Anne looked through the spyglass. Owing to their swift passage they had caught up with the lone Spanish galleon, their intended quarry. The galleon was loaded with gold, silver, tobacco, and spices from the New World and had somehow been separated from the rest of the fleet. They would plunder it, and then make for Port Royal.
“Ready for attack!” Anne called out as they sped towards their prey.
“Captain, there are two more ships approaching flying Spanish colours.” the man in the crows nest called out. They would have to break off their pursuit and try another day…
Eliza, Captain of the The Crimson Night, was asleep when the squall hit. She quickly arose and staggered to the deck. The scene was complete chaos. The high winds shredded the mainsail to shreds, while the mizzen looked in danger of collapsing.
The crew desperately tried to bring the sails down as high waves crashed over them, washing some overboard. Eliza took the wheel trying to keep the ship on course, holding on to prevent being swept into the brine herself.
When morning came, the squall had blown itself out. The ship was heavily damaged, but they had survived.
Caelynn put the silver tiara on her head and looked at herself admiringly in the looking glass. She wore a green silk dress that sparkled whenever she moved, along with silver slippers that arced minute tendrils of lightning.
“I never thought I’d ever become a princess.” Caelynn said as she gazed at her reflection.
“Now you’re going to be more insufferable than ever.” remarked Meela, who was sitting on her bed examining the former Queen’s white crystal wand that Caelynn had found on the beach after the Queen had vanished.
They were both now in Caelynn’s new bedchamber in the Sun Palace of Larantel. After the Queen had disappeared and discoveries become known of every thing she had done, the nobles of the realm elected a new monarch from one among them. They chose Caelynn’s father, Alcarin, to be the new King of Larantel, despite the scandal he had been involved in. He was chosen because he had been one of the few who had actually stood up to the Queen and tried to inform the other nobles of things she was doing in their names. Once he was elected King, Alcarin had chosen the Sun Palace as his seat of residence. So for the last few weeks they had all been busy moving their many possessions from their family residence to their new Royal Palace. Even Meela had helped ferry their belongings in her new airship.
Tonight was the Coronation, and Caelynn was getting dressed to attend it. Even her older brothers were going to be there. Meela had been invited to attend, and so she uncharacteristically had decided to go. Not that she had fine clothes to wear to it. She always figured she could borrow some of Caelynn’s clothes, so long as they weren’t too girly…
“So my father told me he’s offered you the position of Royal Adviser.” Caelynn stated.
“And I’m going to turn it down.” Meela stated.
“But if you accept it, we can stay here together.” Caelynn said in a disappointed tone.
“It’s not my thing. I like being in command of my own ship sailing through the clouds. I just wouldn’t enjoy it here.” Meela informed her. “I would get bored eventually, and come to resent it.”
“That means we’re going to be apart!”
“If you ever need me, I’ll always come back to you.” Meela replied.
“But it’s not the same!” Caelynn pouted at Meela’s words.
She hadn’t told Meela that she had died on the day of the Battle of Durn, though she knew Meela strongly suspected it. She also hadn’t told her that it had been Lafalin, or Bran as Meela called him, who had brought her back to life, and she would only survive for a few more years. She didn’t know how to tell Meela any of that, so she had kept it a secret. She wanted Meela to be with her, for however much time she had left. As she was now a princess of the realm, it wouldn’t be done for her to sail off with pirates. It would be a huge scandal in the Court, and for her father. But if Meela didn’t stay with her here, then they wouldn’t have much time left together.
Many things had happened in the weeks following the Battle of Durn. Justinian was crowned the new Emperor of Tigreralat. He promised reforms and instantly called a truce with Yastell. He also recognised Loro-Don as a free city. Meela, however, was still a fugitive and blamed for the Emperor’s death. Meela quite happily took this blame, as it gave her notoriety as a pirate an even greater boost. The Arch-Wizard was reinstated to his position, and one night when the Seer was looking into the flames he called out his assistant’s name. Ana found him lying dead on the floor, and following tradition, she became the new Seer.
Everything seemed to be coming right, which made Meela feel even more suspicious that maybe they had all missed something, and there was about to be some terrible cataclysm, but she didn’t voice these fears and kept them to herself. Whatever may happen in the future, she hoped they would all be up to the challenge.
That evening Meela attended the Coronation of King Alcarin, and after spending the night with Caelynn, she took leave of her and sailed away with the rest of her crew in her new flagship. Caelynn cried, and then went silent for a few days.
Some time later, Alcarin went looking for his daughter who hadn’t turned up to an event she had been expected to attend. He looked for her everywhere. She wasn’t in the stables, or the gardens, and so he went up to her bedchamber. He found she wasn’t there either, but the window was open, and in the far distance he could see an airship sailing away…
Omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori
That’s the last of my ongoing serials for the year. I hope you enjoyed both Durn, and My Life In Darkness.
There are several ideas, such as the Shadow World (or Shadow-realm as the Elves call it), the Queen’s ultimate fate, and Caelynn’s short life expectancy, that all point to an eventual sequel.
Next year I plan to start a new story beginning in the second week of January, all going well. It will be called Journey of the Sorcerer, and is set in the same world as Sky-Pirates of Durn, but set around a thousand years before. So it’s a sort of prequel, I guess.
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.
“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.”
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.
As My Life In Darkness is ending with the next episode I thought I would resume The Sky-Pirates of Durn story line with the idea of bringing that story to a close before the end of the year. So far there’s been 19 parts of it and I think it will need around 8-9 more episodes.
So if you’re struggling to remember what’s going on in it or you are new to the story here’s a helpful synopsis:
The Sky-Pirates of Durn – The Story So Far…
Caelynn Liadon is sent from the Elvish kingdom of Larantel to Salané, the Imperial capital of the Empire of Tigreralat to be Larantel’s new ambassador. She was forced to go there to help restore the fortunes of her own house after her father got involved in a scandal at the royal court. When she turns up at the capital it turns out she’s arrived several months late and she blames this on Meela Starblazer and cutthroat crew of sky-pirates who captured her, though she managed to escape. In reality, while she was captured by them, she ends up helping Meela gain access to the island of Durn, an island that was removed from the world and placed in it’s own pocket dimension by the dark wizard Asden a millennia ago. Meela intends to use this island as a base. While Caelynn is there she falls in love with Meela, and decides to help her. She agrees to fill her post as ambassador to help find proof that the Queen of Larantel and the Emperor are colluding to help the Empire take over the southern kingdom of Yastell, a desert land rich with gems and minerals. She discovers there is secret study the Emperor uses and one night she makes herself invisible and manages to gain entry to it. There she finds the proof she needs, as well as a powerful black wand which she ends up taking as well.
Meanwhile Meela and her crew are in the city of Loro-Don, a city that floats in the air with the help of magic. Meela helps coordinate the city’s defences and pledges to help the Kingdom of Yastell with troops to help repel the Empire’s attack. She travels to Yastell and is visiting some border fortifications when there is surprise attack from the Empire’s troops that were based in the neighbouring kingdom of Grazlukk. Meela helps defeat this attack using her magic, though she is seriously wounded in the battle. She ends up traveling to the town of Ankallat to see a renowned healer. Once she heals, another visitor there turns out to be the dragon El-Karoth, who flys her back to Loro-Don telling her she is needed in the north. Though she is still weak, she manages to teleport to Salané to see how Caelynn is doing…
I think that’s the bare bones of it. Unlike My Life In Darkness, I don’t think I will be posting it on a particular day every week, but instead I’ll post when each episode is ready. Though this might change.
In other news I’m thinking of online publishing a chapbook of my poetry just before Christmas, so long as I work out how to do it and find someone to do a cover for me. I’ll keep you all informed of the progress, and so far I already have the manuscript in preparation…
This is my third monthly Flash Fiction Challenge. Your goal is to write a piece of fiction, poem, or an extract from a longer story that uses the world sail (or sails, sailing, etc.) in 100 words exactly. Either use it as a noun or a verb. If you do this challenge please leave a link to it in the comments or a pingback. Please have fun with it 🙂
Anne looked through her spyglass at the islands in front of her. She was hoping for a sheltered bay where they could hide for a few days. All the ships sails had been unfurled to make use of any breath of wind available. She gazed upwards at the topgallants starting to fill with a breeze. They needed to pick up speed. She could hear the ropes straining and the timbers creaking. She looked behind for signs of the English ships that were hunting them. Luckily they hadn’t been seen yet. If only they could sail to some hidden cove unobserved…
They left the rowboats on the shoreline and then headed inland carrying chests laden with gold and jewels. Once Anne found a suitable spot she got the crew to start digging. Their last raid had been a surprisingly successful one. Anne thought it prudent they hide what they had taken for now. One day they would return for it.