Just a heads up, my weekly story will likely start to come out on Saturdays in the weeks to come, but you can still expect a tidbit of writing goodness on a weekly basis, just a little bit later. Here is part 4 of Mardi Mayas’ latest adventure.
Spelljammer, Part 4
My eyes flit open to see the attractive features of my charge. Short blonde hair, slim built, and lips pursed into an adorable pucker, unmarred by her clear annoyance. I would appreciate the sight a bit more if I didn’t have a five star headache from the beating I got looking for leads on her case.
“This is your fault.” Teeyi says, thought I have a hard time hearing her through the ringing of my ears. “I can’t believe you tried to sell me to the highest bidder.”
“Hey now, knife-ears,” I say, pausing to cough, “I didn’t try to sell you. I was putting feelers out there to see what Baron Black’s next move would be.”
My words are mostly true. It just so happens trying to sell her to the highest bidder happens to be the fastest way to get said info. I wouldn’t have sold her for anything less than a fortune, probably.
“I’m not going to believe that.” She struggles against her bindings. “After you went and used me to make money too. You’re an asshole.”
“No arguments there,” I say. The room stinks of sulfur, walls made of cold steel, and only one source of light hangs in the corner of the room. The globe seems to be a magical node, they trust me more with that than a lantern.
The guards outside are laughing, they have Maribel. I can recognize the sound of Maribel’s bow string from a mile out. Those brutes are using her to take pot shots at–
My body shakes and I dip to one side. I realize then, we’re moving.
“A train?” I say.
“Yeah.” Teeyi says with a pout. “The blindfold was thin enough I could catch some details. We’re probably heading west.”
“Good eyes.” I force myself to a stand. With my hands chained behind my back, my footing is unsteady. “Hey, I know you’re mad at me. But you want to escape right?”
“With you? I don’t know. You’ll probably try and sell me out again.” She narrowed her eyes at me.
“I told you. It was testing the water. I wouldn’t have sold you out unless it was a ludicrous amount of coin.”
“That isn’t helping your case.”
I raise a hand to shush her, press my ear against the door, and listen close. Three men, all on the big man’s payroll no doubt. Depending how long I had been in the cage, I had anywhere from between no chance in the seven hells and one the equivalent of finding a porsec quill in a tub full of needles sitting on top of an angry Trogg.
“I’m gonna need your help, Teeyi.” I slump against the door, dreading the coming storm.
“Oh NOW you want MY help,” she said, rolling her eyes, “and funny how you actually call me by name when you need something.”
“Does it really matter when said ‘something’ will save your butt too?” I turn my hands upward. “I need you to spit up some fire.”
“What? No.” Teeyi ground her teeth. “I’m not a dragon. I can’t just weaponize my–”
“But I can.” I say, twisting my face into a frown. “You make me a ball of flame, I can turn it into a weapon. You saw what I did with that bomb.”
“And I also saw you blow up the whole castle! No. You’ll get us killed.” Teeyi turned away in a huff.
“Have some faith.” I smile back at her. “When have I ever–”
“You got us captured twice since I’ve met you.” She narrowed her eyes. “And the last time you told the goon you had an ‘elf stripper’. ”
“It worked didn’t it.” My imagination drifts for a moment. “Err, the plan worked. Not the elf stripper. That was just made up.”
“And bad enough you keep looking at me like that.” Teeyi’s face turned scarlet.
“It’s a curse,” I remind her, “Practically a medical condition.”
“Whatever. If this goes to hell and you get me killed, I will haunt you.” Teeyi squints, pushing at her diaphragm with practiced focus. “This is so much easier when I can use my hands.”
I sidle back to her holding my hands out. This is a first for me, escaping with some fire-elf spit. Still magical, so it should work. A strain on should.
She draws out a glowing ember of flame and lolls out her tongue. It looks hot enough to melt through the floor. My ‘magic’ catches it, slowing its roiling heat to a crawl. This is my power. The power of a Spelljammer. Any magical aspect, I can freeze and amplify it and release it with many times its original might. I’ve had it as long as I can remember.
With my hands tied it’s a chore to keep in contained, I waste no time giving the door of the cell a swift kick.
“Oy! Morons.” I call to the door. “We got a problem in here.”
“Stuff it.” The peephole opens, revealing a pair of beady eyes. “We got orders not to put up with your bunk.”
“Well. I understand that. Seeing how dangerous and amazing I am.” I smirk to myself. “But this is a pressing matter. This little wench is pregnant.”
“What?!” Teeyi sputters.
“What’s that have to do with anything?” The eyes narrowed through the slit.
“She might deny it, but I happen to be an expert on Fire Elves. When carrying young they spit out small explosive balls of death. If I wasn’t me… I wouldn’t have been able to catch this.” I lean over and show him the frozen ball of flame. “You leave her unattended and this whole car’s gonna blow… no the whole damn train.”
“I certainly feel like spitting fire all of a sudden…” Teeyi grinds her teeth.
“Wh…what do we do?” The guard’s eyes fill with worry.
“Well first. Let open the door so I can get rid of this one,” I say.
“I dunno…” The goon stepped away and whispered to his fellows. A tense moment passes and the tumblers begin to operate. I lower my weight and prepare to fling the ball of flame as the door swings open. I freeze, realizing the slim guard next to the wall of meat that peeked in has Maribel, my wife turned bow, strapped over his shoulder.
“What are you waiting for? Get that thing off the train.” The big goon, covered in Muscle more than clothing, gestures to the scenery rushing by.
I recognize the Plains of Parsec, a hundred miles out from the city. I must have been out for a time. But I needed to stall.
“Small problem.” I say, eyes darting to Maribel’s curves. “The explosion will be huge… and well… I’ll need Mar– err… my bow to het it clear from us.”
“No way.” The goon kicks me in the stomach, almost hard enough to make me drop the flame. “You give it to me and I’ll launch it for ya.”
“I…” I gasp against the kick. “You wouldn’t be able to contain it till it launched.”
The flame surges in size, the first warning of its real threat.
A second goon, taller and infinitely smarter looking, stares at the flame. “It’s a bluff. Make him drop it over the edge. We’ll be fine.”
The muscle gave a nod and grabs me by the throat, carrying me to the edge. Slim and the third goon, a ratty looking guy with piss yellow skin surrounded me.
“Yeah, just a bluff boss,” Rat says, “You’re a genius.”
“Drop it Mayas, or he drops you.” Slim looked at his nails bored.
The tracks below rushed back fast and furious. To make matters worse, a cliff side came up, a steep drop with jagged rocks over fast waters raged below.
“Lotsa space for a explosion down there huh?” Rat cackles.
With no choice otherwise, I let the flame orb roll from my fingers. About thirty feet down it bursts into an explosion of light. Muscles raises a free hand against the light, but all three are blind. I make a bold move head butting my captor hard. He blinks at me, considers, and pulls me close.
“Was that supposed to hurt, Mayas?” Muscles sneers.
“Uh. Yeah. It was,” I say, head throbbing.
A second flash of light erupts next to slim and Maribel takes her human form. In the confusion and dwindling effects of the exploding orb, Maribel gives Slim and Rat two men a hearty shove from the train’s side. They lash out desperately and manage to snag straps of securing leather before plummeting.
Muscles looked down at his friends confused, he set me aside and left me a coughing heap. Air rushed back into my lungs and Maribel approached with a look of concern.
“Is Teeyi all right?” She says.
“W…what?” I sputter. “What about me?”
“She’s the meal ticket. If you’re talking you’re alive.” She gives me a kiss on the forehead.
“Moron!” Slim roars from the side of the train. “Pull us up.”
“Oh. Right.” Muscles steps to the edge and hunches to pull them. Maribel readies a boot.
“Wait, I need the keys you can’t just…” I protest, putting a hand on her arms.
“Oh all right.” Maribel approaches Muscles donning a stellar smile. “Say handsome, can I borrow the key? I’d rather beat the tar out of my husband when he can fight back.”
Muscles reaches back to his pocket, hands her the key, and goes back to trying to pluck his colleagues from the side of the train. She drops them into my hands, saunters into the prison cell, waves at Teeyi and rips the lantern from the wall.
The cuffs slip free in seconds, but the goons flounder back onto the train, aiming deadly glares and drawing weapons. Maribel walks out of the cell, drops the lantern in my hands and clears her throat.
“Apologies for showing gentlemen.” She folds her arms as I get to work, slowing the lantern’s magic to a crawl.
“You’re Maribel Mayas. Where the hell’d you come from?” Slim narrowed his eyes at her and drew a sword from his hip. “No matter, you’re not in the contract so it’s fine if we kill ya.”
“Such chivalry,” she says, “and you think you can take me down? Me? Last I checked I curled better men than you into balls and pitched them aside.”
“Dear…? If you’re going to handle this… mind… handling this?” I whisper to her.
“I can’t.” She says, under her breath. ” I got ten seconds. Tops.”
“Oh.” I redouble my efforts into the lantern, but it’s just too weak.
“Well uh…” Slim glances to his partners. “You know, Baron Black has a bounty on Mardi. Maybe we could split it, Fifty-fifty.”
“Hmm,” she says glancing back. “Seventy-Thirty and you have a deal.”
“Uhh. Sixty-Forty?” Slim offered.
“Sweetie?” I protest. “I’m pretty sure this goes against our nuptials.”
“Fine print.” She says. “Eighty-Twenty. You just worsened my mood.”
“Look fine! Eighty-Twenty just don’t hurt us.” Slim raised his hands and Maribel vanished in a flash of light. I manage to scoop up her lighter form before lobbing the sphere and diving into the cell. Slim, Muscles and Rat launch from the train as the cliff ends. They crash into piled bales of hay on the edge of the Royal Parsec farms.
Lucky for them, they get to keep their lives. Unlucky for them, they’ll be picking blood ticks from their teeth for the next five weeks. I straighten, put Maribel on my shoulder, and approach Teeyi.
“See? Everything’s under control.”
“There’s still the matter of getting off the train alive.” Teeyi gives me a skeptical look as I free her from her bonds.
“Hey. Bounty remember?” I grin. “Worst case I get beaten within an inch of my life. And let’s be honest. I’ve played that game this week.”