Rum & Molotov



Book I - Chapter I: Life on the Foggy Seas


The Foggy Ocean, vast and unknowable, stretched across the horizon line in all directions, churning and bubbling like some great miasmatic stew...”


This was not, to be honest, a very flattering description of the greatest ocean in the known magical world. It was a description lacking strong, aggressive adjectives that would speak to the Oceans' propensity for sinking ships in terrible and sudden storms. It also failed to note the colour of the ocean, which often swung somewhere between "wine-dark" and "suspicious-blue".


It lacked other descriptive words too. Words like "dangerous" and "deadly", which would be great for describing the various sea monsters, lesser ocean deities, and cannibalistic mer-people that lurked below the waves. It didn't mention anything about how pirate fleets could descend upon an unaware vessel, shredding it to scraps of wood, annihilation by way of sharp cutlass and sapphire-lightening magic in just a few minutes time. (Or an hour's time, if the pirate fleet had a strong union.)


Now, the description does mention "vast and unknowable". A good start, because the Foggy Ocean did have a habit of misplacing islands and other major landmasses, moving their tectonic plates about in the night and causing many a cartographer to bust a blood vessel all over their charts and figures.


But if Rum was being honest with himself, the place where his description of the Foggy Ocean really fell apart was the bit about the stew.


I mean no one dislikes stew. It's tasty. Filling. Usually has a bunch of potatoes and carrots in it.


Yes, stew was generally seen as a very good thing. It was tasty- and the Foggy Ocean was not a very tasty place to be, as any decent adventurer could tell you. It was an ocean reminiscent of biting into a roasted plantain you'd mistaken as a sausage- cruel, deceptive, brutally unfair. That's what the Foggy Ocean truly was. Honestly, you had to be quite mad to venture out upon it, questing for gold, glory and adventure.


Rumma von Adilstan squinted down at the parchment in his hand, trying to keep the words straight despite the rolling deck below him.


“Miasmatic... stew..." he muttered to himself. After another minute, with his enthusiasm for his writing sinking fast, he scrunched up the paper, throwing it over his shoulder. The wind caught it, and carried it into the bubbling sea.


Rumma von Adilstan didn't enjoy the ocean. He didn't enjoy the outdoors much to begin with. He scanned the deck of the small, two-masted schooner, grabbing for another piece of parchment paper from his satchel. Rumma, or Rum to everyone else, would describe himself as a young adult man, very learned, and wise, and strong.


Most people would describe Rum as a lanky sixteen year old boy, with pasty white skin, unremarkable brown hair, and a big-nose like a seagull. The seagull was in fact, the perfect animal comparison. In a world teaming with reality-warping wizards who breathed sulphur, mammoth-born barbarians capable of lifting fifty-pound bastard swords forged with the years of an AB-Negative Blood God, and horrific squid monsters with several thousand eyes and half as many eye sockets, Rum most resembled a seagull. He was not much fun to be around, and a deeply, earnestly, forgettable creature.

He also wrote a lot of poetry, which was a problem in itself.


Despite being sixteen, Rum had already learned some valuable life lessons. He was learning that woollen shirts were not very useful on the open sea, despite being in style at his Father's court.


He was learning that having a diet consisting of only feta-cheese salads and grapes was not useful on the open sea, despite being in style at his Father's court.


And he had learned earlier that vomiting over the side of the ship was only useful if you were vomiting downwind. Rum was not aware if vomiting downwind was currently in style at his Father's court, but having now come literally face-to-face with the alternative, it seemed both practical, and very chic.


Suppressing the unfortunate memory, Rumma von Adilstan, fourth in line to the throne of Galatania, son of the legendary warrior-poet Gaston von Adilstan, dipped his quill into a half-empty pot of ink beside his lounge chair and got back to work questioning all of his recent life choices. Yes. He was absolutely completely deranged, taking to sea in search of adventure and inspiration for his next novel.


Well actually, my first novel. Considering I have to have written something first, for there to be a sequel...


“Hey Rum ol' chum, my brainy and brilliant buddy!”


There came a squeaking, high-pitched, terribly obnoxious voice from behind Rum. He jolted up half out of his chair, his face turning to liquid mushy annoyance. The peace of the day, ruined. Turning with a sigh, Rum spotted Molotov, filled with pip and insufferable good cheer,making his way up from out of the hold of the ship.


“Y'know, I think despite everything- the whole getting scammed out of most of your money while renting a boat, sailing in the wrong direction for half a day, and vomiting constantly- I think despite ALL that, your first adventure is shaping up pretty well, my ol' chum Rum!” Molotov pronounced happily, striding toward the edge of the ship and placing one leg up on the rail, mimicking a Captain's posture.


Rum barely suppressed the urge to push Moltov off the ship into the bubbling waves.


Molotov's skin was ruddy, a deep, dark tan across his lanky frame from days outside beneath the bleaching sun. His hair was a deep crimson, bedraggled, untidy locks that made it down to his shoulders, half-hiding a pair of bright green eyes. A singular canine jutted out of the bottom row from his otherwise straight white teeth, so that his smile resembled that of a dog with a slight under-bite.


In fact, many things about the wizard known as Molotov could be described as dog-like. You could see it everywhere- from his eager, always-positive personality, to his unerring loyalty toward his best friend Rum, who had done absolutely nothing to warrant it. Even his delight at objects hurtling through the air, be it spells or arrows, was very dog-like in nature. Arrows were, Molotov asserted, just sticks with a few extra steps.


But we shall have to stop describing Molotov here, leaving out any indication on what he was wearing. Because he wasn't wearing anything, except a single scrap of green cloth to match his eyes, that would be generous to call a speedo.


“How could you consider anything that's happened so far to be a success?” Rum said, returning to his parchment, sticking his nose down in a bid to avoid further conversation.


“I mean, you're a poet! A first class bard-a-reeno! And by my astute and auspicious eyes, you haven't written anything bad yet!”


“Well that's because I haven't written ANYTHING yet,” Rum said. “I vomited all over the last draft I was writing... and honestly, I doubt I'll make much progress on this unless-”


A well-timed wave punctuated his words, sending the contents of Rum's stomach half-way up his wind-pipe.


“-bulgh... unless I can find a way to stop puking...” The moment of danger gone, Rum rounded back on Molotov, who appeared to be stretching his calves.


“Aren't you supposed to be a powerful wizard? Ventured with countless bands of mercenaries and heroes all across the archipelagos? Isn't that why I hired you in the first place, you're a big, powerful, scary wizard?”


“Oh yes, very incredibly powerful!” Molotov smiled. “I once ate seventeen leprechauns!”


“And that... that means you absorbed their power of luck, or...?”


“No, not really. I just ate seventeen leprechauns this one time, and I like to remind people of that fact.”


Rum rolled his eyes, dropping the quill back down beside his chair and surveying the empty deck. As long as Molotov was about, there'd be very little work getting done, if any at all. He wished he knew more about ships, so he could assign Molotov to a task. But Rum knew precious little about sailing- he could afford to.


“If you're a powerful wizard, don't you have a sickness spell or something? Something useful to calm my stomach?” Rum asked.


Molotov gulped air, holding his breath. His brow scrunched up, and his cheeks puffed out in thought. After a moment, he blew the air out his nose.


“Y'know Rum ol' chum, the Foggy Ocean's filled with... six-hundred and sixty-six major world-shifting deities. And then six-thousand and six-hundred and sixty-six minor gods, demons, immortals, various sprites and house-spirits, ghouls, ghosts... I've seen shining temples of gold, dust-riddled libraries of unspeakable magic, hidden underground vaults filled with blood-drinking scorpion-lords from millenia's past! Mystical malarkey and mayhem begetting the fall of continent-spanning civilizations, festive fireballs of ferocious fumigation! Heroic halitosis-riddled heroes, capable of hulking histrionics! But I don't think anyone's gotten around to making a spell for motion-sickness yet.”


Rum slunk down in his chair and put his head in his hands.


Yes, I suppose all great poets and heroes suffered a bit before achieving their dreams. That's basically a prerequisite. But do I really have to suffer THIS much? Couldn't the suffering have been distributed a little more evenly among myself and my crew? What use is a crew, if they aren't suffering on your behalf?


It was around this time that the mermaid hit Rum in the face.


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