The door to the captain’s quarters burst open, and a seven foot whale-boy stood in the splinters and dust. “We’ve got company, Captain.” The captain turned his head, his arms still braced around either side of a baroque sculpture, caging in his newest passenger.
Celery Smoot dipped under the puffy sleeves of the captain’s shirt with wide eyes, her freshly dyed green hair barely clearing his clinginess. “Thank God. Maybe they’ll have better manners.” She hadn’t planned when she woke up this morning to be stranded on a pirate ship in a magical land with a handsy captain, a half-whale, half-man boatswain, and a scarred, but handsome mage helping them make their escape.
Captain Farran shook off the slight as Celery moved outside to the helm. He smoothed the silk puffy sleeves and twisted his trimmed goatee. “Very well. You have my permission to roam about the ship,” he conceded to the closing door. He shook his head at an unsettling thought. “Ungrateful,” he decided, and he sat on the bronze sculpture they had been hired to steal from the natives. He settled into its flowing curves, and decided he liked the feel of it. If his buyer didn’t give him a decent price, he imagined it might make an excellent chair, perfect for reclining as he ordered his deckhands about.
Billy the whale-boy stamped a single pegged flipper onto the weary deck beneath him. “Captain, that sculpture is sacred to my people. Were I a religious whale…” he quivered to find the words, but instead only puffed mist from his blowhole, sending his bandana flying into the eaves above. Farran ran his hands along the length of the piece, and then stood up. The whale people of Gaddanst had called it Catthan’skathi, and his buyer had insisted it would fetch a fortune from art dealers across the ocean. He dismissed Billy with a wave, “What company, Billy?”
On the front deck, Itzhak the blood mage waved his hands frantically over the helm wheel as Celery signaled over the bow. Half a league away and closing loomed the red dragon crest of the magister’s navy. “Aw, hell.” Farran pulled Celery back from the bow by her blue jeans. “You’re new here, Smoot. I’ll spoil the surprise. Those guys aren’t going to be as hospitable as I’ve been.”
Captain Farran stood over the blood mage’s shoulder, watching the rhythmic movements and the smearing chicken’s blood. “How long ‘til we’re out of here, Itzhak?”
The mage ran a red, wet finger around the glowing wood grain extending from the helm and out to the far corners of the ship. “Not long, Captain. The spell is almost complete.”
Celery’s attention shifted back to the ship and to the ebbing luminescence. “Holy crepes and strawberries, where is this thing taking us?”
Captain Farran shifted uncomfortably. He hemmed and hawed until Itzhak interrupted. “Nowhere. Or, here, to be more precise.” The mage’s eyes leveled on her, and she felt his heat pouring over her.
Billy tightened his grip on his harpoon gun as he eyed the closing ship. “Our blasted mage can’t figure out time AND space travel, so anytime he turns up the magic, we always end up exactly where we were. Gods only know when we end up. A ten day, a year, a hundred years.”
“So I’ve gathered,” she glanced at Captain Farran, who was looking down at the deck. “Sometimes you come back to the same time, too. Sometimes you could be way the hell off.”
“I came back for you, didn’t I?” Farran threw his hands up as the skies around them started to shift.