The Crates

A man dressed in the finest of business attire stood beside three narrow but long boxes, waiting for the captain to show his people where they could stow the precious cargo. Behind the boxes dressed in their clerical vestments stood two individuals who could not be more different even though their faces were identical. The first was short in the torso but long in appendages, his hair was dark like oil, brushed fastidiously. The other was a rotund gentleman with scraggly auburn hair that would have reached his knees if not so tangled and hastily thrown back, he stood barely to his companion’s navel.

A muscular exotic man wearing well-crafted yet very worn breeches of the darkest green suddenly stood in front of the group. “Ah! Kael’ven, this is the shipment we discussed. ” Behind him, the two clerics looked up in surprise, this man appeared to come out of thin air in front of them.

“The clerics must confirm the driver is correct before you let these three beauties go.” The businessman trailed off for a moment focusing all of his attention on the boxes.

“Sir?” asked Kael’ven drawing back the businessman’s attention.

“Ah. yes, sorry I was daydreaming again. These gifts really will do the trick this time. I must have her I don’t care what mother says.”

“I wish you the best of luck du– Um I mean, uhh… Sir. My ma used to hate my girl too. I’ll make sure these packages are delivered to the driver in perfect condition.”

The Captain, a baby elephant grub race enthusiast, had been out late the night before betting on a greedy grub named Nurpip, the same grub that he had named his latest ship after. As he walked up to the group surrounding the mysterious boxes, he was irritable and tired. “Everything else is boarded, yer might wanna get yer fancy wooden boxes into the hold.”

Both of the clerics and Kael’ven carefully picked up a box each. They were much lighter than they looked. The velvet brushed gently against their skin as they followed the businessman and captain into the cargo hold, where a special cell had been prepared for the lucrative load. Having placed the boxes down the men all left the room to discuss payments.

It was dark, humid, and mostly quiet down in the ship’s cargo hold. Daily the chef would send the scullery maid down to collect items for the crew’s next meal. Over time she became friendly with the Guard of the beautiful boxes and he with her. They would sit away in the dimly lit area, eating their dinner and imagining all the places the other boxes could have come from. Some of their more interesting theories included an exceedingly large oak crate being filled with the toenails of an emperor from across the oceans, a padded case of ceramic dinner wears containing smuggled goods, and they made wagers about how many ransom notes could be contained in the mail bags.

Thrice daily the clerics, Jörd and Skrawl, would come down to cast spells upon the boxes to ensure the delicate contents remained intact and fresh. They would then spend hours cleansing the space, and then go to rest before coming back to do the spells again.

On the day they made port things went as normal until lunch was brought to the guard by the smitten scullery maid, they ate together but were disheartened by the fact that they would soon have to part ways. So instead of laughter things were sullen. Suddenly Kael’ven grabbed his stomach and groaned. He asked his friend if she could watch the compartment for a moment as he ran up the stairs to relieve his sudden urge to defecate.

While he was taking care of his sudden issue at the bow of the ship, items began to be offloaded from the cargo bay by the working hands of the ship. The scullery maid stayed inside the confines of the cage that was built for the beautifully carved, velvet-laid boxes. By the time the last of the regular load was gone the guard Kael’ven had still not returned. The girl left the gate wide open to find two of her friends, inviting them back to grab the boxes and run, as this was their chance to complete their job.

Jörd and Skawl walked down the ramps and into the storage area to find it completely deserted. Knowing that Kael’ven took his job very seriously they suspected that something strange was going on, and they quickly decided to only have one of them do the spells while the other cleaned the space. They hoped that Kael’ven was just hidden but needed to be prepared for any attack. Skawl began to recite the spells to protect the box and its contents while Jörd began sweeping the space in counter-clockwise strokes.

It didn’t take long for there to be noise coming down the ramps again. Immediately Skawl was on high alert, his skin changing from its pale flesh to a silver gleam as though it had become made of iron. As he looked up he saw the scullery maid and two muscled men behind her. The one slightly to her left looked familiar even in the dim light. He had a slight hunch and a scar across his face from temple to chin. This man was a hired enforcer for Skawl’s boss’s mother.

The group looked surprised to see the clerics in the room and Skawl decided it was best to take that advantage. “You will not take these boxes without my permission” he called as he waved his hand in the air.

The girl turned to her companions, “Take care of our little problem, we need to get these boxes destroyed for our lady!”

The unknown man stepped forward to rush at the clerics, but the scar-faced man was hesitant. “I’m not sure we should attack him.”

Jörd, recognizing the voice, looked up from his task of securing the boxes and said “Fog” instantly a dense fog encompassed the entire room making it impossible to see even five steps ahead. The unknown man came to a halt unsure of where his targets had gone.

Skawl quickly tried to find a shadow and called out for god’s help to contact Kael’ven letting him know of the three people attempting to steal the crates.

The next few grains were passed in confusion. The fog made it difficult to see. A yelp of surprise emerged from the scullery maid as she tripped over a beam that was left on the floor. A moment later a flash of light came through the fog as the doors to the cargo hold were ripped open by Kael’ven, who was attempting to pull up his pants, and a merchantman who entered the still dense fog. Just as quickly the light disappeared.

The scullery maid crawled her way to a wall and listened with all her might. Her breath caught when she heard the door close, but continued to be silent. The deep breaths of the men around her, people yelling in the port outside, and her own heart beating erratically with the thoughts of being outnumbered had her senses working overtime.

The unknown man lunged at a shadow he thought could be a cleric and fatally struck a curtain instead, which fell straight upon his head causing him to gasp, “Stupid spider webs!” Meanwhile, his scared companion spent this time getting himself collected.

While the long-armed Skawl took steps towards the clatter and voice of the unknown thief, Jörd continued to pray to his god, murmuring in his attempt to complete his tasks without being located. Skawl swung out his arm, solid as iron, and felt a clang. His enemy was wearing armor under his clothes.

Kael’ven tells the merchant, Maizel, to guard the door, pulls out his sword, and began swinging his sword to and fro.

Feeling as though she could now tell where the fighting would be happening the scullery maid made her way in what she figured should be the direction of the boxes. The floor was rough and continually caught upon her clothing as she crawled.

The unknown man was struggling mightily to remove the curtain from around his head when he was struck in the chest. In his anger he struck out wildly towards the space he correctly believed the enemy to be, he missed and instead spun completely around losing his bearings and all sense of where his enemy might be.

The scar-faced enemy was in a panic, the spell that was cast upon him by the cleric Skawl had worked its way into a frenzy. “There are too many of them!” he shouted aloud to his companions before running blindly towards the door.

Jörd having finished his essential work excitedly turned towards the battle, rarely did he get to partake in this part of the adventure. Ready to face the enemy he spread his arms and said “Disperse.” As he did this the fog slowly began to clear as a fresh breeze flowed into the room.

Skawl, knowing he had one of the thieves right in front of him pressed his attack, knocking the unidentified thief to the floor. He may have proceeded to inflict pain on the man if they had not begged to surrender at that point. A disappointed groan left Jörd’s mouth.

With the man that seemed to actually value his life running full speed at him, Maizel stepped into the charge and struck the man square in the chest with an open palm, before stepping aside to avoid the anticipated reaction. The man with the scar on his face began to groan and vomit.

As the last of the fog disappeared Kael’ven turned to the monks with identical faces and said, “This is Maizel a traveling merchant who claims he is supposed to pick up three boxes for our lord. Is he the correct person to pass the boxes to?”

Jörd took a long look at the man blocking the door to the room and asked for the passcode. From inside his jacket, the merchantman took out a wand, tapped it on the side of the door, and stepped out of the way. Smoke billowed for a moment and when it cleared a symbol had been etched into the wood. Skawl gave a curt nod and looked to Jörd who in return gave two nods. They then pushed past the man, through the door, and off the ship. They had a maid to find. When the door closed behind them the symbol was gone.

“Strange pair, them. Eh?” stated the merchantman before going to pick up two of the three large boxes. Although Kael’ven agreed, he knew better than to say anything ill about his companions. Instead, he quickly tied up his enemies to a mast and then grabbed the third box carrying it to Maizel’s cart.

Published by Lady Bowering

Lady Bowering is a Canadian life form who finds amusement in making up stories to the actions that people and creatures around her display. In her spare time Lady Bowering can often be found with a cup of tea in hand or using her especially useful talent of napping. A self proclaimed digital-hippie, art lover and a recovering interobang addict she dreams of one day owning a business of her own; as long as she can survive the tickle attacks her family dares to inflict upon her!

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