First day I saw a Conch was the first day I fell in love.
I was working at the water tower. It was my job to catch water. A ship does not last long at sea without it.
It was raining, just a little.
Jeni’s head popped over the lip of the ladder. She was wearing her red and black bandana.
I was directing a few minor elemental spirits as they stole water from the clouds and filled the tower with it. You know, standard stuff.
I looked up at her and I was stunned.
Thankfully I recovered before she looked at me.
“Look what I got out of the loot,” she said.
Two brand new Conches. Wow.
“One is for me and one is for you,” she said.
“There are like a thousand of these in the world right now,” I said.
“I know,” she said, “Enjoy.”
“So there was another raid?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said, “The ship can’t sustain itself. Until we get a full food and water system running we need to suplement.”
“Is that what your mom said,” I asked.
She rolled her eyes at me.
“Something like that, yeah,” she said.
“Let’s open them,” I said.
I chained the spirits ethereally and stepped out of the pentagram. Jeni put the Conches on the table. We sat down on those little wooden lab stools I used to have.
They were strange devices: flat, no visible markings, no buttons.
“What are these worth, like one million in magical components alone,” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, “And no one else on this ship does either, so keep your damn mouth shut about that, and some pirate won’t take it from you.”
Then she turned it on.
Up leapt dragons and unicorns, aswirl around us in pink and blue.
And that was just the opening animation.
We were hooked.
You could call anyone. Anyone at all in the world. And since only wizards and rich people had them, everyone would answer.
I called the head of Wizardry at Montsalon. Montsalon!
He talked to me for an hour about a spell I was working on. Just because he wanted to try out the Conch. That’s how I learned to summon storm demons.
Jeni called the head of the Ytl Navy and told them where our ship was. That wasn’t wise. It made me a bit nervous. There are warrants out for my arrest in Ytl. Hers too.
And, then, the topper.
We called the King of Belandia.
And he answered.
“Hello,” he said.
“Hello, is this Adonard the 3rd?” asked Jeni.
“It is we,” he said, “To whom are we speaking?”
“I am the great pirate Jeni! And I have kidnapped the wizard Tuco!” she shouted.
She put her right arm around my neck and with her left hand drew her sword. It was a little intimidating. She was always bigger than me.
She shouted even louder, “I am the great pirate Jeni! And I have kidnapped Tuco the royal wizard!”
A couple of gulls squawked and flew off the tower.
Adonard looked fazed, for a second. Then he turned to look away from the Conch.
He said, “General Darington, do we have a royal wizard by the strange name of Tuco?”
The King nodded, and then he said, “You have nothing of mine. Now be off, or I will have you flogged!”
Its not every day you prank a King.
He couldn’t figure out how to turn off the Conch. He kept fumbling with it. We kept getting glimpses of satin furniture and bejeweled mirrors.
He even dropped the Conch down the sleeve of his robe. We went with it, sliding down auburn silk in the glow of the Conch’s crystal light.
A long arm reached in and pulled us out.
He put us up to his face and spit on us.
He was a mean looking man in a uniform and a mustache. General Darington.
He turned off the Conch.
We rolled around on the floor in laughter.
From that day on she was the great pirate Jeni and I was royal wizard Tuco.
And while we lived on the Turtle, we were never apart.