*This is a sequel to the other ElvenFair stories.*
Stephen was jerked awake by a jolt from the boat and a clamour of voices. His eyes snapped open. “Wossat?” he slurred, squinting at the sudden burst of sunlight that had invaded his vision. A bucket of water sloshed over his head. Gyrin stood over him.
“Git up, Elven. We’re here, and ye need a bath. Ye’re as ripe as a jar of old pickles,” the old pirate ordered. Stephen scrambled to his feet, or at least tried to. His arm was caught fast by something, and he strained to pull it free. “Come on, boy, you . . . oh.” Gyrin trailed off. “It’s growin’ in, is it?”
“What is?” Stephen asked, panicked. He suddenly remembered the slit in his right armguard. “Oh, no,” he murmured, and looked down at his arm.
A single, long silvery blade had . . . grown out of his arm. “Oh . . . my . . .” the Elvenfair started, but the blade suddenly came loose from the wooden timber of the ship and he tumbled back into the water. A tingling sensation moved through his head -- no, through his hair, as he kicked his feet towards the surface. He didn’t seem to be moving anywhere! “Help!” he tried to scream, but it was lost in a woosh of bubbles as he was dragged down through the water.
Suddenly, a powerful hand came through, grabbed the back of his breastplate, and yanked him up to fresh air. He gasped in relief. A huge Efielan dock worker looked him in the eyes, and growled, “Don’t do a foolis thing like that again, little Elven-ran!”
Stephen looked around them. He, his pirate friend, and this man were all standing on a crowded harbour platform. Nobody had noticed him yet. He quickly realized that Gyrin and the dock worker were shielding him. Gyrin tossed him the cloak and hat. “Quick, get these on yerself. Yer hair’s silver as the metal of a self-respecting Sloveni’s sword,” he commanded, using another analogy. He seemed to be full of them, Stephen noticed, and slipped the cloak around his shoulders, hiding the blade and his hair. The hood shielded most of his face. He hoped it’d be enough.
When the dock worker had moved, Stephen whispered to Gyrin, “So . . . that’s what the slit in the armor was for. Is there anythin’ else ye’d like to tell me?” A frown creased his hidden forehead.
“Well, ye’d probably like to see a mirror. We’ll get us an inn and some good drink, then we’ll figure it out from there. Oh, and before I forgets, this is Sire Attali. He’s an . . . acquaintance of mine, from Giride,” Gyrin said, pointing at the “dock worker”. The term “Sire” was the typical title given to an Giridian over the age of thirty, symbolizing their manhood. The suffix that Sire Attali had used for Stephen -- “-ran” -- was for any person younger than than. Usually it was attached to names, but Gyrin had apparently not given Stephen’s name to Attali. That was good.
His Sloveni companion interrupted his train of thought. “Well, young master, will ye be comin’, or would ye rather stand there an’ get killed wi’out me?” Gyrin was already walking towards the main town, following Attali. The young Elvenfair took off after them.
Soon, Attali had checked them into a shady-looking tavern and subtly taken his leave. “Hm. He seems to go where he pleases. So, Gyrin didn’t pay him?” Stephen asked himself. He looked around. They sat in a dirty room, about twenty feet long on all sides, with two beds and a grimy table. Wonderful. “Ye said something about drinks?” he asked Gyrin.
Gyrin chuckled. “Aye, that I did. The Rusty Bucket (don’t ask who came up with such a daft name) has the best grog and beer in all of Efiel. Believe me, I’ve tried all the others. It don’t look much, but what it lacks in ‘cleanliness’, it makes up for in . . .” The old pirate trailed off. “Er . . . well, ye’re a little too young fer that word.” He led the way out of their room, taking the key with him. Stephen followed quickly.
Down in the tavern, it was a . . . well, a hellhole. Glass bottles flew through the air, men stumbled back and forth in fights, and serving girls were dancing on the tables . . . and other things. Most likely to get the customers to buy more drink. Stephen retched and averted his eyes, having been brought up in a respectable family.
Gyrin led the young Elvenfair to a table in a back corner, expertly dodging and blocking punches thrown at the two of them as they went. A mug of ale crashed into the wall right behind Stephen’s head. “Well, it certainly is . . . different,” he muttered to Gyrin. The pirate gave a great shout of laughter.
“Aye, that it is, boy! Oi! Waitress! Two of the finest, if’n ye please!” he yelled at the nearest barmaid. She nodded and took off, moving through the crowd as quickly as if she weren’t surrounded by people at all. “Ye can take yer hood off now, lad. Nobody’s lookin’,” he said out of the side of his mouth. Stephen started to take the entire cloak off, but Gyrin stopped him. “Just the hood. That fire of your’n would make fer conversation.” Stephen nodded, and slipped off the covering, exposing his silver-white hair. It glittered slightly in the candlelight from the table.
The waitress returned with two mugs of what Stephen assumed was beer. Her eyebrows raised slightly at his hair, but didn’t say anything about it. “Here’s your drinks, good sirs. Would ye like some food to go wi’ that, or would that be all?” she asked Gyrin. The pirate waved his hand, shooing her away with the beer pouring down his throat. He downed it halfway, then slammed the mug back down.
“That’s good, it is!” he exclaimed. “Nae, that’ll be it.”
“All good.” She winked at Stephen. “We should talk sometime, sweet! I’ve never met an Elvenfair.” Her blonde hair flashed around as she turned back to the bar. Stephen felt his face grow slightly red.
“Stay away from tha’ one, Stephen. She’s no good, take me word fer it,” Gyrin advised.
“Aye, I got that.” Stephen took a gulp of his drink. It really was a well-brewed beer, and he quickly finished it off. Sailor’s tendencies, he said to himself, sarcastically. A thought occured to him. “Gyrin, if I’m following ye, and taking orders from ye, that makes me a pirate.” A sly grin flitted across his face.
The Sloveni thought for a moment, then gave a bark of laughter. “It does that, doesn’t it?” he chuckled. “An’ that makes me a captain again! Well, first mate Whyplash, what’re we to do now, d’ye think?”
Stephen hesitated, then turned back in the direction of the bar. “Barmaid! Over here, if ye please!” he called. The flirtatious blonde made her way back over to their table, ducking a man thrown over her and moving her tunic and leggings to avoid a large puddle of . . . something.
“How can I help ye this time?” She grinned at Stephen, and he blinked. She giggled.
Gyrin quickly took over. “We’d like a bit o’ information,” he said. She pouted slightly at the old, grizzled figure, but nodded. It wasn’t uncommon for customers in this town to ask for some sort of information. “But first, boy, go check a mirror. I know ye’re dyin’ to,” he said out of the side of his mouth. Stephen hurried towards the stairs.
He made it upstairs without being hit by something, which was an accomplishment in and of itself. The moment he reached their innroom, he caught sight of a dusty mirror he hadn’t noticed before. It was hanging on the wall, and quite large. He quietly locked the door. Nobody could see that way. Stephen whipped off his cloak, blew on the mirror to clear the dust, and gasped.
He. Was. Not. Stephen.
His hair was fully silver, and already down to his shoulders. He couldn’t believe he didn’t notice the tingling sensation in it before, but now as he touched it, he could FEEL it. His eyes were even brighter than before. A lighter shade had taken the skin on his face, and as he held up his arm, he saw the silvery blade reflected in the mirror. His other arm was still lit aflame. With the golden armor, he looked like something out of a fairy-tale or tale-epic. Actually, now that he thought about it, he was.
He quickly flung the cloak back on and headed back downstairs to where Gyrin and the barmaid sat speaking quietly. “. . . and that’s the last I saw of ‘im,” she finished, as Stephen sat down. She looked at him and winked again. “Well, ‘ello, Sioren!” she exclaimed cheerfully.
Gyrin interrupted. “Sioren’s an Elven enchantment master from one o’ them old tales. Take no heed. Naow, ye shifty girl, tell me associate here what ye told me,” he grunted at the informant.
She shrugged off the last jab at her person and started right away. “Well, a couple weeks ago, an old man in a dark cloak comes in here, and doesn’t order nothing. I walks over to him, and says, ‘Wouldn’t ye like anything to drink?’ ‘Nae,’ says he. ‘I’m here fer me own business.’ An’ me, bein’ as nosy as I am, says, ‘An’ what would that be?’ Then ‘e gets all angry-like, knocks a saltshaker to the ground, and yells somethin’ crazy: ‘It’s mine, I tell ye! The medallion’s me own!’ So, ‘e stormed out and I never saw him again. My name’s Ciena, by the way . . .”
“That’s enough,” Gyrin interrupted. “He doesn’t need yer name. Is that it?”
She huffed slightly. Stephen thought it was kind of cute . . . he cut his thoughts off right there. That’s enough, he told himself. Gyrin said she’s bad to be around, so she is.
“Aye, that’s it,” Ciena finished. “Might I show ye to a room now, sirs?”
“Nay, we’ve already got one,” Stephen quickly replied.
She didn’t leave them, though. “I still haven’t heard ye’r name, handsome!” she pestered. Stephen rolled his eyes, then paused. New look, new name, he reasoned.
Finally, he relented. “Go ahead and call me Sioren,” he whispered, so Gyrin wouldn’t hear. The old pirate wasn’t even paying attention and was walking off towards the stairs. Stephen bowed gracefully and turned to follow his mentor-as-of-now.
I love fiction, fantasy, roleplaying, and reading. Nice to meet you too. All of my tales are little kid-friendly, except perhaps a few stories in the Rogue Captain universe. Those are more geared towards teens. Check with your parents, just in case.