Sailing the seas, it is truly quite amazing. Riding through the blue waves, the cool breeze through your hair (if you have any) living the carefree life and not having to worry about what to wear and who to please. Yeah, I bet all of you could do that for the rest of your lives and be perfectly happy.
Sure, you could pick to sail the seas. Of course you would find tons of adventures on the ocean, but I decided to do something different. I guess it's not that different from sailing on the ocean. You still use a ship and a crew, looks for lost treasure, and fight terrible monsters. There's just one big difference. You sail through the skies.
I know, it sounds crazy, insane, and impossible. That's what everyone in Euradova, my home country, thought when the first ship became airborne. It's been happening for years now and is now considered completely normal.
I guess when I was little the thought of being up that high scared me. I was perfectly fine staying on the ground. Eventually though, as I got older, the flying ships fascinated me. I thought of nothing else. Lucky for me, I get to be close to them all the time. It's practically my life.
I live with my uncle in Silver Touch valley, Euradova. Above his fixing/repair/creating shop: "Scroll and Fletcher Repairs. How would you live without it?" the shop isn't anything to rave on about. It's an old two bedroom house that my uncle turned into a shop along with every other old house on the same block.
It's near Seal Skin Bay. Seal Skin Bay is one of the main ports where ships come to dock and trade, take resting breaks, visit old friends, get a drink, and so on. I guess you could say the word Seal Skin Bay, isn't exactly the right word for flying ships, but that's just what it was named.
It's always busy with people coming and going. I help my uncle take orders from the flyers that need repairs on their ships or need something fixed or made. It's my job to gather the orders and make sure they get back to my uncle. Now that I was 15, uncle lets me have my freedom as I go about my daily routines at the bay, as long I complete what he had given me to do on my list of errands.
I would occasionally meet up with one of my buddy's from the crew of the ship "Neptune's Storm". His captain, of whom I did not the name, always seemed to be returning to the bay after two days at sky. Every time he left he would rave on about how when he returned he would be the richest flyer to ever sail the skies. It never seemed to happen since he was never gone for more than a week.
Personally I thought it was because he couldn't go a night without drinking the whole lot of the ships liquor, and when he ran out, he just had to come back to stock up. Anyway, my friends name was Johnny Kindle. He was seventeen with a tall thin build, shaggy black hair, and the darkest eyes I'd ever seen. He always wore the same brown and black tunic saying that the captain didn't like them to change cloths, made him feel his crew didn't like the cloths he'd gave them.
I don't know why, but I always thought about Johnny while I walked into town. It was a sunny morning, not a cloud in the sky. Euradova doesn't usually get bad weather and normally keeps a temperature of seventy five to eighty degrees during the spring and summer months. Most people enjoy the weather here, except for some elves, they enjoy the cold. I was walking through the streets towards the town market we liked to call Traders Vale. Every flyer that has ever stopped in Seal Skin Bay has visited the Traders Vale.
As I walked, I could feel the weight of coin in my pocket. Today it was time to buy something nice. I decided I would buy something for Johnny, as I was going to meet him later. I approached Traders Vale. Even though it was only eight in the morning, it was already packed with flyers.
Traders Vale had everything you could imagine; potions, weapons, exotic foods, dangerous animals from as far away as Asium. All I usually shopped here for was parts for my uncle and food when we ran out. So I guess you can say I haven't really bought any of the fun stuff. Traders Vale mainly consisted of stands, while the shops are in the main parts of town. The shops go in order of what they sell. Closest to me was the stands for exotic, regular, and poisonous foods (for certain species of animals) down toward the docks were the potion, ingredient, and strange creature stands, and on the furthest edges were the weapons and gadgets stands,.
I spotted a loaf of rye at one of the food stands. I knew how much Johnny liked that type of bread. I just thought I tasted like a chunk of cole. I went over to the stand and bought him some.
After, I remembered the list my uncle had given me today. It was longer than usual and had some shops that I hadn't heard of. I studied it and tried to figure out where I should go first.
Jack, I know these aren't the normal errands you usually run, but there has been an unusual order placed. Although you may have to go out of your way to purchase some of these supplies, I still want them back to the shop by sun down. I have placed the list below. I wish you luck. With love, uncle.
- One dragon claw from Poppy's Pretty Potions
- One pound of pumpkin berries from Genies Ginormous Plants
- Bronze and silver blocks from Two Elf's Forge
- One topaz, two sapphires, and one emerald from The Green Bolt
- One ounce of phoenix feather dust from Briar of Merchants
- Crackers for Eleanor
Now, before you freak out about how I'm going to pay for this, I need to explain how our shop works. The client gives us the money for the supplies, and then we craft or fix an item for them. It's that easy. I mean, you didn't think me and my uncle actually have that much money?
Anyway, back to that letter. There were three things that I didn't like about the letter: one, I had to go all the way across the Traders Vale (which is very big) two, half of the things on the letter didn't even have to do with fixing something, and three, I had no idea who Eleanor was. The letter seemed very strange. We never had to order jewels for the clients much less food for them.
I put the strangeness of the letter in the back of my mind and started about for supplies. The closest store on the list was Two Elf's Forge. It was right past the fresh food market section of Trader's Vale. I made my way past the food stands and The Sleeping Dragon. (one of the local pubs, and the most famous. Mainly for its bar fights) I turned the corner and came up to Two Elf's Forge. Id passed the Forge before, but never really bothered to look at it.
It was an oversized metal shed with a forge out front. Through the windows I could see swords, maces, staffs, and other weapons hung out on the wall. They were beautifully crafted, I'll give them that. I walked up to the door where a sign was placed over the small window carved in it. "Knock before entering, if you don't get a response, leave or else." That's defiantly a way to get customers to like you.
I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. I peered through the side windows and saw an old elf in a black smith apron passed out in a desk chair. I opened the door quietly and walked in. I turned to close the door and looked up, he was still out cold. He wouldn't wake up. So why bother trying to get him to?
I looked around. It was bigger inside then it looked through the windows, there was more weapons located on the wall in the back. Near the checkout desk was a wheel barrel stacked with metal blocks of every sort. I figured I could just take what I need, leave the coin on the counter, and simply leave.
I grabbed one bronze block and one silver block from the wheel barrel. I set both on the counter as I rummaged through my pocket for the coin. As soon as I laid the coins on the table, the old elf jumped awake. He jumped up onto the counter with a dagger in his hand, putting it up to my throat.
"You think it would be that easy to steal my merchandise I work so hard to make?" he yelled at me. "Well I'll tell you, anyone who has tried, ends up part of my next project and will be sold to my customers! And since you don't look very, "well-polished" young lad, you will be half off."
The elf had white hair that matched his long white beard that was braided with silver strands. He had piercing black eyes. He didn't look the type to be running a black smith. He wasn't dirty like he had been working on an item. He was a really good guy to be running a black smith, don't you think? I stood back a bit. "Sir, I was just taking what I needed… I was going to leave the coin on the counter. I mean no harm."
He studied me. "You think that'd fly by me? You've got me wrong. I only sell my items face to face with my customers. Did you not read the sign at the door? If I don't here you knocking, don't bother coming in."
He still had the dagger to my neck. "I'm sorry, if you don't want me to pay good coin for your decent merchandise, I will leave." He lowered the dagger, his expression turning into a bit of relief.
"No, no, by what you need. I need the money." He said quickly. "I shouldn't have gotten so mad; I wasn't supposed to be sleeping on the job anyway. Good thing you woke me up." He looked around the shop and then set the dagger on the table.
I picked up the blocks, they were pretty heavy, and I didn't have any way to carry them around all day. I could've left them in the shop, but I was afraid the old crazy elf wouldn't let me have them back. I looked up to see the old elf staring at me. He seemed to have read my expression.
"You can leave them here; pick them up on your way back. I won't touch them'" he picked up the blocks and set them on a shelf behind the desk. "See, that's where they're going to stay until you get back. I promise."
This elf had some crazy mood swings. From Insane, to scared, to sincere. When I came back I would probably have to deal with a crying elf. I nodded to the elf, and that's when I noticed he had a little stand on the desk with a name on it. It read "Alaric".
That's when I realized the name of the shop was Two Elf's Forge. There was only one elf, and that was Alaric. The idea that I had heard his name in an old story kept nagging at my mind. I didn't give it much thought at the moment, but I knew it would be bugging me all day and I was too freaked out about the threating to ask about it. Well, too nervous to ask about it at that time.
I guess Alaric noticed me staring at his name stand. "You do have other business to attend to I hope. I will see you this evening." And with that he guided me out the door, and closed it behind him. I turned and left. The next shop closest to me was The Green Bolt. I started toward the direction of the shop, hoping my next purchase wouldn't be as crazy.
Most of the shopping usually went well. I never had any problems because most shops knew me, but today every shop on the list was one I had passed, but never visited. I looked out into the distance. The bay was close, and I could see some ships pulling in from the sky.
I approached The Green Bolt, went inside, and bought jewels without getting a dagger to my neck. After that, most of the shopping went smoothly. I visited Poppy's Pretty Potions, Genies Ginormous Plants, and The Briar of Merchants (which was all the way across Traders Vale and had a super long line just to get inside). After, I had finally finished most of the shopping.
As I was walking out of The Briar of Merchants, I heard a screech of an animal and looked down. I had stepped on the tail of a muddy colored tabby cat with one eye missing and half his right ear gone. He turned to look at me and put his back up, hissing at me. I had seen this cat before; he roamed Traders Vale, eating scraps that some residents throw out for him every now and then.
Once you fed him, if you were a flyer, he would sneak onto your ship before you took to the sky. He annoyed most of the flyers. I didn't really have a problem with him, in fact, I had given him a name: Scrappy. It fit him well, as he ate people's scraps all the time. Plus, it was better than being called cat. He never followed me like he followed other flyers. That didn't bother me, though.
He still had his ears back with his eyes trained on me. I rummaged through my bag of supplies I had gotten throughout the day and found Johnny's loaf of rye. I tore off a bit of it and through it at the cat's feet. He sniffed it for a minute, checking to see if it was safe to eat.
He must've found it okay, because he gobbled it down. He looked up at me for more. "Sorry buddy, don't have any more left for you. This is for my friend, Johnny." he hissed at the name. Johnny had always hated this cat. It had tried to attack him a couple moths back when he kicked it off the ship after sneaking on.
Now, every time Johnny saw Scrappy, he would try to catch him and force him to drink liquor. Yeah, he wasn't exactly what you call "animal friendly" I reached down and gave Scrappy a pat on the head. "next time I'll bring you a couple rats from the shop." He meowed softly. I gave him one last pat on the head, and walked away.
Now all I had left to do was pick up the blocks and some crackers for Eleanor. I would do both on the way back before I met up with Johnny at The Sleeping Dragon. I went to one of the food stands and got the crackers. Whoever this Eleanor was, she didn't have a very big appetite.
It was around two O'clock after I had purchased the crackers, and the last thing on my list. I was close to Two Elf's Forge. I was debating whether or not I should still go there before I met Johnny. I would still have my hands full and would still have to walk all the way to The Sleeping Dragon.
I decided I should just pick it up on my way by, just to get it finished. I got to Two Elf's Forge; the sign was still on the door. I knocked. Once again, no answer. I didn't feel like waiting, even though if I went inside he might attack me. I opened the door anyway. Inside, he was sitting at his desk, but he wasn't asleep.
He looked up. "Ah, there you are lad. I had begun to think you weren't coming. Here are the blocks." He handed me two blocks rapped in brown paper. I took them from him.
"Thank you" I said. "For you know, keeping them for me."
"Don't mention it. And lad, I wanted to say sorry for attacking you this morning. I was asleep and you woke me up. I didn't know who you were or what you were doing. It was just reflexes from older experiences with uh… costumers."
I thought about that. Reflexes from older experiences with costumers? What was he saying? That he had people steal stuff from him before? I mean, I wouldn't doubt if he had some robberies here, but at least every shop or stand in Traders Vale did once or twice. Alaric was a strange elf. He owned a shop called Two Elf's Forge, with only one elf running it. And the whole explanation of why he had pointed a dagger at me still wasn't good enough.
I just stared at him. I don't know why, but all of the sudden I just blurted out "Who are you?" I don't usually do things like that. I was raised not to get into other people's business, but I just couldn't stop myself.
His expression changed to a mixture of sadness and surprise. "Well my young boy, that is not any of your business. You do not know me nor do you have any reason to know what has happened to me in the past. Leave me."
I could feel my face burning. I am not a coward, I just didn't feel right about asking, but I still wanted to know. "But sir, you say that you have reflexes from experiences with other costumers. All I'm asking is for a little bit of reasoning of why you are so suspicious. Also, why you pointed that dagger at my neck."
"I have no reason to tell you. You do not need to know. Now leave. You may only come back for business reasons." He said.
I stared at him. Eventually I turned and left the store. But there was something about him and I just had to know. I had never been so interested in learning about someone's secrets and I just met Alaric today. Once out onto the street, I looked to the bay. I looked at each ship hoping to find Neptune's Storm. Johnny was the only person I could tell about this, plus he knew a lot about stories. My uncle would be too busy and nobody else seemed to listen.
Finally after about five minutes, I spotted a big blue ship with tattered sails: Neptune's Storm. The ship's crew was unloading, all of them wearing there brown and white tunics. I made sure I had everything on the list of supplies with me, and then took off towards the docks.
It took me a little over 30 seconds to get to Johnny and the rest of his crew. I could run really fast, I mean, I'd been chased out of the docks enough times from staring at the flyers ships for to long. Johnny was helping some of the other crew members unload empty liquor bottles while two men behind him held up there drunken captain.
Johnny looked up from a box of empty liquor bottles.
"Well look who showed up early! It's Jack Fletcher." He dropped the box of bottles and ran over to me, giving me a big hug and a pat on the back. He always had been a hugger. "For once it's a long time no see!" that was true, his crew had been away for longer than a week this time.
"What happened? Did you have more liquor on the boat than usual?" I asked.
He laughed. "I think that's what it was. Also, we ran into a couple of bad storms up there. As you can see, the sails are torn up pretty bad."
"I can tell. Anyway, think you could sneak off a bit earlier? I have some important questions." I said.
"Sure, just let me finish unloading these last few boxes. I don't think I'll have to worry about sneaking off though, captains way too drunk to notice if anyone's missing."
I waited for Johnny to finish unloading the rest of the bottles. I sat on a crate near the ship and watched the ships coming and going. All the years I've lived by these ships and watched them and met their crews, I had never been inside one, much less gotten to take a trip in the skies. I had always wanted to; Johnny always offered to give me a tour while the crew got drunk at The Sleeping Dragon every time they ported. That way he would have practically a whole night to show me around.
I never took up the offer. Uncle always told me they were dangerous or carried diseases or something stupid. He always had an excuse. I personally just thought he was afraid of flying, but that's just me.
I studied Neptune's Storm. I had never really had enough time to look at it. It wasn't exactly the nicest of ships id seen come into Traders Vale, but I couldn't say it was the worst. It was a big blue ship and white sails. A few of the captain's cabin windows were broken with wood nailed over them to keep the wind and rain out. The sails were torn up, and some were hanging from there masts. I tried to imagine the ship when it was brand new and clean. It was incredibly hard.
A hand on my shoulder broke my thoughts.
"I just finished the last of the boxes, you ready to leave?" It was just Johnny.
"Yeah." I picked up all the supplies I had bought, which I had set beside me, and followed Johnny towards The Sleeping Dragon.
We approached The Sleeping Dragon. The Sleeping Dragon was a very popular pub inside Traders Vale. Its name The "Sleepy" Dragon didn't exactly fit it very well. It was never "sleepy" considering the fact there were people there every hour of the day. The people The Sleeping Dragon attracted came from all over. Since it was in Traders Vale, there were people from half way across the world.
There were also very shady characters at times, which caused the tendency for bar fights here, which also made The Sleeping Dragon even more popular with the rough type. Plus, the place was run by some dwarfs. Those carless old creatures didn't ever bother to worry about whom or what came into the pub.
Johnny went inside first and I followed him. Inside, there were tables made from crates and barrels (the dwarfs were extremely cheap) lined along the walls of the bar. Directly ahead of us was the counter which blocked all visitors from the endless amounts of liquor behind it.
There were a few flyers at the counter, chatting about the weather. To my left at the corner tables were some elves playing a game of hound frogs, where two players released their pet frogs into a cage and let them fight over meat or other scraps of food. They usually got there frogs on trips into exotic islands, so the frogs were either very poisonous or they ate people. I didn't really like the game to much, but you could make an extreme profit off of it.
Johnny and I veered away from the game of hound frogs and made our way to the corner tables on the right side of the bar. We sat down at a table a safe distance away from any creepy looking people. I set the supplies on the ground. Since Johnny and I didn't exactly fit the description of clean and rich with Johnny's old tattered cloths and my shaggy blonde hair, we didn't really attract that much attention. Plus, I knew plenty of people in Traders Vale that would help me out, but you can never be too safe around these types of places. Johnny flagged down one of the dwarfs who was shuffling back from a table. "Two arcane pikes please." He laid down some gold on the table. The dwarf picked it up, nodded, and walked back toward the kitchen.
"So, jack Fletcher, what was so important I had to leave my crew early for?" he asked.
I told him about everything that happened today and about how it was such a strange day for me. That was true; most shopping days went quick and smoothly. Today was nothing like that. I also explained to him how the old elf, Alaric, had acted and how he reminded me so much of a character in an old story.
"I see. What did you say his name was again? Alaric?" Johnny asked.
"Yes, it was on his desk in his shop."
"Well, I'm trying to think of all the stories I've ever heard. There's something about that name. And he said that he was reacting with reflexes from older experiences with "costumers"?
The dwarf came back with the drinks and set them on the table. I picked mine up and took a couple sips. "Also, his shop was named Two Elves Forge" At that moment I felt extremely stupid for some reason. I didn't want to worry about this elf, much less his past, and I had no reason to. I just couldn't stop myself.
"I think I have the story you might recognize this elf from. He had silver hair and a matching beard, didn't he? And his name is Alaric; do you know what that means, Jack Fletcher? Have you ever heard of the story The Eternal Thieves?" asked Johnny.
I was taken aback by his words. I had heard the story of The Eternal Thieves all my life. It's been told for ages. It was one of my favorites. Perhaps I should tell it to you, so you know it:
The story begins with two brothers who set out to become thieves and find riches of gold and silver. As they begin to start making a profit, an old woman in a hooded cloak covering her face seeks them out and asks them for a deed.
She asks the two thieves to retrieve her necklace. It was in a small shop that mistakenly found it and thought it was for their shop. Thinking it would make a hefty profit; they kept it and put it up for sale. She told the two thieves to steal it back, as for she could not approach the public with her deformations. The thieves wanted to know what they would get in return. She told them that in return, she would give them what the necklace holds.
The two thieves take up the offer out of curiousness. They proceed to find the small shop. They steal the necklace back with ease, running into no problems. They returned the necklace to the old woman. She kept her side of the bargain and gave what the necklace held, it was a key.
The two thieves immediately knew it was to more treasure, but did not know where or how to find it. They asked the old woman, and in reply she said this:
The key itself holds power within
With many riches it will bring in
For after all it is the key to the both present and past
But only if you will forever last
With the final words, she dropped her hood, revealing the hideous and disturbing creature that she was, and cast a spell over both thieves, making them immortal. It was a gift to the first thieve, who only wanted to spend eternity on the planet searching for gold. To the other, it was a curse. For he did not wish to see the ones he loved die before him as he lived on.
The two thieves stand before the old woman, realizing what she had done. "Now that you are both immortal, you will guard this key with your never ending lives. It was your wish for a reward, and I have given you it. Now you will no longer be known as thieves, I will give you a name in the keys honor. First thieve, you will be now known as Felix, meaning happiness, for you take this gift as something good. Second thieve, you will now be known as Alaric, meaning ruler of all, for you do not wish to enjoy this gift, and you will be the ruler and you will be responsible for all that happens with this key."
"Take this key, and have your way. But you will be responsible for what it does to the world; you will pay for what it. Both of you have dark futures" she warned. "I was not sent here to help it, I was sent here to let you change your fate if you wish so."
With those last words, there was a bright flash, and she was gone. After that day, the two brothers, Felix and Alaric, used the key to open both present and past objects. The key itself opened anything with a lock. Felix used the key often and got many treasures. Alaric, on the other hand, stayed at home, choosing to let his brother keep the key in his possession. Only allowing his brother to give him money for food and his liquor.
Felix set out on a trip to find the treasure in the cave of Silver Noises. The treasure consisted of jeweled gold and silver everything; cups, plates, crowns, jewelry, and even living creatures.
Very few men had figured out how to get in, Felix and Alaric, however, were thieves. They knew how to get in. No man had ever returned after venturing inside. Felix, feeling he had plenty of power to make it through, went alone.
He was lost inside the cave and was never found. Nor was the key. Being immortal, he could never die in the cave and would continue to live on. His brother, Alaric, chose not to set out looking for him knowing he would have to spend eternity inside the cave. He thought it would teach him a lesson. He thought it would change is mind on how he saw the gift.
Alaric never set out to find his brother, as he was the only man who knew of how to enter the cave, or the only man left that knew how. His brother was lost, the key along with him. As the old woman said, with his actions of the key, there would be consequences. She had put the key in Alaric's possession and he chose to disobey her and leave the responsibility to Felix.
He suffered, surely, but no one knows how. He lives to this day. Lost among the countless citizens that are merely pieces in this world, those have no specific purpose. Only he did, he was the only one alive with any knowledge of the key. Many have set out to find it, only to have the same fate as Felix, to be lost in the cave of Silver Noise forever.
To conclude this story, no one has ever discovered the present location of Alaric, the second thieve. Many along with searchers for the keys have tried, but all end up failing.
I finally understood why he had attacked me in the shop. He thought I knew who he was, that I had come to get him. Also, it was a silly idea to keep his name after such a thing happens in your life. Although I have ran into a couple of Alaric's before, but none so strange.
I turned to Johnny looking for an explanation. I had never thought of myself, of all people, a boy living with his uncle in a shop, to discover the second thieve. Alaric knew where the key was. He knew how to get to it. How to give me a long awaited adventure.
At that moment, I had never been so excited. If I could only get Alaric to help us, we would be able to find the key and the treasure along with it. This would change my life. I just knew it. If only I knew how much it really would, I probably would have decided to stay home.
"Jack Fletcher, You my friend, have discovered Alaric, the second thieve and possibly an adventure of a lifetime. No, all we need is Alaric's help. Let's just hope you can get it."