Fire on Water | Fiction

Here’s a bit of fiction I wrote on my lunch break. Just a scene from something larger that’s been flocculating in my mind. Hope you enjoy!

Del looked at the lantern on his table wishing that he wasn’t forbidden by the ship’s hydromancer from doing magic while at sea. He was used to not being able to use any magic. Technically speaking he was only allowed to use magic while at the Academy, but this restriction wasn’t so suffocating on land. On warm, dry land where there was a sun overhead or fires in a nearby hearth. The thought only reminded him of how far from shore they were. It felt like ages since he’d come aboard when in fact it had only been half a day or so. It was just half a day on a cold ship in the middle of the sea was driving him slightly mad, like he was already drowning.

“Captain wants you up above.” A gruff deckhand yelled from what he estimated was a safe distance.  Del rose slowly, compensating for the gentle heave and sway of the ship around him. It was only a day long trip from Sel Buod to Sel Pirt, but every moment of it had been taxing. Del didn’t like the moist sea air, and though it was slightly drier in the pitch soaked timbers below deck, the smell and rocking made him slightly nauseous.

Del walked slowly hoping to avoid tripping in the dark which he had done more than once on the trip so far. If there was one thing he hated more than being isolated, damp and sea-sick, it was the very real threat of making a spectacle of himself. People with an affinity for pyromancy were heavily encouraged to tread lightly. Contrasting the bombastic passion of the fire they channel, pyromancers had always been cautioned from making a scene. They were looked down upon enough in the Kingdom of Sel and surely any attention threatened swift retribution.

He rounded the corner to the stairs of the upper deck and noticed a pink glow from above. Forgetting his sickness, he rushed forward hoping, however strangely, that the ship might be on fire before reminding himself that drowning was a less desired outcome of this trip. Instead he stood on deck as the waning sun lit the sky and water on fire with flamboyant oranges and pinks.

For the first time since setting foot on the ship, he felt a small measure of solace. He quickened his pace without realizing it and headed to the helm of the ship where the grizzled captain and his placid hydromancer stood.

“You wanted to see me, uh Captian?”

“Just wanted to make sure you hadn’t decided to light the ship on fire.” He said with a wink. He was a tanned coarse man meant for the sea with a friendly belligerence that, if Del had encountered under other circumstances wouldn’t have hated.

“No sir.” Del said avoiding the captain’s gaze and dry sense of humour.

“Just checking. We’ll be coming in earlier than we thought. You have Cya to thank for that.”

“Thank you.” Del said obediently, despite her condescending attitude towards him when he got onboard. The forced gratitude went unnoticed by the hydromancer who was too busy concentrating on the propulsion of the ship. Her hands rolled slowly over the air in front of her as though she was moving them through molasses. Del knew that it was part of the incantation. She was quelling any ripples around them while hastening the ship through the water. If he didn’t dislike the hydromancers so much, he would’ve probably found the motion soothing.

“Your school likely won’t have anyone there to pick you up until morning. You can stay onboard overnight as long as we’re in port or…” Del didn’t even need to know what the ‘or’ was to find it the more favourable option. “…there’s an inn just off the dock. It’s not much, but it’ll probably be better for everyone if you stay there.”

“Thank you.” Del repeated despite the unflattering explanation of the second option. Being untrusted was better than the looks of derision that he got from the rest of the crew. Still, the captain seemed to treat him, a pyromancer, with a little more respect than most had. Most others would hardly have made port before kicking him off, so the illusion of choice in the matter was refreshing.

“Don’t mention it.” He said, staring off into the distance, “Seriously. If the crew thinks I’m warming to lighters like you, they’d mutiny.”

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