pass up an opportunity to obtain it. "Until then, good night, everyone." Talis quickly took his leave of the three. Gwen nodded to the remaining two before ducking into a dark alley.
"Talis, wait!" Ryder and Skylana chased after Talis for a short while before turning back.
"What now?" I've had enough for one night. Can you at least let me rest?" Talis almost pleaded. He had already suffered a humiliating defeat. The least they could do now was leave him alone.
"I know you've no reason to trust her," Ryder spoke quietly out of Gwen's earshot. "I have no reason either."
"Finally, something we agree on."
"There is something she's not telling us. She didn't even really tell us what she's sick with."
"Then tell me why you agreed to come along and help?" Talis spun around exasperated.
"First of all, you agreed to go along," Skylana interrupted. "She was able to suppress your magic. If what she's sick with is dangerous to others, you might not stand a chance." Talis struggled to retort, but couldn't. He knew they were right. There was something Gwen wouldn't tell them and it unnerved him.
"You'll need all the help you can get, especially on a ship full of pirates," Ryder added.
"Secondly, did you see how she reacted when Ryder went for her rune? She looked as if she was going to rip his arm off if he took that rune from around her neck, and from the ferocity I saw in her eyes, I am fairly certain that she could do it. Whatever she's sick with, she knows it poses a danger to those around her. I do not blame her for wanting to be rid of it for good. She may consort with pirates, Talis, but when you really think on it, she is someone in desperate need of help. Can you honestly not appreciate that?" Talis gave out a heavy sigh and gazed at them. Even though what Skylana said was correct, he still found it troubling to even consider lending aid to a pirate.
"I'm going home. I need the rest for this journey. I'm going to bring all the supplies I can take. Will you two be needing anything?" For a moment, both stood surprised at Talis' generosity. When the silence was too much, Talis continued. "You saved my skin. You deserve some form of gratitude. Come back to my home. You can spend the night there. We'll gather our supplies together. Agreed?"
Ryder and Skylana looked to each other before turning back to Talis and nodded. "We hopefully won't need to take much," Skylana replied.
"We'll figure that out when we get there. Come." The three figures walked down the alley and back to the house.
Nemo waited impatiently at the ship. He had worried for his captain, since no word from or about her had been heard from in a while. Some of the men, who didn't get Nemo's word were already at the ship and waited for their captain with him. Nemo knew exactly what Gwen was capable of doing and that she was able to take care of herself, but it didn't stop him from worrying.
Suddenly, one of the men from the crow's nest shouted out that he saw movement coming towards the docks. Nemo shot to the port side to see his captain limping towards the ship. As she walked up into her vessel, Nemo ran to her side to try to help her. She quickly refused and trudged along onto the ship. Nemo tried to open his mouth to speak, but she knew what he was going to say.
"It's done. I've found them both."
"Both mages were here?" he quickly asked.
"Aye. They're coming with us. And one of them has a companion." Gwen raised her voice so that the rest of the men heard her. "Tell the crew we leave come morning's light." Her men hastened to her command and quickly departed from the ship. Like before, Nemo stood by his captain for a few moments more, gazing out after her men.
"Your leg… do you need…?" he began to ask before Gwen cut him off.
"It'll heal quickly," she said quickly. Nemo still managed to catch her flashing a grin.
"Things are starting to look up, are they not?" he mused.
"Aye, Nemo," she replied softly. "If we're lucky, we can make it in a week." She felt Nemo give a relieved smile towards her as she gazed out into the night air.
"We're so close…"
|Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010|
|Gwendolyn Gwilt - Chapter 1
Chapter One – The Warning Given
Later that night…
The pub was bustling with even more energy than usual. Crowds were more rowdy and the men who came into the pub swaggered everywhere. They were certainly enjoying their sweet time in the company of London’s finest ale. The men danced and yelled and whooped in revelry, even if some people were not certain what they were celebrating.
Deep in the corner, one soul clung to the edge of the pub table. His head rested on both of his arms and only looked up to gulp some of the remaining ale left in his cup. Normally he would have been more careful and observant of his surroundings. Normally he would have realized that most of the carousers were not native to London. But considering his previous adventure, Talis had just wanted a nice evening in the company of normal people. No magic. No demons. No adventure. He had just returned from a (literally) hellish journey and he desperately sought relief from it. No other place in the world would suit his need better.
He gazed at the scene before him before letting a sarcastic smile drew across his face. Well, if they really are dangerous, then let them show it. Then I will act, he thought to himself. He knew it wasn’t what he would normally think, but he was tired. If they behaved, he didn’t need to interfere. Talis somehow managed to find the strength to lift himself up to a sitting position, grasped his cup and swirled what was left of the ale inside. He could not believe all that had happened in just a few months. He had lost part of his soul to Lady Tso, He banished a powerful Ifrit disguised as Her Majesty, and he had now just retrieved the Spirit Stone from the depths of Hell itself. He had kept the stone close to him since his return. The eyes of the engraved dragon silently peered out from underneath his chemise. Slowly, Talis raised his cup and gave a silent toast to himself. He deserved it. Talis threw his head back and gulped the last of the ale.
“You must be exhausted,” a voice chirped from behind him. Talis’ eyes slowly opened and nodded his head.
“Well if you knew the Hell I went through, so would you.” He turned slowly to face the chuckling form of another he knew well. It was hard not to notice her cheerful face and that dark hair underneath the hood, but at least the hood hid her ears well. She could brighten the darkest room and lift the lowest spirits with her smile and her ethereal beauty. It was a wonder she was from the Lunar Tribe. “Well met, Skylana.”
“Well met, Talis.” She effortlessly took the empty seat across from Talis. “I see you’re well.”
“I’m alive, if that is what you mean. But other than that, I have seen far better days than this. How fare you? And where is your bodyguard of a lover?”
“He’s outside. We figured it would be best for one of us to stand guard.” Talis looked towards the pub exit, but didn’t see anyone standing guard. So like him to hide in shadows, he thought to himself. Skylana took a small sip of her flask as she found a comfortable position to sit in. “We’re taking a bit of time before we return. After all that happened in Bristol, we wanted to make sure that no Draco Disciples were trying to ravage the land. We’ve also been trying to find Lady Tso, but it seems she has disappeared off the face of the earth.” Talis grimaced at the thought. His loyalty to the Paragons caused him to remain in London. He could not return to Bristol to assist the rest of the champions. He let Skylana weave the tale of this summer’s events. She told him about Edana and how she chose the side of light, defeated Lady Tso in battle, the sealing the Gemstone of Souls, and the Paragon’s departure from the world.
“No wonder I feel stronger again. So does this mean my fire powers have returned?” he asked her.
“Possibly. All of the Gem’s power has been sealed with the other elemental gems and the Paragons have taken the gems to the ends of the earth to guard them. No one can access their power anymore.”
The thought of never seeing the Paragons again was bittersweet. For one, he no longer needed to stay in London if there was trouble elsewhere. However, their departure left a sense of longing within him. “I will say,” Skylana continued, “this does allow us to seek out other adventures.” Talis let out a small laugh.
“If it is adventure you seek, often it finds you. Believe me, I know that lesson far too well.”
“So… is it true then?” Skylana meekly asked.
“Is what true?”
“What Santiago said? Did you really go to Hell?” Talis groaned in exhaustion.
“I told him I didn’t wish to hear of it ever again. It was a difficult ordeal and I don’t want to re-enact the event! Can you even imagine the monstrosities I went through?!” Skylana leaned back lightly and let Talis rant for a while. Of course she already knew the whole story. She just wanted to hear it from him. It amused her greatly to watch Talis exaggerate every detail to make it seem worse than it truly was. “… and to top it all off, I nearly lost a hand!” He slammed his head back down on the table. “All I ask for is some time with normal citizens of London. No adventures for a while.”
“Your energy must be wiped out,” Skylana replied as she closed her flask. Talis let out a small, tired noise of agreement without lifting his head. “No wonder you didn’t notice.”
Talis lifted his head and supported it with a hand while looking annoyed at Skylana. “Notice what?”
“The company. Look around you, Talis. Have you seen any of these people before?” He shot her a funny look before complying with her request.
“Skylana, I may be a seer, but it would be difficult for me to…”
After taking a second look at the revelers, the oddities became clearer to him. The drunken swagger. The foreign clothing. The scars. The slight reveal of a tribal-looking tattoo. Talis’ eyes widened. “Pirates,” he whispered.
“Aye,” Skylana chimed in. “They arrived this evening. There’s a group of them in other pubs as well.”
“How long have they been here?”
“A couple hours… perhaps more.”
“There’s never been a group of pirates like this before? Why hasn’t the royal guard been alerted?”
“As far as I know, they have not caused any disturbances. They are not breaking any laws…”
“Yet.” Talis stood up, eyeing the scoundrels as he clutched the air in his hand. Skylana could feel the energy collecting in his fist. Immediately, she stood up and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“I must, Skylana!”
“You shouldn’t expose your magic here!”
“They are sure to cause chaos and panic!”
“You mustn’t draw first blood!”
“They must be dealt with!”
“They’re not the ones you should be worried about!” she whispered harshly. Talis shot a glare at her for a moment and slowly sat down. Skylana followed suit with him.
“What do you mean, Skylana?” he asked the elf. Though his attention was nearly fixated on her, he occasionally let an eye wander to the pirates.
“This is the reason I came to you tonight. Talis, I had a dream a few nights ago. You were running through darkened alleys.”
“Running? From what?”
“I’m not certain. I couldn’t tell if you were pursuing or being pursued… perhaps both.” Talis’ eyebrow raised at this notion, but asked her to continue. “You kept running and running.”
“I’m not using my magic?”
“Nay. I’m not sure why, but I don’t think you could. Eventually, you came to a dead end. You turned around and all you could see was this shadow…”
“What sort of shadow?” he asked impatiently, almost hanging on every word.
“It… was hazy at first… I’ve been having the same dream for a week now… but last night, I discovered what the shadow was.” She paused as if not wanting to say the next words. Talis’ eyes pierced hers, begging her to tell him. Skylana took a heavy sigh. “It was a wolf.”
A moment of silence came between the two mages. Talis leaned back into his chair. “A wolf?” he repeated. Skylana nodded meekly. “That’s what you saw?”
“Yes. Talis. I came to warn you.”
“About a wolf? Honestly Skylana. Have I not told you that I’ve had enough frights for once? You made it seem the devil was after me… again!”
“Talis, please do not take this lightly! You may not believe it, but I fear for you!” Talis let out a heavy sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose. He had enough adventure and was looking forward to relaxing. However, he knew better than to take a mage’s words lightly, especially Skylana’s. He knew she meant well and if it was enough to frighten her, then he would at least be wary.
“All right, Skylana… I’ll be careful.”
“Thank you, Talis.” She took his hand gently and shook it.
“But I still think that you might be overestimating the situation,” he replied as Skylana stood up to leave. He expected to hear her pout again, but instead she only smiled and leaned in closer to him.
“If you think that, then you should ask that man over there. He seems to have a keen interest in you.” She pointed to a dark section of the pub to a tall thinner man with dark hair pulled back and covered. He wore a black mask that hid most of his face, but Talis could see that his eyes were upon him. “Look at his hand,” Skylana whispered to him. Talis squinted his eyes to try and see what she meant until he spotted the dark ink on the man’s right hand. It looked somewhat tribal at first until the man took a swig from his mug and Talis saw the design. A wolf’s howling head. Talis’ eyes widened. Maybe this was a bigger deal than he originally thought. He turned to Skylana only to find her gone. Though he couldn’t tell if it was out of fear or because it wasn’t her fight, he sighed heavily and raised his cup, only to remember he had already consumed the last of his ale.
“Why do they always come after me?” he asked some deity he hoped was listening. Talis rose out of his chair and slowly walked out. As he went for the door, he reached into his pouch and pulled out a small fragment of a mirror. The man reflection was quickly spotted and Talis only hoped that his reflection stayed there. Skylana had the right idea. He had some questions to ask. Talis pulled his cloak over himself tightly to shut out the cooling autumn air and walked out into the night.
The darkened streets were nearly empty when Talis had decided to leave the pub. The mirror piece was held tightly in his hand and his breath quickened. He knew the man he saw was following him. Talis looked around to find a perfect spot to “chat” with him. He decided to walk down the streets until he could find the perfect alley to duck into. Behind him in the mirror, he saw the man, who never once took his eyes off Talis once he saw him, walking several long paces behind him. It was obvious that this man must have some idea of what Talis was. He knew that the longer he stayed behind him, the less subtle of an attack Talis could make upon the man. Who is this man? Talis thought to himself. He doesn’t look like any Draco Disciple I’ve seen, but I’ve been wrong before. Talis kept his guard up and his wits about. If this man really was a Draco Disciple, he knew how to deal with them.
No alleys seemed to suit Talis’ purpose for a while. Suddenly, he chose one alley where the darkness seemed to envelop it. Perfect, he thought. He took one last look in the mirror and stopped moving forward. The man behind him did the same. Talis took one deep breath and darted into the pitch-black alley. The man followed with equal haste. Talis ran deep into the alley just far enough, murmuring a small incantation to himself.
“That which may cause my soul to flee from light,
Give me the way to see into the night!”
The world became a greenish hue, but shapes were clearly discernable to him now. With his darkvision equipped, Talis ran to the side of the alley and pressed himself up against the wall. He saw the man slow his pace down into a creep. From this action, alone, Talis learned so much about the mysterious stranger. He might not be a Draco Disciple, he thought to himself. If he’s a warrior, a mage is sure to accompany him. He’s not even drawing a weapon. The strange man felt around the alley, unable to see in the dark. Talis could see the anxiety along his face. There was no possible way this man could be a Draco Disciple. So what did he want with him?
As soon as the man passed him, Talis released himself from the wall and slowly crept behind him. With a silent, but swift motion, he waved his hands towards the ground beneath the man’s feet as they soon melted. The ground soon began to swallow his feet, trapping him in place. The man tripped and spoke an oath as he fell. Talis spoke a small word and an orb of light illuminated the alley. The man struggled to stand, but the ground had stuck his feet into the ground. Talis moved in front of the man and knelt down to his level.
“Why are you following me? Are you a Draco Disciple?” he harshly asked the man?
“Let me up. I didn’t come for a fight!” the man almost demanded.
“You can rise once you tell me who you are. And don’t try to lie to me.”
“I’m not a Draco Disciple. Let me up! I’ve been asked to do something!”
“You will find that I am not so easily disposed of, cur!” As Talis spoke, the orb of light suddenly exploded into raw energy. His fireball was ready to strike. Talis smiled at the fire, relieved to have them back again. The man looked up to Talis with a defiant glare.
“I know better than to challenge a mage like this! If I came to fight, I would be better prepared. I came to give you a message! You can choose to believe me or you can kill me, but know that you will be striking an innocent!”
“Innocent?! How dare you insult me! You think you can make a mockery of my morality and call yourself a victim?!”
“Look closer, Seer. I am unarmed… and you are ready to strike.” Talis paused for a moment and inspected the man closer. He saw no pistol, no cutlass or any other weapon for that matter. And for a man who almost spat in the face of powerful magic, it was clear to Talis that he had little experience with magic to begin with. Talis unbound his feet and let the man rise. “Much better,” he scorned. Talis still kept the fire energy in his hand for light and for insurance.
“Don’t think you’re exempt from my fury. You still have questions to answer…”
“And I will gladly answer them. That is the only reason we are meeting here tonight, Talis Riverwind.” Talis eyed the man suspiciously.
“You know my name?”
“I do, as a matter of fact,” Talis let out an annoyed scoff. “Now, to answer your first few questions: One, my name is Nemo. Two, I have a message for you, and three, no, I am not a Draco Disciple.”
“What sort of message?”
“My captain is asking for you,” The man called Nemo spat out quickly. Talis, clearly not amused, sighed heavily.
“I’ve had a long journey. What in God’s name makes you think that I would even consider meeting with your lot?”
“What’s wrong, Riverwind? You don’t trust us poor sinners?”
“You’re pirates!” Talis shouted. The energy in his hand grew twice its size. For the first time, Nemo began to regret confronting him without his weapons. “You cheat and lie and steal! How can I even be certain that you won’t betray me and kill me!?” Nemo tried hard not to shake in his boots. His captain was right. He had no idea how to deal with a mage, especially an angered one.
“Think of it this way. My captain’s now roamin’ the streets as we speak. You meet with her and “convince” her to leave, and then the rest of us will leave.”
“Why don’t I just dispose of every one of you right now?”
“We ain’t ever been ‘ere before. Once again, I’m unarmed. People will only see innocents being killed.”
“Not if there’s no body left to find.” Talis closed the distance between him and the pirate. Quickly, Nemo remembered his captain’s words.
“My captain has something that you want! If you go to her, she will give it to you!” Those words stopped Talis dead in his tracks. The fire in his hand quelled down to a mere sparkle of energy. Nemo took a relieving sigh and looked Talis dead in the eye. “She said she has knowledge for you. Maybe something you’ve been looking for… or something you could use.”
“How does she know what I might want? I’ve never met this person before.” Talis was very indignant, but still curious as to what this mysterious captain had to offer.
“I’m not sure. She only told me she had knowledge for you. What that knowledge is, I can’t say. You’ll have to ask her yourself.” For several moments, Talis stood before Nemo, thinking to himself. Never in his life would he ever trust a pirate with any sort of knowledge. He was wondering why he was even debating on letting this pirate go free. But maybe there was more to this than he knew (as it always seemed to be the case for any of his adventures). Perhaps if he did speak to the captain, he could convince her to make her crew leave. Then he wouldn’t have to expend so much energy dealing with them himself. Talis took a long, exasperated sigh and glared back at Nemo.
“If I find her and you do not leave on your own, be assured that I will make you leave in a pine box if necessary,” he threatened.
“If you find her, we will be gone by morning’s light. I can promise you that,” Nemo replied as he reached his hand out towards Talis.
“How can I trust you on that?”
“I am not a fool, Riverwind. You are clearly more powerful than I. Only a fool would challenge your word.” Or someone more powerful than me, Talis thought to himself. Even so, he couldn’t believe he was making a deal with a pirate. Reluctantly, Talis extended his hand out and grabbed Nemo’s
“Fine. Where shall I meet your captain?” he spat out, placing a disgusting emphasis on the last word.
“Captain Gwendolyn Gwilt wants to see just how good of a Seer you are. You can find her on your own.”
“Of course you won’t tell me.” Talis sighed. “Fine. I will find her and I will make sure you leave.” Talis tried to leave, but then noticed that Nemo still clutched his hand. Talis looked towards a devil’s smile across his face.
“Trust me,” Nemo growled. “It will be fun.” Before Talis could try to interpret the meaning, he was jerked forward. Losing his balance, Talis tumbled downwards where a fist promptly met his stomach. Talis doubled over in the alley as Nemo darted off towards the light, cackling madly as he ran. Talis cursed himself as he slowly raised himself up. Nemo had already dashed out of his sights, but something told him that they would meet again. Then he could give that scoundrel what he deserves.
Once again, Talis cursed the ill luck that he was having, even though he knew he should be used to it by now. He should be back home resting with his wife, not chasing after pirates. But Talis had learned to play the hand he was dealt. With a huff, he muttered a small incantation to himself and he was instantly teleported away from the alley.
|Gwnedolyn Gwilt - Prologue
Prologue – Hunter’s Moon
Daylight barely lingered in the air when the ship slowly docked in the port. It knew not to come in too conspicuous, much to the eagerness of her crew. A false flag was drawn up to hide her true face. Even the name on her side was not her real name. After all, a pirate ship, particularly the Fenris, was not very welcome in London.
Most of the crew was anxious to dock. For months they had been out at sea. Tonight was the first night on land and their desires were wanting. They had not seen other human beings apart from each other for a long time, nor had they had a taste of other earthly pleasures. As the ship finished docking, the men gazed out into the city before each one turned over to their captain, leaning casually on the mast post. The wide brim of her hat kept her face shadowed with only the light from her oak pipe illuminating her face, unfeeling and uncaring.
“Do what ye will. Unless you hear otherwise, meet back here at midnight. No later. Understood?” The men grunted in impatient approval. With a small nod, she dismissed the men. They hastily left the ship, howling and whooping as they ventured into the city. Some men ventured down below deck to gather some other effects. The only man that remained still on the ship was a tall ragged man. As the last of the crew leapt off the ship, he only gazed at them. He wanted to go, but it could wait. There was something he needed to know first.
“You’re not going with ‘em?” the captain asked of him. He took a heavy sigh. He knew she’d find out soon. His captain was an observant one.
“I will,” he responded. “I just wanted to ask you something first.” The woman leaned up from the mast and removed her hat, revealing a red bandana underneath covering light brown hair. Upon her bandana bore the emblem of the wolf, similar to the flag that showed the ship’s true nature. She gave her minion a look before walking past him and sitting on the ship’s edge. She gazed out where the rest of her crew gathered, telling each other what they had planned during their stay. She could only let out a soft laugh for them. The man rubbed the back of his head, from which a black skullcap covered his long dark hair. “Captain Gwilt, we have been out at sea for months,” he began, his voice shaky. He knew what kind of person his captain was and had to be careful with what he said. “We’ve had a fair amount of profit and have had… well quite a bit of excitement. I’m not to say that we’re not grateful… but… well, some of the men have been talkin’ and –”
“From your tone, I would say that something is concerning ye greatly… You would not be thinkin’ of what I think you are…” She didn’t even have to turn to him to know that his eyes suddenly went wide with shock.
“No, cap’n! You know I would never–”
“Have I not been a fair and just captain to the lot of ye?”
“You have been more than generous in every plunder we do!”
“Then why does this sound like a prelude to a mutiny?” She eyed her first mate with her piercing green eyes, waiting for an explanation. “And to think, Nemo, that out of all the men on this ship, I could trust you the most. Was I mistaken?” The man called Nemo was almost shaking. He knew the penalty for even thinking about mutiny. The whole crew knew better than to challenge their captain. A man would be foolish to even think he could challenge this captain and live to tell about it. Each man who slept in that ship knew what a dangerous woman the captain was. They had heard tales of her ferocity and cruelty. Some have even witnessed it firsthand. Even fewer lived to tell of it. Nemo was one of them and never did he wish to witness it again.
But they also had no grounds to challenge her. Every plundering they’ve ever taken, she split the profits among her crew first, so long as she picked out the miniscule things she wanted first. She, herself, was not a pirate. Her crewmen were pirates. The man cowering before her was a pirate. But since she governed them, it made her a pirate by proxy. To her, she was merely a collector… and a hunter.
“Cap’n, we would never dream of it! we were mostly wondering… after months at sea, why London?” She relaxed as she turned to face her first mate and sighed heavily. Her lips curled into a grin. She had expected this question earlier than now. As her eyes drew back to the port, Nemo understood. “There’s somethin’ here, isn’t there. Somethin’ you need?”
“You were always an observant one, Nemo,” she replied. “I need to find someone. Two people, actually”
“They’re both mages. I know of one them lives here. He’s a young mage… but a powerful one to boot.” She took a long huff from her pipe.
“What does Captain Gwendolyn Gwilt want mages for?” Nemo asked.
“I do not want them…” Her body shivered with the thought of encountering a mage. “But I need to find them.”
Gwen took a heavy sigh and gazed at the burning tobacco left in her pipe. “You remember that place I told you about?” Nemo turned to her slowly and nodded. “I need mages in order to get there, but not just any mages will do. It has to be two specific mages… one of the day and one of the night. I need you to keep your eyes and ears open.”
Nemo looked to his captain almost surprised. If there was any errand she had to do, she needed to do it alone. She rarely, if ever, asked for assistance. This had to be big. Perhaps too big for her to handle. He began to grow concerned.
“Who is the mage that lives here, milady?”
“He calls himself Talis Riverwind. A moor who has somehow gained some sort of status.” She laughed at the mere notion of it.
“Lemme guess. This is a bounty hunt.”
“Ah. An assassination then?” he guessed. His concern now turned into curiosity.
“If only I were so fortunate.”
“You been asked to look for mages and NOT kill them?”
“Where be the fun in that?” He paced, now frustrated like a child who just had his sweets taken away. Gwen looked at Nemo and smiled amusingly. She couldn’t blame him for his reaction. She had felt similarly. Both took great pleasure in subduing mages. After his small rant, Nemo leaned against the side of the ship and gazed out into London, the light of day just starting to die. “So what do you want me to do?”
“If ye meet him before I do, tell him to find me.”
“Where do you want him to meet you?”
“Nemo, use your head for once. He’s a mage. Furthermore, he’s a seer. He can find me on his own.” She let out a low giggle to herself before taking a small huff. “Besides, what fun is it if you simply tell him where I am?”
“You’ve a point there, cap’n.” He smiled before pulling out a rusty dagger. “Usual method of delivering a message?” He let out a devilish laugh. Suddenly she reeled in his direction with burning eyes.
“Did ye not hear me, pup? He be a mage! Unlike me, you have no idea how to deal with mages!” Nemo almost staggered backwards. He cursed himself for angering her, especially now. He could do nothing but stare back into her golden eyes. He gasped, fearing what was going to come next as she slowly began her advance to him. “There are things that they could do to ye that you couldn’t even dream of! Horrible things that you would only witness in the darkest depths of your nightmares! You of all people should remember what the last mage did!”
“Right! Right! Forgive me! I… I should know better. I shan’t attack him.”
Gwen caught herself and turned back towards the city. Her hand went straight to the rune stone around her neck. Isa, she remembered it being called. A silver marking painted on a black tourmaline stone. She closed her eyes and tried to control her breathing. “No worries, Nemo,” she gasped. She looked to the west as she gained the last of her composure. Nemo nodded. He had seen her act like this before and knew what this meant.
“Are you certain you can do this task?”
“Aye. I’ve been fine for these past moons. I believe I can do this without drawing too much attention, but I thank ye for the concern.” Nemo turned to her surprised to hear a comment like that out of her. She caught his glance for a split second before she turned towards her chambers and cleared her throat. ‘Shouldn’t ye be out there with the rest of the lot?” Nemo sighed. He knew he wasn’t going to get anymore out of Gwen. She didn’t need to tell the crew much. Their own motivation was enough to do her bidding. But she usually gave a better idea of what she was getting them all into.
“I should. Meet back here at midnight, right?”
“Unless you meet Riverwind… or you hear me… then wait until midday. Understood?”
“Aye, cap’n.” he replied as he prepared to step off onto the docks. He paused for a brief moment before turning back to his captain. ‘If I may ask, how are we gonna convince him to come along?” A small sneer grew across Gwen’s face.
“Only one proper way to do it, Nemo…” she grinned. “Bribe them with knowledge…” Nemo’s face twisted into a quizzical look. His captain was becoming a lot more cryptic as of late. He wondered if it had anything to do with that woman she spoke to when they visited Venice. Before he could think about it anymore he shook his head and prepared to turn to the docks. “Oh, and Nemo, before I forget…” He turned back to her just in time to catch a small iron coin. Upon further inspection, he found it to be covered with silver runes that were arranged look like an eye. He looked to Gwen wondering what to do. “Slip that to him.”
“What is it?” he asked?
“I got it from one of our more recent ventures. It will disable his… louder powers.”
“And if he finds it on him?”
“I expect him to,” she nearly purred with a sly smile. Nemo wanted to ask more questions, but she had already brushed him away once. He nodded to her and left for the docks. The rest of the crew was beckoning him to join in their debauchery. They would enjoy their precious moments on land. Nemo turned back to his captain and smiled. ‘Happy hunting, Gwen.”
“Same to you, Nemo.” She replied back to him. As Nemo rushed to join the last of his crew, she gazed out to look at her men. Scrapping, degenerate dogs, but they were loyal and reliable. They would not do anything she did not wish them to do.
“Remember,” she yelled after them, “unless ye hear otherwise, meet here at midnight! Savvy?”
“Aye, cap’n,” they all barked back at her. Gwen let out a loud howl like a Spartan warrior.
“HAAAAOOOUU!” she howled.
“HAAAAOOOUU!” they howled back. Each one of them turned towards the city to savor their moments on land. She smiled after them. They’ve all earned it.
She gathered the remainder of her belongings, including her two pistols and cutlass as she prepared to step out onto the dock. The day was long gone and the air had chilled since they first arrived at the port. Good, she thought to herself. Her senses would be sharper. She was ready to hunt for this Talis Riverwind. Once she had him in her possession, she would hunt for the mage of the Lunar Tribe. She didn’t have much time. She looked up into the sky to see the half moon waxing. This task had to be completed by tonight. The sooner this was done, the better.
It had been a long time since her last encounter with a mage and this time she was ready. It saddened her that she had to let the mages live. Her eyes glanced out into the night as every bone in her body quivered in anticipation. This new prey was going to be a challenge and she would make it a challenge for him. Before she stepped off the ships, she unbound the leather band on her right wrist and grazed her fingers over the ink that lay there: an upside down triangle with a crescent encased within. She remembered the woman who gave her that symbol and sighed heavily before taking that same hand and clutching her rune.
“This had better be worth it,” she thought to herself as she leapt off the ship and sauntered into London… The hunt was on.
So I've decided that instead of journal entries, i'm going to post my stories here.
That is all.
|Monday, January 25th, 2010|
|My Last Year: Part II
To be honest, I really can't believe it. I cannot believe that I have made it this far, I have only one last semester to go and I will be finished with school. All I have to do really is one class and student teaching. After that, I get my degree and I go out into the world. It's scary as hell, don't get me wrong, but I am excited about all of this. After this summer, I'll finally be able to attempt to direct my life to the way I want it to go: into theatre.
I had my first day of student teaching today and I found myself to be relieved, especially since I now have a co-student teacher with me to take half the classes. So instead of teaching four classes, I teach two. Well, if you want to get technical, I teach one class and the other is a theatre production group, so I put together a production... which I'm also doing half of. I love the Theatre Production class. Almost every kid wants to be there and is excited to be there. I even might ring them into doing Bristol this summer all going well. These kids love theatre in every aspect of it. Half of those kids want to come in during study hall and continue doing technical work, which is fantastic! They're probably one of the most open-minded classes that I've ever had and I'm really excited to be teaching them. After the play ends, I have a week or to for them to recuperate where I can introduce my own curriculum. I want to try out Commedia, but I might do something else. We'll see what happens.
Then there's Drama 1. Drama 1 is the class that kids take when they don't want to take Speech class. Already, I can tell these kids are going to be a hassel. At least five of them are special ed students and the rest are... well... just brats. Immediately before class started, i heard half the class complaining, "Ugh! I don't want to be here! Why am I in this class?" etc. Apparently these kids forgot that they CHOSE to be in this class as opposed to speech. One kid even gave my co-op teacher lip. I must say that I admire Trudi (my co-op teacher) for handling it so well. She gives them no room for ass-hatery and I love her for it. At the same time, the class intimidates me a little. I think that class just might make me break once or twice.
But I digress... After I'm done at Waterford, I go on to University Lake School, which is going to be twenty times easier. Apparently, I'm doing what I did last semester during observation and helping with them plays. That's good news for me, especially since the school is only 20 minutes away and the class may not tart until 10 or later. If I'm even luckier, I only have to show up at rehearsals which happen after 3.
Now I know what you might be thinking. I don't just want to tell you about how awesome or awful my classes seem to be. I must have a purpose to this note. Well, I guess in a way, I kinda do.
See, Waterford is a 40 minute drive for me and I have to be there Mon-Friday beginning at 7 in the morning. I just got back and I'm tired as hell. Needless to say, I need sleep and time to do lesson plans, plan activities, casting, going over rehearsal notes, etc. As such, most of my evening activities are going to be extremely limited. I wish that I could come out more often, but I need to do this first. If you guys notice I'm slipping, please help put me back on track. I want to do good for my last semester and I need to make sure I have the time and energy to do so. Fortunately, it won't take all semester. Just until the 26th of March. Then I can sleep in until 9:30 instead of waking up at 5:30 in the morning which will improve my mood and my sleeping habits. By this time, my normal craziness should resume as planned and I can start doing things I love to do again. However, at this time, I simply have no time for anything. This is the price I pay for my art.
Also, like the last note I sent like this, if I go insane, please just grin and bear it. It's just a phase and I need to get through it. At the same time, if I ask or I look like I need it, help me through it. I had a near meltdown last night because I was so scared that I was going to fail this semester. In some aspects, I still feel like I am. I need to be reminded every once in a while that I can do this and more importantly that I'm not alone in this. This is my last year in school and I want it to end with a good kind of blast.
I love you all and thank you for your support.
"Hate the mind, regrets are better left unspoken. For all we know, this void will grow and everything's in vain, distressing you though it leaves me open. Feels so right but I'll end this all before it gets me... Call your name everyday when I seem so helpless. I'm falling down, but I'll rise above this, rise above this doubt..." ~Seether
|Thursday, September 10th, 2009|
|Your Attention Please
So my (hopefully) last year of college has begun. I'm out of my old, small, cramped, shithole of an apartment and into a temporary place then moving into a more permanent place with new people and Ricky. Then in January, I finally begin student teaching and then I graduate. I will most likely take at least one last summer working at the pool and doing Ren Faire, hopefully also getting my career actually started during or after that summer. But once again, that is in the still distant future. I can't claim to know what is actually going to happen. All I can do is expect and anticipate what may happen.
So last night was my fist night in my Fieldwork class. Small class with a wonderful teacher, Robin Mello. She told us what to expect of the class and what will happen next semester when we start student teaching. My assignments for said teaching are quite far away so I'm gonna have to bug my parents for the car next semester. She also told us that not only is next semester going to take a toll on us, but this semester will probably be one of the worst ones in our years of college (or at least close to it). I'm going to have to do loads of assignments plus some off-campus stuff as well. I also need to meet with the schools I'm going to be student teaching at. From what I've been told, the schools are actually very nice. For those wondering why I didn't ask to student teach at my old high school, Brookfield East, it's because I wanted a whole new setting. I don't expect to stay in Brookfield, nor do I wish to. I want a whole new setting, something that I'm not already used to so I can learn to adapt to it. Having said that, I'm not exactly happy with where they are (University Lake School in Hartland and Bradford HS in Kenosha), but hopefully, the challenge will give me what I need.
Now comes the purpose of this note. Robin gave us fair warning on how hard this entire year is going to be for us. This is the point where we find out if this is really what we want to do. If we survive, we were meant for this. If not, well... you can guess. It's going to be a lot of hard work, stress and strain. Fortunately, she's allowing at least two "sick days" per semester and is recommending we save one to take off for our own sanity. However, she also recommended that each of us send a message to our friends and families asking for two simple requests:
1.) This is my year. I need to focus on me. It may sound selfish, but I need to be sure that I have everything set for this entire year. Most of you know that I am a horrible procrastinator already, so I also need your help in making sure I have everything in order. At the same time, give me my space and let me do this. This may mean that I will become a bit of a recluse and forget several necessities like cooking and cleaning and other things. I apologize ahead of time, but let me be. This will also mean that I may not do several things I enjoy the most (i.e. swing dancing, gaming, sparring, etc.) Understand my reasoning. If I decide to give myself a break and do these things, great. If not, please understand why.
2.) I am terrified of this year. Those who know me know that I have little confidence in myself and even lower self-esteem. Those who really know me understand that I need a while to let myself freak out and get it out of my system before I can actually do something. I will panic. I will be stressed. I WILL get upset. I WILL break down. Though I asked for some space, if I break, I need to be put back together. I need people to be patient with me. Let me scream. let me cry. Let me be a bitch. Know that I most likely will not mean to be and what you experience is only backlash from the stress I will be in. I ask you to endure it. But if I break, help me get through it. Though I asked for space, I need all the emotional support I can get. I need to know that I can get through this, no matter how much I don't think I will. I have so much stuff going on this year with work and school. I want to be with you guys. I want to hang out with you guys. I want to tell you guys I love each and every one of you. But for now, I just need support. Let me find the direction for myself.
This is my year.
|Friday, September 4th, 2009|
|My Day So Far
Lead me around
and nurse my broken wing
with all the promises
you can never honour
I just don’t care enough
to react to vain attempts
sent only to perpetuate
one's selfish little world
You won’t see what I’ve become
you’ll wait and watch and still
you’re only let down
a violent reaction
struggling only to keep myself alive
now here I stand
for nothing no one at all
I lead you down
begging to touch you in the cold
you give me a reason
I will not be the one
through all the nonsense
there is a constant
You won’t see what I’ve become
you’ll wait and watch and still
you’re only let down
Cause this feeling
has dawned the face of you
a violent reaction
struggling only to keep myself alive
you wont see what I’ve become
cause this feeling
has dawned the face of you
A violent reaction
struggling only to keep myself alive Current Mood: angry
|Friday, July 10th, 2009|
|This is why I shouldn't time travel
so I read through every single one of my livejournal posts since I first started waaaay back in 2004, including all the comments left by people.
Wow, have I changed. I never realized how much of a ditz and a whiny little bitch I sounded back in high school... I think I would have kicked my high school self's ass if I met her.
It think this is a good thing... right?
|Saturday, May 30th, 2009|
I'm posting this on myspace and livejournal but not Facebook because I don't want a certain person looking at this because she's made it painfully clear that what I have to say or think doesn't matter.
There's a reason I hate going home to Brookfield. It's not because of the job. I actually like it. I'm outdoors and near water, where I feel serene. Usually, i hated going home because of my family. I'm not gonna lie. It's a broken family with the illusion that it's a happy normal suburban family. My mom was usually a controlling bitch who couldn't let go and my dad has had more emotions than he knows what to deal with. My brother's almost detached from my family and my sister has no respect for anyone who doesn't agree with her. I'll admit, I wasn't exactly the best daughter either. I was just as detached as my brother and I often did things that interested me and scared my parents (joined a haunted house, started sparring, etc). I'll admit. I did it because I didn't care what anyone thought of me. I felt that if I enjoyed it and I was with friends, I had every right to do it. I will admit that I did go overboard and rub it in their faces.
There is a bit of good news. Like me, my family has matured. Mom has started letting go of us all and still acts as a guide when she feels it's necessary, but she doesn't force us down a certain path anymore. My dad's more in control of his emotions. At times, he can still be a bit neurotic, but it's tolerable, and even funny at times. Alex has also become more talkative and social between us. I guess his first year of college was able to open him up a lot. And I've matured too. I've learned not to be dramatic and that I shouldn't purposefully try to scare people by doing things because they're different. I've actually been able to get my parents to understand why I do what I do when I want to, which is a great thing. However... there is one exception: Gena
My sister still has the same attitude that I remember her having. I will say that I liked her better when we weren't around each other. We got along so much better. But once we start living under the same roof, that's when things go to Hell. See, Gena has this compulsion that everything she has to say is the most important fact/opinion and that she must declare it. She also thinks that it's a good idea to not let anyone else say a word, interrupt when someone else is talking and drown them out until her voice is the only voice to be heard. She also has the gall to laugh at people when they voice opinions that she doesn't agree with... She's had this for as long as I can remember and nothing has changed about that attitude. Another factor of Gena is the fact that for my entire life, she's made me feel like anything I say doesn't matter to her and she can disregard anything I say. She thinks I fake depression when things don't go my way and that I'm pathetic because of it. She's done this to me my entire life. But when I came home, being the person I am, I gave my sister the benefit of the doubt and I wanted to believe she changed...
Boy, was I dumb.
So the scenario played out like this: My dad called to Gena because he wanted to move her car so that my mom could get out to go to work. He was being a little loud because he had no idea where she was. She burst out of the bathroom yelling at my dad saying he had no right to yell. When he asked for the keys politely, she threw them at him. Not tossed. THREW. I honestly don't blame my dad for calling her a bitch. It was a bitch move that she made. After he went to move her car, Gena comes down and she starts laughing at my dad behind his back. At this point, I figured she crossed the line by laughing at someone behind their back, so I tell her, "not the best way to handle the situation." She then goes on saying that she's had to put up with "dad's bullshit" since January when she moved in and she felt she doesn't have to take it. I replied back by saying that her idea of "not taking it" was only adding fuel to the fire and making dad more agitated than he was before she acted out. Then she comes back with the following:
"Well, you haven't had to deal with him for 6 months. You have no idea what he's been like, so your opinion doesn't matter. You have no right to butt into this."
This was the straw that broke the camel's back. I will say that it was a good thing there was a granite top island in between us otherwise there would have been a beatdown (did I mention I just got back from sparring?). Who was she to tell me why my own father was like? Who was she to tell me to butt out of a family issue? If she said dad was acting like this then he would have been doing it to the rest of the family (which he hasn't). When I told her that just because I hadn't been around for the past 6 months, it didn't mean I didn't know how to deal with a situation and what would make it worse. She laughed at me... laughed... like she always does. She laughs when someone makes an opinion that is weak and pathetic in her mind. I felt like shit... utter shit. She acts like anything I say or do doesn't matter period.
So I've had enough. I'm not taking any of her bullshit anymore. I've been taking it from her all of my life and i'm sick of it. If all she's gonna do is insult me, laugh at me and make me feel unimportant, then she deserves none of my time, pity, trouble or sympathy to say the least. I don't mean to sound conceited, but I deserve better than that. I shouldn't have to put up with her. At the same time, if she tries to pull that shit with me again, I can't promise things will end well.
Here's hoping things turn up... and I'm also gonna try to spend as much time away from my home as possible.
"I try to make you see my side. I always trying to stay in line. But you're all I see right through. That's all they do. Im getting buried in this place, I got no room you're in my face. Don't say anything just go away..." Current Mood: angry
|Thursday, April 2nd, 2009|
|I should really not be left alone to think
So having blurted all of that out yesterday, I've now something new swimming in my head. This is what happens when Nyx is left alone for too long. She starts to think. Probably more than she should. Whether it feels rational or not, I think very long and very hard on subjects. Most of the time it's subjects that are currently affecting em the strongest. And sometimes things get weird.
But I digress...
So I'm in a relationship with the most wonderful man that I could have possibly asked for. He's smart, funny, strong both mentally and physically (seriously! He can pick me up and carry me! it's fucking awesome!). He's always there when I need to talk to someone and sometimes when we're not together, I can still feel him caressing my skin or wrapping his arms around me. I can still smell him. Hear his voice. He's given me great advice and I feel like I've been a help to him. This doesn't happen often. Most guys I've been with appreciate me, but they haven't really made me feel like I've done something special for them. It was almost like I was just conveniently and coincidentally there. I've had proof of how much I've made his life better. His family has told me. His friends have. And he's made me a better person too... I swear to the gods that this man is the best thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life.
There's just one problem. Not only does he live about 1,500 mi away, he lives in another country.
While that is the only problem that exists between us, it's a major problem. I've traveled up to Canada once just to be with him for two weeks, and it was the best two weeks of my life. I was happy with him. No matter what troubles came, we were both so happy. When I had to leave, I cried waterfalls because I didn't want that to go away. But I had to let him go. Now that I'm back home, things look just a bit darker without him around. There are times where I just want to run into his arms where I feel like nothing can harm me, but I don't get that opportunity. There are times when I dream of him and the dreams are so vivid, so realistic that when I wake up, I expect him to be right beside me, but he never is. And my room feels so much colder without someone like that to be with me. It sucks. I know I have to tough it out but it really fucking sucks. I don't know when we are going to be with each other again, but I know it's going to be a long time. I almost can't stand that fact.
Know what the worst part is? Almost every one of my friends has a boyfriend or a girlfriend with them who they can go to. Someone who they can say "I love you" to and have them say it back. Someone who makes them feel warm. Today, each of my roommates went out either with their significant other or their date for the evening. I didn't have anyone. I couldn't have a date because mine is in another country. I wouldn't want another date anyways. Nothing compares to him. (It's irritating how you never get any hits when you're single and then when you're taken, everyone starts to get with you. wtf?!) And I didn't go with them. One, because the day was meant for them. Two, they didn't ask me to come with them. Three, I would have felt like a third wheel anyway and I would have most likely went into the bathroom and cried because I miss him too much (sounds pathetic, I know). I can't even go in the next room with my roommate and his date watching a movie because of all those reasons. I could be in a room full of people and I would feel alone.
Figures. Fate gives me the perfect man for me and he's so far away. I'm almost positive to see if this is a test. To see if distance really makes the heart grow fonder (which I never used to believe). To be honest, I'm dead scared. I'm scared that when he is finally ready to come over or when I'm finally ready to go back and stay up with him that one of us will have fallen out of love with the other. That one of us will finally cave in and just collapse around ourselves and say "I can't do this anymore. I need someone close to me all the time." I don't want that to happen. I love him too much, but it's so difficult when he's so far away. I know it's not his fault, nor mine for that matter. none of us can help that fact. And if that does happen, if gods forbid that we drift apart, what happens then? Where would we go from there?
And speaking of loneliness, I've been feeling more and more like an outcast everyday. I feel like people are associating with me less and less. Whenever people go out to places, no one asks me if I want to come (I have vampiric mannerisms. I don't go with people if I'm not invited to. Hell, I don't even ask to unless they ask if I do). I feel like whenever I want to say something, other people just drown out my voice like what they have to say is more important than whatever I'm saying. It's even happening among my roommates. Lately, I've been stuck alone and upset in my apartment doing gods know what to pass the time waiting and hoping for something to happen, but it never does. Sometimes I think I'm becoming a torch (those who've seen Shakugan no Shana will know what I mean) and I'll eventually just disappear from existence. I don't know. All I know is that I feel alone. And it's happening more and more. Half the time, I'm just tempted to find another place for myself, but I'd never be able to afford it.
My biggest fear is being alone. I've always thought that I'd die a lonely woman with no friends. I can't even be with the man I love. It's just... cruel
"I'll let the darkness cover me, deny everything, slowly walk away to breathe again on my own..."
|Wednesday, April 1st, 2009|
|When it rains, it pours
I've kind of noticed something. I don't know if this can relate to anyone else, but in the events of my life, I've noticed an interesting trend.
When it rains, it pours, especially when it deals with death.
I've been noticing it more and more in college more than anything else, but everytime there is a slew of at least somewhat famous celebrity deaths, someone close to me will die either soon or somewhere in the middle. For example:
Freshman Year: Steve Irwin, Tony Jay, Anna Nicole Smith to name some of the widely publicized deaths, followed by my great uncle Bob
Sophomore Year: Heath Leger, Don Lafontaine, George Carlin, Bernie Mac, then my Great Aunt Gwen
Junior Year: Natasha Richardson, Jane Goody, Andrew Martin, and just recently, a friend of mine, Jim Gasser (who some of you rennies from last year remember as the Barbarian King) was killed in a car crash.
Maybe I'm looking too much into this. I mean death comes for us all, right? But what I mean is that whenever it's a celebrity death and it's highly publicized about and there turns out to be a slew of them, someone close to me dies. I don't mean publicized by putting a small notice in the obituary section of a magazine. I mean pages of the person and their death.
So either I am being warned by some higher power that someone close to me might die soon or this is all just one big slew of coincidences. But if this is, they why does it happen in college? why didn't it happen in high school? Maybe it's just me getting older and me getting out more into the world. Maybe it's just the timing. But if senior year Paris Hilton and someone equally or more famous dies and then someone else close to me (not giving an example for fear of jinxing) then I'm going to think otherwise. And when I think about it, it's kind of unsettling.
It's not really a gift that I want to have. I mean humans have the luxury of not knowing when they die so they can somewhat live without that kind of worry. But if someone were to tell you when and how you're going to die, would you believe them? If you did, it would completely floor you, wouldn't it? And if you didn't, what would you think of that person instead? The only thing is that I don't know who is going to die or how for that matter. I just know someone close to me will. I wouldn't know what to do. If anything, I'd start worrying and praying to the gods that one of my friends and family would be bypassed, even though I know one of them has to go. And if I don't know, how will I know who to say goodbye to? How will I let them know how much I care if there's so many people that death could take? I know that death comes for everyone but I don't want it to take anymore of anyone close to me... at least not yet. I know it's a futile plea. But I currently have the best friends that anyone could ever ask for and a caring and loving family that anyone could want. I don't want that to go away. And I'm not ready to go yet either. I've so much that I have left to do.
So if I start to panic whenever someone really famous dies, now you know why
"Here's a lullaby to close your eyes" Current Mood: ...
|Saturday, November 29th, 2008|
|Artemis and turning 21
So me and the roomies and Lance have talked things over and we all decided that we are gonna keep Artemis. Kyle has completely fallen in love with this kitten and she has pretty much thought of him as her master, so instead of paying an extra +$300 to send her up to Canada, we're gonna spay her eventually and keep her (we figure after a few months of searching with no response that her owners don't want her anymore).Plus, Lance can't take her since his apartment now stopped allowing pets. PLus, I'm not gonna lie, I've fallen for her too...
she is a cutie.
Besides, she likes to pee on John's bed, but that's because she hates him.
but aside from that, I still can hardly believe that I'm almost 21. i'm thinking of celebrating twice, once for the people of age and another for the underage friends. Gena's also gonna send me a t-shirt that she had on her 21st (or rather one like it) that has different things I hafta do on my 21st. Hopefully I'll be able to take pics. I'm still working on who can come and who can't.
I'llhave more to update when I have details. Now it's late (I blame Lance) and I need to sleep...
|Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008|
So things have happened since my announcement. Mom officially helped me buy the ticket to Canada and i'm actually leaving on the 6th and coming back on the 22nd. What kinda sucks is that I stop in Minneapolis and Seattle before finally arriving in Edmonton, but still, I think it'd be worth it to see him. And there may be something else developing in this situation
A few weeks ago, my roommate committed a selfless act of bravery and rescued an adorable Maine Coon kitten from being squished by a 15 bus. Since there were no signs around the area saying that anyone was missing said Maine Coon (and also because it was Midnight and he was drunk as hell), he dropped the kitten off at a friend's place. Days later, he discovers that his friend's cat isn't getting along with the kitten so we decided to try it out. After a few days, our cat Ricky and the new kitten (which has been dubbed Artemis) got used to each other. So we now have a new Maine Coon kitten until we can either find her owner or find her a better home. I tell this story to Lance and I discover that he was going to get a kitten but couldn't since it wasn't fixed. Suddenly the light bulb goes off in my head. If no one else is gonna take her in and we can't find her owners... then maybe I should take her up to Canada with me! I know there's gonna be a lot more money involved, but with everyone chipping in, it might help out at least a little. Plus since he's now living alone, it wouldn't hurt to have something to keep him company, and Artemis is definitely friendly enough.
Once again, it's just a thought.
|Wednesday, September 24th, 2008|
|For those who have been wondering...
So I've been thinking lately (i know it's a shock for most of you)
I know a lot of people have been looking at my status on Facebook lately or recent posts and have been wondering what this great plan is that I have. I've been getting private messages from loads of people asking me what the hell I think I'm going to attempt to do. I guess I owe you an explanation. Well, here it is:
This semester is gonna really take a toll on me. I'm working full time (or at least trying to) at the Milwaukee Rep as assistant house manager. I'm working as Stage Manager for a play starting tonight and ending the second of November (and just found out that's 3 extra credits for me in Studio Theater). I'm also trying to find time to work out by swimming at Klotsche and even by biking to work. Not to mention paying rent and electricity and keeping up with at least four other classes. Needless to say, I'm gonna be extremely busy/on edge/stressed for the next month or so. I know next semester isn't gonna be much better, but I think about this and I think to myself one simple thing:
I need a vacation... badly...
So I've decided to put some plans into motion. On January 4th, I plan to take a trip up to Canada and see someone I've been dying to see ever since I first met him. I'm going to stay with him until the 21st and come back to Milwaukee. And yes, I'm going alone. I have my passport ready and all I need to do is find a good price to go see him with either by train or by plane.
For some of you people, it may not be as crazy as I had advertised. For others, it's worse than I made it seem. But regardless, I'm going. I've felt a need to be with him and I promised him I would be with him in person before we've known each other for a year. I don't break promises and I don't intend to start now. This is what I want, and I'm hoping this is what he wants too...
So I'm getting ready for my trip. And I'm praying to the gods that it goes well...
|Saturday, September 6th, 2008|
I'm plotting to do something outrageous. Something incredibly stupid, but will bring a, hopefully, ultimately great reward. I'm about halfway through the thought-process already, I just need the materials to do it.
And yes, I'm being 100% serious about this plan
|Saturday, May 17th, 2008|
in case most of you haven't heard, Kyle and I are still friends, but no longer dating each other. We've also found others to love. His is lovely and mine...
Is amazing. I can't stay calm whenever I hear his voice. When I see him, my entire world becomes so much brighter. When I think about him, I get the biggest smile across my face. He's charming, handsome, charismatic, makes me laugh and I love everything about him
There's just one little problem.
He lives 1,400 miles away... in Canada (get your laughs out now)
If you're wondering how I met him, it was on RO. I first met him as a priestess while he played an assassin. We got to talking and eventually, he told me how to find him on Facebook and I gave him my AIM. We got to talking more personally and eventually I realized after kyle and I broke up... I could love this man. I told him and he told me the same thing. So we've talked on AIM, on RO and now on Skype (which makes me believe there is a God). I'm hoping we'll be able to see each other over the summer sometime, even if it's for a small amount of time. To be able to touch him, to kiss him... wow, I sound like a hopeless romantic.
In other news, School's done. I got a D in Theatre history, but at least I passed. Mythology, Storytelling and Guitar are an A and Biosci is at least a B (not official yet). I already signed up for next semester's classes too, so I'm good to go. and now
On to summer.... ^_^
|Monday, February 25th, 2008|
|school sucks... i want spring break to happen
Eh... right now I wish that my Classical Mythology class was worth more than 2 credits so that I can drop theatre History and still be a full time student... That and i wish theatre history was not required for curriculum and storytelling was. >.<
Sorry bout that folks... i'm just a little stressed out because I've been missing a few classes, especially in Theatre History. I know it's a required class, but i've been extremely lazy and haven't really found the motivation to go... >.< Plus I've been forgetting that every weekend there's an online quiz that's only available for a limited time. *heavy sigh* i feel like I'm
Mythology is okay... I've been able to take notes fine, even though the lecturer is boring and goes really fast and I get distracted by AIM and the Maggot Show and other things the internet provides... and yet I'm still able to get 100% on all the quizzes...
Bio Sci... is a joke... I don't go to the lecture because the notes they provide give all the information they tell in lecture so i go to the lab... which suck balls because the TA is hardly understandable (he's Hmong or something. I don't blame him. it takes guts to teach to a foreign class. It's just I'd feel more at ease if it was an English speaking teacher who actually seems to know the material) So far nothing bad's happened, although i have no idea how I did on my test. I'm still trying to find out where I can find it >.<
Storytelling... finally a theatre class I can enjoy. I love the teacher and I actually don't mind going to the class. It's actually one of the high points of my day.
Guitar class... is going better than I thought... I've misses a couple classes, but that's because it's my earliest class (9:30) and I need to be motivated to get up... The class is nice, I just need to get the hang of a few things (for one thing, improving my manual dexterity so I can get to the chords quicker)
So school is... eh... I just need to get my priorities in order so I can actually survive the semester and not have my parents bitch about it at then end if I fail one class. They also say that this is the last semester that they'll actually pay for my tuition and housing so I guess that means I'm gonna be on my own... so finally my mom can stop bitching... I figure I'll become a part time student next year so I can work more and get more money... and so I don't have to worry about massive amounts of homework and studying... I'm sorry, but I don't think my brain would be able to take so much... it hurts my head enough already and I almost feel I'm ready to break down. Eh I'll feel better when I actually find the motivation to get things done around here.
On a lighter note, I almost burst out laughing because of the Maggot Show I was listening to during the review session on Greek Mythology. Once again, I blame the Canadian who introduced me to the Byeard Maggot. Current Mood: ...