Friday, August 21, 2009

The Fox and the Hound

I decided to keep with the War for American Independ- ence theme for another week by providing the beginning of a story that I wrote about a pulp hero of my own creation. So I will introduce you to Elias Jericho Kirby. A young privateer and smuggler for the rebellion. A man with a bit of magic and a whole lot of luck on his side. That is until he runs on a British sea captain that has the same gifts of Sight and Power!

The Fox and the Hound

AD 1777

The fog was an impenetrable wall of white mist, so thick that even the pink of dawn could not pierce it. Through the ancient gold coin embedded in the tiller arm beneath his palm Elias Jericho Kirby could sense the shifting currents and sand bars that made travel through the islands and shoals of Carolina's coastal waters so hazardous. The rigging of the main sail groaned no more than an old floor board. The men, even Rume, who was working the lead, were still. They were specters manning a ghostly schooner upon a shadow sea; slipping through a dream reality past the blockading British.
Elias’ mismatched eyes were slit in concentration that had nothing to do with trying to see beyond the prow of the Fox. He was feeling the world around him through the spells his Gran had taught him. He sensed the blockade vessels through the life energies of the men who manned them. With these magics, unknown to those that served under him, for they would see him dead for it, he had the reputation as the canniest smuggler ever to tread the deck of a ship.
The young man’s eyes flew open wide. The blue one, the one gifted with the Sight, saw the warlock as clearly as if the man stood across the deck from him. And the smuggler knew that the spell caster saw him too! “We are spotted!” He leaned the tiller hard to starboard, nearly throwing half his ten man crew overboard.
“Captain, how can they?” Egelbert, a portly man, who had been a merchant until the British took his own ship as a prize the previous year, asked his eyes huge behind his misted glasses.
“There!” cried Rume, the big sailor had escaped a British frigate after one too many lashes from the cat and had no desire to be taken.
She loomed out of the fog, a sleek, shallow drafted sloop of war; ten guns at the most. Well suited for chasing prey in these treacherous waters. She was prow on and would have drove the schooner under her keel had Elias not taken evasive action.
The two ships were so close that the cannon of the sloop could not bear down on the Fox; for the smaller ship sat lower at the free board. The enemy vessel let loose a thunderous broad side as the Fox bore away. The cannon were loaded with round shot and the six pound balls flew harmless among the rigging.
Elias felt the men of the British ship running about through the magic he possessed. “Marines!” came the order and the shadowy soldiers were at the rail. There were bright flashes in the white accompanied by the thunderous report of a dozen muskets firing almost in unison. The warlock was the captain of this vessel and the young Bostonian was sure he was a very successful hound for King George. Rounds zipped and whined smacking into the deck. Egelbert, his glasses blasted off his face, fell as an unlucky ball smashed him between the eyes.
“All sail!” Elias cried as he drew his flintlock his belt. As he pulled the hammer back his thumb brushed a silver stud among the diamond shaped cluster of brass studs on the grip. Whispering a word of power, the pistol bucked in the captain’s hand and the man who had killed Egelbert flew back mortally wounded. The silver stud now resembled the brass about it and only a few silver studs remained on the whole of the grip.
The men of the Fox flew about; setting gaff and foresail speed now outweighing stealth. Elias made for the open sea, hoping to tack back up the coast after loosing the enemy ship in the fog. He had little hope to accomplish that if the warlock had any kind of power or knowledge of these waters. Without sight the Hound could still follow him to his lair, sniffing out the trail of magic.

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