Tagged by @thosetwistedtales and she deserves all the credit for this idea OMG THE CUTENESS.
A i r n
If you have cleavage, that will be his favorite spot to snuggle. Even if you don’t put him there, he will find his way. Also enjoys viewing the world from this vantage point.
In that same vein, be aware that this breed wanders! Do not be alarmed if you find him in random cupboards, atop impossibly tall objects, etc. Those with weak hearts may want to look into a different companion if suddenly spotting a tiny Airn in unexpected places will cause too much stress.
Does not like bedtime.
If you want to put him to sleep the best way is to snuggle him down in a pile of playmates and let their sleepiness infect him.
Snuggles anything within reach and will latch on like a tiny octopus. Often tries to bring these things with him when he goes exploring, even when it leads to him huffing and upset. If he tugs you to follow, humoring him will win major points.
Gets very hyperactive when it storms. Do not under any circumstances allow him outside in this sort of weather.
Bath time is best time. Bath toys are love. Especially boats he can ride.
Likes smooches a lot. If he manages to clamber up to reach your face, you will receive a smooch.
Swaggers when he walks. This may be adorable, but if you giggle he will pout.
One of the few breeds which is careful enough with sharp things to be trusted with them. Often wears them strapped to his hip and usually uses them for gesturing and/or dramatics. Plastic cocktail swords are a particular favorite.
Feeds off attention from both Handler and playmates. The more the merrier!
D i e r a
Will decorate herself in shiny and/or colorful things almost exclusively.
Will fluff and coo if you compliment her dress-up.
Likes symmetry and will straighten things like crooked picture frames. Very helpful with housework and loves party prep!
Keep an eye on her when pocket!airn is around. She can be patient with him, but if pushed too far she may bite him.
If you have several playmates, put her in charge of dispensing food. She flourishes in groups, especially at mealtimes, and is happiest sitting with her playmates while they eat.
Loves things that smell good. Perfume, incense, freshly-done laundry, etc. She will try to snuggle up with whatever it is and get the scent all over her.
Can be very bossy to both Handler and playmates. Sternness will not work in this case as it will just make her more stubborn. If she wants something she should not have, negotiation and compromise are your best bets.
Provide her plenty of soft things to construct her nest! Do not be surprised if it is simpler than her outfits.
The cabin boy they called Rhymer had a
grand first voyage. The fourth was brilliant as well. By the tenth,
the crew had resigned themselves in one way or another to the child
as a permanent fixture aboard Horizon.
Most didn’t mind it by then. A few had even grown fond of the lad. He
had quick feet, shut up when you shouted loud enough, and always
seemed to find what a person needed and present it to them with those
wide, hopeful dark eyes. It was hard to hate something that brought
you rum and ensured he was never underfoot.
He helped the
quartermaster the most, a young but tired man the crew called Madrádh for his unique wisdom.
had served on five ships, each of
which had sunk, and most refused him passage for fear of curses and
bad luck. Captain Fearghal didn’t believe in curses, though, or any
superstitions. The crew still wore their charms and performed their
wards in private after crossing the quartermaster’s path. Rhymer
thought it was grand and asked for stories nearly twice a week.
most of the dexterity in his left hand after one too many injuries to
the arm. He compensated well, and still moved quick enough to cut it
aboard a Fomoiri ship, but Rhymer took extra special glee in hauling
chests or clambering up to snatch things off high shelves before
had to fumble. All with the wide grin that demanded to be
reflected on the faces around it.
singularly doubtful of the boy, which only made little Rhymer more
determined to impress him. He jumped with the rest of the crew when
the first mate roared. He scrubbed decks without complaint. He
learned knots and practiced them in the dark of his bunk, over and
over, even though it meant he swayed on his feet the next day and
fell asleep in his rations.
When the captain
wasn’t busy, Rhymer could most likely be found in his shadow. He was,
after all, the cabin boy, meant to serve the captain. And this he did
happily. Fearghal had granted him a place on a ship and even took
moments out of the day to teach him things. Things like plotting a
route, planning an attack, how to charm a border guard and
slide smuggled goods right under his nose, and best of all—swordplay.
swordplay more than almost any other activity. He babied the small
cutlass given to him from the ship’s armory, even though it was plain
and old and well-used. Even when not taking lessons with the captain,
he could often be found shadow-fencing, adapting to the weight of a
blade in place of the sticks he’d once played with. The shores of Mag
Mell seemed so far away, but he never felt homesick.
The captain was a
kind master. He took care of most things himself, only ordering the
boy to fetch a bottle or his boots when he was too busy with other
things to manage. In this it felt more like a partnership
than a servant to his master. And Rhymer near glowed every time he could
be helpful, every time the captain’s duties were made more efficient thanks to his actions and the man smiled. More than once the cabin boy was allowed to stay
in the captain’s quarters when the navigator and Corvan leaned over
charts and discussed routes with Fearghal. It was these times that
Rhymer stayed very, very quiet, absorbing everything around him.
But when the
captain was busy, duty fell to the first mate to find things for the
little whelp to do. He’d begun to get sick of it. As eager as Rhymer
was to learn and work, there seemed no end to the lad’s energy
and he had a maddening issue with following orders at their face,
always having to do it his own way or in his own time. While life at
sea came with intense bursts of activity, much of it was a neutral
sort of down time that made the cabin boy restless. And annoying.
Corvan did not
look. He ground his teeth. He was not going to respond to that.
Someone on the deck
crew snorted and Corvan considered tossing them over the side for
encouraging the gutter rat. Instead he continued rolling silver-edged dried leaves into thin paper. He
licked the edge to seal it.
He was strong
enough to endure this. He’d hunted powerful creatures of the deep as a child. He’d marched into the interior of Mag Mell before he’d
been full-grown. He’d faced maelstroms without flinching. He’d choked
the life from a mutineer and looked dead into the man’s eyes the
whole time. He’d sat motionless for hours in pouring rain just for
the sake of an ambush. He’d stabbed his father to death for fuck’s
The first mate bolted straight up from his slouch against the
mast. Even with flaming eyes and a borderline roar under his
response, Rhymer only grinned at him, victorious, though a bit upside
down at the moment. The brat had slipped his legs into the ratlines
on the deck side and now dangled, flailing his arms and smiling like
a fool. More than a few of the deck crew chuckled now. Corvan only
stared until the boy’s grin faded.
“What’ve I told
you to call me?”
“Aw, come on,
Corv,” the cabin boy cajoled, still with that sycophantic grin that
had charmed everything from gunners to rigging rats. He started to
swing a bit in his position, trying and failing to arch far enough to
grip the rail. “We’re just floating.”
Rather than respond
to that, Corvan pocketed his unlit smoke and crossed the space to the
lad. He could feel the deck crew tense up like they were one beast.
Rhymer didn’t share the same extrasensory alertness. He jolted and
writhed when Corvan grabbed a fistful of the front of his shirt and
dragged him down. He also cried out, clearly not adept at
disentangling his legs quick enough to avoid injury.
Corvan did not set
him down, just kept walking, hauling the boy—now right side up—to
the rail to hold him off the side. The cabin boy locked fingers
around Corvan’s forearm, kicking and squirming, something dark like
anger blackening in his eyes even alongside the fear.
sailing, or raiding—you’ll call me sir.”
“You can’t hurt
me,” the boy spat.
Corvan only stared. The brat was right, of course. Tossing him to the
mer wasn’t something that could be explained away to the captain. Not
to mention half the crew was in love with the little prick now.
Usually a taste of fear overrode things like logic and got him
obedience. It worked on men far older than the urchin now dangling
helplessly in his grip.
turned smug in the silence and Corvan nearly dropped him on
principle. Instead, he pivoted and released him to the deck.
useful. Haul the anchor.”
The boy scrambled to his feet, out of breath and flushed. “That’s
Without pause or
prelude, Corvan grabbed him again, this time by the mess of loose
curls on his head and dragged him, yelping, across to the mid-deck.
There, at the bottom of the empty spool, the anchor chain linked and disappeared
belowdeck where it would eventually thread out the side of the hull
and down down down to the sea. The spoked wheel that sat atop the spool had
been hand-carved with tentacle patterns and perhaps had once been
brightly painted, though now even the gold accents were faded.
Horizon was an old, reliable girl, still whip-fast and
well-oiled, but her aesthetics had begun to slip beyond restoration.
contraption was taller than the boy by two inches and likely weighed
at least four times his scrawny mass. Rhymer gawped at it and then
frowned up at Corvan. It might’ve been called a scowl if not for the
note of fear and lostness under the heat of his embarrassed flush.
He’d only ever seen teams of four and six strapping career sailors
put their shoulders to this wheel to wrap link after link of mighty
chain around the winch. Under their power its ascension always
sounded like muffled thunder and the anchor soared up out of the
water almost as fast as mer could swim.
“Haul the anchor
up,” Corvan repeated, releasing him.
narrowed. Every sailor on deck or above it was watching now. Some
pretended they weren’t, but they all were. One beast. One attentive
beast. The boy, at least, could feel their attention. It wasn’t the
sort he fancied, Corvan could tell. The heat in his cheeks had
flushed down over his neck and collarbones and he looked desperately
ready to shout or lash out or maybe cry. No, not cry. Too tough for
that. He wouldn’t cry until later, muffled into his pillow in the
dark. Corvan preferred him like this. The black of his eyes seemed so
much more honest than that ingratiating smile.
“I gave you an
To his credit,
Rhymer at least seemed conscious of that. His eyebrows knotted
together and his lips curled in a frown of deep thought. A strain
entered his little jaw and throat, a desire to fulfill and succeed
contrasting with his own estimations of limits and reality. It all
disappeared into a wrathful glare when Corvan failed to even blink at
him, as compassionate as a block of granite. Rhymer stomped to the
crank wheel. Lifting his hands up above head height to grip one of
the spokes, he set his weight.
Before the boy
could begin pushing, Corvan leaned over to flip the locking mechanism
at the center of the wheel, then stepped back and folded his arms.
The boy put his head down and braced his bare feet and pushed from
the small of his back up through his shoulders and—to his shock,
the wheel budged.
perked up, tension gone from his face as he began to take slow but
steady steps around the pivot of the crank. He looked across his
shoulder at the center of the wheel, at the quiet-running
machinations and flawless engineering that allowed even the slightest
force to be of use. He looked down where the winch met the decking,
watching as link after link of dripping chain appeared from beneath
the deck and wrapped around its spool in elegant coils. He’d made three
complete revolutions before he turned his awed gaze on Corvan.
The first mate had
relaxed some in the quiet. Watching the boy work, he’d even gotten a
very small smile on his lips. It looked odd, Rhymer thought, like a
crack in a wall through which one could see some other place.
Corvan’s arms remained folded and his voice was as rough and hard as
“Don’t tell me
something’s impossible ever again. Especially not without fucking
respond, Rhymer restored his bright grin like a flash of lightning
and braced his stringy thighs harder, pushing his steps faster. The
click-click-click of the hauled chain quickened and Corvan moved
away, unfolding his arms, withdrawing the smoke from his pocket. Like
the tide, as he receded others of the crew advanced, circling closer
to the boy and making laughing comments or cheering his progress.
Corvan nearly made it
to the rail when the bubbling camaraderie behind him exploded into a
geyser of panic and terror. Rhymer screamed, his voice shrill and
distinguished from the lower shouts and curses of the experienced sailors
around him. Too young. Terrified. More than terrified.
The first mate—already
spinning, assessing, taking it all in—had a great familiarity with the
different screams those with lungs could make. Cries of pain, of
alarm, of grief. Most knew these. But there was another scream, one
not heard often. One of a creature absolutely convinced it was about
to die. And Rhymer was making it now.
The slender tentacle had
come up with the anchor chain, threaded within and around the links
with near flawless camouflage. Even Corvan, who’d been standing not
two feet away when it began to rise, hadn’t noticed. But now the
finger-thin flexile appendage had whipped away from the chain,
waiting until the boy had hauled it all the way up before uncoiling
and splitting. It had to be monstrously long to stretch the whole
length of the chain and more, the thinness of each flailing limb
making it all the more horrifying. Five—no, six different
tentacles, whip thin and twice as fast. They’d already latched onto
the nearest target—the screaming cabin boy—weaving up to his chest in a
tight webbing. A hunter’s snare.
Pain had joined
Rhymer’s shrieking scream. Toxin? Barbs shredding past skin into
muscle? Or were the blind snaky arms much stronger than they looked
and already begun turning his bones to shards within his body? This
seemed horrifyingly likely as the latching web had begun to drag the
boy toward the too-small hole the chain had come up through.
Back through the way it had come. Back to the sea.
boy’s scrawny body wouldn’t fit through it. Not in one piece.
Swords were already
drawn and hacking by the time Corvan lunged back to the scene. He
grabbed the nearest raised arm and almost broke it in his urgency to
stop the falling blow, roaring at the rest to hold their weapons and
take a fucking step back.
Rhymer had gotten
ahold of a spoke on the hauling wheel again, and with the taut
tentacles pulling on his lower half, his body now hovered off the
deck. His screams had begun to go hoarse and thready. Tears stained
dark cheeks and for one paralyzing moment Corvan realized he was a
boy. Just a boy. A child who might meet his end right at this very
moment, floating on a calm sea. Corvan fumed at his captain, howling words in his mind he
wouldn’t dare speak to the man’s face.
I told you. I told you.
But the captain was
still in his cabin and every eye settled on the first mate. Corvan
could feel them all. The crew now stood out of range of the loose,
searching tentacles. No one else had been grabbed. They’d moved
quick enough under his command, but he had no time to be pleased with it.
had begun forming words. Help. Help me.
The crew roiled
restless but did not move out of the safe zone, eyes burning into
their leader. Occasionally one or two would lean back further or take
a swipe at the unseeing feelers. There were more now.
Seventeen. Some had reinforced the grip on the boy, writhing and
weaving around his legs and waist like a living net. Some groped along his spine and his neck, seeking out what it was that kept their prey anchored. The rest
strained to their limit, seeking other targets, hungry for more.
“Boy, listen to
The shout of his
name finally silenced the sobbing screams and dark wet eyes peered
over one shivering arm to lock onto Corvan’s cold steel. The first
mate only held the gaze a moment, long enough to be sure the boy’s
panic peak had passed, before he returned his attention to the searching
“Listen to me
very carefully. You need to go limp.”
“Fine. It’s your
choice. Do you want to die?”
The boy choked
elbowed his way through the press of sailors to
just behind Corvan and started to address him. The first mate was not
interested. Rhymer was the priority here, not a discussion of his
bedside manner in combat situations.
“If you go limp,
it will loosen its hold on you but it will move fast. Try to drag
you down. Wait as long as you can. The more relaxed the grip, the
softer the tissue, the easier to cut.”
Corvan drew a small
curved blade, deadly sharp. The last he’d used it had been on a prey
ship captain’s eye and gums. It gleamed now, clean and polished and
eager for more. He tossed it overhand, hard, and the tip dug into the
deck below Rhymer, leaving the handle proffered and ready to grab.
The cabin boy peered down at it, eyes wide, but he’d stopped
whimpering. His jaw flexed and relaxed.
“You won’t get
through all of it. Cut as much as you can below your feet. It’s going
to react. The grip will come hard again, but it’ll be in more pain
than you. Sloppy. Keep your left arm up. I’m going to grab your wrist
and take care of the rest. Understood?”
“I don’t wanna
die.” Some of the whimper had returned, trembling his tone. “I
don’t wanna die, Corv.”
“What have I told
you to call me?”
Rhymer only panted,
shuddering breaths. His eyes stayed locked on the first mate. Corvan
“Do it. Now.”
The lad lowered his
head, pressing his forehead and his eyes against one shaking thin
bicep. Corvan thought for a moment he was just going to keep his
deathgrip on the wheel and cry there into his arm until the thing
ripped him to shreds, but when Rhymer lifted his head, his expression
had gone like stone.
He took a deep
breath and let go.
Every soul winced as the sweet cabin boy hit the deck full on his ribs.
Something clearly must’ve cracked or snapped, but he only grunted,
right hand lashing out to grab the knife. He missed. The tentacles
yanked. He flailed with his left and caught the edge of the blade,
slicing open his fingers, but tipping it enough that it toppled and
slid into his right on his next grab.
It happened in
seconds. Impact with the deck, yanked across it toward the
anchorwheel. Rhymer, to his credit, waited until the last possible
moment before his foot would’ve been broken in five places to fit
through the chain hole. He rolled to his back and bent at the waist
and sliced hard with a cry—this time his scream was rage—almost
completely freeing one foot and allowing him to brace the sole of it
against the wheelhouse and push, giving him leverage for a second swipe with the flashing knife.
Corvan started moving as soon as Rhymer hit the deck. The periphery
tentacles had, as he suspected, begun to retreat toward the central
mass, toward the sudden wounding. Easily dodging around one or two
agonized spasms, slicing one feeler off with a backhanded swing,
ducking under another and spinning, he grabbed Rhymer’s free forearm
and backpedaled hard.
bleeding heart—was the first to lunge forward to grab Corvan’s belt
and help pull. He got a lash across the face for it and if the
tentacle hadn’t done it, Corvan might’ve. His balance upset, he
almost fell, almost lost his grip on the slippery blood-slicked thin
arm in his fingers. But he held on, hard enough to bruise, and dug his
boots and pulled, slashing another mass of thin flicking tentacles
that shot out for him with alarming precision. More crew added their
weight to the quartermaster and Rhymer cut through the last of the
tendrils gripping him and the whole lot of them slung backward across
the deck and into the rail.
Even half on his
back, Corvan kept pulling, yanking Rhymer out of range of the
mutilated attacker. The boy smelled of salty tears and desperate
sweat and blood, but he wasn’t crying anymore. His fingers clutched
Corvan’s forearm almost as hard as he’d gripped the boy’s own.
Fairly tossing him
as he rolled, Corvan got back to his feet and called for
fire. Lots of fire. The first few singes of it to the creature
of water caused the wounded thing to withdraw, snapping back below
deck and along the chain it had hijacked. Even when the gun deck crew
below reported it gone, Corvan ordered the anchor unhooked and the
whole chain unspooled. They’d burn every inch of it, just to be sure.
And then the good
Corvan was glad for
the chaos on the deck, for things to do, focus on, control. It calmed
the shake in his hands. That old familiar rage that had flung him at
his father as a boy, driven that razor-edged knife into the flesh that had raised
him. The captain emerged alone, but that didn’t mean someone wasn’t
hiding out in the cabin. But perhaps he’d just been asleep. Perhaps he’d
drank a bit too much and the noise hadn’t been enough to rouse him
It didn’t matter.
The first mate
gritted his teeth and turned to face Fearghal. He wanted to simply
stare, to wait out the man’s bewilderment until he was asked specific questions. What had happened. What he’d done to fix it. But even that could seem like a
challenge of leadership, and after the near-death fight he’d just had, he wasn’t in
the mood for another spat.
“Hunter from the
deep. Camouflaged on the anchor chain. It got your cabin boy, but we
pulled him out intact. I’ve ordered the chain inspected to be sure
listening as soon as he mentioned Rhymer. Corvan actually watched his gaze
unfocus and shift off his eyes to behind him, where the ship’s healer
had begun an investigation of the lad. Corvan did not turn. He
studied his captain and it was good everyone had become embroiled in
either the boy or the chain because in that moment he looked like the
merhunter he’d once been. Calm. Collected. Picking out every little
It was all the
captain said and it was perfunctory at best. Then he was gone,
shouldering past Corvan to the little huddle around Rhymer. Corvan
took a deep breath of firesmoke salty air and exhaled. He reached for his
pocket to find his fresh-rolled smoke, only to remember he’d dropped
it when Rhymer screamed. With a soft curse under his breath, he went
below to help pull the chain out into large loops. Something to do.
In the end, Rhymer
was fine. He needed new clothes and a new scabbard for his cutlass,
but he’d got away with only a few easily-mended cracked ribs and some
scratching and bruising. Hours later, you’d never have known he’d
almost ended up in several chunks sinking to the Depths. He must’ve
told the story a hundred times by nightfall and the crew just
kept feeding him attention in a way that made Corvan’s back teeth
had taken the lad aside at one point. Corvan didn’t care to
eavesdrop, but it couldn’t have been that stern of a lecture because
Rhymer came away from it skipping and beaming. As long as the captain
hadn’t rewarded the fucking prick for almost dying, Corvan could
abide it. It all kept the cabin boy occupied. To the point that
Corvan wasn’t bothered by him at all until late that evening when the
day shift was finishing their evening meal and the night crew were
readying themselves for the long quiet dark.
Rhymer found him at
the bow, smoking next to his empty plate. Corvan had thankfully already completed his ritual of tossing part of his food
off the side. The last thing he wanted was to field a thousand
questions about it. The rail came up to Rhymer’s chest, so he folded
his arms atop it, standing on tiptoes to peer over the side. Still,
the talkative lad said nothing, only smiled down at the recently-fed
mer still playing in froth coming off Horizon’s prow as she
sailed. It was a different smile here, in the moonlight. Simple soft
joy in place of flashy brilliance.
found questions in his throat, but he swallowed them down. He also
subdued the mad urge to ruffle those windblown curls set above the
strange content smile and black eyes. The cabin boy still said
nothing. He said nothing the whole time he stood at Corvan’s side
that night. It was the first time he’d ever been quiet while
conscious. As they watched the same horizon, the first mate
foolishly thought there could be peace.
Willful. She knew of Faerie but expected a straight answer. Airn’s grin widened. “Apologies, m’lady, for the misunderstanding.”
Even though he apologized his grin and obvious amusement at the whole thing made her think the exact opposite of him. She doubted that he was sorry at all. Amanda brought in a deep breath of air before she looked away from him for the first time since they started talking. She took in her immediate surroundings, anyone else there, and looked for anything that looked familiar.
A moment more and then she looked back at Airn. She hugged the cloth that had been wrapped around her shoulders tight, brushing wet hair out her face. “Am I guessing right that your belief in thinking you can take what ever you want, is going to completely ignore my desire to go home?”
One of the biggest breeds available! Be aware he can reach places others can’t! And is very helpful to more mischievous breeds (i.e. helping pocket!airn reach treats; it is very important to keep an eye on this particular duo).
May get sad if he can’t climb on or fit into places his friends can. If this occurs, give him a task, like something heavy to carry or a puzzle to solve and he will brighten up.
LOVES puzzles. Sometimes carries around a piece of one he’s working on just to think about it while he does other things.
Extremely protective. If you are worried about security in your home or the safety of playmates, the pocket!renner is an excellent caretaker.
He’s also big enough to break up fights if you have breeds that don’t get along.
Invest in Legos. Be prepared to witness marvelous structures appearing around your home.
Warning: has a temper! While generally even-keeled, he does get grumpy at times and sad even more often. He requires alone time in these moods. Bring him a snack and some puzzle pieces and let him work it out by himself.
If threatened, will growl first and bite second. Be aware that unlike other breeds, the pocket!renner can cause serious damage due to his size.
Requires lots of food and exercise to keep healthy!
Thrives in large groups of friends! He tends to mother playmates, especially ones that do not take care of themselves or are prone to trouble.
C o r v a n
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT keep a pocket!corv and a pocket!airn in the same space. Even with supervision. You’re just asking for trouble.
Very solitary breed. Does not get along well with others, but if forced into group situations he works best with gentler or weaker playmates so he can feel in charge.
Loves swimming! A home aquarium is an excellent addition to his habitat. Hiding little treasures in it for him to find is even better.
Collects rare things he’s never seen before. If he finds two of something, he’ll throw them both out.
Does not share.
Will refuse snuggles and pets, but will also sneak in to sleep on Handler’s pillow when he thinks they’re asleep.
If feeling confused or threatened, will make himself seem bigger and growl a lot.
Show him new things and/or take him adventuring often and he will adore you. Even if he doesn’t show it.
Excellent traveling pocket!muse for commuters, especially those who travel through dangerous neighborhoods or late at night. The pocket!corv has been known to shred and mutilate anything he can get at on those who threaten his Handler. Just make sure he’s tucked away somewhere he can see out and ambush unwanted fingers properly and you need never carry mace again!
Does not nest like other breeds.
Tagged by:@thecatsidhe (I choose Renner and Corv!) I DETECT A PATTERN XD Tagging: anybody reading this who hasn’t yet; i know it’s old
It was a lazy day in the Great Hall. The sort of day that
made most of the Lords and Ladies yearn for open sea. Despite being Fomoire, though,
they knew their duty. And sometimes that duty was listening to droning and hoping
for a brawl to break out.
Lord Captain Airn Rhymer sat with his hat cocked low over
his eyes, his feet propped on the table in front of him. He really should’ve
brought Genevieve today. At least then he’d have a distraction from whatever
was being said.
When the doors slammed open, every head perked up, ready for
some excitement. The messenger who sprinted in was buzzing, far too excited to
observe courtly procedure like knocking.
Or like making sure he got his message to the spymistress instead of blurting
it in childlike joy.
“Balor’s eye! They’ve found Balor’s eye!”
Not a breath. Not a single breath. As if they’d all suddenly
been plunged beneath the waves. Personally, Airn felt a chill of cold, then
hot, his vision spinning along with his mind. Balor’s eye. Their legacy. Practically the soul of their people. Found?
Lord Alasai grabbed the vibrating runner by the scruff of
his neck, yanking him close. “Where?”
Now the spy began to consider, his thoughts catching up to
him. He’d just yelled that he knew the location of the greatest treasure known
to Fomoire to a pack of wolves desperate for a hunt. Still no one breathed,
though most had leaned forward, picked up hats, subtle little movements of
“I…I shouldn’t…” the boy tried lamely.
Alasai drew a hooked blade and the spy squeezed his eyes
shut, apparently deciding he’d rather dodge punishment later than face pain
“In the mortal realm! A girl! A girl has it! A place called Chicago!”
Alasai tossed the runner to the floor, sprinting for the door
with the entire Fomorian Court on his heels.
Smuggling was possibly his least favorite activity. Second only to slave transport. At least smuggling didn’t involve things that could bite and scream and cry and generally disturb his day. Usually. But it was just so dull. Still, these things had to be done, so here they were, knee deep in briny, carting crates out of the cache and into the longboat. It was hard work and so the captain was in amongst the crew, stripped of jacket and boots, tossing chests of dragon bone and griffon feather and other paraphernalia from poached beasts. Along with a cask or two of stolen dwarven ale that the northern tribeland lords craved enough to pay a king’s ransom for.
The sea cave stash had to be emptied before the tide came in, but none of the crew batted an eye or showed an inch of panic that the tunnel could suddenly rush with water. They were all strong swimmers and remembered the way out. It was mostly quiet, until one of the crew would begin to hum a shanty and the rest took it up with low vibrating harmonies usually reserved for ancient choirs. Occasionally a joke would be muttered and laughter would burst, but for the most part they were professionals and they all wanted to be done quick and back to their day.
With the last of the bounty tripping along down the line of pirates, Airn emerged back into sunlight and stretched once, feeling tense muscle ease in the fresh balmy air. His flagship floated in the visible distance, dominating the skyline, anchored and waiting. Some of the longboats had begun their trek back to her, the rest lingering near the beach as they were loaded. A nearby sailor handed him a flask and Airn eased his gaze to the side enough to spot a change in scenery from when they’d arrived at the cove.
A figure, willow-curved and tall–and not so far away that he’d need a spyglass to tell she was as lovely as she was misplaced. There was a fishing village in the bay not half a league behind him, but only the quickest nixies dared play on this particular stretch of shore. Too many tales. Whispered rumors. Too much blood in the sand. The traveler’s skin was even paler than the white beach beneath her, odd in a place where the sun shone hot and most spent every minute of every day under the beating rays.
What a treasure.
“Cap’n, we’re set.”
Airn didn’t turn to acknowledge the information, still leaning on his elbow against the mouth of the cave, flask held loose and dark eyes intent. Eventually, the sailor who’d spoken stepped up beside him to see what the captain saw.
“Want I should get some of the lads to grab her?”
Airn took a breath, as if considering, then sighed it out in refusal. “I’ll go alone. No one sunbathes on this beach. She’s either ignorant, or too powerful to care. I’m going to see which it is.”
He started off without any further fanfare, dressed only in a loose shirt and tighter breeches. Simpler than most Pirate Lords would be upon approaching outsiders. But his hat and jacket and weapon belts were away back on the Tempest and he liked the feel of warm sand on bare feet.
“Without your sword, Cap'n?”
Airn paused in his stride and turned, very slowly, to level a warning glare. It was an idiotic question, akin to grabbing a king by the arm, and the sailor shrank visibly and gave a quick nod, eyes averted to the ground.
“Aye, Cap'n. Of course. We’ll have everything squared in the hold by the time you get back.”
Unworried about that truth, Airn was busy rethinking his strategy a bit. He peeled the iron chain from around his neck and the ring from his finger, tossing both back toward the sailor, who looked up just in time to catch them nimbly. The boy’s jaw tightened in pain as he gripped the items, but he made not a sound when he frowned in confusion at his leader.
The captain grinned. “Wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression, would we?”
And then he strolled on, breathing even deeper without his weights.