Sea of Tears
By EM Malachi
In the large iron-girded aquarium, the nixie in chains sang to herself. The song started as a wordless child’s melody of warm seas, full of wonder and beauty. It became a dirge as the song spoke of her capture and years of captivity. The final verse rose into a defiant ballad of escape. Her voice channeled the magic around her, fighting the manacles holding her. The iron resisted, glowing red and burning against the bracelets of scars around her wrists.
When she could bear the pain no more, she fell silent, the spell song breaking in a shower of sparks. Across the room, there came a mocking applause. Noxum turned her head toward the pirate lord with a small wooden chest under his arm. She looked away. “You have returned. You didn’t die.”
“You shouldn’t sound so hopeful.”
“I’m always hopeful.”
“Sea elf, hope has no place here, nor do any more escape attempts.”
Noxum held up the cooling manacles. “This cannot be suffered forever. Even death would be preferable to this existence.”
Hook scowled. “I have never harmed a scale on you.”
“Only because you see me as part of your collection, something to be owned. But I have witnessed your cruelty to others. I will never forget what you are, nor be a willing part of it.”
Hook shrugged, as he put down the chest. “Your approval is not required.” He removed the Rune of Valor from a bed of cotton and held it up to the lantern. A cut on his hand left blood on the etching of a sword on the Rune’s surface.
Something about the Rune made Noxum remember an old ballad about a nixie who saved her kin from a shark. “What is that rune to you? Something else for your treasure pile? Something to ransom with?”
Hook laughed. “On no. This is a weapon.”
Hook watched as Rankin placed various objects in the circle around the rune. “Are the human bones really necessary? I thought they were the props of dramatic little pretenders.”
Rankin adjusted a femur. “Normally, you would be correct. Skeletons aren’t actually required for necromancy, but there was one Pagan school I wasn’t able to learn because it’s in the blood and marrow of a person.”
“How did you come by these? I can’t image the owner gave them up willingly.”
“When the Tempest died resisting capture, her body made its way to a friendly gravedigger. I have been saving her final blood magic for a special occasion.”
Rankin placed a final grinning relic at the North position. “Oh, Mordea. You had such beautiful blood. A pity the Royal Guard spilled so much of it.”
Hook tapped his foot impatiently. “So an old friend’s bones will give us the shrine?”
“As I explained, this is only the first spell of many. Still, I believe you will appreciate the effect. Now I need to begin chanting, so no more glib comments.”
With a storm to the north and shallows to the south, escape was impossible. The Royal Navy had chased the Crown Jewel and its pirate fleet from the Cape of Heroes to just off Valor Island. With more ships and cannons, the fleet admiral was confident they would crush the pirate scourge in a single confrontation.
A small pirate ship had already fallen to the naval cannons. Assuming that the pirate leader was trying make a break for open ocean, the admiral had ordered full sail. He was surprised when the pirate crews lowered sail.
There was a sudden pressure change, and the waters churned around Valor Island. The storm at the fleet’s back surged south, growing in both intensity and fury. The wind and water smashed against the naval fleet. The sailors hurried to lower the sails, all fully unfurled for the chase, but half the armada lost masts in the first few minutes. Crews who managed to lower their sails were helpless as their ships ran aground off the coast and were raked by heavy cannon fire.
While a few ships managed to skirt the storm and retreat, Britannia had lost half its southern fleet. Watching the destruction from the Crown Jewel, Rankin laughed. “Those fools in Moonglow will respect me now.”