tagSci-Fi & FantasyQueen of the Isle

Queen of the Isle

byDarkniciad©

This is an official entry in the 2010 Literotica Summer Lovin' Contest. If found anywhere except Literotica.com with this note attached, this story is posted without my permission. © Copyright Darkniciad

****

The sun rode high in the sky, nearing its zenith, and the heat made the moist air feel thick. Not even the breeze of the ship running at full sail could disperse the stifling heat. Thakkor shook his head to release drops of sweat clinging to his eyebrows and short brown beard, drinking in the day despite the uncomfortable weather.

Sweat beaded upon the sun-browned skin of his young bride as well, dampening her golden hair, but not her spirits. Alicia felt his gaze and looked over at him, wearing a heart-stopping smile. A moment later, she rolled her eyes when his attention fell upon her blouse clinging to her breasts.

Thakkor chuckled. "Sorry. Can't help it."

Alicia laughed and gave him a playful slap. Though married for nearly three years, the couple had lost nothing of the passion that had brought them together. Neither was especially enamored of the close quarters of the ship that forced them to restrain that passion.

"Sorry we're going to have to spend our anniversary on ship," Thakkor said, running his fingers through his wife's hair.

Alicia shrugged. "It's not your fault. It just took longer to make it from the coast and back than we thought. We could hardly pass on such a price for easy escort duty."

Thakkor nodded in agreement. The job had consisted of little more than safeguarding a young noblewoman's virtue through a sail from Freeland to Agreseus, and a sedate trot next to her carriage inland. "I'll make up for it next year. I promise."

"You know that you don't have to do that."

"And you know that I want to. You deserve it." He leaned in and kissed her forehead.

Alicia let out a contented sigh. "All I want for our anniversary is to be with you."

"Sure you don't miss your old life?" It was a question he'd asked of her more than once over the years. Alicia had grown up the pampered daughter of a wealthy trader — a merchant princess — and the life of a sellsword at his side was a far cry from her upbringing.

"A little — at times — but I'm happier than I ever dreamed of." She reached out and stroked her fingers over the back of his hand. "I admit that I've been dreaming of a little pampering for weeks now, ever since you told me that you'd arranged for us to spend our anniversary at Osterfayre."

"Well, if the wind cooperates and we ride hard, we can still spend a couple of days visiting Gwen."

Alicia smiled, memories of her friend and mentor washing over her. Other than her husband, no other meant more to her. "She will look like a little storm cloud, pouting that we weren't there for our anniversary. I'm sure she had something extravagant planned."

Thakkor nodded toward the horizon. "Speaking of storm clouds. It looks like one is trying to sneak up on us."

"Oh no," Alicia groaned, knowing that her stomach was going to protest the rocking of the ship that the storm was sure to bring.

"At least it will be cooler until we need to get below and out of the way."

"Small comfort."

"These summer storms blow by quick."

"I hope so."

Thakkor wrapped his arms around her from behind and turned her eyes away from the approaching storm clouds.

****

Though it lasted only a little longer than an hour, the storm seemed far longer to the two passengers below deck. Only holding on to the bolted down furniture kept the wind and swells rocking the ship from mercilessly hurling the couple about the cabin. The shouts of the sailors were only audible when emerging from directly overhead, and even then, the words were unintelligible.

Finally, the crashes of thunder moved away, and the violent lurching of the ship settled into a more sedate rocking.

Holding Thakkor's hand in her own while clinging to the bed with the other, Alicia asked, "Do you think it's over?"

"Sounds like it." He nodded toward the ceiling above. "Good thing they know what they're doing. That was a pretty bad blow."

"Do you think it's safe to go up on deck?"

"Probably. It is getting pretty stifling in here." Thakkor helped her to her feet and opened the door. "Let's go."

The captain was standing nearby, scanning the horizon with a spyglass, when Thakkor and Alicia emerged from below.

"Quite a ride," Thakkor said, and then chuckled.

The captain started and lowered the spyglass as he turned to face the couple. "Aye. No worse for the wear?"

"We're fine." Noticing that the man looked a little haunted, Thakkor asked, "Everything okay?"

"Blew us off course to the north a fair bit."

Alicia turned her eyes toward the retreating wall of lightning-streaked darkness. "A small price to pay for weathering such a storm."

"She's a sound old girl," the captain said, and then patted the railing in front of him affectionately. He then snapped his gaze to a small group of sailors near the bow of the ship. "If you'll excuse me." He made a beeline for the group without taking his eyes off them.

"Wonder what..."

A sailor shouting, "Look!" drowned Thakkor out and turned his attention to the sea. Something large, scaly, and ominous broke the surface of the water — far too close for comfort.

"Serpent! It's a serpent!"

Other sailors cried out as well, and all eyes scanned the rough surface of the water, seeking another glimpse of the monster. A tense minute later, it made another appearance, even closer to the ship.

"Damn." Thakkor turned to his wife. "Alicia..."

"My staff," Alicia agreed, knowing what he was going to say.

The magical staff had vast power, but each use drained it. Wise men had cautioned the couple to save its might for when it was truly needed. Thakkor nodded.

Now was such a time.

Alicia hurried down the stairs and into the cabin she shared with her husband. There she snatched up her bag and reached inside. Her arm vanished up to the elbow, the magic of the item defying the physical size of the satchel. With the four foot wooden staff in hand, she returned to the upper deck.

The sailors had gathered up whatever weapons they possessed, as well as pressing belaying pins and other common shipboard items into service. All watched the surface of the sea, and the tension was palpable.

"There!" someone shouted, and all eyes focused where the crewman's trembling finger indicated.

The sea serpent was charging toward the ship, its body undulating as it cut through the water with frightening speed.

Alicia aimed her magical weapon, but the monster was too close. Before she could speak the command word that would unleash the power of the staff, the sea serpent hit the ship.

Only Thakkor's quick reaction saved Alicia from falling overboard when the ship lurched from the impact. He grabbed his wife's arm in one hand and latched onto a cleat with the other. Two of the sailors — including the captain — were not so lucky. The first man flew over the rail with a terrified scream. The captain lost his grip on a rope and smashed into the rail before he too slipped over the side.

Thakkor had just enough time to look around for a rope to throw to the men in the water before the serpent struck again. Though powered by less speed, the impact of the scaly monster still caused a few men to lose their footing.

Now unguided, and still under sail, the ship sped away from the men in the water. Alicia could only watch in horror as the captain vanished, the sea foaming red as the monster devoured him. Her face tightened in determination, and she tracked the other sailor, who was swimming for his life away from the pool of blood.

The serpent must have dived and come upon the man from below, because Alicia saw no hint of it until it burst from the water, its teeth clamping down on the sailor. Alicia shouted a command, and a fireball roared from the end of her staff, bursting against the monster's hide.

The serpent barely reacted to the flaming projectile, and splashed back into the water to finish its gruesome feast. A second fireball did little more than attract the creature's attention. As soon as it gobbled up the unfortunate sailor, it turned toward the ship once more.

"Not good. Grab on to something," Thakkor warned.

Alicia's mind raced, and then suddenly latched onto equal parts of her study of magic and tales of fancy she'd read as a young girl. Praying that she had found the solution, she searched her memory for another command word.

The sea serpent shot toward the ship as though fired from a bow. Alicia aimed her staff and took a step forward, ignoring her husband's worried shout of alarm. A whoosh and a crackle accompanied the blue-white ball of electrical fury discharging from the staff. It streaked across the sky, skimming the waves, and burst in a brilliant flash of light as it slammed into the serpent.

The monster reared up from the water, its body contorting and twisting into knots as arcs of electricity danced around it. Its mouth opened wide, giving everyone on the ship a close-up look at its dagger-like teeth. Rather than roaring in pain, the sea serpent let out a loud series of clicks, the sound all the more horrifying because it was so alien.

The yellow eyes of the creature focused on Alicia when its thrashing calmed, as if it knew the source of its pain. Again the nerve-wracking clicks burst from the monster's throat as it bared its fangs.

Alicia's next ball of lightning struck the creature directly in its wide-open mouth.

The serpent reared again, only to crash back down with a great splash. The monster floated on the surface for a few of Alicia's rapid heartbeats, its body twitching, and then sank head first into the depths.

Alicia let out a sigh of relief and lowered her staff.

She had all of a second to relax before one of the sailors cried out, "We're taking on water!"

Two men lifted a hatch and looked down to determine how fast the water was rushing in. Thakkor nodded toward the stairs. "Let's see if we can do anything from this end."

Alicia followed her husband below and stopped when he did at a ladder descending into the bilges. One look at the rapidly rising water told her that the ship was doomed.

"Get back up on deck. I'll grab everything from the cabin."

Knowing that they would simply be in each other's way if they both went down, Alicia said, "Hurry," and turned back to the stairs.

The sailors had apparently come to the same conclusion about the damage to the ship, as some were hard at work salvaging what they could from the crew quarters while others prepared the longboats.

Thakkor emerged from below with his pack slung over one arm and Alicia's magical bag over the other. "Got everything. The water hasn't come up out of the bilges yet, but it will soon."

The last of the sailors climbed up from the crew quarters and hastened toward the longboats. Thakkor glanced at each boat, and tugged Alicia toward the one with the fewest men surrounding it.

Two of the seamen turned as Thakkor and Alicia approached, brandishing a marlinspike and belaying pin.

"It's you what brought this on us," one of the men snarled.

The other stabbed his makeshift weapon toward the couple. "Told the cap'n naught but ill would come of havin' a wench on board. Cursed us you have."

Thakkor's eyes narrowed and his hands balled up into fists. "It was Alicia's magic that killed that thing."

"Get back," the first sailor warned. "Maybe the Lady of the Sea will have mercy on us if we send you to her."

Thakkor growled and reached for the sword he'd belted on in the cabin. "You ungrateful..."

A gentle, yet trembling hand stopped him from drawing the weapon. "Thakkor. No."

The rest of the men continued readying the longboat, while the other boat splashed into the sea. "Alicia, this ship is going down."

"But we can't."

"Damn it. You're right."

As Thakkor's battle-ready muscles relaxed, the pulleys holding up the second longboat squealed, the rope running through them as the last hope of escape dropped over the side. The final two sailors turned as one and dived over the railing to join their fellows.

Thakkor turned to his wife. "Is there any magic that can get us off here?"

"I... I don't think so."

"We've got to figure something out." His eyes darted about the ship, and then focused on something off in the distance. "Land."

Alicia followed his gaze and indeed saw an island in the distance — too far in the distance. "The waves are still too violent from the storm. We'll never be able to swim that far."

"So let's get closer." Thakkor grabbed her hand and started toward the stairs that ascended to the ship's wheel.

"Can you sail it?" Alicia asked as she followed her husband.

"Well enough to point us toward that island. It's the only chance we've got."

The couple rushed up the stairs and Thakkor grabbed the wheel. "Okay old girl, time to show us your captain was right."

Groaning wood and booming sails punctuated the ship's bow swinging toward the trees. Alicia held her breath, her knuckles turning white from gripping the magical staff she still carried. The ship completed its turn, and Thakkor kept it on course.

Second by second, the island loomed larger. Moment by moment, the water rushed in. Alicia could feel the deck beneath her feet slanting to the stern.

The water was winning.

"C'mon," Thakkor growled, his eyes fixed on the palms ahead as if he could rope them with his gaze and tow the ship to salvation. "Dammit. If the wind was directly behind us..."

Alicia's eyes lit up and she lifted her staff. "Thakkor, hold on tight."

He glanced back over his shoulder. "Hmm? The staff?"

A nod answered his question, and Alicia spoke the command word that floated into her memory.

"Whoa!" Thakkor exclaimed as the wind slammed into him. A great boom sounded from the sails as they snapped taut, filled to capacity. The stern lifted, buoyed by the force of the wind pushing against it from just above the surface of the sea.

Alicia had to grab the railing to keep her balance as the ship hurtled forward. Somehow, she maintained her concentration, keeping the wind both supporting the sinking stern of the ship and filling the sails.

"If this doesn't uproot the mast or rip the sails right off, it might just do the trick."

Seeing the smile on his face, Alicia couldn't help but match it. She couldn't count how many times they'd shared this moment over the last three years. The rush — the thrill of danger. Despite the dire circumstances, Alicia felt alive as the ship sped toward the safety of land.

Waves broke over the bow of the ship, soaking the deck as the water continued to rush in below. The ship slowed, the weight of the water stealing even the power of the magical wind.

"Do you think we're close enough?"

"We're gonna have to be. Poor old girl has given us about all she's got." Thakkor let go of the wheel and grabbed his wife's hand. "Let's go take a swim."

****

Alicia coughed and rolled over on her back, breathing hard from the exhausting swim.

"You okay?"

Alicia nodded and asked, "You?"

"Other than having sand in my draws."

After several minutes of catching his breath, Thakkor sat up and looked out to sea. The waves were littered with debris from the ship, and the longboats were nowhere in sight.

Alicia sat up and leaned against him, smiling when he slipped an arm behind her. "What do we do now?"

"Well, we don't have to worry about shelter. We've got your tent. That takes care of food and water, too."

Like the staff and bag Alicia carried, the tent was magical. When she spoke the command word, the small sculpture expanded into a large, fully furnished tent, complete with a tub. It even kept the temperature comfortable inside and somehow manifested bread and dried meat each time it was summoned.

"But how do we get home?" She asked, nestling her head against his broad chest.

"We'll figure it out." He stroked her wet hair. "We should probably get it up. After that swim, we should take it easy in this heat."

Alicia looked around and located a spot beyond the beach that looked fairly level. "There?"

"Looks good to me."

A few seconds later, the tent expanded. Alicia stepped inside with a welcome sigh as the magically cooled air washed over her.

"Whew, this feels good," Thakkor remarked as he followed her. He turned to look outside. "Nice view."

Alicia joined him in the doorway of the tent and had to agree. The beach was pure white sand, leading down to beautiful blue water. Palms shaded the tent, rustling in the now sedate breeze. The storm clouds had moved on, replaced by far friendlier, puffy white cousins. Seagulls sailed overhead, calling to each other.

It would be a perfect spot to relax for a few days — if they weren't marooned.

Almost able to feel the salt crusting in her hair as it dried, she said, "I'm going to wash up and change."

"I'll go take a look around. Maybe I can find a good fishing spot or something." Thakkor gave her a quick kiss and headed back outside to explore.

Alicia fought the urge to soak in the tub and just washed away the salt drying on her body. As she reached into her magical bag for clean clothes, something fell into her hand. Though she knew what it was by the feel of the leather cover, she pulled it out anyway.

The spellbook had been her bane ever since she'd purchased it. Though she had learned quite a few useful spells, the more advanced ones within this book had all eluded her so far. She did know the descriptions of the magic and the wonders it could produce by heart, and turned to the page of one that demanded attention.

Farspeak — the ability to send one's voice to another across the miles. With it, she could contact anyone that she knew well. If she could speak to Gwen, she knew that her friend would convince the baron to rouse every resource of his lands to rescue them if necessary.

Alicia left the book open and laid it down on the bedside table so she could finish retrieving her clothing. Once dressed, she sat down on the bed and picked up the book. One of the things that had always hampered her in learning the complex magics of the tome was the limits of time. There was always another job to interrupt her studies — until now.

The current situation provided far more than time — it provided purpose. With that firmly in mind, she focused all her attention on the spidery words, determined that she would conquer her nemesis and find the way home.

****

Thakkor sat up in the bed the next morning and sighed as he looked at his wife next to him. She was frowning in her sleep, the mirror image of the expression she'd worn most of the day as she battled her spellbook. He'd barely managed to convince her to eat, and had to take the book out of her hands when she passed out from exhaustion in the wee hours of the morning.

He knew that she wouldn't be getting up any time soon. He'd nodded off more than once before she succumbed to slumber, so he had a couple of hours to set things in motion. With her nose down in her magical studies all day, she wouldn't have any idea of what he'd been up to, and it would come as a complete surprise.

If he had anything to say about it, that frown would be vanishing soon enough.

****

Alicia awakened slowly — reluctantly. Her dreams had proved just as frustrating as her studies. Consciousness crept up on her, and the first thing she noticed was a familiar, pleasant scent.

Opening her eyes revealed candles burning around the tub, filling the interior of the tent with the scent of lavender. The tub was filled, and Thakkor had laid out everything she would need to take advantage of it, including a change of clothes. Now she understood the faint memory of him asking her to open her magical bag at some point during the previous day.

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