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Adventure Fantasy Happy

Idil waited for the approaching fleet. She closed her eyes, feeling the sea breeze.


"Arr!" She grinned.


Rajeev winced at the sound.


"I can smell it! Fresh Astulan ships!"


"No, you can't." Rajeev deadpanned. "We all see them."









Under the sunset, waves roiled gently. Massive carracks sailed towards the growing silhouette of land.


It was the coming of age of Princess Mutiara. Nations flocked towards the Iron Archipelago to compete for her hand in marriage.









The fleet began to traverse the Emblic Strait, breaking formation as the ships carefully navigated through the rocky islets.


Idil sensed a change in the wind direction, forming a narrower angle against her ship.


"Now!"


A sloop bolted out from the shadows of the rocks, swiftly maneuvering to the front of a lone carrack. Intercepting the larger ship perpendicularly, the pirates stood prepared on the deck. 


"Fire!"


Cannonballs launched towards the bow. Gunners readied their weapons, aiming at the ports on the hull. 


The carrack was turning around. Steering their ship, the pirates avoided the firing range of the cannons. Idil fired at the helm. 


As the carrack drifted towards the sea stacks, rowboats approached the stern. When they got close enough, Idil commanded her crew to snipe the sailors.


"Let's move!" Idil shouted, narrowly dodging a bullet.


Preoccupied with the ruckus at the front, the sailors were oblivious to the grapnels on the taffrail. Cloaked in the dusk, the rowboat crew stealthily boarded the ship. 


Soon, sailors rushed to the top deck, brutally clashing with the intruders.


Raising its sails, the sloop fled into the rocks.


"Rajeev, you take care of the ship. The rest of you follow me to battle!"









More rowboats surrounded the carrack. Sailors raced to cut the grapnel ropes but were quickly dispatched by a few shots from below.


The pirates fought viciously despite being severely outnumbered. Blades slashed in every direction. Grunts, screams, and bursts filled the chaotic darkness. It was a full-blown carnage.


Idil watched the movements in dim firelight, evading danger as she slaughtered her foes. 


A metallic strip flashed at her periphery. 


Promptly, Idil raised her pistol to parry the incoming cutlass, lowering herself to sweep at the attacker's feet. As the attacker stumbled, she pulled her other pistol and fired at the chest.


On the horizon, glowing dots drew near. The pirates must make haste. Hacking their way under the deck, they massacred the sailors and looted whatever they could.









A loud crash landed on the top deck. 


Idil spun around. Her heart sank.


From the darkness, a warship emerged. Its four imposing masts proudly flew the royal Astulan flag. Heavy artillery lined its three decks.


Idil heard explosions coming from afar. Rajeev! She hoped for the best. There was no time for worrying.


A storm brewed in the twilight sky.


"Go, go!" Idil ushered her crew.


Cannons fired at the pirates, staggering the carrack despite its bulk. Lights danced on the sea. Idil realized that it was more than a merchant fleet, but it was too late.


Seeing the last of her crew escaping in rowboats, Idil skipped across the deck, agilely evading debris and shrapnels. She snatched a torch and darted under the deck.


Turbulence rose beneath the hull. Struggling towards the gunpowder store, Idil must make it before the warships could close in her crew.


The ship tumbled, and Idil was skidding across the hallway. 


Darkness took over as all lights extinguished. Idil felt wetness leaking into her surroundings.


There was another toss. As Idil braced herself, cold seawater cushioned the impact. She swam upwards, pushing the wooden chunks in her way. 


Waves jostled her around. Before she knew it, a wayward plank hit her. 


She blacked out.









Mutiara sat on a cliff, unfazed by the roaring tempest and heavy downpour. She had been observing as the tranquil sea turned into a naval battlefield.


She watched as a slender form swam towards the capsized carrack.









Idil squinted as brightness invaded her view. 


She touched her head. To her surprise, it was bandaged. Shifting a little, she felt crooked roots and soft silt underneath. She was in a mangrove forest.


Idil glanced at her surroundings. Tree trunks and branches were fashioned into shelves, holding stacks of books and trinkets in them. 


There was someone beside her. Half of their body was submerged in water. Upon closer examination, Idil saw a fluked tail patterned with faint brown bands.


"Ooooh! A mermaid!" She exclaimed. 


The merfolk turned around, seemingly annoyed. There was a book in their hands.  


"Hello?" Idil had picked up some local languages.


In response, the merfolk made some hand signs.


"They say mermaids are half beautiful women. You…uh…" She gestured some shapes.


The merfolk glowered. They grabbed a branch and scribbled on the silt. 


The handwriting was neat and proper. While Idil did not understand most of the written language, she knew the word 'man'.


"Alrighty, mister merman. Thanks for saving me!"


The merfolk pointed at himself and wrote some alphabets.


"A…oo…rooh? I'm Idil. You know where my crew is?"


This time, Auruh reached for a bamboo scribe and some ink on his shelves. Rapidly, he wrote a paragraph on a nearby bark.


Idil recognized some words: 'city', 'princess���', 'sultan-sultan', '��fight�'.


"Sorry, I can't really read."


Auruh groaned. He then drew some caged humans and a ship broken in half. 


"Th-they captured my crew and sunk my ship?"









Auruh led Idil to the coast. With Auruh's map, Idil ventured inwards.


Windswept palms and piles of wreckage littered the beach. Idil walked towards the thatched huts, seeking refuge from the scorching noon.


As Idil continued, the quiet hamlet turned into a bustling city. Colorful banners adorned the streets.


There was a commotion. Idil moved away from the buildings for a better view.


It was a sight to behold.


Majestic vessels docked at the main port, stretching far across the horizon. There were galleys from nearby sultanates and sailing ships from faraway nations.


Black warships of the Astula Empire formed an ordered file, intimidating even under broad daylight.


Then, a fleet of red colossus caught Idil's eye. Sporting nine masts, the legendary treasure ship of the Cang Empire came into view. 


With bubbling giddiness, Idil went forward.









Convoys descended from the ships, hauling cargos into the city. Pushing through the crowd, Idil followed the parade.


They arrived at a clearing. Buildings with large triangular pavilions stood nearby. According to the map, this was the palace grounds. There was a set of bright yellow parasols with the royal family sitting underneath. 


Craning her neck, Idil watched as the convoys presented their gifts. There were gold and jewelry galore, fascinating curios and ornaments, and even exotic beasts and fowls. 


It piqued her interest. What could be so valuable as to have the nations paying tributes in such treasures?


After the last of them, the sultan ordered the field to be cleared. Soon, two cages were brought up to the center.


Oh, so it wasn't metaphorical. Idil clenched her fist. Her crew was actually trapped in cages like animals.


The guards dragged several captive pirates out and tied them onto posts. A figure wielding a javelin stepped out from one of the convoys. His attire suggested a man of status, perhaps a prince.


"Ahhgh!" A pirate shrieked. The sharp projectile narrowly missed his brow.


He had no such luck the second time.


With a plop, the javelin pierced his throat. The crowd cheered as the prince brandished his weapon. 


Idil bit her tongue. Frantically, she looked around for a way to rescue her crew.


The Astulan prince came next, walking towards the captive pirates. Muscles shifted subtly under his skin as he flexed and preened.


Under the curious gaze of the audience, he lifted a post, ignoring the pirate squirming atop. Then, he hurled it across the field like a javelin.


The crowd roared, astounded by the unthinkable feat. Gradually, a feral howl joined in.


The prince swelled, morphing into a hulking beast. 


He lunged forward.









People scampered away from the palace, pushing against each other. Idil planted her hands on some nearby shoulders and vaulted over the stampede.


"No ���!" The Astulans yelled as they saw other soldiers readying their firearms.


The beast wreaked havoc on his surroundings. Troops charged at him but were struck down by a sweep of powerful claws. 


Idil carefully skirted around the field, avoiding the frenzy. 


Before Idil could reach her crew, the beast pounced at the cages. Defenseless and cornered, the pirates screamed.


Suddenly, a man jumped in the way. Holding a polearm against the beast, he dug his heels into the ground.


Idil dashed towards the cages. She picked up an arquebus from a fallen soldier and shot at the hinges.


The man was still engaging with the beast, struggling against the latter's strength.


Idil leaped aside, rummaging the bodies for some ammo. Then, she fired two precise shots at the beast's kneecaps. 


With a cry, the creature finally collapsed.


The man passed out from exhaustion. The pirates quickly carried him away in their retreat.









"Where's Rajeev? Where're the others?"


"The quartermaster is still at the prison east of the city port along with the rest."


"Alright. You all go find a ship. I'll look for them."


Tending their wounds, the pirates waited until nightfall. It was too dangerous to head out during the chaotic aftermath. 


"Urghh...�������?" The man from earlier woke. 


He seemed to be from the Cang fleet. The pirates shared no language with him.


While their captive made no resistance, releasing him could be risky. Idil ordered two pirates to watch over him.









Warily, Idil returned to the city.


"We shouldn't ����������� her!" An Astulan commander barked. "Find ���!"


There was a dispute between the Cang and Astula. Both factions were panicking and scurrying about.


Wearing the uniform she peeled from a dead soldier, Idil hoped that it would be a half-decent disguise under the evening sky.


Apparently, the Cang troops were searching for something as well. Unfortunately, Idil did not understand them.


Idil made her way eastward. The prison should be in a cove nearby.


Following a trail of wooden panels, Idil arrived at some seaside caverns covered in rusted bars. She threw some pebbles, making a specific rhythm with the dull clangs. 


Soon, several heads peeked out.


"Captain!"


After a glance at her surroundings, Idil motioned her crew and shot the prison doors. The pirates were finally freed.


"Did you get the others?" Rajeev asked.


"They're fine. Though you really missed out back there. I shot the Prince of Astula at the knees!" 


"Sure you did."


"We'll meet others in the village on the outskirts."


Idil eyed her crew and pondered.


"You three go through the hills. It's a little far but just keep walking west. You two go through the city and avoid the main streets. The rest of you follow me across the coastline."









The moonlight provided little illumination. The pirates traversed the craggy shore with great caution.


"She must be close! ����!" Soldiers were clamoring nearby.


Immediately, the pirates held their breaths, flattening themselves against the rockface. 


The pirates waited for the troops to leave before continuing on.


Suddenly, Idil held up her arquebus.


"Who's there?"


The bushes ruffled. Slowly, a woman emerged, holding her hands up in surrender.


"There she is!" There was a shout.


The pirates bolted. Torches drew near, lighting up the surroundings.


Jumping from boulder to boulder, the pirates tried to throw off their pursuers. Gunshots sounded behind them. 


They rounded the edge of the cove. The wind was picking up, waves churned beneath the rocks. 


"Sqeeeah!" A screech came from below. Someone was beckoning at them. 


"Jump!" Idil commanded.








A drizzle fell, extinguishing the torches. The Astulans had no choice but to give up their pursuit.


The pirates were flailing about, struggling to keep themselves afloat. Seawater splashed into their faces, stinging their noses and eyes. 


One by one, hands pulled them under the waves. 









"What was that thing?" Rajeev asked. The pirates were brought to a nearby shore. They were exhausted, coughing water from their lungs.


"That's Auruh. I guess he likes us. Must be my swashbuckling charm!"


"I don't think-"


"More importantly," Switching to Astulan, Idil pointed at the strange woman from the bush, who had somehow followed them. "who are you?"


"I'm Lavinia, ���� on Astulan fleet."


"A what?"


Lavinia pondered. She recognized the Eastern Ocean pidgin spoken by the pirates and tried recalling words of similar languages.


"A..uh, transmutation-craftsman."


"Why are they looking for you?"


"Their stupid prince used wrong my ��medicine, and they think me wrong."


Idil considered the situation. The woman could be useful. "Why don't you come with us?"


Lavinia nodded, having no better choices.









"Captain! We couldn't find a ship. The port was too guarded. People were acting crazy back there."


Idil mulled over her options.


"Lavinia, can you make something that changes us?" Recalling some of Lavinia's explanation earlier, she pointed at the Cang captive. "We can use his blood. We'll sneak onto a Cang ship and steal it."


Lavinia walked towards the man and pulled out a lancet from her satchel.


The man shouted, throwing his captors off. The other pirates rushed forward to restrain him.


The man ceased struggling when he found that he was not going to be killed.


With Lavinia's concoction, the pirates transformed into clones of the man. Helplessly perplexed, the man simply stared and went along. 









At dawn, the pirates approached the port. They set their eyes on one of the smaller warships.


There were Cang soldiers everywhere. Idil went ahead of her crew.


"������!" An official yelled as he saw Idil.


Soon, others swarmed over. Idil tensed, looking for the nearest escape.


Unexpectedly, the soldiers did not attack. They checked up on her, escorting her to the treasure ship. Idil stayed silent, pretending to be in a daze when others spoke to her.


The admiral came to Idil and asked some questions. When he received no reply, he simply ordered the others to clean and dress her up.









Once again, the Cang convoy arrived at the palace grounds. 


The field was cleared of debris and set up anew. The targets were replaced with wild boars. One by one, the princes showcased their martial prowesses.


When it was finally Idil's turn, the admiral glared at her. With a jerk of his chin, he signaled an attendant to bring a polearm to her.


A tinge of playfulness rose in Idil. Instead of accepting the weapon, she walked towards three soldiers, grabbing their fire lances. 


Idil undid one of her sashes, wrapping it around her eyes. Then, she turned around, walking twenty steps away from the field. She ducked down and loaded the fire lances.


Abruptly, she swiveled. In one fluid motion, she fired three shots. 


As the smoke dissipated, the audiences saw a scorched hole on each post, where the boar heads used to be.


The crowd gaped. Then, applause shook the palace grounds.


Beneath the yellow parasol, the sultan stood.


"Prince Hanqing of Cang is the victor!"









A banquet was held in the afternoon. The convoys were invited to the palace.


Candles lit the elegant wooden hall. The tables and walls were decorated with frangipanis and hibiscuses, each in a vibrant hue of red, yellow, or white.


Under the warm orange ambiance, Idil could not help but relax. Still, she was excited, being terribly curious about the whole shenanigan. 


Soon, the prize would be revealed.


Atop his throne, the sultan announced: "Today, we celebrate the betrothal of my daughter, Princess Mutiara."


Slowly, a graceful figure entered the hall. Fine silk gleamed under the tender light. 


Mutiara wore a dress dyed in gradients of azure and green. White lines adorned the fabric with intricate motifs of the sea. As she came closer, Idil saw pearls dangling from her radial headdress, framing her delicate features.


For a moment, Idil could understand the point of the entire ordeal.


Standing next to each other, Mutiara smiled at Idil. It was a vacant smile. 


The sultan continued his speech, addressing diplomatic issues.









A weird taste grew in Idil's mouth. Then, she saw the princess staring at her, eyes wide in shock. The hall turned quiet.


Idil cussed after a quick glance at her hands. The transformation had worn off at the worst possible time.


Straight away, Idil bolted at the nearest exit. 


Vaulting over tables, Idil left a trail of screams and crashing utensils behind. She smashed through a pair of window frames and rolled on the ground to break her fall.


Guards rushed from all directions. Desperately, Idil ran behind the palace, dashing through layers of trees. To her horror, the land ended at a cliff. 


The sky turned grey. Thunder rumbled in the clouds.


Soon, Idil was surrounded.


"Princess!"


"Back off!" Standing between Idil and the guards, Mutiara held out her hands. The wind swirled at her command.


A fuchuan sailed towards the cliff.


"Captain!" Idil heard her crew.


Mutiara threw her shawl into the air. Then, she held Idil's hand.


Carried by the wind, the pair floated onto the fuchuan.









"So those three are staying with us?" Rajeev asked.


"Yeah. Who wouldn't want a mad scientist, a brooding prince, and a magical princess in their crew?"


A squeal sounded beneath the hull, Auruh emerged from the waves. 


Mutiara walked towards the railings. Soon, the two were signing furiously. Idil swore she saw some vulgar gestures.


"My friend said he wants to come with us." Mutiara said.


Internally, Rajeev facepalmed.










Under the sunset, waves roiled gently. A fuchuan sailed away from the Emblic Strait.


Gazing into Idil's face, Mutiara edged closer.


Days ago, Mutiara sat alone on the cliff, looking at the incoming fleet. Each of them carried countless treasures. Those were her future gilded cages.


Then, a lone little ship came. Above it stood a willowy figure. Golden flecks of light reflected from her dark skin. She was the image of valiance and freedom.


At that very moment, Mutiara was smitten.

December 19, 2020 04:11

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10 comments

Navneeth N
01:39 Jan 04, 2021

Hey Saizen! I love this story. I really understand now what you mean by your love for world-building. Also, nice job with the words. If I'm correct, this story is exactly 3000 words long. It was certainly an action-packed story, and I loved how accurate you were with the pirate scenes. It was also like a short bildungsroman, with Idil developing as a character and her developing personality. I do feel like some of the transitions could be improved though, as sometimes it was a bit hard to follow. But then again, it must have been hard to...

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Saizen 🦜
02:23 Mar 24, 2021

Thanks for the comment, I'm glad you liked it! Sorry I was out for a bit and couldn't respond earlier. And thanks for letting me know about the transition issue. I'll work harder on my scenes!

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16:22 Dec 22, 2020

Hey Saizen! What a wild ride you took me on this time! This story sequence had so much adventure, unexpected twists, and fun worldbuilding elements. I loved how you established exactly who Idil is and her personality. I feel like I know her and her chaotic tendencies. She strikes me as a women who tasted madness and liked the flavor. Rajeev seems like the long-suffering aide who clearly cares for his captain but gets stressed out at her antics. Auruh, despite being wordless, had so much character and attitude. Good job creating memorable cha...

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Saizen 🦜
21:29 Dec 22, 2020

Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks so much for telling me about the 'four white walls' concept. While the word count was a limiting factor, I'll keep that in mind in the future when crafting scenarios. I'll also try to make smoother scene transitions in the future. The only exception is the opening. I left it ambiguous on purpose. I want the reader to picture two fellas near the sea waiting for a fleet, doing piratey cliche and having some banters. I intended to leave the reader wondering if they're just some kids rolep...

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Rayhan Hidayat
07:12 Dec 22, 2020

Hey, this wouldn’t happen to be set in the same universe as your other merfolk tale, would it? Again, I’m not a fan of compressing huge novel-length stories into th Reedsy format, but at the same time you do it so deftly and I can’t say I wasn’t entertained the whole way through. Kudos to the action scenes in particular. Awesome stuff! 😙

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Saizen 🦜
07:54 Dec 22, 2020

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed :) Yes! This is set in the merfolk universe. Frankly, I was playing Runescape and thought about how they tied the most unrelated questlines together. So I looked at several of my stories and thought: "maybe I can tie them up in the same universe?"

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Yolanda Wu
10:46 Dec 19, 2020

I absolutely love the world you created in the story, I was immersed right away. The scenes were action-packed and the pace kept it all going. All the characters were so interesting as well, pirates and merfolk, who doesn't love those? I think my favourite would have to be Auruh, it may or may not be I have a slight bias towards merfolk - my quarantine novel featured a lot of mermaids, and pirates. I really like the sprinklings of world-building in the story because I love world-building to death. Can't do it that well with my own world, but...

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Saizen 🦜
01:32 Dec 20, 2020

Ah yes, pirates and merfolks! They're real cool and I hope to see more stories on them! I got the idea for this one because of little mermaid, which actually ticked me off a little because the crux of the tragedy is due to the mermaid's inability to communicate. I was like, even without speech, there's gesture and writing and drawing lol. So as a foil, I also made language barriers for other characters. Especially Hanqing. Nobody could understand him even as he's a human prince capable of speech. Once again, thank you for your time. I'm gl...

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Yolanda Wu
05:04 Dec 20, 2020

It's so cool that you twisted it! Yeah I thought that bit of Auruh communicating through writing and drawing was really clever and funny.

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Saizen 🦜
08:18 Dec 19, 2020

Welcome to another serving of Saizen-style fever dream! How does one tie up different storylines? With pirates of course! Runescape-style! As always, critique and ask me anything! Author's notes: For this story, I wanted to go with a more fairy tale-esque aesthetics. I remember reading fairy tales as a child and there were so many wtf moments and just pure bewilderment. Though for this story, I tried to balance things out with logic.

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