Important Announcement:
Update on Project Gender Bender

Sorcerer of Magic and Machine – Chapter 1 – In Medias Res – Draft Three – Version 2

Leave a comment



Author: Robinxen Original Source: Some word document I remembered existed Word Count: 2773 characters
Editor: Half-asleep Robinxen English Source: A bit of editing I just did out of fear

The only thing that could be seen was blue in every direction1, a clear and unfettered blue sky void of clouds and a flat and serene blue sea bereft of waves.
The sole violators of this peace were three wildly different vessels.

“The SOS came from the Paddle Steamer? The other ship is Libertalian though?2” Cursing under his breath a rather handsome hooded young man gazed with hostility towards a pair of combating vessels through a set of ornate binoculars.

Arranging all the available information his head, he made his analysis and the long awaited judgement call3. “Paddle Steamers are expensive to operate, it’s not even a retrofit either, this thing was built from the ground up to use an engine4. It’s not under a flag but no ordinary merchant could afford that. The other vessel is Libertalian, although they’re essentially glorified pirates they have to follow a code. Odds are neither side in this engagement is in the right.”

After lowering the binoculars from his face, a pair of crystal blue eyes were revealed. Then with gusto he turned on his heels to speak to the old man who was stood behind him. The medals and decorations on old man’s attire clearly placed him higher in rank than the simple white mantle and robe that obscured the young man’s figure5.

“Although turning a blind eye in this situation would be ideal there’s not much else we can do except getting involved. Take us to port and prepare to engage, have the crew man the guns. Full sail6!” Shouting orders he jumped down the upper deck to the main and took long strides towards the fore of the ship. “The enemy is a standard Sloop, it’s outdated but tried and tested, don’t underestimate it. However don’t be fooled into thinking the Paddle Steamer is on our side either. The enemy of my enemy is my friend probably doesn’t exist in pirate codes7.”

As if responding to the young mans will, the wood creaked and the ropes swayed. With the wind catching the sails once again, the Ark Royal8 swung into action, breaking the waves over its reinforced bow. As a third-rate Ship of the Line with two gun decks it had the perfect combination of speed and firepower, optimised with the latest construction techniques and technology to place it ahead of the competition. Although a purebred sailing vessel that was on the way of going out in this new age of steam, there was no other ship that could match it in its class.

Holding the hood of his mantle to keep the spray out of his hair, his eyes were transfixed on the approaching targets. The sound of the old man shouting orders and commanding the ship being drowned out by his own thoughts. “Is there a way to diffuse the situation peacefully?” He mumbled to himself as he joined a lone figure above the bow.

As if in opposition to him, the other figure was a young girl9. She had long golden hair like the mane of a lion10, and her eyes were a piercing red like the scales of a dragon. Just by looking at her one felt the aura of a ruler, an unbridled beast waiting to conquer11. Clad in partial armour of silver and gold and wielding a matching sword almost as tall as her, if she were a man she’d be a textbook knight. Yet she was just a girl, and of the age of 12 no less12. Yet just as they were in opposition they also felt like they completed a set, with the young girl carrying a sword yet having no visible scabbard, and the young man wearing a scabbard yet having no sword13.

“Onii-chan14, there’s something off about that steamer.” As if the previous aura was a lie, it melted away into nothing as her voice warmed from monotone to spoiled. Her ruby eyes glancing up at the young man next to her.

Letting15 out a chuckle as if he had expected those words, the hooded figure planted a hand on her head and ruffled her hair amicably. “An independent merchant travelling alone in these waters with such a pricey ship obviously has something to hide. If we’re going to get involved we need to immobilise both and board them. While they may be pirates, Libertalian’s tend to be somewhat chivalrous and they’d certainly not attack someone without reasoning first.” Though the risk would be higher, it would be better to make an informed call of judgement.

Agreeing with her brothers words, the girl nodded and tightened her grip on her sword while taking a breath. “Although the Ark Royal is better armed we’re still intervening in another conflict, risks are inevitable.” Trying to convince herself it couldn’t be helped, her face warped like she had swallowed a bitter bug16.

Giving the same chuckle as before the man rapped her head once more before releasing her. “That’s why I’m here. To minimise risks. Don’t worry I already have a plan.” Speaking with confidence he turned away from her and waved his hand as he weaved through the crowd of sailors to the centre of the ship. Leaving the obviously flabbergasted girl alone.

Leaning against the central mast of the ship, his blue eyes trailed up the ladder as if judging whether to make the climb or not17. “Pandora18? Are you up there?” Cupping his hands over his mouth, he strained his voice as far as it would go to call up to the nest atop the highest peak of the ship. Even pulling his hood down to expose his pure white hair so as to better hear any reply.
After silence for a few seconds he cupped his hands once again to prepare to shout, only to get cut off by the sound of flapping as a blurry figure flew up behind him from the side of the ship. Tackling the unprepared man to the ground with a thud, the figure revealed itself to be another young girl dressed in what can only be described as a maid cosplay19.

With silvery white hair down to her waist and sea green eyes, at first glance she appeared more like his sibling than the golden haired beauty before. However, on a second evaluation that clearly fails to hold true. From her shoulder blades grew two long and well pruned feathered wings, like that of an angel, and her legs were those of a bird and not a human. The lineage of Pandora lied in the rare race of Sirens. A race of beings blessed with eternal youth in both mind and body, divine voices, and capable of changing between angel like bird forms and mermaid like fish forms at will20.

Groaning from the beneath Pandora, the young man placed his hands on her shoulders and slowly sat up while letting out a sigh. “Were you enjoying yourself up there? It’s been a while since you’ve been at sea right?” Brushing Pandora’s hair to the side of her small round face he smiled tenderly as she nodded furiously.

“It’s really big and blue! But I got tired after flying around so long since there weren’t any rocks to land on.” Like an excitable child who had just got their favourite toy she spoke without pause as if she planned to narrate the entire journey for the day before he cut her off21.

“Then do you have enough energy to go swimming for me? I need you to do something, but you absolutely can’t be seen right! You remember what happened last time, I don’t want to make that mistake again.22” Brushing off his robe and mantle he climbed to his feet, while holding out his hand for Pandora, helping her stand. “I need you to take this, and put it in the spinning wheel on the ship over there.”

Pandora tilted her head quizzically at the object she had been given, it was only slightly larger than her hand, and seemed like a red parcel of some type wrapped in a strange film. Engraved on one side was a magic circle that she was somewhat familiar with from the cannons. “I just need to put it in the big wheel and then come back?” She asked to make sure, clenching her fist in determination23.

Though it pained him to put her in harm’s way, he was certain that the safest way for them to end the hostilities. “That’s right, just put it in and then come back.” Ruffling her hair in a familiar manner he gently edged her towards the side of the ship. “Remember to use the hidden entrance to get back on board after so you’re not seen.”

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

(Please visit Re:Library to show the translators your appreciation and stop supporting the content thief!)

Double checking she had understood her mission, he watched with abated breath as the small girl dived off the side of the ship24. Her wings vanishing and her legs giving way for a single tail and fin. She transitioned seamlessly from one form to another as her figure slipped into the ocean and dived beneath the waves. His eyes lingering on the ripples she left behind for just a second, he finally stepped back and begun the next phase of his plan.

Beneath the waters, an endless void of green25, Pandora carefully adjusted herself to her new surroundings. Overhead the dark and ominous figure of the Ark Royals keel and hull casting a dark shadow over the otherwise light above. And the hazy fog of nothing stretching below. However neither of these gave Pandora anxiety, she was infinitely familiar with the waters of the ocean, and the Ark Royal was where her Master was currently presiding.

After getting her bearings she glanced back up at the surface to catch her Masters face as he returned to the ship to give a final wave though he wouldn’t be able to see her26. Then twisting her body, her long tail swished against the cold water and churned the current behind her as she began to race ahead, easily eclipsing the large sailing vessel in speed as she took a direct path towards the Steamer. Slowing every few seconds to check her depth was appropriate for remaining unspotted by those on the surface. Despite having two ships she would have to distinguish from, it was easy to spot the wheel of the Paddle Steamer, since it was thrashing against the surface and the throng of the engine thumped rhythmically.

One would have to be almost suicidal to take the dangerous task of actually swimming into the wheel but, thankfully, since Pandora only needed to deposit the package she was not required to do so. Swimming against the turbulence from the wheel, and avoiding any stray shots from the cannons, she hid in the ships shadow as she surfaced for just a second, using all of her strength to toss the package into the rungs of the wooden wheel before diving back below and checking she hadn’t missed27.

Satisfied that the package had landed successfully she quickly swam back towards the Ark Royal, eagerly awaiting her praise.

While Pandora was in the midst of returning, back aboard the deck of the Ark Royal the young man and young girl were standing side by side when the girl broke the silence. “Pandora is returning, it doesn’t seem she was spotted.” Her voice had returned to being cold and authoritative, leaving no room for retort28.

Giving a wry smile the young man acknowledged and raised his hand, fingers spread. Suddenly he clasped his fist and twist it upside down. As if orchestrated, no, indeed orchestrated by him, the sound of an explosion rung out as the Paddle Steamers wheel splintered and burst into flames. Immediately his wry smile transformed into a satisfied smirk. “Magnus’ explosives are really much more practical now that he’s stopped rejecting the inclusion of magic wholesale. There’s no other way you’d be able to remote detonate them.29

Originally revelling in her brother’s success, the young girls face was also blooming into a smile before she caught herself. Her smile transforming into a pout as she looked away, her finger grasping his sleeve as she mumbled barely audibly. “Hmph. Magic is still better. If Onii-chan stopped wasting his time on science then he’d be more powerful than me.30

Oblivious to his sister’s musings, the young man retracted his hand and clicked his neck. Instinctively he went to adjust his non-existent glasses before frowning, and thinking to himself that he might have to get a monocle to look the part of a true wizard31. “We’re up next.” He said with a grin, excited for what was to come.

Still pouting, the young girl cast her hair to the side with a fluid movement as she swung her sword over her shoulder. The imposing silhouette of her and her sword easily compensating for her small stature. “You always come up with the most unorthodox plans.”

Letting out a playful laugh, he pinched one of her small cheeks and stuck his tongue out at her. “That’s my duty after all.32” Not wanting to elaborate any further, he jogged to the rear of the ship to speak the Captain, who adjusted the course ever so slightly, taking the Ark Royal directly between the opposing vessels still locked in their long range shootout. If either side had closed the distance then the fight would have been over by now, but neither side were willing to take the risk and as a result they were just wasting ammunition taking pot shots at each other.

“Directly between the two!” The young man reminded the Captain, and then nodded towards the young girl. Pandora would be returning soon so it would be best to get this over with quickly, he thought to himself as the two siblings took their positions. One stood facing the abeam to port, and the other abeam to starboard. Directly facing opposites and overlooking the sides of the ship. As the Ark Royal positioned itself directly between the aggressors Sloop and the now stranded Steamer.

Waiting for this moment, the young girl raised her sword and swung it. Both the sword and her armour glowed with blue patterns, and even her eyes were dyed a radiant sapphire like her brother33. Channelling her own magic and bloodline potential she raised a wall of water next the ship, although the magic had lost its primary use in blocking attacks when faced with the might of cannons, it still had other uses. Primarily in this case the goal was to intimidate and wetten the other ships cannons to render them temporarily unusable while simultaneously putting out the fire from her brother’s attack. The awe inspiring sight left only the Captain of the Ark Royal enough room to speak. “Her Highness’s magic potential is as exorbitant as always.” However the act didn’t end there, on the opposite side the young man was also performing a feat. Unlike his sister’s his was far less flashy. Raising one arm in front of him a blue magic circle spread from his feet causing a swirl of water vapour to circle him, then with a sense of dramatic flair several tendrils of water raised from the ocean and lifted the enemy’s cannons, flipping them over so that they were impossible to use. Casting his gaze to the opposite side, the Captain spoke once more. “And his Lordships magic is confounding as always.”

With both sides unable to resume combat, the young man lowered his hand and dispelled his magic, turning to look back at his sister. Like him she had already lowered her sword, the gravity defying disturbance in the water gone without a trace as the wall joined among the other waves. Nodding his head, he raised a single finger and drew a quick circle in the air, before throwing it towards her where it vanished34.

With the blessing of the magic from her brother, the young girl began to speak, her voice amplified multiple. “My name is Her Highness the Crown Princess Eleanor of the Kingdom of Logres35! In the name of arbitration we will be boarding both your vessels and taking accounts! We will then negotiate a conclusion that minimises losses on both sides as per our own judgement under international law! Should you chose to disobey we will take that as a sign of hostility and engage appropriately! You have 5 minutes to comply or we will open fire!” In order to drive her speech home, she swung her sword towards the bow of the ship, causing a great shockwave to radiate forward, almost dividing the ocean in two.36



References

  1. Robinxen: It was a dark and stormy night.
  2. Robinxen: Did I bother to expand on this in the chapter? I mean I know what this means… I’m actually rereading this live so you’ll get my cringe reactions in real time.
  3. Robinxen: I have really pompous writing.
  4. Robinxen: Disclaimer, I barely know anything about this stuff. I have a boat license yes, and my stepdad is a sailor yes, but that doesn’t count.
  5. Robinxen: I’m not even sure here.
  6. Robinxen: I wonder if I did my research on the proper phrasing here.
  7. Robinxen: This seems rather redundant given the sloop is the pirates, maybe I got mixed up here?.
  8. Robinxen: Shut up, it’s a cool name.
  9. Robinxen: Enter my dream waifu.
  10. Robinxen: I have no regrets.
  11. Robinxen: That phrasing is…questionable.
  12. Robinxen: Look it needed to be an imouto alright. True to form.
  13. Robinxen: Isn’t it romantic?.
  14. Robinxen: Oh god triple cringe. I actually wrote onii-chan in this.
  15. Robinxen: The transition was too sharp, as an editor I should be ashamed.
  16. Robinxen: This bit here runs counter to how I wanted to present her which is strange, because I wanted her to be a little more realistic and pragmatic. I wanted to go for the type of character who can’t dream of an ideal future of their own so uses their talents to strive for someone elses.
  17. Robinxen: Self insert is athletically averse. As expected.
  18. Robinxen: The origin story for Pandora is basically a meme, I don’t know if I explain it later in this chapter, but in my previous drafts I had her wash up on a beach while the protagonist was looking for a birthday present for his sister, because she was covered in silt from the ocean he named her Pandora, since the mythical pandora was sculpted from mud and clay.
  19. Robinxen: MEIDO!
  20. Robinxen: I tried very hard to reconcile various conflicting mythologies from various religions and locations for her race. I spent quite a bit on worldbuilding them, including multiple origin stories.
  21. Robinxen: I’d rewrite this passage heavily. I think she’s too childlike for what I was intending here, though it gets the stuck mental state factor across, it kind of makes a later reveal even more revolting though, that was in the later chapters though.
  22. Robinxen: Pre-foreshadowing? This is a reference to my scrapped concept. It was a major event in the timeline I wrote up, essentially the first group outing of the main cast to Libertalia. It was the first scenario I fully plotted in my head since it was also the origin point for one of the major characters. In it Pandora is captured as her race is identified, and the MC has to lead a manhunt across the city but is too unfamiliar with the society to make progress. He does however make an ally of a washed out store owner, and his sister saves the day without him really realising.
  23. Robinxen: Cute.
  24. Robinxen: Subtle.
  25. Robinxen: I really wanted to capture that feeling subnautica gives here.
  26. Robinxen: Editing me deleted this sentence but I readded it so you guys can experience it.
  27. Robinxen: Honestly I had no idea how to make this seem plausible so I just glossed over it.
  28. Robinxen: Badly written.
  29. Robinxen: More allusions to that scrapped part. Magnus was the name of the washed out alchemy store owner. He was someone who, much like the rest of the world, was moving away from the unpredictable and archaic methods of magic and embracing more scientific methodology. Sadly for him, magic is a bit too versatile to just ignore.
  30. Robinxen: Did I mention this is an isekai? I feel like that’s important. Although not a direct reincarnation, the MC here has several memory fragments of having lived on Earth.
  31. Robinxen: This is all purely in-jokes. I click my neck a lot while playing rpgs, and consistently make jokes that all wizards wear monocles while we’re playing fantasy games.
  32. Robinxen: So the main focus of this novel was “What if the hero of a japanese video rpg was not the protagonist, but actually their younger sister?” and I rolled with it. Giving the protagonist the position I like best, kingmaker. Someone who is instrumental the success of someone else.
  33. Robinxen: With the chapter running out I clearly left this as a mystery, but basically the girl here (Eleanor) has several bloodlines running through her. The more dominant portion is from her ancestors dragonic traits, however she also has naiad heritage giving her affinity for water which is being displayed here.
  34. Robinxen: In rewriting I’d need to draw out this “climax more”.
  35. Robinxen: Yes! So the world being used here is a hodgepodge of concepts, I basically wanted a world that could contain every genre imaginable. And the result I ended up with was a world where “lost” things from Earth end up. Lost cities, continents, ships and of course…memories! Running with this, the protagonists hail from a kingdom derived from Avalon, and I think I even named the city New Camelot. The MC is a parallel (and literally child) of Merlin, while the heroine here is King Arthur’s daughter, sort of, and blessed by the Lady of the Lake. The world was fairly developed in my notes courtesy of being used as a setting for some rpg campaigns, include that certain city from Lovecrafts mythos. The main protagonists pseudo-reincarnated nature was a result of his inhuman soul parts rejecting each other, shattering his spiritual form, however via absorbing ambient ownerless memories and soul fragments it patchworked itself back together. This process granted him memories of Earth throughout the ages, and gave him a drive for science and technological development as well as an appreciation for the romance of magic.
  36. Robinxen: Oh boy it’s painful to read your own work.

Support Project Gender Bender

Patron Button

Subscribing to Patreon may result in faster updates.
For more info, please refer to this: link.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Your Gateway to Gender Bender Novels

Re:Library
%d bloggers like this: