Chapter 1 - The Twins - (Act I)


The Lychen’s Fiddle cut its way cleanly through the green-blue waters off the Talkenerren coast, the breeze whistling calmly through its rigging. The day was balmy and warm, the sun reflecting lazily off the gentle waves that surrounded it. The prow cleaved the water effortlessly, sending up briny spray that shone with refracted rainbows. Riding low in the water and heavy with cargo, she was an impressive sight; not for size but for her profile, unfamiliar and exotic to this part of the world. She bore three masts of elven design and was built for speed, sailing with moderate armaments and a skilled and seasoned crew that knew the vessel and their weapons equally well. While she took to the breeze at a steady clip, her deep green sails taut and full, her crew were taking the afternoon without concern, relaxing below or on deck.

Her figurehead was that of a lone, muscular she-wolf that stood on the prow at the furthest extent with an aggressive stance, teeth bared. It suited the crew well, they had been in these unfamiliar waters for the better part of a year, a lone arctic wolf in hostile territory, running cargo and errands for the main port of the coast while they waited patiently.

On deck, talking with the First Mate at the helm, the two children stood and played. A boy and girl with barely a moment between their births. Both of glossy, jet black hair and sharp, sky blue eyes.

“Did you see his arm, Sis?” the boy said, a frown drawing his brows together.

The girl lifted a hand, pulling her sleeve over it, “I know, he lost his hand. Can you imagine, losing a hand? No more two-handed spells.” the girl said, waving the empty sleeve of her robe in front of her brother’s face, deliberately taunting him without affect.

“Tiffaniel! Losing a hand is terrible, especially the leading hand. He’ll be crippled for life, its not something to jest over.” said the First Mate with a disapproving glare.

Tiffaniel looked at him mischeiviously, “I think he needs a hook, Darius!” she said with a nervous giggle.

Darius shook his head as his expression soured, “Groyven, at least you seem to have a sensible head on your shoulders.” he said, watching Tiffaniel waving at random members of the crew pretending to have no hands, “At least, a more sensible head then that one.”

Groyven watched his sister, trying to stifle a grin as she pulled faces, stumping around the deck. He felt a large hand on his shoulder, instantly recognising it as the Captain’s. He looked up at the man who had become like a father figure to him since the loss of their parents.

“Children, it is time for your lessons. Darius has a helm to mind and I am sure he has had enough of your antics.” he said, his voice deep and calm.

“Lessons? I can’t and I shan’t, oh Captain! For I am lacking hands with which to cast with. I shall return to my room and have someone feed me, as I cannot feed myself.” Tiffaniel said with a playful pout.

The Captain smiled broadly, “Feed you? I have no one to spare to do such a task. I”ll set out a bowl on the deck, always wanted a pet dog to have as a mascot for the ‘Fiddle, preferably one that resembles a wolf. But, I suppose, I can always make do.”

Tiffaniel stomped her foot the Captain chuckling in the face of her glare.

“Tiff, from this angle I could almost mistake you for a wolf pup, with eyes like those.”

She slowly let her hands out from her sleeves and stood straight, “I am sorry for any trouble caused Captain. I am only jesting. Playing even.”

“Your play may be in jest. But understand; to lose an extremity is a sacrifice that is nigh impossible to overcome. You can make do, but every day is filled with hardships and challenges made more difficult. Even a single finger lost is a handicap that can make the difference in surviving a fight to the death.” he said firmly.

He tousled Groyven’s hair gently, “Your childish play may be innocent and without malice, but always be mindful of others who may not see it that way.”

Tiffaniel looked to Darius, “My apologies, First Mate. Please excuse my behaviour.”

“No offence taken, little miss. But just know, when I was a young pup, my Da’ lost a hand in an accident with the ropes and the only consolation is he had saved a close friend from becoming shark bait that day. Every day was a struggle after that.”

Tiffaniel looked at her toes as Darius’s words sunk in, “I am sorry, Darius.”

“You didn’t know, but learn from this and like the Captain says, ‘Be mindful of who is watching your antics. Always. There are many people in this world who aren’t so understanding or forgiving.” Darius said, crouching to Tiffaniel’s level, holding out one of his large calloused hands.

Tiffaniel put her small hand in his and met his warm gaze. She quickly hugged him with an apologetic smile.

“Go, Tiff. You have some lessons to attend.” said Darius with a small chuckle in his voice.

She nodded, smiling, “I promise I will come and keep you company afterwards.”

“Only if I am still at the wheel, little Miss. Go.”

Tiffaniel nodded then looked to the Captain with an expectant glint in her eye, “Who will I be with today?”

He gathered Tiffaniel with Groyven and led them down to the main deck, “Tiff, you will be with the Fiddle’s defensive spell-runner.”

“Illias?” asked Tiffaniel with a hopeful expression.

The Captain raised a brow, “No, not Illias, Sialin. She is well versed in the thread, she offered to help you practice and hone your skills.”

Tiffaniel pulled a disgruntle look, “But last time all she would make me do was freeze fish while they were underwater.”

“And what did we all eat that night?” asked the Captain as he continued to walk ahead of them.

“Fish.” groaned Tiffaniel.

“The freshest fish I have ever eaten, seven hours after being caught.” he looked to her with a kindly expression, “Who would have thought that instantly freezing them solid while they were still swimming would prove such an effective way of catching and preserving them. All we needed was a small net, not hours of fishing with a line.”

Tiffaniel frowned and spoke more to herself than the Captain and her brother, “I just hope she will show me something more impressive. At least Illias lets me use my power.”

The Captain looked at her sidelong, “Spending half an hour, a handful of spells and catching enough to feed the entire crew heartily is impressive.”

Tiffaniel’s expression softened somewhat, “What will Groyven be doing?”

“He will be with me, assisting with mapping and charting. Tomorrow you and I will do the same.”

“No spells?” Tiffaniel looked across at Groyven, “He doesn’t get to do spells?”

“Sis, who do you think will be cooking the fish you catch today? Remember, because of,” said Groyven his brows drawn together, jerking his head sharply while giving her a look to be silent, “Using our spells, it is really important to learn… Captain, what was that word you used last time?”

“Finesse.” he said as he glanced down at Groyven.

Groyven nodded, “That one, finesse. I can summon a fireball large enough to destroy the ship in one hit, but I struggle with steady, controlled flames. We both have power, but finesse is hard.”

The Captain nodded, “Yes. With finesse you can truly control a situation. Overwhelming power is good to have when you need it, but without mastery over it, it is only a crude but powerful weapon. Think, Tiffaniel, you can control water and ice, you can command waves or unleash an icy blast, but can you summon the moisture from the air and turn it into a single delicate snowflake?”

Tiffaniel shook her head, scowling slightly, “I want to though.”

“Then you know what must be done. You two children have been blessed with power that most spell-runners hope to achieve after many years of careful and diligent study and practice. Where they have to work their way up, strangely you two have to work your way down. I find this curious. Not unheard of, but curious.”

“What of Selera?” asked Groyven.

“Your elder sister? She has a natural talent to adapt and master a situation, it comes easy to her. I rely on it. Soon, you two will be spending more time on board the Fiddle, and we will be leaving for more temperate waters. I, like everyone on board have had enough of this infernal heat off the desert.”

Tiffaniel’s head whipped around, the immediate quiet embers of outrage in her eyes, “We will be leaving the Enclave?” she asked.

“Selera hasn’t spoken to you of this yet?” the Captain winced, realising his slip, “It is best that Selera speaks to you of this matter.”

Tiffaniel’s face darkened, “I wish she would stop deciding for us, she is our sister, not our…”

The Captain looked down at her, with a stern expression that silenced her.

“She just, she has no,” Tiffaniel tried to continue.

“Sis, stop.” Groyven said, an frustrated expression growing on his face, “You and I will talk about this later.”

“You mean you will talk, while I pretend to listen? You are just as bad as she is.” shot back Tiffaniel, aggressively walking ahead of them, cool air swirling in her wake, “I know where to find Sialin. I don’t need you to escort me.”

“Tiff…?” Groyven said to her back as she stormed off, “Tiff, she does her best for…”

“She is not ready or willing to understand, lad. She needs some time to burn off that anger, Sialin will take care of that for now.” said the Captain, resting a reassuring hand on Groyven’s shoulder, “Try not to worry yourself.”

Groyven frowned, “She just doesn’t want to.”

The Captain crouched in front of Groyven, bringing his grey eyes to the same level, “You both have been through a terrible situation, together. She is always angry with your elder sister because she doesn’t want anyone to replace the role of your parents deep inside, in her heart. Even after almost a year, she is still afraid of those memories fading. I understand the feeling, when things slip away, it hurts.”

“But, Captain, Selera is hurting too. All Tiff does is attack everything she does for us.”

The Captain nodded, “Aye, she just needs more time, space and time. Selera knows this. You should tell Lera how you feel, a little talk of appreciation goes a long way with letting her know she is on the right path. Taking care of you and Tiff has helped her stay focussed.”

Groyven nodded, “But, you have done so much for us too, Captain.”

The Captain chuckled, running a hand through his hair, “It is the least I could do, I have known Lera for a long time and she has got me, my ship and crew out of a bind many a time. I trust her with my life. Having a couple of near to teen children along for the ride is a small price to pay to keep my best spell-runner.”

Groyven looked at the Captain’s softened features, “Selera is more than just your spell-runner, isn’t she?”

The Captain laughed and squeezed Groyven’s shoulder gently, “Intuitive one, aren’t you?” he said, leaving the question unanswered.

“Come Groyven, since we have gone over the basics, I would like you to help me with mapping our course back down the coast. I know it isn’t spell craft, but they are skills worth learning. After Sialin has finished with your sister she wants to have you for the remainder of the afternoon, something about you having more focus and stamina with your spells.”

Groyven nodded, allowing himself to be led back along the main deck. He quickly glanced back over his shoulder, seeing Tiffaniel disappear out of sight as she mounted the steps to the forecastle. He frowned again, his eyes troubled, following the Captain back to his cabin.



A note from JMMatheis


~   eric_river  DrBuller  Supagokiburi  Briizy  Zaq            ~

~   R. R. Quan  Hexenblume           ~

I just wish to thank the amazing community members who reviewed my story and are a part of the greater Royal Road experience! 

I highly recommend checking out what they are up to, because many are creating some amazing fictions just a click away!


A final extra thanks to eric_river (Hero's Song and Twig) for introducing and implementing a version of this list first, he is truly an inspiration! 

~ If you would prefer to not have your name on this list, please let me know.

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About the author


Bio: I am the creator and scribe of the Foxsyn Arcanum.

A warm welcome to all those interested in becoming entwined in the worlds that I imagine.

Depending how you look at it, I have been either blessed or cursed with having an entire world/universe stuck in my head since I was young enough to realise it was there. People, places, forests, rivers, oceans, continents... Good, evil and every shade in between, playing out their lives and battling to survive.

Interested in hanging out or discussing the story/chapters, check out my discord:

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eric_river ago

The depth of all these characters is really enticing
in the dialogue their personalities all sing
the way the magic of the world works also seems quite fun
though a child, groyven sure is an understanding one

Zaq ago

All of these characters are distinctive in all the right ways.

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Zearth ago

Fire and water twins. Yet their personality implies the opposite. :)

Fancyotter98 ago

spell-runner, thats a cool name for a caster, would be a cool class name for a game too. im looking forward to seeing how your magic system works.

    JMMatheis ago

    On board ship, Spell-Runner is the title for any caster who is part of the crew.

    You'll see an example of magic pretty soon in the coming chapters!!!

    Thanks for the comment!!!

chacofeli ago

Edit suggestions:

Darius shook his head as his expression soured, “Groyven, at least you seem to have a sensible head on your shoulders.” he said, watching Tiffaniel waving at random members of the crew pretending to have no hands, “At least, a more sensible head thenthan that one.”

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