Fistful of Magic – Chapter 1

So I had been working on a full length novel prior to my extended hiatus from writing. Originally I was planning on writing a review for the first two episodes of NBC’s Lucifer today, but I want to let my thoughts on that percolate a little bit longer before I inflict them on anyone, so in lieu of that, you can see what happens when I don’t impose various word limits. Chapter 1 of the now defunct Fistful of Magic after the break.


The Maelstrom loomed at the center of the Nueska Archipelago; its torrents of rain, dark clouds, and incessant lightning clashing with the relative night calm of the surrounding tropical island chain. Out of the center of the tumultuous storm, a dory containing a single passenger broke forth, battered and rocking against the sea swells that rose around the Maelstrom. As the dory passed out of the sheets of rain into the clear night air and calmer waters beyond the edge of bedlam of weather, the passenger, previously clinging to a length of rope that ran the length of the dory’s trim, eased from his desperate hunch against the gunwale and loosed a defiant scream to the constellation and skies above.

He hastily unlashed the pair of oars stowed in the boat, and setting them into their collars, he began setting a steady, strenuous pace away from the Maelstrom and into the open water beyond. It wasn’t long before the combination of the thick, hot air and the physical exertion of fighting against the current that continuously threatened to pull him back toward the heart of the Maelstrom caused beads of sweat to form on his dark skin. He could feel the burn slowly build and grow in the muscles of his arms and back as he fought the sea with every stroke of the oars. Seldom would he cast his gaze up to the stars to make certain that he was making headway in the proper direction, and it was a good hour according to the moon’s movement before he brought the oars up out of the water and let down a knotted line to see if he had broken free of the damnable current that seemed to pull him willfully back to his confinement. Satisfied that he was no longer in danger of being dragged back into the tempestuous squall that had barely diminished behind him, he pulled back in the knotted line and slumped down to the floor of the dory, laughing to himself. He rested briefly before sitting again, he removed his bleached cotton tunic that clung damply to his skin and draped it over the rear bench of the dory, hoping that it would not be hit by the salt spray and have a chance to dry out as he continued his journey. He used a small wooden bucket to bail some of the water that had accumulated in the boat and set to checking his canvas pack that held his only belongings aside from his clothes.

The makeshift pack had not survived the waves and rains of the storm dry as he had hoped. Disgustedly he threw out the ruined tobacco leaf and wrapping papers he had scrounged to make cigarillos. A small book, likewise, had been ruined the waters turning the pages into a large wad of damp pulp. This too, was tossed out into the sea. All that remained in the canvas pack was a small, plain dagger, a waterskin filled with a watered down red wine, the small oilcloth package that held the rations he’d gathered for his escape, and a larger and more carefully wrapped oilcloth, which he gingerly set before him on the bench. Eying the larger package, he unstopped the waterskin and took a long pull from it. He unwrapped his rations, pulling out a piece of jerky before securing it and the waterskin back in the canvas pack. He chewed the jerky, staring intently at the larger oilcloth package, and having swallowed the last bite reached out toward it. He hesitated, and then, almost angrily, he snatched up the package and returned it with his other belongings to the canvas pack.

“No use worrying if it’s still good until I get to Pònanlò,” he muttered. He looked up to the night sky in order to gather his bearing. Slowly he identified the constellations above, carefully plotting the course he would need to take him to Pònanlò. He prayed to the gods that he was correct in his calculations, for all the help that they might give him. He then dropped a short length of knotted rope back into the sea before dipping his oars back into the water and beginning his arduous voyage to the port city which he believed to be southeast of the Maelstrom. If luck and the current were on his side, he would make it to port some time late the next morning. He figured that if luck had abandoned him, he would either make it in the next day or two, or he would die at sea.

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