Monday, 26 March 2012

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words Blogfest

This is for the blogfest. I hope you enjoy it.

(Edit: I forgot to put the picture in.)

Eric had learnt many things in his last couple of years as an apprentice to the sea wizard “Thermals” John A’hab. How to fish the great cracks between the planes using lines forged from the finest dwarven steel and a reinforced winch whose magic could lift almost anything. How to use the magic of the wind and waves to steer their vessel, the Cutting Snark, close enough to throw said line over. And never, under any circumstances, to ask what kind of wizard wanted a biscuit obsessed parrot as a familiar. He had yet to learn the answer to one vital question, however.

“Why is it always me who has to lean over the side of the boat with the line?” he asked aloud, face down at the prow of the boat with his ankles strapped to the plank on which he lay. From there, he could stare down into the endless abyss at the edge of the Plane of Water, watching the silver fish that swam their way improbably up the torrents of water that fell down that jarring gap until it reached the flaming seas of the plane of fire below and came back up as steam.

“I must concentrate on the ethereal matters of mage craft” A’hab pointed out from behind the ship’s wheel. He threw an anchoring incantation over the side and then walked over to join Eric. “I must ponder impossible charts, and fathom the unfathomable. Plus, it’s my boat, and you’ll jolly well do what you’re told or you’ll be walking that plank, not squirming along it.”

“Want cookie,” his parrot said from his shoulder. It was a most curious shade of blue, and the master mage had occasionally intimated that his familiar had not always been that shape. Mostly at times when Eric had argued with his choice of course setting.

“Shut up, Polly,” A’hab snapped. “Unless you want to be an ex-parrot. And you, Eric, concentrate on the fishing. You know that with the new League of Ultimate Evil quotas coming in we need to get as much caught as we can now.”

Eric nodded. Exactly what they’d catch was still to be determined, but that was always the way. You cast a line of hardened metal links over the side (or Eric did, while his mentor looked on) and you strapped yourself to the deck, and you hoped that once the master mage started to cast the fishing spells they wouldn’t come up with anything too difficult to reel in.

“Don’t you ever wish we were back having proper adventures rather than just fishing?” Eric asked, staring down into the abyss. Down below, an assortment of eyes stared back. Eric didn’t mind too much about that kind of thing now. It was just one of those things that happened, with abysses.

“Proper adventures?” A’hab laughed. “Why, I’ve had more adventure on the high seas than in the rest of my life put together.”

Eric, as the one on the board, didn’t want to speculate about exactly how high the seas were in those parts, but he wasn’t going to give up that easily. “Adventure? Name one we’ve done recently that was properly adventurous.”

“Do you forget so easily?” A’hab demanded. “Didn’t we chase down that terror of the sea, the White Snail?”

“Briefly,” Eric admitted. “But it’s not like it was going that fast, and it wasn’t exactly terrorising people, just leaving those slimy trails on their floors.”

“Well, didn’t we spend our time recovering the lost jewels of Gnahh?”

Eric looked back. “We went to the pub. We talked to an old sea captain named Dave.”

“But we still had to persuade old Jones-y to remember the combination to his lock up on the docks. Seventeen pints of lager is an adventure in anyone’s book. And we tracked down the treasure of the secret island.”

“You let the cabin boy do most of the work on that one.”

“Look,” A’hab snapped, “just get on with the damn fishing would you? The fact is that it pays more than adventure ever would. I’ll tell you what, if you want, you can cast the fishing spells this time. It would be good for you to get the practise.”

It wasn’t exactly adventure, but it was better than nothing. By now, Eric knew the magic that would send their hook through the gaps found at the edges of planes and off into the many worlds very well, but where the hook ended up was all in the nuances of how you said those few simple words and made the required mystical passes.

“You know,” Eric said by rote, calling up the magic, “you should have seen the one that got away. It was this big.”

The line twitched, and Eric hauled it up.

“Anything good?” A’hab asked.

“Just another of those wire baskets on wheels,” Eric said. “I wish I knew where they came from.”

“Throw it back. We’ve got plenty.”

Eric did so and cast the line out again. This time, he got an old pair of boots.

“I suppose they might turn out to be seven league boots,” A’hab said when Eric threw them onto the deck. “Maybe you’d better let me try.”

“Just give me one more go,” Eric said, and hastily uttered the mystic formula again. This time, he put everything he could into it, and he knew he’d done better just by the way the chain stretched and groaned under the weight of whatever it was on the other end. He started to haul, and after a minute A’hab hauled with him, working the big winch together until something came into sight. Something huge, and ship shaped, and gleaming with metal. Eric could just about make out the words USS Cyclops on the side.

It seemed that fishing was about to get interesting after all.


Charity Bradford said...

LOL, is this hinting at the Bermuda Triangle idea? That's what I thought at the end. What a great way of going at that.

If not, ignore me. :)

I thought this was a great story. The humor and natural flow of dialogue was great.

stu said...

Well, those missing ships have to go somewhere.

Huntress said...

I do love me some magic.

mshatch said...

ha, like this a lot as well as your magical jargon. The white snail was an especially good touch :)

Aldrea Alien said...

They hauled up another vessel? Cool!
Love the banter between the two. And the White Snail. lol
Seems like the fishing just got very intresting indeed. ^_^

Alicia C. said...

Good banter back an forth. Quite a lot of world building fit into a small space. Well done!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

That was a fun story. Guess Eric will have his adventure.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Loved the humor in the whole master-apprentice relationship and with the parrot especially. Great story!!!

Misty Waters said...

NICE! I really liked that, Stu. Awesome dialogue.

Beth said...

I liked the interaction between Eric and A'hab. I also liked the ending.

Angela Brown said...

The conversation and voice between A'Hab and Eric is just too wonderful. I felt like a deck hand gladly ignored as I watched the exchange.

Donna Hole said...

I'd have to agree with the last line.

Excellent story Stu. I knew I could count on you for something fantastic and humorous.


Julie Dao said...

This is fantastic!! I want a parrot like that. You have a gift for writing dialogue!

stu said...

For a parrot like that, just take one cookie monster, apply copious amounts of magic, and season with a brief reference to Python's 'dead parrot' sketch.