The following days passed in a blur for William, having gone from regular 16 year old to heir to a magical kingdom to pirate hostage in the course of a few days. After he had been caught awake he had been brought before the captain, who had sensed the magic on him.

Luckily for William, Feverfew assumed it was just latent ability and not a mark of having done magic. Since they couldn't leave any witnesses he was given a choice "Join our crew, or die." It hadn't been a hard choice.

If he was honest, life as a pirate wasn't nearly as bad as he had feared. Yes the crew was unpleasant and his work was tiring, but so long as he did his job well enough he generally got left to his own devices. He was just thankful he had always been a fast learner and the tasks he had been given were easily learned.

His most stressful job was his House lessons, where he would sit down with the Quartermaster, Rowly Hunter. By themselves, the lessons were interesting, the stress came from the teacher. The man was extremely callous and didn't mind using his whip on William if he got a question wrong, which didn't help his concentration.

"Once again boy, what is the name of the people who live within the House?" Rowly growled, stroking his whip tenderly.

"The denizens." William answered quickly.

"Good, and they are remarkable why?"

"They are remarkably durable and can shrug off most damage that would kill a regular human, they are also functionally immortal as they don't age. Physically they are also devoid of flaws making them naturally good-looking, along with having blue blood and golden bones. Their final notable trait is their stubbornness and narrow-mindedness, meaning they will always sail the same route even if we catch them everytime."

"And how would you go about killing a denizen?"

"Extreme heat or weaponry enhanced with sorcerous would be the safest, although anything laced with Nothing would also kill them."

"What is Nothing and how would you go about procuring it?"

"Nothing is the building block of the universe, as the House and Secondary realms were raised out of Nothing. However it is incredibly dangerous and will dissolve anything into itself with direct contact, the only way to contain and use Nothing is to use sorcery. As Nothing completely surrounds the House I could get it from places the defences of the House are weak, such as the Far Reaches or where the Border Sea has expanded into Nothing."

"Good enough. Now, we will be conducting a raid tomorrow and you will be involved. Think of it as your final test, prove yourself worthy on this raid and you'll be part of the crew."

As promised, when he woke up the next day he was told to prepare for a raid. Although, considering how many centuries the crew had spent conducting raids, there was actually very little for William to do. Meaning he got to watch first hand as Feverfew raised an illusion over the Shiver to make it look like a regular ship.

He stood guard as Feverfew drew complicated looking symbols on a small boat with an old fashioned quill pen, curiously he could feel something moving from Feverfew into the boat every time he finished a symbol. Finally Feverfew stopped writing and threw the boat into the air, except while it was clearly still going up it didn't grow any smaller as he expected.

That was until the boat started falling and William realised as the boat had risen it had grown, meaning it was now the size of their ship. Instinctively William covered his head as it got close, only for the new ship to pass right through him and crash into the water with a rush of magic. Feeling foolish he noticed that the ship had just been an illusion, drastically changing the look of the Shiver.

Gone were the triangular and blood stained sails, replaced with square, faded white sails. Of course, the biggest change was the hull which had gone from a solid piece of bone to numerous planks of wood. There were also minor changes like the flag becoming a plain blue and large crates covering the crouched pirates.

The image was slightly ruined by the fact the illusions were slightly transparent, allowing William to see the Shiver inside it's cover.

"Don't fret boy, my illusion will hold true. Indeed, few are even capable of noticing my illusions." Feverfew muttered, glancing down at William curiously. When he had first seen Feverfew he had barely held back a laugh, since he basically looked like a stereotypical pirate captain.

From his scarlet coat to long black beard braided with jewels, he could've been anyone pretending to be a pirate. Of course, most people didn't have a sword made from stabilized Nothing, or took a lock of hair from their enemies before killing them. The fact Feverfew had enough hair woven together to go from his scalp down to his belt five times over terrified William.

His voice was deep and commanding, with the disconcerting effect of reverberating deep inside him. The overall effect made it hard to think of disobeying him, let alone stand against him.

"Tell me, have you had any experience with magic before boy?"

"No captain… I didn't believe in magic until recently." It wasn't technically a lie, however he withheld the fact he learned magic was real the day before his cruise was attacked.

"A natural affinity then, just like myself. Survive this battle and I'll teach you sorcery, give it a few centuries and maybe I'll let you pilot your own ship." While his words may have sounded generous, Feverfew's voice was full of greed which sent a shiver down the boy's spine.

Before he could come up with a suitable reply the lookout spotted their target, a particularly large merchant ship. At the sight of the ship the surrealism of the situation settled on William, making his breath come out in rugged pants. Despite the onset of a panic attack, he dutifully found himself hurrying below deck to help load the cannons.

To his despair, he was called to the captain's office less than a week later, when Feverfew and a good portion of the crew magically reappeared after they had sailed off in their newly captured ship.

Inside the cabin, Feverfew stood impatiently, five boxes floating in front of him.

"I expect a quicker response in the future, boy. I cannot stand time wasters." The barely restrained anger was terrifying.

"Of course captain, I'm sorry."

"You were able to detect my illusion and didn't get yourself killed in battle, but before I teach you anything you need to prove yourself here. You will need to stretch your senses and tell me what is inside each of these boxes, I will accept nothing less than a perfect score."

Forcing down his fear, William walked up to the boxes and looked at them hopelessly, only to glance up and catch the intensity in Feverfew's eyes. Feeling foolish, he held his hand over the first box and was shocked to feel something inside. A faint prickling from the Minute Key tattoo made him suspect the key was responsible for his abilities.

"I feel… I feel a chicken?" He couldn't tell how he knew, but his hand felt like it was rubbing against soft feathers.

"What colour is the chicken?" Feverfew pressed, sounding incredibly tired with his lack of skill.

William willed the connection with his key to expand, giving him a greater understanding of the chicken.

"It's… sort of purple, with traces of blue and green… You put it in a coma before putting it in the box and it was taken from another world less than a day ago."

This time Feverfew nodded, then waved his hand towards the second box.

"This box, it contains the miniature boat you used for the illusion. It still has your power imbued within it, although Nothing has started to deform it."

He correctly identified the next two boxes, containing a leather book and an iron cube. The cube was the hardest to identify, as his new found sense seemed to just drift over the metal. In order to identify it he had needed to stretch his power even harder, making the tattoo sting painfully.

"Now the final box, identify it correctly and I may dignify you with some answers."

The instant William's hand moved over the box he knew what it was. "A head, it's… fresh. It's also still alive, which indicates Denizen. It also has a different sense compared to the crew, although I don't know if that's true for all denizens."

"What about his position? Denizens have their rank and job title is magically imbued into their being."

Suppressing his revolution at having to further investigate the decapitated head, he deepened his senses.

"I'm getting the feeling of head record keeper, although there's the word captain is poorly imprinted over it. His rank is somewhere in the millions."

"Good, with time you will learn more in due time. Now, you may have three questions answered, although I am not bound to answer any question."

"Why waste time training me? Surely there are people you trust more?"

"That is easy, you are one of the few aboard this ship to notice the illusion the first time around, you are then the only one who did not fail this test upon reaching the iron cube. Skill can be taught, raw power cannot. As for trust, I trust you to be wise enough to not use what you learn against me."

Upon finishing his answer, Feverfew fixed him with a glare that promised pain. William didn't consider himself a coward, but he knew he never wanted to betray the captain.

"Okay… but why are you looking for someone to train? You mentioned I might be allowed to pilot my own ship later, so does that mean you are looking to expand your fleet?"

"I will not dignify that with an answer, why waste a question if you already know the answer"

'That's a yes then.' William thought grimly.

"Wait, did that count as an answer meaning I only have one question left or do I still have two left?" When Feverfew raised an eyebrow in contempt, he quickly realised his mistake. "Actually, don't answer that. I am going to assume that because you didn't actually answer my second question I still have two left."

"How will learning sorcery affect me, both in physical terms and my status aboard your crew?"

At this Feverfew grinned, a shark like grin but a grin nonetheless.

"Physically it is hard to say, I suspect you may continue growing until you reach your majority. You will also find yourself gaining the physical prowess of superior denizens, including increased strength and stamina. Using myself as a reference, I have met several of the Morrow Days and their servants. While I doubt my powers could compete with a Day, I have successfully taken on Wednesday's Dusk and won."

Mentally going over what he knew of the Morrow Days and their servants, he knew the Dawns, Noons and Dusks were considered the most powerful servants. Capable of taking on several Denizens by themselves, even then the three Times together were unlikely to defeat a Day.

"As for your status, you will assume the title as my apprentice, meaning you will only answer to myself, the Quartermaster and the first mate. You will also receive one and one eighth shares of the profit. However, while you will have less people to answer to, nobody will answer to you, unless you are relaying my orders."

That sounded fair enough to him, considering he would be going from the very bottom of the food chain to what sounded like fourth place.

"Furthermore, your duties will change drastically. During battle you will be in charge of bringing me any item I request and upholding the protective enchantments of the ship. Outside of battle, you will keep attending your lessons with Master Hunter until such time as he considers you properly educated. Now what is your final question?"

"Why do you stay here? Since you clearly know how to get back home, why waste your time here."

"Why do I stay here? When my prey sails right into my clutches without a care in the world and military resistance is easily beaten. Especially when the riches I gain from selling our wares in the secondary realms far exceed anything we might've made back on earth. Where my magic loses power daily when I leave the confines of the House."

Feverfew looked into the distance, seemingly deep in thought.

"What I am about to say must never be repeated, think of it as your first task as my apprentice. While my crew have regular House immortality, I wasn't satisfied with such basic precautions. While my power is strong I can never be truly killed no matter how much damage my body receives, even when a superior would die if put under the same stress."

William nodded, having been warned of the captain's unique form of immortality by the crew.

"However, what nobody realises is that such a life comes at a cost. If I lose too much of my power then my very being will unravel, leaving me in a fate far worse than death."

"Meaning, you can't spend long in the Secondary Realms. Possibly the reason why you want somebody like me, who could lead a crew and do your bidding outside the House."

Feverfew nodded curtly, before indicating his door in a clear invitation to leave.

His lessons with Feverfew seemed to happen randomly, with only the captain knowing the schedule. Despite this he wasn't permitted to just laze around the ship, with his days being filled with anything from sword fitting to learning what was required to keep the ship functioning.

To his great relief, he was deemed 'worthy' by the quartermaster after just a year of tutoring, during which he had learned everything the man had learned of the House. Which had included an overly detailed description of the roles of the Denizens and the changes in their clothing.

Then came the day he was allowed to see the inside of Feverfew's hideout, which turned out to be a small worldlet made for him. From what Arthur could work out, a worldlet was the House name for 'pocket dimension'. They had taken on yet another ship, this one considerably bigger than the ship they had attacked when he had first been pressed into service.

Feverfew had decided to take both the Shiver and the Mayfly to his worldlet, largely due to the Mayfly's larger cannons which he wanted to fit onto the Shiver. William had stood with Feverfew on the Mayfly's bridge, as his captain withdrew a specialised augury puzzle and let it scatter along the floor.

With a short twist of his hand a wave of magic settled over the pieces and forced them together into a full image. From his tutoring from Feverfew he got a vague impression from the puzzle but it would take him a while to interpret it accurately.

However, Feverfew had no such issue and turned the ships-wheel so that they were turning to port. Then with a wave of magic he vanished the puzzle and made a large portal appear in front of them, the force of which was powerful enough to make every one of William's bones feel numb.

When they passed through the portal it felt like a shower of freezing water, until they fully emerged into the worldlet where glaring sunlight instantly warmed him up. The island was ridiculously green, with a crystal clear sky and sparkling water. It was clearly a land heavily touched by magic, beyond even the constant touch of the House.

While the rest of the crew unloaded both ships, he was lucky enough to get out of that exhausting duty. He was given a tour of few buildings on the island by a grim faced crewmate called Dayton, who had lost an arm during the last battle.

Dayton had a near constant bored tone, understandably annoyed at being the one made to show the newbie around. Despite this, he was clearly proud of the island, being one of the original crewmates. They finished at the barracks, which was a large flat plane covered in cabins.

There were at least a hundred tiny cabins, with a half dozen considerably larger cabins in the centre. More than enough for everyone to have their own room. William was shocked to find the crew aboard the Shiver weren't the only men loyal to Feverfew, there were also over a dozen men that stayed on the island.

Having considered his duty over, Dayton entered the barracks and locked himself within his cabin. Looking around and finding himself alone, William decided to go and relax in the nearby forest before someone had the chance to give him a job. Once inside the forest, he took the time to ensure he was alone, then summoned his Key for the first time since his capture.

He hadn't forgotten the Atlas' warning that sorcerers like Feverfew could detect the Key. But even without that warning, it was impossible to find a private spot aboard the ship and he didn't want the Key taken away.

But now he had the space and the privacy to use the Key again, fulfilling the slight itch he had felt ever since he had entered the House. Remembering his lessons with the captain, William focused on his desire to be warned of anyone approaching and then came up with the words.

"Alert me when anyone gets within hearing distance." He said firmly, feeling only slightly foolish. Instantly, the Key warmed slightly and he suddenly knew with 100% certainty that he was alone. The rush he felt from finally using magic again sent him into a state of euphoria, where he couldn't stop the slight giggle that escaped.

Briefly, he had the insane urge to use the Key on everything in sight, bend the entire island to his will. But with a surprisingly strong force of mind, he tamped down on that desire. Instead, he spent several minutes combining his new knowledge of sorcery with what he remembered from the Atlas.

Unfortunately he had been forced to leave the Atlas on the cruise ship, so his memory was all he had left. By the time he felt someone walk towards him he had successfully summoned and banished wings and burned a single blade of grass with bright green fire.

"Boy, it's time for dinner." Looking up from his reclined position, he spotted one of the dockworkers glowering at him. Suspiciously, the man asked "What have you been up to?"

"The captain told me I needed to learn to clear my mind, as it's meant to help with Sorcery. So I was practising meditation."

"Sounds like being lazy to me." The man grumbled, leading William to the tavern.

It took William a while to get used to eating again. When aboard the Shiver there had been no food, since they never grew hungry or thirst inside the House making the storing of food inefficient. But, this worldlet was remote enough to bring about a sense of hunger, which he was told would eventually grow into an all encompassing need.

Despite this, they still couldn't starve to death, although it would now make them weaker. The food was surprisingly good, although William thought that could've been because he had forgotten what food tasted like. It was nice, to just sit amongst the crew and listen to them share stories, which steadily got more and more outrageous once the alcohol had been broken open.

Eventually the pirates started stumbling to their cabins, giving William the opportunity to head to sleep. He picked a cabin with two unoccupied neighbours, just so he could get some privacy while he slept.

He wanted to enchant his walls to stop noise escaping, but he doubted his abilities to do it himself. Of course, he could've used his Key, which would probably make it powerful enough to stop the sound of a dozen cannons firing in sync, but that would make it way too easy for Feverfew to find out about the Key.

For now, he just collapsed into his bed, falling asleep almost instantly. That night he dreamed of using his Key without any restrictions, bending the entire universe to his will. A part of him thought 'This is madness, I don't want this!' but a stronger part egged the dream onwards.

Throughout it all, a large goldfish would swim around him, sometimes giving him tips on how to use his Key and sometimes critiquing him on what he created.