|Aboard the Mongrel Cur
Author: freeze-dirtbag PM
Captured by pirates! Akela is trained to use her powers as a weapon to savage any threat to the Mongrel Cur's reign of terror in a world brimming with vicious pirates, primordial sea monsters, and rival mages set on blowing her to bits.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 6 - Words: 7,548 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 02-04-12 - Published: 01-19-12 - id: 2989767
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I often wondered how far I would be able to push myself until I reached my limit. Yosef had warned me of burn out, if you used too much of your Gift you would tap into your life force, and death would soon follow. The thought both terrified and fascinated me, I wanted to know my limit. How much power did I truly have? How much damage could I inflict if I had to throw my entire Gift into one last spell? These thoughts often surfaced as I practiced my craft. I was at the beginning stage of adolescence wanting to test my boundaries, and instead of partaking in drink or other mind altering substances I chose to play with a more dangerous thing, magic.
It was a warm summer evening; the sky was a mosaic of orange, dark blue and yellow. I stood on deck with Yosef and the Captain several feet away sitting in lounge chairs. The sails were devoid of any wind and lay limply against the three large masts. Several crew members stood about observing, and the ship's officers surveyed me uneasily. I stood with my feet planted hip distance apart, my hands up palms out, and trembling.
The ocean churned in the distance as if something large and unruly thrashed beneath the surface of the dark waters. Sweat beaded on my face and trickled between my shoulder blades under the thick fabric of my apprentice robes. A light breeze lifted the shoulder length tangles of my hair to tickle my neck.
A whirlpool appeared many yards in front of us and a collective nervousness emanated from the crew. The whirlpool grew from the size of a head to three times the size of the Mongrel Cur, a hundred foot frigate capable of holding a crew of up to two hundred. The waters foamed and roared wanting to crush the massive ship beneath the now frothing water.
The crew was so silent, that but for the roaring of the maelstrom, you could have heard the drop of a pin. A thread of panic wormed its way into my brain. What if I couldn't do it? If I couldn't calm the waters we would be sucked to the bottom of the ocean drowned, or more likely crushed by the unrelenting force of the sea.
A high keening filled the air and I felt tears stream from my eyes. The wind picked up as I fought for control of the maelstrom. I felt the deadly force of nature as it fought to break free of the bonds I struggled to contain it with. I felt tiny, an ant trying to tame a lion. Yosef sat behind me, but at this point it would be dangerous for him to step in and try to help. One mage never interferes with another's spell, especially one of these proportions; unless they have a death wish for all involved.
My legs began to tremble as my mind quickly raced back to the many lessons I had drilled into my memory. Control. I scoured the recesses of my mind for anything that would help me.
I was sitting on the railing of the Mongrel Cur with a familiar boy, Rami, dangling over the side a few feet above me. He scowled down at me, taunting me as Yosef had directed him. I held him above the calm waves below his bare feet with the force of my mind. My robes were soaked and the hot sun beat relentlessly down on me. I fought hard to keep him above the waves, we had been at this for more than an hour and I was exhausted.
"Stupid cow," Rami continued, though his heart was no longer in the exercise. He dropped several feet and squealed in surprise but at the last moment I gritted my teeth and held him where he was. He slowly began to fall.
"Clear your mind of failure and breathe," Yosef's voice pierced through the clouds of tension and stress that surrounded my brain. "You must use your mind as a ladle, scooping out power from your Gift as you would water from a well. You must remain calm and relaxed so that you do not spill the water and come back with an empty ladle."
I sucked in air through my nostrils and closed my eyes. I let the tension melt away from my shoulders and back and thought of a pool of water in front of me. I held an imaginary ladle and my hands were slightly trembling as I dipped it into the water. The surface rippled with my movements and I thought of peaceful mornings when Yosef and I drank tea and said nothing, of days where dolphins swam alongside the ship frolicking and voicing their strange calls. I breathed in slow and deep; my hand stilled and brought the ladle out brimming with water.
I opened my eyes to see the frothing waters of the maelstrom calming just as we were about to meet the edge. I breathed an inner sigh of relief and watched as the waves smoothed and the whirlpool shrank to half its size, until we were slowly turning with the water riding the edge of the maelstrom. A grin forced itself to my lips as I began the third phase of the spell, maintaining the equilibrium. This is by far the easiest phase as it requires less concentration than others, being that the power is already unleashed and settled into the subject of the spell.
I relaxed and turned slightly to lock eyes with Yosef. A smile played on his lips and a familiar twinkle was in his amber eyes as he nodded along with something the Captain had said. The rest of the crew had gone back to their duties now that the danger had passed and we were alone for the most part on the deck. The Captain's manservant Guiles filled crystal goblets with spirits on the tiny table between the two men. I leaned against the railing and gazed at my handy work. The whirlpool was as smooth as glass and the roaring and keening had ceased. I enjoyed the cool breeze now and ruffled my hair to dry it, we were moving quickly in the opposite direction we had started out in. Pride and amazement swelled in my chest, I had successfully completed the first of many trials that were prerequisites to earning the coveted title of Mage.
We had gone a full two circles and were halfway through the next when it was time to complete the spell. Phase four, withdraw all influence from the subject and terminate the link between Gift and subject. I imagined the power that I had expended into the whirlpool pouring itself back into my source. In my mind's eye I saw a slender stream of blue energy flowing back into the center of my body. The whirlpool stilled and disappeared swallowed by the dark blue waves that quickly crashed over it.
Lamps were lit and I realized night was upon us. We were sailing east now, quicker than if the crew had turned the ship naturally. Once I perfected the maelstrom spell we would be well on our way in a fraction of the time.
"Well done, Apprentice. The Captain is impressed with your progress," Yosef said standing beside me at the railing were I leaned heavily on my elbows and watched the first of the stars appear in the night sky.
"I was afraid that I would sink us all," I said to my mentor. A small self satisfied smile played around Yosef's large mouth.
"Nonsense, I taught you better than that," he said. I said nothing, only grinned and shook my head. Yosef was very arrogant in all things, a predominant quality that did not endear him to many but me.
"I have something for you," he said, and I turned to face him directly; my eyebrows rose in surprise. Yosef drew something from the fold of his robes, today emerald green and yellow with onyx beads and the usual jade rings for decoration.
"The Captain must have been very pleased," I said as I took the bracelet from his be ringed hands. He shrugged noncommittally as if the Captain's words mattered not to him.
"This was bought long before today Akela," he said. Using my name was a rare occasion and I reveled in it like a cat being stroked. I smiled and examined the gift. It was made of dark leather and was more cuff than bracelet, there were intricate swirls of black hair held into place by silver studs that wound around the entire cuff. I touched the hair and found it soft. To any onlookers I looked to be staring blankly at it, but I was scanning it with my Gift, searching for its secrets.
"You honor me," I said using the proper words for such a gift. Yosef grinned widely and turned back to the water, his arched nose in profile looked exactly like a hawk's beak. He was not a handsome man by ordinary standards, but he was a fine looking man, with a face that was more interesting than pleasant to look upon. I glanced back at my gift and clasped it around my left wrist.
"Tomorrow will be a good day for fishing," he remarked cryptically before giving me a pat on the back and vanishing into our quarters.
I glanced down at the bracelet that encircled my left wrist. It felt snug against my skin and looked wondrously barbarous. I knew that it was imbued with power, to what extent I did not fully comprehend. I could feel it stored energy, black in origin; I guessed that the hair was from the heads of tortured slaves. The strands of hair held the energy of the souls who had died, for my future use.
I had also detected a tracking spell, so subtle that I nearly missed it. If anyone other than Yosef had given it to me I would have thrown it into the ocean. I'm sure he had his reasons, my curiosity was fierce but I knew that any questions about it would remain unanswered.
The cuff reeked of black magic, and in my mind's eye it pulsed with dark energy; it was an odd gift for anyone other than me. As for the extra power stored within the strands of hair, I was sure I would soon find a use for it.
We were entering the high point of raiding season, when the merchant ships sailed for exotic ports carrying holds filled with bullion after a successful trade in the west. They would cut through the pirate infested waters of the Snake's Tail and risk their cargo, rather than make the long trip around the tip of the last island. The opportunity of slow ships weighed down by profits was too tempting to pass up. The Mongrel Cur would sail for shallow waters within a fortnight, and the merchant's and their mages would be waiting.
~~~RR4RR Much love. ~~~