26. The Fall of Barcilica

Chapter 26

The Fall of Barcilica

It started to sound like a raid with the way people were screaming in terror. I was a tad offended that they called me a falucite, rather than acknowledge that a dirty pirate had the power to push them around. Of course, they only knew falucite had the ability to wield magicks. However, Satel was the only falucite who could pull off the same trick I did. The other ‘monsters’ used illusions, earthquakes, and wildfires to bother people.

With all the chaos and confusion, it was hard for my target to hear what I had to say. Before I could leave, I had the obligation to inform him about what I was going to do to him and why, or else he’d never learn from his mistakes. I imagined lightning striking close by, and Elati answered, causing a boom loud enough to rattle the foundation of buildings and cause everyone to duck down. It was a small window of silence, but that was enough.

“Bardam of Damra! I am here to punish you for your insolence! I will accept that pirates are no better than your criminals, and that you seek justice, but I will not tolerate your behavior towards all seafarers,” I said looking over to the people as they listened. “The same goes for all of you as well. No matter if we’re pirates or noble fishermen, we seafarers are not weak and stupid. We are humans – your equals or better – and I will not stand by and let you treat them as your slaves.”

I didn’t expect to include them all, but they were just as poisoned as their prince. Bardam didn’t seem to see the difference between a pirate and a seafarer, and declared us all lower humans who should be ruled over. And because of that, his people decided that they were also superior and should be treated as lords among seafarers.

The prince scowled at me while his citizens recovered from their fright. Hearing me champion the people they were raised to believe were second class citizens gave them enough bravado to jeer at me. They seemed to have forgotten about their fear and yelled obscenities at me.

“You’re not better than us!”

“You seafarers depend on us- you owe us!”

That was the gist of it anyway; the other shouts were far more insulting and derogatory. Some of them picked up stones and tried to throw them at me, but they weren’t anything that could pierce a sturdy water shield. They felt entitled to our servitude and couldn’t believe we had the audacity to stand up to them.

“That’s odd. I don’t ever recall needing you landlubbers for anything,” I muttered. Since I placed myself among pirates, I didn’t have much room to talk, but coastal seafarers had their own resources. It was the landlubbers who needed them to transport goods across the sea and maintain communications between continents.

But as I said those words, I realized something. If there was anyone who had the right to condemn and hate us, it should be seafarers. We didn’t bother land dwellers unless they happened to be by the coast during a raid. And our looting merchant ships should be nothing more than a minor irritant to them because they weren’t directly affected. At worst they would have to pay a little more for products.

But there was no point in explaining the major differences in seafaring clans to them. They hated all of us for no good reason, and they were more than happy to punish us for their amusement. This explained why there were many civilians in attendance today. They wanted to see an execution and laugh at the ‘stupid sea rats’.

This revelation only served to fuel my indignation and allow Elati to surge more power into me. But in a strange sense of clarity, I realized I may be making up more excuses to further justify my actions and to help me maintain the Wrath. Even if I was doing this to save my friends, I would still feel terrible for trouncing on strangers in the aftermath. As for Bardam, I didn’t mind hurting him in the slightest, so I knew I wouldn’t feel any remorse for him.

“Granny!” Jasco shouted, pulling me from my thoughts.

I looked up in time to see a man standing next to Bardam, aiming at me with a dry gun. The prince didn’t anticipate one of his own to fire at me and tried to stop him, but it was too late.

I shifted the water to form a round shield, letting the bullet catch, then bounce off harmlessly to the ground. I smirked back at them before I threw the shield at the attacker, turning it into a fast stream that violently knocked him off the platform, leaving Bardam by himself and wide open. His green eyes were wide with shock. It was dawning on him that I was making the water come alive and use it as a weapon. Apparently he never once believed that those ‘waves’ I danced between nine years ago were under my control.

“What are you!?” he demanded, his tone betraying some fear. Good.

“You know what I am. The Lord of the Sea: a human who defends seafarers and our way of life. And when you and your pathetic worms try to conquer that which is unconquerable, I rise to crush those ambitions,” I declared, standing tall and proud. “Bardam of Damra, I will grant you one last chance to save yourself and your kingdom. Submit to my will and let us go peacefully, or else face the consequence of your actions.”

There was still a little bit of me left in the Wrath. Only I would allow a small chance to drop everything despite the gather of power and the desire to fight. But I knew he wouldn’t take the offer. Bardam was too proud and set in his ways. Delar probably inflated his ego and convinced him that there was no way I would be able to bite his offered hand. Add that to my deceptively feminine and tiny body and he might forget that I was stronger and greater than he was.

But I wouldn’t mind being wrong this time. If the prince was a coward, or had some sense of noblesse oblige for his people, then he would make the right choice and bow to me.

Admittedly I was stunned to see him hesitate in answering, as if he was seriously thinking it over. But a frown came to his features and his hands shook with rage. “I may have underestimated your capabilities, but I have yet to be wrong. You are the only one with power, but the rest of your people are powerless cattle that need to be reigned in. You cannot protect everyone, and I do not believe one lone woman could defeat an entire kingdom’s army, regardless of power.”

I heard the four behind me react to that with a growl. Bardam was terribly wrong with his assessment. My people weren’t so weak that they needed me all the time. The true strength in seafarers came from the fact that we worked together as a large family. We fought as units, not individuals, and we helped each other. Even now I wasn’t alone. My friends were watching my back, and the Lady of Storms was with me. Hell, Elati was all I needed to endorse my work.

I gripped my cane tightly in my left hand and held it in front of me. “Even if that garbage was true – which it isn’t – what makes you think that fighting me will be worth it to you and your people?” Surely he didn’t believe that capturing me would be for the good of his kingdom anymore. He was starting to show signs that he viewed me as a monster, so he probably didn’t desire me as a wife.

“If I were to let lower level creatures like you get the better of us, then our honor among the kingdoms will be besmirched. If I cannot have you as my bride, then this world is better off with you dead!” he shouted, gesturing for more men to come to his side to protect him.

So this was about national honor now…. It could be worse. It wasn’t like there was any shame in being soundly defeated by me. After all, no one else could beat me.

I drew the sword out from the cane and announced in my natural accent, “Then ah’ve heard enough. Fer toyin’ wit’ seafarers an’ fer tryin’ ta seize power that ye do not deserve, ah sentence ye thusly: Yer kingdom shall fall!”

I raised the tip of the sword straight up into the air before I took a few steps towards the castle. Using the senses Elati temporarily bestowed, I jumped at the last second, just as lightning struck down and caught on the blade. I immediately swung down the charged weapon, sending the arc of light to barrel towards the tall building.

It happened so fast that all anyone registered was the deafening boom. By the time everyone recovered, there was a deep trench that started by my feet and led all the way to the main part of the castle. At the end of the trench, a crack had formed at the wall which continued to expand until the very top. All of the glass in the area had been shattered by the bolt.

I only sent enough to heavily damage his home. Though I was slowly losing it, I wanted to spare some people if I could help it. Having the castle collapse while everyone was still inside would be cruel, since those in the higher levels wouldn’t have the chance to survive. But it was probably my last act of kindness towards the landlubbers.

No other creature had the power to wield lightning, though Pappy and I did a good job in making others think we could. This was Elati’s unique power, and I needed her help to use it. The trick behind it was that I couldn’t be in contact with the ground while the electricity was on me. It was something that could only be done with speed and knowledge of where the next bolt would strike. If I didn’t have the goddess’ power boost my abilities, I would risk killing myself.

But my display was only intended to command fear. I couldn’t use this move too often, or else I might cause myself and those around me to go deaf. Thunder was very loud up close.

A long silence followed – or my hearing failed me for a few seconds – as everyone registered what happened. It was then both soldiers and citizens knew they had no chance and began to run away. Unfortunately, it was too late for Bardam to change his mind.

My compassion was gone and I didn’t care about anyone, save for the four I came to rescue. I summoned all the water that would heed me and ordered it to flood every inch of the city. Miniature tidal waves swept the streets, damaging property, and harming innocent bystanders.

I tilted my head, barely glancing at my friends as I ordered in a low tone, “Let’s go.”

Despite the noise, I could hear only three pairs of boots follow behind me. I had a feeling the one lagging behind was Gisette. She didn’t know me well enough to trust me after that show of power. I wouldn’t put it past her to be confused and a little frightened of me. But I heard someone backtrack, and then all four were trailing after me. I didn’t bother to look back to see who grabbed her, since I was too busy maintaining my magicks.

It took a lot of concentration to simultaneously direct unseen waves to crash into buildings and still spread the water around us so we could walk safely. But I allowed for one last distraction as I stopped by the platform where Bardam stood. He and his small gathering of knights were shaking as I sharply faced them with a smirk.

They raised their swords – the only weapons they had left after my flooding their artillery – as I raised my hand. Once again, I sent jets of water to hit every last man except for the prince. Once he was alone, I propelled myself up with magicks to land right in front of him on the wooden stage. He stared back in surprise, until I raised my fist and punched him across the face. The force of my blow cracked his jaw and spun his body around before he fell, landing on his back.

Satisfied that he was knocked out, I jumped back down to rejoin my friends before the rampant waters could sweep them away.

“Feel better Granny?” Pao asked idly, trying to hide his amusement.

“Much,” I replied, kissing my knuckles once in smug pride. I had to make sure Bardam lived, or else Satel might have serious problems with the Fodaren clan. As long as he stayed up there, he should be fine, so knocking him out was probably for his own good. …Never mind the fact that I wanted to deck him.

I continued to walk through the city, going at a slow pace for both the benefit of the four and so I could cause more damage along the way. I had no regard for life anymore, but my actions were more about rendering as much of the city unlivable to humans. This place was the capital of the kingdom, and while Bardam probably had other castles to live in, destroying this one would be a huge blow. It might even give other kingdoms the incentive to wage war and conquer them.

Even the mighty falucite couldn’t prevent war among their pets, though they did try to keep the peace through forced marriages and other trades. So if my actions here did lead to a massive coup in their territory, then I made my goddess proud and created a huge headache for a clan.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the ability to stay angry long. I could hold a mean grudge for a lengthy time, but my rage could only last as long as I was in contact with the transgressor. Now that I was away from Bardam, my indignation wasn’t as strong and Elati’s influence began to wane. It didn’t stop me from attacking, but my concern for others returned, and I tried to be less aggressive.

The four did their best to trail after me, only speaking to comment appreciatively for any blows I made to structures. They made sure not to bother my concentration with idle talk.

Once we reached the outskirts of the city, I heard a timid question from a certain female, “Er…Granny? Ah hope this ain’t a stupid question, but how are we goin’ ta get home? We’re far away from the coast right now.”

I barely thought that far. Some part of me expected Satel to be back by now, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t think of something. Now that we were out of the danger zone, I felt it safe to lower my guard a little and loosen my grip on the water. But when I focused on the lady pirate, I was in for a little shock of my own.

“Sweet Loerati, when did Fiet get a girlfriend!?” I shouted, taking a step back. Apparently the one who went back for Gisette was Fiet, and they were still holding hands. When did this happen? The self proclaimed ‘man hater’ sure changed her tune rather quickly; and she was cozying up to one of the worst examples of men.

Well, perhaps I looked too much into it. The red haired woman wrenched her hand away with a blush and glared daggers at him. Fiet looked awfully smug as Jasco and Pao snickered. To be fair on the poor lass, she was probably too stunned to really notice who was guiding her, and wasn’t in the mindset care about it until I pointed it out. But I couldn’t believe that Fiet of all people performed a kind act like that. Maybe he really was trying to change for the better, in regards to women, of course. He wouldn’t be much of a pirate if he stopped raiding.

I decided to give Gisette a break by not teasing her. Instead I looked over to an abandoned cart that was still intact on the side of the street. It was a simple two wheeled kind with the yoke for a horse, a seat in the front for a driver, and the cargo space for whatever needed to be carried. It was in good condition and had no animal attached. It was also big enough to fit in everyone.

“Ah do have a way out,” I replied as I pointed over to the cart. “It ain’t the best boat ’round, but we can ride the waves in it ’til we reach the nearest port town. Then we can commandeer a proper ship an’ sail home.”

There was more than enough water here to make a continuous roll of waves. As long as I didn’t use a road, I should be able to get us to Dael in less than an hour. That would mean no twists and turns, and less of a chance of people and random homes getting in my path.

“It’s goin’ ta be a long journey,” Jasco commented after he climbed into the back part of the cart with the rest of them.

I took the driver’s seat at the front. “Don’t worry. The goal is ta get back ta the sea an’ get as far away here as possible. I expect Satel ta take us the rest o’ the way when he finds us,” I said before I summoned the water. I had a feeling this wouldn’t be a smooth ride, so I warned them, “Hang on tight!”

Not that there were anything to hang on to, other than the sides of the cart. I gripped the seat itself as I tried to make the waters sweep under us as gently as possible. With the cart made of wood, it floated easily and stayed on top of the wave crest. We hovered only two feet over the ground because I feared going any higher might be detrimental should anyone accidentally fall out.

The push forward wasn’t too much, though we quickly gained speed after starting. I had a feeling if Rutan were here, he’d be shouting for me to move it faster and make the waves higher. This was definitely his kind of ride.

We were able to reach the city wall quickly, and I found that the gates have been shut; likely in an attempt to keep us from escaping. At least it was only the barred gate. Had they closed the drawbridge as well, the water would’ve been trapped and massively flood the city.

“Careful, we’re goin’ higher!” I told them, hoping they would remain in the cart for the next few seconds. I raised the wave to stretch higher than the wall, effectively tossing us over. Since the gate wasn’t blocking the water, I was able to gather more to safely catch us on the other side. The guys whooped and hollered over our victorious escape as we landed and kept moving.

“Better luck next time, landlubbers!” Pao called out to any who might be around to hear.

Jasco snorted. “There better not be a next time!”

I couldn’t agree more. I vowed that once we were on a ship and on the way to the enclave, I was going to have a little talk with them about how they got into this mess. Working as a ship wasn’t enough anymore. It was time for different ships to team up against the odds. Had Pao and Jasco teamed up to rescue Fiet, the outcome might’ve been different. Maybe it was about time to introduce an ‘admiral’ to our ranks after all.

But I wasn’t going to be too hard on them. Had this not happened, Gisette would probably still be a stubborn man-hater. Whatever occurred in the last few days changed her and allowed her to open up to those three.

If anything, Bardam’s little stunt proved that we needed to change our ways. This might be the turning point for pirates, and perhaps all seafarers. If land dwellers were going to rise up and oppress us, then we were going to have to do the same and fight back. I wasn’t sure how much everything was going to change, but I had time to watch over the proceedings and adapt accordingly. I was prepared for the consequences of my own actions.

********************

The trip was much shorter since I headed for Dael. Dael was to the west of Barcilica and far closer than the northern town Satel had dropped me off in. I could only guess why Satel chose the distant port town instead of Dael, but my choice shaved off half the travel time. It was a good thing too, because the water I had given them would have worn off by now.

Now that we were within the coastal regions, their symptoms should alleviate. The sea air carried enough moisture that should nullify the effects of Seafarer’s Madness. But it would still take a few days before the sores and blemishes disappeared.

I stopped the cart long before we reached the gates. It was best if we continued on foot, lest my entrance might spook the citizens. Unlike most seaports, Dael was still pirate-friendly after all of these years. I wasn’t sure why, especially since the incident more than sixty years ago. It wasn’t like we were forgiven immediately, but they warmed up to us and our business again after a decade or two.

I was surprised they took back pirates at all since we had broken their trust. For many years, Dael had not been raided by pirates, but then one day, they came in on a mad search and destroyed everything for no reason. Satel and I happened to visit the town after the search, and I remembered how sad and desolate it looked. The image in my mind was a contrast to what I was seeing now.

Elati’s clouds were dissipating – though the main storm was probably still over Barcilica – and the sun was peeking through, brightening the paint of homes, streets, and street lamps. Everything looked the same as it did back then, but the debris on the streets was gone, and the fires were no longer burning. The stilted homes and businesses were rebuilt and fortified, and they added a few new additions to compensate for the growing technological era.

If there were any change, then it was the streets. They used to be cobblestone, but now they were made of flattened concrete. It was smoother on the carriages and horses, and it was better for the growing steam car population.

I didn’t have to worry about strolling down the streets. Seafarers would know us instantly, but the people here weren’t going to turn us in for our crimes. They barely glanced at us as they went about their business. Chances were that they had no idea what was happening in Barcilica right now, and they probably wouldn’t hear about it for days. Communication between the coastal regions and in land cities was not very good.

Any rumor or bits of news could only travel as fast as the messenger. It could spread like wildfire in town, but take a while to reach the ears of the next town over. For now, this could be used to our advantage. If Bardam had any knights stationed here, then they wouldn’t know to detain me or that I had destroyed their city.

We were able to walk peacefully through the town and reach the docks with no trouble. Once we were on the boarded walkway, all the tension I felt melted away. As long as I could hear the sea, there was nothing for me to worry about. We were safe here.

I glanced over to the multiple docks where ships were tethered as I wondered how to go about procuring one. Should we take the time to see if any of our brothers happened to be here, or should we just steal one in true pirate fashion? When it came to towns like Dael, I was a little iffy about committing crimes. But at the same time, I wasn’t sure if the others wanted help from other pirates. They might be too embarrassed to face another captain after what they’ve been through.

“Oh look, a royal naval vessel,” Gisette suddenly called out, pointing at the mentioned ship with a grin. “How kind o’ them ta leave it out fer us.”

She was right: it bore the flags of Bardam’s kingdom, thus marking it as a naval vessel for his army. Now that was a ship I didn’t mind stealing.

“Good eye, lass. But it appears ta be unmanned. Could be a trap,” I commented before facing them with a smirk. “Are ye lot up fer a little fight if it is?”

“Aye!” they all responded excitedly, holding up the swords they managed to grab during the escape. I wasn’t sure when they pulled it off, but I wasn’t surprised. Every pirate had sticky fingers after all.

The ship in question wasn’t very big, in fact I’d say it was a quarter the size of The Cruel Whore. It was probably intended for short trips close to the coast, but that was fine. We were a band of five, so the size was perfect. Plus, I didn’t expect to sail all the way to the enclave in it.

But as we made our way to the ship at a brisk pace, I discovered danger was not yet past us. We were stopped in our tracks. Literally. Magicks paralyzed our bodies, and I could tell from experience that they did not come from a friendly source. Satel’s had a different feel to it than this.

“That’s quite enough,” a new voice said before a figure appeared before us.

I could tell he was falucite, if not by the magicks, then by his light blue hair. And, unless there were others with the same penchant for glasses, I would have to assume this one was the famed Delar I have heard so much about. Damn it, this could be trouble.

“Not this one again!” Fiet shouted in frustration. What did he mean ‘again’? Had he run across Delar before? Maybe that wasn’t much of a stretch. After all, they had been prisoners in his territory, so the falucite could have visited them at some point.

Delar smirked, his violet eyes glittering maliciously. He sure seemed smug for someone so beat up. I could see scratches and bruises on his face and hands. Either he ran into Satel, or he dropped in on Bardam and was hit by my attacks. Still, what bad luck I had to run into him? I had hoped Satel would have taken care of him by now. …I hoped he wasn’t slain- no, impossible.

“So you are the famed Lord of the Sea,” Delar mused before his features darkened into something threatening. “What did you do to my pet?”

“Ah decked him an’ obliterated his city. Yer welcome,” I replied haughtily. I should have extended him the courtesy of speaking without the accent, but I was too tired to bother. It had been a long time since I had to speak differently for an entire day. At least he seemed to understand me enough.

“Do not lie to me. I know that wasn’t your work- huh?”

His head whipped up and his eyes widened before he glanced side to side fearfully. I darted my eyes around to see what frightened him, only to find nothing. It dawned on me that Delar was picking up the Xanaturi scent on me and thought it meant Satel was lurking nearby.

He looked furious as he turned back to me.

“Stay back!” I growled in warning when the falucite took a step closer to us. No matter what, I couldn’t afford to have him to get close to me. As long as he kept his distance, he wouldn’t be able to tell that I possessed the smell.

“I don’t care if you are here! I have her in my grasp and there is nothing you can do about it. Not unless you want her damaged,” he muttered as he continued to advance.

“Like hell ah’m ‘in yer grasp’!” I snarled as I held my cane up in preparation to unsheathe the rapier blade. “Jus’ as ah told yer pet, no landlubber can have possession o’er the sea! That includes ye!”

Delar stopped as his eyes widened again, this time in shock. I was moving even when I felt the binding of his magicks. Could this be a lingering power of Elati despite the Wrath having already left me? No, if I were immune due to divine power, then I wouldn’t feel anything at all.

“How is a mere human able to escape my magicks?” the blue haired man muttered before he tried to re-cast it on me. I could feel the binds tightening, but I was still able to move my fingers and arms regardless.

Then it hit me: the binding was water magicks. Because humans and demons were mostly made of water, it was possible for falucite to freeze them, despite their little command over the element. As long as the creature was weaker than them, it was manageable. But since I was also a water magick user – one with far more power over it than he – I surpassed his ability to paralyze.

This explained why Satel could do this to me far more effectively. Even if he had been weaker, his control was greater than mine.

“It ain’t that hard ta figure out,” I told him with a smirk as I summoned a whip of water from the sea. “Yer playin’ wit’ an element ye don’t understand.”

I aimed for the falucite’s head, but he sensed the attack and managed to dodge. Damn. I needed one good hit to his noggin so that the magicks on the others would cancel. If I knew how to work the water in bodies, I could have freed them myself. All I could do was to disorient the caster enough so he could lose his concentration.

“Where are you Satel!?” Delar demanded, glancing up at the sky. He must have thought Satel made that attack. I could tell my mate wasn’t here. He wouldn’t conceal himself for this long when there was imminent danger near me. He could probably sense that I could hold my own against the likes of Delar, but he wouldn’t let me fight someone who had the chance to defeat me. Not only that, but our secret was in danger of being exposed.

It was best to let him think Satel was here and in hiding, so that when my mate really did show up, he would be none-the-wiser. I was confident the blond bastard would arrive. I just didn’t know when or what he was doing at the moment. Delar must have given him the slip and he was searching for him.

With that in mind, I silently crafted more water whips to strike Delar. They rose up over the docks like kwiad legs and cracked down, aiming for the falucite. But the bastard was quick, so the attacks ended up shattering the wooden planks of the dock. I hoped at least one of them would hit, but all I accomplished was destroying property. If this kept up, the entire boardwalk might collapse and we wouldn’t be able to reach the ship. Well, that, and we would fall and get seriously hurt.

Thinking quickly, I created a much smaller stream of water and had it attach to his shoulder while he was distracted. Once he dodged yet another attack, I waved my hand in the motion of slapping, making the water hit him upside the back of his head. It wasn’t anything harmful, but it was enough to disrupt his magicks.

“Ah can move again!” Pao shouted, confirming it for me. That was a start, but we weren’t victorious yet. I was going to have to distract Delar so that they could get away. As long as they were there, he could trap them again and create an unnecessary hostage situation.

I unsheathed my sword and pointed the tip at Delar, challenging him. “Get ta the ship an’ set sail immediately! Ah’ll hold him off an’ catch up wit’ ye later.”

Since no one came out to see what happened, it was safe to bet that there was no one on that ship. Delar must’ve scared off everyone to prevent others from getting involved.

“Ye sure Granny? That’s a falucite,” Jasco reminded me, sounding worried. I could do many things, but taking on falucite and dragons was above my pay grade. Even to this day I have yet to defeat Satel in a fair fight. And those battles were safeguarded because he didn’t want to risk hurting me. Also, my few victories came from cheating. My tricks only worked because I knew Satel. I doubt they would work the same way for this opponent.

But this wasn’t the time to worry about whether I could defeat Delar. “Don’t worry ’bout me. Ah can hold me own ‘gainst him fer as long as needed. Ye’ll jus’ get in the way if ye stay. Ah need ye guys ta live so ah can kick yer asses later fer getting caught in the first place,” I said, managing a smirk.

They hesitated, but eventually agreed with my reasoning. They saluted to me in respect and left. Delar stood there, allowing them to pass by to reach the ship behind him.

He adjusted his glasses, which had become askew from the hit, glaring at me the entire time. “I never had a lowly human challenge me in mortal combat. You do realize you are giving me permission to do with your life as I please when I win?”

“That’s if ye win, an’ ah won’t go down as easily as ye think,” I replied as I readied my sword. I wasn’t going to entertain the thought of what might happen if I win. I had a feeling that I wasn’t going to be the one to finish this battle. If I didn’t have people to protect, I wouldn’t try it at all, since this was actually Satel’s fight.

I winced a little when Delar drew his own blade and rushed towards me. I didn’t mean to choose a duel that involved close combat. I was supposed to keep him away from me. The bastard was very fast. I barely had time to raise my sword to block his first attack. Judging by the blows, I could tell he was fairly strong. I was slowly being led back as I parried and blocked each swing.

I only found an opening when I used my cane as a shield and then made a counterstrike that almost sliced his shoulder. He backed away so I missed, giving me a short opportunity to put some distance between us with a well placed kick to the midsection. Even though I was mostly on the defensive, I was holding up rather well against him.

“Outta the way Granny!” a female’s voice called out before a bang was heard. I barely had a chance to register Gisette’s warning, but I was already backing away to put even more distance between myself and my opponent.

The lady pirate had apparently found some pistols on the ship and thought she could aid me with a good shot from the stern. While I appreciated the sentiment, I knew it wouldn’t work. Delar also heard the warning and was able to twist around in time to veer the bullet off course with his wind magicks. Guns were useless on falucite precisely for that reason. Thankfully, he didn’t choose to redirect the bullet to go back to the gunner, or send it towards me.

“Wretched filth!” Delar growled as he ripped some sharpened planks from the boardwalk with his powers and flung them towards the red head.

“Damn it!” I yelled as I rushed to situate myself between Delar and the departing ship. I used a jet to blast the planks away just as Gisette let out a squeak and ducked down out of sight. To further ensure their safety, I raised a wall of water behind me so that he couldn’t throw anything else at them.

“Forgive the interference, but leave them out o’ this,” I ordered sternly, raising the tip of my sword at the falucite again.

Delar paused for a moment as a look of confusion came over him. “Hold on… are you the one using magicks?” Then he appeared enlightened. “Then that means Satel isn’t the one I’m…”

I grit my teeth as he sorted out the clues. His musings could lead him to discover that I was the one with the scent, or that Satel wasn’t the one attacking him with magicks. Either way, I couldn’t afford to let him think more.

“Wot? Did ye think someone who champions a sea goddess would be an average human? Ah have ta have the power ta back up her convictions, else I wouldn’t be able ta do much fer her,” I responded with a grin. “Jus’ be glad Satel’s ’round ta beg fer me ta respect yer culture. Had he not asked, ah would’ve killed that prince fer wot he’s done.”

Actually Satel probably wouldn’t give a damn anymore. We only had the agreement for me to be careful with the upper class just so it would keep him out of trouble with the various clans. But now that he took the role as a falucite enemy, he shouldn’t care about it anymore. I just wanted Delar to regret thinking that anyone had power over me.

A calculating look came to his face as he lowered his sword. “I get it now. A human who can use magicks would be too valuable to breed with another human. They would only produce more magick wielding humans who could threaten the dominance of my kind.”

I made a face, wondering if he forgot I was there. I knew I was merely a human in his eyes, but he should know better than to dismiss me. Now that he knew I had magicks, I was a potential threat.

Delar raised his head to regard me again, his cat-like eyes boring into mine. “That means you would make a worthy mate.”

“Guh?” I took a step back and tried to process that. Did he really just say that!? The last thing I needed was another falucite desiring me for a mate. Satel was already a handful, and if he learned that his rival wanted me, he would flood half the world in rage.

I quickly regained my composure and glared at the blue haired man. “Forget it. Ah ain’t interested in prissy boys like ye.”

Delar laughed as he pushed his glasses up. “Do not flatter yourself, woman. I would not be interested in anyone other than a pure falucite female. No, I mean that Satel would have you mate with another falucite. Perhaps one from his own clan?” he prodded, sounding accusatory.

Oh thank the Maker! It wasn’t natural for me to have several men ‘fall in love with me’, so I shouldn’t have assumed Delar was going to be one of them. But, after that debacle with the prince, it was the first thought that came to mind. I wouldn’t say that the ordeal had traumatized me, but it wasn’t something I was just going to forget any time soon.

I was highly tempted to confirm his thoughts, if only to throw him off the trail. Surely he would discover that I was the one he sensed, and it was better for him to think I was with a falucite other than Satel. But something stopped me from answering. Lying would probably make the situation even more complicated. And even then it probably wouldn’t sate Delar’s curiosity until he knew the name and face of the one I was mated to.

Instead I chose to go on the defensive. “Me personal life be none o’ yer business.”

“Sounds to me like you are hiding something,” he chimed, his features becoming smug. “In fact everything about you is shrouded in mystery. Why is that?”

“Sounds ta me like yer tryin’ ta stick yer nose where it don’t belong,” I countered. “If ye want ta know more ’bout me, then forsake yer earth gods an’ pledge allegiance ta Elit. That’s the only way ye can get any information.”

“Enough with your rubbish!” He raised his sword again. “I will get you to speak whether you like it or not!”

I braced myself for another attack, but before Delar could get within my range, two jets of water rushed past my sides and threw him back. In the blink of an eye, a mass of platinum blond was in front of me. Thank the Maker. Satel was finally here.

Delar sneered once he recovered and caught sight of my mate. “You!”

Satel let out a short laugh. “Ah was wonderin’ where ye ran an’ hid yerself, coward.”

Judging from my short acquaintance with him, it was hard to believe that someone like Delar would run in the middle of battle. Perhaps he left Satel because he heard news of Bardam and his city. He did know about it when he confronted me, anyway.

“Tia.” Satel glanced at me from over his shoulder, exposing the side with his seafarer eye. “This ain’t yer battle, so do me the kindness an’ leave us. Ye really should get back ta yer friends.”

“…Aye,” I replied quietly as I hesitantly returned the rapier to the cane. There was so much more I wanted to say to him, like ‘be safe’, or something encouraging, but we had to keep up appearances. Delar must not see us acting like a couple, nor must he see any hints that we loved each other.

“Hold on!” Delar called out as I began to move. “You cannot walk away. You challenged me and we must finish the duel.”

Satel looked stunned, then amused. “Really? Did ye really have ta challenge the poor man ta a fight he can’t win?” he inquired, pretending to be disappointed in me.

It made me smile despite the fact that it was intended as an insult to Delar, rather than a compliment to me.

“This is no time for jokes. Once I defeat that girl, she will be mine,” Delar announced as he readied his sword again.

Suddenly I felt a chill as Satel’s features became dead serious. “Wot?” he growled venomously.

Though I didn’t want to do Delar any favors, I felt I had to clarify before the blond man flew off the handle and lost himself to his hormones. “He don’t mean romantically,” I whispered to him, hoping that wouldn’t rouse suspicion. Delar might want to know why it would bother Satel if it was meant to be taken in that context.

“Don’t matter wot he meant. Ah don’t like how he’s talkin’ ta ye,” he replied lowly, narrowing his eyes at his opponent. I sighed as I realized there was no calming him down. At least not with undesirable people watching. I suppose that was okay, since he was going to fight him anyway, but I hoped he wouldn’t come back home in a pissy mood.

But first I needed to get out of my duel without conceding defeat. I turned to the blue haired man and smirked.

“Ye want ta know more ’bout me? Here’s how ah work. Where’er there’s a rule, there also be a loophole,” I told him. Drawing my weapon, I turned sharply to face Satel. “All right ye über hat bastard! Ah challenge ye ta a duel!”

Though there were no real detailed rules on the matter of falucite duels, it made sense that should a challenger be defeated by another, then the victor must take the original’s place. I just had to lose to Satel; a far safer choice than losing to the other one. Even if that loophole wasn’t satisfactory to Delar, I would still have to do what Satel ordered, and he could tell me not to fight Delar.

I didn’t even bother guarding as the blond slowly walked up to me. He slid past my blade and raised his fist before he lightly bopped me on the head.

“Ow,” I muttered, even though it didn’t hurt. I backed away and sheathed my weapon. “Alright, ah submit ta ye.”

It was probably the most anti-climatic battle in history, but it served its purpose.

“In exchange fer yer life, I want ye ta leave this place an’ go protect the ones ye came ta rescue,” Satel said, his eyes returning to Delar’s.

“W-wait! That’s not how it works!” Delar protested. He looked baffled and couldn’t seem to get his next words out properly.

“Like ah care. Have fun fightin’ this guy,” I declared dismissively as I ran toward the nearest dock. Before I jumped off to the safety of the sea, I muttered under my breath to my mate, “Fight well an’ be safe.”

I used my water walking magicks to run on the surface of the sea to get away. The waves were thankfully calm, so I didn’t have too much trouble balancing. The stolen ship managed to get far, but I knew I would be able to catch up if I kept moving. Not once did I look back, because I knew Satel would be able to handle himself this time. He had no doubts or regrets left to hold him back.

But there was something nagging the back of my mind. Now that I finally met Delar, I had to wonder if he was undergoing puberty as well. It wasn’t obvious, but he did show some signs. They looked to be close to the same age, and it would explain a lot in regards to the unprovoked hostility and dogged determination to start a fight. Teenaged boys often locked horns over the stupidest of reasons because of puberty messing with their emotions.

Did I do the right thing in leaving two hormonal – and possibly homicidal – falucite behind to duke it out? It wasn’t as if I could do anything about it. If Satel didn’t kill him, then he’d surely pound him soundly and send him back home. He would be an example of what happened when one messed with the sea. Hopefully it would teach the world to not provoke the sea lords.

Hah! Not likely! I knew the next enemy was waiting for their chance to bring us down. Such was the destiny of goddess-made villains. If there were no crazed heroes or greedy power seekers, then I wouldn’t exist. I say let them come. I’ll take them all down.

But I never imagined that this was the battle that changed everything. The entire world had no choice but to recognize seafarers as something more than ignorant animals to tread on. New alliances were forged, and the division between earth and sea became clearer. It was the dawn of a new era for both seafarers and pirates.

To the Next Chapter

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