A Once Distant Memory Chapter 13

Prelude to Zeal

By Shaun Curran

"I'll take this as a good omen," I muttered as the ship bounced lazily on the water. It wasn't completely calm; that would be called dead calm by my standards, for we had no other method of propulsion other than the sails.

"I suppose I should, too," said Shikeo. "In about a half an hour, we'll see the shoreline of Zeal." I was happy; the clouds were plentiful around here, which told me that either we would be getting a rainstorm or the floating continent of Zeal was up ahead.

It was the latter; about fifteen minutes later I could make out the underbelly of the continent of Zeal. I was quite happy. I suppose I should have been leery, for ten minutes later a large obtuse object appeared above us and cast its dark shadow over our boat.

The Blackbird.

A humming sound drew my attention to Magus, who was getting the Armageddon Cannon ready for firing.

"Magus!" I shouted," don't do it! The Cannon will wipe out the Blackbird!"

"And," added Shikeo," it will fall on us." Magus looked at me and nodded.

"So what do we do?"

I had to act fast. I looked around for any kind of object that would allow us to get aboard the Blackbird. And then the shots hit us.

The Armageddon Cannon fired salvo after salvo at our ship. The tiny Doreen quivered and shook as a direct result of her manhandling. Over the railing went Shikeo, who had been standing by the edge of the railing when the first shots struck.

"Shikeo!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. But my cry fell upon deaf ears; Shikeo hit the water with a splash. A few seconds later, right where Shikeo had fallen in, a shot from the Armageddon Cannon landed and exploded. I cringed.

"No!" I shouted at the wake from the shot. I was sopping wet and cold.

I turned to the Blackbird again, fire and determination in my eyes. My gaze shifted downward to three or four extension hooks primarily used to anchor the ship to a dock. A smile formed on my lips. I turned to Magus who had suddenly appeared next to me.

Ten minutes later we had four hooks directly attached to the underbelly of the Blackbird. Well, not exactly the underbelly, but more to the side, where we could grasp onto the railings. Magus went up first and no sooner had I set foot on the deck than the entire plan went to hell in a handbasket.

Magus clashed his sword against Dalton's while he ordered me to get the cripes out of the way or else I would end up being spiked into the sea. I complied; I doubt a fifty to a hundred foot fall is good on the nerves or the body. Kamus was occupied with Quelchen so I decided to look around some hatchways and see if Schala was around. I opened the door and stepped in.

And backed out even faster. I didn't know what the heck I had done; a large creature came rushing for me. I stepped aside and the creature lunged at me. I ducked, hoping he would go easy on me, and I heard a splash as the creature hit the water, having launched itself off the ship.

"Idiot," I muttered. I turned around and ducked. Something swung at me, and whatever it was, a scythe, an ax, struck and lodged itself into a thick piece of wood. The creature that was holding it resembled the same one I had just ducked, but at least I could get a good look at it. It was well over six feet tall and weighed more than I did, so I got out my sword.

And dropped it as the creature slammed its boot into my arm. I fell in pain, right on top of the healing pendant that Melanchior gave me. The creature gave me a vicious kick to the arm and I waited to be thrown overboard.

But somehow that kick never connected; the creature leapt back, howling in pain. I looked at the pendant; it disintegrated from too much use. I gave it the benefit of the doubt; that kick could have probably killed me. I rose, picking up my sword, and walked over to where the creature was still thrashing. I did a long cut across the creature's neck. Its eyes went wild and then it was still. I then ran along the hatchway to the door I had left opened.


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