I couldn't have done this story without them.
[Well, I could have, but it would have been way different.]
What Little Girls Are Made Of
"Good job, Maeve," he said patting her on the back. "This place looks really familiar." Maeve merely nodded. She was really tired, the spell needed to transport them was huge, and it exhausted her greatly.
"Do you think we might be home, Little Brother?" asked Doubar. Sinbad merely shrugged.
"I don't know, Big Brother. We've come across places that look familiar before."
"The stars are in their right formations," noted Firouz, the resident scientist.
"That's one good thing." replied Sinbad. "What do you say we go and stay at an inn in that village over there."
"The best idea you've had yet, Little Brother," laughed Doubar, whacking Sinbad across the shoulders. They headed off. Maeve lagged a bit behind, since she was so tired. Suddenly, she felt a familiar presence in the back of her mind.
"Dermott?" she whispered.
Sinbad swung open the doors to the local tavern. Doubar insisted that they stop for a drink. That came to no surprise to any of the lost crew of the Nomad; Doubar frequently requested to stop for a drink after the exhausting exercise of having to walk from the ship to the port.
Sinbad stopped inside the door. "What is it, Little Brother?" asked Doubar.
"Does anything in this bar seem weird to you?" asked Sinbad. Doubar looked around.
"As a matter of fact, it does," he said. "The bar's full of... women."
"What?" asked Maeve. She pushed her way past Doubar and Sinbad. She stood in amazement: the tavern was filled with women, all drinking, laughing, dressed in sailor clothes, with swords, the whole nine yards. In fact, the only men in the tavern were either waiters (who were frequently being harassed by the women sailors, although the waiters took it in stride) and a few scattered here and there, who were also getting harassed by the women. These men, however, seemed to be taken care of by some women friends, who leaped to their defense, causing the one or two small fights that broke out occasionally.
"This is great!" she said to Sinbad, a huge grin on her face. Suddenly, she was interrupted by a barmaid.
"Hey!" she said. "Are you going to order, or are you going to take up room?"
"We'll have five ales," replied Sinbad. The woman looked to Maeve for acknowledgement. Maeve nodded, and with a grin to Sinbad, went to find some seats.
"This is too odd," said Doubar, sipping his ale.
"Why?" asked Maeve. "Finding it uncomfortable to be in a crowded room full of women capable of kicking your butt?"
Doubar bristled, but said nothing, and sipped his ale.
"According to my calculations," said Firouz suddenly to break the awkward silence, "I believe that with the current rate of consumption, our resources will not last much longer."
Sinbad groaned. "That's the last thing we need."
"Need some money, do ya, love?" asked one woman, who had swaggered over. She leaned close to Sinbad. "I'd be willing to give you a few silvers."
"Really?" said Sinbad, raising his eyebrows. "For what? I'm afraid, as far as running errands goes, that I'm a stranger to this town, and don't know my way around."
The woman smiled. "Oh, nothing so--laborious as that, my dear. Just a good time."
Sinbad suddenly realised what she was proposing, and blushed so deep a crimson he matched his headband. Maeve became red as well--for a different reason. "How dare you!" she yelled, standing up, and drawing her sword. The woman backed up, and drew her own sword. She was then joined by some of her compadres, also with swords. "Ought to be easy pickings," one of them remarked. Then Sinbad, Doubar, Firouz and Rongar all stood, drawing their own weapons.
"By Cybele--they're armed!" one exclaimed. The first woman glowered.
"They're only men," she snorted. "Don't be cowards."
Suddenly another woman stood up, drawing her sword, and came and stood directly in front of the first woman.
"Get out of my way," the woman snarled. "This isn't your fight."
"I'll make it my fight," the new woman said. "Say something about my father."
"He obviously raised a stupid daughter," the woman growled. The new one smiled.
"I see," she said, and lashed out so quickly that the other woman had no time to react, and was soon on the floor. With that first move, the fight began in earnest. It was fast and furious, and soon degraded into a riot, as more and more people were drawn into it.
Sinbad and his crew, managing to work themselves out of it, and into a hallway, were joined by the strangely familiar woman.
"Come on," she said. "We might as well get out of here--that way we won't get stuck with the bill."
Sinbad kept an eye on the woman as they sneaked out of the inn. He kept having this feeling that he'd met her before, but for some reason, he couldn't quite put a finger on it.
"Excuse me," he inquired politely, "but have we met before?" Obviously, they hadn't, but Sinbad decided not to mention that fact.
The woman regarded him closely. "You know," she said, "Maybe we have. You remind me of one of my friends. She's a captain, you know. I work on her ship. Oh, and the name's Fatima." she stuck her hand out for the introduction. Sinbad shook it.
"She's a captain, huh? Interesting. We happen to be sailors, as it turns out."
"Really?" Fatima replied. She turned to Maeve. "Do you still have your ship?"
Maeve was a little taken aback at being asked, and not Sinbad, but replied anyway: "No. We, uh, lost our ship."
Fatima made a sympathetic noise. Suddenly, she brightened. "Hey!" she exclaimed. "My captain is looking for crew members! Maybe she'll take you aboard."
"That would certainly solve our financial problems," Firouz added. Sinbad sighed, as much as he did not want to stay in this world, Firouz was right. They needed money, and they would have to get it somewhere.
"Alright then, Fatima," he said reluctantly. "Take us to your captain."
Sinbad walked down the docks warily. This didn't like the best part of town, and he didn't want to take any chances. He noticed that the rest of his crew were keeping an eye out as well, but Fatima didn't seem to care, at least from Sinbad's point of view.
"Hey, Little Brother," Doubar suddenly whispered in Sinbad's ear. "Doesn't that Fatima remind you of someone? I can't quite put my finger on who, though."
"I know," whispered Sinbad back. "I have the same feeling."
Suddenly, a head of them, Fatima stopped, in front of a tall, graceful ship. "Who goes there?" called a voice.
"It's me, Fatima," the woman replied.
"Who have you got with you?" the voice called back. Sinbad strained to see the person who owned the voice, but since it was still quite dark out, and there since were no lanterns about, all he had to rely on was his night vision. Meaning, of course, that he was nearly as blind as a bat.
"Some prospective crew members!" Fatima yelled. "Come on, have a heart, it's cold out here!"
"I'll have to get the captain," called back the voice, and there was the sound of running. Then, after a moment, the sound of running again, this time followed by the sound of someone walking steadily behind the first.
"Alright, Fatima, what kind of crew have you found me?" called a new voice, which was female, but, at the same time, vaguely familiar. Sinbad just couldn't put his finger on it.
"I know that voice from somewhere," murmured Maeve. Firouz and Doubar nodded in the darkness.
"They're fighting ones!" Fatima called back. "They started a brawl in the pub."
"Hmm," the other voice replied. "I'll have to check this for myself."
"If you want to, Captain," Fatima replied, shrugging. She stepped back into the shadows cast by the ship. Sinbad and his crew looked around in confusion, wondering what was going on. Suddenly, there came a battle yell from on board the ship, and the next thing Sinbad knew, he was trying to fight off a swordsman who was attacking him. He did his best to fend the attacker off, but he was good, whoever he was. He fended off Sinbad with almost minimal ease, and Sinbad had to really fight to keep from losing his sword, or worse. Out of the corner of his eye, Sinbad saw that Doubar was being held back by Fatima, which probably meant that--
The second of distraction that Sinbad allowed himself to look at Doubar was enough for the attacker to fling Sinbad's sword away.
Sinbad was unarmed.
His attacker held his sword point to the edge of Sinbad's throat, and then laughed. That's when Sinbad realised that his attacker was a woman.
"What's your name, Sailor?" she asked, chuckling.
"Sinbad," he said, slowly. He was very slowly edging toward his spare knife that he kept tucked in the back of his belt, for just such an emergency. There was a stunned silence from the other end of the sword.
"Sinbad?!" the voice exclaimed. "Fatima, what kind of a joke is this?!"
"I didn't know, Captain, honestly!" Fatima cried.
The woman pushed the point in a little bit more to Sinbad's throat. He could feel the sharp point. He edged a bit more closely to his knife. "Who are you, truly? Tell me now, or lose your head." she demanded.
"I am Sinbad," he said again. "Honestly, and truly. I am a sailor from Baghdad, and this was my crew before our ship was lost in an accident."
The woman snorted in disbelief. She turned to face the ship. "Hannah! Are you still up there?"
The first voice called down "Yes, Captain."
"Bring me a lit torch and the rest of the crew." Hannah didn't even bother to answer, but ran off to get the torch and the crew.
She came back after a few moments, with the sound of many feet running after her. "This had better be good," grumbled one of the new voices.
"It will be, sister," the woman replied. Just then, Sinbad decided that enough was enough. He whipped out the knife, and in one fluid moment, disarmed the woman, and held the knife to her throat. She elbowed him hard in the stomach, and he doubled over. When he did so, she kicked him in the chest, and he fell down, groaning. He rolled half over, and felt something poking into his back.
He grabbed up his trusty blade and jumped up. By now the sun was beginning to rise, and he could see his former attacker. He lashed out, and the fight began anew.
"Little Brother!" called out Doubar, rushing out. He would have been able to win the fight there and then, but he was stopped by someone yelling "Little Sister!"
The two met in the middle and began a fight of their own.
"Shouldn't we help them?" asked Firouz.
"No," Fatima replied. "They have to fight this own their own." And so Firouz, Rongar and Maeve merely watched in silence, as did Fatima.
Finally, Hannah returned with the lit torch. "Throw it here," yelled Fatima. Hannah did so, and Fatima caught it deftly. "Look!" she yelled. She held the torch aloft.
"By the Goddess!" yelled Fatima's two crewmates. Sinbad and Doubar merely stared in shock.
They were fighting different versions of themselves.
"This too weird," announced Firouz, making a specific, scientific observation.
"Who are you?" asked the female Doubar.
"You already know," replied Sinbad. "Tell us who you are."
Sinbad's former attacker stood up straighter as she announced: "I am the Captain of the vessel Nomad. I am Sinbadina."
Maeve couldn't help it. She laughed.
Sinbadina glowered. "And who are you supposed to be?" she asked. Maeve laughed even harder at this remark, while Sinbadina's sister glared at her opponent. "And what's your name?" she asked grouchily.
"I'm Doubar," he replied.
"I am Doubara," she answered, looking a little annoyed at having her name taken.
"I suppose you should meet the rest of my crew," Sinbadina said slowly. She pointed to the deck of the ship, and Fatima held the torch up higher, although now that dawn was breaking, it was not as necessary.
"This is Rongarette, and Firouzia, and Hannah, the cabin girl." she pointed out. "You have already met Fatima."
Now it was Sinbad's turn to introduce his crew.
"This is Firouz, Rongar and Maeve," he said, gesturing. Doubara and Sinbadina gasped.
"Maeve?" they said together. Maeve nodded. "We have a Maeve too," said Fatima, who seemed a little surprised. She whistled, and with a fluttered of wings, the Maeve of this world joined them, by flying down from the ship, and perching on Sinbadina's arm.
Sinbad surveyed the far horizon, looking for any signs of land. It felt so good to be on a ship again that he almost felt like staying here permanently. Only the thought of his own Nomad kept him going.
"Any land yet?" his new captain, Sinbadina, asked.
"Nope, not yet." he replied. Sinbadina--a tall, woman with short brown hair and bright blue eyes--regarded him closely. He regarded her with the same frank intensity. It wasn't everyday, after all, that you got to see yourself as the opposite sex. Finally, she decided that she'd seen enough, and walked off without another word. Sinbad let her go, he knew exactly how she felt.
Doubar then walked up to him, and leaned against the railing. "Do you think that by the end of this voyage we'll have made enough money, Little Brother?" he asked.
"You really all that anxious to leave? I kind of like it here," Sinbad replied, still gazing towards the horizon.
"Well, I like it as well, a little bit," Doubar admitted. "It feels good just to be on a ship again. But I have to admit that I feel strange around all these women."
Sinbad laughed. "Don't worry, Big Brother. We'll soon make enough money from this voyage to get going on our way again."
Firouz busied himself, making all the components for his magnascope. Unfortunately, he'd left his back on their Nomad, so he was making a new one. His counterpart, Firouzia, had a small, but well-kept little lab, near the stern of the ship, and she had graciously let him use it. She had decided to stay and watch, since she hadn't before made a magnascope.
"It looks like an incredibly useful invention," she said, when she judged [correctly] that Firouz was passed the stage where he needed absolute concentration.
"Oh, it is," he replied, greatly pleased by the high complement. "I call it a magnascope. It refracts light rays, allowing things to appear up close when they are actually quite far away."
"How ingenious!" she exclaimed. "But tell me, what is it with the name?"
"Well, you've used the Latin magna for "large", and the Greek skopeo for "look" or "to look" but what I don't understand is why you mixed the two languages."
Firouz thought for a moment. "What would you suggest?" he asked, genuinely curious.
"Well," she said, taking a moment to think, "I think that I would have called it a "telescope"."
"Ah," said Firouz. "Tele, Greek for "far". Very interesting."
"Your inventions themselves are interesting. What's another one?"
"Well, there is the Ruby Beamer."
"Yes. It was a machine that converted power from the sun into a beam, created by forcing the light through a ruby, that when used in a sequence, could be used to communicate with people many miles away."
"Interesting," Firouzia commented. "So it was a Light And Solar Energy Relocator? I drew up plans for one of those myself. Unfortunately, it was stolen by some marauders, who tried to use it as a weapon, and I was forced to destroy it."
Firouz was surprised. "You mean, that's what happened to yours, too?"
"Yours was destroyed as well?" she asked, shocked. "I guess our worlds aren't so different."
Firouz nodded sadly. "I long for the day when Science is given the respect it deserves."
"As do I--hold on, someone's at the door. Just a second." She got up to answer it, leaving Firouz to start work on the magnascope casing. She came back with Rongara, who, like her male counterpart, was mute. Unlike Rongar, however, she had beautiful, long, glossy hair.
"Rongara just wants to watch for a bit, if that's all right," Firouzia asked.
"No problem at all," assented Firouz, although, for some reason, he began to get a strange feeling when he noticed Rongara looking at him through her long eyelashes. He cleared his throat, and turned to get back to work.
"Why, exactly, are we travelling to the isle of Ayo?" asked Sinbad, curiously. "We've been here several days, and you still haven't told us."
Sinbadina sighed. She leaned against the railing of the ship, her head down. "We're going to rescue someone," she said softly.
"Who?" said Doubar excitedly. He could hardly wait for a fight.
"One of my crew," the captain of the Nomad replied. She looked up at the assembled crew. "My friends know who I am talking of," she said cryptically.
Firouzia gasped. "By the Goddess!" she exclaimed. "You found him? How? Where is he?"
"Please, Firouzia, one at a time," Sinbadina replied with a slight smile. "I did find him, I found out from a sailor in the village, and he's being held on the far side of Ayo."
"Who?" demanded Maeve. She hated being left out of conversations.
"Our crewmate," Doubara replied. "We haven't seen him in almost two months now, since he was captured by the evil Sorcerer, Ruminius."
At the mention of the name Ruminius, Maeve was stunned with the growing realisation.
"You mean..." she whispered, eyes wide.
The female crew nodded.
"We're going to get Dermott," Sinbadina confirmed.
"Damn that Sinbadina! A thousand curses on her and her crew!" Ruminius yelled, flinging his magic mirror across the room, where it shattered.
"Temper, temper," his mother, Tura, cautioned. "But then, I suppose hotheadedness was always a problem with you, my boy."
"Stop patronizing me, Mother," Ruminius snarled. "I am thinking perfectly clearly." He walked briskly to the other wall, where a lone figure was chained. He lifted the head up, and stared into the defiant green eyes. They are coming for Dermott. So, naturally I'll have to set a trap."
His mother laughed. "You make it sound so simple. This is Sinbadina, after all...and these new characters intrigue me. I wonder where they're from," she mused.
"So I'll have to set a good trap then, Mother," Ruminius said exasperated. He said it in the tone of voice that would be demeaning to a two-year old.
His mother caught it, and glared. "You watch your tone with me, boy, or I'll have your head. Son or no son." She turned to watch her own mirror.
"Still..this is all very intriguing..." she murmured.
"Land ho!" one of the sailors cried, her voice echoing slightly. Sinbadina rushed to the deck. "Already? I thought it would take longer--Hannah!" she yelled. The cabin girl came running. "Get the crew assembled," Sinbadina ordered. The girl nodded and ran off.
"Well, when are we leaving?" said Doubar, rubbing his hands. "I can hardly wait."
Sinbadina whirled to face him. "You're not going," she said flatly.
"What are you talking about?!" he raged. "I'm a member of the crew, aren't I?"
"I can't expect you to take that risk--" she said, cutting herself off from saying the fatal line.
"`Because I'm a man?'" Doubar finished, sneering. Sinbadina actually looked ashamed. Maeve, who stood behind Doubar, laughed.
"Now you know how I feel," she said to him. She turned to the captain. "I can vouch for him. He's a good a fighter as any woman."
Doubara nodded. "And if he's anything like me, he'll want to fight, and we won't be able to stop him," she added, a certain twinkle in her eye. Sinbadina sighed.
"Is there any one else who wants to come?" she asked. Sinbad's crew all looked carefully at each other. They all raised their hands. When she saw them all, Sinbadina sighed, shaking her head. Above her, Maeve the hawk squawked.
"A good omen," the captain said. "Looks like our feathered comrade thinks you pass the muster."
Sinbad grinned. "We won't let you down," he said. "We've been in scrapes like this, and have always come out of top. We won't fail."
"I'm glad one of us is optimistic," Sinbadina said slowly, "But Ruminius is not one to be taken lightly."
"Then we won't," replied Sinbad firmly. "Now come on, we're wasting time."
"Agreed," she replied, smiling.
"Well, Mother," Ruminius said sneering, "Any other bright ideas? Now we have two crews to fight with."
"And we will deal with them accordingly," she soothed. "Now, pick a card." Tura held out a hand, and a pack of elegantly drawn cards appeared. She deftly made a fan of them, and held them out to her son. Ruminius looked at her suspiciously, then slowly pulled out a card from the pile. He held it up. It was the picture of an apple tree, resplendent in green, full of apples.
He handed it to his mother. The deck she held disappeared, and she lifted the sole card up, yelling "Spirit of the Card--Come Forth!" She threw the card away from her as it began to glow and give off bright sparks. The card grew, and changed shape, until it became a maiden, dressed in green, holding an apple.
"Kill Sinbadina and her crew, but bring the rest to me," Tura commanded. The apple woman nodded, and faded away.
"Now what?" Ruminius demanded, pouting. His mother smiled wanly and said:
"Now we wait."
"I don't like this," Doubara said. "This forest gives me the creeps."
"It gives me the heebie-jeebies," Doubar answered. "Little Brother, are you sure we're almost there?"
"According to my calculations, we have half a mile to cover until we reach the castle," Firouz said.
"And I checked those calculations, which are highly accurate," Firouzia added. The female crew all nodded, this news making them trust Firouz more.
"I still don't like it." Doubara grouched. Doubar grouched as well, and the two grouched in unison. The rest of the company chuckled. Suddenly, someone stepped right into the middle of their path. The crew drew their swords at the sight of the strange woman.
"Who are you?" Sinbadina demanded. The woman merely smiled, and pulled out an apple from a fold in her dress. She rubbed it, and immediately, the trees around them began to grow, spreading their branches so that they all interlocked.
"By Allah!" yelled Sinbad. "The trees are trying to cage us!"
"By the Goddess!" yelled Sinbadina. "Quick--cut them down!"
They all began hacking furiously at the branches. Slowly, but steadily, a small hole widened. The woman scowled, and rubbed the apple again. The branches grew in even thicker and faster, filling in the hole in next to no time.
"It's no use--" roared Doubar. "They're too fast!"
"Then we need a faster method of clearing them," Firouzia said suddenly. She suddenly began digging around in her satchel. She pulled out two small bamboo pieces.
"Of course!" cried Firouz. He dug out one of his sulphur sticks, and stuck it against his sword, making it burst into flame. He carefully lit the bamboo stick, and then Firouzia threw it toward the wood fence. It landed and exploded, leaving a large hole which quickly filled in.
"If someone stays behind to cut away at it, we should be able to make it through," Sinbad said. They all looked at each other. Finally Doubara stepped forward. "I'll do it," she said. Sinbadina clapped her on the shoulder.
"We'll be back for you, Big Sister." She said.
"I know." Doubara replied. They hugged quickly, and then got into position. Firouzia and Firouz lit the other bamboo stick, and threw it. It exploded with a dull thud, and Doubara rushed to the hole, and began hacking.
"Go!" yelled Sinbad. They rushed through, but Rongar realised that the wood was growing faster than Doubara could handle it. He stopped to help, letting Firouzia out, but it was too fast for either of them. They were trapped inside.
"It's got Rongar!" Firouz yelled.
"We've got bigger problems," Sinbad said dryly. Their former captor had spotted them, and had suddenly appeared a few feet from them. They drew their swords.
"You will not escape," she said, her voice surprisingly deep.
"We beg to differ," Sinbadina replied. She charged, and ran the spirit through. The woman crumpled the ground.
"Don't celebrate too soon," Sinbad warned. The trees around them began dropping apples--even though it was a coniferous forest--and when the apples landed, they turned into demons, all green, and nasty. They started fighting the minute they grew, and the apples kept falling. The spirit herself had revived and was directing the falling apples, so that they landed right in front of them, or so that they were surrounded.
"We can't fight them all off--we've got to run!" Sinbadina cried. She took off toward the castle. The others quickly followed suit, chased by the green monsters.
Doubara and Rongar, who had been left in the cage, disappeared in a haze of green smoke. The spirit woman was left behind, smirking silently to herself. For she alone knew of the apple that had fallen directly into Firouz's satchel.
"We're not shaking them! They're still on our trail!" Firouz yelled. Sinbad wasted a moment looking back, and was alarmed at the sight of the demons pouring down. There were dozens, at least, and already they had lost Doubara and Rongar.
"We've got to make a stand!" He yelled up to Sinbadina, who was slightly ahead of him.
"Fine! But On our terms--Firouzia! Do you have any exploding sticks left?" she called to her scientist friend.
"Yes, I believe so," she replied. She checked her satchel while on the run. "Yes. Four more."
"Good. Everyone, make for that bridge over there!" Sinbadina called. They all followed her direction. As they neared the bridge, Sinbad saw that it spanned a steep ravine. He saw her plan instantly.
"Hurry! Everyone across!" Sinbad and Doubar guided everyone over. It was a narrow bridge, so they could only go one at a time. He and Doubar started to make their way across when suddenly Firouzia realised she hadn't planted the bamboo sticks. She got them out of her bag, and rushed back over.
"Firouzia!" called Sinbadina. "We can just slice the ropes--" but it was too late. Firouzia was over, and hurriedly lighting the exploding stick when the first demon over took her. She screamed as she was pulled under a tight mesh of branches.
"Firouzia!" Doubar yelled. He charged across the bridge, ignoring Sinbad's warnings. He began to chop at the creatures when the sticks blew, taking the bridge with them.
He was stranded.
"Doubar!" Sinbad cried. But there was nothing he could do. The ravine that the bridge spanned was very steep, and rocky. There was no way to help his brother. Doubar fought bravely, but even he was overwhelmed as the vines pulled him down. Soon he was gone from view.
Sinbad held his head in his hands. Maeve put an arm around his neck, but he shrugged her off.
"Let's go get Ruminius," he said darkly.
They managed to reach the castle wall without further incident, which was good, considering that they had lost Doubara, Rongar, Firouzia and Doubar relatively fast, and they had yet to rescue Dermott.
The walls of the castle were huge, and quite high. Sinbad and Sinbadina immediately began setting about a plan to scale them when Maeve interrupted them.
"Excuse me," she said, "But I think I can get us in with no trouble." She gestured towards the huge door that was, oddly enough, made of wood. Maeve smiled. Sinbad grinned.
"What is so amusing?" Firouz said. Maeve merely grinned again, and raised her hands up, generating a huge fireball. Finally she aimed and let it go, and it shot off and hit the door with a sizzle. When the smoke cleared, it revealed he charred remains of the front door.
As well as the tree woman.
"I have four," she said, her voice deep and malevolent sounding. "And when I am done, I will have five more."
Rongarette, after witnessing the deaths of two of her dear friends, lost what control she had and charged after the demon, holding one of her dirks in her hand. But she never got to throw it, as the woman gestured with her apple, and Rongarette disappeared in a wisp of green smoke.
Sinbad and the others stared in astonishment, which grew as vines began sprouting at the base of the castle, and soon covering it completely.
The demon smiled, utterly convinced of her victory.
Suddenly, Firouz was aware of a wriggling in his bag. He opened it, curious, to reveal one of the demon-apples, just beginning to sprout. In panic, he picked it up to throw it away, when one of the tendrils wrapped around his leg, tripping him. He fell, and the demon vine went flying. It flew straight towards the Spirit Woman, and tangled itself around her. She, in a panic, dropped her apple, her only way of controlling the creature, and she screamed as she disappeared in green smoke.
As soon as she did, the vines vanished.
"You did it, Firouz!" Sinbad cried. He offered him his hand to help him up, but Firouz shook his head. Overhead, Maeve shrieked in victory, and flew down to settle on a rock beside Firouz.
"I think I've sprained my ankle," he said, with a pained expression on his face.
"Well, we'll try and make it--" Sinbad offered.
"No." Firouz was adamant. "Come back for me after. I'm a liability. Now get going. Go on." He shooed them off.
The castle itself was deserted, so they had no trouble making their way from the courtyard.
"He's this way..." Maeve murmured. She wandered off down one of the halls. Sinbadina followed, a puzzled expression on her face.
"She has a bond with Dermott," Sinbad explained. "In our world, he's the hawk."
"I see." Sinbadina said nodding. "Dermott has a bond with the Maeve of this dimension as well."
They were finally lead to the end of the hallway, to a single oak door.
"He's behind here," Maeve said with certainty. The door flew open, uncovering Tura and her son. She smiled nastily.
"So he is," she replied. "Now, come and join us."
Tura watched as they entered the room warily. Upon spying Dermott, Sinbadina rushed over, crying his name. She knelt by him, checking him over.
"Little Brother!" called Doubar, who was chained on the opposite wall along with Rongar.
"Doubar! Rongar!" Sinbad yelled. He turned to Tura. "But where are the others?"
"In a dungeon downstairs," she replied matter-of-factly. "Now, Sinbad, we simply must have a talk. Your brother was very un-cooperative with information on your home world. I want that information, and if I don't get it, I will kill your brother, and your friends."
"Don't do it," Dermott croaked, his voice strained. "She'll try and take it over."
"Silence!" Ruminius yelled. He made a move against Dermott, but Sinbadina had her sword at the ready, and he backed down.
"I'll never tell you," Sinbad declared. "We have enough problems back home without worrying about the likes of you."
Tura scowled. "I thought you might be like that. Fine. Have it your way." She pointed her hand at Sinbad, causing a stream of purple energy to shoot out, but Sinbad managed to duck in time, just to watch the wall overhead vaporize.
"Looks like we're playing for keeps," he remarked slyly.
"I guess so," she commented, and sent off another blast. That one Sinbad was almost a moment too slow for, and Maeve, standing off to the side, could smell singed hair. This was getting to be enough.
"Sinbad!" she yelled. He didn't look at her, but she knew she had his attention. "Get ready!"
She gathered all her strength and shot a gigantic fireball at Tura. It hit the sorceress straight on, and she staggered under the onslaught. Sinbad understood at once, and rushed forward. He stabbed her straight through the heart, and, as a rather gruesome precaution against magic surprises she might have had, decapitated her.
"Mother!" Ruminius yelled. "I will kill you all!"
"We've heard that before," commented Sinbad dryly. "Think you can take him, Maeve?"
"I'm not sure," she whispered. "I used up a lot of energy on Tura."
"Then let me help," said a voice to her left. She whirled. It was Dermott. He was supported by Sinbadina, but a fire burned in his eyes. "Come on, sister, you don't have to fight this one alone."
Maeve choked back a sob at the sight of her long-lost brother, and took his hand in hers.
"This is making me sick," Ruminius said, his arms crossed over his chest. "I really hate family reunions. Okay, time to die." He raised his hand and fired.
Sinbad prepared to duck, but Dermott and Maeve met the blast head on. It had no effect on them.
"No!" screamed Ruminius. "I am the ultimate power here!" He fired again, but Dermott and Maeve just as easily deflected it. Finally Dermott turned to Maeve.
"Getting tired, sis?" he asked. She nodded, with a nasty smile. He grinned as well, and they turned to face Ruminius. The sorcerer looked somewhat apprehensive, but he stood his ground. Maeve and Dermott pooled their collective power, and fired it at Ruminius. He made no effort to leap aside, but merely took the blast and crumpled to the ground. Sinbadina walked toward the body, carefully, with her sword drawn. She took his pulse.
"He's dead," she announced. Sinbad, Maeve, Dermott, and Doubar cheered. Rongar didn't cheer, but looked very happy, and rattled his chains enthusiastically.
"There. Everyone is free from the dungeons," Sinbad announced. "Including some unfortunate woman by the name of Gauzia. Poor thing." he said, shaking his head.
"Gauzia, huh?" Sinbadina said, with a sly glint, "That name sounds familiar. Sort of a beastly kind of name, if you ask me."
Doubara and Firouzia laughed, and Sinbad couldn't help but think that this all felt very familiar...
"Now let's go get Firouz!" Doubar interrupted, giving Firouzia and Rongarette a tight squeeze around the shoulders, "Then I think we should eat."
"Here here!" Doubara chorused, for she was known to have quite an appetite, which accounted for her rather portly figure. The crew all laughed, as they walked back up into the courtyard.
There, by the remains of the door, they came across Firouz, sitting on a rock, along with a familiar companion.
"Maeve!" Dermott yelled. He ran across to meet up with, and hug, his returned sister. "The spell's broken!"
Sinbad looked at his Maeve. She looked happy, yet strangely sad as well. "So, is the Dermott in our world...?" he asked softly. She nodded, and sniffled, in memory of Dermott, who was trapped alone on their home world. Sinbad put his arms around her, and she laid her head on his shoulder.
"Well, it's been a nice voyage together. I would say I wish we could do it again sometime, but.." Sinbad said, his arms open in apology. Sinbadina laughed.
"It's quite alright. I enjoyed it too. I learned a lot, travelling with men who didn't act like normal men."
Sinbad started, he wasn't sure how to take the remark. The he realised what she had meant, and laughed. "Same here," he replied.
The crew was assembled on Ayo's dock, for the island had a small town (complete with a tavern much to Doubar's and Doubara's relief) where the two crews had had a small celebratory feast. Next to the two captains, the two Maeves and Dermott said their goodbyes. It was in apart a tearful separation for Maeve and Dermott, on the other hand, Dermott and his Maeve were happy at being reunited at last.
Finally, after much sorrowful goodbyes, Sinbad and his crew prepared to leave. It was Rongarette who stopped them. She ran up and tugged on Firouz's sleeve. He turned, and she threw her arms around him and kissed him solidly.
For the most part, Firouz flailed wildly, then, when she let go, he stuttered "goodbye!" (although not so coherently as that) and practically fled the rest of the way. The two crews laughed hysterically, with the exception of Firouz, Firouzia, and, oddly enough, Rongar, who seemed to as embarrassed as Firouz.
Sinbadina realised that they would never leave unless someone took the initiative, so she waved and turned to the ship. The crews got the hint, and went their separate ways. Sinbad and his crew formed a circle holding hands, although Firouz suddenly preferred to be between Doubar and Sinbad, and Maeve said the words that activated the Locket.
The last thing that Sinbad and his crew heard before they opened the portal was Dermott yelling "I'll take the helm!" and Doubara yelling furiously in return: "No man will ever steer my ship, not while I'm alive and kicking--"
And then they were gone.
Firouzia rushed on deck, waving her arms. "Eureka! Eureka!" she yelled. "I've done it! I've invented something that revolutionize the entire world as we know it!"
"Well, what is it?" Sinbadina said. "Don't keep us in suspense!"
Firouzia held up a small, cylindrical container. She twisted it slowly, revealing another cylinder, this one coloured bright red.
"It's made of congealed scented oils and various other components which I don't need to go into at this juncture--"
"What does it do?" asked Maeve. Dermott merely rolled his eyes.
"Well," Firouz said slowly, "what you do is put it on your lips, like this--" she demonstrated "--to give them added color."
"Fascinating!" remarked Sinbadina. "What did you call it?"
"I named it...oh, what did I call it now...That's right! I called it `Lip'...uh...Lip something..."
"Lip cylinder?" suggested Maeve.
"Lip enhancement?" pondered Sinbadina.
"No, no....Aha! Now I remember!" she held the stick aloft and cried " `Lip Embellishment'!"
"That's a dumb name," snorted Doubara. "But then, it's a dumb invention. I mean, that shade just doesn't suit your skin tone at all." And she turned and walked off.