Featured Item: E.V.E Venus Nori Algae (Shiny Shabby)
“What is that down there? “ They both said it at the same time, and it was almost harmonized the way they did it. But of course, those sorts of things happened all the time between the two brothers..
Alphie was holding his soft brown hair against his naked chest, as he leaned over the boat’s edge. His tattoos looked striking against his slightly tanned skin, at least in the golden light of the setting sun. His capris were barely clinging to his hips as he leaned a little farther over the edge to get a better look. He was a skinny boy, in his late teens, but agile and strong for his size, and of course he was a young prince on top of that.
His companion was very similar in build, though perhaps a slightly more athletic build, in the way someone who trains to be a soldier might put on muscle. It was his brother, Adrian, and he was more dark blond than chestnut brown in hair, and it wasn’t quite as long, as Alphie’s. It was barely shoulder length, and would go all spiky when he got it wet and he shook his head. Alphie had nicknamed his brother “Dog-head” for that reason.
Adrian only wore a pendant of the noble house, not the silver chain of the heir, as did Alphie. But he was about a year and a half younger, so they were somewhat evenly matched. Adrian, however, had not been allowed to get his tattoos, as he had not “come of age” yet. He leaned over the edge with his brother and hissed through his teeth. “Man, look at that down there! There’s a sunken ship too!”
The third person in the boat was Gordy, the old retainer that had been with the House of Lykin for over 20 years, and had practically raised the boys as a nanny. He was grizzled, and gray maned, with hair down to his shoulderblades- a full iron gray head of hair. He had several days of salt-pepper stubble on his cheeks, and wore a light tunic and trousers of brown and green, with the house crest over his left breast. His belt had his ever-present pouches, which the old man always seemed to have something useful in them.
He had rowed them out to the middle of the Reef Sea, and was now relaxing and enjoying the evening sun on his face. He sipped from a waterskin, and glanced over at the boys. “Now – Alphie – don’t be leaning out too far – you’ll upset the boat,“ he said with a warning in his voice.
“Oh I’ll be careful, Gordy, “ Alphie said, just as Adrian mock-pushed his brother, who gripped the gunnel tight with his hands to prevent even an accidental falling over.
“Hey!” Alphie shouted, and scooped up a handful of water and flung it into his brother’s face, and a wet water slogging battle ensued. The boat swayed and lolled as the boys started to play.
It didn’t last long, but both boys were in the bottom of the boat, splash-wet and laughing so hard their stomachs nearly hurt. Gordy shook his head, and grinned softly, as the boys gave each other little pushes and eventually got to looking over the edge of the boat once more.
It was so clear in this inland sea, that they could see what seemed to be hundreds of feet down below the bluish green clear waters. Exotic fish, strange plants, odd coral and rock formations – one of them looking like the giant head of sea monster turned to stone! Schools of fish seemed to swim up one of its nostrils and down the other, coming out in a long, rainbow hued stream. And indeed there was a sunken battleship down there, as well. It was an old steel and wooden monstrosity, with a battering ram head that looked like a sea-monster from some ancient tale, but seaweed and crustaceans and other ocean life forms was slowly covering up the remains of that craft, and some day, perhaps it would be totally subsumed by the ocean’s wildlife.
As the sun dipped lower, Alphie said, “Gordy! I’m going for a short swim – I just want to see the various angles around that ship down there. “ the young prince said.
“I’m going with you, brother,” Adrian chimed in, as he slipped off the unbuttoned sheer sun-tunic he had been wearing.
Gordy glanced up at the sun, and then at the boys, shielding his eyes against the bright orb. “I don’t see anything wrong with that, boys. Just don’t swim far – we should get back before it goes dark – it’s a long pull as it is, and we’ll be getting back in twilight.
The two boys nodded and murmured agreements, as they stood up and started to prepare to dive off the side.
There was a low sound, and an almost subsonic vibration as the water heaved. Gordy stood up in the boat, against his own normal wisdom of “standing in boats gets you hurt or wet, and I don’t like having neither happen.” The disturbance was a large shadow moving fast, and it was riding just under the surface of the water, creating a bow-wave as it started to surface. It was not more than 50 feet from the boat, when a huge crescent fin broke the water’s surface, and it was headed right for the boat. The beast, whatever it was, was easily larger than the boat itself. Gordy turned himself and grabbed for the oars, and tried to row almost before he sat down.
“It’s a Dark Fin! Grab on boys!” The old retainer shouted. Gordy gave a hard few pulls, but it was a hopeless effort, as the crescent fin and nose of the beast collided with the boat, and by some miracle, didn’t slice it in two, or overturn it, but both boys were pitched over the side, and sucked behind the wake of that beast.
Gordy shouted and started pulling on the oars with all of his might, his stringy hard muscles moving the boat steadily towards at least one of the boys, but he couldn’t see the other. He pulled harder, the oars creaking in their oarlocks, until he finally, not more than a few moments later caught up to Adrian. He looked around everywhere – but he couldn’t see Alphie. And where had that Dark Fin got to, as well? It was so huge, how could it have hidden itself?
But there were vast canyons hidden from ordinary view down below, and if it had taken hold of the Prince Heir, the boy would be doomed so far down below. Gordy was trying not to grieve yet, as he pulled the unconscious Adrian into the boat, and kept on circling to catch a glimpse of the other boy. “Oh dear gods.. “ he said, as he waved the smelling salts from his pouch under the boy’s nose.. Bringing him around, Thank the gods.
Down below, indeed, the dark fin’s wake had swept Alphie under the waters, and down into the depths. He was holding his breath and struggling not to let himself gulp in the sea water. He was so far down, he could barely believe it – and his protective tattoos – magically scribed onto his skin, were working hard to keep him alive down this far. He was almost at the battleship,next to the mast of the great doomed vessel, and as he tumbled by, he grabbed hold and was able to pull himself out of the wake of that horrible great beast. It was cooler down here, and all around, there were waving giant sea plants down around the ship, and strange fishes and sea flowers that were stirred up by the motions of that great beast. He watched the dark fin somehow slowly vanishing from sight, as it dove deeper where the water was more murky.
The power of the tattoos was strong, but wouldn’t last long, unfortunately, for one so young. The one that was glowing now was in the shape of the full moon, and its glow showed that he didn’t have long.. “Stars Preserve me!” Something that Gordy and their old nurse, Vira, had always said in times of crisis, went through his head. For the moment, he was ok, but at this depth, he only had a few minutes.
“What am I going to do.. “ The thought rolled through his head, as he sought desperately for some option. The pressure was getting to him, even with the magic, and trying to force him to give up his breath. He swam downwards towards the old ship’s cabins, and he thought, maybe if he was lucky, there might be air in one of those cabins, trapped for so many years.
He yanked open a port hole and wiggled his way inside, and was surprised to see what looked like old wooden wine casks floating against the roof. He grabbed one, and found what looked like a belaying pin nearby and stove off the tap that was in the lid, and air bubbled out!
He put the hole to his mouth, and tasted what was like sour wine tainted air, from a long time ago – but it was air, however stale. He filled his lungs, and rested a moment, his heart hammering. The magic of the tattoo seemed to stabilize with the fresh infusion of air, but he knew the magic wouldn’t last forever.
But there were other tattoos he had – others that he’d never used before. Gordy had started his training, but it was so recent, that they had barely gotten past meditation aspect, and into practical applications. But part of it was, he had to be strong enough to use the magic, too. He looked over the lines etched on his arms and saw one that caught his eye, one that looked like a mermaid of sorts, with a tail, with pointed ears. It was a sea-elf, or so the old retainer had told him, speaking of a magical clan of the creatures that was indebted to the Isle Crown. He recalled some of his preliminary training, and the image seemed to move on his skin. He remembered Gordy’s words, and those of his father’s – “If you try to use a tattoo, and you’re not strong enough, it’ll burn you bad. But always have faith in yourself, and in your abilities, and follow your heart – that’ll never lead you wrong. “
He had little choice. So he placed his fingers on the tattoo, and cleared his mind of everything he could, save the beating of his heart. It thumped and thudded in his ears, as his hair wafted and swirled around his head, like the sea plants that surrounded the ship.
He lifted his face to the surface, and tapped the tattoo in sequence, as he had seen his father do. Each tap of his finger on that tattoo was like sticking your finger in boiling water, but he had to endure the pain. He had to be that much stronger. He shouted out a burst of bubbles and willed the tattoo to life. There was a flash as several other tattoos linked to the Sea-Elf lit up on his arms and legs and waist, and there was a burst of light in front of him, displacing the water with a burst of bubbles and currents of water.
A blue-skinned handsome creature had appeared, with hair that was as lush and long as Alphie’s. The male Sea Elf had sinewy muscles and skin had hints of scales in places, and piercings in various places on his chest, lips and ears. He was naked except for a tight groin-hugging loin-cloth made of some metallic like material that shimmered in the watery depths . His arms were covered in green fluorescent tattoos, that seemed to pulse, and he had amazing lavender eyes that were wide and slanted and almost seemed cat-like. He had these amazing pointed ears, and a black pearl bound in a gold circlet on his forehead. He also had a belt with a knife and a conch shell dangling from it, and he had a staff with a spear-tip in hand.
He stared at the boy for a moment. Alphie stared right back.
The Sea Elf nodded, his thoughts seeming to enter into the prince’s mind, “I understand, “ the telepathic voice said. And with that, the Sea-Elf made sweeping gestures with his staff, and gurgled some strange bubbly words, and then a burst of light surrounded the two.
Gordy was frantic as he kept rowing in circles, in a search pattern, and Adrian was glancing over the opposite side of the boat, as the sun was nearly set, its short arc barley over the horizon in the far distance, partly hidden now too by the islands that were marking the edge of this sea.
And then they saw it.. A globe of lavender light about 8 feet in diameter surrounding Alphie and the Sea-Elf emerged from the ocean, like a giant bubble that didn’t pop when it surfaced. It bobbed on the water’s surface, and started gliding towards the boat with the old retainer. When it was close, the globe parted and Alphie stepped from its confines onto the boat, which rocked and the boy nearly pitched into the sea again on unsteady legs. But his brother helped, and Gordy was there too, reaching for him.
Gordy grabbed the boy and pulled him into a bearhug, squeezing him desperately tight, his face wet from tears of joy. “Stars and Oceans, boy! I’m .. I so glad – how did you survive! I thought the Dark Fin had eaten you!” And then the old man, remembering decorum and his manners, released the prince and then smiled, looking over towards the Sea-Elf and said in a formal tone. “Your assistance this day does your clan honor, and the debt to our nation is well paid for, Sea-Elf. Thank you for saving our Prince. “
The Sea Elf bowed, and smiled, and he spoke, in a strange, accented voice.
“I am honored to have rendered assistance to this one, this Prince Alphie. He showed courage, kept his wits, and great strength today. He will make a fine monarch for your people when his time comes. And that he was able to summon me for his aid, speaks that he will one day be a great Sea-Mage, as well. “
Adrian clapped his brother on the back, “Not bad for a scrawny runt like you, Alphie!” his brother said with a grin, and then hugged him as tight as Gordy had just done. Alphie embraced his brother back, and then pulled away, and then turned towards the Sea Elf. He bowed, and smiled, some telepathic conversation passing between the sea-elf and himself, perhaps.
But aloud he said, “I am in your debt, despite any other service you might have performed as part of the pact between our peoples. I will find some way to repay your assistance in the future. “
The elf winked at the two boys and slowly sank into the ocean, saying, before he submerged, “You are gracious and wise, young one, and I will be with you now for some time, to make sure you make it to shore in safety. Not meaning to disparage your man’s abilities, but the Dark Fin is still in the area, and I don’t want you to test your strength against that thing tonight. “
With a bravado that he didn’t quite feel in his bones, Alphie smiled and said, “I will be the one who is stronger if it comes back, but I’d rather not put that to the test tonight. Besides.. I’m starved.. Gordy, take us home. “
.Inhale. Creeper (Shiny Shabby)