27 Mar

I knew I’d gotten a little carried away back in Rav’s pub, but I found myself having a hard time caring. The people of my village had been known to eat sugar fruits that were well past their prime for similar mind-twisting effects, but this felt stronger than any sugar fruit I’d eaten before. I felt like I was floating as Rak dragged me along the street towards the ocean. 

Oh right, the ocean. 

I’d nearly forgotten how we’d even met Rav’s in the first place. 

My eyes drifted to the water beside the long wooden platform where I’d watched my fellow human’s corpse punted off into its waves. It looked as if nothing had even happened; as blue as ever. The pouli along the coast of the new side of town continued about their day as normal, as if a life hadn’t just been lost.

It was really getting on my nerves.

“The people of my village had respect for all living beings- all of them. When someone dies, there’s ceremony involved. How can nobody care? How can- how can…”

“I know, Aku. Believe me,” Rak said, much softer than me. We stopped against the last building in the shade, separating us from the open area that was the coast and the wooden platform. 

“I need you to put that aside for now and keep your voice down so we can get aboard this boat. Can you do that?”

I could read the concern and doubt on his face without even seeing it. He really didn’t trust me. I chuckled breathily.

“How could I be quiet? That Tokar guy needs to reap what he sowed. Maybe then these people will see that lives have value- that humans have value.”

“Seriously, shut up!” Rak cautioned, whisper-shouting at me.

“You hear that Tokar?! I dare you to fi-” Rak’s hand flew to my mouth before I could finish my sentence.

“Jackass,” he cursed at me.

Just like the last time Rak had held me against my will, back on Ceterra in the fight against the songstress, I was proven once more how much stronger he was than me.

The world around me had already been fuzzy at that point, but the more I tried to pry him off of me the further reality slipped from me.

The next I could remember, I was in a damp, dark room that smelled of brine, wood, and algae. Round wooden vessels and boxes surrounded me on all sides, and I could vaguely see daylight underneath the crack in the single door to the room.

“You back with us?” Rak asked.

I jolted in surprise- he was right next to me, having taken the piece of cloth off from around his head.

“Where are we?” I asked, grabbing my jaw which seemed more sore than it had been before. 

“The boat’s storage room.”


“You knocked yourself out. Slammed your head on the wall trying to get away from me, so I carried you aboard.”

We both looked up as footsteps shook the planks above us. Some sand rained down on us through the cracks in between. My heart was beating so loud I could swear whoever was above us could hear it if they tried.

“How long was I out?” I asked, trying to keep as quiet as humanly possible.

“Long enough that others have started to board again,” Rak whispered. 

“We have to stay hidden until the ship leaves the port. Then we can seize control,” he said.

I nodded. 

The footsteps grew louder as a few more pouli boarded the ship. They mulled about above us as we both strained to listen to their muffled conversation.

“Did… Did anyone see you board?” I asked him.

“Yes. A pouli man questioned me before I boarded. I told him I was loading human cargo,” Rak said quickly. 


I rubbed my face vigorously with the palm of my hand. My head was still buzzing from the special brew.

“That’s not good.”

“It’s not ideal, but he let me go without trouble,” Rak justified. “We could still be fine.”

“They know we’re here. It doesn’t matter, they’re gonna-”

Just then, the storage room door creaked open, flooding the room with light. I scrambled to pull Rak further behind the boxes and barrels to stay hidden. I thanked the stars that the sound of it was concealed by the shrill, drawn-out squeal from the door’s hinges. 

“So where’s the suspicious man you saw?” A female voice said. 

Men,” A thin, masculine voice replied. “A tall one, draped head to toe in navy cloth. He had a smaller man over his shoulder. Neither were men I recognized. They came in here.”

A beam of light flitted through a space between the barrels, and I took a peak. 

There were two of them; a particularly tall pouli woman with her dark, coiled hair pulled over her muscular shoulders in a braid. She looked like she broke bones for a living- not someone I wanted to mess with if I had to. Beside her was a man who dwarfed in comparison. He had sharp eyes like a hawk, an amber that almost glowed in the low light of the room. Neither were looking this way.

I looked back at Rak and saw him gulp nervously. His guilt was palpable- that man was who Rak had spoken to.

“Well they must still be here somewhere. Let’s give the room a once over,” the woman said.The two split up and began searching through the room.

Even though in my drunken state of mind I was itching for a fight, I still didn’t like how pinned they had us. If I used my firepower here, I could very easily destroy our one ticket out of here.

Both figures disappeared from my view, and I heard the slow, searching footsteps of one grow closer and closer. I put my hand out in front of Rak and the two of us backed up, equally as cautiously.

My head hit an empty barrel precariously stacked atop a crate and I winced in pain. The barrel topped over with a great commotion.


We’re so screwed.

Suddenly I was being dragged by my wrist to the door by Rak once more, the two pouli shouting for us to stop as they raced after us. Suddenly, everything seemed to woosh around us.

The sun was blinding. Once my eyes adjusted I was looking at the city again, this time from high in the air. We were falling, and fast. I flailed wildly, screaming as I crashed into the sand on the shore of the city. I heard a second crash into something that sounded wooden.


I scrambled to my feet but was quickly knocked back down, my mouth filling with sand. The woman grabbed me by the wrist and pulled back my draped sleeve, revealing my bare, non-feathered arm as I coughed and spat sand, blood, and saliva.

“How dare you wear our garments, you filthy human!” She shouted, enraged. 

The wind whipped wildly around us. I braced myself, preparing to get slammed into something again. 

“CEASE!” A deep masculine voice boomed. All at once the wind stopped, but she didn’t let go of me.

The world was spinning. 

“Bring them to me!” The voice called out again. 

I looked at him this time- a mountain of a pouli whose chiseled grey muscles glistened in the sun. The terror of a leader Rav’s had described now had a face. 

It was Tokar, I was sure of it.

She didn’t bother to let me to my feet before she started dragging me behind her like a ragdoll through the sand and up the short steps. My body twitched in pain as she dropped me at the bastard’s feet. 

Shortly after, the hawk man brought Rak-Li, bound at the wrists by some kind of vines.The woman wrenched my arm up and back. 

“On your feet!” She yelled in my ear, and I did as she said, glaring at Tokar the entire time.  

Tokar gazed back, expression like that of stone: cold and relentless. But that quickly broke away, revealing a wicked grin as he cackled. Behind him, more and more pouli guards gathered, readying their sharp spears at us.

We were so screwed, I felt like I could laugh.  

“Looks like today’s my lucky day! I receive word of two rebels, a human and a psari, coming to the continent from the east, but lo and behold, here you are, trying to stowaway on one of my ships! HA!” 

He continued to cackle, looking back at Rak. 

“And you must be Rak-Li, a so-called prince! Your friend Arlo sends his regards, you fish-faced fucker.” He took a swing at Rak, but he was ready. The wave on his chest lit up and an arm of the sea came up and pulled him just out of the way.

Tokar regained his composure quickly. “Don’t think for a minute that your untrained powers will save you. Your pathetic efforts end here, at the hands of the mighty Tokar!”

“Bastard,” I said, loud enough for him to hear. 

Well, if we were to die here, I sure as hell wasn’t going to go peacefully. Not to this asshole. 

Before I could even think, my fists were alight with flame. I wrenched away from the woman and walked up in Tokar’s face. 

Rav’s was right- he towered above me by nearly 4 heads. I spat at his feet. 

“Eat shit and die.”

Everything that happened next happened in quick succession: Tokar blew his top and smashed his fists down like an ape, and right before he could make contact with me, Rak had pulled me out of his range with his water. Tokar’s stone fists impacted the ground and left a crater in the wooden boardwalk. I sprayed flames into the crowd from my fists, them scattering and taking to the sky. Wind wooshed all around us as the woman used her power to pull us out of our element and into the air, but Rak used the water like an extension of his bound arm to pull me to him. I burned away the vines and freed his wrists and shot a column of flames at the wind woman. The cyclone of wind surrounding her dissipated the flames, and Rak pulled me out of the way right as a brambling vine shot past my face. Rak used the water he’d pulled to him to slingshot off of the vine and into the city’s streets. 

We tried diving into a hut but found a group of armed pouli had gathered already on that end. Then I felt something grab my shoulder with a cold force. I looked behind me to see the towering beast of shiny smooth rock. 

“You really thought you two could just walk into Pouli territory dressed in our cloths? How stupid could you rebels be?! Disgraceful!”

“Hows this for stupid?” I lit up my ability to its advanced state, my entire arm blaze with power. I punch with all of my might. He stumbled back as I dented his chest. But then the rock bent itself back in place. Tokar smiled before going to hit my face. I barely got my arms up to block in time. I went flying in the air like a coconut, over several huts flying into some family’s roof. 

“Pathetic!” I heard the man shout from wherever he was.

The family rushed out through the hole, as if I would attack them. Dusting myself off, I managed to get up right as Tokar burst through the door. Summoning my fire again, I propelled myself out through the hole and into the air. I stuck my tongue out and showed him my middle finger, a major insult in my culture.

“Coward!! Come face me!” I heard him yell yet again, the confidence in his voice now filled with rage and annoyance.

I jumped hut to hut, watching him keep up with me from the path below. Just ahead, I saw Rak-li summoning large waves of water, doing his best to fend them off. But more and more guards kept barring our escape, and any window of opportunity was quickly closing to retreat before either we were captured or killed. I couldn't decide which was worse.

Blasting next to him, we stood back to back together and fought off as many guards as we could. Me, firing walls of flame at them. Rak-li continued to increase his wave assault.

“Rak, we need to get out of here now!” I yelled to him, he nodded in agreement. But before we could get a chance to run, Tokar returned, hitting Rak and I with lung crushing blows at the same time. 

As soon as we were on the grounds, dozens of guards were stomping and hitting us, continuing even as I began to black out. The last thing I heard was his arrogant laugh. “You rebels are nothing but jokes. You’ll be so much fun to break.” 

One final foot to the face sent me to sleep. 

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