The Sassy Minx
Tales of Myth & Magic: The Corsair's Ransom (PlaysWithFire & Cuttroatcorsair)
The soft crinkle of old parchment filled the captain’s cabin aboard ‘The Sapphire’ as Alandra Silvarian spread another map atop the wooden table, smoothing the curled edges. She didn’t bother lighting a candle; even overcast, shrouded in dreary clouds, the grey afternoon light coming through the open portal windows was more than enough to clearly illuminate the chart’s faded lines. Eyes narrowed in concentration, the young woman bent over the table, slender fingers deftly tracing the different routes. After a moment, she removed her hand, watching the map expectantly, waiting. When nothing happened, she scowled, her brow furrowing as she rolled the paper back up and stuffed it irritably back into the cabinet. “Three weeks,” she sighed, glancing at the open window. The ocean swelled anxiously outside, its waters the color of lead. “Three weeks I’ve been at this, and still nothing!” She stood there, gnawing on her bottom lip, staring at the cabinet, its drawers and doors flung open, papers spilling out. It had to be here. It had to be here somewhere, their intelligence was never wrong, it had been confirmed by a Pravda, and she’d triple checked everything herself.
Alandra ruffled through the shelves, trying to quell her annoyance. Could the captain have hidden it? No, he didn’t know what he carried, and as far as she’d managed to sense from the rest of the crew, neither did they. Not that it would have mattered much to them if they did. This was a simple trading vessel, crewed and captained by Mundanes. Magical thousand year old maps had no relevance to these people. Still, she kept her mission and her true nature to herself. Sailors liked to talk, and there were plenty of evils that liked to listen. To these men, she was mild-mannered Grace Harper, daughter of a wealthy inland merchant looking to expand his own trade routes, and waiting to receive her at Port Berra, where they would journey to Lothlaire Kingdom. She’d made sure they had all accepted her story.
“I must be missing something,” Alandra muttered to herself as she pulled out various scrolls for inspection, turning them every which way. “Some…location fact or…maybe there’s an incantation needed, or a--…” Something slid from inside the scroll as she turned it over, dropping to the wooden floor by her feet. She paused, arms full of map scrolls, an eyebrow arched. Replacing the maps in the drawer, she bent, retrieving the parchment, and held it before her eyes. It was slightly smaller than the others, plain and unassuming, the paper ancient and thin, edges frayed and torn. Afraid to trust a hope, Alandra rushed to the table once more, carefully unrolling it. The cool, damp sea breeze brushed at her face, lifting the dust from the unfurled map. It was a chart of The Dorrian Ocean, and there were only four plotted routes. Useless. But there was something familiar about the pattern of the routes… As she had before, she traced the route lines with her fingers, keeping her mind open and blank, and waited.
Nothing happened. Alandra heaved a sigh of defeat.
And suddenly, light burst from the lines of the map.
She bent over it, riveted, focusing as the routes twisted and wove across the parchment. Words filled the empty space, gleaming every color, and she stared at them as they burned their information into her mind. The Magic responded as it rose from the paper, dancing around her, through her, like a child long caged and finally set free. It was a feeling of pure joy, relief, finality, and it was over as suddenly as it had begun. The map fell dull and still, its task completed, once again just a piece of paper, and the Magic calmed. Alandra rubbed at her forehead in wonder. She could feel it there, the knowledge The Council so desperately sought, hidden in the map for a thousand years by the ancient True Mage Baelithon. It sat in the unreachable corners of her mind, safe and secure, accessible only by a Pravda of Elysia.
She’d done it. Step one was complete.
Alandra rushed about, returning the maps to their cabinet. The ancient map of the Dorrian Ocean she crumpled into a ball and tossed through the window into the waters below. Her heart was lighter than it had been since setting foot on the vessel. Now SHE was the map, and as soon as they made port, she’d make swift passage to the tiny village of Chesree, their prearranged secret meeting spot, present her findings to the gathered Council and Order members, and help bring further stability and strength to the world. She had it all figured out. As Pravda Ruuse always told her, there was nothing a True Mage and her Magic couldn’t handle. Smiling confidently, she fixed the hood of her white gown over her head and turned to close the window.
Then she noticed the mist.
It curled invasively around the ship, completely obscuring the horizon, diminishing vision. Alandra stuck her head out the porthole. The mists swirled over her face, pouring through the opening into the cabin. She could no longer see the water beneath the ship. How odd. Hadn’t it been completely clear not ten minutes ago? She frowned. Yes, it had. She remembered rightly. Unease wriggled in her stomach, and she ducked back inside and closed the portal. There were three of them, lining the wall near the bunk. The second she snapped easily shut, and she reached for the third.
Something black burst from the mists and flew cawing through the open portal.
Alandra stumbled back with a gasp, landing on the bed. Her hood fell away from her head, spilling her dark silken hair. Fog gushed through the open window. She scrambled up, knowing exactly where it was, Magic building in her body, and fixed her starlit-grey gaze on the table.
It was a raven. Slick and black as oil. Big as any she’d ever seen before. And it was staring right at her.
Alandra gave pause, her breath frozen in her chest. A raven. They were hundreds of miles from land in the middle of the ocean, and there was a land bird sitting in the middle of the cabin. There was no way. None at all. Unless…
No, she didn’t believe those stories; the elders had debunked them long ago as fishwives tales, passed around by overly imaginative sailors, drunk on mead. The ports were full of these accounts, these tales of the pirate Corsair, spun so tall that they became legend, whispered in every harbor. First the mists come. The raven, seen by every survivor claiming to have had a run-in with him. His name was known in every anchorage. Children feared him, ruffians and thieves idolized him, women wanted him.
But it couldn’t be real. The Council had spoken. It couldn’t be…
The raven cawed at her, flapping its wings as it scrabbled at the table. Its black eyes glittered keenly. Too keenly, Alandra decided. Something about it made her skin crawl, the way it looked at her. She wanted the thing gone, dead, and was seconds from unleashing her Magic when it propelled itself from the table suddenly. Dark feathers brushed her cheek as it soared past her, back out the open window, and vanished into the mists.
She slammed the port shut, wrestling with facts and fictions in her mind. Drawing her hood over her head again, Alandra threw open the cabin door and marched through the narrow hallway, a sense of dread building inside her. She took the wood stairs two at a time as an anxious urgency propelled her on deck and into the thick, chilled mists.
The captain. She must find the captain. But the deck was alive, swarming with sailors. Fear rolled off them as they stirred the mists with their frantic movements. It battered Alandra like storm waves as she took the steps to the massive wheel. He was there, tall and thickly build, his large hat on his head and beads of condensation from the fog in his beard. “Captain Nieman!”
He didn’t turn, his hands on the wheel, blue eyes wide as he scanned the mists. “Lady Harper.” His voice was tight, restrained.
“I thank you for the use of your cabin again,” she said, nodding a greeting, noting the alarm on his face.
“My pleasure, m’lady. Hope those maps o’mine learned you somethin’ useful. S’not every day a young lady shows such interest in old sea charts.” Captain Nieman gave her a tiny smile, but his attention was on his ship. “Beggin’ yer pardon, but …the deck ain’t no place for a lady in weather like this. Best you stay below ‘til we’re clear o’the mists.”
She could tell he was trying to stay calm, for her and for his crew. Alandra considered drawing his fear from his mind, clearing his head, but magic like that could have adverse effects later, and her own disquiet was growing by the minute. The young woman peered into the mist. “What is this? It was clear not twenty minutes ago.”
Nieman barked an order at his crew, and they scrambled to comply. The man ran the back of his hand over his forehead. “Tis nothin’ good, m’lady, nothin’ good. The crew’s in a panic. Sayin’ it’s The Corsair for sure.”
“And what do you think it is?” She looked at him, watching his face carefully.
He swallowed. “Freak fog. Happens all the time.” He didn’t sound convincing. “I think we need to get through it. Fast.”
Alandra let one hand drift by her side, palm open, fingers loose. “I saw a raven.” Power flooded through her. Life became brighter. Even in the mist, the world shone with a crisp illumination, not harsh, but beautiful. She could feel every drop of water in the fog, see the colors burst with bright, new life, every scent possessed with a fresh vigor. Emotion ran high. It was intoxicating, begging her to surrender to it. Normally, she would. But she didn’t. She couldn’t, not here where she was supposed to remain hidden. “It flew through the window in your cabin.”
Nieman looked at her sharply, his mouth flattened in fear, and his breath came quicker. “Then we have very little time left. Get below. Hide. Do not venture out until you hear my whistle,” he hissed at her.
Something about his absolute certainty of their situation sent a chill up Alandra’s spine. With a complacent nod, she turned and made her way down the stairs, mumbling words, working subtly with her hand in the air, weaving magic through the mist. It began to disperse slowly, clearing the deck first, the sails, the ocean around them. It was as she turned the corner to enter the hallway that she saw it, just seconds before Captain Nieman’s voice roared over the deck.
A ship. Massive. Blood-red sails. A flag bearing the emblem of a black raven clutching two crossed bones. And it was gliding silently alongside ‘The Sapphire’.
“TO ARMS! TO ARMS!” Nieman shouted. “PIRATES! TO ARMS!” He charged down the stairs as the crew ran for the gun locker and grabbed her arm. His face was wild. “You will live! You will live, m’lady, you’ve seen the raven!! Stay below no matter what you hear, STAY ALIVE, tell the world the truth, what you’ve seen here today.” And then he was shoving her into the hallway.
I can help, she tried to say. I can fight them, they are nothing against the weapons I wield! But she couldn’t say it. Because he was right. She had to stay alive. She had a mission. Her duty to help others must be second this time. And there were far too many pirates for her to defeat by herself.
Every door to every cabin closed itself behind her as she pelted down the hallway, her white gown streaming behind her. The captain’s cabin was right ahead of her, and while it was the most obvious hiding place, they would search the cargo hold first. Perhaps she could sneak out behind them. She slammed the door, scanning the room. Under the bed, or the table, perhaps. No, too easy. The closet? Too small, even for her lithe frame. No time, pick a spot! Alandra dove under the bed and lay flat on her stomach. The sheath of the slender dirk secured down the front of her bodice was only vaguely comforting. While she was skilled with her blades, pirates were far more so. Alandra shut out the sounds of shouting above, eyes closed, and mumbled a few words. The gentle coolness of the cloaking spell fell around her. Her confidence returned.
And she waited, her heart breaking at the imminent loss of life on the decks above, but determined to follow through on her mission. That's all she had to do. Just wait.
After all, no one knew she was here.
Last edited by PlaysWithFire; 02-18-2013 at 09:31 PM.
The Raven King
The Corsair held up his hook as the raven fluttered down to rest upon it and raised his hand to stroke the silken feathers on its chest. In all the journeys of all his days, he had never encountered a raven quite like this one. Oh, there were ravens aplenty that could be used to spy and sow fear, but few of the creatures possessed the cunning of this singular beast.
Closing his eyes, he touched his fingers to its head and inhaled deeply, drawing out the memories of the bird's last flight even as he drew in breath. When his eyes opened they stared unnerringly in the direction of the merchant vessel, even through the impossibly heavy fog. "Interesting choice." He had hated the fog at first, it obscured his own vision as much as that of his prey, but the advantages far outweighed the cost and he couldn't have dispelled it even had he still wanted to. It was simply the way things were around him. Chance and fate twisting constantly in his favor.
"Three degrees to port, master Carver. We'll come up on their starboard side and be aboard before they know we're here." "Aye, cap'n. Just the way it always is." Carver shifted the wheel and nodded to the man next to him, who scurried down the stairs to deliver the orders. "Indeed. Just the way it always is." The barest hint of disdain curled his lip as he spoke those words. It was one thing to have good luck, but another matter entirely when that luck went so far as to remove any challenge from one's life, and the luck of the Corsair had passed that cruel point long ago. It had been far too long since he had been forced into a confrontation not of his choosing, and longer still since even the slightest thought of defeat had crossed his mind. Of all the afflictions he had been made to suffer, boredom was very definitely one of the worst.
Lowering his hook as the raven hopped to his shoulder, he descended from the helm to join the crew as they assembled on the port side of the deck. The merchant vessel would be too small to carry any significant contigent of soldiers, at least not if the captain wished to turn a profit, and its provisions would keep the Raven's Blood at sea for another month at least. In light of those facts, the attack would be conducted by boarding party with minimal destruction of property. At least until after the provisions had been secured.
He raised his hook as the crew prepared to leap, all of them trusting his word alone that there would be more than open water beneath their feet once they did. That had not been the case at first, and every so often he had to remind them of who he was by being the first to jump, but this particular crew had seen enough to know better than to question his luck.
In the moment before he dropped his arm, however, the need for faith was removed as the fog began to vanish, revealing the deck of the merchant vessel only a scant few meters below where they stood. The Corsair was momentarily stunned as the call to arms was raised on the other vessel. This had never happened before, was his luck finally running out? No, he could still feel it, strong as ever. This had to be something else... magic perhaps? But why would a simple merchant vessel be carrying a mage? Almost of its own accord, his mind flashed back to the image of the woman he had pulled from the raven's mind. She was young and beautiful, but had also been possessed of a determination and air of confidence that few her apparent age could muster. It had to be her.
Instead of simply dropping his arm and signaling his crew to leap aboard the other vessel, he launched himself off the railing and onto the deck below. If there was a magician here, his men would be far outmatched without him.
The crew showed no hesitation in accepting the new signal and soon the deck was flooded with both the merchant defenders and the pirate attackers, pistol fire and the clang of metal on metal resounding through what remained of the fog. Ducking under the sword of a merchant guard, the Corsair caught the man's leg with his hook and pulled him off his feet, tearing a deep gash in the leg as he did, then drove a dagger into the man's heart. It was far too easy, and it seemed that even the thrill of battle did nothing to relieve the Corsair's boredom. Three more were felled as he made his way toward the helm of the ship, searching out the vessel's captain. If there was a magician aboard then the captain would be the one with answers.
Last edited by Cuthroatcorsair; 02-12-2013 at 11:08 PM.
The Sassy Minx
They were simple sailors. They could pull a trigger on a pistol if need be, but the art of battle was beyond them.
It was slaughter. Much of the crewmen were dead before ‘The Sapphire’ took its first pirate blood. Captain Nieman’s cutlass whirled, blade biting skin left and right, his feet firm on the wooden deck. The remaining crew had gathered around him, daggers in hand, fear in their eyes. Nieman drove his sword through one of the enemy, and as he fell to the ground, another man appeared in his place.
Hooked hand. Powerful figure. Garbed in rich blacks. The face of the Devil in disguise.
“The Corsair,” Nieman whispered in terrible awe, the sword in his hand shaking from shock and effort. “So the stories are true…” The pirates ceased attack by some silent signal, surrounding the crew of ‘The Sapphire’, but the remaining five members of the trade vessel held their weapons firm. Nieman swept his eyes over his ship. The helm was slick with blood, littered with bodies. Many of these men had been friends to him, serving long years aboard. Grief gripped his heart. His men… they hadn’t deserved this. He could almost feel the terror of the five behind him. But there was no fear in Captain Nieman. He stood his ground bravely, shoulders back, face grave with the hopeless determination of a man seeing his death and knowing he couldn’t prevent it. He did not lower his sword as he met the eyes of the legend towering over him. Those cold, evil eyes. Nieman forced himself to keep looking. He would not turn away, no. He would meet his fate. “They say you leave no survivors, save the one the raven marks. They say that you have no heart. That you’re…immortal.” He swallowed, holding his chin high. “My cargo is yours. Silks and gems, foods ‘n’ spices from the farthest corners o’ the world. 'tis all we carry. I would ask you to spare my remaining men. Give me the privilege of guiding my ‘Sapphire’ to the Locker meself?”
My Sapphire, he thought achingly. The vision of his deceased daughter rose in his mind, the childlike roundness of her face, deep blue eyes, golden hair. It was all he could do to keep the sad smile from his face. I’ll be with you soon. Quite suddenly, he remembered the girl hiding below. Lovely Grace Harper, merchant's daughter. His determination stacked higher. The Corsair would not have her.
The Raven King
"That's very gracious of you, captain, but I hardly require your permission to take what I want." Sapphire... Why was that name familiar? Had he raided this ship before? No, that couldn't be it. If he had then he wouldn't be here, standing at its helm. There was something about that name, though, something familiar. Like a half-remembered dream that one couldn't quite place.
The Corsair turned his eyes on the remaining crew, all five men clutching their daggers in white-knuckled grips, eyes wide with fear and faces grim with resolve. They knew there was no escape from this, and that knowledge would make them ten times more dangerous than ordinary men. Turning away from the men, the Corsair addressed one of his own. "Search the ship. Bring the passengers to the deck unharmed." The man nodded and shouted orders to the pirates already on the ship's main deck, who promptly broke through the doors to the passengers quarters and began disappearing into the hold.
Turning back to the captain, the Corsair leaned lazily against a railing as the raven fluttered down to settle on his shoulder. "While we wait, perhaps you can regale me of these legends you've heard. It's always interesting to hear what the tavern drunks have come up with lately. Am I nine feet tall again? Do I have horns and a wicked barbed tail? Oh! Perhaps I can breath fire and drink molten lead for rum!" The pirates chuckled as he recited some of the various legends they'd all heard about him, and they knew most of them to be false. Most, but not all. "Tell me captain, what are the legends you believe?"
The Sassy Minx
Captain Nieman glanced at the raven, his heart thudding. “I didn’t,” he said, traces of awe still clinging to his voice. “Didn’t believe any o’ them. Been sailin’ these waters my whole long life, never a spot of mist or a raven’s wing to be seen. ‘course I heard the stories.” He stared at the Corsair. “Never stayed the same more than a day, different version from every mouth. Ten feet tall, can immobilize you with his eyes, carries a curse that is passed on to any the raven touches, can be defeated with a special sword from a mystical island... But always. Always there was the mist, and the raven.”
His men nodded, as if in confirmation. “My men believed it. Even my daughter believed ‘em, God rest ‘er soul.” He gave a humorless laugh, his mind far away. “She tried to convince me, even gave me a talisman reputed to ward you off, but I lost it at sea many a year ago. No, Corsair. You were just a myth to me.” Nieman lowered his sword and met his eyes once more, praying that the girl had hidden herself well. “Perhaps you still are, and I’m dead already, dreamin’.”
Below deck, the captain’s cabin door burst open. Alandra huddled against the rough wood floor under the bed, secure under her cloaking spell. She had no fear. They would not find her. Heavy boots clomped across the floor, tracking dirt and blood. She watched them, her grey eyes cold as winter starlight as the men upended the table, tore the drawers from the cabinets. Papers scattered to the floor, the closet door opened and closed, the blue china washing basin smashed to the ground.
She could do it, she thought, staring at the bloody prints. She could. All she had to do was reach out her hand and let flow the power in her hands. She could feel it there, building, electric and deadly. They’d be smoking corpses in a matter of seconds. Surely there weren’t so many above. She could handle it easily now.
The boots stomped towards the bed, and a pirate face appeared, scarred and horrid, his beady brown eyes scanning the space. Alandra held her breath and stared back at him, daring him to see her. But he couldn’t, she knew, and he didn’t, and with a frustrated growl the pirate thudded out of the cabin, Captain Nieman’s silver candlesticks in his hands.
The man took the stairs heavily, and the others followed, having searched thoroughly. “Cap’n!” he thundered, waving his candlesticks as he approached the helm. “ Ain’t found nobody below, Cap’n. Looked high ‘n’ low, but… no passengers. Tis just a tradin’ vessel. Cargo’s plenty, though. We’ll be feastin’ tonight!” There was an enthusiastic cheer from the rest of the Corsair’s crew.
Captain Nieman held back the sigh of relief, and said a silent prayer of gratitude to God and the ocean waters. Perhaps if the Corsair granted him a good captain’s death, he could smuggle the girl from her hiding place and set her in one of the dingy boats. But no, they’d see her easily, and there wasn’t land for many miles. What then should he do?
The Raven King
"Oh, I assure you captain, you're not dead yet." A daughter... Sapphire. That was why the name was familiar. A wicked smile spread across the Corsair's face as the recollection came back to him. "In a moment though, you may very well wish you were, captain Nieman." The startlement in the captain's eyes at hearing his own name was all the confirmation the Corsair needed. "She told me about you, how you'd come to save her with that talisman of yours. I'll never forget her golden hair and the eyes that shone like her namesake, and I'm pretty sure my men won't ever forget her either." The smile grew as Nieman's startlement turned to rage at the realization of what had been done to her. He raised his sword again, charging forward with a roar to cleave the monster in front of him in two, but the Corsair easily caught the blade in his hook and drove his dagger into the captain's wrist, forcing him to drop the weapon.
Pulling the dagger free, he sheathed it and took a step forward to grip Nieman's neck with his right hand, his only hand, and force him to his knees. "Your devotion to the dead is touching, but it will not serve to preserve the living." He released the man's neck and turned away, taking several steps before turning back, the momentary joy that had painted his features now gone. He always did love to get those reactions. They made you stupid, predictable, and even easier to manipulate. "Let us hope your display does not put me in a foul mood."
“Cap’n!” The cry had come from one of the pirates, and the Corsair turned to identify him. It was a man by the name of Reiker, and he was holding an elaborate candlestick that had likely been taken from among the captain's belongings. “ Ain’t found nobody below, Cap’n. Looked high ‘n’ low, but… no passengers. Tis just a tradin’ vessel. Cargo’s plenty, though. We’ll be feastin’ tonight!”
He whirled back to face the captain again, suspicion written in his eyes. "Where is the girl." It was more command than question. "No one else need die here today. Just tell me where she is."
The Sassy Minx
How did he know? How?
Captain Nieman couldn’t understand. She’d gone below deck long before the pirate’s had boarded. She hadn’t been seen, he was sure of it. But then, how could the Corsair… His eyes caught the form of the raven. Could it be possible? She’d said she had seen it, and it had seen her. It was entirely illogical, but it was the only answer he could come up with. Splinters of wood from the deck bit into his knees as he rose defiantly, clutching his blooded wrist, trembling with rage and pain. The captain’s grizzled face was white, his vision of his innocent daughter befouled. It hurt far more than the slice to his flesh, and he decided then and there. Never. He would rather she died than hand her over to this demon. Nieman’s voice quaked, rose in shrill fury. There was no point lying to the Corsair. But he would not give in. He would die first. “Do you really believe I would tell you where she is after learning what you and your miscreants did to my daughter?? I would rather see her at the bottom of the ocean than in your arms!! You’ll never have her!!” he screamed.
Captain Nieman was resolute. The rest of his crew, however, was not quite so emotionally invested. “She’s below!” Turk dropped his dagger, falling to his knees. His black, unruly hair was pasted to his forehead, and the dark amber skin of his native desert ancestors seemed pale with fear. Nieman rounded on him with a look that could’ve frozen water. Turk paled further, shaking his head. “Sorry, Captain, but I ain’t gonna die for her.” The sailor looked up at the Corsair, pleadingly. “I dunno exactly where. I bet she’s in the captain’s cabin, or hidin’ in them crates in the cargo hold. We’re a small ship, not many places a maiden can stow away.” He gave a nervous smile, eyes bouncing around the circle of pirates. “I did good, right? You ain’t gonna kill me? I’ll even show you to the cabin, if ye like!”
"COWARD!" Nieman thundered at Turk. Despair clutched at him. "If I had a dagger, I'd run you through myself you miserable rat!!" He spun around, facing the Corsair. The blood of his wrist dripped soundlessly onto the deck. He spoke quickly, urgently. "You can have anything else. Anything else you want. Coin? I have enough to buy my own castle, it's all yours! Foods so rich you'll be sick for days, hot sauces and sweet wine from Asiya. I even know a slaver dealing specially in exotic women, I'm sure he could find something to satisfy your desire, just please, not this one. Let her be. She's just a merchant's daughter. Betrothed too, from what I hear. It's bad luck to take another man's woman, very bad luck."
The Raven King
The Corsair leaned to the side and looked past the captain as the terrified crewman began to babble. "And your name is?" "Turk, sir! I'd be happy to join ye if ye need me!" "I'm sure you would, Turk." He straightened and paced to his right. "You've been exceedingly helpful, and for that you have my thanks, but I won't be needing a guide." He turned back to the captain as the pleas for the young woman's life poured out of him. Bad luck. That almost made him laugh. What he wouldn't give for a stroke of bad luck. "It's bad luck to have a woman aboard in the first place, captain, but that didn't stop you. Why should I be any more concerned?" Then he turned away and began descending the steps to the main deck. "Kill them all."
The cries of despair and pleas for the promised leniency were muffled as he ducked inside the short hallway to the captain's cabin, then ceased altogether a moment later. He had said that no one needed to die, but that made no promise against the possibility that they would regardless.
His eyes swept across the cabin as he stepped inside, taking in the scattered parchment, overturned table, and general state of upheaval caused by the pirates search. The bloody bootprints testified to the thoroughness of their search, though he wished they hadn't destroyed the washbasin. Things like that were difficult to come by at sea, and there was something to be said for the craftsmanship of the shattered bowl. It would have made a wonderful addition to the furnishings in his cabin.
Stepping forward into the room, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. He suspected that vision would be of no use here, and so he relied on his other senses for the time being. The scent that greeted him was that of the ocean, salty and moist, but there was also something else, something buried beneath that smell. Perfume, perhaps? If it was, it was a decidedly more subtle brand than most he had smelled, and brought to mind thoughts of a meadow filled with flowers, all in full bloom. It was decidedly not the smell of the sea, nor of any man that made a living on it.
He looked to the raven on his shoulder, a question in his eyes. It answered by leaping into the air and fluttering to perch at the foot of the bed. The smile returned as he walked slowly across the cabin, then stopped next to the bed. The bloody footprints next to the frame would mean that they had already searched beneath it, but his crew had not been looking for a magician.
Lowering himself to one knee, he looked under the bed to find precisely what he had expected; absolutely nothing.
Magicians and their tricks. He despised the lot of them. Every last one of them could burn for all he cared, and he wouldn't mind being there to light the fire. He inhaled again, and this time the odd scent was much stronger than before. Much closer. "I'm afraid your time is up, m'lady."
Then he reached under the bed to find her and pull her out.
The Sassy Minx
He knew she was there. Could he see her? “Impossible,” she breathed.
The second his fingers touched her, the cloaking spell vanished. Alandra had no time to dwell on her shock, the millions of questions racing through her mind. The pirate’s hand was secure around her arm; she felt the floor moving beneath her as she was dragged forward, heard the excited cawing of that dreaded raven. “No! Noo! Let me go!” she screamed, scrabbling at the floor for a hold, hooking one foot around the curve of the bed, but he was too strong. Another heave and she was lying sprawled on the floorboards in the middle of the cabin. She wrenched her arm out of his grasp and tried to crawl away, but a hand pulled her back down and rolled her over onto her back, and the young woman got her first clear look at the pirate.
He had a wicked look, dark hair perfectly messy, his black leather captain’s coat gleaming. Such straight, imperial features, piercing blue eyes, and lips that were surely made for a roguish grin. A silver hook flashed on his left hand, polished to a deadly perfection. There was something horribly enticing about him, the careless lilt in his voice, the subtle predatory glint in his gaze, even his scent. Leather, apples, steel, sweat, blood… Alluring, and dangerous. Darkness had him. Death lived in him. She could sense it all around this man. He wasn’t just a pirate. The stories were true.
This was The Corsair himself.
Alandra froze for a moment as myth slapped her in the face, breathless, lips parted in disbelief. And then she pulled a booted foot back and kicked him swiftly in the stomach, rolling backwards into a crouch. Her long hair fell over her eyes, but she didn’t need them to see. Her secret was out. The Corsair somehow already knew she could wield magic. It was high time she put this legend in his place. For good.
“Corsair,” she said sharply, reeling her hand back. White blue-green power crackled electrically over her fingers as she drew on the magic around her. “I’m sorry, but you’re interfering with my plans. I’m afraid your time is up.” And she shot her hand forward. Lightning leaped from her palm, spitting and hissing with magical energy, and hit him precisely in the chest.
The Raven King
He bent at the waist with a grunt as she shoved her leg into him, the kick driving him several steps back. Oh, she was feisty alright, definitely the kind of attitude you'd expect from a magician. He chuckled as he straightened, but his witty remark was cut off as he caught sight of the electricity arcing between her fingers. He raised a hand to protest what she was about to do. "I wouldn't..." The lightning shot from her hand and instantly closed the distance between them, striking his chest and simply vanishing. There was no flash of light as his flesh was burned away, no afterimage of blackened bones standing out against the harsh brightness before those too were burned away. In fact, there was nothing at all to say that the lightning had ever struck him in the first place, even his clothes remained free of burns. He dropped his hand back to his side. "...do that if I were you."