The Sky-Pirates of Durn, part 27 (fiction)

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Artist unknown

 

 

previous episode

 

The Sky-Pirates of Durn

 

 

27. Battle Over Durn

 

Caelynn was in a dark tunnel. She walked along it and saw a figure before her.

“Where am I?” she asked them.

“You’re in the space between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.” he replied.

“What if I keep going forwards?’ she asked.

“Then you join your ancestors and the affairs of the Land of the Living will no longer concern you.”

“Can I turn back?” she asked.

“No.” he replied. “But there is a way back.”

Caelynn looked at the figure. She could see him more clearly now. He had long blond hair and green eyes, and reminded her of Meela, in a way. She then came to the realisation of who he was.

“So it’s true you’re dead? No one was really sure.”

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.” he winked at her. “My great niece has already lost one lover. It will destroy her, if she loses you too. It was brave, but foolish what you did. You had the best intentions I know, but if you had waited just a few minutes it wouldn’t have been necessary. Meela needs you. The Queen is coming.”

“You said there was a way back?” she asked him.

“I can send you back, but there is a caveat.” he declared. Caelynn rolled her eyes.

“There always is.”

“The magic I use will eventually run out. You may have a few years, but one day you will die for real, and there will be no bringing you back after that.” he told her. Caelynn nodded at his words.

“I understand.”

“Asden was my fight. The Queen is yours, and Meela’s.” he stated.

“But how do we defeat her? She is more powerful than anyone.” Caelynn wondered aloud. The figure smiled at her.

“You’ll figure it out.”

 

*

 

Caelynn awoke in Meela’s arms. Meela was holding her tightly and weeping loudly. They were on the beach.

“You’re crushing me!” Caelynn complained. Meela let go of her in surprise.

“I thought you were dead!” exclaimed Meela.

“I must have been unconscious.” Caelynn lied. Meela looked as though she didn’t really believe her, but then she suddenly grabbed Caelynn in her arms again.

“I’m so glad you’re alive. I thought I had lost you!”

“Yes I know.” Caelynn replied as she looked behind them. “Meela, we have a problem.”

“What?” Meela asked. She looked around and saw what Caelynn was referring to.

Behind them stood the Emperor and a number of guards, all of them with their weapons drawn.

“Well well! If it isn’t Meela Starblazer, the feared pirate herself! We meet at last! You were foolish to come here on your own. And now you’re my prisoner too.” Meela grabbed her staff and stood up confronting him.

“I don’t think so!” she waved her arms and a wall of force hit all the Emperor’s guards before her. They were thrown backwards into the sea, leaving the Emperor standing there alone. “Your move?” she raised an eyebrow at the Emperor. He suddenly looked around terrified.

“If you harm me, you place yourself in grave danger!’ he threatened. Meela laughed.

“There is no threat behind your words. Your armies have been defeated in Yastell. You are the one in grave danger.” Meela informed him.

“Lies! I would have been told if my forces in Yastell were in peril.” he said backing away, looking unsure.

Meela could see the other airships approaching. She moved forward and smacked the Emperor in the head with her staff. He fell over into the sand. Caelynn finally stood up and joined Meela.

“Is he dead?” she asked.

“No. Just unconscious. I don’t think he deserves to die quickly.” Meela responded. She looked up. “Oh look I’ve got a brand new airship!” She climbed up the rope ladder and Caelynn followed her.

“He’s only part of the problem. It’s the Queen of Larantel that’s behind it all. She trained Asden, and was preparing to have the Emperor become undead so he would rule the Empire forever with her pulling the strings. She’s also the one that enabled the Shadow-realm to send their shadow monsters to Yastell.” Caelynn told her.

“Ugh, I was wondering who was behind it all. I didn’t realise it was the Queen. I wouldn’t have left you at Larantel if I had known.” Meela replied looking down at her.

“I realise that, but we will have to work out how to deal with her at some point.”

“Yes definitely.”

They came aboard the Emperor’s airship. A startled crew looked at them both.

“Who are you?” asked the Captain, once he saw Meela.

“My name is Meela Starblazer, and I’m commandeering this airship.” Meela stated.

The captain was a tall man with dark hair and a full beard. He wore a dark blue and gold uniform. Upon hearing Meela’s words he unsheathed his cutlass and strode towards Meela and Caelynn.

“Over my dead body!” he said. Meela unsheathed her rapier.

“That’s the idea!” she replied.

The captain drove forwards with his blade and Meela deflected his thrust and counterattacked slashing at his body with her rapier. He dodged out of the way of her attack and then lunged forwards. Meela managed to deftly step aside and then thrust her rapier into his sword arm. He let out a short grunt and then wildly stabbed at Meela, missing her by quite a margin.

“First blood to me!” Meela exclaimed.

“No girl is going to beat me in a sword fight!” the captain roared.

He moved so the main mast was between them. He lunged towards her and Meela dodged out of the way and then thrust her rapier towards him from the other side of the mast, only narrowly missing him. She pushed forward making him move away. He slashed his cutlass and Meela was unable to fully get out of the way of it and the blade bit into her side just below her chest. The captain smiled grimly at her. Meela responded by lunging forwards and impaling her rapier into his leg. He let out a short scream and tried pulling his leg away, but Meela was too quick and pulled her rapier out before it was yanked out of her grasp. Meela could feel blood trickling down her shirt. She jumped on top of the capstan. The captain drove his cutlass at her, but she dodged it and then her rapier slashed his face. He dropped to the ground screaming. His face had a long deep cut down it from forehead to chin that was gushing out blood. He dropped his sword and covered his face with his hands. One of the crew quickly came over to him and applied some cloth to the wound.

Meela, still on top of the capstan, looked at the crew who had been watching the sword fight. They all looked startled.

“My name is Meela Starblazer and I’m taking over this ship. I want you to help me fly this to the gate. Once we are finished with everything here, we can sail to a port and any of you will be free to go and rejoin the Empire’s fleet, if you so wish. However, if you wish to still crew this ship afterwards, you are welcome to stay. I’m a fair captain and I know I need you all to fly this airship. so you will find me quite reasonable to work for. If you don’t wish to take part then I will lock you in the hold and release you once we get to port. Please make your decision now!” Meela said to them all.

The crew looked at each other for a moment and most of them resumed their duties. A few went ended up in the hold, along with the captain.

“Set sail to the gate!’ Meela commanded. The crew got everything ready and the rope ladder was hoisted up. Then they resumed sailing towards the gate. Meela took the wheel and noted the other Imperial airships had almost caught up with them and were now following closely behind. Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard, still with his hands restrained, came up to her.

“You’re wounded!” Caelynn observed. Meela’s white shirt was now distinctly growing red on her left side.

“It’s just a scrape along the ribs. I’ve had worse.” Meela stated nonchalantly.

“Be that as it may, we need to bandage it.” Caelynn insisted.

“Okay!” Meela replied. She removed her shirt and the top under it. She stood there topless while Meela wove a bandage around her chest. Some of the crew sneaked a look at Meela while she was being attended to. “Stick to your duties! No lollygagging!” Meela then noticed Caelynn’s hand as she bandaged her. “What happened to your hand?”

“I ended in the dungeons of the Emperor’s palace. The torturer tried to get me to talk, by removing my nails. It was incredibly painful.” Caelynn responded. Meela softly took hold of her hand.

“Had I known, I would have done anything to free you. Now I wish I really had killed the Emperor!” Meela stated.

“Luckily the Arch-Wizard found me in time, and managed to free me, though we still got caught in the end. I didn’t tell them anything.” Caelynn told her. Meela nodded at the the Arch-Wizard, who smiled back at her.

“Good thing I’ve got him on my side! If you’re ever in that position again I would understand if you told them everything. I would rather have you alive and in one piece than mutilated or dead. No information you have is worth risking your life, even if it means you’re giving me up.” Meela stated.

“At least in the end, I didn’t tell them anything. I wanted you to know that.” Caelynn responded. Meela hugged her again.

They sailed towards the gate still being chased by the remaining Imperial ships. After fixing-up Meela as best she could, Caelynn then tried to pick the locks of the Arch-Wizard’s restraints. Having done it before, she now found it easier to unlock them. She then stared uneasily at the oncoming magical gate.

“Do you think the enchantment is still holding?” Caelynn asked Meela.

“I don’t know.” Meela replied. “Take my hand!” Caelynn held onto Meela’s left hand. Wincing slightly. Again, she could feel the familiar pulsing they felt whenever they touched.

They sailed up to the gate and the air began shimmering around them, and then they were through. Before them lay the fleet of airships from Loro-Don, Meela’s ship, and behind them all, the dragon who was hovering with them. Caelynn’s mouth gaped open. She pointed at the dragon.

“There’s a dragon there!” she stated.

“I know. I’ll introduce you sometime.” Meela responded. “Bring her round!”

Meela signaled Bronwyn on the Crimson Vengeance to follow her. The ship turned and then began going through the gate again. This time the fleet and the dragon followed them through into Durn.

The Imperial fleet that was still travelling towards the gate were surprised to see their former flagship, which they had been chasing, come back through the gate towards them, but this time with many other airships following in its wake, along with a dragon.

“To starboard!” the captain on the leading Imperial ship commanded his crew. “Fire all cannons!”

A broadside was fired at all the advancing airships.The other Imperial ships followed suit and also fired their cannons at the airships. The prows of the oncoming ships took a lot of damage from the cannon fire, along with several foremasts lost. They continued moving forwards.

“Over to port!” ordered Bronwyn on board the Crimson Vengeance. The airship went to the left until all it’s guns on the port side faced the enemy ships. The other airships  began doing the same. “Fire!”

Broadsides were fired this time at the Imperial ships which were facing them. Cannon fire ripped through the starboard side of their ships taking out cannons and masts. The Imperial ships returned fire, though they were now heavily outnumbered. The dragon breathed fire on one of the Imperial ships incinerating it in an explosion of fire.  After a few salvos from both sides, the Imperial ships suffering the greater damage began to disengage, trying to flee.

While this battle occurred, Meela got the crew to get their ship away from the cannon fire. They sailed down underneath the ships until they were safely out of the battle zone and heading towards Durn. As they got nearer both Meela and Caelynn could still see the body of the Emperor lying on the beach.

“None of the other ships bothered collecting him.” Caelynn observed.

“I know. Maybe they thought he was dead, or were too focused on chasing us instead. We should pick him up. He would make a useful prisoner.” Meela stated.

The airship sailed back to the beach. When they had arrived where the Emperor still lay, Meela got the airship to hover. Caelynn and her went down the rope ladder leaving the Arch-Wizard in command of the ship. Caelynn examined the body and looked surprised.

“But he’s dead! I thought you had only knocked him out.” Caelynn stated as she knelt by the body.

“Yeah I didn’t think I had killed him.” Meela agreed. She walked over to Caelynn.

“That’s because I killed him you silly girl!” said a voice.

Meela and Caelynn both looked up. There standing on a sand dune was the Lynarin, the Queen of Larantel. She wore a long black dress detailed with threads of silver and gold. She was smiling.

“Why did you kill him?” Caelynn asked.

“I had to start the process some time. Now seemed as good as ever.” the Queen revealed.

“You mean so he can be turned into a revenant?” Caelynn asked angrily.

“Yes.” she confirmed. “Now how come every time I send you to Salané, you always wind up being somewhere else?”

“This had nothing to do with me. The Emperor brought me here against my will.” Caelynn told her.

“How did you get here?” Meela asked the Queen.

“Why if it isn’t the half-human pirate girl? Nice to meet you at last, Meela. Like you, I teleported here.” the Queen informed her. “I’m very impressed you managed to do that by the way.”

“Are you now?” replied Meela, unimpressed with her manner. “The Empire has been defeated, along with all your plans. I suggest you surrender to us.” As soon as Meela said that, the Queen looked at her with surprise, and then laughed out loud.

“You may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over. There is still plenty I can do.” She replied. “Indeed the best thing for me to do right now is to get rid of both of you.”

The Queen raised her hands and fired a bolt of dark energy at the two of them. Meela, remembering her dream when she was injured in Yastell, instinctively grabbed hold of Caelynn’s hand. The bolt seemed to hit some force field around them and it’s energy dissipated. Surprised and confused, the Queen fired another bolt at them, this time it was with sonic energy and the air rippled around it. Again it met the same result hitting the  shield protecting Meela and Caelynn.

“On my mark, now!” said Meela, and both of them fired a lightning bolt together at the Queen. The lightning bolt hit her and she was thrown back over the sand dune. She stood up looking shaken. She pulled out a white crystal wand.

“If I can’t touch you with my magic, then I’ll just summon some shadow monsters to eat you both!” she threatened. She flicked her wand and a portal began opening up.

“Can you open a portal in a pocket dimension?” Caelynn asked Meela.

“I don’t know, but it does seem to be happening.” Meela replied, preparing to deal with whatever came through the portal.

The portal opened and large tentacles began coming out of it. The Queen laughed loudly. To everyone’s surprise the thick black tentacles suddenly wrapped themselves around the Queen and pulled her into the portal with it. The last thing they heard was the Queen suddenly screaming, and then the portal closing with a loud snap. The Queen was gone, and Meela and Caelynn were left alone on the beach.

“That was like watching a trapdoor spider catch some prey.’ Meela mused.

“What just happened?” Caelynn asked confused. Meela breathed inwards.

“Well, my guess is the Queen promised all sorts of jewels, precious metals, and gems from Yastell to the Lord of the Shadow World for his help, and when he didn’t get it, he decided on another form of payment.” Meela surmised.

“So that’s it? She’s gone?” Caelynn asked.

“I would say so.”

“The Emperor’s dead and the Queen is now a prisoner in the Shadow-realm. It’s all over. We won.” Caelynn said disbelievingly.

“I would say so!” she said. “And I’ve got a new flagship!”

Meela looked up admiringly at the gleaming new airship she had taken. Above they could see the remaining Imperial airships being chased down by their own fleet.

A large bronze dragon flew overhead and then landed not far from them. The dragon then transformed into a man and walked towards them both.

“That’s Rhaeldur. He calls me granddaughter, but I think he’s really an ancestor.” Meela informed Caelynn.

Rhaeldur strode up and smiled. He looked Caelynn over.

“It looks like everything has worked out for the better.” he said.

“Yes it does. This is Caelynn my girlfriend. Caelynn, this is Rhaeldur.” Rhaeldur nodded his head at Caelynn, while Caelynn found herself bowing to him.

“I’ll leave you two females alone. Just remember, should you ever need my help in the future, just call out.” He told them smiling.

“I will.” Meela replied. And then he was gone. Both Meela and Caelynn looked around, but he was no longer there. “How strange.”

“Well I guess it’s just us two now.” Caelynn said.

Meela wrapped her arms around Caelynn and they kissed for a long time.

 

 

Next episode: Epilogue

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher

Jack and the Beanstalks (flash fiction)

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Jack and the Beanstalks, draft

 

Jack went to market to sell the family’s cow. On the way there he met an old witch. The witch smiled at him.

“Young man, yer going ta market ta sell yer cow?” She asked

“Yes ma’am.” He replied.

“Hows about I purchase yer cow with these here magic beans?” She reached into her pocket and produced a handful of beans.

Jack took the beans and went home. Despite his mother’s anger he planted them, but nothing happened. A week later they began to sprout, and over time they grew into bean plants.

“Them beans weren’t magical.” muttered Jack.

 

Jack and the Beanstalks, revision one

 

Jack went to sell the family’s cow. On the way he met a witch.

“Young man, yer selling yer cow?” She asked

“Yep.”

“Hows about I purchase yer cow with magic beans?” She produced some beans.

Jack planted the beans, but nothing happened. Later on they began to sprout and grow into plants.

“Them beans weren’t magical.” muttered Jack.

 

Jack and the Beanstalks, revision two

 

Jack came home with magic beans that weren’t magical.

 

 

Jack and the Beanstalks, final version

 

“You were a fool Jack to sell our cow to that witch.” Jack’s mother said.

“But she said the beans were magical.” Jack insisted.

“You were to sell our cow so we could buy food, and you came home with a few beans.”

Despite his mothers anger, he planted the beans and waited. Nothing happened. Then a week later they began to sprout. Over the next few weeks they grew into bean plants.

“Them beans weren’t magical.” Jack muttered.

Once they were harvested though, they had more than enough beans to eat and trade for other food they needed.

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

I wrote this for the Carrot Ranch TUFF Contest. You had to write a 99 word draft, then a 59 word revision, then a nine word revision, and lastly a 99 word final version. It was meant to show the drafting process and rewriting till you get the best final version.

 

I changed the title from what I submitted, but everything else is the same. This is one I wouldn’t mind having a go at writing a slightly longer version someday that incorporates elements from the first and last version.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

Morphology (poem)

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Morphology

 

 

your words streaming

like some toxic waterfall

where there is only hate,

anger, jealousy, cruelty

 

maybe some can live

by that ethos –

but no love dwells there

 

nor compassion, tolerance,

understanding, or charity

 

instead, all is dark

 

 

Joanne Fisher

 

Word count: 37

 

 

In linguistics, morphology is the study of words, how they are formed, and their relationship to other words in the same language. It analyzes the structure of words and parts of words, such as stems, root words, prefixes, and suffixes.

I’ve taken a bit of poetic licence with this, choosing words that have an associated literal connection.

 

 

This was written with the prompt morphology provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #134.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher

Winners and Losers (flash fiction)

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Winners and Losers

 

 

She led a quiet simple life mostly tending her garden at the back of the house. Most people didn’t give her a second look, and probably thought she was some poor lonely soul, but the truth was she was happy. She had friends, more than enough food, shelter, and clothing. What more did she need?  She enjoyed her life’s simplicity. She saw many people living wretched lives rushing around and working every hour of the day so they could buy things they didn’t really need. If it was all about winners and losers, who was the real winner here?

 

Joanne Fisher

 

This was written with the prompt winners provided by Carrot Ranch’s November 28 Flash Fiction Challenge.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

The Greatest Treasure (flash fiction)

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Photo by Łukasz Małkiewicz

The Greatest Treasure

 

Bronwyn grew up in the forest. One day a tree spirit gave her a vision: “Over the hills is this palace, and inside is the greatest treasure.”

She wasn’t one for riches, but unable to shake the vision from her mind, she packed up all her things and left the forest. She journeyed over the hills, until one day she saw the palace.

Inside there was a room with a woman sleeping there, the same age as her. Bronwyn touched her hand. The woman awoke. “I’ve been waiting for you.” She said. For the first time, Bronwyn felt love.

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

I wrote this for the Carrot Ranch Rodeo Three Act Story Competition. I’m hoping choosing to write on a same-sex relationship theme wasn’t seen as trying to be sensational by the judges. It’s usually what I write about, and I’m certainly not going to change that for competitions.

 

I have thought about expanding this story, but I’ll leave that for another time.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

The Sky-Pirates of Durn, part 26 (fiction)

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Artist unknown

 

previous episode

 

The Sky-Pirates of Durn

 

26. Traveling to Durn

 

Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard sat in the hold of the Emperor’s airship. Both of them had their hands in chains, and were also chained to one another. They had sat here for over two days now and Caelynn guessed they were getting close to Durn. She sat there in disillusionment wondering if Meela was still alive. She would know when they got to the gate that seperated Durn from the rest of the world. If it didn’t open, then Meela had probably been swallowed by a shadow monster. Caelynn wondered how things had gone so terribly wrong for them, and for the world.

She continued picking away at the locks of the chains around her hands with a shard of metal she had found. So far, these locks were proving difficult to open. At least they had only used regular chains this time and not the cold iron they had used when transported her from Larantel’s Star Palace to Salané. Those had been so painful she wasn’t able to pick them at all, let alone do much else. The Arch-Wizard was casually watching her.

“Has Meela been teaching you how to unpick locks?” he asked her.

“No, my father did.” Caelynn replied. The Arch-Wizard raised his eyebrows in surprise.

“And why would a Lord of Larantel teach his daughter how to pick locks?”

“He thought having a good range of skills was ideal for a young female noble going out into the world.” she explained.

“Indeed?”

“Unfortunately these locks almost seem impossible to open.” she put down the metal shard and sighed. There was a small window to her right that let in some light. All she could see out of it was blue sky and clouds.

“These locks are built to be fiendishly difficult to unlock without their key. They’re even magic-proofed, so you or I can’t use an Unlock spell. They’re top quality locks created by the dwarves, I think.”

“Still, it give me something to focus on. If I don’t try to do this then my mind wanders to what we’re all facing.” Caelynn admitted.

“Things may seem grim now, but we have no real idea what the future holds, and how everything will play out. Things can always change for the better, even when you least expect it. So don’t give into despair yet!” the Arch-Wizard cautioned.

Caelynn wanted to believe him, and she was doing all she could to not lose herself to a deep black well of grief and sorrow, but she couldn’t see how it could get better. Not now. Yastell was probably lost by now, and so the Emperor would go on ruling the Empire forever while using Yastell’s wealth to conquer whatever was left of the world with the Queen pulling his strings, and the Shadow-realm slowly turning the world to darkness. A darkness that would last forever. In her mind, it was virtually all over.

“How long have you been in league with Meela?” Caelynn asked the Arch-Wizard to drive the thoughts from her mind.

“Some time. When the Emperor first revealed plans for invading Yastell, I noticed he was becoming unhinged. Over time it became more noticeable. I reached out to Meela through my contacts in Loro-Don, as I felt she was someone who could unite opposition against him. I gave her the information about where to attack the Empire’s airship fleet, which was a great success for her, though I understand it was costly, but in the long run it’s meant the Empire hasn’t had quite the air support it’s needed to be dominant in Yastell. Not that it matters with what’s being used down there now.”

The door opened and in came two guards. They walked over to Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard and stood them up on their feet.

“The Emperor wants you both on deck.” one of them said.

Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard found themselves shuffling down a passageway together with guards on either side of them.They went up some stairs and came out onto the deck of the airship. Both of them blinked in the sunlight. It was so bright out here compared to the dingy hold they had been in the last few days.

“Well, if it isn’t the two traitors!’ the Emperor said looking down from the main deck. The guards pushed Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard up the stairs so they joined the Emperor and his men.

“You wanted to see us?” Caelynn asked belligerently. The Emperor ignored her.

“We’re getting close to Durn, according to the map. So I thought I would let the two of you watch us go through the gate.” the Emperor informed them.

Caelynn could see a fleet of airships flying behind them. Looking around she reckoned they were getting close to Durn now. When they got to the gate, she would know if Meela was still alive. Her heart began beating fast. The airship moved onwards and suddenly there was a shimmering light all around them and then there was only a world of sea and a small island in the distance. Meela was still alive, and that gave Caelynn a smidgen of hope, though she could be a prisoner, or on the run.

“There it is.” said Caelynn. “The small island you seek.”

“Are there any other lands in this dimension?” the Emperor asked her.

“Meela explored it as much as she could and said she never found any other islands or land masses. It’s just empty sea going on forever in all directions, as far as I know.” Caelynn informed him. The Emperor grunted in response. “So why are you so obsessed about finding Durn? Meela and all her crew are all in Yastell. There’s a small base and a village and that’s all that’s there.”

“Is there not also a tower that Asden built?” the Emperor asked.

“Yes, but it’s crumbling into ruins. I had a look around it and there was nothing there.” Caelynn replied.

“Not if you know where to look. That tower is the reason I wanted to find Durn. According to the Queen, Asden left some items there I would very much like to find.” he revealed.

Caelynn was skeptical. She was pretty sure there was nothing left in there, not unless he was wanting the journals that Meela had found and had hidden away somewhere…

The airships slowly sailed over Durn. Caelynn could see the buildings that Meela and her crew had built for a base on the island. They looked deserted now. As they continued on Caelynn saw the small fishing village that had been there even before Asden had hidden the entire island into its own dimension. She could see villagers in the streets looking up at them. Further away she could see fishing boats out at sea. As they got nearer the hills, Caelynn finally caught glimpses of Asden’s tower; a black broken tower crumbling and falling in on itself. Eventually the fleet came to a stop above the ruins.

They unlocked the chains between Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard, so they could move more easily, though their hands remained chained together. The Emperor, Caelynn, the Arch-Wizard, and a number of guards were lowered to the tower. Caelynn, who had already been in the tower, did not particularly want to go in there again, but this time she had no choice. They entered through the large open doorway into a black chamber. The guards carried torches, but even the light from them didn’t seem to light the place entirely, there always seemed to be dark shadows lingering and even moving in the corners. Once she entered, Caelynn immediately felt the cold air probing her body again. She began shivering. It didn’t just feel like cold air touching her, but remnants of some black evil trying to do infiltrate her defences.

The Emperor took the stairs that wound downwards into an inky blackness. Everyone followed him. The further down they went, the greater the feeling of evil and coldness Caelynn perceived. Eventually the stairs ended and they came to the bottom of the tower. The Emperor looked around the walls, as though he was searching for something.

“How do you know Asden left anything here?” Caelynn asked him.

“Because your Queen told me. There is some knowledge that Asden uncovered that is vital to find if I’m going to proceed with all my plans. The Queen told me that Asden left what I need to know here. This is why I needed to find Durn.” the Emperor revealed.

“And you think it’s still here after all this time?” Caelynn asked.

“Of course! It was left here undisturbed. Who else knows of it? The peasants in the fishing village? I think not.” the Emperor replied.

To a sudden yelp of surprise, the Emperor uncovered a hidden panel and opened it. He pushed a lever and a hidden door to their left suddenly opened. They all filed in to find some more narrow stairs leading downwards into the dark. Caelynn felt as though they were going down into the very bowels of the earth. The stairs finally came to a small chamber. There was a table and some shelves. Against the wall stood a long blackened staff. The Emperor grabbed it and then suddenly let it go and rubbing his hand as though he had just been burnt.

“My lord it is not a good idea to suddenly grab another wizard’s staff. There might be hidden enchantments within it designed to protect it from theft, whether the wizard is still alive or not.” the Arch-Wizard advised.

“Be quiet! I’d rather not listen to the bleating of a traitor!” the Emperor spat back at him. “When we get back to Salané, both you and the lady will be beheaded in the city’s square. That’s what I do to traitors! Luckily the pirate will probably already be dead by then.”

Caelynn felt those words like a thud in her chest. She couldn’t face the world with Meela gone. The Emperor continued looking around the chamber. He looked at the remains of books on the shelves and searched through the drawers and cupboards, all the while muttering to himself.

“Is there a problem?” the Arch-Wizard asked, beginning to smile darkly at him.

“I can’t find them! They’re meant to be here!” the Emperor replied angrily.

“Find what?” Caelynn asked.

“Asden’s journals and notebooks. They’re meant to be here!” As soon as said that, Caelynn knew Meela had already taken what he was looking for. Obviously she had found this room too. The Emperor stopped suddenly and looked at Caelynn. He walked up to her. “You’ve been here before! What did you do with them?” he screamed at her as he began shaking her roughly.

“I never found this room. I never took anything from here!” Caelynn responded.

“Leave her alone!” the Arch-Wizard commanded. The Emperor suddenly let go of Caelynn and looked over to the Arch-Wizard in fury.

“No one orders me! I’m the Emperor!” He shouted at the Arch-Wizard. “Guard, draw your sword.” One of the guards drew their sword.

“Be very careful what you do.” the Arch-Wizard said quietly. The Emperor ignored him and turned to face Caelynn.

“Unless you tell me what you did with Asden’s journals, your friend here will die!” the Emperor threatened. The guard held the sword up to the Arch-Wizard’s throat.

“I’ve never seen them!’ Caelynn replied truthfully.

“Okay guard, kill the Arch-Wizard.” the Emperor ordered. The guard began to swing his sword.

“No wait! Meela’s got them!” Caelynn confessed. The guard stopped suddenly. “I’ve never seen them, but Meela told me she found them here. I think she’s hidden them in an extra-dimension.”

“Meela has them.” the Emperor repeated hatefully. He looked thoughtful. “I’ll have to get word to my commanders in Yastell to search her airship. There’s nothing else we can do here. Let’s go!’

Caelynn was thankful they were leaving this horrible place. She hated this tower. She hated the way it made her feel. The way the cold dense air closed in on her and chilled her to the bone.  It was a long walk up the stairs, but once they were outside again she felt relieved to be in the light again breathing fresh air.

When they were back on board they set sail for the gate. The Emperor decided to keep Caelynn and the Arch-Wizard on deck still while they all still had to travel through the gate. Once they got back on the airship, unknown to all of them, Caelynn had begun trying to prise the lock open again, and while they were still traveling over Durn, she heard a click. She had managed to succeed in unlocking the chains around her hands. She tired concealing it as best she could. While doing this, she noticed the Emperor was gazing at her hatefully.

“When we get back to Salané, both you and the Arch-Wizard will stand trial for your crimes of treason and espionage. You will be found guilty. It’s over for you, and if Meela somehow survives she will stand trial too. Yastell is mine, and so will be the rest of the world, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop this.” the Emperor declared. Caelynn gazed down at the ground below.

“No. Your influence over the world is at an end. Your ability to terrorise the rest of us is over. You and your men will stay trapped here in Durn, grow old, and die.” Caelynn said simply. The Emperor laughed out loud.

“What makes you think so?” he sneered at her.

“I’m sorry.” she said to the Arch-Wizard.

Then to everyone’s shock, Caelynn broke free from her restraints and jumped over the side of the ship falling down to the ground below. The Emperor rushed to the side of the ship to see Caelynn’s body splayed on the beach, like a broken doll.

“No!!!” he screamed out.

 

*

 

Meela was at the helm of the Crimson Vengeance. Behind her was a fleet of airships that had survived the Battle of Tarsakh, and behind them was a large dragon gliding along with the fleet.  They had gotten to where the gate to Durn was supposed to be, but nothing had happened. A feeling of panic was rising in Meela. Her heart was beating loudly and a sick feeling was in her stomach. If the gate wasn’t working, it only meant one thing.

“No!” Meela screamed out to the surprise of her crew.

She wasn’t powerful enough to open the magical gate on her own and so was going to have to try something she had never done before, something she wasn’t even sure would work, but there was no other choice: she would have to directly teleport into Durn. She had never teleported into another dimension before, and all she knew about it was that it wasn’t advisable under any circumstances. Meela grabbed her staff and decided to focus not on Durn, but on Caelynn instead. Standing there on the deck with her staff in her hands, she thought of Caelynn, her long golden hair, her vibrant green eyes, and smooth white skin, wishing to be close to her again, and then she teleported.

Instantly she felt long tendrils wrapping around her legs trying to pull her down into the Shadow World, dragging her down into its darkness. She continued focusing on Caelynn, and in the last moments freed herself from the black tendrils, and found herself on the beach at Durn. Before her Caelynn’s body lay splayed out on the sand. Meela ran to her and taking Caelynn softly into her arms.

“Caelynn my love, please wake up!” she implored “Please come back!” Tears were beginning to stream down her cheeks and land on Caelynn’s white face. Meela hugged the slender broken body in her arms, beginning to sob uncontrollably.

Caelynn was dead.

 

 

Next episode: Battle Over Durn

 

 

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©2019 Joanne Fisher

 

 

 

Late Offering (poem)

b1886

 

 

Late Offering

 

 

there was nothing to say

we were lying in bed

 

together no longer able

to touch for fear of

 

opening wounds

the dark hiding us both

 

like wounded animals

I still loved you, or

 

thought I did & then

you began telling me

 

how you weren’t interested

in coming around to see me

 

anymore & that you weren’t

sure if you loved me, or

 

if you had ever loved me

casually inserting a sharp

 

blade through the gaps

in my ribs & so I began

 

playing all my Suzanne Vega

albums one by one

 

knowing how much

you hated her

 

Joanne Fisher

 

 

This poem was first published in Spin and previously appeared on this blog in January 2018.

 

 

Please donate! 🙂

 

 

©2019 Joanne Fisher