Lost Sight

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


Finn held a thin blade under the bartender’s chin. The blade was only the length of his index finger, but size didn’t matter when the tip threatened to tear open a man’s throat. Finn pressed a little harder and a small bead of blood appeared and trickled down the bartender’s neck.

 

“Are you going to tell me where that ship was heading? Or is your pretty barmaid going to be mopping up your blood the rest of the night?” 

 

The bartender was taller and more muscular than Finn. He was also about twenty years younger. Finn was not worried. He knew men like this bartender, and they would never risk their own life for a ship or its crew that were never likely to dock here again anyway.  

 

“South! That’s all I know. I swear.” The bartender was up on his toes now, trying to lessen the sting of Finn’s blade.  

 

Finn held the blade in place a moment longer and looked the bartender in his eyes. He believed him. Finn removed the blade and shoved the man enough to create some space. 

 

Finn backed away slowly. South. That could be any of a dozen ports. Finn jerked his head towards the door and Halden stood from his seat at the end of the bar and followed Finn out the door. The bartender looked startled that he hadn’t noticed Halden earlier.  

 

Finn and Halden left the tavern and found Big Jim and Foley waiting where he left them outside, in case of unexpected trouble. Finn looked to Big Jim and then Foley, anger clouding his expression. “Where’s the boy?” 

 

Big Jim was chewing on his beard and trying not to make eye contact with Finn; Foley grimaced. Neither spoke.  

 

“Are you really going to make me ask again?” 

 

Big Jim answered “He’s spying, Captain. We told him to stay like you ordered, but, well, you know. He’s perse...perz…” Big Jim looked to Foley for help. 

 

 “Persuasive.” 

 

“Right.” Big Jim continued “That. He made some pretty good points. Said he could get some valuable information.” 

 

Finn stomped off toward their ship, cursing under his breath. “Let’s go. If he isn’t on the ship when we’re ready to sail, he can stay here.” Big Jim and Foley shared a look but both shrugged and followed Finn and Halden back to the docks, which was a short walk.  

 

Their ship, “Final Word”, loomed largest of all in the small docks of Lavenshire, a small fishing town less than a mile from a cove often frequented by smugglers on their way to the open seas.

  

The other boats currently docked were for fishing or luxury. Their galleon was one hundred and sixty feet with four masts, each of the six sails displaying their banner, the top half of a skeleton holding a pistol to its head. The blood red of the image standing out against the white back drop of the sails. The twenty cannons on their broadside stared menacingly at the small fishing village in the distance.

 

The ship was bustling with activity. It housed one hundred and ninety souls and one lazy feline. The crew was at work preparing to set sail. Finn marched up the gangplank, ignoring salutes as he boarded his ship and went straight to his cabin. On the way he passed Fossie, their Helmsmen, who was sitting on a crate eating a bowl of oatmeal. 

 

“South” was all he needed to say. Fossie hopped off the crate and started shouting orders while shoveling the rest of his oatmeal in his mouth.  

 

Big Jim nudged Foley “Do you really think he’d leave Riley behind?” Foley shrugged “Probably. The boy’s been pissing him off, so definitely maybe.” He shrugged again and stalked off to his bunk to get ready to sail.  

 

Big Jim stayed behind and stood at the railing watching the crowds. He thought he might stay behind if Riley didn’t return in time.  

 

Twenty minutes passed and still no sign of Riley. The ship was almost ready to set sail. Foley returned to the deck and approached Big Jim who was still staring out into the crowds near the docks.  

 

“Don’t you go getting any stupid ideas about getting off this ship to wait for him. He’ll be fine. Besides, he damn well knew what would happen. He’s been showing off too much, and you know Finn hates showoffs.” 

 

Big Jim turned and smiled at Foley “Wouldn’t you?” Foley laughed “I’d probably be worse.” They both stood together and the railing and continued watching for their new friend and crewmate.  

A few minutes later the Captain shouted for “anchor’s up”. He hadn’t been joking. Big Jim and Foley shared uneasy glances. No one else seemed to notice Riley missing, or they didn’t care; He still made some of the crew uneasy. 

 

Big Jim looked to Foley “What should we do?” but Foley didn’t answer. Big Jim asked again. Foley pointed “Look. There’s a commotion. Two crossing’s over.”  

 

Big Jim clapped Foley on the back “Ha! He’s even running! Good, he might make it after all.”  

Foley groaned “That’s not why he’s running.” 

 

There was a small group of soldiers in pursuit, shoving people out the way and waving short swords. A second group of men were approaching through the crowds on the dock side and would cut Riley off before he could get to the ship. Big Jim grabbed Foley by arm “We have to help him.” He started towards the gangplank, but it was already up, and the ship was starting to move. 

 

Captain Finn approached with Halden trailing a few steps behind. “Don’t forget who he is. I’m sure he doesn’t even want our help.” The Captain and Halden stood and watched with Foley and Big Jim. Several others on the crew had stopped to watch as well. Halden whispered to Finn “You know whatever he does is only going to make him more popular, right?”. Captain Finn huffed “Damnit, I know.”  

ttt

 

The soldiers out in front of Riley cleared the road and spread out in a line blocking the way forward. Four had short swords drawn and one held two long knives. The soldiers behind him were catching up, Riley made sure they got closer by slowing a little. It was easier to concentrate when he didn’t have to worry about arrows from a distance. One of the soldiers blocking his path stepped forward and shouted for Riley to halt.  

 

True Mages of Azlikiar were rare. Most people did not expect to see one in their lifetime, so the poor reaction time of the soldiers was understandable. Riley wiggled some fingers on his right hand, as if he were plucking stings on an instrument. The ground opened under three of the soldiers. Two dropped seven feet into a hole but were unharmed except for some bruising. The third hopped to the side and managed to dodge the opening hole. He smiled, thrilled at how clever he was to dodge the attack. He raised he sword and started to charge but Riley wiggled his fingers again and the ground reached up and encased the man’s feet and ankles. The man half fell over and then began hacking at the dirt and rock restraints with his sword.  

 

The remaining two soldiers in front of him were frozen in place with their mouths hanging open. Riley looked over his shoulder and saw the rest of the soldiers were getting too close now. He took a deep breath and wiggled fingers on both hands. Two more holes opened and swallowed the soldiers in front of him. He ran forward and didn’t bother looking back. The “Final Word” was leaving and he was nervous the Captain would leave him here just to prove who was in charge.  

 

Behind him, a wall of dirt and rock rose thirty feet into the air, blocking the entire road. The ground shook, glass rattled in windows and a few onlookers fell to the ground. The soldiers chasing Riley, there were over a dozen now, were trapped on the other side.  They began hacking at the dirt wall with their swords. A few retreated, trying to find another route though the nearby warehouses.  

 

No one appreciated his restraint, Riley thought as he ran full speed toward the ship. He could have killed everyone. They would slit his throat in an instant, given the chance, and he still let them live. He wiggled his fingers and couldn’t help smiling as he imagined the faces of the soldiers stuck behind the wall.  

 

The wall was starting to lean towards the soldiers. They noticed the shadow falling over them. Some screamed and continued to hack at the wall while others started to run but would not make it out of the shadow. The wall fell. There was a loud crash as the soldiers and onlookers screamed. There was confusion. Most of the soldiers doubled over coughing and wiped at the sand in their eyes. A few soldiers and civilians had fallen over and were coughing on the floor. Everyone was alive. The wall of rock and dirt had turned into a fine sand as it crashed down. After almost a minute of being dazed, one of the soldiers who had been hacking at the wall raised his sword and resumed the chase. A few other soldiers followed, but Riley was almost to the end of the dock where the galleon was still close. 

 

Riley could see Big Jim and Foley hanging over the railing at the stern of the ship, looking as if they were ready to try and jump the twenty feet to the dock. Riley’s cheeks were getting sore from smiling. Those two were growing on him. He waved and wiggled a finger which amplified his voice “Just toss a rope over!”  

 

Foley shouted something in response, but his voice was not amplified by the “Mage’s Touch” and was lost to the wind. Big Jim disappeared. Foley was jumping up and down and pointing. Riley looked back and saw a dozen soldiers running in his direction. They were still far enough back for him to make his escape. He looked back to Foley who was still pointing. 

 

Archers. Riley finally noticed three of them on the roof of a warehouse adjacent to their position. He was in range of their arrows as was the “Final Word”. Riley cursed. He hated archers, manipulating fast moving pointy things could be difficult, especially with a dozen armed soldiers charging.  

Riley turned towards the rushing soldiers while keeping an eye on the archers. They had not raised their bows yet. They must know their business and were waiting for the right time to fire. Riley took a fighting stance. He stood sideways, left foot leading, arms halfway outstretched, fingers splayed. Taking a stance or waving one’s arms around did not matter. It was all in the fingers, but Riley liked to look imposing. “I got this” he said aloud to himself. He noticed two of the closest soldiers laugh at his pose. They picked up speed.  

 

Riley was concerned about the archers. He glanced again towards the roof, just in time to see an arrow appear in the first archers eye, he tumbled off the roof. The second archer found an arrow in his neck. Riley didn’t see where the third arrow hit but the last archer collapsed out of sight.  

Riley’s head whipped back towards the “Final Word”. Captain Finn was standing balanced on the top rail above one of the gun ports, bow in hand and nocking another arrow. Riley waved him off, turned back to the charging soldiers and wiggled some fingers on each of his hands. 

 

The soldiers turned as if rounding a corner and were now all running full speed in the opposite direction. 

 

Big Jim had reappeared with a coil of rope. Riley wiggled a finger and shouted, “Just toss it overboard”. Big Jim tossed the rope, it uncoiled itself and extended towards Riley. It reached the docks and the end of the rope doubled up several times and made a small platform for Riley to stand on while the rope slowly retracted itself to the ship. The soldiers were still running the wrong direction and would until they were no longer able.  

 

Riley hated that he couldn’t fly himself. No one knew how, at least not anymore. He could use objects to aid him, but it wasn’t the same thing. There was still so much he didn’t understand about his power, but he could not wait a century to graduate and be allowed out into the word to seek his own answers. He wanted answers now and not the watered-down half-truths that his people were taught. He was told that was not ready, that he would be murdered in his sleep. That he would disgrace their order. He was still smiling. He did not regret leaving his homeland and was enjoying every second of exploring the world, even when people were trying to have him killed. 

 

The rope reached the ship and Big Jim helped Riley over the railing. Most of the crew present were laughing and making lewd comments. Those that had decided to be elsewhere were the ones still uneasy about having a True Mage on board.  

 

The only person not smiling was Captain Finn, who was scowling. Riley excused himself from his laughing shipmates and approached the Captain.  

 

“Thanks, Captain. Archers can be troublesome. I probably…” The Captain cut him off, “I had to kill those three men to make sure they did not fire on my ship and injure or kill any of my crew.” The Captain spit off to the side. “I don’t give a damn if you want to get yourself killed, but if your stupidity gets anyone on my crew killed, I’ll put you down myself.” 

 

Riley bristled at the dressing down but kept his mouth shut. This was a mutually beneficial relationship and deep down he knew he rarely considered the safety of others. The Captain stood and waited for Riley to argue and grunted when no response came. “My ship, my rules. That’s our agreement. You disobeyed an order I gave you on this ship when I told you to stay with Big Jim and Foley. You’re on kitchen duty the rest of the week.” 

 

Riley made a sound like a dying whale, “The rest of the week? But the week just started!” 

 

Foley, who had crept closer, echoed Riley. “C’mon Captain, that’s punishment on the rest of us too! He’s a terrible cook!” 

 

The Captain looked flatly at Foley, “Next time don’t let him wander off.” Foley

and several other crew members nearby groaned. Captain Finn turned and started towards the cabin with a hint of a smile. 

 

Riley called out, “Um, Captain? I know you’re upset, but would you like to hear about the merchant ship that’s carrying a shipment of gold and jewels to the new bank being opened in Calibar?” 

 

The Captain turned back to Riley; his words had caught the attention of the others nearby too. Riley’s smile was back. “It only has a few guards because they don’t want to raise any suspicions about their cargo. It’s a short trip. Just across the canal, but they figured a boat would be safer and cheaper.” 

Captain Finn looked skeptical.  

 

“Oh! And it’s South, where our mystery ship is sailing, in case you didn’t find that out yourself already.” Riley grinned wider. 

 

Captain Finn took a few steps back towards Riley. “They’ll alert the crew. You made quite the scene back there.” 

 

Riley waved away the Captain’s concerns and chuckled. “That was an entirely different matter. They don’t know I stole information. Even if they send a ship, we’re faster with me on board.”  

The Captain didn’t doubt the accuracy of the information. It was why Riley was a temporary crew member. Pirating had never been easier. The Captain hated it.  

 

The Captain turned and shouted new orders. “Riley, activate the wind stones.” 

 

Riley saluted Captain Finn and wiggled some fingers. A green ruby embedded in each of the ship’s masts began to glow and wind filled the sails. The ship pointed South and they raced towards their next adventure, in pursuit of a power that would change the outcome of the coming war. 

 

Riley climbed up to the crows-nest and closed his eyes as he faced the horizon. He took a deep breath and inhaled the salty sea air. The sun was warm on his face, he smiled, feeling content. Home was becoming only a memory now. He looked off into the distance, the open sky end endless sea reminding him of his newfound freedomHis fingers plucked at the strings of reality and a bright rainbow appeared in the distance, a sign of good luck on this ship. Someone below pointed it out and the crew cheered. Riley absorbed the feeling of that sound. He would enjoy it while it lasted.


Submitted: May 14, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Just Harry. All rights reserved.

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