Folly on the Fury - by Aivanther
I leaned over the rail of the ship, watching the water speed by. It truly was amazing that such a hulking thing as a ship could fly over the water like a dragon cutting through the air, like a falcon speeding towards its kill. However, at that particular moment such vibrant similes were lost on me as I spewed my stomach's content over the side. "Dear Vryce, just kill me now. I get it, I've been bad, just get it over with..." I muttered to myself between the rolling motions of the ship which seemed to be in perfect synchronization with the waves of nausea that overwhelmed me.
After a few more gagging attempts I got bored of trying to find something else to give up and simply leaned there against the rail. I imagined in my semi-delirious state that I resembled something akin to a handkerchief used by a Dragon Turtle with a particularly nasty cold. "I really should write that down..." I muttered to myself, searching for my quill and a piece of paper. Of late my adventuring had been in a pretty sad state, but somehow tales of such misadventures were eaten up by a variety of readers. I suppose it must be the perverse nature of humanity, enjoying the sufferings of others made you all the more grateful for your own state of being. At least it would served as some modest income to keep the various tavern tabs paid.
The funny thing was, such literary works were what got me dragged into this little escapade. I had been hanging out at Trellor, trying to bum free stuff off the local shops by denoting my celebrity status and promising book signings when some guy, looked like a mage to me, asked if I had a spare moment. Well, when you are as busy as I am, almost every moment is spare. I do not rightly recall what happened immediately after that, but it involved a lot of wine, a lot of stories of gold, and me agreeing to some sort of 'hunt'. Well, when I awoke the next morning I was in the state of nausea that opened this tale. I quickly realized I was on a ship, or at least something rocking in the midst of the nasty smell that seemed to accompany salt water.
Anyway, as I was swaying there on the deck, exploring the inner recesses of my gullet for something else I could disgorge, I felt a strong clap on my back. Looking up from teary eyes I vaguely recognized my mage 'friend' I met the previous evening. "Fine day for sailing!" he said, letting out a laugh. "What do you say, my literary companion, you think we will find the Fury today? We are nearing the port of Sea's End, and that's where the rumors point us to!" Suddenly the discussion from the night before came back to me. He'd said his name was Lelfin, and had offered to buy me a drink. Never one to refuse a free drink, I accepted. Well, one turned into three or four, maybe a half dozen or so, and I was feeling rather charitable and friendly. So then Lelfin got down to business. If my clouded mind recalled correctly, I had agreed to aid this guy in some counter-raiding against the pirates of the Fury. My part was partly as a presence of muscle because, despite my appearance and reputation, I can usually hold my own in a fight. But my presence was mainly so I could make Lelfin famous for his brave deeds. By Columnus' teeth, he was as delusional as a fanatic of Xezadah. I guess he really did not pay attention to just what the crew of the Fury did. They were forced to raid the coast line as there was always a line of adventurers ready to relieve them of their goods. In my opinion, the Fury was probably just an ordinary merchant ship until some hare-brained adventurer decided to start the trend of raiding them for their supplies. Oh well, who was I to argue with wine and an upfront commission for some simple lines of praise.
"Ah, there! On the horizon, you see it? It's got to be her!" he said, almost bouncing with excitement. I sighed as I eyed the blotch of white on the horizon, looked like it would be a long day, and judging by the way things were going, it would be a long chase as well. That was just great, that meant I had probably another day of standing on this noisome piece of floating lumber followed by some savage bloodletting, which would most likely involve a considerable amount of my own bodily fluids.
I looked down at the water, considering whether or not I should continue my previous activity. But somehow retching over the side had lost its appeal. I know, I am an experienced adventurer, I've had more than my fair share of battles, but somehow bloody conflict just did not excite me. Funny, isn't it? Here I was, standing on the deck of a ship decked out in full body plate mail, a dagger on each hip and as well as a couple of daggers hidden here and there for easy throw access, and I would rather be writing or trading witty remarks with my clan leader. Ah well, writing only paid the bar tab, not all the other bills, so you had to do something about Life and her little demands like food, clothing, and shelter. I shook my head and headed down to my cabin to try and get some sort of rest. "Wait, where you going?! We're about to get the fight of our lives, and then..."
"It will take at least twelve hours to catch them in a stern chase, so I'm going to go to sleep!" I grumbled, hoping I was not as pale as I felt, "Let me know when you can see the crew from the deck." With that, I headed below deck, shaking my head in disgust. How in the world I let myself get talked into running these little adventures with every ignorant, fresh-faced adventurer I did not know. Probably because they all had just cashed out some nice aurellium bars and had more gold than sense to spend it with. It took a while, and some swearing at some belligerent sailors, but I found a quiet room where I could stretch out to nap in a hammock.
I was awoken with a thud as Lelfin bashed on the door with his staff. "Hurry! We're nearly on them, and you got to lead the way!" he shouted, sounding like a dark sprite that had found a new friend. I trudged up to the deck while swearing under my breath. Sure enough, we were nearly on them, in fact, we were nearly alongside them. Apparently Lelfin had forgotten to awaken me a bit early.
"A'right then," said the captain of the ship we had chartered, "Heres yer ship, as ordered, 'ave fun. Get off, we have to make it back to Trellor before the weeks over and the wind this season is against us." I swore very loudly at that point, loud enough that I began to fear lightning bolts of divine wrath. Fortunately, the gods were busy elsewhere, or were ready to take their vengeance out on me through other methods, like the cutlass of a pirate.
I rounded on my 'partner.' "It's just the two of us?! Dragon dung, I was hoping for at least a little back up..." However, he was not even paying attention, instead we were gazing at the ship, greed etched upon his ignorant face.
Turning to me he said, "You can tell me that all again later, now we got to go! You go first; you have to keep them off of me while I zap them all. So go ahead and jump, I'll be right behind you." He pushed me towards the rail where I gazed down at the 6 foot distance between the ships. Now let me tell you, full body plate-mail is a wonderful thing when it comes to fighting the terrors of Medievia, but its just about the worst gear in the world when you are considering the possibility of leaping into water that is over ten fathoms deep. Sighing in resignation I leapt...
And hit the deck of the Fury. It was nearly graceful, except that I hit a wet spot where a boy was swabbing. My feet slipped out from under me and I fell on my back like a metallic turtle, my thoughts a jumble after my head banged sharply against the interior of my helmet. I felt a sharp ping on my armor as I lay there, admiring the clouds. Looking around I noticed the deckhand holding a mop in the same manner as I would wield a sword. I awkwardly clambered to my feet as the boy continued to poke at me with the stick. Once I finally regained my feet I batted the mop aside with a back hand, grabbed the boy by the collar, and tossed him over the rail.
Satisfied with a job well done I turned around just in time to see my companion float slowly to the deck. A levitate spell, now why hadn't I thought of that? I did not have time to kick myself to much as the crew noticed our little gymnastic efforts and came rushing at us. I drew my daggers, preparing to meet their charge when I felt a very strong buzzing sensation and began to see purple spots everywhere. I could feel my hair standing on end as I looked around in a daze. "Oops, sorry, wrong person," my 'ally' said as he began to cast another chain lightning spell. Sweet Soleil, what sort of idiot had I got myself partnered with this time?
Well, thoughts of skewering the mage were cut short in a very literal sense. I sharp bang upside my helmet announced the arrival of one of the Fury's pirates, who evidently wielded a rather dull cutlass. Before he could get another blow in I ran him through with my dagger. As he slumped to the deck I brought my blades forward to parry a blow from another one of the pirates when a lightning bolt began its dance, arcing from pirate to pirate. I breathed a silent prayer of thanks to the gods that the idiot had managed to hit the right target this time.
I managed to run another of the pirates through, when I was interrupted by a sharp clap on my back. I turned to see Lelfin pounding me good naturedly on the back. Smiling like an idiot he said, "Hey, you see that? Five little pirates standing there, hair on end!" I sighed, and turned just in time to receive another hit to side of my helmet. What followed was an incredibly bloody ordeal of me simultaneously getting beat on by pirates and doused in fireballs, zapped with poorly aimed lightning bolts, and even mistakenly given a bright pink outline. Fortunately, my companion's strength in spells was on par with his accuracy. The pirates, however, were a bit more skilled and I was getting a bit banged up.
It took a good amount of fighting, and not a small amount of healing spells, but we finally managed to finish off the last of the pirates on deck. With a sigh of relief, I turned to my 'ally' to recommend we take a minute to let our strength resume. Lelfin, however, was not as patient as I. I just managed to catch a glimpse of his rather ragged robes disappear down a trapdoor in the floor of the deck. Using some very colorful language, I struggled to follow him.
I managed to reach the hatchway, but not in such a graceful manner. You see, the average bard will tell you of the glory of battle, but not of the mess it leaves behind. Nor will you find in any great tale how slippery blood is when it's lying all over the deck of a ship. Well, I realized this very quickly when I hit a particularly slick patch and slid straight into the hatch and tumbled head over heels down into the lower decks of the ship. Fortunately for my companion I arrived just in the nick of time, falling flat on top of a particularly vicious buccaneer who was seemed ready to carve him like a roast pig. With all the grace of a three legged bull, I grappled with my surprised foe. After slamming my fists into his face a few times, which incidentally seemed to improve his overall good looks, I managed to work a dagger free and end our little dispute.
With a crow of victory, Lelfin gave one of his jarring back slaps, saying, "Fine job! Couldn't have done it better myself! You're doing so good, feel free to add a paragraph or two for yourself in my tale!"
Wiping off some of the mess, I simply said, "Thank you, oh generous mage..." My words were lost on him, however, as he was already barreling down the passage way. I began to chase after him as I heard him start casting a spell. However, I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard a most disturbing sound. Now, I don't claim to be the greatest of magic users, in fact I claim to be a pretty poor one, but I recognize most spells and know their general use, and what I recognized made me sigh in resignation. You see, magic is a wonderful weapon, but only in the right hands, and if you couldn't tell already, Lelfin's hands were far from the right ones. As he finished the magic phrase, I threw myself to the floor. As I covered my head with my hands, I felt a burst of heat, and could see through my arms the bright light of a fireball igniting indoors.
I leapt to my feet and ran over, searching through the various bodies I could see on the ground. They were all rather black with char, but only one carried the expression of glee that could only be the ignoramus Lelfin. I grabbed him by his shoulders and pulled him to his feet. I quickly summoned up a cleric spell I'd learned and healed him somewhat. "You alright, idio...Lelfin?" I asked, hoping the answer would be no.
"Never been better!" he shouted with glee, "In fact, let's do it again!" I was wrong, it seemed, he wasn't an idiot, he was a mad man. Before I could do anything he stepped forward and I heard the words "Por Flam." Biting off curses, I leapt into a room to my right and curled into the fetal position. I'd like to take this opportunity to dispel some illusions about the fetal position. This is not the position of wimps as it has been portrayed. Rather it is a very comfortable position in which to protect yourself from things, such as bullies, or janitors who are vengeful for the death of their friend, or even for fireball detonating in small enclosed spaces. So don't knock it until you've tried it. With that said we can continue this little tale.
Once the heat died down and I could breathe again, I stood up and staggered into the hallway. The sight that greeted me was about what I expected. You see, I'd been figuring somehow Lelfin had been overly lucky as a ship such as the Fury is really just an oversized matchbox with sails and all these fireballs were doomed to ignite it someday. Yes, you guessed it, as I looked down the hallway of the lower decks of the Fury I was greeted by the sight of flaming walls, screaming sailors, and Lelfin cackling like a madman. "See that, got them good! Be sure to tell them how I toasted them all by myself!" he chattered at me as I grabbed him by his charred cloak.
I cut off his babbling with a firm shake. "Idiot!" I growled, "The ship's on fire, there's more sixty feet of water between the hull of the ship and the nearest solid ground!" I continued to pull on my less than desirable companion onto the upper deck. "Can you swim fifty miles? You'd better hope so, because this ship's about to burn up!"
The idea of there being no ship left in a few minutes made him pause for a moment, then he just laughed. "I know a creation spell, I can make us a raft!" he said, and began chanting.
I slapped him upside the head. "Moron, on the open sea we'll last all of eleven seconds on a raft!" I shouted.
"Oh...that's bad, right? Dragons, they don't come out here, do they?" he said, suddenly sounding a bit unsure.
I simply sighed. Of course no dragon would come out here, there's no way they're going to chase out a single moving spot in the middle of the ocean, and we were both broke anyway. With another deep sigh of resignation, I decided to do the only thing that may make this trip worthwhile. I punched Lelfin in the mouth.
I actually hit him pretty hard and he flew back a good few feet. "You Vryce-cursed fool, I came to write a story, not to die for some half baked scheme!" I shouted, fishing around for one of my daggers. My murderous intentions were cut short by a sharp sting in my side. Glancing down, I almost laughed at the sight of a sword pulling out and blood trickling. "Well, what do you know, I've been stabbed."
My humor, however, was a dark one, and the stab only had the real effect of redirecting my rage. Turning around I looked into the bloodshot of eyes of Ramarke, the pirate captain. In case you didn't realize it, Ramarke tends to be a bit of a drinker, and if he's not drinking at the moment, then he's probably hung over. None of this, however, means he's not an excellent fighter. His blade came around again very quickly and I just got my dagger out to parry it. I then dropped down low, pivoting on my left leg and slashed with my right hand dagger. Ramarke was quick though, and I hit naught but air. I in turn dodged backwards in time to miss a rather deadly slash at my neck.
Some space between us, we looked at one another. I'd say we're giving each other looks of mutual respect, but really we were just too angry to have respect for anything. "You burned my ship!" he growled, "You will pay for that!" And he charged, I managed to catch him in the face with a well placed kick, and he stumbled back. I was ready to slash him up a good deal, but was interrupted by yet another fireball that blasted the two of us apart.
As I staggered to my feet I saw Lelfin raising his arms in triumph, "Take that, Pirate King! Tis it a glorious thing to be a Pirate King? I don't think so!" With that he conjured a lightning bolt and threw it at Ramarke. I simply sighed, wondering if I should intervene. Somewhere, deep down inside, I found a piece of a conscious and ran to cut off the now raging Ramarke before he could run my companion through.
It really only took a moment or two more, Ramarke was so angry and so intent on getting to Lelfin he almost was not paying any attention to me. It ended when he tried to spin around me to get to Lelfin. Despite what you might hear in the grand bard tales, a spin is not a very wise move in close combat as turning your back on someone is, well, an act of suicide. Ramarke learned this very quickly as I stabbed him in his exposed back, right in the heart. He gasped and fell to the ground, making a sick choking sound. I really hate doing that to people; it's so disgusting and makes you feel horrible. In fact, I quickly found I had missed something in my nauseated efforts earlier and ran to the rail, chucking up what I'd found.
I heard Lelfin walk up beside me, letting out a deep sigh. "Oh, it would have been a grand tale! A fight to the death on a burning ship, the mage saving his companion from certain death in close combat...to bad we'll die before anyone can hear it!" he sounded as if he was about to cry. I ignored him and looked up, and nearly cried myself at the sight. There, fast approaching was land! We must have hit a current, or the wind turned, but we were rushing towards land. By my guess, we would run aground in less than a minute.
Grabbing Lelfin by the shoulders I said, "Look land, listen to me, when we hit ground, we jump, got it?" Lelfin simply nodded, for some reason the fool was quiet, god be praised. "Okay, 1...2...3...JUMP!" I shouted, jumping as the ship hit the beach, causing it to lurch.
We both hit the ground in less than graceful manners, I getting a load of sand in my helmet and Lelfin ended up flat on his posterior. Our luck, it seemed, hadn't changed much for the better though, as the moment we regained our feet we were swarmed by not one, but two swarms of insects! It really wasn't much of a contest, Lelfin never took time to rejuvenate his magic abilities, and I'd spent all my power keeping me and him alive, and, well, have you ever tried swatting an insect with a dagger? It doesn't really work. Added to our inability to fight back was the fact that we were both very, very beat up from our fights. Lelfin lasted a whole minute, I didn't wait around to see how long I would last. I ran, screaming like a little girl, I ran. I did take the time to shout load enough where Lelfin's lingering conscious could hear, "I'll see you later, I'll get your story out! Don't worry about the rest of the pay." I continued running until I hit the Sea's End Trading Post and hitched a ride with a trade caravan there.
I now, dear reader, commend to you this tale of Lelfin, Mage Extraordinaire. May his deeds, such as they are, be sung throughout all of Medievia. May his heroics never be forgotten, and may I never journey with him again. I, Aivanther, self proclaimed writer and chronicler of this tale hereby wash my hands of him and all his deeds. I think I need a drink, if you need me, you can probably find me a in a tavern.