That I Aspire For
I was let out of the bag after Hook and his crew had carried me aboard his ship and taken off to the skies. Still in chains and surrounded by a pretty nasty looking bunch of pirates. I sat quietly in the center of the deck close to the mainmast to try and stay out of the way as much as possible while they worked at turning us toward our destination in the east. It wasn’t in any way related to a fear someone would toss me overboard if I went to look over the railings, nope not at all.
For a guy who could possibly make demons turn tail and run, Hook was a good leader, equal parts of skill and fear he had his men moving on his calls instantly while he stood up by the helm steering the wheel while calling out his orders. I almost felt like I was in the middle of a pirate adventure ride at a mouse-led theme park.
“Put yer backs into it mateys! We need to get there before the moon begins to set. Full sail and don’t you bilge rats spare any sail to keep her flowing in the wind!”
There was a slight jerk of the ship as we accelerated and took off. I was actually quite surprised with how fast this ship was seemingly going. The wind blowing across the deck gave testament that we were most likely reaching speeds that a ship like this normally would cry in shame wishing it could.
“Sixty-five knots, Captain!”
“Get us to seventy, Mister Smee!”
Now I wish I knew what ship speeds were in comparison to normal travel. That sounds stupid fast for a ship like this. I felt the lurch of the ship starting to increase in speed yet again, struggling to hang on to the mast as the crew all around me also braced themselves.
Was being on deck really the safest thing to do with these ridiculous speeds? I’m pretty sure we just passed over a hundred kilometers an hour a short while ago judging how fast the clouds were floating past us. Glancing back, Captain Hook seemed to be standing perfectly fine, his coat barely flapping in the wind as he steered the ship.
I decided my best place to stay was here plastered against the mast and watching the rest of the crew work and struggle against the speeds we were reaching. I had only flown a few times on a plane before, but this was its own kind of experience since the ship still felt like it was bobbing and sailing in the water. What kind of magic does Captain Hook have on his ship?
Magic, oh right… It was about this time I realized something else about this whole scheme. Was this some plan of Violet’s? I was supposed to be locked away where no one else could find me or contact me. Was this her whole plan? To have me work with this guy even after she had warned me about his bloodthirsty vengeance? I had a feeling I was missing something important in all of this. But my gut was telling me that I was on the right track for the moment.
I guess there was one good thing about being half terrified and worrying about getting betrayed and tossed overboard to splat on the ground. The trip seemed all the shorter for it, I’m not even sure how far we had gone, though a later check of my watch said only a couple of hours had passed.
As the ship began to drift down toward the land, the men dropped the sails and started preparing for a stop as the ship lightly floated just above the tops of the surrounding trees, we were likely still seven or eight meters in the air. Hook walked toward me with a deep smile. Snapping his fingers one of the more nimble looking crewmen came over with a set of lockpicks and beginning to undo the chains I had been trapped in for the majority of the evening. He stood there watching me while the first manacle was unlocked.
I could feel some of my magic returning and flexed my hand with a grimace. It was almost like my blood circulation had been cut off, tingling feelings like pins and needles running up my arms as the mana started to flow in my body again. He laughed watching me try to deal with my “sleeping limbs” as each one was released.
“This is as far as I’m going to take you, Pagemaster. I’m pretty sure you can handle the rest from here. I want to have a good front row seat to you fighting your friends and the royal guards. Just so you can have your good little story.”
“Thank you, Captain. Even if we are not friends I am grateful to your aid.”
Once the last of the chains were unlocked, I bowed my head slightly in thanks. He didn’t answer back and motioned me to walk with him to the port side of the ship. Looking over the side he pointed out the dark castle sitting half a kilometer away.
I think bleak and gothic aren’t enough words to describe this castle. There was this impending sense of despair and weariness that exuded an almost palpable smell like bad eggs in yakitori. Half the towers were nearly collapsed or falling apart in various stages of ruin, I’m not sure if this was from the Queen’s hostile takeover or if the castle had been in such disrepair for a while now.
“That’s your destination. Convince her to show up on the morrow and you might have a chance at being the hero for your friends at least. Until we meet again, Pagemaster!”
I was turning to look at him when someone grabbed me by my ankles and flipped me up and over the side of the railing. I could hear the crew laughing as I dropped toward the ground. Twisting my body I aimed feet first and gathered magic into the soles of my feet. A quick blast of air arrested my downward fall enough that I could land without injury. Looking back toward the ship I heard the crew giving me a round of applause before falling back into line as Captain Hook started shouting orders to return to the capital.
I stood and watched quietly as the ship made a lazy U-turn and began to rise into the sky, gathering more speed as the sails lifted back up and caught the winds. Even though I knew I’d likely be seeing him in a few hours, it was going to be way too soon for me. That man is not someone I want to be on their bad side. Or perhaps, since he supposedly hates me already, his worse side.
Turning toward the castle I set out in a light jog, I was close enough I didn’t think I had to hurry that much, and I could feel some signs of mental fatigue starting to creep up on me. Maybe I should have tried to sleep while I had the chance in that cell. Shaking my head slightly and giving my arms a big swing to psych myself up a little as I keep the easy pace going.
Dropping me off this far out had another problem I needed to be wary of. We’d not encountered any monsters yet but so close to an evil castle, even I’m not optimistic enough to think I could get away that much longer without an encounter. And true to my thoughts, I spied something leaping out of the bushes to cut off my path.
A trio of hobgoblins brandishing spears at me. I could see murder in their eyes so I doubted they could be talked down. Well, I had some frustrations to vent out and semi-intelligent monsters were starting to sound like a good outlet to cut loose with. Reaching out with my hand I called forth my short sword and crouched down at the ready.
I hadn’t quite gone all out with Vi or Red. The objective wasn’t to kill or win, I didn’t want to hurt the only real people I know. Nor did I want to hurt people who seem to be real humans even if they are just stories. Maybe it’d be different if they really want to kill me, I don’t know how I’d defend myself then. If killing would be something I could bring myself to do.
Vi told me I could fight with knights and win, and if she hadn’t been there I probably could have escaped the castle without hurting anyone seriously. Opening myself up to the power of the wind I prepared to strike when I noticed a shadow creeping up from behind. It looks like there was a fourth one to deal with. Cool, let’s test out my trump card.
Turning around, my speed and reflexes went off the chart as I narrowly dodged the green tinted dagger thrown at my back. Was that poisoned? Ok, maybe I should be more careful here. I’m alone and no one I trust knows where I am.
Leaping forward I slashed diagonally at the Hobgoblin Assassin that was looking quite surprised at my sudden burst of movement. A look of surprise that never left his face as he died instantly from my attack, half of his head and part of his left shoulder falling off sideways. Maybe I was overdoing it?
Turning to face the other three, they gave an angry cry and screeched, charging as one unit toward me. A couple of months ago I’d probably have turned tail and run. But now that I had a better idea of what I was actually capable of there wasn’t any reason to be afraid anymore.
Shifting my feet I slid to the side and parried all three of their spears with one swing of my sword, knocking them all away as they all cried in surprise at the overwhelming strength I now possessed. Only a couple of moments left before it expires. Moving forward and using their collective moment of weakness I struck one down with my sword in a flash of movement even I had difficulty following.
My fist collided with another, launching him into a tree, I heard the sound of bones cracking as the monster fell to the ground and never moved again. The third one had managed to recover and attempted to prepare to parry my blade holding its spear parallel to its chest. Thanks to red’s help My blade was now sharper than most normal blades I easily cut his spear in half and removed his head from his shoulders.
In a matter of a minute and a half, I’d slain four hobgoblins like they were level one, one HP critters in an MMO. Though unfortunately, they didn’t vanish away like the critters in MMOs, their bodies remaining laying on the ground leaking blood and organs all over the ground. Ugh, that smells so bad…
I tried not to breathe too deeply, walking around the corpses and setting back toward the castle. I didn’t bother with looting or dealing with them. I felt slightly bad about it, But I was fairly certain something else would clean up my mess pretty soon after I leave.
I could feel the effect of |Thousand Percent| wearing off and my body starting to ache a bit. The kickback from using that power was having to deal with the exhaustion of doing what I did as if I had done it ten times. Fortunately, a few sword swings weren’t going to completely exhaust me. I probably didn’t even need that much power but I wanted to at least know what ten times my normal power is.
It seemed that blood and smell of fresh meat were attracting most of the monsters toward my little encounter point, nothing else seemed to be jumping out to get me as I made my way to the castle drawbridge. Stopping as I took in the sights I sighed and girded myself for the upcoming situation. Convince a Dark Fairy Queen to come with me to curse a Princess, should be a grindingly tough and difficult task with a lot of problems to make me earn it right? Wink wink… Nudge nudge?