Entry 2: Cannon Beats Paper

Before the gangplank fell, a point blank cannon volley found its way into the side of our ship. The wailing of passengers below followed the ringing of gunpowder. On deck, messy arrows fell and planted themselves upon our vessel—sticking out of the wood like an orchard of saplings. The plank fell and bridged the dark, watery gap between our world and theirs; the gunpowder smoke rose from the cannons beneath. Through the cloud of haze dozens of pirates charged across the gangplank, blades brandished and lungs bellowing at full capacity.

The pirate that first emerged cut our captain straight down from shoulder to waist, christening the battle with that first spray of red. After that, pure chaos ensued. I skewered one, and may have injured a few more; the witch continuously blasted rays of pure flame from the palms of her hand into the ever coming horde of enemies pushing over the bridge. But pirates are scarcely intimidated. This was hopeless. Our numbers were dropping fast.

I unconsciously backed my way to the opposite end of our ship and noticed the witch battling her way towards me.  Her fire magic was becoming noticeably weaker; several rays of flame dissipated before even reaching the enemy. Her face was constructed with malice and frustration. “You will all be light aflame. You will come to dread the name Abeline!” From her pouch she pulled two small homemade grenades with one hand, lit them with her opposite palm and tossed them at the feet of three gruesome men whom had dug three varying blades into the body of one poor soul. Within seconds they all laid equally grotesque and bloody.

The rage in her voice had escaped her, and she spoke calmly once more, to me—“are you planning on sharing that rowboat?” She nodded her head backwards to the ship’s side. I looked over the edge.

There it was, a perfectly good boat dangling about halfway down the ship, held only by a rope on either side, crudely tied.

I looked dreadfully at the massacre before my eyes. “Should we?”

“They’re dead.”

I didn’t argue with her. I sprung over the side rail and climbed down rapidly towards the boat, while she did the same just a moment behind me.

We landed on the small rowboat. There was a heavy mass in the middle of the little vessel, covered with a thick burlap blanket.

Abeline grinned. “Well, well… looks like our captain was a smuggler. This must be what the pirates are after.”

I would have indulged her curiosity, but we didn’t have the time. “One three cut your rope.”

“And plunge straight into the water?”

“There’s no slack, now ready your blade.”

“1…”

“2…”

“3”

I severed my end of the rope clean, but Abeline only made her knife half way through. The boat fell nose first; the tail was snagged by the bit of rope still holding it; the blanketed goods fell into the nose of the boat and hit with such impact that it freed the rear of the boat from its leash. We, boat and all, hit the water with a vicious splash, erupting waves on either side of us. We were both drenched to the core.

We began rowing for land. The pirates didn’t notice us, or rather didn’t care. They finished of the last men with courage enough to fight, and began enslaving the rest.

As we rowed their cries reached my ears. They wrenched what little spirit I had left, straight from my chest. –children squealing, women shrieking, scoundrels laughing.

“Turn back.”

She looked at me with a face of stone. “What…?”

“I need to do something, real quick. We just need to pull around to the ship’s rear; it won’t take more than a minute.”

“Look, I don’t know you, I don’t care what you think you might be doing, but we need to get going; these people are gone. Gone. Let’s go.”

I stood and held my balance on the rocking boat.

“Idiot! Don’t tip the-“

I held out my arm and fisted my hand as if I was holding a bow.

“What do you think—sit down, now!”

“If I had a bow, I could hit that one, right there near the mast.”

We rowed away; I did my best to tune out the cries by focusing on the sound of the ocean, and the lapping of our oars. Eventually we did reach land, and eventually I did sleep that night. The waves lapped through my mind as I dreamt.

—-

“Turn us around to the back of the ship.”

There were plenty enough windows lining the ship’s rear. I pulled the blanket off the of the hidden package. It was a great sack, marked with my master’s sigil and “mason’s use only”. From it I pulled a grappling hook and a long, well worn rope, but it would do. I fastened the hook to one end of a rope and sent it flying through one of the hold’s windows. The crash couldn’t be heard over the tearful screams.

“Keep the boat steady, I won’t be a minute.”

I climbed through the broken glass and located the stack of oil barrels. I took a small dagger from the inside of my robes and stuck several holes in the lowest barrel, flowing oil spilled about freely. I removed a torch from the ship’s side, backed up to the window, and peered down at the witch, whom impatiently folded her arms. I tossed the torch into the oil, and without looking to even see if it caught flame, I projected myself out the window, plummeting into the sea below. I hit the water; that rush of liquid ran through me, filling me with that cold night sea. Before I emerged, I heard the explosion. A heavy, bass filled frequency traveled through the salty water and up my spine.

I emerged; the witch looked at me still, cold, and un-phased. She spoke calmly “Can we leave now?” Bits of plank fell all around us, and the banshee- like cries filled the air.

I regained consciousness for a moment  but did not open my eyes. The smell of saltwater filled my nostrils and after a brief moment of remembrance; I fell back asleep

Entry 1: Voyage Interrupted

Chronicles of Draumerheim

I

When I was only twelve, still in sewn rags with broom in hand, my master told me that there are no more elves; all of them simply vanished, in the entire world. Some say they turned to dust, some say they left to another realm where no man can dwell. For that reason my hood is scarcely lowered.  My master told me once that there are those who will condemn me for my cursed heritage. Once, he told me that I’d be better off if just cut my ears down to size. I thought about it, but there’s this old wives tell- or at least I assume it is, I haven’t really any one to ask about it—that removing an elves ears is like yanking the whiskers from off a cat.

I am only a half elf, but like a cat, my balance is one of my most prominent traits and it fairs well with my masonry work, earning me bonuses when I’m able to reach a leaning gargoyle or cherub without plummeting to the ground. My master, in his loving kindness taught me all there was to know about masonry so that I might grow up to carry on his masterful legacy. “You’ll do well to carry on my trade. Draumerheim will need good masons… that city’s older than the gods themselves.”

The waves continue to gently splosh against this ship—waves, that assist most men in slumber with pleasant dreams. Yet tonight these waves took my mind to a place of deep contemplation.

“She’ll be easy to find, enchantresses always are. If anyone knows what became of your people, it would be her. The first ship to Draumerheim sails in the morning.” my master’s voice echoed through my head, alongside the splashing waves.

Eventually I did fall asleep that night, though I didn’t’ realize it until I awoke the next day to the sound of cannon fire and the smell of gunpowder.

”All men on deck and getch your ladies down below!”

I opened up the sodden, sea-soaked door; its only true purpose was to create the illusion of privacy. I could hear straight through it; the captain was trying to hold order while order was unraveling faster than the ship was sinking. His rasp, smoke ridden voice was at its peak.

He shouted  “You! Either git below deck, or pick up a sword, they’re ‘bout to board.”

I heard a woman reply, her voice traveled through the air and cut through the rotted wood between us. “First of all, what swords?  Second of all…”  Her soft yet carrying voice trailed off, and I heard something ignite on deck—not an explosion, just a vast, violent rush of flame.

“Witch! Sorceress!” Men’s voices cried out.

I had finished strapping on my boots and I had fastened my leather vest tightly.

I barely made out the Captain’s next phrase under the sound of men rambling about on deck.

“Never mind the witch! Them brigands are ‘bout to slam straight into our hold!”

I stood up, clinched my fists together and stretched my arms back over my head; my back popped a bit. I wasn’t accustomed to sleeping in hammocks, even today, supposedly the last day of a month long voyage. I awoke sore.

On my way through the door, I scooped up my rapier and buckler, strapping the small shield to my left arm as I slid the rapier in my belt. The hallway of the ship’s passenger quarters was dim, narrow, dank, and full of chaos. Men scrambled from room to room, some running messages, some grabbing anything that could be made into a weapon, and some finding hiding places.

The aged grizzled captain raised his voice as loud as his dusted lungs allowed him to go. “Here she is. Remember, you’ve got wives, sons, and daughters below. You’re fight’n to keep, they’re fight’n to take!”

I emerged on deck. The Captain unsheathed his cutlass and braced himself. Thirty-some men struggled to keep their courage as the enemy ship grew nearly within boarding distance. The woman I heard from below, the witch stood several steps back from the crowd of would-be soldiers, with a small flame hovering above her palm. She wasn’t one of those ragged, woodland witches, nor a highborn magician, or some jewel adorned oracle; rather, she was traveling witch, perhaps out to secure some fabled treasure or to hone her skills—basic leathers a belt lined with various pouches and small vials of mysterious ingredients, no doubt for spell casting. Her hair was black, and straight, not terribly long. It did look like she attempted to put some effort in to keeping it clean and untangled, although after a month anybody’s hair begins to collect oil. Her face was very clean however, eerily clean.  I wondered why I hadn’t seen her before, we have been sailing for nearly a month.

Just as that thought passed through my head, she projected flame from the flat of her palm, straight into the enemy sails. The enemy began launching scattered arrows, and the fight was on.