“His body changed back. Why hasn’t he woken up yet?” Finn wondered aloud. Arven was leaning up against the railing. It had been nearly a day and a half since Arve passed out. Every once in a while, Arven would wake up and vomit. They wouldn’t really call that conscious though.
“I can’t believe that kid is actually an adult. Who knew he was twenty three?” Aijun shook his head in bewilderment.
Arven stood suddenly and faced his head over the railing. He was vomiting straight into the ocean. Finn patted his back until Arven stopped vomiting. They didn’t even know what was causing Arven to be so sick. Was it permanent? Or just a bad flu? They had no idea.
“So… is his magical profanity sea sickness?” Adrik grumbled angrily. Ever since Emma joked about the word “magical profanities”, Adrik refuses to use any other word. It probably makes him feel more secure about himself. Profanities couldn’t be spread like a curse could.
“What? Oh, never mind. Arven? Are you alright?” Emma asked. She was standing at the helm, with her hands on wheel. It didn’t do much though. Collectively, they had less navigation skills than Arven did. And that was saying a lot.
Arven had resumed his spot on the ship deck. His eyes were open, and he was breathing heavily. His eyes narrowed in on Adrik. Arven pulled out his sword and stood up all in one smooth movement. He was about to charge at Adrik when Aijun blocked his path.
“What are you doing?” Aijun inquired. The eyes of Jonathan glowed through though.
“So the wolf boy has a thing for the garbage?” Arven stumbled forward and used his sword to steady himself.
Arven was baiting Adrik, Why? What was the point of trying to get on someone’s nerves while on such a small boat? Arven smiled and leaned in toward Aijun.
“Or is it you with the feelings, Mr. Assassin?”
“Arve! What the hell happened?” Finn barked. He figured it out. This attitude didn’t belong to Arven. It belonged to the kid. Arve threw his head back and groaned. He nearly threw his weak body off balance.
“Figured it out so soon? What was it? Was I too straight forward for an adult?” Arve sat back down against the railing. He put away his sword and took a deep breath.
“So he’s a kid in an adults body! I understand this magical profanity now.” Adrik smiled excitedly. Aijun hid his smile with the sleeve of his coat pocket. Maybe there was hope for Adrik yet.
“No. I’ll go back to normal at midnight. I used the magical energy from my curse to boost that potion. Arven always tells me not to, but it is the most effective way to get a lot of magical power in a short amount of time.” Arve explained. He had done this in the past with similar results.
The ocean breeze brushed his hair back and he smelled the mix of salt and sand. The sun beat down on a hot summer day of Meolin. They were just off the coast, Arve was sure of it. He pushed himself back up and stared out at the sea.
“We’re still in Meolin waters? Shouldn’t we be half way past Cape Rilitte by now?” Arve looked around at the people on his ship. They looked at him like he was crazy, and burst out laughing. It was the funniest thing ever.
“We can’t navigate. What do we look like? Maps?” Finn clutched his stomach from the laughter. It was funny because here they were: A princess, a guardsman, an assassin, and a sergeant, and none of them could navigate at all.
Arve waved them off and took the wheel from Emma’s hands.
From the sun, Arve could tell it was past noon. The sun set in the west, and they were headed east. Arve would just follow the sun until the West star came out. Checking a compass to make sure of his direction, he set the boat on an eastward path.
“Did you think riding with me was cheaper than taking ship with someone else?” Arve asked. He looked at peace while standing at the helm of the ship. He could read the waves and the wind patterns as if they were a second language to him. Nothing was more simple to him than the ocean. When everything was a mess, he could always count on the steady ocean waves to stay constant.
“You were unconscious for a day and a half. Should we have just left you?” Finn mumbled back. He was staring intently at his sword handle. The itch was getting stronger.
The more times he pulled the sword from his belt, the shorter the time it took for the itch to return. Every time the itch became more persuasive. Finn thought maybe the monster would behave itself around friends. He could let it out of a little bit, couldn’t he? No. That was the monster speaking. It must have been the monster edging him on.
“I’ve been through worse.” Arve shrugged. He peeked over the helm to watch Finn play with the sword handle. An evil idea fell into his mind like it was destined to be.
Arve handed controls back over to Emma now that they were at least headed in the somewhat right direction. He skipped over to Finn with Arven’s body. Happy as rain, Arve bent down to meet Finn in the eye.
“Is someone feeling a bit restless?” Arve laughed and grabbed the sword from Finn. He unsheathed it before Finn could even get a word of protest in. Arve through the sword back to Finnigan, and pulled out his own in challenge.
This fight was going to be just the entertainment Arve needed to keep busy until midnight reset him.
“Arve! Why would you let him out with everyone on the boat like this?” Emma scolded. She wanted to stop this before it got any further, but was stuck at the helm. She didn’t have the sailing confidence to leave the wheel of the ship for even a moment.
Aijun and Adrik both made their way up to the helm. Neither of them really knew what this was about, but knew better than to get in the way.
Finnigan smiled, fangs and all. His eyes were black and the marks swirled and entangled his body. Those puppet strings kept Finn from fighting back. It was like he was there, watching everything from behind a glass wall.
Arve took the first dive with his sword. Finnigan dipped and countered again. The pattern continued flawlessly until Arve changed the rhythm. Instead of retreating and attacking, it became attacking and then retreating. This pattern went on until Arve’s footwork started to get a little messy.
He was more tired than he realized. Finnigan remained at the same pace, but Arve was falling behind in their steps. Finnigan stepped forward as fast as ever, but Arve was too slow to counter properly. Arve ended up stepping to the side. A big no-no in royal fencing rules.
The monster took advantage of this moment to hit the handle of Arve’s sword. It knocked it from his grasp, and sent it sprawling a few feet away. Finnigan stood over Arve with the fangs hanging from his smile.
The boat hung in silent suspense. Emma, Aijun, and Adrik all stayed silent from their place on the helm.
“I am not a monster.” Finnigan whispered as he sheathed his sword and fell to the ground.
Arve let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. Those words echoed deep because in the past, Arve had said the exact same thing to others. What a thing to have to say. It echoed down his spine and rattled in his soul. I am not a monster, said the only monster he ever knew.
“What were you thinking? What if you had gotten yourself killed?” Emma came down and helped Arve up. Her eyes glinted anger, but her voice sounded soft. After Arve stood up, she dragged Finn up against the railing.
“News flash, can’t die. Besides, it was clear he needed it.”
“I like it. I like it a lot.” Adrik whispered. His hands were riding up Aijun’s arms as Ajiun leaned in to kiss him again.
They were in Aijun’s old house. He recognized it. The old wooden walls smelled of oak, just like he remembered. But the windows were dark and he couldn’t see any stars. None of that mattered right now because for some reason, Aijun Lin was in bed with Adrik, and he loved it.
“Say it to me.” Aijun was buried deep in emotions he hadn’t felt in years.
“I can’t.” Adrik groaned back. His body writhed underneath Aijun’s touch. Aijun ravaged Adrik’s lips again, and allowed his voice to get even more ragged.
“Say it,” Aijun begged.
There was no voice in Aijun’s head. It was as if Jonathan had disappeared forever. And thank god he did. Aijun was glad he didn’t have to deal with that pesky werewolf anymore.
“I love you, Ai.” The voice said. What? It wasn’t Adrik. It couldn’t be. Adrik certainly didn’t love him. And even if it was Adrik, how were they in his house? They had been on a ship for nearly two days.
Aijun hurled himself off the bed. The thing on the bed wasn’t Adrik anymore. It was green and slimy. It had long seaweed hair and a salty ocean stench wafting into his sensitive werewolf nose. The creature hissed and reached for him. The picture of his house began to rip and fall apart before his eyes.
“Aijun! You have to wake up!” The kid was there, in his dream. He stared at Arve as he banged on an invisible barrier between them.
Arve’s image was faded, and Aijun couldn’t see anything past the barrier besides Arve. The creature had started to crawl after him. With its pale green skin, and bony structure, the creature was a true nightmare.
It’s mouth display sharp yellow teeth, and long discolored nails. It reached for Aijun again, and managed to snag his coat. The thing pulled at it and Aijun fought against it. He reached for his knife, but it was gone. He never went without his knife.
The creature let out a noise similar to that of a laugh as it closed in on its prey. The smell of rotten fish and salt invaded Aijun’s nose. There was no weapon he could fight with.
“Jonathan! Where are you?” Aijun screamed. The creature opened its crooked mouth to bite into Aijun’s shoulder, but Jonathan beat the creature back.
Aijun’s eyes glowed yellow, and his claws became sharp. Jonathan was finally able to wake up again, and out of fear, he fought against the creepy sea hag. Aijun felt the sigh of relief as Jonathan took control. They would be safe.
Jonathan grabbed the creature by the neck and threw it against the wall. It dissipated into a cloud of greenish gray dust. Panting, Jonathan looked around.
There were holes in the illusion around them. What remained was a tapestry of Aijun’s childhood home, mixed with black holes that the memory alone couldn’t fill. Had the creature not said what it said, and he wouldn’t be standing there admiring it.
Arve burst through the barrier separating them.
“Okay, so I may have accidentally steered us all into a bit of a mess.” He starts.