Lunar Silver Stary Story

Comrades in Arms....

Volume One

By Methos

Three weeks later

The Morning Star sailed slowly across the Meribian Sea, the cool evening breeze guiding it through the sapphire-blue water. The ship's crew was preparing dinner for the passengers, and the smell of cooking food drifted throughout the whole ship, whetting the appetites of all aboard.

Ghaleon watched Dyne as he stood at the stern of the ship, practicing his fire magic. Never had Ghaleon seen anybody master magic as quickly as Dyne had. In the three weeks since they left Vane, Dyne had learned several powerful flame and healing spells, and was highly skilled at using them. He had even learned a couple of vigor spells to increase his speed and strength in battle. I knew that he had a great potential for magic, but not to this degree! What kind of power will he have when he gets older? Is it that his adventure in Vane kick-started his interest, or... did Lemia, by helping me teach him magic, have anything to do with it?

He approached Dyne, who was still concentrating on his Flame Circle spell.

"You'd better be careful with that spell," said Ghaleon. "This ship is made of wood, you know. You don't want to set the ship on fire."

Dyne stopped chanting, and the magical flames faded away. "I haven't yet."

"True. But you have learned in three weeks what has taken some magic students years to learn. I'm quite impressed."

"Thanks. Where's Lemia?"

"She's on the port side. She's... uh... hall we say... still not used to sailing," he said with a laugh.

Dyne laughed as well. "No further questions."

Ghaleon stopped laughing and turned very serious. "You know that there can't be anything between you two. She's already been betrothed to another. It's the custom of the Magic Guild to do so. Lemia must marry one of the mages of Vane, to make sure that magical ability will remain strong in her bloodline."

Dye sighed. "I know. She told me a week ago, when I tried putting the moves on her."

Ghaleon raised an eyebrow. "You waited two weeks before trying something this time? Taking it slow this time, eh? Or trying to avoid another slap in the face?"

"Well, rushing in only gets me nowhere. I don't think she's the one for me anyway."

"Oh? You have someone else in mind?"

"Maybe. I dunno."

Ghaleon decided not to press the issue. He had seen this kind of mood before in other people, and had long since discovered that the best way to deal with them was to give them space. He went below deck, leaving Dyne alone with his thoughts.

# # #

"Captain! A Meribian vessel dead ahead!"

The captain of the pirate ship Darkfire smiled viciously. "Can ya make out a name?"

"It's the Morning Star, a passenger vessel."

"Ha! I've had me eyes on that one fer a LONG time! Prepare an intercept course! All hands, battle stations!"

# # #

Dyne stared at the evening sky, lost in reflection. The last time he had sailed upon the Meribian Sea was eight years ago, when he had first left Caldor Isle. He had sailed across several other seas since then, but the Meribian would always be his favorite. Probably because it was my first.

He took out his ocarina. He could still remember the melody he had come up with long ago like it was brand new, and had played it many times over the years. And each time, he could hear a lovely voice singing along with it.

In your dreams, magical thoughts
All things are real, unless you dream they're not
In your dreams, love is the plot
Carried on wings of hope

Each of our souls
Intertwine, when we do.
. Instantly we see it, the time to grow and-

"Pirates!" he heard someone scream, interrupting his song. "Pirates off the starboard!"

Instantly, Dyne drew his sword. It was a scimitar, purchased during his visit to the town of Ronin three years ago. It was his favorite weapon, and he had used it in many fights.

The captain looked through his spyglass at the incoming pirate ship. The flag was black, with the golden symbol of a flaming sword held over a lake. "By Althena..." the captain cried. "The Darkfire! D'Alkirk's ship!"

"D'Alkirk?" Dyne asked. "You mean Mel D'Alkirk himself?"

"Aye, lad, and I hope you can use that blade that you've got there, 'cause Hell Mel is the toughest pirate ever to sail the Meribian Sea!"

Ghaleon came running up on deck, his long sword drawn. "Did I hear something about pirates?"

Dyne smirked. "With ears like yours, how could you not?"

"It's 'Hell Mel' D'Alkirk!" the captain shrieked in alarm. "We're doomed!"

Lemia came over to Dyne and Ghaleon, looking a sickly shade of green. "Oh, good. Maybe they can put me out of my misery."

"Try to take out a few of the pirates with your magic first," said Dyne.

"They're almost gaining on us!" the captain moaned. "We can't outrun them!"

"Then don't! We'll fight them off!" snapped Dyne.

"Who's 'we'?"

"My friends and I. And any of your crew that would care to pitch in."

The captain nodded. "Drop anchor! All hands, prepare for battle!"

Ghaleon looked grim. "Dyne, I don't think you realize what you're getting into here. I've heard many stories of Mel D'Alkirk. He's been marauding long before you and I met. He has no mercy, no equal, and no limit to his strength. Some of this ship's crew may be injured, or even killed. Think carefully before rushing head-first into danger."

"I don't care! If he really is as dangerous as they say, he has to be stopped! With you, me, and Lemia working together, we can stop him and save these people!"

Ghaleon sighed. "Just be careful. Don't underestimate D'Alkirk."

"Look out!" a crewman cried. "They're attacking!"

A series of strange cries soared through the air as a group of pirates leaped from their ship onto the Morning Star . Dyne immediately charged at them, slashing at them with powerful blows from his scimitar. With each stroke, a pirate fell dead or wounded to the deck.

A second group of about twenty pirates leaped onto the deck of the Morning Star . Lemia knocked some them off their feet with a low-level ice spell. Then Dyne and Ghaleon attacked them with their swords. Between Dyne's strength, Ghaleon's speed, and Lemia's magic, the battle was fierce, but short.

More pirates had already boarded, and were attacking the crew. Although they fought back, the brutal pirates easily cut them down. Enraged, Dyne lashed out at them, dispatching many of them quickly and easily. The rest of the crew and Ghaleon quickly descended upon the survivors.

Dyne looked around with grim satisfaction. The Morning Star's casualties were few, and the rest seemed to be holding their own. Most of the pirates were either dead or wounded, and only a few were still on their feet. Then, a monstrous shadow seemed to cover him. He turned around... and stared right into the face of the dreaded Hell Mel.

He was a "beast-man," a member of the mysterious race that is half-man, half beast. He must have been at least seven feet tall, with a powerful, muscular build. His hair and beard were dark gray, with a silver streak down the center. His eyes were such a dark shade of brown that they looked as black as a midnight sky. He wore white, loose-fitting slacks and shirt, and a long, red cape. But the scariest thing about him was the axe he held in his hands. It was as tall as Mel himself, as thick as one of his arms, and the razor-sharp blade was twice the size of his head. Yet, Mel was spinning it above his head as if it weighed as much as an uncooked noodle.

He truly looked like the ferocious brigand the stories made him out to be. He stared at Dyne, with a look of absolute rage on his face. His dark eyes were now blazing with anger. Ghaleon and Lemia were about to come to Dyne's aid, but Dyne motioned for them to stay back.

"Ye're dead, boy," Mel said to Dyne. His deep voice came out as a sinister growl.

Dyne felt fear for the first time in a long time. Yet he held his ground. "By the power of Althena," he said, remembering the words to the spell Lemia had taught him, "I summon forth strength, speed, and skill into mine own self, by the might of the Power Drive!"

Immediately, Dyne felt a tremendous energy coarse through him, and felt stronger and faster than ever.

Mel only laughed. "Ha! Neither your petty tricks nor the Goddess can save ya now! Nothing can!"

"Are we gonna talk, or fight?"

Mel laughed. "We're gonna fight, boy. And we're gonna start right now!"

And with a savage war cry, Mel slashed at Dyne with his axe. Dyne blocked the blow, but the impact jarred his entire body. But only for a second. Mel continued with three more strokes, and Dyne parried each stroke. He then lunged at Mel with his scimitar, but with surprising speed, Mel blocked it easily. Mel chopped downwards, aiming at Dyne's legs, but Dyne back-flipped over the deadly blade. Dyne aimed for Mel's unprotected chest, but Mel parried that attack as well.

Everybody, pirates and the Morning Star crew alike, stopped whatever they were doing to watch the duel. Although Dyne and Mel had not been fighting for over a minute yet, nobody had ever lasted even that long against Hell Mel, and they were amazed that a young man not even twenty could withstand Mel's brutal onslaught.

Mel took another swing at Dyne. Dyne parried, but Mel caught Dyne's blade with the curve of his axe. Dyne swiped his scimitar downwards, freeing it, and delivered a cutting blow that would have decapitated Mel, but Mel parried the desperate blow. Mel then swiped at Dyne with the shaft of the axe, but Dyne ducked and lunged upwards at Mel's chest. But this was blocked as well.

I don't believe it! thought Mel. Nobody can stand against me for this long! I'm Hell Mel D'Alkirk, and I will not be defeated and disgraced by a mere boy!

By Althena, thought Dyne, I've never faced such a powerful opponent! But I can't fail! For if I do, Mel will slaughter all these innocent people! No matter what, I can't let that happen!

The battle now reached a new intensity as Dyne and Mel redoubled their efforts. All thoughts were pushed from their minds, save one: victory. They lunged and slashed at each other, but each blow was blocked harmlessly. Neither one was able to even scratch the other. Their audience was unable to keep track of the two warriors as they battled across the Morning Star's deck.

The duel continued late into the night. Nothing, not hunger, thirst, or sleep, would stand between the two. They wouldn't even stop to catch their breaths. Nothing would stop them, not until one of them had claimed the final victory. Most of the Morning Star's crew and the pirates were also caught up in this epic battle, and could not stop watching.

And so the battle went on... until the early morning... and late into the night once more... for seven days and seven nights. Yet both seemed to be just as fresh as when they had first started. Both were still uninjured. And both were determined to win, no matted what. Despite all appearances, however, Dyne and Mel were barely able to stand. They were weak from a lack of sleep and food. Yet, their sheer force of will kept them going.

Suddenly, on the seventh night of non-stop combat, with neither one gaining any advantage, both Dyne and Mel slashed at each other, and Mel's axe hooked on scimitar blade. They struggled to free their weapons for a full five minutes. Finally the two weapons disengaged. They both prepared to put all of their remaining energy into one final blow. Dyne and Mel raised their weapons, preparing to strike... and they both collapsed to the deck from sheer exhaustion, barely conscious.

# # #

"By the Goddess..." Ghaleon whispered, walking over to the fallen Dyne.

Lemia's eyes widened in fear. "Are they... dead?"

Ghaleon gave her a comforting smile. "Thankfully, no. It's nothing that a large meal and a week's worth of sleep won't take care of."

The crew had already helped Dyne to his feet, and the pirates did the same with their fallen leader. They gave both some water, which revitalized them.

Mel looked Dyne straight in the eye. Everyone expected him to be furious at being bested by a mere boy. Instead he laughed, a warm laugh full of humor and respect. "By Althena, that was the best fight I've ever had in me entire life! Ya got a lot of heart, son! I like that!"

Dyne couldn't help smiling. "Thanks, Captain D'Alkirk."

"It's 'Mel' to my friends and shipmates. But I'll let ya call me that too! Bwah hah hah! And you are?"

"Dyne." He indicated his friends. "These are my friends, Ghaleon and Lemia Ausa."

Mel shook hands with Ghaleon, and bowed politely to Lemia. "A pleasure to meet you." He then turned back to Dyne. "So what brings ya to these parts?"

"Adventure," said Dyne. "We just wander around, traveling to new and interesting places."

Mel smiled. "Ah, ye're lucky to have the chance to do that at your age. I remember when I first started my adventures, so long ago."

Dyne returned the smile. He may be a pirate and the deadliest fighter I've ever met, but he has a noble, adventurous spirit to him. Just like me when I was younger.

"Adventures?" Ghaleon said with an amused smile. "Don't you mean 'raids'? You are a pirate, you know."

Mel sighed. "Not entirely by choice. In Meribia, beast-men are outcasts. The humans refuse to accept us. We can't work, and have no way to make an honest living. I was forced to fight in an arena for some rich merchant whenever he wanted to entertain his guests. I wasn't about to live my life as a slave, so I escaped and decided to turn pirate. Ya may have noticed that all my crew are beast-men. They're not bad, but they have no other choice, other than starvin' to death. It's our only way of makin' a living and striking back against those who oppress our kind. They're not bad people."

"And what about all those that you've killed?" Lemia asked coldly.

Mel's eyes narrowed. "I only kill in self-defense. Those that I or my crew have killed were armed, and they died fighting. I've never killed innocent bystanders. I do this for the money, not for the slaughter. And, of course, the adventure."

Dyne and his friends looked at Mel sympathetically.

The captain of the Morning Star came over and eyed Mel coldly. "If you two are done yapping, we have to get going, and I am to place Mel D'Alkirk under arrest."

Mel's eyes blazed, and Dyne knew that despite his exhaustion, Mel could still obliterate the captain with a single punch. Besides, he couldn't let Mel rot in prison for life. "Wait, captain!" he said. "By right of victory, it is for me to decide what to do with D'Alkirk. And I choose to let him and his men go free."

The captain's jaw dropped in astonishment, but he wasn't about to say "no". Especially to a man he owed his life to.

"Victory?" laughed Mel. "What victory? It was a draw!"

Dyne grinned. "I survived a battle with Hell Mel himself. I call that a victory."

Mel bowed, honored by the praise. "Would you and yer friends like to join me and my crew for dinner aboard my ship?"

Dyne's stomach roared, as he remembered he hadn't eaten for a week. He looked at his friends, who looked like they could use a good meal themselves. "It would be an honor," Dyne said.

# # #

After freshening up, Dyne, Ghaleon, and Lemia entered the dining area of the Darkfire , and looked around in amazement. It looked like the Great Hall of a king's palace. The walls were covered with mementos of Mel's raids, such as banners, shields, and weapons. The table was covered by a silk tablecloth, and the dishes, silverware, and goblets were of the finest silver, for both Mel, the guests, and the crew alike. Humongous platters with all sorts of delicacies were waiting for them, filling the room with a wonderful smell.

Mel was seated at the head of the table, grinning broadly as they entered. "The guests of honor arrive! Be seated, please, and help yourselves!"

The meal was a festive one, and both Dyne and Mel ate ravenously, more than making up for the week of eating they had missed. The food was excellent, and only the finest Meribian wine was served. Mel was a gracious host and the crew, and his crew was no different. During the meal, Dyne, Ghaleon and Lemia told Mel about how they had met up with Dyne and what they had experienced since. Mel, in turn, fascinated his guests with stories about some of his most daring raids.

"So where are ya headed to now?" Mel asked.

"We weren't really sure," Ghaleon said. "We just wanted to tour the Meribian Sea for a while, and then visit some more of the distant continents."

"Well, how about sailing with me for a while? There isn't a city or continent that the Darkfire can't reach. Plus, I like yer company. Even you, Dyne," he said with a laugh.

"That's a kind offer," Lemia said apologetically, "but I don't know if a pirate is a good career choice for the heir to Magic Guild of Vane."

Mel laughed. "All right, all right. I'll take a break from the pirating business for a while. I guess I owe it to ya for savin' me from a jail cell. My crew and I got ourselves enough to last a while."

Lemia smiled. "If you put it that way..."

"What about you two?" Mel asked Dyne and Ghaleon.

"Works for me," Dyne said.

Ghaleon hesitated, but then nodded. "Count me in. At least things won't be boring."

Mel laughed again. "Ya got THAT right, buddy. So, where to first?"

Dyne smiled solemnly. "That, my friend, is up to destiny."

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