I was regurgitating, my stomach was convulsing violently and I struggled to gasp for air between each wave of rancid barf. Some helpful hand was holding my hair and patting my back, I probably shouldn't have drunk so much.
"There, there, let it all out," He said, patting my back.
The voice belonged to the white ghost, at least I thought it did.
"I am done," I squeezed out, my hand reaching to my bag of holding.
I took out a first thing made of cloth and wiped the tears and vomit off my face and chin, luckily, my clothes were spared. After cleaning my eyes I realized that there was a bowl in front of me, it smelt of rancid alcohol that just left my stomach.
"We are abroad Luna, a skyship." That person said.
"What?" I asked, turning to look at him.
He was a young man, probably not even in his twenties considering his youthful face. He had wavy brown hair that reached his cheeks, round and upturned green eyes with somewhat thick eyebrows above. His nose was straight and his other features were rather chiseled.
"We are abroad a skyship, currently parked above Balera." He repeated. "What's your name?"
I looked around, we were in a small wooden cabin with a single bed and a small cupboard, there was barely enough space for the two of us. It was getting hot, I was starting to hyperventilate; the creaking wood coupled with small space was doing me in.
"I need to get outside," I said, trying to get up from the bed but he stopped me.
"You need to rest, I am Tomas, by the way." He said, putting his arm on my shoulder.
I was getting jittery, I had to get out right now. Without thinking much, I slapped his hand away and jumped out of the bed, my bare feet slapping against the wood.
"Wait!" Tomas shouted.
He tried to grab me but I slipped underneath his arms and ran out of the cabin. I bounced off the wall and ran towards the closest stairs, I had to get outside. I heard Tomas cry out to me and his footsteps behind but I ignored him.
There were was a red-haired girl sitting on the stairs, she was resting her chin against her knees.
"Grab her!" Tomas shouted to her.
Damn it, just let me breathe.
The girl jumped up and tried to stop me, she got my hand but I threw her aside, I could only hear a thud of her body colliding with the wall. I ran up the stairs and forced the hatch open, there was a loud crack when I did, the hinges probably broke.
Bright light didn't mix well with my hangover, I squinted my eyes and realized I was on ships' deck. A cold breeze washed over me, I stopped, closed my eyes and tried to calm my breathing. The high pitched whistling of my heart was hurting my ears, I hated this sound.
Someone was running up to me, probably Tomas trying to tackle me or something.
"Leave her be," Said another man, I recognized this voice.
I looked in that direction and saw a middle-aged man wearing Lion's uniform, he was bald and had a goatee, his face looked stern on first glance but there was some warmth hidden within. I realized who it was, Gand Terroso.
Gand smiled and me and said, "Sorry for not being considerate but we didn't have a bigger room."
"What the hell did you eat as a kid?!"A high pitched voice asked from behind.
I looked over my arm, it was the girl I threw against the wall; she was currently massaging her red head. She shot me an annoyed glance and pursed her full lips, she had shockingly green eyes, even more so than Tomas.
"Sorry about throwing you," I said to her.
"Whatever, it's Tomas' fault, he told me to grab you." She said and pointed with her chin at Tomas who was awkwardly standing there.
I remembered something and said to Tomas, "It's Marie, sorry."
After doing this I sat down on the deck and hugged my knees, trying to calm myself. The cold breeze and bare feet helped with the heat I was feeling. Gand approached me and squatted some distance from me, a friendly smile on his face.
"Can you tell me what happened, Marie?" He asked me.
My body shook, I didn't want to talk about it, I didn't want to relive that so soon. I shook my head and pursed my lips, refusing to talk. I fixed my eyes on my toes and lightly rocked back and forth, I didn't like how the ship creaked.
"She's a goner, whatta hell happened?" The red-haired girl asked.
Gand didn't immediately respond, I could tell he was looking at me for a moment before standing up.
"Look below and you will find your answer." He said to the girl.
"Ciara, you should really mind your language," Tomas said and walked up in front of me. He squatted and asked, "Do you want a blanket? Maybe something else?"
"Water. The hangover's killing me," I replied in a small voice.
I heard Ciara snort, "I ain't-a lady, swearing is a fair game."
Tomas ignored her and said, "Alright Marie, I'll bring you some water."
He stood up and walked away, his footsteps soon disappearing under the deck.
"Thunder killed them," I squeezed out.
I instantly felt better after getting it out of my system, it was different when sober.
"We know that ya knobhead, we were coming to help ya," Ciara said.
She jumped up in front of me and waved her hand in front of my eyes, annoyed I looked at her freckled face. She was pretty, with red curly hair and thick red eyebrows. Her skin was really pale, almost milky white. I would say she looked older than me, a year or two at most.
"What?" I hissed through my squeezed teeth.
Ciara grinned and said, "So you ain't-a goner, I thought ya became a vegetable. We had a guy once, cauldron exploded in his face, ya see, he turned into a retard!"
I clenched my jaw even harder and hissed, "I would gladly switch places with you." I looked to the side, "You didn't see it up close. You won't understand."
Ciara furrowed her eyebrows, "Whattaya mean up close?"
She didn't get her answer because Tomas was back with a flask of cold water, I thanked him and gulped it down; instantly feeling better. He took the empty flask and shot me a curious glance, encouraging smile on his face.
Feeling better, I stood up and looked around, wincing when the deck beneath me creaked. Other than these three, there were some other people curiously looking in our direction. I stood on what looked like a deck of a typical galleon just without any masts, instead, there were thick cords that connected to an elongated balloon above.
"We really are in the sky..." I muttered.
"Indeed, Luna is Arcane River's fastest skyship." Gand said and sighed, "Sadly not fast enough."
"It wouldn't matter." I blurted out.
"What do you mean?" Gand asked, frowning.
"Are ya stupid? Teacher Terroso is an Archmage, do ya even know what that means, ya bimbo?" Ciara snapped at me.
"You would get all killed, as we did," I replied in a small voice.
Tomas coughed and said, "You are quite certainly not dead, I thought we already established that?"
Well, not anymore pretty boy. Maybe it would have been easier if I stayed dead, I wouldn't have to suffer anymore. I squeezed my clothes where the heart was, the whistling wakestone was a constant reminder of my stupidity.
"Do you have a physician on board?" I asked.
Ciara was about to say something but a wave of Gand's hand was enough to shut her up.
He calmly regarded me and asked, "Why?"
"T-Thunder, he took my heart," I squeezed out, shivering.
Gand looked serious, "Then what is beating within your chest now?"
"Beating? Nothing." I said and clenched my jaw again, "I had a weird vision and one of my treasures took its place, reviving me." I revealed.
"Bullshit!" Ciara shouted out.
Tomas only shot me a shocked glance, he looked at Gand and said, "Teacher, have you heard about such thing before?"
Gand traced his goatee and said, "Possibly, reverse dragon scale could have such an effect. A treasure of similar quality, brimming with lifeforce, could also do it."
"There you have it," I said, my eyes fixed on the wooden deck.
There wasn't anything interesting there, some wood and nails, I just struggled to keep eye contact.
"Why were you even fighting, Marie?" Tomas asked me.
I shot him a quick glance and said, "Because I had this."
I took out [Holy Furor] scroll and stuck my hand out.
"Heavens!" Gand stormed up to me, he almost wrenched the scroll from my hand but he stopped himself in the last moment. "May I inspect it?" He asked, shakily.
I threw the scroll to him, it didn't matter whether he took it or not. It lost its purpose. Gand excitedly grabbed it and slightly unfurled it.
"And the spell within is...? Heavens almighty!" Gand exclaimed.
"Teacher, what is on it?" Ciara asked, trying to touch the scroll.
Gand moved the scroll out of her reach and said, "Light element spell. Beyond Archmage rank!" His deep voice was shaky.
"What?!" Both Ciara and Tomas shouted out, trying to get closer to the scroll.
The other people on the deck also rushed over, attracted by the commotion. It was only now that I realized all of them were wearing the same kind of uniform. Black pants and shirts with long white jackets.
The jackets had military and very fitting cut with round stiff collars, they looked to be made with dimensions of each person in mind. The jackets had seven round silver buttons but almost everyone had their unbuttoned. On their shoulders were silver stars and stripes, respectively on left and right shoulder.
The people that swarmed all had different amounts of stars and stripes on their shoulders.
Feeling suffocated, I backed out of the crowd and leaned on the railing. I could see the ruined cityscape below me, still smoldering. I could see small dots of people working below, and wagons filled with bodies. Guilt and disgust wrenched my stomach, luckily, there was only water inside now.
I closed my eyes and enjoyed the cold breeze whipping against my skin. I heard Gand disperse the crowd, he told them to leave.
"Do you hail from the land of heroes?" Gand asked after waking up to me.
I turned around, he was standing with his hand extended; aiming to return the scroll. I hesitated and reached for it but retracted my hand in the end.
"Keep the scroll, I don't want it," I said.
Gand was silent for a moment before saying, "I will keep it temporarily then."
"Mhm." I leaned my back against the railing.
Looking up, I realized how clear the sky was today, completely different from what I saw for the last five days. I felt like the heavens were mocking me, telling me that the storm passed at the cost of countless lives. Tomas and Ciara walked up, looking at me as if I were some special specimen.
I took a deep breath and repeated my previous question, "Do you have a physician or not?"
"Not exactly but one of Arcane River's best Sorcerers that focus on healing is with us." Gand said but then added, "We need to go underneath the deck. Can you do it?"
Grimacing at the thought of having to walk into the death trap again, I asked, "Can't he come up there?"
"Sir Cana is of advanced age, it's hard for him to move around," Tomas explained.
Well, it would be ridiculous to ask an old man to get on the deck because a healthy teenager was scared of creaking wood and small spaces, I wasn't that pathetic.
"Give me a moment, I-I don't like how the wood creaks," I said and tried to prepare myself mentally.
"Huh? Ya a hippie?" Ciara asked me.
I glanced at her but quickly averted my gaze, "It reminds me of crackling lightning."
Tomas must have poked Ciara because she jumped up and squeaked, he whispered to her, "Apologize!"
I didn't want to talk with them so I turned to Gand and said, "Let's go."
Feeling a little better, I followed Gand into Luna's depths. I still overestimated myself, each creak startled me, the wooden walls felt dangerously tight. Mind over matter my ass, this was too hard. We stopped in front of a certain pair of doors, Gand knocked on them.
"Jon, it's me." He said.
The door opened, there was an elderly man sitting on a stool inside. He looked like a friendly neighborhood grandpa with his long beard and wise eyes. He smiled at me and shot a quizzical look at Gand. Jon let us in with a serious face after Gand explained the situation.
"Sit down, child," Jon said to me and stood up from the stool. He had a very ancient and breathy voice but he spoke in a friendly tone.
He walked up from behind me and placed his hand on my back, I winced and frowned but relaxed when I realized that he wasn't doing anything weird. Jon's palm let out a warm feeling, I felt it for only a moment because he hastily retracted his hand.
"I haven't seen such a thing in all two hundred years of my life," Jon said shakily.
Two hundred? That must have been some kind of record, I wouldn't give him more than eighty based on his looks alone.
"What is it?" I asked, turning my head to look at his stunned face.
"In your chest? Hard to say," He shrugged, his ancient bones cracking.
I couldn't help but wince.
Well, that wasn't really that unexpected. I wouldn't expect them to know what a wakestone was but I felt it wasn't the best idea to show them one either. I stood up from the stool and leaned against the wall, I could tell that Jon was struggling to stand for longer amounts of time.
Gand looked at me worriedly before asking Jon, "Did you learn anything?"
"Well, a thing or two," Jon said and sat down on the stool, "Some kind of magical core replaced her heart, it's incredible."
"Magical core?" Gand started pacing back and forth in the small cabin. "Does it generate magical power?"
Jon replied, "Only enough to pump blood,"
I could swear that Gand's eyes shone in the dim light, he looked at me and asked, "Marie, do you know your magical aptitude?"
I shook my head, "The portable testers that Lisa and Ryse had all exploded when I touched them." I replied.
Their faces flashed before my eyes, their unwillingness, and fear. It was getting hot again, the constant creaking kept sounding more and more like the crackling lightning. I tried to focus on the whistling of my heart, it was a better sound to listen to.
Gand stopped, looking at me in amazement. He asked, "Exploded? Before you got that magic core as your heart?"
I nodded my head, it was the truth. My breathing was getting rapid, the whistling in my ears growing louder.
Gand looked at me fervently. In a trembling voice, he asked, "Marie, would you be interested in learning at Arcane River?"