April 18th, 2013 Posted 12:02 am
Okay, that took a little longer than I meant it to. I don’t know if this episode is particularly worth the wait, but the next few should be moreso. Also, I’m going to be a little uncreative with titles and use the same one over and over for a while. But I’m excited about finally getting to this particular story arc, so that’ll be my excuse.
And on a side note…or two side notes rather…
1) I’ve updated my links on the side to include my tumblr. I’ve had it for a little while now, and mostly it’s a place to spam a random assortment of stuff I like. But I will occasionally throw random art/writing/other stuff of my own up there. So feel free to check it out!
and 2) I know at least some of you (Khend) know already about this, but the MuseGate roleplay is back up and going. it’s a forum RP that takes place in the world of FanFyria, run by Joel and myself, and it includes characters from both the comic and FFJ, as well as a bunch of others. it’s pretty slow-moving at the moment, but we would love to have more people join, so please check it out! I’ll throw up a link on the sidebar for that as well.
The Pirate and the Apple Thief – part 1
“Hst.” I held up a hand to silence Ethere, and my muse immediately shut his mouth.
(What is it?) he asked.
(I heard something,) I thought back to him. I had actually been hearing any number of somethings for a while now – a distant clinking and the sound of a voice too faint to make out the words. But those had all seemed far enough away not to make much of them. Now, though, the sound had been much closer – a slight movement in the bushes – not the ones closest to me, but some a bit behind those. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t heard a twig break just before, or if there had been any wind to cover it up. But as it was, the treetops hung still on this lazy afternoon, and nothing else seemed to be moving. I focused my eyes on the place where I had heard the sound come from and waited. All was silent.
It occurred to me then that aside from the dragons we had met, the goat-man, and a couple cats that I had spotted around the town streets in Morland, we hadn’t seen any other wild animals, even though we had spent most of our time traveling through woods. Whatever it was that I had heard in the bushes had sounded bigger than just a rabbit. And really, for all I knew of this world, it could have been anything. But a glimpse of something dark had at least given me a suspicion.
(Eth?) I asked silently.
Ethere nodded, and without any fancy effects, slipped into his smaller, fox-like form, ready to sneak through the bushes.
I expected to find something hiding in the bushes. I hadn’t expected to be surprised from above. And so, startled, I nearly fell over when someone shouted from above me. I twisted around, leaning back with both hands on the ground to keep my balance, and stared up. Not one, but two boys were flat on their stomachs, on the top of the large rock outcropping that had been to my back. Both had their mouths wide open and the younger had his arm outstretched. “Ghost! A ghost! Right there!” He was pointing at the open space just to my left.
“There’s no such thing as ghosts,” I said the words automatically. Then, as I transferred from sitting to a standing position and began to brush the dirt from my pants, it occurred to me that once again, the usual rules might not apply here in FanFyria. Still, I could counter a single instance of misconception at least.
“But he vanished,” the older of the boys objected. “Didn’t you see it?”
I gave my muse silent permission to speak up, and a moment later, Ethe – who had been hidden from their view against the base of the rock – came forward and hopped up onto my shoulder. (I’m still right here,) it spoke into all of our minds.
The younger boy froze stiff, his mouth still wide open. The older one pushed partially up with his hands and looked tense, as if ready to jump the rest of the way up to run if necessary.
Before either of them could decide further how to respond, Ethe leaped the rest of the way from my arm up to the top of the rock, light as a feather, and landed in front of them. (I just got a little smaller.)
The older boy swallowed, but then managed to speak with more diplomacy than I would have expected, considering how uneasy he still looked. “So I see.”
“You seem real…” The younger boy held out a couple spread fingers towards Ethe, and my muse raised its small dark nose up to touch his fingertips.
I let them make friends while I looked back to the bushes again, a bit regretfully. The element of surprise was gone, and who – or whatever – else had been in the bushes would have had their chance now to get away.
Behind me now, the older boy backed away and came down the back side of the rock where it was less steep. Then he came around it at the base to face me on level ground. “Sorry if we scared you,” he said politely.
I raised an eyebrow. “It seemed to me like you were the ones most scared.”
He laughed once. “True.”
“What were you doing up there anyway?” I asked.
At this, the boy blushed a little. “Trying to get a better look at your map actually.”
The boy pointed toward where I had earlier emptied out my pockets and my map of FanFyria was laying on the grass, rather haphazardly off to the side. I went to go pick it up and held it out to him. “This? Are you lost?”
The boy blushed even more once he had a good look at it. “Actually…” he shifted his weight to one side and then back again. “We thought maybe it was a treasure map,” he finally admitted hurriedly.
“Oh.” I started to fold the map back up. “Why’d you think that?”
“Well, it is Balisca, after all,” the boy admitted.
Behind him, the younger one had come down from the rock as well, and now approached with Ethe held in his arms. “And that means pirates!” he spoke up.
“Balisca?” I opened up the map again and glanced down at the lines on it that went farther up the western coastline than I remembered. “Oh. That’s new.”
“Uh, nothing.” I rolled up the map and slid it back into my pocket, then bent to begin picking up some of my other odds and ends that I had scattered about on the ground. The older boy stayed close by to help, while the younger one and Ethe began poking around some of the nearby bushes. “So why pirates?” I asked as I repacked my things.
“That’s what all the books say.”
“What books?” He must not have been reading anything from the Morland library then.
“Any of them!” The boy threw one arm out to the side in an exaggerated gesture. “Everyone knows that Balisca is the birthplace of the Captain Silvertongue!”
“You don’t know the most famous of pirates?” The boy stuck out his chin as he stared at me. “He had the highest reward on his head of any pirate ever!”
“Is he related to Blackbeard?” I asked under my breath.
The boy didn’t seem to hear, but sped ahead into his story with all enthusiasm. “They say no ship was safe. That he had the greatest treasure of any pirate who ever sailed. And no matter what they did to try to catch him, he always just slipped away. One time even, the evil king of Morland sent his Navy to burn Balisca, trying to draw him out. But instead he sneaked into Morland harbor before the navy got back and set fire to the king’s palace instead!”
I thought back to the view I had had of the large castle towering above the rest of the rooftops in the city of Morland. “Seems like he recovered pretty well then.”
“Only because the church declared Silvertongue a heretic.”
“What…did he set fire to them too?”
“No, nothing that bad.”
(Joey, come here a moment…)
“What?” I cut off the boy, just as he started to tell me more, and went immediately to where I had last seen Ethe disappear into the bushes. Through the bushes, the land dropped sharply into a winding, stony pathway that had since been overgrown and overcrowded by the trees around it. I pushed aside branches for a better view, then stopped still once I realized what the scene was before me. “You both might want to come and see this,” I called out to both boys.
The younger, who had been poking through the other bushes nearby, was at my side in a moment trying to get a better look for himself. “Pirates?”
“Or ghosts?” The older boy came hurrying over as well.
“What’s with the ghosts anyway?” I asked.
“All the people who have gone after Silvertongue’s treasure,” the boy answered.
“Oh. Well, not that.” I held back a branch as the older boy came up behind me and looked over my shoulder. “But if your stories are true, then it looks like a certain little village recovered pretty well too.”
The stone stairway continued all the way down the steep hillside and down to the very edge of the village where dozens of thatched houses were clustered right up to the steeper rock faces. Wooden docks stuck out into the water to meet the incoming ships, a few of which were already settled in port. Several larger buildings were centered closest to the water, and plenty of villagers milled around in the streets. I nodded. “I’m guessing that’s Balisca.”
~ ~ ~