To Be A Pirate: The Lost and Forgotten

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


this is a sequel to To Be A Pirate.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - to be a pirate 2

Submitted: March 18, 2019

Reads: 137

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 18, 2019

A A A

A A A

The week was going pretty normally for Devin. It’s been about a year since he last had his adventure with the pirates. It’s something he couldn’t forget. Even all through school, and the usual difficulties of a teenage boy, Devin still thinks about the Carriers almost every day. Today he does one of his activities where he thinks about them the most. Bike riding.

 

He races along the flowing grass in the park. The elderly sit at benches, talking about the recent baseball game, or the new movies coming out soon. Parents sit at picnic sheets, eating freshly made food and watching their children play on the small plastic castles built in the sand. Devin whizzes past, seeing the young ones climb and waddle around laughing. He remembers how he used to play with his friends on little play structures like these in his old neighborhood, about five or so years ago. Back then the only thing he had to worry about was keeping up with Jace amongst the monkey bars while not falling off. If only school, music, home duties, and, most hurtful, his own thoughts didn’t plague him now maybe he could feel that innocence again. Regardless he rolls onwards to his destination.

 

Devin leaves the park and rides the sidewalks towards a small cafe located near his school in a small shopping area. He always finds himself imagining that he’s on the Carriers ship again, and the other cars and people are other ships and pirates in his way. Of course he can’t just kill them or knock them out, so he goes around them instead. With the cool breeze blowing in his face, and the sensation of going as fast as he can while still maintaining his breath, he can almost believe he has that same sense of adventure and danger that he had with the Carriers.

 

He arrives at the Normanju Cafe. He locks up his bike at the bike rack and heads inside. It’s not too busy, only a few people here and there. Some are eating biscuits and blowing on hot coffee, others are waiting for their coffee to be finished brewing. One man heads past Devin, holding two large bags. Devin orders a medium sized double chocolate frap and a raisin biscuit. He takes his food and sits down at an empty table next to the window. This is one of the warmest spots in the cafe since there is a heater constantly blowing just above him. If a place like this is busy, spots like these will typically be full immediately.

 

As Devin eats, he receives a text on his phone.

“ Dude you still coming to the movie today?” It’s from his friend Kyle.

“ Ye. Five right?” Devin texts back.

“ Yup. ‘Battle Devil.’ You think it’ll be good?”

“ I’ve never read or seen the base material.”
“ Me neither, but the trailer was cool enough so…? Lol”
“ xd yeah. Tho the main characters eyes look weird.” Devin texts.

“ I guess. Maybe they wana replicate the style or something.”

“ Of what?”
“ I dunno, the mangas? They usually look like that.” Kyle texts.

“ I mean you read more of that than I do.”
“ I know, that’s why I’m saying.” A few minutes later: “ gtg have chores and homework. Cya at the theater at five”

“ k cya.” Devin finishes up his meal and checks the time. Four pm exactly. Devin figures he can take a walk through the park for a while before going to the theater. He throws his trash away and exits the cafe.



 

Devin was woken up by something wet slobbering him in the face. At first, he thinks something had pooped on him and he sits up quickly brushing his face. He looks at his hand. Clear saliva drips down his palm. “ This isn’t….” something puts its face on his leg. Looking down Devin comes eye to eye with a large wheaten terrier. Its brown eyes stare at him and its mouth is open and panting. “ Oh… Heh it was just you. Where did you come from?” He moves his hand to pet the dog but it runs away. Devin shrugs and checks his phone. It’s ten minutes to five. He also has a text message from Milla, another one of his friends. “ She never texts me. Unless it’s about the pirates.” Devin sighs. “ That’s like the only reason she even cares to talk to me at school. ‘I’m the pirate guy.’”

 

He takes a minute to see what Milla wants.

“ Found anything new recently?” She had sent.

“ New?” Devin texts back. Two minutes later:
“ Yeah. About the Carrying or whatever you call them.”
“ Carriers? Not yet like I said last week when you asked me the same thing.”
“ Well I’m just checking. Can I use you for my project for English?”
“ Use me?”

“ Yeh I wanna use the pirates for our sonnets.” Milla texts.

“ Oh.” Devin sighs. What else would she be talking about? “ Sure? What would you need to know?”
“ Dunno. Anything you can tell me. Please?”
“ Yes sure I guess. But I need to go.”
“ Ok fine.” Devin gets on his bike and prepares to ride off. His phone buzzes again. “ Wait can I ask a favour?” From Milla.

“ Favour?” Devin has a suspicion as to what this could mean.

“ Mhm. about the thing you mentioned on friday during math. The ship that crashed two days ago?”
“ Oh yeah.”
“ If you do take a look can you tell me about it tomorrow? Or whenever you look if it’s soon?”
“ Sure? If I check it. But I really need to go cya.” Devin rides off to the theater. He’ll decide if he wants to actually tell her anything later.



 

By the time he arrives it’s five minutes past five pm. Kyle is standing out front playing on his phone, leaning against the wall of the building.
“ Hey man, you ready?” He says as Devin comes up.
“ Yeah just lemme put my bike up on the racks. Where are they again?”
“ Over here.” Kyle shows him the spot and Devin locks up his bike. “ I have our tickets.”
“ Cool.” They walk towards the entrance of the theater. “ Kyle, question.”
“ Sup?”
“ Do you remember that pirate ship that crashed into the shoreline near Barbara coast?”
“ Oh yeah, it was on the news. The police have yet to record anything back yet right?” Kyle opens the door and Devin walks in. The smell of popcorn and cheap food hit his nostrils.

“ Right yeah. I’m thinking tomorrow or something I’m gonna go check it out.”
“ Really? I still think that they’re just not doing anything at the moment since they don’t WANT to do anything.”
“ You still believe the police don’t wanna mess with them?” They wait in line to give their tickets.
“ Oh yeah definitely. You’ve been with them, right? You know how crazy dangerous pirates can be, with their lack of morals and carefree attitude. That’s why they don’t ever settle down with other people like us that much. Too much trouble. Why would the police wanna deal with that when they have us to worry about? There’s hundreds of islands with just us normal people on it for them to take care of, and only certain parts of the government focus on watching the pirates.”
“ They barely do that in the first place.”
“ Exactly. So that’s why they’re taking so long to find something or anything about the crashed ship. They don’t wanna risk finding some big thing that’d cause them trouble.” Kyle says. He gives the woman at the podium their tickets. They wait in line for their food.

“ Probably. If that’s the case then I wanna see the ship. It should be easier if no police are on patrol no?” Devin asks.

“ I mean there’s still gonna some kinda barrier to keep people out most likely. But if you do go get me some pics man.”

“ Sure, if I don’t die or something first.”

“ I’ll still be expecting pictures mate.” They pay for some popcorns and soda and go to see the movie. That night Devin had dreams of android girls and haunted pirate ships.




 

The next day after school Devin takes his bike to Barbara coast. His parents let him since he had finished his homework and nothing else to do. Even if he wanted to forget he couldn’t since both Milla and Kyle made sure to remind him. It’s not like Devin would want to forget himself, he wants to see this. All he is hoping for is there not to be that many security precautions setup to keep people out. His hopes weren’t enough.

 

He rides the long hill that leads to a small park that is connected to a rock side beach where you can climb on the rocks and swim in the ocean. Further down the beach smashed against the rock wall is a medium-sized ship. Devin walks along the sand, looking at it. There’s a small crowd standing behind a barrier that’s been put up along the sand. The ship is a polished brown with a grey outline. The hull is cut and torn, with the front end crushed against the stone. Pieces of it that have fallen off lay on the sand, getting brushed by the water. Devin gets a snap of it on his phone.
“ This is wild.” He says to himself. But one shot of the outside isn’t enough for him. He surveys the area. There aren’t any police around at the moment. Only obstacles are the kids and teens checking it out alongside him. He has to wait it out.


 

Devin rested against the rock wall for twenty minutes waiting. He thought about giving up a few times, but he persisted. Good thing he has a phone. Once the last girl got bored, Devin springs up and walks over to the barrier.  He can climb up and over it. He checks behind him for anyone else on the beach. Lucky day, it’s basically empty. “ Ok, all this means is that someone WILL appear when I don’t want them to. I need to move fast if this is to work. Whatever I’m trying to do.” Devin hoists himself over the barrier. He falls to the sand and rolls over. Spitting and wiping himself clean, he gets up and closes in on the ship’s hull. There’s a series of niches and blow holes from cannon shots. “ Cannon shots? But weren’t guns outlawed? Maybe ship guns are different? Do they even count as guns? Or were the laws just for people using firearms?” He wonders. He uses the niches and blast holes to climb his way up the hull.


 

As Devin climbs, he can hear someone talking about him from down below. He doesn’t look and continues to climb. A few murmurs from below and then silence. All Devin figures is that someone is going to get the police and he’s going to get busted. He climbs faster. He reaches the ship’s main deck and pulls himself up. He rests for a second and looks around. It’s similar to the military ship he rode with the Carriers. There’s some knocked over chairs and a table, a trap door leading downwards, and an engine room. He walks over to it, seeing that the doors are still in place, but can be opened. Inside is like where he first hid and was found. A large central power unit which from out of it extended various pipes that stuck into the walls. He presses some buttons and pulls on some levers. Nothing works. The central unit’s lights flicker a few times then die out. A few arcs of electricity weave through the pipes but don’t return.


 

Down through the trapdoor, Devin carefully descends a staircase that creaks and threatens to fall in on itself. He manages to get to the floor below. A kitchen is collapsed in and the storage crates have been ransacked and the beds stolen. Devin notices a pile of boxes left in the corner of the space. Whatever clan that had come before missed these it seems. He takes a box down and opens it. Papers with drawings and notes on it. Most of the papers are just scribbles and ideas. One larger sheet catches his eye. He spreads it open in his arms. It looks like a crude drawing of the seas. There are various lines and small notes written down. Possible routes and specific spots underneath the ocean. The phrase “ Lost Queen of Manifestation” is written over and over again.

“ Lost… What? Is that a pirate clan? Who owned this ship?” Devin says to himself.


 

“ Good question. We were also going to try and figure that one out.” Someone says behind him. Devin jumps, hiding the map behind him. He turns around quickly. There’s a woman standing there. She has a set of dark brown leather armor that covers her torso, arms, legs, and neck. Sheathed on her belt is a sleek blade. Her eyes flash green in the darker lighting of the ship. Her brown hair falls down around her shoulders. She folds her arms. “ You look familiar, who are you?” Devin doesn’t say anything at first.
“ You’re… Willow. Right? Part of the Carriers?”
“ Hm, and you are…”

“ D-Devin.”
“ Oh yeah. I thought so.” Willow knew his name, she just didn’t want to say anything.  “ It’s been some time, like a year?”

“ I think so.”

“ I’d ask how you’ve been, but…” Willow notices Devin’s arms. “ What are you trying to hide?”

“ Nothing.”
“ Come on. We know each other don’t we?”
“ Well yeah but…” Devin thinks. If there were any pirates he’d trust, it’s the Carriers. If anything out of personal experience. “ I can still trust you right?”

“ You can’t trust anyone.” Willow says. “ But if you wanna make this easier you can trust me. Show me what you have.” Devin stares at her. What is he so afraid of? Has the length of a year really been long enough to become afraid of them again? Or perhaps he’s become afraid of something else. What Kyle said still sticks in his mind. “ I think the police just don’t want to cause any trouble with the pirates.”
“ F-Fine.” Devin holds out the map. “ I dunno what this is. I just found it in the box behind me.”


 

Willow steps forward, taking the map out of Devin’s hand. She looks it over.
“ Ok, yeah this is it.” She folds it up and stuffs it into her pocket. “ Good thing no one else found this first.”

“ What is… It?” Devin asks. Willow glances at him.
“ Did you look at it? It’s evidence of the location of an old pirate ship that sunk years ago.”
“ What ship? From a clan you mean?”
“ I guess? Well not exactly. You remember the Hoarders?”
“ The ones we fought? Killed that one guy?”
“ Jacob… Yeah. A few days ago a group of them managed to sneak into a Milatia, or military database on some island out in the south side. They didn’t TAKE anything perse, just wrote down what they found. Shortly after another clan interrupted their path back home and stole what they’d written down.” Willow looks around the ship. “ Apparently this is what happened to them.”
“ Can I ask… How you know this?”

“ Simple. Me and the others were out cruising when we saw this take place. Course we didn’t do anything since that’d interrupt what we were trying to do. Iggy wanted to join in the fight but I held him back. Dumbass would’ve gotten himself killed.”
“ Oh. So you waited till the fighting was over and then took the rewards yourself?”

“ Exactly.”
“ That’s uh…”
“ What we do. Problem with that?” Willow asks. Devin squeaks.
“ No!” He says. Willow smiles.
“ Good. If you wanna be a pirate you’ll need to understand and accept our ways.” Willow listens in for a minute. Some voices outside on the beach. “ We’re gonna get caught if we stay here longer.”
“ Could I come… With you?” Devin asks.
“ With me?”
“ Y-yeah! Like before, a year ago... If you’ll let me.”
“ Devin why. Isn’t living the easy life you have enough?”

“ Easy? It’s not…” Devin remembers all the things a pirate does daily. “ Ok well still. I still want to be like you guys. A pirate I mean, I guess. I can’t do that if I’m not out there. You know?” Willow sizes up Devin.
“ You’ve grown a little since last time.”
“ U-uh…?”
“ You know if you come with us you’re going to, and I mean you’re going to, get hurt. You could die.” Willow says.
“ Y-yes. Same how it was last time. And I was fine last time! Guns were outlawed right? So I can have an easier time!”
“ Devin that’s not how it works.”

“ O-ok… Fine! Please? I have a school break next week! I wanna learn more about pirating!”

“ It’s not my problem if you don’t live past this. But following your dreams isn’t such a bad thing either.” Voices from outside again. Willow begins to head for the steps. “ I don’t care either way. If you wanna come then follow me and be quick!” She runs up the steps. Devin hesitates for a moment. Does he really want to do this?

“ Yes I do.” He tells himself. “ This is what I want to do. I’ve never forgotten what happened last year and this is how I’ll get my dream of being a real pirate!” He realizes he’s talking to himself out loud and hastily runs up the steps and exits the bowels of the crashed ship.


 

Once out on the main deck, he looks back to where he first arrived. People are watching him gossiping. Three police run up.

“ Get down from there now!” They put hands on their sheathed swords. Devin can see grenades strapped to their belts as well. “ Now!” If he runs he may risk getting bombed, or having them chase after him. Behind Devin Willow is about to leap off the ship on the other side.

“ Meet me at the docks tomorrow at around ten. If you’re serious.” She jumps off.

“ The docks? What part of it? Willow!” Devin stands where she stood, watching her run through the sand towards a large crack in the rock wall. She uses it to climb up. Devin turns back to the police.

“ Kid come down here now!” He does. Devin climbs back down the way he came up, missing a niche and falling. A policeman catches him. “ What’re you doing?”

“ Uh…. Just checking around?”

“ Come with us kid.” Devin is lead to a police car.  “ You have parents?”
“ Yes?”
“ Call them.”



 

Devin was hyped to explain to his friends what had happened. All he ended up doing what complaining to them the next day at school. Milla didn’t feel like hearing about how his phone was taken away, and he was grounded in his room for the next week and how he couldn’t have what he wanted for dinner. Kyle listened, if only out of sympathy.

“ Are you going to meet these pirate people though?” Kyle asks him during lunch.
“ Yes. I’ll just go right after school. Forget homework this is more important to me.” Devin says. They sit down at their table.

“ You sure? Even more than your parents?”
“ Whatever. It’s fine. I’ll take the punishment when I get back. If my parents ask you just say I went on a trip with some friends or something.”
“ If you survive, sure?”
“ Eh, life’s no fun without some risk and seeking out your own desires.”

“ Sure, if you desire to get yourself messed up.”

Devin knows what he wants. Even if Kyle is right and he could get ‘messed up’, he still won’t miss this chance. Later on that day, Devin rides his bike to the docks. He locks it up and sets his backpack next to it. Whether or not it’s going to be stolen isn’t of importance to him right now. He searches around for the Carriers. Fifteen minutes later, and he still hasn’t found them. He was ready to give up. He’d check every ship that was currently docked but they all looked the same. He’d asked some of the shipmasters and people selling ship parts but none of them really knew. The docks are one of the busiest areas on Lenore, so finding a single set of people here is near to impossible.

However, his annoyance would be washed away when someone poked him on the back.

 

It’s a man, around five ten or so. He has short, spiky red hair. His eyes flash with intrigue and curiosity. He has a pair of gauntlets on that hold a mechanism on the top of the hand, where with the flick of the wrist a single, fat blade will extend outwards. His leather armor is similar to the kind that Willow had on, only his pants are white and they billow in the wind. “ You’re Devin right?”
“ Yeah... Ignatius?”

“ Indeed that’s me! ‘Tis been a while hasn’t it. You still surviving being a Normie?”
“ Mmm, not sure. I guess so.” They both laugh. “ What about you?”
“ Not bad, definitely not bad.” Iggy wipes his nose. Behind him Devin can see Willow and another woman with her standing near a ship. “ Also if you wanna come with then let’s move. We came here to get some repair parts for our ship. We waited an extra little while since Willow said you wanted to come.”
“ And you’ll let me?”
“ I figured why the hell not. You were useful last time. This time we wouldn’t mind some help, at least we can trust you, far as we know.”
“ I am!” Devin says.

“ Keep proving it mate. Come on.” Iggy heads towards the Carriers’ ship. Devin scrambles to stay with him. Willow sees them and nods, smiling faintly. The other one Devin also recognizes. She’s a bit frailer in complexion compared to Iggy and Willow. Her eyes are like the ocean, soft and wonderous. Her caramel hair falls gently around her face. She has a lighter set of leather armor on and two hidden blade gauntlets around her wrist. She sees Devin and waves, before following Willow up the ramp towards the main deck. “ Flora and I remembered you almost immediately.” Iggy says as they head up the ramp.

“ Really?” Devin asks.
“ Yeah. You’re different from what we normally see. And it’s hard to forget someone who helps you out.”
“ Oh. Well I… Haven’t forgotten you guys either.” The Carriers step onto the ship. Flora pulls up the ramp and Iggy starts up the engine. The light green pirate ship begins to make its way out into the open sea.


 

Devin sips his bowl of noodle soup. It’s surprisingly good. Most people at his school and online love to say how terrible pirate food is. Eating in the downstairs kitchen of the Carriers’ ship, Devin can disagree. Iggy has already finished his bowl and is chowing down on a bag of Frito chips. Willow is just finishing her bowl. Flora is now getting started. “ Are the noodles ok?”

“ Yeah, they are actually.” Iggy says. “ So are these chips. Who knew a small village would have such nice food.”

“ I think it was an agricultural village. They focused a lot on their food craft.” Willow says. “ That’s what it looked like anyway.”

“  You guys stole this stuff?” Devin asks.

“ Mhm.” Flora says. “ It was sad, they didn’t even see us. Though it was the middle of the night.”

“ Yup, got these things about a day ago? Went to uh… what is it Lacacia Island?” Iggy asks.

“ Yeah it was.” Willow says. “ First time in a while we’ve been there. You heard of it Devin?”

“ I think I might’ve? I’m not sure.” He looks at Iggy’s chips. “ Can I have some?”
“ Lemme get my fill first.” Iggy says. “ Here.” He hands an empty bag to Devin.
“ Uh...Ok?” Devin says confused. Iggy starts to crack up. Willow rolls her eyes.

“ Just remember what kinda shit you’re dealing with when you’re with HIM.” She glances at Iggy accusingly.
“ Ok sorry jeez.”
“ I’ll get another bag.” Flora says. She gets up and heads into the kitchen. Iggy stands up and stretches.

“ Am I cleaning this tonight?”
“ Yes.” Willow says. “ I did last night.”
“ UGH. Fine then Devin help me clean these. Let’s see if you can clean like a pirate.”


 

Devin felt he did a pirate enough job with the dishes. He was rewarded with a bag of potato chips. After that was done with, the Carriers relaxed on their beds. Flora is sleeping, Willow is reading, and Iggy is trying to sleep.
“ Iggy?” Devin says, sitting on a mat on the floor.

“ What.”
“ Why’re you ignoring me?”
“ I’m not.”
“ Can I ask a question.”
“ Sure.”

“ Ok so… I’m just curious, but how’ve you been? You guys I mean.” He glances at Willow.
“ Iggy you say something I’m busy.”

“ Do I have to explain.” Iggy asks.
“ It’ll make the kid shut up.”
“ Fine.” Iggy sits up. “ Well honestly it’s been fairly good. We uh… I dunno we just do what we normally do. Each day we… Let’s see… Flora likes to take care of the flowers and stuff on our island. I tend to sail out and find new places to possibly ransack. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. Like this one time, I convinced Willow to go with me to this island where they sold things from across the ocean, items brought over from Chis. Interesting things I guess.”
“ They had some cool antiques. Statues of religious Gods and prayer bowls.” Willow says.

“ Yeah. Then, of course, Willow had to blow our cover and they almost skewered us if we didn’t hi-tail it out of there.” Iggy says. Willow drops her book and stares at Iggy.
“ Excuse me, no. It was your fault! You kept playing around with the stupid religious shit they had!”
“ I’m not saying anyone is at fault here.”
“ But you just…” Devin was cut off by Iggy’s eyes.
“ What?”
“ Nothing.”

“ Speaking of our island. That’s where we’re going. It’s a neat little island.” Iggy says.
“ Feel sorry for the couple that lived there.” Willow says. “ They were ancient looking.”

“ Guys could you quiet down I’m trying to sleep.” Flora says. She rolls over on her bed.



A few hours later and the Carriers pull up onto Lilac Island. When Devin first sees this he stops for a moment. He thinks he’s seen this place before, passing by during a school field trip. If it is true it took place a good few years ago. He didn’t remember there being so many lilac flowers covering the island's surface. As he follows the Carriers to their house, his legs are brushed by soft purple petals and a simple breeze goes by. There’s not too many trees littered around, only a few. The ones that do exist stand still, their leaves bristling. This seems like the kind of place that an old person would call heaven. The house itself was generally what Devin should’ve expected, if he were to expect something. It’s made up of wood, brown and decaying a little. There’s a chimney up top and some windows. Iggy opens the grey door. “ Welcome to Carriers Headquarters. Please excuse the excess of rats and our boss isn’t the nicest person so if he yells at you just ignore him. We have some nice goods in our kitchen and the tv works just fine. Enjoy yourself. You won’t be staying long.”
“ Iggy shut up.” Willow says as she heads inside. Flora simply giggles and enters after Willow.
“ As if we had a boss.” She says. Devin is just confused.

“ Boss? Is there a rat infestation?”
“ There used to be rats, but we took care of them.” Iggy glances at his wrist blades. “ We actually just used traps we stole. And our boss doesn’t exist. We aren’t the military or the Hoarders.”

 

The inside is bigger than the outside. Devin searches around. He finds a living room, small kitchen, a single bedroom, and a bathroom. He spends the next day there, hanging out with the Carriers. He helps Flora cook food and Iggy clean the bathroom. Somehow they have TV connection. Even if it is limited. The next day Devin wakes up from his sleeping mat on the floor. After a short breakfast of bread and eggs, Iggy pulls out the map that Devin had found. He spreads it out on the kitchen table.

“ Ok, we should take a look at this.”
“ First off, who stole it from the Hoarders?” Flora asks. Iggy inspects the map.
“ I dunno.”
“ No look here.” Willow points to a small bit of writing at the edge of the paper. Stolen by the Furs “ What egotists.”
“ Who writes themselves down like that?” Devin asks.
“ No idea, but if we find ‘em we’ll thank ‘em.” Iggy says.

“ I know what that means.” Flora says. Devin is confused. He feels like he might find out later. Or not.

“ Now then, if this was taken from the Hoarders, the ones we saw breaking into the Military island, then it has to have the info that leads to the Lost Queen.” Willow says.

“ Are we sure it’s not something else?” Iggy asks.
“ Why else would they have written it down? The teams we fought before were droning on and on about it.”

“ Ugh, don’t remind me. I still don’t get why we let some of them live.” Iggy says.

“ Is that really important right now?” Flora asks.
“ You’re right.” Willow trails her finger along the different lines marked on the paper. “ Give me some time and I should be able to find the location of the ship, if it’s even on here. Ugh they couldn’t be ANY clearer with their penmanship?”



 

They left Willow to figuring out the map.  Or at least that’s what they thought they were going to do. Minutes after a turret blast whizzes past their house. Devin jumps in alarm. Iggy growls.

“ Really? At this time?” Willow looks out the window.
“ It’s a Hoarder ship. Oh for fu…..” She reaches for her sword. “ I’m going to take care of them.”
“ I’m coming.” Iggy says. He straps on his wrist blades. “ Flora?”
“ I can continue to look the map over. If you aren’t back soon I’ll come check.”
“ What about me?” Devin asks.

“ I guess you’ll just stay here, we don’t have a weapon for you yet. I don’t think.” Iggy says. He and Willow rush out the door and across the field of lilacs.

“ Devin help me with this, It's always better to have help with maps.” Flora says.


 

Iggy and Willow rush up to the Hoarder ship that’s parked along the side of the island’s edge. The Hoarders wait on the main deck. “ Hey! Give us our map back and we’ll have no trouble!” One of them says. It’s a man wearing the same yellow leather armor that most Hoarders don.
“ Why? Can’t we share it?” Iggy asks.

“ No!” A woman steps up. She has short green hair, and fiery red eyes. “ It’s ours we found it and we’re going to get it back!” She brandishes her two short swords. “ Do we have to come down there?”

“ Come down and you’re dead meat.” Willow says. A third man steps up next to the others on the ship.
“ You people are taking too long.” He hops over the side of the ship and takes out his club. The other two follow.

“ Carol, follow me.” He says. “ Silas, just get the other one.”
“ What? Jason stop acting like you’re a leader for God’s sake.” Silas says. Jason and Carol rush Willow and Silas runs at Iggy.

 

Iggy unsheathes his two wrist blades. He readies himself as Silas comes in close with his metal club. Silas swings for Iggy’s head. Iggy ducks down, slashing at Silas’ legs. Silas staggers back, going for Iggy’s arm. Iggy leaps back, getting grazed by the club’s sharp spikes. He charges at Silas, thrusting both arms at his neck. Silas swings again, and Iggy ducks. This time he jumps up, driving both of his blades into Silas’ neck.

Willow eyes the two attackers. Carol rushes in with her double swords. Jason stays back, ready to aid with his sword when the time comes. Willow blocks the double strike, sending one sword flying towards the ground. Carol grunts and rolls to Willow’s side, slashing her leg. Willow stumbles, and Jason comes up for the kill. Willow raises her sword, blocking Jason’s strike. She punches him in the nuts, causing Jason to scream in high pitch. Willow smiles and rolls to the side, dodging Carol’s strike. She slashes at Jason, who is too far away to be hit. Carol goes again for Willow’s back. Willow flops to the ground, her skin getting cut. Iggy quickly rushes over and slides under Carol’s legs. He cuts along her crotch, getting up fast and going for her throat. Carol whirls around, ignoring the pain. She blocks Iggy’s strike, pushing him back.
“ Ok guys wait.” She says. Everyone pauses. Willow stands up, Iggy waits. They’re all panting, bleeding and in pain. Carol bends down to the ground, holding her lower area. Her clothes are stained with red and she’s shaking. “ C-Can we just stop? D-Don’t you guys also want the lost treasure?”

“ Carol what?” Jason says. “ They can’t have it! That’s less for us.”
“ Exactly.” Iggy says. “ Why shouldn’t we kill you now and get it for ourselves?”

“ Because….. Maybe if we worked together we could find it?” Carol says softly.
“ You know Pirates can’t trust each other.” Willow says.
“ Then a truce. If we find anything we’ll let you… Know.” Carol says.
“ Willow she’s just trying to get out of this alive.” Iggy says.
“ I know. But they could be right.” Willow says.
“ Oh my God.”
“ No really.” Willow goes over to Carol, putting her sword in her face. “ It could be easier this way. We have no idea if the Casters and Manifesters still exist. If they do we’d want to have more support rather than less. You two can leave, I’m tired today anyway.”
“ Are you serious?” Jason says. “ We still want the map.”
“ If we find the location we might come to you for help. That’s it. Or do you want to die now?” Willow says.

“ That’s the best offer you’ll get right now.” Iggy says. “ Also can you hurry up I’m hungry.” Willow facepalms. Carol scrambles upwards and rushes over to Jason, who helps her stand up.  
“ Let’s head back. I’d rather….Not die today like that idiot Silas.” She says. Jason seems conflicted.
“ You Carriers are sure you’ll come to us?”
“ Perhaps.” Iggy says. “ IF we feel it’s necessary and you don’t kill us.”
“ Hm…” Jason whispers to Carol. “ If not we can always force them to give up the map and what they know later. With more help.”
“ Clearly we’d need more help, but fine. Can we just go?” Carol says.

The Hoarders waddle back to their ship and take off.


 

Iggy was in charge of disposing of Silas’ body. It smelled like crap and it was heavy. He still isn’t sure if letting the Hoarders off to maybe work with them is a good idea. Sure, they may need help if they are to succeed in their mission. But like Willow said, it’s hard to trust a pirate. The only time would be if you want to use them to get what you want. Perhaps that may work, or not. Iggy puts it aside for now and heads back to the house, ready for a snack.




 

The Carriers didn’t figure out the location of the Lost Queen of Manifestation for the rest of the day. They were too busy patching themselves up and resting. Devin kept asking questions about what the Lost Queen is. He didn’t get an answer. The next day, he decides to ask again during breakfast.

“ Could you tell me please?”
“ Who wants to explain.” Iggy says. “ He might as well know the lore if he’s to come with us.”
“ The what?”
“ I guess I’ll explain.” Flora says. She finishes a piece of toast. “ So. Fifty years ago there used to be a Clan of Pirates known as the End All Manifesters. They were among the second generation of Pirates who devoted their lives to helping not only themselves but the Normies also. They had hundreds of men and women working together with the Normies to make Islands of near perfection, where anyone could do what they wanted and have fun and feel safe. It was near paradise. That was until a group of long-forgotten Pirates called the Casters wanted to get some recognition. The Casters wanted to make their new magic substances known to the world, and for people to know and believe them. So they tried to take over the islands, using their magic to forcefully make people follow them. They took control over parts of the Manifesters, tearing down what they’d established. The world was turning into a magic craze with no law or order. The Casters wanted people to feel the might of Magic,  and for magic to become a staple part of life, and they did it. The End All Manifesters however, wouldn’t put up with it. They came together and defeated the Casters against all odds. This was known as the greatest war of the pirates. Now the Casters and the Manifesters have long since become obscure to everyday Normies, though some Clans of Pirates still know of them. The government has them locked away in their databases.”
“ It’s a hard thing to forget.” Willow says.

“ Oh wow..” Devin says. “ I might’ve heard something about them from my friends at school… I think maybe?”
“ I wouldn’t doubt it.” Iggy says. “ It’s the kinda news that gets around, even if the government tries to contain it.”

“ So they’re still around?” Devin asks.
“ Some pirates like to think so. The ones that know.” Willow says. “ I think they are, and this map shows it’s gotta be true.”
“ Yup. And if we can find where their sunken ship is, we could find their magic and whatever else they had.” Iggy says.
“ But, why?” Devin asks.
“ Gives us an upper hand.” Flora says. “ Makes it easier to do what we do if we have stronger weaponry.”

“ Wouldn’t the government stop you?”
“ Naw, we’d get by stealthily, just like we do now.” Iggy says. “ We’ll find a way. We could even fight the government too.”
“ Stop it with that Iggy.” Willow says. “ We won’t destroy the government.”
“ Eh, whatever, but still. Good shit over there, possibly.”


 

The rest of the day is dedicated to finding the location on the map where the ship is. Flora ended up doing most of the work as Iggy and Willow got tired and/or distracted. Devin had no clue how to interpret a map and just helped by getting Flora snacks. By around noon Flora yelps with success.
“ I have it. Guys!” She points to a spot seemingly in the middle of nowhere, according to the map. “ It has to be here. I’ve double checked and thought out all the routes. If this is accurate there’s not another spot it could be.”
“ You sure?” Devin asks.

“ I’ll go with it.” Iggy says. “ We’ve spent way too long trying to figure out how the hell to find it. I wanna just go out already!”

“ I’m finding myself agreeing with you Iggy.” Willow says. “ Not sure how I feel about that, but if you think that’s it Flora then I’m done trying.”
“ Alright!” Flora seems pleased with herself. “ When are we heading out?”
“ Tomorrow. We should prepare our ship for a long term sail. And some more rest wouldn’t hurt.” Iggy says. “ Devin come, I wanna find you something to use to defend yourself.”






 

By the late morning of the following day, the Carriers were on their ship sailing away from Lilac island. It took them a little longer since they were healing up, but the greedy passion of collecting new things drives them forward. Devin is practicing with his new weapon, a simple short sword. He wanted to use a longer sword like Willow’s, but they wouldn’t let him. Iggy says Devin should master simple weaponry first. Plus the fact that Devin isn’t exactly the best fighter among the Carriers. Iggy likes to say HE is the best, but Willow is quick to disagree, and Flora doesn’t care. The main focus for them now is to head to the supposed location of the Lost Queen. As their ship sails through the vast endless expanse of blue, Devin looks at the distance, seeing glimpses of other islands and ships passing by. There used to be a major difference between a pirate ship and a normie’s ship. A normie’s would be of a darker color, and generally bigger sized. A pirate’s would be the opposite. Nowadays, as the population of pirates increases, and the government loses control over them, the kinds of ships they sail have mixed with the normie’s. Some people say at some point pirates and normies might begin to sail together. An idea that was most certainly taboo back then. Devin’s realizes what that means and smiles.


The Carriers were having an easy trip, until they ended up going past the Hoarders main island. As soon as Willow saw they were coming up close she cussed and notified the others. Iggy tried to turn the ship around but they were too late. Now two Hoarder ships surround them. Each with about five pirates on board. One of them is Jones, the second in command of the Hoarders.

“ Carriers! You’re coming with us!” He yells across decks.

“ Why the hell should we?” Willow asks.

“ Because our boss asked us to.” Jones flashes his two pronged blade. “ If not we can outnumber you right now and murder you.” Flora looks at the two boats. Ten to four.
“ Guys maybe we should just see what they want.”

“ I don’t like it.” Iggy says, eyeing Jones. “ Is this about earlier? With the Lost treasure?”
“ Indeed it is Carriers.” Jones says. “ The boss wants to talk to you about working together, or something.”
“ Perhaps this could work out?” Devin says quietly.
“ Ehhh, I dunno.” Willow says. “ But we really don’t have a choice.” She faces Jones. “ We’ll come.”



 

The Hoarders island is a lot cleaner than what Devin expected. He thought it would be like the last island of theirs that he saw, a simple place to stow away items for later. It was dusty, and not well kept at all. He still remembers the clocks, and the old paintings just thrown down and forgotten. The actually Headquarters island of the Hoarders is much neater. Some simple housing setup for the pirates to live in, the dirt streets paving the way. A small forest surrounds the backside of the island. In the middle of it is an old military base, that was emptied out and used for the Hoarders’ main base. The Carriers are walked into the cold, dark green building. “ You guys couldn’t have made the place look nicer?” Iggy asks.

“ Shut up.” One of the Hoarders says. Jones leads them into the base, through multiple rooms and up a flight of stairs. There’s barely anyone else in here, just some tv rooms, a lounge room, and a storage room. Upstairs are what is now the bedroom and lookout station. The Carriers followed by Jones and two other Hoarders enter the station. Glass paneling outlines the room, letting in sunlight and the world outside. Some chairs and tables with binoculars are placed around. Sitting at the far end, at a table by himself, is a pirate wearing a set of sleek iron armor. A headband fitted around his short brown hair. He has been waiting for the Carrier’s arrival. In one hand is a knife, and on the table is a pistol.

“ Well I see we’ve finally gotten ourselves in this position.” He stands up, his black skin a contrast from the room itself. “ Hello Carriers, ready to work together?”


 

Devin isn’t the only one surprised by the gun laying on the table. Iggy Willow and Flora are all taken back by it. It’s been months since guns were outlawed. All pirates were supposed to have sent theirs away. The government did a mass purge, used more force than they needed to to make sure no one had easy access to a firearm. “ Why the hell do you have that?” Iggy asks. The Hoarder leader laughs.

“ Actually I have Jones to thank for that. During our little break in last week, he found it and brought it back.”  

“ I took it off a dead man.” Jones says.
“ Are you going to threaten us with it?” Willow asks. The leader picks up the pistol, inspecting it.
“ It’s possible. IF you don’t comply.” He steps forward. “ Which, frankly I think is a low chance. I have men next to you, ready to rip you apart at my command, and if that don’t work, this gun will do just fine.” Devin has to work to stop himself from shaking. The leader notices him. “ Interesting you’re still with that kid. What help is he?”
“ Enough.” Flora says. “ He helped us get the Thunder Blade.”
“ You mean this?” Willow pulls out a sword, different from the one she had before. She flicks it forward, and electricity suddenly crackles to life along the silvery edge.

 

Everyone in the room stands back.

“ You brought that?” Iggy asks. “ I thought it was mine.”
“ No it’s not.” Willow says. “ You are not careful enough with it. I’m gonna bring this with me if we’re on a mission.” The other three Hoarders in the room raise their blades. The leader waves them down.
“ Fancy stuff. It could be ours.” His eyes flash. “ But that would ruin the point of all this.”
“ Which is?” Iggy asks.
“ Like I’ve mentioned, since you four are going to seek the treasure, we want in on it too. It may be easier if we work with each other on this, since we have no clue of what might be out there. All we need is a simple truce among us, and we can get to the real business.”

“ Million dollar question is…” Iggy begins to say.
“ How do we trust you?” Devin says. He’s scared, but not out for the count.

“ So the little one speaks.” The leader laughs. “ Well, we’ll send some of us to journey with you.” He nods to Jones, who leaves the room. A minute later, three more Hoarders enter the room. Two of them are Carol and Jason. They don’t look too happy, they are just now finishing recovering from their wounds, but they have looks of interest in their eyes. And the third is a new one. She has blonde hair and supple tan skin. They stand by the leader, like soldiers. “ These three fellows have volunteered to go with you.”
“ Markus that ain’t true.” Carol says. “ You forced us to go.”
“ I know, but  you’re here aren’t you?”
“ Why are y’all being forced?” Iggy asks.
“ Since we owe Markus a good amount.” Jason says. “ He’s the one who helps organize our clan, and keeps things from collapsing. Not being like those other clans that barely last a week or so.”
“ Yup. You Carriers wouldn’t get what being in a larger clan is like.” The third says.
“ Jessila, quiet now. We don’t want to upset your new teammates.” Markus says. Jessila rolls her eyes. Devin can tell the only reason there aren’t dead bodies is the general consensus on gaining new treasures. The essence of a pirate, Freedom, and Treasure. Collecting more to make yourself stronger and more viable in this world.



 

The Carriers took a long while in agreeing to the deal. They aren’t trusting of the clan that has been their rivals for, around a year and a half. About a quarter of when they started pirating together. But their decision had to be to join up if they wanted to seek out the sunken ship more safely. The Hoarders aren’t exactly jubilant about this either, but they’ll deal with it. It’s only made worse for the Carriers when they learn they’ll have to use a Hoarder ship to continue sailing. Markus didn’t give an exact reason, just said: “ It’s preferable for us if you used our toys.” The ship itself is almost the same as the Carriers’ except that it’s a dark yellow shade, and the food selection is larger. There weren’t enough beds so more had to be implemented. Some paper and books are placed in as well for good measure. By nighttime, the Hoarder ship is making it’s way past the island and out into the sea, heading towards the North West Seas.


 

 

Devin’s main issue with this is not the fear of being stabbed in the middle of the night, he had a nice spot in the corner of the bottom deck away from everyone, but how crowded the ship was. There is a total of six pirates on deck excluding Devin. They talk a little bit, mainly trying to get a feel for each other. Devin spent most of his time just observing the others. Iggy and Jason talking about being the only two men on the ship. Flora and Carol discussing what kinds of weapons and food is the best. Willow is mostly off by herself, and Jessila too, both watching the ocean, hoping for something to come up. It seems that once the pirates get over their clan differences, they aren’t so different. Just people who want to live their own lives and see some new things. Whether or not they’ll last with each other is another question.

 

It took more time than they were expecting to reach the Sunken Ship. Early one morning the Hoarder ship was attacked by another traveling clan. They called themselves the Mighties. Carol assumed this was because of their extremely oversized blades. Jessila had made a theory that it would be their downfall, and she was right. The Mighties went down fast. To the two clan’s disappointment however, they had little to nothing. Some bottles of bread and drinks. They took it anyway. Next the Hoarders made them stop at a Hoarder owned island. It was another storage island, with a single building used for keeping things.

“ Look guys,” Carol said. “ It’s necessary, if we are going underwater then we’ll need some gear to help us not die.”

“ And you’re saying you guys have something that’ll do that?” Iggy asked. They’d been docked next to the island, with the bridge already laid down to the ground.

“ Yeah, sure.” Jessila said. “ About a week ago we raided a museum, was fairly old and didn’t have too much interesting stuff.”
“ Besides those giant fish, that was cool to see at night.” Jason said.

“ I guess, but anyway; there was a storage compartment section...Thingie. We stole all that was in there, including diving suits.”

“ Like to breathe underwater?” Devin asked.
“ What else?” Carol said. She’d started moving down towards the island. “ Imma just go get the stuff, if anyone wants to help me they can, make it faster.” The Carriers were a little annoyed with waiting for the three Hoarders to come back with the suits. They ended up taking about a half hour. Jason’s excuse was: “ There was a lot of stuff in there and we didn’t want to break anything.” This sort of lazy excuse made Willow upset and Flora had to help her calm down.


 

But they do have eight sets of diving equipment now. It fits all of them, at least for the most part. They try it on as they sail onwards.
“ Hey these feel nice actually.” Flora says. “ Have you Hoarders ever used them before now?”

“ I mean, maybe the others have.” Jason says. He inspects a part of his suit, where some green plant-like stuff is hanging off of it. “ I think so.”
“ Devin that does NOT fit you.” Willow says, watching the little kid try to get into his suit. It’s an obvious size too large. It simply falls down around him, leaving but a puddle of clothing. Devin stands there, semi-embarrassed.
“ Oh. Does this mean that uh… I can’t come?” He asks.

“ You shouldn’t have come at all mate.” Jessila says. “ What can you do with your sword?”
“ Uh.”
“ He’s a tad more helpful than you may expect.” Flora says. “ As long as you basically babysit him.”
“ Hey!”
“ It’s true.” Iggy says. “ But we need more pirates, and training a new Carrier isn’t such a bad idea, I guess.”

“ Why not make him a Hoarder?” Carol asks.
“ I uh-”
“ Because he’s with us. Good reason.” Iggy says.
“ WE can show him why joining us would be more fun.” Jessila says.

“ You guys won’t, since he’s staying with us.”

“ Oh really?”
“ It’s his choice guys.” Flora says. Devin watches them bicker, not sure of what to say.
“ I-I can just stay here while you… Go down to the Lost thing… I mean uh…”
“ Lost Queen of Manifestation.” Willow says. “ And staying up here by yourself could be dangerous, so I’d suggest keeping yourself in the lower deck.”

“ Are you TRYING to act like you care for him?” Carol asks. Willow gives her a death stare.

“ What?”
“ Ok I think we can focus on something else.” Jason says. He’s looking at the ship’s front hull. Some small pieces of the wood are ripped off, leaving holes. “ We need to do some repairs.”
 

 

The assumption is that the rip was caused by the Hoarders getting a bit too close to their storage island. However small the damage is, it’s still best to patch it up before it could be chipped by something else in the water and become worse. Luckily they come by an island that Devin’s familiar with. Lockhown. He’d been here with one of the Carriers in order to get some crystals to power stealth suits. Remembering this, he wonders if they still have those suits.
“ Those?” Iggy says. “ I think we sold ‘em for money.”
“ We did.” Willow says. “ The trade shop owners also wanted the Thunder Blade, but that was obvious in the answer.” Willow looks at it in her hands, crackling. Her, Iggy and Devin walk through the forest, looking for a good tree to cut down. Once they hack down two and a half trees, they lug it all back to the ship. Only Jason and Jessila help, as Flora and Carol are sleeping. Carol and Jason spend the next few hours carving the wood and replacing the holes in the hull. No one else helps since they have no clue how to construct.


 

The next night, Flora is awoken with the urge to pee. She uses the “stalls” built into the boat. ( which really are just fancy holes that drop all their bodily excess into the ocean.) Afterward she decides to head up to the top deck, to get some fresh midnight air. Flora enjoys doing this occasionally. No one here but her, and the elements. Sure it can be cold, but during the right nights, it’s rather relaxing. The water brushes the ship’s side, the wind blows, lights of distant islands shine. As Flora steps onto the top deck, she notices the lights along the border are on. “ Hello?” She says.
“ Huh? You’re uh, Flora right?” Carol asks. She’s leaning on the border.

“ Yeah? What’re you..?” Flora asks softly. She’s supposed to be in her side of the sleeping area, along with the other Hoarders.

“ I found it!”
“ What?”
“ Look down here.” Carol points to the ocean below. Flora, a tad confused, walks over, peering downwards. There’s a small light extending up from a structure all the way down. On closer looking, it’s an outline of a massive ship. It’s crashed along the base of a large hill jetting out from the sea floor. The mere distant shape of it gives the impression of a vast vessel. Flora gasps as she stares down.
“ How big is it?”

“ Enough to store three of our ship definitely.” Carol says. Flora is enamored by questions. What’s inside? Are there still any trinkets and weapons and magic left behind? How big IS it? What did they use the space for? Why exactly was it left here? Are all the occupants dead or did they run off somewhere? Perhaps some far off islands where they still live on? They swirled in her head. Carol yawns. “ We should probably nod off before we go down. This is where the danger starts, if there is any.”

“ Will you kill us now that you’ve found it?”

“ Mmm, most likely no. We haven’t gotten anything yet. We may still need your help if something’s down there.”
“ Same to you, I suppose.” Flora yawns as well. “ But, we’ll let the others know later.” They go back to bed. They each have a hard time getting sleep with the anxiety and excitement of the next day in their minds.



 

 

After breakfast the next morning, Carol shows the rest of the pirates on deck where the sunken Queen is. Everyone is eager to go, including Devin. He’s upset he has to stay, unsure of whether or not someone else will come and murder him. Out in the open sea anything could happen. It’s why pirates don’t sail alone usually. He helps the Carriers put on their suits. He would help the Hoarders but he doesn't’ trust them enough. Once they’re all set up, they sheathe their weapons, activate the oxygen supply on their masks, and leap over the ship’s border. Devin sees each body dive into the dark blue water, disappearing with the splash. Now that they’re all descending, he walks back down into the bowels of the ship, waiting. Thoughts of what-ifs enter his head. He’ll have to fight to keep them away.

 

The bottom side of the sea is an entirely new world in of itself. It looks nothing like our world, and its inhabitants are completely different. People have ventured all of the top of the sea, but no one can see all of its true glory down below. The pirates fall down gently, the pressure increases. The suits maintain a decent pressure inside of it. It won’t last long. Fish of a rainbow of colors swim by. A shark or two head through a few meters away. If anything was hungry, they have some snacks out in the open. The bottom floor is covered in darkness, invisible except for the mountainous hill sticking up. The ship sticks to its side, luckily hitting this spot in the sea, allowing for limited access. Willow hits down first, stumbling a bit. Each of them almost fall down, not used to the new weight on them. None of them can talk in this state, which they didn’t plan for. Jessila sees a smashed in hole in the floor of the deck. She points to it, waving to the others. They all swim towards it, crossing the expanse of the three-mile-wide ship. It’s beyond any of them how many people this could’ve carried, and what activities may have been held here. As they descend through the hole, the inside opens up to them.


 

There’s a total of five floors, each separated by a huge gash, possibly made by the ship hitting the mountain it now lays on. The two teams split up to check around. Carol and Jason investigate the first floor. It has a lot of crushed and rotting desks and tables. The walls have torn banisters and maps.  Could’ve been used for planning and figuring out attack and management strategies. Writing and drawing tools float about, old and useless. Carol takes a pen in her hand, looking at the old plastic. Jason tries to collect as many of them as he can, but all of it is slapped out of his hand by Carol. She silently tells him they don’t need junk like that. Jason shrugs and they continue looking around.

Jessila goes with Iggy to the second floor. It seems to be some kind of cafeteria. Long tables with plates and eating utensils floating about aimlessly. Iggy searches for leftover food. He thinks he can find ancient meals with stupendous flavors. Anything that would’ve been that is now just disgusting lumps of meat and other matter stuffed together in the cooking section sinks. Pieces of it tap his head lightly, causing him to shake and swim away. Jessila knows better than to try and eat old underwater food. She knows nothing here is useful and swims down to the third floor. Iggy follows, not wanting to be associated with food anymore. The third floor could’ve been sleeping barracks. Bunk beds lie on their sides on top of one another, their sheets and pillows scattered around, the supports cracked. Jessila picks up a pillow, but it’s barely solid and not fluffy. Nothing here is usable anymore, not for sleeping. Iggy attempts to sleep on a bed that’s still standing but he can’t get a comfortable position. The suit plus the parts of it that make it heavier doesn’t allow for comfortable lying postures. Jessila sees a plastic toy float past her face. She grabs it. A small animatronic bear figure, maybe something out of a game. Was this something one of the children on the ship had? If there were any? She decides to hold onto it.

 

Willow and Flora search the fourth and fifth floors. The fourth is mostly empty. Whatever was here, possibly a storage section, is gone. The very bottom floor however, is not empty. The left side is filled with broken bottle shards and caps. Cabinets and boxes float about too. The right side is the same deal, except a few of the bottles still contain something inside. Flora takes one of the bottles in her hand. It has a green substance in it, like colored mist. Willow eyes it. Jason comes beside them, watching. He swipes it from Flora’s hand, taking it for himself and uncapping it. Flora looks at him angrily. In another circumstance, this would’ve been Jason’s death sentence. As the others join them, Jason watches as the green mist leaves the bottle, flowing towards him and absorbing into his body.

They all look at him, confused yet amazed by what just happened. They give him puzzled and questioning looks. Jason shrugs. Suddenly he shoots upwards, hitting his head on the ceiling. He then flings to the right, crashing through the hull and out through the ocean. The pirates float in their place, processing what’s happening. A minute or so later and Jason comes flying back, smashing into Iggy. They both go rolling backward. Iggy cusses inside of his suit, kicking Jason off of him. Jason finally stabilizes himself. He points back up toward their own ship, flinging himself skyward. The Hoarders look at the Carriers, not sure of how to think of this. This has to be the magic right? They swim back up to their ship. Except for Willow, who just as she is readying to move herself upwards, something bumps her. She turns and sees its an old book. A diary. The brown outside is bound together and worn. It’s a thick cover, waterproof. The name written on it says “ Kathryn Noel.” A once member of the ship? Willow has a nagging feeling there could be something useful within the diary’s pages. Some information on the life once lived here. She grabs it and quickly ascends.


 

Devin jumps as he hears the pirates climbing onto the ship’s main deck. He grabs his sword and peeks out from the stairs. His heart calms down as he realizes who it is. The two groups remove their suits, their normal clothes surprisingly dry. As they all put the suits in a pile on the floor, they discuss what they saw. It’s a rapid exchange of info, laughing, invectives. Jason says something about the magic he got letting him switch his gravity, which is why he could do what he did. He flings himself across the deck, slamming into the engine room wall for example. Devin puts his sword down and immerges.
“ H-hi.” He says.
“ How’re things?” Iggy asks.
“ Nothing happened.”
“ Same for us, mostly.” Flora says. “ We mainly found one thing worth noting. And this idiot took it from me!”
“ It’s what I do, and now I’m a superhero.” Jason says. Carol rolls her eyes.
“ Sure, I bet that wears off after sometime.”

“ It won’t, hopefully.”

“ There were more of them down there, should we go back?” Jessila asks.

“ Wait guys, we may have something more important than those bottles.” Willow says. She holds out the diary. “ This just happened to bump me.”

“ Yo, that may actually give us some info.” Iggy says.

“ How is that not destroyed?” Carol asks.

“ Probably the cover.” Jessila says.

“ Either way, if we wanna find the legendary pirates we can start with this. Or continue with it I guess.” Flora says.
“ Pfft, we’ll have to see about legendary.” Iggy says. “ Also Devin, put our wetsuits down below will you? So it’s out of the way.”


 

Willow got the diary open by using Flora’s wrist blade to cut the weakened binding metal. While Devin carries a large pile of diving gear away, the pirates sit at a table on the main deck as Willow opens the pages. Within is the story of a single member amongst thousands of others who were aboard the Queen of Manifestation when it fled the world. Dozens upon dozens of pages, day after day, of this person, Kathryn, describing her days on the ship. She seems to’ve been of a younger age, under 20 but above ten. She was with her parents and two brothers on the ship when the war between Manifesters and Casters first started. She had hid with her family among many others while the pirate’s battles raged on through many islands. She talks about how she was taken out of her home, and put into temporary housing set up by the government, on a set of three connected islands far away from her home island, that being Eurashia. The government housing islands, called “ Comfort Central” was made to protect the Normies. What shocks the Hoarders and Carriers the most is that the Manifesters weren’t just pirates. They had Normies in their group as well, who wanted to learn their ways, different from the life that the government put in place. The kind that Devin had always lived. A simple yet boring one. Where you do what you want, but you don’t go outside the boundaries, unless you sneak outside of them. The Manifesters had their own islands, signed on a contract with the government to not bother each other and keep control of themselves. By the end of the war the two pirate clans joined together in peace finally to leave the world as one. Off on the Queen. The specifics as to where these Manifester owned islands were weren’t at first clear. However later entries, that explain the return home do talk of a certain conversation that Kathryn had overheard one night, when she was supposed to be sleeping. She managed to pick out certain words. Some of them being greens and wilds, and Far North West. Manifest island of the Cast, and others she couldn’t quite remember.

 

It fascinated the Carriers and Manifesters, except Devin, who’d fallen asleep halfway through. He hadn’t slept well the night before and it was past noon now. Willow wants to wake him up, but Flora advises to let him have his nap while he can. The two pirate groups take some time to take in what Willow’s been reading over, and showing to them.

“ Wait a sec, you said at some point she heard Far North West, right?” Jessila asks.

“ Yes.” Willow says.

“ We can head that direction, see if we can find what the Queen failed to. Or at least those who didn’t survive.”
“ But that’s very ambiguous, we don’t know exactly what kinds of islands we’re looking for.” Iggy says.
“ Well, about that, they did say wilds and greens.” Jason says.
“ Greens and Wilds.” Willow says.
“ Whatever. You still said that. So we know it can’t be one of those industrial places.”
“ That’s true,” Carol says. “ Manifest whatever of the Cast? The Casters?”
“ Yeah, some parts of these entries also seem to indicate that there were some Casters aboard the Queen when they left the known world.” Willow says. “ Maybe it’s a name or something.”
“ Is that ALL there is?” Iggy asks. Willow rapidly flips through more pages.
“ I guess. Most of the rest of this is typical teen diary shit. In terms of useful info, that’s all.”
“ Then I say we travel North West, and see if we can find some more natural looking islands.” Jessila says. They wish they could have some more exact information, and not just loose ideas. However, this is all they’ll get. It’s either head forward, or turn back. When a pirate sees the possibility of new treasures, they don’t turn back. Not without a fight. Carol sets the ship to North West, and it heads off through the blue sea, leaving behind the remnants of the Lost Queen.


 

The journey there is more nerve-wracking than Devin would’ve preferred. He’s not sure if he really wants to go all the way outside of the known world. Even if he wants to go back, it’s basically impossible. The pirates are the ones in control here, not him. He’s going, and if he wants to come back to his parents alive he’ll need to do just that, stay alive. Are his parents worried about him? Will he be punished even harsher this time? WILL he come back? Or will news of his death come back? Thoughts that can’t be simply removed from one’s head.  All you can do to them is push them down, distract yourself. They’ll always be there, but there’s always a choice. Listen or don’t. Devin tries his hardest to not listen to the voice that says he won’t be coming back. Perhaps more fortunately, the weather has him distracted. Along the route to the North West, the ship hits some stormy weather. Heavy rain patters against the ship’s hardwood. Lightning is heard in the distant and can be seen on the horizon. The sky is covered with a thick layering of grey clouds. The waves rise up high and smash the hull. Iggy attempts to manually keep the ship from falling over. Luckily it never happened. Three days later and the storm ends. If the pirates had a hard time sleeping before, they certainly couldn’t now. How do you sleep when your whole room is shaking? Devin has it the worst, as he isn’t used to being in these conditions. Good thing there’s not school tomorrow.

 

After the storm, comes another ship. As Flora first sees it in the early morning, she gets a little excited. It’s blue and white along the hull. Is that one of them? Are they here to help or destroy? She watches as the ship gets closer. Once it’s in view, she makes out the ones onboard. They have white armor sets, glinting from the metal material. They have swords and pronged blades at the ready. Nothing about this ship or its occupants seems magical. Carol comes up from down below deck and sees it too.

“ Are they dangerous?”
“ I dunno.”

“ If not we’ll run ‘em through.”
“ We could just keep going.”
“ Naw see that? They’re coming right for us. They wanna clean us dry. I wouldn’t let that happen.”
“ I don’t think we would either.”
“ I’ll let the others know.”
“ Just wait to see if it’s necessary.”
“ Why?”
“ Isn’t our main goal the Lost Islands?”  
“ Yes?”
“ Fighting these...People are a waste of time.”

“ Eh, no it’s not.” Carol heads back down. Flora sighs and continues to watch the incoming ship. It turns out Carol is right. They call themselves the Stooges. Jessila asks if they know what that means, and they really don’t. They don’t know how to fight either. It was a quick battle. The metal armor is something only amateur pirates wear, and it shows. The Stooges move too slowly and get tired too quickly. They couldn’t even jump ship, and had to wait for their enemy to come to them.


 

Despite all this, Jason is killed. Devin figures he was too cocky. He had to wait on the Hoarder’s ship, watching the battle. He saw Jason’s movements. He was playing with them, like it was a game. Using his anti-gravity to spin around them and mess them up. He’d soften the Stooges up, and let his teammate finish them. There were eight Stooges. Devin had had a feeling in his gut that this playing around wouldn’t end well. Not when there’s murder involved. And it was his murder. He’d been jumping around this one woman, yelling insults, when another ran up, sinking her blade into his back. Devin wanted to have said something, but he was too far away for his pirates to hear. Once the sword was in, Jason froze, allowing for the insulted one to slice his throat. Carol and Jessila notice too late as he hits the floor. Devin could hear the shouts. The rest of the Stooges barely lasted any longer after that. An enraged pirate, especially by passion, is NOT someone to take lightly. The damage the Hoarders and Carriers had been dealt was nothing compared to the loss they’ve just suffered. The Carriers aren’t as affected as the Hoarders, how could they? They simply watch as Carol looks over Jason’s body, surrounded by the bodies of the Stooges. There’s no denying the cut through the throat, and the hole in the back. Any medicine they have wouldn’t heal this, and they have no clue when they’ll meet a safe doctor.

“ Get rid of him, we have to keep moving.” Iggy says. Carol looks at him, fire in her eyes.
“ I know you don’t care.” She says.
“ We understand loss.” Willow says. “ But there’s literally nothing we can do.” Carol looks down, tears hitting Jason’s body.
“ Carol’s been friends with him for a while, far as I know.” Jessila tells the Carriers. Carol picks up the body, and walks slowly towards the border of the Stooges’ ship. “ I remember seeing them two go on a fair amount of missions together. Markus once joked that they’re in love. Course that wasn’t the case obviously, you know when two people are just friends.”

“ But it’s not easy for a pirate to make friends.” Iggy says.
“ And those who do bind with them for life.” Flora says. Jessila nods.

“ Don’t act like you care, I know you don’t.” Carol comes back. She wipes her face. “ We should’ve been watching more.”
“ There were too many of them, it’s wasn’t possible to fight and watch each other the whole time.” Jessila says.
“ Let’s… Just go back.”


 

The Hoarders’ ship sails on. The Stooges’ ship isn’t even checked for items of use. The Carriers would have, but they stay respectful for their associate team. If only to keep good enough bonds to stay together long enough to finish the mission. All of them can only hope that whatever treasure they may find is worth all this time, effort, and a life. Devin can’t help being observant of Carol. She seems more affected than Jessila. Carol was more effervescent before. Now, on the way towards the Lost Islands, she barely comes above deck. Jessila seems more depressed too, but not as much. Carol doesn’t talk to anyone except to Jessila a little bit. Anything that Jessila manages to get from her she won’t say to the Carriers. Devin wants to ask, but his fear gets the best of him. If someone’s upset from loss, they may be more prompted to lash out. All Devin ends up doing is helping Jessila make some meals for Carol, when the Carriers don’t want to. Jessila didn’t let him at first, but after seeing his desire, she gave in.

“ Why are you here kid?” She asks him one day after making Carol a sandwich.
“ I… I want to go on my own adventures, not be dragged down by the limitations of others. I’ve lived long enough doing the same thing every day, following what others have set before me. With the Carriers, I, I can do something else.” He says, watching Iggy sleep, Willow look out the window of the lower deck, and Flora draw on a piece of paper. “ I mean… It’s dangerous, but I guess I don’t care. It’s more fun for me, a lot more fun. I like pirates.” Jessila finishes cleaning up the kitchen.
“ Well, you’ll see it’s not all fun. Like with Jason… Things happen. You can’t even fight.”
“ I’m trying to practice.”
“ You need to practice more.”
“ I know.”
“ IF you can manage to keep up with us, then what the hell. Iggy’s right, more pirates out here isn’t a bad thing.” She sits on a small bench against the hull, relaxing.
“ Why did you become a pirate Jessila?” Devin asks. He stands still, unsure of where to sit. The ship rocks gently with the waves.

“ Pfft, like she’ll tell you.” Willow says.

“ Don’t answer for me.” Jessila tells her. “ I’ll put it simply. I like collecting things, it’s apart of me I guess. I feel better, having lots of items to my name. The Hoarders are all about expanding their collection of all the world’s trinkets. More people like me. Make sense?” Devin nods.
“ How’d you find them?”
“ During a nighttime exploration, when I was younger, but you don’t need to know that right now.”
“ Please?”
“ Nope.”

“ Told you.” Willow says.
“ But she did explain a little?” Devin says.
“ Eh.”



 

Two days later, everyone aboard is getting weary. Questions float about if they should head back. After breakfast, they all go up to the deck to check around. At first, no one sees anything. Devin looks around, searching hard, using his hand to block out the sun. A small shadow on the horizon, a shadow that has the form of land, and trees, and hills. Devin gasps. “ Guys! Uh… Guys!” The Carriers and Hoarders turn to look at him. He points to the shadow. “ There!”

“ Goddamn.” Iggy says. “ First thing in days. Let’s try it.”
“ But how do we know?” Carol asks. “ Could be any old island.”
“ Won’t know if we don’t try.” Iggy puts the ship on full throttle, causing the ship to fly through the sea towards the island. As they get closer the details form. Fields of grass, hills, trees speckled about. About an hour later, they set down the plank, and arm themselves. Willow sheathes the Thunder Blade, and Devin is allowed to take his sword. The two teams step onto the wilds and greens. They see some animals wandering about. Cows and horses graze, birds fly through the air, a family of rabbits run by Carol’s feet. The air is light and feels fresh to breathe in. Jessila and Flora are almost tempted to lie down in the grass and simply enjoy themselves.

 

They walk through the plains. The distant outline of buildings and huts from another yet close island lurk ahead. Hills rollout, covering the edges of what seems the whole island. The pirates walk past a set of large rocks put together in a circle formation, with a tall ovular stone standing in the middle. There’s some writing on it. “ In God we trust and we will always vow our souls to protecting what is ours, and keeping it locked away from the rest of the unworthy until one day we may rejoin them once again.”

“ That’s a mouthful.” Iggy says.

“ Are these people religious or something?” Carol asks.

“ Could be. Best we don’t mess with it and risk… Something.” Willow says.

“ More than we’re already risking by just being here?” Devin thinks to himself. They carry onwards. The pirates aren’t exactly sure what their goal is. Perhaps some kind of civilization is up ahead. So far they’d found nothing. That is until they’re greeted by another group of pirates.

 

There are four of them. Wearing dark blue armor sets, with brown under cloth. Three of them are men, dark-skinned, hard eyes, set face. They each hold onto their sheathe, where blades that seem to shimmer with a mythical light lie in slumber. The fourth, is a woman. She has blonde hair, bright yellow eyes, a smiling mouth that lights up her face, and two pink glowing daggers in her hands.

“ Hello, adventurers. What is the reason you came here?” She asks. Her eyes dance as she speaks. Her men stay steady behind her.

“ Uh, we came to find the Casters and Manifesters.” Jessila says.
“ AND your goodies.” Iggy says. Willow slaps his arm.
“ Those eh? Well you’re looking at four of the Casters!” The Blonde woman says. “ I am Tikal, one of the military generals among the Casters. And these are my humble soldiers.” The three men continue to stare. Devin feels sweat drip down his back, and he gulps anxiously.

“ Tikal huh? I’ve feel like I’ve heard that name before…” Carol says. She scratches her head. “ Might’ve been someone else.”

“ Tikal, can you let us into your hometown?” Willow asks, stepping forward. “ All we wish is to see your items and possessions.”
“ I know. It’s always the same story.” Tikal says. She rubs her daggers together. They glint in the sun. “ They come, looking for the Lost Magic. They’re so full of energy and excitement, so happy that they found this place.” She eyes the Hoarders and Carriers. “ Do you know WHY we hid all the way out here?”
“ You were done with the government’s bullshit?” Iggy asks. Willow punches him this time. Tikal smirks.
“ You could say that. To be free, to use our ways and our magic as we please. To start a world of our OWN. NOT in control by someone else, but US. Out here, it’s just us!” She points her daggers at Willow’s nose. “ We won’t risk losing this peace to some foreigners.”

“ What do you mean?” Willow asks. “ You’re saying you slaughter all who come?” She keeps her eyes level with the Caster.

“ Exactly. A repeat of the war… Well you wouldn’t understand.”
“ I know precautions have to be taken…” Devin speaks up. “ But isn’t killing all who arrive a bit… Uh…”
“ Extreme? Especially if their worthless to begin with?” Jessila asks.

“ It doesn’t matter!” Tikal says. “ We have our ways, now you know. We won’t risk it! I cannot, not unless the leader permits it so.”

“ Can they then for us?” Flora asks.
“ It would be possible, he’s been rather odd lately, thinking about letting some through. Something about new possibilities with newcomers. But, one thing. He likes strong warriors.” Tikal smiles. “ So I ask of you. Leave, or prove your worth staying here.”

 

Carol yawns, taking out her own small swords. “ I’m about to fall asleep. We’re coming in mate. If we have to fight you ancients then so be it.” The others agree silently. There’s no chance to back down now. Whoever said a true pirate is afraid to clash?

“ Very well.” Tikal motions her men forward. The three men take out their shimmering swords, ready for battle. “ Let’s see if you’re better than the rest, adventurers.”

 

Devin is too scared to do anything. The pirates come at each other like two opposite ends of magnets. Even though the Casters are outnumbered, they have one thing that gives them advantage. Their weapons aren’t normal. It was obvious from the sheer look of them at a glance. The men’s swords strike down three times as hard as a normal sword should. Tikal’s blades emit multiple images of itself, letting off an illusion of hundreds of daggers. Willow’s so focused on blocking nothing that she isn’t ready for the real things as they pierce her skin over and over, the electricity from her sword barely hitting Tikal.  Carol’s mini swords nearly shatter as a soldier strikes her parry. Iggy gets in a few swings that connect, managing to stab a soldier in the heart. But as he falls Tikal slices double down his back. Flora is mostly the same, yet her side is smashed in by another soldier’s swing. Jessila tries for Tikal, opening a gash through her cheek. Yet the illusion is still too much. By the end of it, Devin is standing around the bodies of his teams.

 

His senses kick into over gear with panic. “ They’re dead they’re dead and now you’re going to die too!” His voice is telling him. He drops his blade in fear. He shouldn’t be here this is a mistake. He looks up at the three Casters in utter fear. Tikal eyes him, her pink daggers dripping scarlet. “ Oh, I didn’t notice you before. Are you with these ones?” She laughs.
“ Do we kill him?” A soldier offers. Devin pees his pants.
“ Hm…” Tikal considers. She looks around at her enemies. Devin realizes they aren’t dead. Just knocked out. “ I still wanna do the best I can as general. If Jesoiph wants to try letting in newcomers, then we’ll let him. However we can’t simply let them in the way they are.” She sheathes her weapons. “ I must see to the Second in Command, ask if these ones are to be let in. Never know when a law is in effect and when it isn’t.” She giggles.

“ Are they to the cell then ma’am?”

“ Yes, strip them of everything, keep it in the prison weapon locks. Perhaps they may survive, or not.” Tikal moves fast, grabbing Devin and picking him up. He is not moving, just a statue. Why is he here? Why did he want this? All those treasures aren’t worth this, are they? He gazes into Tikal’s eyes. He sees glimpses of isolated freedom and the ability to do everything with no one. Tikal uses the butt of her dagger to strike him. His vision blurs, and all goes black.





 

The next time Devin would feel again, he doesn’t feel the softness of grass, but the harsh cold of stone. His eyes stop producing dozens of the same image, coming into focus. He’s in a cell. There are two dusty beds, upon one of them he lays. Snoring on the other is Iggy. His armor is gone, replaced with silver cloth clothing. He calls out to him, but his voice barely squeaks. Outside of the cell, across the hall, two more are occupied. He can see Flora and Jessila sitting against the bars of one, not talking. In the one next to that, Carol is lying on the floor looking at the ceiling, and Willow is asleep. Devin’s head starts to throb a little, and he waits for it to subside. He slowly steps off the bed, examining his own silver outfit. His feet don’t wanna move but he forces them, making his way towards Ignatius’ bed. He watches him for a moment, seeing him twist and turn. His head is sweating. Is he having a nightmare? The wind sails through an open window in the wall above him, flying about the jail. It creates a weird distortion sound. Maybe it’s the material the walls are made of, but Devin’s ears feed him a sound almost like a faint whistle. Or is that from the strike? He taps Iggy’s arm.

 

The red pirate sits up fast with a gasp.
“ HUH? WHAT?” He looks around in a frantic state. His eyes show horrors of loss that Devin can’t understand.
“ I-Iggy!” Devin pips. The pirate settles down, now only breathing heavily. He sees the boy.
“ Oh it’s you mate. Were we sleeping in the same bed?”
“ We’re in a uh… A jail cell.” Iggy does a double take, looking around again.

“ Oh I see…” He thinks for a moment. “ WAIT what happened with that one girl, Tikal or something? And the islands!”
“ We’re mostly still ON their land.” Jessila says. Her and Flora turn around, facing them. “ But we’ve been sealed in here.”
“ We’ve been up since maybe an hour ago.” Flora says.
“ Oh, well good to know you’re still here…” Iggy looks to the other cell. Carol gives a weak wave.

“ You ok?”
“ After being humiliated? No.” She says.
“ Humiliated…? What actually happened?” Iggy asks.
“ You guys were knocked out, nearly killed.” Devin says. “ I-I was the last one left… I saw all of you sprawled out before me on the grass… I still remember it. I was so scared, I knew we shouldn’t have done this and and…” He breathes in. “ SHE said she’d talk to the second in command, see about having the leader let you stay here or something. Then she grabbed me and…” Visions of the hit come into his mind again. He shudders.

 

Iggy stands up and stretches. “ That sucks, we lost. Lucky as all hell we ain’t dead.”
“ Iggy are you really gonna ignore Devin?” Flora asks. Iggy looks at Devin. Just a vertical stick.
“ Uh… I’m no parent. But mate listen. We’re here to get some good stuff. We ain’t gonna back out till we do. We have each other's backs. I guess I’m sorry for getting you hurt? But if anything it strengthens you. The more you see and know, the better ya get.”

Devin nods shyly. Is it still worth it? He has no escape method without his two pirate teams. Whatever he would get would be hard to keep at his parent’s place. But he’d manage it, somehow. If he wants to be a pirate, he’ll have to endure the pains. “ What now?”
“ Willow’s been asleep this whole time.” Carol says. “ Well actually she just got up a few minutes ago, complained for a bit then crashed again. She seemed beat up.”
“ Oh.”

“ Nothing else to do but just sit here I guess.” Jessila says.

“ Hm. I gotta feeling.” Iggy says. He sits back down, staring out at the hallway doors. He’s watching for something, or someone. Devin sits uncomfortably on his bed, waiting. They stayed like that, sitting, sleeping. One person came through, but it wasn’t who Iggy thought it would be. It was a simple delivery boy, lugging with him a cart of food. He gave it to each of the cellmates then headed off. They were the only ones in there.

“ That’s not how jails work.” Willow says, finally up and eating.
“ Maybe it’s on purpose.” Iggy says.


 

What feels like hours later, another person arrives. Not just one, but five. Four soldiers, women this time. All dark-skinned, with long black hair, the same steel focused eyes staring ahead at the job. The fifth, is a more fancy looking fellow. She has tan yet lighter skin, muscles protruding on her arms and legs. She has long white cloth clothing, with short plates of green armor over it. Her blonde hair goes down around her. Her eyes are more serious than Tikal’s. “ Carriers, Hoarders. Is everyone awake?” The six pirates stand up at the bars of their cells. Devin scoots up next to Iggy, fear flowing through him. He tries to stand strong. The woman looks around at them. She faintly smiles. “ Good. Jesoiph wants to talk to you all in the dining room of the castle. He’ll have a more, full breakfast for you.”
“ What is this? Does he want us here?” Carol asks. The woman eyes her.
“ Hm. Perhaps, it’s what he says. Afterall being inclusive and starting new things isn’t so bad.” Her eyes flash red. “ If it works.” She orders her soldiers to unlock the cell gates. “ I’m Miander, second in commander to leader Jesoiph of the Casters. You are on the Casters main island. Follow us, you may or may not be receiving your weapons later. Stay with us or you’ll not be seeing our leader.”


 

They walk through the Casters’ fields, and their farming land, through a town of shops and neighborhoods. They see factories far off. The style of it all is very, old. Simple designs with varying colors. People walk around, doing things as if modern technology didn’t exist. If any modern technology does exist here, it’s not as common, or there’s not as much of it. Devin can’t exactly tell what his teammates are thinking. They glance around, keeping themselves together. They are lead by the four Casters to a large blue castle sitting on a hill. There’s a dirt path going up to the front doors. Two guards stand near the door, with their swords ready. They are let in, being eyed with contempt yet hopefulness. The castle itself has barely anyone in it. Some people walk around, talking, eating and looking at items placed around. They all wear gear similar to the Hoarders and Carriers, classical attire with pinches of current clothes. The inside of the castle itself is a lot tamer than any castle Devin’s ever heard about. There’s a simple red matted carpet covering the floor. The walls are a dark blue, similar to the outside. Paintings and rows of mystical items line the walls. Dozens of rooms branch together. As they head past, Devin sees a kitchen area with dinner tables. A lounge area with a large TV. More museum like places. In the far center is a set of stairs going up to the bedrooms and bathrooms of the Leader and assistants and another going down to what seems like a work floor and a sewer entrance.

 

The kitchen room has been emptied out for the Carriers and Hoarders. Servants set down delicious breakfast foods. Bacons, eggs, toast, waffles, and so on. A man sits at the end. There are four guards at each corner of the room. People are issued out of the castle. The Carriers and Hoarders stand in the room, looking at the man sitting before the food. He has fairly brown skin with patches of it healed over by platelets. He has bright blue eyes, and a bald head. His clothing is somewhat like a wizard’s, with long droopy yellow cloth hanging down. Around his torso is a plate of armor, and he puts on a simple helmet, both dark green. He folds his hands patiently, his eyes dancing with hopes and excitement.

“ New ones! Carriers, and Hoarders correct? Please take your seats. We are to discuss your current matters.” The two teams do so, sitting on opposite ends of the table. Devin is squished between Willow and Flora. Jesoiph looks around. “ Now then. Let’s start with a question: Why are you all here?”

 

The Carriers and Hoarders respond with the same message as before. To gain some treasures, see what the lost pirates are like. Willow mentioned “ Possibly bringing you all back out to the rest of society.” At that the Caster leader stopped her.

“ No. Absolutely not. We will not be going back out there… Yet.”
“ Why not?” Jessila asks. “ Afraid of being patronized or immediately shut up somewhere?” Jesoiph looks at her, his calmness giving Devin chills.

“ That is a part of it yes. The other reason is that we simply enjoy staying here more. We run and govern ourselves with no one else to judge or try to stop us. The Manifesters and us have agreed to work together. The feud we once had has been long ended. At least to us.” Jesoiph says. “ The ideas and desires of anyone else in the world regarding us no longer matter, or so far have not. Indeed, we once sought to extend our magical abilities to the whole world. As you all know it did not work as well as we had hoped, not for long anyway. So by the end of all the fighting both of us sailed away, seeing that the new world that had begun to form would be better off if left by itself. With no magic and no Powerful Pirates to possibly be feared. Normal people should be governed by each other. Pirates should be the same, by others like them.” Something about him tells Devin that this is an old theory about to be changed.

“ So getting Y'all back out there is a no, that it?” Carol asks. Jesoiph nods.

“ However, as my general Tikal may have said, I have been thinking rather...Differently lately. We’ve had around… Oh let’s say four other groups of adventurers come? One of them ended up at the Manifesters island first. Still met the same fate. Oh, and before I continue,” He waves to the dishes laid out on the table. “ Please help yourselves.” Neither pirate team moves. Devin picks up a bacon strip and shakily puts it into his mouth. “ You can trust me, nothing here is poison. Quite good if I can say.”
“ What’s your plan then?” Iggy asks. “ About letting us stay here and not just killing us off and such?”

“ Plan? Not so much a plan, but rather an idea that I’m testing. It happened in a meeting with the leader of the Manifesters, Charistalia, and some such other generals. Some point, the thought of ‘what if we let newcomers stay here?’ bounced around. We thought that if we changed our solid ways just a little, and let explorers like you into our own society, it may benefit us in the future.”
“ But that means you’re planning on rejoining our society again.” Flora says. “ Why else would you want us to come? Anything we do here we would just bring back to our homes. People may find out and then come looking for you.” The Caster leader stirs for a moment, seeming a bit nervous.
“ Well… Indeed. I believe that is the ultimate end goal. Still as I said, departure is not on our agenda for the near future. However VERY far down the line, AND with the right situation; we wouldn’t not want to come back.” Jesoiph begins to eat some eggs.

“ You want to see if we’re going to put in a nice word for you.” Devin says. The leader nods, drinking a glass of wine.

“ Right young one. That is one of the things discussed in previously said meetings. If we want to make our society better and better, going back to our past may be the only way at some point. But ignorance and haste is the death of such an idea.”
“ Keeping it slow and waiting for a set of people who you’re sure will help you get back without waging war and won’t risk you all seeming like you’re attacking or whatever, or doing something to get on the government’s bad side.” Carol says. “ Not bad.”


 

They eat for a while, filling up their stomachs. The silence settles in, becoming unbearable for them. Willow stirs up a question. “ What if we lie?”
“ Lie about what, madame?” Jesoiph asks.
“ What if we act nice and such now, but then act how we really are as soon as we leave?” Jesoiph smiles. Not a happy one, but one that says there’s something OTHER possibility that’s been discussed in the meetings.

“ Ah, that would be a shame wouldn’t it?” He sips his wine. “ We hope it won’t come to that. Either you are as you say or we kill you first. But if it does reach such a point… We have other islands occupied besides the main ones you’ve landed on.”
“ Meaning what? Are they secretly preparing for a new war if things go bad?” Carol asks. Jesoiph’s heinous eyes say the answer. Devin wipes his brow. A new war? Are they seriously preparing to fight again just to build up their society? Are they willing to do that much? Seems to him that the Casters and Manifesters are only a Lost Society for not too much longer. They’ll be coming back to his home sea, whether it’s by force or not.

“ But, we’ll see what we decide to do…” Iggy says, a bit disturbed by the leader’s words. “ If you’ll let us stay, we can see what’s up, get accustomed. Maybe tell the folks back home you’re good.”

“ Whatever that means.” Flora says. “ But we just want to see your towns and enjoy your items. Is that ok?”
“ In our new testing policy, I will permit it.” Jesoiph says. “ As for the Manifesters, I can’t be too sure. Most likely if you go to them you’ll be fine. However do not be surprised if the leader there wants to talk to you as well.”

“ Do we get housing or something? Money?” Jessila asks.

“ Indeed. I’ll have a rental hut set up for the six of you, a large one. You’ll have a sum of money to spend. You’ll have two months maximum off the hut, then you leave or fully join us as workers.”

 

It was a fair enough deal. Later that night the Carriers and Hoarders are brought to said hut. It’s in a simple town, which borders two other towns and some fields and other buildings like factories beyond. They are given a total of 4,000 dollars to spend. They were told things are less expensive overall here, so this should suffice for them all. They would later learn that not everything here can be simply bought. By the time the pirates get into their new house, it’s past midnight. They quickly choose places and crash down. Devin ends up on a couch next to Willow. It’s dark and he doesn’t see where the others are. His mind is lit with wonders and apprehensions as he drifts off.


 

In the morning the two teams sketch out their hut. There’s one kitchen, a living room, five bedrooms, and three bathrooms. Each bedroom has a bunk bed. Flora and Willow will sleep together, Carol is on her own, Jessila is on her and so is Devin and Iggy. The rooms themselves are alright to Devin. A desk, window, chest, and bed. The bathrooms are first come first serve at all times. Same with the rest of the house. Flora and Devin are a little worried this might not work out, but they have little other choice. As breakfast is cooked by Flora and Jessila, Devin is sent out on a mission by Iggy. “ Go get our stuff back.”
“ How?” Devin asks.
“ Probably talk to someone at the jail, you remember where it is?”
“ I mean I think but-”
“ Good then do it.”
“ I…” Devin looks to Willow for help. She’s at a chair reading a magazine.
“ Go on kid. This’ll help you with your nerves. This isn’t that hard anyway.” Devin sighs.
“ Ok fine.” He takes a slice of toast and heads out of the hut. It takes him not too long to reach the prison. It’s still not very full. He walks through the grey metal lobby and down some hallways. He has no clue how these places work. Finally a voice asks him if he needs help. He squeaks “ Yes… Looking for weapons of the Carriers and Hoarders?” The man thinks for a moment, and checks a notepad in his armpit. “ Alright. Come with me.” Turns out he also has to carry them back to the hut. The man couldn’t help him, since no carrying support was accounted for beforehand.  Waiting for however long it would be is too long, at least to Devin. Iggy’s tone made it sound like he had to be back quick! So he loads all the blades in his arms and waddles home. He cuts himself a few times along his arms, trying to make sure he doesn’t get hit with the Thunder Blade, and while trying not to get himself cut. He arrives back at the hut, where Willow is standing outside waiting for him. She helps him put the weapons on some racks on the wall. “ Thanks Devin. Surprised they let you have the Thunder one back.”

“ Maybe it’s part of their own test?”
“ Perhaps.”


 

By noon that day, the two teams split up to do different tasks and experience some of the Caster’s island. Devin and Iggy are going to head back to the neighboring island of the wilds and greens to hunt for some fresh animal meat to eat. Willow doesn’t believe they have to go hunting and goes to the town store to look for things that may be of interest. Interest to her really. Carol and Flora both want to check out some of the “ Gaming Huts” littered around the town. Not videogames, but simple games such as a shooting range, play sword fighting, darts, bow and arrow ranges, and so on. Devin guesses that even though they are from separate teams, they’re starting to trust each other enough to do something easy together. Maybe it’s a test to see if they even HAVE fun together? It was only his guess. Jessila says she’ll just stay at home and do some cleanup.

“ Why?” Iggy asks. “ Do you wanna waste your time here? Probably won’t be too long of a time anyway.”
“ No, but I also can’t stand to live in a dirty ass house.” Jessila says. “ Have you guys SEEN the dust and bugs around here? Yuck!”
“ So you’re a clean freak I see.” Willow says, smiling. Jessila dismisses her to get some cleaning supplies from the bathrooms. The rest leave to do their tasks.

 

Iggy takes his two fat wrist blades, while Devin has his simple short sword. They had walked the bridge that leads to the wild island. This island they realize is actually significantly shorter than the main island, which would explain why it wasn’t chosen. The sun is out, and the wind is calm. Nice weather to hike in. The pirate and the boy march through the grass, heading for a small patch of trees next to a hill. “ Iggy are you sure I can help you?” Devin asks. He looks at his blade worriedly.
“ Oh sure, this is easier training than with real people anyway. Since you haven’t been much help on the whole human fighting thing. Might as well get you back up to speed in fighting animals!” Devin tries not to be hurt by his response. He knows he’s right.

“ Ok, but what if they have dangerous animals here? Like a bear or hawk?”
“ A hawk? That’s easy as hell! They don’t even go for humans mate. And bears well they-” He was cut off in the most appropriate way. Standing in the trees ahead of them is a mommy bear and her child. They both stand looking at the humans. The mom has a clear ‘ Get away’ face. Iggy smiles. “ See. I knew this would happen, obviously.”
“ Can we go somewhere else?”
“ No!”
“ Why….”
“ Cause watch.” Iggy steps closer to the bear, waving his arms and muttering mocking phrases. He gets a little too close to the child, and the bear growls. He steps even further and the bear charges. Devin covers his face, looking through his arms. The bear leaps forward, jetting out its front paws. Iggy runs at it as well, his two blades extended out. They collide. Iggy sinks his blades into the bears eyes as it lands on him. Devin is shaken with fear. The bear is laying on top of Iggy. He has to do something. He walks closer to the bear, which is writhing in pain from the new gushing cuts in its eyes. Devin takes his time, but he manages to stick his sword into the bear’s throat. He only gazes as the animal cries out and dies on top of Iggy. Devin pushes the carcass over and the red pirate gets to his feet. “ Thanks mate, you did it! See, with some strategy and bravery, it’s not so bad.” He hands Devin his sword. The baby had ran away. “ Come on, help me find some more and we can pile them up and carve them.”


 

They got five more animals. Two squirrels, a dead bird, and two wolves. Iggy did most of the work, Devin helping to kill only a wolf and squirrel. Iggy had gotten fairly cut up again, while Devin just had mental scars. It didn’t help when Iggy cut the meat from the bodies. Devin simply couldn’t do it and he turned away. He’d walked up and looked over the nearby hill and saw something surprising. As Iggy finishes his chopping, making a new pile of meat on the grass, Devin comes rushing down. “ Hey! There’s people doing something religious on the other side of the hill!”
“ What? Lemme see.” They both go over the hillside. There’s a group of ten people, five males and five females. They’re doing what at first seems like dancing around the oval stone from before, but then the two Carriers notice colorful sparks and trails flying around them. “ Is that magic?” Devin asks.
“ Not sure, we can ask.” Iggy says, heading down toward them. Devin is a tad unsure, but he follows. As they get close, one of the women notice them and tells everyone to stop. Tikal approaches them. “ Well well! Looks like you two have actually survived! How did it go with the leader?”

“ Uh, I mean he was more chill than I thought he would be.” Iggy says. “ I still don’t think we’re on good terms for you almost killing us before.” Tikal waves him off.
“ Bah, whatever. It’s a common rule that I as general have to follow. One of my jobs is to greet any newcomers. Give them the option of ‘leave or die’. Though your group was lucky since you’re the first to be apart of Jesoiph’s, and Charistalia I guess, ‘s plan.”
“ Will it actually work?” Devin asks, eyeing the nine other men and women looking at them. They stare and mutter, as if they’re seeing enemy soldiers from a distant continent. It makes Devin’s skin crawl a little.
“ It should,” Tikal says. She rotates her left hand, letting off a green mist. “ This is the start of our path for us, toward expansion.”
“ Yeah well what if others came here while we are still here?” Igg asks.

“ They’d be let in, more the merrier for the test. I guess. If the leaders give the ok then sure.”

“ How’re… Um.” Devin fidgets. “ How’re you doing that magic?”
“ Oh it’s practice. You guys should know this, but magic is combined with us via chemically engineered liquids whipped up in factories and whatever. We open the bottles they come in and let it flow into our bodies.”
“ How the hell does that work.” Iggy says. Tikal shrugs.
“ You outsiders wouldn’t understand. Since you’re still alive I take it you want to know why, which is why I’m telling you about it.”

“ It’s cool!” Devin says, regretting it. Tikal just glances at him.
“ I know. You guys MAY get a chance to try. Just make sure you don’t mess up. Then we’d have to repeat our first battle, just with a different ending.” She smiles.
“ And we’d WIN next time.” Iggy says. “ Anyway, we have some meat waiting for us, we won’t interrupt your praying to Magic Jesus session.”
“ What? What the hell on ice does that mean?” Tikal asks, completely confused. Devin can’t help letting out a laugh. Iggy simply walks away, looking smug. Tikal blows him off and heads back to her group. Devin and Iggy carry the meat home. The smell practically kills the both of them, but they deal with it in the hopes of having a fresh meal later on. Once they arrive back at the rental hut, Jessila helps them cut the pieces and shove them into the fridge. “ You’d better hope we don’t get something nasty from these things.” She says.


 

Meanwhile, Carol and Flora are at a shooting range. It was among some buildings containing different games to play. This one got their attention as it should be illegal in their eyes. They had to check it out. As they enter, they see multiple stations set up, each with one or more people position with different types of weaponry, firing at frozen or moving targets. The sounds of gunshots fill their ears. It’s been some time since either of them have heard noises like this. It’s rather refreshing. Carol looks around, watching the shooters as Flora goes to buy some guns to use. “ These folks probably don’t even know that this stuff is actively illegal from where I’M from. They have no government getting on their asses for not listening to them. Lucky.” She thinks to herself. “ They do have a wide variety, which I admit, to myself, is surprising. Are they from the war so long ago? They didn’t use firearms when the soldiers fought us. So is this really just a simple game only tool?” She’s lost in these deep thoughts as Flora comes over with two pistols. She points to an empty range at the far end of the building. “ Wanna shoot again?”

 

They at first promised to only be there for an hour max, assuming no more would be of interest to them. But then as they were about to be done, they got challenged. Flora is putting her gun onto the counter, when a voice calls out from behind her. “ Yo look it’s the newbies!” Flora and Carol turn around to see a man and a woman. They each have crystal blue hair, and fairly light skin. The woman seems a bit on the chub side. “ You leaving our range? How about a contest? See who’s better with a heater.”
“ Why? We’re obviously better than you.” Carol says. The guy laughs.
“ Confidence! That’s good. Let’s see if you can use that confidence to beat us.”
“ Ok, but can we know your names first?” Flora asks.

“ Why does that matter?” Carol asks.

“ I’m Siloc and this is Naah.” The man says. He walks up next to Flora at the counter and pays for two pistols. “ Now let’s play at the range you two were just at. Let’s do this.” They start the challenge. The objective is decided that whoever hits the center of the target the most wins. By the end of it, Carol has three hits, Flora has six, Siloc has seven, and Naah has zero. Siloc pumps his arms in celebration. “ See that’s why you don’t challenge me! You lose!”
“ YOU asked us.” Carol says.
“ I know! Still what I said stands!”
“ Nice match…” Naah says, clearly dismayed about being the worst. “ Hey, have you guys tried any magic yet?” She asks as they return their weapons.

“ Nope.” Carol says. “ Where do you get it?”

 

“ God these mates ARE new.” Siloc says. He decided to treat the two of them to a candy store nearby. No one asked him to, but he just offered and bought Flora and Carol something anyway. The Carrier and Hoarder have no clue how this was made or where, but it’s similar to Skittles and tastes good. Naah rejected getting something. “ So the magic stuff comes in bottles, and are sold in shopping markets. Thing is they tend to be expensive as all hell. So not the average person can use them.”
“ Where does it come from?” Flora asks. They eat their candy and talk at a bench along the main paved road.
“ Factories.” Naah says. “ People who grow up to be scientists in the chemical business whip it up in there. Tends to take a long time. Up to around a month for one bottle of a certain mixture.”
“ Oh wow. But what are the SPECIFICS of how it’s done?” Carol asks. Siloc and Naah both shrug.
“ Hell if we know. We ain’t into that thing. Something with taking parts of one thing, like a tree, grass, urine. And combining it with certain other substances like gas, water, whatever. And doing stuff to it like increasing heat, pressure, all that jazz.” Siloc says.
“ Did you just say urine?” Carol asks.

“ Well, we both have jobs to get to.” Naah says. “ The printer won’t wait.”
“ I’m off today.” Siloc says.
“ Whatever. Cya.” Naah heads off. Siloc waves goodbye and walks down the road in the same direction. Flora and Carol look at each other. “ Well, I guess we know a bit more. Maybe we can check out those factories at some point.” Flora says. Carol nods.

“ Wanna see if Jessila is done cleaning?”
“ I guess so. See if she likes this weird Squirtle Bits Candy.” Flora says.




 

Willow is in the MONS shopping market. She’s already been here for thirty minutes, just gazing wondrously at the exclusive assortment of goods displayed among the rows. The foods are the same as in her own society, however some of the aisles have rows of magic. Bottles, each wearing labels of different factory brands that produced them. Alcove, Alloy, Dimbal, etc. The labels also explain what each shimmering substance does. Some of them allow you to see five hours into the past, tapping into part of the brain and re-showing what you’ve seen. Some of them allow you to change your gravity at will, like what Jason had. Others increase your strength, or agility, or make you lighter or heavier. Some are just for cosmetic effects, giving off mystical lights for playing. Willow wonders what they would even look like. She knows that none of her members have seen any magic lights yet. She has a desire to take as many of these bottles back to the hut and try them out. This is what she and the others have come here for! This is stuff you simply could not find anywhere else in the world. At least currently. The only thing stopping her from purchasing such magic, is the pricing. Even though prices overall are lower among these islands, that didn’t stop Willow from feeling the pressures of cost. Each bottle alone was around fifty dollars or more. The average large steak was fifteen. If she wanted to get multiple bottles, she couldn’t be sure she’d have enough money left for next time she goes shopping. Perhaps she could get just one, or maybe two, and leave it at that.

 

Her stressed out thoughts are interrupted by a woman next to her. “ You’re Willow aren’t you? Any of these interest you?”
“ Huh, who’re you?” She was dark skinned, with long black hair and emerald green eyes. Her outfit was simple yellow cloth.

“ Call me Noeff. I’m a chemist, here to collect some defensive magics for an experiment I’m doing for a research paper.” She picks out some bottles, inspects them and puts them down. “ Ugh. Our lack of powerful substances is embarrassing. We’ve given the Manifesters so much help with creating and using magic themselves that we’ve practically given up making our own magic better!”
“ Why did you help them anyway? Weren’t you enemies?” Willow asks.

“ That was a long time ago. After we both left together to let the rest of the world recover from our crap, we figured helping each other out was the only way. Since truly neither one of us hated each other, we just got too caught up in our disagreements beforehand. But now the Manifesters have been profiting a lot from our help. That’s why I wanna join the scientists in magic making. To bring back the ideas we Casters originally had. To be strong and to grow stronger.”
“ Oh, I see. Sounds good I guess. Do you… Have money for all that though?” Noeff is holding five bottles.
“ Oh yeah I’m fine. I work as an assistant helping at the Alloy factory here. Got some good dinero from just aiding the higher ups in their work. Pays more than most people think.” It takes Willow a moment to realize that dinero means money.

“ Oh, lucky.” She makes to head off. “ Well thanks for the info I guess?”
“ Hey wait, you wanna see some magic right?” Noeff asks. Willow stops. “ My father owns a small storage unit a few blocks from here. He keeps his precious boxes of magic in there. He used to be a magic craze, wanting to collect all he could.”
“ Used to be?”
“ Died five days ago.”

“ Oh, sorry?”
“ It’s whatever. But point is, I can show you how cool magic is. That’s why you came here no?”

“ How do you know exactly?”
“ Oh please, you and the others of your clan have been the subject of much discussion over the past day or so. It’s hard not to know about your presence.” Noeff says. Willow blushes a bit.
“ O-ok? What kind of thing would we be doing exactly?”
“ Just mess around with the stuff my dad collected. It’s all mine now anyways. They’re old substances, so they’re not as effective. Magic can grow weak if it’s held in captivity for a long period of time.” Sounds like something living to Willow. She considers this. It may be dangerous, but then again, why else IS she here?
“ Ok, show me what you have. But DO NOT try anything on me.”



 

Willow followed Noeff outside of the town to a new section, where storage units were posted side by side. Each one rented or owned by different families. They all have the same dark brown look. Eventually, they came to a door that’s labeled ‘ Asma Unit.’
“ This is me. Inside may be a bit dusty since my family pretty much never came back here after my dad finished his collecting.” Noeff opens the lock on the door with a silver key. She steps inside, gesturing for Willow to follow. As she does, Noeff flicks on a light switch and closes the door. Metal shelves line the walls, all lined with dirty glass bottles. The mist inside of them all glowing very faintly. Before this may have looked like a rave party. But now it looks kind of sad. “ These are still usable?” Willow asks. “ They look completely fizzed out.”
“ I’m fairly sure they’re still fine. Watch.” Noeff sets down her newly bought bag of magic on the ground and heads over to a shelf. She picks up a bottle with blue mist weakly swirling inside. “ Now that I think about it these are gonna die out in a few days. It’s been too long.”

“ So, your scientists will make more?”
“ Well yeah, there’s no shortage of them. Just my dad’s collection.” Noeff pops off the lid with a tad of difficulty. The blue mist floats out, and Noeff extends her hand. The mist seems to flow into her body. She waits for a second, then puts the bottle back. “ Ok so I didn’t read the label, but I THINK this is what it does.” She holds out her hands, focusing on another bottle across the room. It floats upwards, and flies gently into Willow’s arms. Willow holds onto it, bewildered.
“ H-how…?” Noeff laughs.
“ It was! Objectual gravity changing magic! You know Star Wars? It allows you to switch the gravity or disable gravity affecting the object you focus most on. It translates what you want to happen into reality, the magic making it so. Then you just move the thing to wherever. As long as you can see it. Though if it’s too heavy it may not be possible. Depends on the magic’s inherent strength.” Noeff seems proud of herself. Willow clutches her yellow bottle.
“ Wow… This is insane. Life changing at that.” She’s beginning to see why the Casters wanted to spread this to the rest of the world. “ So I can do the same? Just by, holding out my hand and letting it go into me?”

“ Yes! Now try it!” Willow does. She takes a bottle and opens it. Once the mist is absorbed into her, she doesn’t do anything.
“ Uh, what am I…?” She says. Noeff thinks.
“ Ok um. Try… Try holding out one of your hands and then think of a beam of magic shooting out your palm!”
“ Like a magic projectile? A weapon?”

“ No no! Just you’ll see try it!” Willow does, somewhat hesitantly. A medium-sized beam of yellow lights extends from her palm, going almost to the wall on the other side of the room. Willow moves her hand around, moving the beam. It doesn’t break or do anything to anything in the building. A cosmetic light magic.

“ Oh my god…” Willow is nearly speechless as she sends a second beam of light from her other hand and moves them around the room. “ It’s like the world’s best flash light.”
“ Yup! Magic, when used properly, is so much more effective than simple technology.” Noeff says, watching Willow with pleasure. “ Of course certain combinations of both work well. Part of why we wanna go back…”

“ Go back to our society?” Before Noeff can answer, the door behind her opens. Willow turns around quickly, blinding the person in the doorway.


 

Jessila puts her hands over her face, annoyed. “ HEY! What is… What’s going on?” Willow realizes who this is and drops her magic hands.

“ Oh, sorry Jessila. Why’re you here?”
“ Willow? And uh…” She glances at Noeff. “ Is that magic? What..?”
“ Uh, well this person here,” Willow gestures to Noeff. “ Insisted on showing me her magic her dad had stored here.”
“ How did you find us?” Noeff asks.
“ I went out to find you, since you were out later than you said you’d be. I guess I got lucky since I heard voices in this building.”
“ Wait you were WORRIED about me?” Willow says. Jessila brushes the question off.
“ But this is so cool! Can I try?”
“ Why not.” Noeff says. “ The more your team knows the better.” She motions for Jessila to close the door and come to her. She gives her a red bottle. “ This one lets you create fire from your hands.”

“ Fire? That’s exactly the kind of thing Iggy would want.” Willow says. “ I can’t wait to tell him.” Jessila pops the lid open and lets the mist into her body. She focuses, producing flames around her hands. At first she’s terrified, but then sees that she isn’t burning.
“ Careful, anything but your hands will burn.” Noeff says. Jessila waves her hands around through the air, seeing the small trails of the flames.
“ GODDAMN THAT’S COOL!”

“ Woah, chill out!” Noeff says. Jessila nods, her face red.
“ How long will these last?”
“ Not too long I don’t think. The time depends on the strength of the formula each substance is made with. I chose these since I believe they don’t last too long. I dunno if the council wants you to have magic out in public right now. Maybe to take home with you or something, but I dunno.”
“ Speaking of going back.” Willow says as her stomach rumbles. “ Jessila I’m going back to the hut to eat.”
“ Oh right. I think Iggy and Devin were making steak or something.” Jessila’s hand fires go out at the same time Willow’s light beams dissipate. They both sigh, upset. “ Dang it.” The Carrier and Hoarder say goodbye to Noeff, thanking her for the chance. They walk back, talking excitedly about the magic they’d tried out.




 

The sun begins to fade into the horizon, casting the sky into an orange fire. Iggy and Devin walk down the town’s main path.
“ You know I’d like to know if they have any fire magic.” Iggy says.
“ That’d be interesting. What about magic that lets  you lift things? Or even create your own plants and stuff?” Devin says.
“ Hm, could be interesting.” He sighs in exasperation. “ Also where the HELL is Willow? We’ve been walking through this place for ten minutes!”
“ Well, perhaps if we head back we’ll find her?” Devin says.
“ So you’re telling me we’ve wasted all this time?” Iggy says. Devin gets a bit nervous.
“ I-I mean… Besides the s-steak is gonna burn soon…”

“ Oh you’re right. Ok fine we can…” Iggy sees something and his words fade off.
“ Ignatius?” Devin asks. He follows his gaze. A group of six councilmen is walking along the road. One of them is wearing a purple robe. It’s Miander, the second in command. She’s holding a brown and gold box. She walks up to two guards who seemed to be waiting for her at a bench. “ Is this it?”
“ Yes.” Miander says. “ The thief was taken care of, found at the edge of the wild and greens. They were trying to use the newcomers’ ship to get away.” Iggy grunts and folds his arms. One of the guards opens the box. Inside is a single ring. It’s painted gold and white. A small white aura floats around it. The guard closes the box. “ Alright. We’ll notify Jesoiph. This can be taken back to the supply chamber in his castle.” Miander nods. She begins to walk off with the box.

 

Iggy steps up next to her, halting her progress. “ Excuse me Milady, but what is that thing you have in that box of yours?” Miander seems a tad surprised, but composes herself.
“ It’s nothing at all of your business, newcomer. However… All you may know is that it’s a ring of incredible potential. It’s a recent success project and is a great satisfaction to us.”
“ Damn that sounds nice. Can we see it? Help us put in a good word for you when we leave?” Iggy asks. Miander stops for a moment, thinking.
“ N-no. We’re having a demonstration of the Anillo’s abilities in a few days, once testing is done. Then you can see. At the leader’s castle. Dates and times will be posted by tomorrow.”
“ Do the Manifesters know about it?” Devin asks. Miander shakes her head.
“ Not yet. We’ll give them notice after we’ve done the public display.” She turns. “ Now we must move on, if you’ll excuse us.” Her and the seven other soldiers walk past. People along the street watch them go.

“ Anillo?” Iggy asks.
“ Sounds cool!” Devin says.
“ Yeah. We GOTTA take it back with us.”
“ But that’s… that’s not…”
“ I know. But it’s what we do. Not now though I’m hungry.” The two of them walk back to the hut, hoping their steak isn’t fried.





 

By 6:00pm, the Carriers and Hoarders eat a meal of steak and beans in the kitchen dining room. The steak is actually only a LITTLE bit overdone. Flora and Carol had come back early and had been waiting for everyone to get ready for dinner.

“ So, anyone wanna discuss their day?” Iggy asks.

“ Ours was interesting I guess. We found out that guns exist here.” Flora says.

“ Really? Like actually ones?” Devin asks. Carol and Flora nod.
“ Shooting ranges apparently.” Carol says. “ And these two people challenged us to a shooting competition. Of course we won.”
“ We didn’t win.” Flora says. Carol shushes her.
“ But they don’t allow those guns anywhere else.” Flora says.
“ Weird. Maybe we could take some back with us.” Iggy  says.
“ That’d make more trouble for us though wouldn’t it?” Devin says.
“ He’s right.” Willow says. “ Plus I think guns are less superior compared to magic.”
“ Whadda mean.” Carol asks. Jessila and Willow take turns explaining what happened at the storage unit.
“ It was amazing!” is the conclusion. The others stare at them, jealous.
“ No way! You really got to use FIRE?” Iggy says. “ Damn!” Willow cracks up.

“ You could actually be Luke Skywalker.” Carol says.
“ Maybe at some point the rest of us can try.” Flora says.

“ Speaking of that.” Iggy tells them about the Anillo and Miander.

“ Ok no, we’re not going to run into their castle and steal it.” Willow says.
“ But why!” Carol Devin and Iggy say at once.
“ Since they’d kill us!” Willow says. “ We should look elsewhere for magic, not there!”
“ Oh it’ll be so cool to use it though!” Iggy says. “ Imagine what it could do! We don’t need a demonstration!”
“ We’ll have to see who gets to use it.” Carol says.
“ All of us?” Devin says. Iggy and Carol look at each other, opposing desires seeping out of their eyes.
“ Hey guys chill.” Jessila says. “ I say we decide on that later. We have more to see around here first. What about before we leave?”
“ I guess.” Flora says. “ Waiting and thinking it through will be more helpful.” Iggy and Carol sit back in their seats, eating their steaks. Willow drinks from her cup of orange juice.

“ So I have more for us to see. That girl Noeff, she said things about the Manifesters benefitting a lot from the Casters help. What if they have stronger magic?”

“ Ah, so if they do, we’ll have to get some.” Carol says.

“ Is it ok for us to go to the Manifesters’ island?” Devin asks.
“ It could be,” Flora says. “ Jeoiph mentioned I believe that the decision to keep us here for… Testing was agreed upon by both leaders.”
“ Only thing I can assume is that they’ll wanna speak to us.” Jessila says.

“ That’s whatever. We’re nice little subjects.” Iggy says. “ So who wants to check them out and see what they got?”



 

Devin is getting used to his feelings of anxiety. He focuses more on his curiosity now. It helps for when the pirates decide to sail to the Manifesters’ main island. The islands for the two Lost Clans are separated, and people can rent out boats to sail to and from them. The next morning, the Carriers and Hoarders head over to the small docking station where ships are lined up, ready to take groups of people to the Manifester’s main island. There is a booth set up where you have to buy tickets. Then you take said tickets to the designated shipmaster. Once the master calls out that the ship is ready to sail, everyone with the ticket gives theirs to him and they board. One ticket is three dollars. In total it was eighteen dollars for all six of them. Willow complains that’s a bit much for simple riding tickets, but they wait anyway. The tickets they get are for shipmaster Brian at Ship 2. It’s a yellow ship, with a group of nine other people waiting outside. Seven minutes later and Brian calls up everyone. They each give their ticket as they come aboard deck. “ Aren’t you a bit young to be with these folks?” the shipmaster asks Devin.
“ Uh, I guess I am yeah. But that’s ok… Right?”
“ Sure it is. Just be careful kid.” The shipmaster laughs and closes the plank gate. There are multiple tables set up along the main deck covered with drinks and breads. “ Please everyone take a seat and relax. We’ll be at the other island in an hour.” The shipmaster says, and he heads into the engine room.

“ Why do they need a shipmaster?” Carol asks as they sit down.
“ Maybe so no one tries to sail away.” Flora says.


 

One hour and five minutes later, the yellow ship docks at another station similar to where they had come from. The Carriers and Hoarders exit with the other people. Brian gives each of them a new ticket as they leave, explaining that “ You’ll need to use these ones to get a ride back. Just give it to the ticket booth and they’ll let you board a new ship for free. Just don’t lose it or else you’re paying.” The pirates leave and walk through the docking station. The clothes of the Manifester people aren’t too different from that of the Casters. Same free-flowing clothing, with leather plating over them. The two clans exit the docks. They look out over a split in the road. To the left is what seems to be a more modern looking miniature city, with rectangular buildings extending up. One skyscraper towers the rest, painted in shiny blue. To the right is a field where a play park has been built. Devin can barely see some kids skateboarding, playing soccer and climbing up obstacle courses.

“ Where shall we go first team?” Iggy asks.
“ We are not part of your team.” Carol says. “ I for one feel like seeing about that area over there.” She points to the mini city. “ They oughta have some stores with cool trinkets.” Jessila shrugs.
“ I’ll go with. Staying with these Carriers for so long has been giving me stinky feelings.”
“ What’s THAT supposed to mean?” Willow asks. Jessila laughs.
“ Nothing. Let’s say we meet back in like…. Two or so hours?”
“ I guess yeah.” Flora says. “ But what if you don’t come back?”
“ Then wait for us.” Carol says. Devin wants to say something, but the Carriers didn’t care. They begin to march off toward the play park. The Hoarders split off too. He thinks they just want some time separate from each other, again. He quickly runs to rejoin his team.



 

The play park is a lot bigger than Devin realized. There’s three separate parts spit up by fencing. The first area you enter is a skatepark. The second is a soccer field, four of them. The third has five obstacle courses set up, stretching from one side to the other. The Carriers look out at the three areas. Some kids play and parents and other relatives sit nearby.
“ So, we got two hours? That’s plenty of time to have fun here.” Iggy says.

“ Wait are we not gonna go see the city?” Devin asks.
“ Maybe later. Anything that the Hoarders find we’ll get from them.” Willow says. Devin has a feeling that means with or without force.
“ Sure, and being a pirate is tiring. I wanna chill for a little while, while we’re still incognito here.” Flora says.

“ Is that ok though?” Devin asks.
“ Stop worrying it’s fine.” Iggy says. “ Now if you wanna have fun then come with us, or if not you can sit down over there like an old person.” The four of them spring into pirate play time.


 

Willow goes straight for the soccer field with Flora. They take an empty field, and start competing in a 1v1. Devin goes over to a box containing skateboarding gear, and takes a board from the rack. He’s not very good at this, but he’s done enough of it in middle school to be able to not fall off every time. He jumps into the pit along with the other boys and rides around. Iggy dashes for the obstacle course. He finds two of them available. He takes one labeled as the “ Spike Pit” and climbs through the entrance hole. “ Oh man! I haven’t done one of these since I was like what… A teen? That was a long time ago back in Lenore.” Iggy thinks to himself. “ Wonder if they even still have those obstacle parks. Eh, this is good enough for now!” He leaps out the other end of the hole and towards an oncoming forest of pillars. Willow is actually much WORSE than she initially thought she was. By the end of their game, Flora has gotten six goals on her, and Willow didn’t get even one. She was close at one point, but then she accidentally kicked it all the way back into her own goal and gave Flora the point. Devin falls over nine times off his board before he’s too weak to keep trying. By that point he was already starting to get tired. He only has to wait five minutes before the rest of his crew return. Flora is beaming with pride while Willow is trying to hide her shame. Iggy seems out of breath and sweaty from the course.

“ That was awesome!” He says. “ We may have to come back at some point since I haven’t done something like that in years.”
“ Can I do it?” Devin asks.
“ It’s already been an hour and a half.” Willow says.
“ Already? Holy hell.” Iggy says.
“ It should’ve taken me less time to absolutely wreck Willow.” Flora says laughing. Willow elbows her. They leave the park, heading back to the docks. Devin can tell a return to this island is certain. He’s just not sure if it’s still a good idea.



 

Carol and Jessila walk through the mini city. There’s dozens of stores lining each other, each selling a variety of different things. Makeup, weapons, toys, clothes, magic, etc. Down one street lines a series of apartment buildings, each with ten floors. Down this way at the end is the Blue Skyscraper. The Hoarders guess it’s where the leader lives. Jessila wants to look at the magic shops, but Carol forces her to get something to eat first.
“ We can’t have good judgment without having brain food.” She says. Jessila only complies because she’s interested in what food this city has. They go to this fast food restaurant called Steak N’ Butter. Carol gets a steak with beans and Jessila gets a vegetable soup with bread. They sit at a table located in the restaurant’s outside area.
“ You know this barely tastes any better or worse than the other Steak houses we’ve been to.” Jessila says.

“ I think it’s pretty good.” Carol says.

“ That’s because you like meat too much.”
“ Oh please. I didn’t eat guys’ meat when I was thirteen.” Carol says mockingly. Jessila points her fork at her.
“ I will stab you.”
“ Are we interrupting?” Calls a new voice. Both girls straighten up as three Manifesters walk to their table. One of them has a set of purple robes on, along with long black hair and yellow eyes. She’s the leader. The other next to her who has dark blue robes and caramel hair and eyes seems to be the second in command. The third is just a normal guy wearing white cloth clothing. “ We’ve been given notice that you two have arrived, and well I’d just like to talk to you.” The leader says.
“ Uh, sure? I guess we don’t have a choice.” Carol says.
“ Not when it’s the important people wanting to speak with you. What’s your names?” Jessila asks.
“ I’m Charistalia.” The leader says. She points to the man in blue. “ He’s Liverat and this is Lucoa.” They each bring up a chair and sit down. They aren’t here to eat.



 

Charistalia rubs her hands together. “ So then, explain what your intentions are if you please.” She asks.

“ Well we just wanna see what this place has to offer. You know?” Carol says. She bites into her steak.
“ Maybe take some of that neat magic with us when we return.” Jessila says.
“ I see. I should let you two know that you aren’t taking any magic back with you.” Charistalia says. The Hoarders look surprised.
“ Why?”
“ Since we aren’t sure if it’ll cause any trouble or worse with their… Government.”
“ But we could show them how useful this stuff is.” Jessila says.
“ I wish, but if the last war showed us anything. It’s that those who want to control everything aren’t open to suggestions. Like your government.” Charistalia drinks some water from her glass.

“ Ok. So what exactly are you here for?” Carol asks.
“ Oh not much. Just to let you know that we are very happy to have you here. So it’s been interesting having you and your other clan members here. You are free to try out most of the magic you like and are free to put in a word for us when you return to your home.” Liverat and Lucoa nod in agreement.

“ Well it’s certainly NOT been regretful I guess.” Jessila says. “ But we aren’t allowed to do certain things right? You want us to be good little people or else?”

“ Hm, you can do as you like. Just don’t push our buttons.” Charistalia says with a smile. “ It really matters not what happens during this test. We WILL go through with our return plan. However, you can help us make the plan easier if you wish. Just by going along with it. Which you have so far. So I thank you for that.”

“ Ok? We’ll say what we feel to our clans back home.” Carol says. “ Though it would be nice to let us have SOME kinda thing to bring back.”
“ Why?”
“ Well think about it. We aren’t gonna walk up to the gov. And be like ‘ hey we have this thing we wanna show you.’ No. More likely we’ll be in battle with some other shitty pirate clans and they’ll ask about our fancy new gear. We could let them live and spread the information. That’s how it works out there.” Carol inserts a spoon of beans into her mouth. The leader considers this.
“ That’s fair enough actually. Alright. I’ll let the leader of the Casters know that you may take exactly two bottles of defensive magic with you for when you return. ONLY two bottles.” She gets up. “ I must be off then. It’s been a nice chat.” She leaves.



 

The Hoarders stand up also, and begin to walk out of the restaurant. They are stopped by Liverat. “ Hoarders, stop for a minute.” They turn around to see his sword out. Lucoa has his out as well. “ Let’s cut this short and easy. I don’t trust you.”
“ Neither do I.” Lucoa says.
“ You and your team have been way too free with what you can do here.”
“ What?” Carol says. “ Ok? But we are allowed here, I thought it benefited you guys?”
“ That’s what they say yes.” Lucoa says. “ However, the leaders are so focused on getting their plan to work that they don’t see the stupidity in their plans.” The Hoarders look around. There aren’t that many people around the city. The ones who are outside, stop and look at their direction.
“ Uh, aren’t you making a scene of yourselves?” Jessila asks. “ Wouldn’t you NOT want to have everyone see you try to slaughter your guests?”
“ Guests?” Liverat says laughing. “ You’re nothing but trouble just waiting to happen! I know it. I’ve seen what happened with the previous groups that had come here. They’d been let walk around till they started stealing from us! Not only stealing but causing trouble as well!”
“ Previous…” Carol says. “ Some OTHER clan’s been here before? We aren’t the first ones?”
“ Two other. Back then the leaders were just trying to be inclusive, they weren’t planning anything.” Lucoa flashes his sword at them. “ But LIKE YOU they ended up taking advantage. Wonder why magic prices are so high? And, well you may not have realized, we have doubled security on both islands. As far as I know for the Casters anyway.” Liverat says.

“ Ok so what if? You can’t automatically say we’re doing the same things! WE’ve done nothing!” Carol says.

“ Yet. It’ll be the same dance until the leaders should know that this plan will not work. Peace isn’t the path to our new world.” Liverat steps closer, his eyes stay trained on carol, murder swarming within them. “ This will be.”


 

He lunges at Carol, slicing from shoulder to hip bone. Carol blocks, barely getting her daggers out in time. Sparks fly as their blades clash. People gasp and run away. Some of them mutter “ They’re really doing it. The leaders are really becoming aggressive. Is this really the only way? They’re outsiders, they can’t be trusted.” Carol thrusts back, enraged.
“ Ok this is beyond stupid buddy. You wanna get your old world back so bad, but yet you have ridiculous methods of changing your higher ups minds. Go ahead.” She slides in between Liverat’s legs, slicing along his crotch. Liverat screams. Carol smiles with satisfaction. Lucoa ducks down as his hair is sliced into two by Jessila’s blade. Lucoa stabs her in the stomach as Jessila jumps back. The cut’s not too deep, but deep enough.  She waits as Lucoa gets up again. “ This’ll be easier to prove if you just kill me.”
“ Wait WHAT?” Jessila says. Lucoa charges at her again, purposefully aiming his sword away. Jessila by instinct penetrates his throat. Lucoa’s body goes limp. He manages a small smile before dying. Jessila gets her blade free and watches the body. “ What the hell…?” She notices the bystanders watching nearby. They have looks of fear on their faces as they run away shouting. “ OH… no no no. This was on purpose it… Carol!” She looks to her teammate who is dodging to the side, getting her arm sliced down the length of it by Liverat. She swipes at his waist, opening a gash and stepping away. Liverat sees the body of Lucoa and smiles.
“ WHY YOU DIRTY ANIMALS! MURDER! WE ONLY WANTED JUSTICE!” He shouts. Carol takes a minute and realizes.
“ Oh… YOU little…” She goes for his head, he whirls around, blocking. Carol kicks him in the shin. “ Jessila! We should leave!” The distant sound of soldiers entering the main city block. “ Mate move!” The Hoarders both sheathe their weapons and sprint back for the docks. Liverat simply watches them, grinning to himself.

“ They won’t be here for much longer. Neither will we.”




 

The Carriers re-enter the docks, talking happily about their time in the playpark. They look around for the Hoarders. They eventually find them hiding behind some barrels placed next to a docked ship.
“ Uh what’s up dock?” Iggy asks.
“ Shut it.” Carol says. “ We need to leave. Don’t go to the city.”
“ Why? What did you do?”
“ We got into a fight.”
“ Oh my… Over what?” Flora asks.
“ WE didn’t start it!” Jessila says. “ Some guys and their leader came to us while we were eating and said things. Then the leader leaves and the other two guys attack us! They believe we’re dangerous and we’re gonna betray the peace that we’ve been given here or something.”
“ I mean we could.” Iggy says. Willow elbows him.
“ I’m not very surprised at all. If that is true then we may as well wait back at our hut thing to see what happens.”

“ Can’t we just wait leave on our ship now?” Devin asks.
“ I think so, though we aren’t leaving till we have something to take with us.” Iggy says.
“ Is that really the important thing?” Flora asks. Iggy and Carol, and Devin are about to respond when the ship 2 calls out for passengers to board. The Carriers and Hoarders scramble to turn in their tickets and get on the ship on time. As they sail away, Jessila watches soldiers search around the docks, getting there a bit too late. She’s nervous yet excited. She’s fought and killed a new pirate clan member. That’s always fun.



 

On the door of the two pirate team’s hut is a notice letter. Flora takes it off and reads it. “ Hm. Ok.” She says. “ So basically we aren’t allowed back at the Manifesters island, and we are to leave by tomorrow. If not or if we cause any other trouble we’ll be hunted down and executed immediately.” Devin looks at the letter.
“ Why do official people make such long letters?”
“ Why do writers write so much? They like it. Think it makes them smart or something.” Carol says. Iggy opens the door of the hut and they all enter. Flora begins to make dinner as the rest lounge around the kitchen.
“ So, we should probably stay low for a while, may be a few hours at most. We have to figure out what we’re bringing back with us.” Willow says.
“ The leader did tell us we can take two bottles of defensive magic back.” Jessila said. “ Why not just go to a store and get some and be on our way?”
“ But that’s not that much.” Flora says. She burns some meat on a stove. “ We came here to take as much as we can right? It’s what we do.”
“ Exactly! Yes Flora!” Iggy says. “ We take all we want and THEN leave.”
“ I mean true, but this is dangerous guys.” Willow says. “ If we’re gonna do anything, it’ll be our last effort before we hightail it out of this place. If we have the chance by early morning.”
“ I’d just say we go get something now.” Carol says. “ But we’ll not go with all of us. Act like it’s a stealth mission or something.”
“ That’s not a good idea. If we get caught? They’ll know we’d planned something and work right into their hands.” Willow says.
“ But it’s night time. We have cover?” Devin says.
“ Yup right kid. And we can send out the two most stealthy pirates we have to quickly get some good stuff. As much as possible, then come back! Then we leave. Or well we still need the-”

“ I’m not going.” Jessila says, interrupting Iggy and resting her head on the table. “ I’m actually pretty tired.”
“ No we’ll bring me and Flora.” Iggy says. Flora puts the chicken sandwiches down onto the table. She gets some plates and spreads them about with some water.

“ Excuse me what?”
“ Yeah. You tend to be quieter. Besides Devin, but this is too dangerous for him. You can stay here kid.” Devin’s lungs exhale.

“ Why me?” Flora thinks. Then says:  “ I guess I can’t say I wouldn’t WANT to.” She sits down to eat.
“ Yup. So you can head off after we eat, see what we can get. But from where?” Willow stuffs the sandwich into her mouth.
“ What about the factory? Or one of them?”
“ Oh yeah, there’s a number lined up near the field south of this town.” Jessila says. “ Maybe there isn’t as many people there or any at all this time of night.”
“ How would you get in at twelve at night?” Devin asks.
“ Either break the lock or see if it’s a late nighter.” Iggy says.
“ Hopefully there’s people, make it easier to snoop around.” Flora says.
“ Either way, just get back safe and carefully. Please.” Willow says.
“ Ok. We won’t do anything troublesome, as much as we can.” Flora says.






 

An hour later, Iggy and Flora exit the hut via its backdoor. They had thought about getting some stealth gear for the mission, but they realized they don’t have time for that. If they wanna get this over and done with as quick as possible, they’d have to move now. While the factory is closed. Iggy has semi-forgotten where said factories are, and Flora leads the way through the black world. They use the dim lights of the town to find their way towards the open fields. From there they spot more lights in the distance, coming from some industrial looking structures. They enter the factory square, where six different factories have been built.
“ What are these all for? Magic?” Iggy asks. Flora shushes him. She points to one to their front left. The name on it is too dark to see, however the front doors are lit up by mounted candles, burning from seemingly nothing. What surprises the Carriers the most is that some people are still walking around here. Going in and out of factories, either as workers or customers come to spend big bucks on fresh and/or stronger magics and clothing.

“ We can still get in and take some.” Flora whispers. “ The Casters here shouldn’t be upset at us, at least not yet. Hopefully.”
“ We’ll just play it on the down low. Get in, get out.” Iggy says. They make their way towards the front doors of the magic factory, using a crowd of people to slip in.

 

Inside is a lot more busy than one am would suggest. The whole main floor is crowded, with distribution belt lines carrying magic bottles to various other rooms overhead. Guards in blue clothing stand with swords sheathed in front of several doors that have a “ Workers only” sign on them. To the right, is a door sign: “ Magic storage. Authorized Workers Only!” It has two guards in front of it. Iggy bumps Flora and jabs a thumb at the storage door.

“ I think that’s our goal.”
“ Ok but,” Flora is bumped by another person. “ Uh, how do we get in?”
“ Oh that’s easy.” Iggy winks at her. Flora thinks for a moment and then realizes his idea.

“ There’s too many people!”
“ So?” Iggy starts to push his way towards the door. He goes past all the people lining up at windows across the way to order their desires. “ Come on, we shouldn’t talk about it too much.”
“ But…” Flora sees a guard look at her suspiciously. He taps his friend on the shoulder, still eyeing Flora. She moves towards Iggy faster. They can’t be in trouble yet can they? Has news already came to the Casters? And if it did, shouldn’t they be given a more ‘civil’ chance to leave or some other option first if the leaders want to make a ‘ nice impression?’ Those may be the only reasons they’re even in here. Just as she heads over to Ignatius, she sees he isn’t making any progress with the two guards.

“ Can I come in?”
“ No.”
“ Please?”
“ No.”
“ Did I do something?”
“ No? Why’re you asking so many questions? This is for workers only. We can’t just let anyone in here we’d get robbed!” The guard on the left says. The girl on the right giggles. Iggy sighs.
“ Flora what do we do?”
“ Hm…” She thinks. “ Oh ok. Imma go check on one of the windows, be right back.” She leaves back through the crowd. Iggy sits on a waiting chair and crosses his left leg over his right.
“ I have no clue what she’s doing. I’m really just here since she dragged me here to see some of this magic stuff. It’s really quite cool what you all have done here.” He says. The guards nod.
“ Are you gonna be leaving soon?” The girl asks. The guy nods.
“ Hmmmmm perhaps soon yes. We just wanna see one more thing after this I believe. Better to depart without spilling blood no?” Iggy says. The guards nod again.
“ That would be ideal.” The man says.
“ Hopefully there is no blood when we return.” The girl says. A scream echoes throughout the factory. Iggy and the guards look as people begin to yell and run out of the factory, pushing and shoving harshly. Flora runs back to them. Iggy notices her sleeve is pulled up and over her wrist blade. “ GUYS! Please! Someone’s been stabbed! Oh my god! Is the perpetrator still here?! Oh my god holy hell….” She fakes her freakout. The guards charge for the body, inspecting it and ordering everyone to calm down and leave the vicinity. There are so many people that it’d take at least a few minutes for them to notice the Carriers again, especially with this new drama.  Iggy and Flora high five and Iggy heads over to the locked door. He uses his blade to cut off the lock and he opens the door. “ You’d think they’d have better security. Guess they like old school. That sucks.” He slips in and Flora follows, closing the door shut behind them.



 

The room is completely dark. The screams still vibrate through the whole building. It’s hard to control masses of people who’re in hysteria. Iggy feels around for a light switch. He finds something and flicks his pointer finger upwards. Light bulbs on the ceiling burst with light. They see that they are surrounded by dozens of metallic shelves, each lined with medium sized brown boxes. Each box has a white label on it, telling the amount of and what kind of magic is stored inside. There are shelves with low and high tier offensive magics, defensive, gravity changing, agility increasing or decreasing, intelligence boosting ( temporarily) force manipulation, elemental control, etc. Flora and Iggy inspect the boxes. “ This is actually insane.” Iggy says. “ How do we take all this stuff?”
“ We’re not taking it all.” Flora says. “ We don’t have much time, just get maybe a couple and we need to go!”

“ Not more?”
“ We don’t have time!”
“ How about five?”
“ I dunno three?”
“ Why not five?”
“ Iggy we don’t have time!”
“ Four then, settle on four.”
“ Can you just get three please?”
“ I don’t see what the deal is. I really don’t. This is what we came for!”
“ Ok and we don’t wanna risk losing it for your stupid selfishness!” Flora is almost yelling, her anxiety getting to her. Iggy stops and watches her. “ Please, just get something so we can leave?”
“ Fine.” Iggy opens a box of elemental magics and begins to look through the crate. As he does this, the door swings open and the two guards from before rush in, swords out. “ HEY! WE KNEW you were trouble! Step away from the magic!” Flora nods to Iggy, who keeps on looking, putting one bottle in a little bag he’d brought. Flora unsheathes her wrist blades, walking toward the guards.

“ I’m sorry but we’re only taking a few things. We could pay back later?” The man sticks his sword out to her.
“ No games, you’re causing a public outcry for your selfishness.”
“ This is exactly the kind of act that’ll force our leaders in action.” The woman says.

“ Action?” Flora asks.

“ He wants to change the rest of the world, with our rules and abilities.” The man steps forward. “ You’re the last example they need of how rotten you folks really are. ‘Test’ or not. We’re coming home. It’s only easier if you die now.”
“ Uh…” Flora isn’t expecting that. “ E-even still. We’re not leaving without the magic.” She sees Iggy out of the corner of her eyes, seeing that he’s gotten his bag full, and is sneaking towards an emergency exit. “ I’ve gotta go mates.” She quickly ducks down, stabbing both her blades into the man’s stomach, jumping back up and slashing his face. As he falls, the woman charges, Flora jumps back, getting her nose grazed by the sword. As the woman swings again, Flora holds out her blades to block. The three blades clash, and bounce off of each other. The woman staggers back and Flora kicks her stomach, pushing her against the wall. Before she can get up again, Flora’s wrist blades enter her throat swiftly. She spits blood out of her mouth, and Iggy helps her hide the bodies behind a row of boxes, the highest row they can reach. The building is quieter now, but they aren’t about to stick around to get captured by more. Iggy opens the emergency exit and the Carriers rush out into the open night.


 

As they run back the way they came, they see mobs of people swirling around the area, trying to get to their loved ones and get away. There are two people standing near another factory, looking around for someone. They seem familiar. Flora taps Iggy and points to Willow and Devin. They rush over.

“ Hey guys, what’s up?” Iggy asks as they approach. Willow has her arms crossed, looking disappointed.
“ Why don’t you tell me?” She motions to the commotion.

“ She wanted to come here to check on you guys, and she forced me to come with her.” Devin says.

“ Good you shouldn’t be on your own when we may be hunted.” Iggy says. “ But I also got the magic! Four juicy bottles! I have fire, and ice, and some poison thing and oh this cool earth controlling thing that we might be able-”
“ IGGY!” Willow says.
“ Yes?”
“ You know what. How’d you mess up?”
“ Uh. Flora did it.”
“ Thanks Iggy.” Flora sighs. “ We needed a way past the guards, and I was fed up with Ignatius’ ignorance with trying to persuade them.”
“ SO you murdered them?”
“ No I stabbed someone else, not necessarily killing them. The following commotion let us get away. Then they found us out since Iggy was taking too long and I had to do the job.” Flora says.

“ Why do I feel like I’m getting blamed for something here.” Iggy says.

“ Guys.” Devin notices a group of Caster soldiers heading towards them.
“ Ok but if we’re doing a stealth mission you can at least try to make it, you know, STEALTHY. So we can all have an easier time here and we won’t need to worry about-”
“ GUYS!” Devin tugs on Willow’s arm.
“ What Devin-” The Carriers stop bantering as Miander alongside two other soldiers walks up to them.


 

Miander stares at them, eyes serious. “ We let you get off easy from murder among the Manifesters and then you all go and do this.”
“ Do you really know it’s us?” Iggy asks. Miander snaps and one of the soldiers rip the bag from Iggy’s arms. She opens it up and shows Miander. She looks inside and nods.
“ I think I have evidence here.” She takes out her sword, which is glowing with pink energy. “ So there’s two ways this can go. You can surrender nicely, or we’ll kill you. And as you can see,” She motions to the surrounding area. Most of the civilians are either gone or silently watching. “ If you make another mess it’ll cause more panic. If you aren’t already sentenced to death, you won’t survive after this fight.” The Carriers look at each other. They look at the bag of magic.
“ Yeah I see that. But we’re taking that stuff back with us.” Iggy says. “ So give it or we’re gonna have to get messy.”
“ This should’ve gone better,” Willow says. “ But we’re too far along to simply give up now. Not even by you. We’ll be leaving soon, so just let us have our new treasure and we can be on our way.”
“ If that’s the only thing we’re getting.” Devin mutters. Miander chuckles.
“ Ok, if that’s how it is. You know exactly NOT what you’re doing by fighting here and now. Whether I die or leave means nothing. You Carriers are down for the count, eventually.”

“ Stop spitting bullshit!” Iggy says and charges with his wrist blades.

 

As Devin watches, he wishes the Hoarders were here. They’d left so abruptly. They’d wanted to leave early, afraid of getting into more danger. They’d gone off to steal from the market and leave on their ship. No one knew that but him, he’d overheard this while he was supposed to be sleeping. Before Willow forced him to go with. All Willow knew was that they were out somewhere. He’ll have to tell his team what happened to their supposed partners. At first he’s worried that they might not live to hear it. The magic sword Miander has carries the same power as the one Tikal had. That’d been enough to beat them before. But this time, maybe because it is nighttime and everyone is still tired, they seem to be winning. Miander’s swings are slow, allowing for Iggy to get easy hits on her. He goes for a killing blow, but misses, and is sent staggering back with a nasty slice along the chest. He waits for an attack, and when it comes, blocking and kicking her in the crotch, going for her head. As he stabs her face, she stabs his stomach. It’s not a deep penetration, from what Devin can tell, but enough to make Iggy freeze. He runs past Willow and Flora fighting the other two soldiers. Some blood spills onto his shoulder. He doesn’t mind it and runs up to Iggy. He’s revolted at the sight of the sword in his companion’s gut, but he pushes the feeling aside. Devin pulls the sword out of Iggy’s stomach, and the red pirate falls to his bottom, clutching his tummy. Miander’s body falls. Devin stands next to Ignatius, unsure of what to do. He looks behind him to see Willow dropping a dead soldier, her arms covered in crimson gashes. Flora kicks the final soldier into her, and she opens up their back.

 

The two women see Iggy, and help him up. The people around them once again are in chaos. They scream at them, and call for help. “ No no! We have to leave!” Flora says. She picks up Iggy, hauling his body onto her shoulders. “ Our hut?”
“ That’s not very safe.” Willow says. “ What we could do is…” Devin spots more soldiers amongst the crowd. If they ran now they could get back to the hut in time. Probably.

“ I think the hut is ok, we have more of them coming!” He says. Willow sees what he sees and nods.
“ Ok, Flora follow us and don’t drop our friend.” She picks up the bag of magic bottles, seeing that one of them is smashed. They dash through the panicked crowd, towards the town and their hut. The night is alive with terrorized screams of the innocent, and the smell of blood and death stink the air. The soldiers collect the bodies of their fallen comrades. They prep to send notice to Jesoiph. The Carriers are to die just like the Hoarders had been killed. They shall leave the island or not at all.




 

For the rest of the night, none of the Carriers slept. Devin had tried explaining what happened to the Hoarders as they walked back, but they Willow and Flora were too tired and occupied to care. “ I figured, it doesn’t matter now.” Willow had said sleepily. “ We have our own mission. Apparently we’re finishing it.” While Devin lays on his bed, he watches the moon’s glow out of his window. Any moment their hut could be broken in. The only reason it hadn’t been was most likely because the Caster government was busy trying to calm the crowd. Not like it’d matter anyway if they were caught now or later. Iggy had been patched up by Flora and left to sleep till morning. What would’ve happened if Devin hadn’t moved the sword? Does it even matter? He shudders at the thought of the worst possibility. His mind keeps telling him one thing: “ One of you will die. First the Hoarders, and then at least one of the Carriers if not more. Maybe you, maybe one of them.” Not again. He’d seen Jacob fall during his last pirate outing. Another? He attempts to shut his brain off and sleep.


 

It didn’t work. In the morning all the Carriers are exhausted. Iggy is awake, but fairly weak and can only move slowly. As Flora makes breakfast, Willow finds a notice on the front door. “ From Caster Leader Jesoiph to the Carriers. Hello my friends. I know what you’ve been up to. I’ve made my decision about my plans. No testing is needed now. You’ve proven what I need to know. I’ll be civil here and kindly ask you to leave. Now. if you aren’t gone by one pm, you’ll be found and slaughtered by our magic wielding soldiers. Just thought I’d let you know. It’s been nice knowing you. DON’T TRY ANYTHING.”
“ Hey um, guys we should leave.” Willow says as she returns to the table. “ Look.” She shows them the letter.
“ The Anillo.” Iggy says.
“ Why? We’re barely in a position to storm the castle.” Willow says. Flora sets down plates of eggs and toast and they eat.

“ But… It seems like a powerful thing. Don’t we want it?” Devin asks.

“ Well… Yes, but we’re risking too much by going there.” Willow says.

“ If we had a safe way, it could work. But it’d be the last thing we do. And we’ll need a REALLY safe way.” Flora says.
“ Use the night again.” Iggy says. “ We can hide away near the castle, then come in through a different entrance and find the Anillo and get out.”

“ Would they really keep the Anillo in an easy spot like that? Such a magic ring?” Devin asks. Iggy shrugs.
“ That’s the safest and quickest thing to do. At night they’ll think we’re gone.” The Carriers sink into their plan. Their desire for strong and rare treasure trumps all else.

“ Ok, I remember seeing that the castle’s hill was near a rocky hill, next to a forest area by the edge of the island.” Willow says. “ That hill was behind the factory square.”

“ But the square will be heavily watched for the next few days.” Flora says. “ I don’t doubt it.”
“ True, but what if we use people?” Devin says. The Carriers look at him confused. “ Like blend in with a group of people. I mean we’ll have to ditch our gear, but otherwise, we can look like one of them until we’re able to get to where we need to go?”

“ That can work, only it’s ruining our defensiveness.” Flora says.
“ I should’ve got some other kinds of magic.” Iggy says, wincing.

“ That’s obvious. Why don’t we all take a bottle of magic now to use in case we do get caught?” Willow asks. Iggy takes the fire magic, Devin takes the ice magic, and Willow takes the earth magic. The last one had dispersed with the previous night. Possibly into one of the bodies of the dead. Flora watches as the others are imbued with colorful mist. Red blue and green. Iggy lights up his hands, Devin freezes his head and Willow makes a hole in the ground. Flora is freaked out, but then the fire goes out and the ice melts. The hole is still there. “ Oops.” Willow says. “ We’ll see how we can use these I guess.”

“ Willow why wasn’t your ThunderBlade doing as much damage as it normally does during our factory scuffle?” Iggy asks.

“ It’s not as effective sometimes remember? The random fault of it. It ain’t perfecto.”
“ Hopefully it’ll be useful in the castle.” Devin says. He really hopes this goes well. He knows it won’t. The Carriers pack some snacks and their weapons and leave for the hill before the soldiers come to banish them.




 

Next night, three am. In a small cave indented into the side of the rocky hill that looks over the forest that which is looked on by the castle of the Casters. It’s cold in typical leftover Caster clothing. They've been sleeping here for almost a whole day. Now they’re awake and ready. Iggy uses his hands to make light as the Carriers eat some snacks Flora had packed for them. Devin eats some icicles along with the ham sandwiches. Ignatius himself seems bummed out, just hearing from Devin about the Hoarders. He was starting to think they might actually be reliable. Until they weren’t. As they finish their snacks, Willow plays with a floating rock and eyes the castle, barely visible. “ Ok so… I think down below, at the very bottom of the hill is a sewage pipe?”

“ A what? Really?” Iggy looks and spots it. A large end of a pipe, with a small river of filthy garbage flowing out of it. “ That’s disgusting.”
“ We should look for another way in.” Flora says. Her and Devin scout the castle’s behind with their eyes. Maybe it’s because of the darkness or the simplicity of the building itself, but they see nothing. “ Don’t tell me that’s our only safe way in.”
“ I think that’s what it’s telling us.” Willow says.

“ In garbagey water? Eww.” Devin says. “ We’re gonna stink.”
“ OH I thought we’d be clean!” Iggy says. Devin wants to say something but he’s too nervous. “ But it’s worth it, we’ve gone through a lot to get here, I’d rather NOT give up now. All we’re doing is getting in then out. Simple.”

“ You say that a lot Iggy and we know that most of the damn time it turns out to be frustratingly hard.” Willow says.
“ Oh you’re exaggerating. This is the hardest thing we’ve done in a while.”
“ You mean besides the hunt for the ThuderBlade and for Willow?” Flora asks.
“ For Willow?” Devin asks.
“ Yeah. To put it short for now she was a prisoner on one of the Normie islands, and we busted her out in exchange for a set of treasures she knew about.” Iggy says. Willow motions for him to shut up.

“ Yes, but we’re wasting time talking still. Are we going through the sewer or not?” The rest of the Carriers hesitantly say yes and prepare to head down. The snacks are put into Flora’s bag and they brandish their weapons on the stone face. Willow leads the group down the hillside and to the small lake. In the darkness they can’t see the waste floating around in it. It takes all of them a minute to mentally prep themselves. Devin wouldn’t do this at all if he was by himself. He knows that if he was with Normal people they wouldn’t do this at all either. However this group isn’t normal. They are pirates. They want that Anillo, and they won’t let waste stop them. He wishes he could have that kind of courage on his own. Perhaps he could learn something from them, if he hasn’t already. Has he? He can’t really be sure of that yet. Maybe the time will come later on when he could test it. Though he’s not sure if he wants even that to happen. He could just run away, but that wouldn’t help his situation. He needs to, and wants, to stick with the Carriers. So he will. Even through the grime and muck of the sewage. He is hoisted up by Iggy up into the sewage pipe sticking out of the hillside. Inside is one hundred percent pitch black. “ Guys don’t worry. We have magic now.” Iggy lights up his hand, and they move onward, being able to see just a few inches ahead.



 

During the trek, the Carriers fall over more times than they would ever admit. Willow hits a box in the water, and trips. This then causes Flora to trip over her, and Devin follows. Iggy has to turn around and realize his team is now eating sewage water. Last time he checked that’s not healthy so he helps them up and they attempt to brush themselves off, with minimal accomplishment. They continue onwards, only almost falling over a few more times. Thankfully they didn’t actually faceplant a second time. Iggy almost does. But he was grabbed by Willow. The team is more than relieved when they reach a staircase leading to a door. The door itself is locked. “ Well this is a load of shit. Now what?” Iggy asks.
“ I might be able to do something.” Willow says. “ Iggy can you move?” He awkwardly lets Willow squeeze past him in the extremely tight staircase. Willow holds her hands against the door and focuses, the lock unlocks itself and she opens the door. “ Here we go. The castle grounds are open.” They walk in, leaving the door open.

 

They are on the bottom of three floors. They are on the maintenance and tool supply floor.  Another set of stairs leads up.

“ Ok so how about we split and cover more ground, and meet at the sewage door?” Flora says.

“ How do we see?” Devin asks.

“ With these.” Iggy picks up three flashlights and gives them to the Carriers. “ They were on the table I totally didn’t find by accident.” They each flash on their light. Iggy just uses his hands.

“ Alright. But again be quick, and obviously, don’t make so much noise.” Willow says. “ I’ll check the upper levels. Devin you’re coming with me.”
“ Why?”
“ Because, you are not about to be on your own, now come on.” She takes his arm and pulls him along up the stairs.
“ Well, I guess I’ll see about the main floor?” Flora says. Iggy nods. She goes up the stairs as well. Iggy increases the flame brightness of his hand flame and starts his search.

 

He checks along the tops of multiple tables and inside drawers and metal chests. Heat is useful for melting locks. He only finds more tools for making weapons and mapped out plans for some kinda revolution attack. This should concern him more, but he really doesn’t care. He wants that ring. The other stuff these Casters have in mind are of no business to him. For now. Flora has even less luck than Iggy. She searches through the main entrance room, where they were before. Nothing in there to note besides the paintings. She checks the entertainment rooms, finds nothing but chip and soda stains on the carpet and couches. A leftover pack of rice Krispies lies on the ground. She considers taking this for later, but the date tells her otherwise. She looks through the kitchen, but nothing noteworthy is found there. The fridge is accessible however. Flora is disgusted as she sees that the food in said fridge aren’t very appetizing. “ Ugh. Fresh salads, green beans, sausages, and corns? And whatever this other stuff is. YUCK.” Flora wipes her tongue as she talks to herself. “ I mean it MIGHT be ok IF they were made the proper way! Who cooks around here? Ugh. The one thing I’d rather not see.” She moves on. Willow and Devin aren’t any luckier either, at first. They are in charge of the upstairs, where the bedrooms, bathrooms and personal closets are. They don’t check in the bedrooms aside from a quick peek into the rooms. They see the leader Jesoiph sleeping, and his wife? Girlfriend? There’s also the room Miander should have, if she were still here. The other two are empty. Devin and Willow each check each of those rooms, finding nothing but extra bathroom supplies, writing utensils, and extra clothes and bags of leather and metal. The Carriers aren’t sure why these things are stored in what should be a bedroom, but they don’t have time or the will to care. Willow searches the bathroom, immediately getting repulsed by the stench. Apparently cleaning wasn’t due for a while. Devin checks a certain closet at the far left end of the upper hallway. He uses his flashlight to see the number of crates stacked around the small space. There’s a line of papers on the ground. A small stuffed purple dinosaur and black goat lie on the ground. They seem to have some messy writing on them. SUSIE is written on the dinosaur and RAL on the goat’s green wizard hat.“ Do they have kids or something? Or are going to? Is the leader keeping these for some reason? Maybe toys from his childhood?” Devin thinks to himself. He spots one crate at the far end, with the label “ ANILLO” on it. He jumps in excitement.

 

“  WILLOW!” Devin calls. She comes running over.
“ What the hell shut up! You’ll wake someone mate!” She says. Devin covers his mouth, blushing.
“ S-sorry!” He points to the crate. “ But look! I found the thing!”
“ Oh! Good work. Now stay here I’ll get it.” Willow walks over to the crate, using her magic to open the top. If it won’t last later, it’s good to use it now. She takes out a small red velvet and gold casing. Opening it she finds the Anillo itself, glowing silver in the dark room. She closes the casing. “ Ok, let’s get back to the others at the sewage door.” Devin nods and they walk quickly yet quietly down the steps. Once they reach the second floor, they bump into Flora, literally. Willow almost drops the casing. They tell her to move with them. She nods invisibly and they make for the stairs. Before they make it, however, Iggy walks up the steps and takes out his blades. The Carriers look at him confused. Iggy points behind them.


 

“ Ah, I see we meet again. Very unfortunate it had to be in these circumstances. Although it IS your fault.” Jesoiph alongside Siloc and Tikal walk down the steps from the upper floor as lights turn on along the walls. They each have a sword out, each one glowing a different color. They are in their PJs, but plates of silver armor are placed over it.  They step to the ground in front of the Carriers. “ We can make this easy.”
“ No we can’t. Why the hell are you challenging us with your pajamas on?” Iggy says, stepping forward to meet Jesoiph. Devin holds onto his small sword, shaking with fear.
“ For once we didn’t expect you to come barging into our homes,” Tikal says. “ We figured you’d leave by now.”
“ Don’t expect things from people you barely know.” Willow says. “ Like us giving back this case.”
“ Oh you will, or we’ll take it.” Siloc says. “ You seemed like chill people before. Then again everyone has multiple sides to them. Guess yours was to take advantage of us.”
“ How could you honestly think we wouldn’t?” Iggy says. “ You go around acting like this magic stuff is so special and everything, then you have the audacity to NOT let us have it?”
“ It was agreed you’d have two bottles to take back with you. And we allowed you to try some at the storage facility.”
“ Wait so when Noeff let me and Jessila try out her father’s magic…” Willow says.
“ It was a kind of setup.” Jesoiph says. “ I ordered her to do that, and come and find you. It was to make sure you know the power of our creations. Another thing to take back to your people.”

“ Well if we can take this Anillo whatever back it’d be a lot more evidence if it’s really as strong as you say it is!” Iggy says.

“ Perhaps. But its potential is much more than you realize. We should keep it for further testing before it’s given out to ones we can’t trust.”
“ So give it back!” Tikal says. “ It’s safer or all of us if you crazy people aren’t in possession of it!”

“ Hey, fat chance.” Iggy says.
“ The one’s who’re crazy is a subjective thing.” Flora says. “ We know what we want, we ain’t giving in.”
“ It might be safer to just let us go.” Devin squeaks. Jesoiph eyes him and his blood freezes.

“ You little one. Very sad that you side yourself with these folks. Perhaps we shall come for you later on, show you the true possibilities of this world, something that this set of Carriers cannot show you quite the same.”
“ No!... I-I’m fine with them!”
“ Tikal, Siloc.” Jesioph raises his blade at the Carriers. “ Kill them. If it’s possible let the boy live.” The Casters and Carriers charge, their swords and bodies clashing in the dimly lit night.


 

Willow tosses the case to Devin and runs and swings her sword at Tikal, who jumps back. She leaps to the side, punching Willow in the gut. Willow staggers back, holding her side. She blocks another swipe. Devin freezes Tikal’s foot, startling her long enough for Willow stab her in the side. Tikal screams, cutting through Willow’s arm. Willow pulls away in time to not get her limb cut off but only down to the bone. She switches arms, one of them now in too much pain. “ You’re using magic now.” Tikal says. Willow smiles. “ Yes.” She picks up a painting from the wall and smashes it into Tikal’s head. That didn’t do much. Tikal breaks free of the ice, getting hit in the back with an icicle. Willow slices her breast, blocking a follow up strike from her opponent. Tikal is hit by another icicle. She turns around, charging at Devin. Devin holds up his sword helplessly. Before Tikal can chop off his head Willow stabs her in the back. Tikal eyes Devin with anger before falling. “ Nice one Devin.” Willow says. “ Now let’s help-”

“ FLORA!” Willow is cut off by Iggy’s scream. Devin and her turn around to see Flora on the ground, clutching her stomach and her throat at the same time. She’s shaking violently, covered in her own blood. Siloc stands over her proudly. He has two mini swords both glowing yellow. Jesoiph, who was fighting Iggy, watches without emotions. Iggy looks Flora over, calling her name. “ Flora Flora! Goddamnit get up! Go downstairs and wait for us we can-”
“ I-Iggy?” Flora croaks. “ J-just end it… T-take the Anillo and finish the...Mission…” Her words barely understandable her head falls dead.

 

Iggy stands up and faces the Caster leader, his hands tightly together. His fists light up. “ I was going easy on you before. Now? HAHAHA.” He has some cuts along his body, but they don’t seem to bother him in the slightest. “ Jesoiph, bring it on. You messed up big time mate.” Jesoiph chuckles.
“ How so when loved ones die. Show me what you can do.” Jesoiph’s blade becomes imbued with flaming energy. He holds it up casually. Iggy flies at him. Shoving his wrist blades into Jesoiph’s blade. They push against each other. Jesoiph kicks Iggy back. Siloc turns to Willow and Devin.

“ I’m still here. But you two shouldn’t be. Mind giving me the ring now?”
“ I wouldn’t count on it. Iggy’s not the only one who cares about Flora.” Willow says. “ Devin keep holding the case, use your ice. It’s helpful.” Devin nods, extending his arm out again. If this is how he can help his friends win, then so be it.

 

Willow runs at Siloc, swinging. He ducks and punches upwards, barely missing. Willow slashes his hand, causing him to squeal like a woman and jump up. He blocks her next attack, slices her face. Willow dodges, only getting cut along her nose and cheeks. She reorients herself, seeing that Siloc’s foot is frozen. He tries to break out of it, just doing so as Willow swings at his stomach. It connects, making a nasty gash along Siloc’s belly button. Siloc makes to stab Willow’s neck, but at the last second he swings his blade around, slashing her knee. Blood drips and a bit of bone is exposed. Willow drops down, the pain of her wounds overtaking her. Siloc moves in for the kill, but is hit in the forehead with an icicle. He eyes Devin who looks back, his pants wet. Devin freezes Siloc’s hands and feet. The amount of energy this takes tires him out more than he expected. He throws his blade at the temporarily immobilized Siloc. The blade cuts down his face. Siloc yells again as Willow stabs him deep in the gut. Siloc falls back, the ice shattering. Devin runs over next to Willow, setting the case down. He holds onto her hand. “ Hey! Don’t die!” He says. Willow lets out a laugh.
“ I won’t. How’s… Iggy?” Devin looks up. Iggy has his back against the wall, looking worn out. His hands have a small fire around them. Jesoiph walks slowly up to him, his armor and skin only faintly damaged.

 

“ What a shame it is you couldn’t have solved this peacefully. We may have had a nice rejoicing after we arrive back to your society. But that isn’t the case.” Jesoiph puts his blade right up against Iggy’s neck. “ You’re just like the Hoarders. The ones who thought they could get away but were too stupid to realize that we don’t mess around. We know exactly how the rest of the world feels about us and our magic. We won’t let you have it. We will come back on our terms and finish what was started so long ago.” Iggy spits blood on his face.
“ But what about the Manifesters? Weren’t you enemies?!”
“ Indeed, but now even they have succumbed to the true meaning of this world, of what it means to be a human. Liberty, the ability to do anything. Magic unlocks the real potential in us. However proper steps need to be taken. Otherwise, we get people like you.”
“ Hey!” Devin yells. They look at him. He stutters, but pushes his words out. “ I don’t care about all this nonsense. To me pirates like the Carriers and Hoarders and everyone else are already getting their liberty. They do what they want and just try to have fun. That’s what it is to be a pirate. You’re too afraid that your methods of introducing magic into the main society will fail again. It’s not the magic that makes someone free, it’s the person themselves.”

“ I don’t wish to hear-” Iggy pushes hard against Jesoiph, sending him tumbling to the ground. Iggy stands straight, wincing.
“ Thanks Devin. I’m glad you’re here. Ya don’t fight well but you sure as hell can reassure us of what we’re doing.” He looks at Jesoiph who is getting up. “ As for you though bud.” He increases the power of his flames. “ Your speeches bore me. We’re leaving now WITH the ring.” He pounces onto Jesoiph.


 

Jesoiph holds out a hand with is surrounded by a golden flame. He stops Iggy by the chest, burning fast into his flesh and bones. Iggy grabs Jesoiph’s arm, burning it as well before stepping back, yelling out in agony. Jesoiph holds his arm, keeping in his pain.

“ Iggy!” Devin calls. “ Can we leave? I think more of them might be coming!” Iggy looks at Devin and the case that holds the Anillo. Then at Willow on the ground and Flora dead.
“ Ugh… Fine. Get the case and I’ll take Willow!” He runs over, hoisting Willow onto his back. He almost collapses from the pain in his chest, where a large deep hole is. Devin takes the casing, multiple emotions flowing through him. Horror, adrenaline, fear, depression. He wants to cry and murder and run. Jesoiph stands up weakly, his injuries finally taking hold.

“ Run then, you pathetic pirates. It won’t matter. You’ll see what they do to you when they find out what you have. We’ll come back, and you all will follow us.” Jesoiph simply watches Iggy and Devin scramble out the front door and down the path of the castle hill. It’s completely black outside, making it easy to trip. Luckily they make it back to the town, hurrying through to the docking station. Devin and Iggy stop a moment on the wood, resting.

 

They didn’t wait long. Devin suggested getting medicine for Willow but Iggy said that they can’t risk going anywhere else except for home. He remembers that the ThunderBlade was left behind. Doesn’t matter. They hop the metal chain blocking the way up a plank to one of the VIP ships. They choose this hoping to find supplies. Iggy puts Willow down on the deck of the shop gently, rushing into the engine room. Devin looks back at the dock. A group of nighttime guards spot them and start yelling. They run at the ship, charging some kind of purple energy in their hands. Devin ducks down, and he feels the ship lurch forward. He’s nearly knocked down as the ship flies forward, leaving the island fast. Purple bolts of energy fly past, and hit the ship. They manage to get far enough away to where the energy bullets miss completely. Iggy and Devin carry Willow downstairs, where she’s laid down on a bed. Devin puts the Anillo casing on the kitchen section countertop. Iggy hastily pulls some medicine out of the shelves. With Devin’s help they cleanse and bandage the cuts on Willow’s body. They give her a pill to reduce the pain. They aren’t sure if it works but they hope to God.
“ Do you know any doctors who can help us?” Iggy asks.
“ Y-yes I think so! We’ll have to head back to Lenore Island though.” Devin says weakly.
“ That’s fine. We’ll go there and bring her in. They’re ok with Pirates?”
“ I think so yeah! I saw one last time I was there, at the hospital I think.”
“ Good.” Iggy sits on the bed next to Willow, tears in his eyes.

“ Jesus Christ this is my fault. If I hadn’t urged us to get the stupid fucking ring this wouldn’t have happened. And Flora… She… Oh my god.” He puts his hands on his face.

 

Devin sits next to Iggy, watching him. He clears his mind. “ Ignatius?”
“ Hm?”
“ Uh.” Devin shifts. “ I-I don’t think it’s much of your fault. I mean we all wanted to help get this too right? We said that we came here for something like this and we wanted to make it worth it. It would’ve been a waste not to get it. Flora… She died for what you guys believed in, getting treasures and just being yourselves. What I love about you guys. I think she’d be happy knowing that we got away with the Anillo, and whatever magic we still have in us. Willow should be ok and you… You could even say that Flora’s spirit is still with us.” Iggy wipes his face.
“ It’s still my fault. But it is what we wanted. You’re right on that at least. Flora was always there with me, even longer than Willow. I met her at my high school. We never were “Lovers” just close friends I guess. We both had dreams of becoming pirates and one night snuck out onto my boat with supplies and set out to try it. It’s been five years. We met Willow two years later. I should’ve watched her more during the fight it’s just usually she doesn’t need it…”
“ I see. Well you did what you two always want, which is to get the best treasures! I’m sure she’ll watch over you Iggy! Good friends do that, even after death.”
“ Maybe.” He wipes his face again and winces. He’d been holding the pain of his chest and now it’s getting worse. He’ll pass out too soon. “ Agh, but we can’t let all this go for nothing.” He stands up. “ We should clean ourselves up too. Sorry for putting you through this Devin.”
“ It’s ok!” Devin smiles. “ It’s been… A lot. But it’s what I asked for and somehow I’m glad I got it. The main issue for me now is my parents.” He laughs softly. Iggy smirks. “ But thank you guys for letting me be here.”
“ You’re getting more and more interesting the more we’re with you mate. It’s been nicer than I thought it would be at first. Funny how life is. But come on, we need to make sure the near future doesn’t go to absolute shit.” Devin gets up and goes with him to the kitchen to get more medicine.

 

What will happen when they return? Devin thinks about the Casters and Manifesters, coming back to attempt to overthrow the government once again and make a different more magical world. Unlocking the real human potential and in the process destroying it. If their world is as rigid and structured as the one on those islands, then Devin knows he never wants to be a part of it. He has a feeling somewhere in his gut that a new war amongst pirates is on the horizon. When he looks out the window he can practically see the ships coming, ready for battle. What is freedom? How do you obtain it? Sometimes people seek freedom and end up becoming even more shut in instead. They become the opposite. He thought those questions were already answered. Seems like they’re only now going to start to figure it out.




 


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