A lazy, slanted ray of sunlight peeks over the horizon, the blanket of warmth chasing the last bit of shadows from the land. With many crewmates taking a night at one of the local inns – glad to be off the boat- one individual has chosen to stay on board to see the night through.
Inside the Captain’s quarters, on the soft bed, Torr peeks open an eye as he sees the sun begin to fill outside, a ray slipping passed the curtain in the room to catch his attention. He blinks a few times and begins to stretch, but feels his right arm is pinned and cannot move. He slowly looks that way to see the cause.
Perhaps he isn’t the only one to take the night aboard the ship.
He smiles and lays back down, putting his left arm, bending it at the elbow, behind his head, thinking about the events of the late hour where this situation came about.
Huff had come back to the boat after parting with Ivon and Tarnaa. She had come to tell him about something that had happened when they were out and about. He closes his eyes and replays it in his head…
* * * * *
“I was annoyed at Zahlee. You know me, I just want something… More me.” Huff says.
“And?” Torr asks, wondering what this ‘new thing’ is that she had referenced.
“Weeelll… It’s kinda hard to explain.” She answers. “I had this feeling in my gut.”
“Indigestion?” Torr puts in as a joke, chuckling as he says it.
“HA HA, Mr. Funny Guy.” Huff places her hands on her hips. “I’m serious.”
“Ok. Sorry. Go on.”
“All right. So, when i thought about the feelings in my gut, I acted upon them. I got him to do what I wanted.”
Putting his hand up, Torr shakes his head. “Now, hold on. Lemme get this straight. You told him what you wanted and he all of a sudden changed his mind? Even after he had adamantly refused you not but seconds ago?”
Huff sighs. “No. It’s…”
“Here.” Torr says, stepping up to Huff. “You are you, and I am that Zahlee fellow. Show me what happened.” He turns his back to her and folds his arms across his chest. “No! Now go avay, or I shall refuse you a second time!”
Huff looks at Torr and grins. He always knows how to be that one person she needs. “But Zahlee… Please?”
“Uh uh!” Torr replies and stomps his foot. “Zahlee done wit you!”
Huff turns him around so he is looking at her. “Pretty please?” She bats her eyelashes. “For me?”
“I… uh…” Torr clears his throat. “Leave my store!”
Huff takes the remaining step to bring herself closer, both of them inches from each other. “Look into my eyes.”
Forgetting everything they were doing, Torr looks into her eyes, his heartbeat increasing as he can feel her breath and presence so close to him. He licks his drying lips. “Then… Then what did you do?”
Huff, feeling the moment for what it is, hears Torr’s heartbeat rise in tempo. As she looks back into his eyes, everything she had told Ivon and Tarnaa echo in her mind. Slowly she leans in and brushes her lips against his, kissing him softly.
A tingling sensation occurs when they move apart from each other, each of their lips holding on to the feeling of what just happened. Huff looks at Torr as she opens her eyes, seeing Torr doing the same.
“You kissed him!?” Torr asks, not sure what to make of this.
“No!” Huff counters, a little embarrassed she gave in just then.
“Good!” Torr says, his heartbeat – and the tingle – still present. When Huff begins to turn away, he places his hand on her cheek to turn her back, looking into her eyes again he smiles. “Because if you had, Zahlee would have done this…”
This time Torr is the one to lean in and kiss Huff, passionately. With his left hand he places it on the small of her back and pulls her against him. Thousands upon thousands of explosions fill each of their bodies as the kiss deepens, each explosion warm and welcome. When they finally pull away from each other, they both feel warm and fuzzy.
* * * * *
Torr opens his eyes, after recalling the previous night, and grins. He removes his left hand and touches his lips with his fingertips. He looks back over to Huff’s sleeping – sleeping! – form. He breathes in deeply, remembering that even though she is asleep in the bed next to him, they did not ‘sleep together’, Torr holding her, cuddling, as she explained to him how she came to force Zahlee to do what she asked, until they fell asleep.
“It’s going to be a good day.” Torr says with a whisper.
* * * * *
Royal, her cloak pulled tight to further hide her face, slips through the streets to her special place. A dead end alley filled with empty crates signals her home. She cautiously looks back down the entrance to the alleyway before she places her hand on the exposed stone of the plaster building.
A grating sound echos as, behind her, the wall shifts and opens up a passage downward, the stone worked stairs leading underground. Again she looks back to the alleyway to ensure no one is watching or has followed her. Feeling safe enough, Royal runs over and down to the stairs.
After the second stair, the wall shifts back to rest in its normal position.
Down, down, passed the torch lighted sections, Royal enters the main chamber, the polished stone floor, magically enchanted to erupt in balls of flame, bolts of lightning, and other nasty surprises if any one other than herself steps foot upon them. She unties her cloak and, in one motion, places it upon a peg as she walks by to her large wooden wardrobe. Opening it up, she grabs her magically embroidered robe and puts it on. Re-positioning the two wands on her hip, she ties the robe tightly around her and walks back to where her cloak rests.
She places a hand inside the pocket on the inside of the cloak and grabs the small bag. With a grin, she tosses it up and snatches it out of the air. She then looks to her cloak and runs her fingers over the hooded portion upon the peg, then travels down to the hem at the bottom. Whispering a triggering word, fire sizzles from her fingertips, lights the garment, and then engulfs the material until nothing is left, the fire simply disappearing in a puff of smoke.
With the bag in hand, Royal walks over to her work station and places it down on the long table against the wall, four vases, three containing other colors of the metal-like substance. A white, red, and a copper piece each float inside the glass jar, a black one joining them now as Royal takes the item out of the sack and magically inserts it into the glass, each of the items too large to simply place inside the openings at the top.
Royal claps her hands together, admiring her handiwork. “Soon. Soon, Tezzikall. Soon. It’s too bad that she will not even realize what is happening.” Her attention is turned to her scrying pool. She should see the whereabouts of the three women she had shadowed last night.
“I need to find a way to board the ship.” She states as she walks over to her pool. She dips her finger in a small bowl set off to the side, the coated finger then plunges into the larger dish. Concentrating on the female’s names, Royal is able to locate each of them.
Ivonelfe, sitting in a chair, watching the sun.
Tarnaa, asleep in the bed in the adjoining room.
Huff, asleep in bed…
“Oh my. Hello.” Royal says aloud, seeing the woman in bed and a man lying next to her. She takes in the room, seeing it is fancy, with many valuables out and about, as well as furniture too nice to be in any inn. She looks closer at the male figure lying there, wondering if this is the new, younger, Captain of the ship. With what she has gathered, it seems this one has chosen well.
“So, Captain. How do you fit into all of this? Were you the one to dispose of the former leader, thus assuming the mantle of Captain?” She raises her eyebrows. “Or did she? Maybe you two are in league together? Eliminating the threat so you can both be in a position of power?” She continues to ponder the possibility.
* * * * *
Reluctantly leaving Huff in bed, Torr is now upon the decks of the ship, looking out from port, to the vast opening sea. A million things are on his mind at the present moment, so he stands at the rail, letting his vision blur.
What ever happened to Andy? He thinks to himself, focusing in on the waves near the coastline. The rhythmic sway upon the beach leaves wet sand in it’s wake, only to be replaced by another wave, fitting for his mood. It seems like problems come, then leave, only for another to take it’s place.
“Boggs?” A voice calls out.
Torr watches as a small school of fish pass by the hull of the ship.
“Boggs! Where ye be, ya drunken arse!” The voice shouts, louder since the man is coming down the docks towards the Phoenix Rising. “Ye best notta fell off an drowned! Boggs!”
Torr walks over to the other side of the ship to see a man walking over, searching for someone. He looks up to the sun and feels the warmth on his face.
“Ahoy there!” The man shouts up at Torrinda. When Torr opens his eyes, the man nods. “Ye be seein’ a fella ‘round here? This tall.” The man raises his hand to indicate how tall. “Kinda skinny as a rail? Boggs be his name.”
Indeed Torr does know of the man, but he feigns ignorance. “I apologize, good sir. I have not.”
“You the Captain, aint ya?”
“I am.” Torr replies, folding his arms and resting them on the rail.
“You be the ones that put in last night, ‘round dusk?”
“Correct.” Torr states.
“Well Boggs was the one that helped put ye in port here. An I aint seen him since.”
“Nope. Does not ring a bell.” Torr stands from the rail. “I will keep an eye out for your Biggs fellow though.”
“Yes.” Torr concedes with a bow. “How inconsiderate of me. I will notify and have someone find you if I see this Boggs character.”
“Aye.” The man nods, turns, and walks away.
Torr watches him leave the docks, still looking this way and that. He smirks, then composes himself.
Torrinda, startled by the interruption, turns to see Mejoltman standing behind him. With a nod to greet her, she looks to the man who is nearly gone from the docks. “I wanted to let you know that preparations have been made. If you are ready, we can perform the ritual.”
Knowing the dreams have subsided for now, he honestly wonders if he should go through it or not. Mejo, reading his features, nods.
“You had said that you believe the Capt… Greg, is alive. Is that not what you said?”
“I did.” Torr answers.
“Then let’s see what the truth tells us. Maybe we can find the answers.”
“Ok, Mejo.” Torr says after a moment of contemplation. “I am ready. Say later tonight, after the sun has gone down?”
“It can be arranged.” Mejo answers, knowing he is referring to the vampiric Huff being able to walk around freely in the nighttime skies.
* * * * *
The inner town’s mechanics are in full display this mid-morning as the town has come alive with the hustle and bustle. Shopkeepers opening their kiosks on the streets, tents going up in a variety of colors, and street vendors placing their carts, purposely blocking the road so the passer bys will have to gaze upon their wares, and listen to the proposals.
Ivon smiles. She watches intently as a man fights with another over a spot on the road. Shoves mostly, but neither man backing down in the least. She scans the people around to see they, like her, are watching to see how this plays out, the two arguing men oblivious to a third merchant sneaking into the spot to open up his own kiosk. She laughs quietly as the men finally realize their fighting was for not, both of them wheeling their carts to find another area to set up shop.
As the carts move away, a little girl – the same one from last night – in a white dress, stands on the street.
Ivon leans forward to look out the window. “Is that?” She asks as she witnesses the little girl stare up into the window that Ivon is looking out of. “It is. Seems she got home all right. Poor thing.” Ivon shakes her head and feels it is time to rouse Tarnaa and get her up and moving.
When she turns around, the little girl is standing by the doorway of her room, a foot from the closed door.
Ivon nearly jumps out of her skin when she sees the girl, then looks back to the window, hoping to find her still there on the streets.
She is not.
Slowly, a little frightened at how it could have gotten inside her room without a sound, Ivon turns to greet the little girl.
“H… Hello.” Ivon tries to act as if she is not afraid, even though her heartbeat is racing. “H… How did you get in here?”
There is an awkward, eerie silence.
“You can see me?” The little girl finally asks.
“Yes?” Ivon states, confused as she regards the question. Kind of hard to not notice a little girl in a white dress, immaculate, without a hint of a stain, or a smudge of dirt. “Why wouldn’t I, dear?”
“Because I’m dead.”
Ivon’s eyes widen in shock. “But… But you are standing right here. In front of me now.” She looks around, then pinches her forearm to ensure she is not asleep and dreaming. “Ouch… Ok than. Tell me-”
The door opens suddenly, Tarnaa entering, passing through the little girl who disappears afterwards.
“Hey.” Tarnaa says, closing the door. She looks at Ivon’s ‘thousand yard stare’ and is now on her guard. “Ivon. What is the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost or something.” She takes a step closer, her hand resting on the hilt of her sword. “Ivon?”
“I think I did just that.” Ivon says, finally snapping out of it. She slowly looks up to Tarnaa, still feeling out of sorts.
“No.” Ivon replies, shaking her head. “It was not humorous at all.” She shivers as a cold washes over her.
Tarnaa looks at Ivon, more worried now. “What? You are serious?” She thinks about last night’s encounter when they were waiting for Huff. “You… Was it that little girl again?”
“The same. White dress.” Ivon confirms. “She spoke to me this time.”
Now it Tarnaa’s eyes going wide.
“What did it, she, say?”
Ivon looks back out the window, clouds forming off on the horizon, signalling that a storm is approaching. “She was surprised that I was able to see her.” Ivon turns back around to face her friend. “Because she was dead.”
“Maybe..” Tarnaa sputters, trying to rationalize the situation. She has heard of stories where people could see the spirit leave the body, but not actually being able to converse with the spirit in unrest. “You sure she was dead?”
Ivon nods. “She was right there.” Ivon points to the door. “Before you came in. When the door swung open, she was gone again.”
Walking over to the door, feeling the wood, Tarnaa looks back. “So, what does this all mean?”
Again, Ivon can only shrug. “I’ve never had this, or even known, that this could happen. A priest or cleric maybe, but not plain old me.”
“Ivon…” Tarnaa begins, knowing nothing will probably ever be normal again with the likes of the company they keep. She smiles and walks over to put her hand on Ivon’s shoulder. “Nothing plain about you anymore. Come.” Tarnaa changes the subject. “Let us go get Huff and see what Zahlee’s ‘bestest garment’,” she tries using the man’s accent. “Looks like.” The two share a lighthearted laugh and exit Ivon’s room.
* * * * *
Methodical. The best way to describe it as Mejoltman has been placing things in the appropriate spots near a table inside her room, next to the very same cot that Alex rested upon, Tarnaa recovered upon, and now Torrinda will use while Mejo peers into his nightmare-like visions. Maybe they are nothing, simply Torr’s mind conjuring up these things, but she – because of what she is – cannot just let them lie. She feels there might indeed be something causing him distress. After all, she, along with the departed Zoey, broke him free of the mirror. How good would it feel to solve another riddle?
“You don’t have to knock.” Mejo says, her back turned to the doorway.
Alex, hand in mid-air to rap upon the door jam, stops and puts his arm down. He enters the room and pulls up a chair, watching her prepare.
“You going to say what is on your mind, or did you come to simply watch me?” Mejo, still turned away, asks Alex.
“Ok than.” Alex says, rocking the chair back and forth on two legs. “Torrinda.”
“As I suspected.”
“Your thoughts?” Alex asks, the leaning in the chair stopping.
“What I really feel, or what you want me to say?” Mejo counters.
Alex grunts, the rocking in the chair starting over. “Do you trust him?”
“He is the Captain of our ship, the leader of our crew.”
“That’s not what I asked.” Alex states, getting annoyed.
“No. You are asking if we are to fear him.” Mejo, finally turning around to face Alex, says. “Is it fear? Or is it jealousy?”
“What?” Alex growls, the chair back on all four legs.
“You heard me.” Mejo says, not backing down. “You say you cannot trust the man, yet I believe that you are more angered by something different entirely.”
“Tell me, oh wise one.” Alex rebuffs sarcastically.
“Very well. Let me ask you. What are you more angry about? Is it the fact that Greg, a man whom you knew very well, is gone, or is it the fact that the duty of Captain falls upon Torrinda and not Alex?”
Alex takes a few moments to walk down each path before he decides, if any, most closely resembles the truth in him. After several more seconds pass, he stands up from the chair. “I just do not trust him. Call it what you may, but things are happening on this ship now that he is in charge.”
“Which has not changed.” Mejo narrows her eyes, her stern gaze fixed upon Alex. “You and Greg had gone to hell and back. Do not pretend these same events did not transpire when he was at the helm.”
“That was different!” Alex yells.
“Maybe, to you, because you have lost something, but to all of us, who lost the Captain as well, they are one in the same.”
Angered and frustrated, Alex kicks the chair out of his way.
“Alex!” Mejo scolds as she folds her arms over her chest.
He doesn’t turn to regard her and makes his way to the exit. Placing his right hand on the door frame, he sighs. “Just… All I ask is you keep your guard up around him. Something just doesn’t feel right about this. Any of it.” He ushers out of her room and exits the area.
Knowing Alex like she does, Mejo stares at the door knowing, fearing, that his inkling that seems to be troubling him could turn out to be something significant. She looks to the table, squinting as she sorts through Alex’s words, thinking to find a hidden, underlying motive.
* * * * *
‘The Last Drop’, just an hour after opening, has few customers. It will be a while, around dinner time, that it will fill up with more customers, but for now, the barkeep doesn’t mind. With last nights brawl being cleaned up – fewer chairs and less tables, he smiles as he wipes down his counter, watching the young woman, alone, sitting at the counter, nursing the one drink she has yet to taste.
Before he can say anything, another patron enters. His face twists slightly at the sight of Sypher, the rat faced man always making the barkeep’s skin crawl.
“Ale.” He says, slumping down on the stool, three away from Arlynne.
“Coin?” The barkeep asks, knowing Sypher usually doesn’t have any, the weasel conning and stealing more than he actually pays for.
Surprisingly he produces a gold coin and tosses it up to the man. He then looks down the counter to Arlynne and tosses a second one to him. “Ale, and whatever she’s havin’.”
“I doubt she will drink it.” The barkeep says as he puts a pint of ale on the counter. He turns and looks down the bar. “She has not touched the one she has for sometime.”
“Then refresh her with a new one.” Sypher says, taking a large gulp from his pint.
A second, half sized glass of dark liquid is set down by Arlynne’s first glass. The action breaks Arlynne’s trance. She looks at the container and then up to the barkeep. “I didn’t order another one.”
“Compliments from the one at the counter.”
Arlynne looks Sypher’s way, the man holding his mug up in a symbol of gratitude.
“Not interested.” Arlynne says, then goes back to looking into her liquid swirls.
“Aye.” Sypher replies, taking no offense – he gets it often – and takes another swig. “I seen that look before. Sure as rain I have. Lemme guess.” He taps his mug, indicating he would like another. “Your lover to be, was caught in the act with a street harlot, which is the reason you’re calling off the wedding?” He receives his drink, shifting in the stool to face her. “No? I got it! Someone died in your family?” She makes a move, but still silence. He scratches his head and puts his chin in the palm of his hand.
Arlynne, sensing it will not end, looks over towards the thinking Sypher. “Employer… Or something like that.”
“I can drink to that!” Sypher exclaims, saluting her with his mug. He wipes off his lips after taking a drink. “I can feel your pain. My employer wouldn’t be squat without me and my help. But what do I get in return? What do I receive?” He slams his hand down on the counter, quickly taking a drink to hide the pain of his overzealous action.
“I get, ‘Don’t sit with me, Sypher’. Or, ‘You won’t be staying long’.” He looks her in the eye, the pain fading from his hand. “Does she ever think that maybe a good lackey needs to be thrown a bone here or there sometime? Be rewarded from time to time, is that so much to ask?” He downs the remaining contents of his drink and puts it back on the counter. “What about you?” He asks, the potent liquor beginning to slur his words.
Arlynne thinks it through, whether or not she should share her enigma. “He thinks I murdered someone.” She finally says.
“Did you?” Sypher whispers loudly, then giggles slightly. He stops and tries to keep a straight face.
“Of course not!” She replies, her hand gripping her own glass, the rage coming back to her. “I am no murderer.”
“There’s good money in it. Killin’ peoples.” Sypher, a third mug in hand, states. He looks around, expecting to catch an assassin inches away from a kill upon his being. “My boss was a damn good one…”
Arlynne, half fed up with this man, and half just fed up, takes her shot of liquor. She winces as the burning liquid travels down her throat, but she uses that feeling to fuel the rage inside of her as being an accused murderer. She grabs the second drink and downs it in one big gulp.
“Here, here!” Sypher says, his upper lip full of foam. “That’s more like it! Barkeep, another for the pretty lady!”
“One more.” Arlynne says, the warmth coming over her body. “Then I go back and tell my employer what I think about his accusation.” The drink is refreshed and Arlynne swallows it up and hops off the stool in search of Torrinda and to feed this rage she has inside of her.
“Hate to see good people caught up in bad situations.” Sypher says to her exit, then chuckles.
“What would you know about good people?” The barkeep asks, wiping out the now clean glasses.
“I don’t.” Sypher replies. He looks into the ale in front of him. “I don’t…”
* * * * *
“I wish I had something that would allow me to walk in the daytime. That is one thing I miss.” Huff says to Torrinda as she gets ready to leave. Zahlee is more than finished and she would like to see what he has made for her, even if it isn’t by his own choosing.
“When will you be back?” Torr asks, watching Huff from the desk.
“I will be back.” Huff answers, then looks over her shoulder at him. “Don’t worry, I will show you how it looks.”
Torrinda folds his hands and rests his index fingers against his lips, his elbows on the desk. “It has been quite some time since this crew was in good spirits.”
“Mmhmm.” Huff answers, slipping a dagger into her boot. She looks back to Torr and winks. “For protection.”
Torr shakes his head with a smile. It’s not like she really needs it with her defenses so readily at her command. “What do you think about having another party?”
She stops, her eyes wide. “It has been a while. I’d have to find my clipboard.”
“Maybe not a party, party.” Torr clarifies. “What if we just got together and celebrated the Cap’n’s, Greg’s, life? Not a funeral, but a remembrance.”
“That could be good.”
“Let everyone shares their stories in hopes that his passing can begin to heal.” Torr says.
“But I thought, you thought, he was still alive?” Huff asks, confused by his back stepping.
“I’ve just come to terms with it. That’s all.” He sighs. “Whether he is still alive or not, it doesn’t change the fact that he is not here.”
“And you would like to honor his life and legacy.” She bites upon her bottom lip, thinking of the preparations needed. “I can probably make it happen in a few days. If I can-”
“No.” Torr answers, shaking his head. “The tension upon this ship is thick indeed. I do not think it can wait.”
“What are you saying?”
“Tonight.” Torr confirms.
Huff laughs, then slowly stops, seeing he is being serious. “You know these things don’t just happen overnight. I put a lot of thought into my parties.”
“Huff.” Torr asks, standing up from the desk. He makes his way over towards her. “Can you do this for me? For everyone?” He gives her sad puppy dog eyes.
Looking into those sad eyes, Huff agrees. “I’ll see what I can do. Do you want us to all meet back here?”
“No.” Torr answers once again. “I think it would be best if we all gather in a neutral place. One that will not cause their voices to be persuaded.”
“All right.” Huff concedes. “I’ll get Tarnaa and Ivon to help me with this. Say around seven?” She asks, looking to a small clock with in a frame on the shelf.
“I will be there.”
* * * * *
Candles, incense and various designed wood and thread trinkets lie about. Torr watches Mejo from the cot, knowing the time frame will be close, but they should make it before the appointed seven o’ clock deadline.
“You said you had heard of such a ritual.” Torr puts in, cutting the silence. “Does that mean this will be your first time actually performing it?”
“I did.” Mejo states, bringing a ceremonial dagger out from her sleeve. “And it does.”
Torr eyes the knife just to the side, a little worried about its use. “Protection?” Torr jokes, nodding towards the weapon.
“No. I will need some of your blood for the ritual. This,” Mejo holds the wavy blade up to look at it’s craftsmanship. “Doesn’t bother you, does it?” She smirks as she asks the question, replacing the dagger back down. The smirk is because she is indeed lying to him. It is for her protection, just in case she has to defend herself. Alex’s warning rings ever louder in her mind now that she knows they are the only two left aboard the ship.
“Of course not.” Torr answers, smiling as he believes Mejo’s logic. After all, he has never heard of anything like this able to be performed before, so he has an open mind about it. He lays back down and stares at the ceiling. “So how does this work? Do you hypnotize me into falling asleep and then converse with me when I am deeply under?” He cocks his head to the side to see Mejo’s last preparations.
“Something like that.” She replies. Without warning, Mejo opens her palm up and blows into the small pile of, what appears to be dust, in her hand, the pink mist going right into Torr’s face.
He flinches from the action. “What the hell?” He sputters and coughs, his vision filled with tiny sparkles of lights, each of them dancing about his eyesight. Slowly, one eye closes, than the other. Soon after that, the rhythmic breathing is the only noise in the loneliness of the ship.
“All right, Torrinda. Lets see if Alex is right…” The mystic leans in and places her hands upon him, each hand putting pressure as the thumbs are placed at the jaw and the index and middle fingers are placed at each temple. She slows her breathing down as well, beginning to match Torr’s. Within seconds she is in synch and then lets her mind do the rest.
It’s dark, cold, and nothing can be seen. She looks around, but it is an empty void, one that has no light.
So far, this is exactly as Torr had informed her. Without any light to see, however, how can she be certain of anything while covered in this thickening darkness. She produces a small pouch. Reaching inside, she pulls out a stone, nearly the size of her hand, light emanating from it as soon as it is clear of the pouch, the piece of rock covered in Mejo’s moon dust to fight the overwhelming darkness.
The darkness seemingly cowers from around her, actuallying giving her a small globe of illumination to further investigate this strange place.
Mejo wanders around for a few moments longer, then sees Torr’s silhouette digging away at a wall of darkness, just like he described. She continues to watch him until the arm grabs at him through the wall of darkness.
There is nothing that isn’t spoken about before. She says to herself.
Right as Torr’s body is thrown back from the hand releasing him, Mejo’s body begins to sink into the darkness below her!
Panicking, she plunges the illuminated stone into the darkness, hoping to fend off the thickening gloom around her.
Her hand, however, is stuck!
“No!” She whispers harshly as the lower portion of her body is fully submerged, her chest inches away from the ‘ground’, the position she is stuck in since her arm cannot break free.
“Torr!” Mejo yells out, the sound distorted as the thick mass shoots into her open mouth. With her chest now covered, Mejoltman, for one of the few times in her life, begins to fear for her life. The darkness is so full and thick that she believes she will be pressed into it only to be trapped and suffocated until she finally expires.
Her last thought is of Blue…
* * * * *
“I’d like to propose a toast.” Huff says as she stands up at the table, all the other shipmates sitting at the same table – three empty chairs for the three who have yet to arrive. “We have all come to know each other as family, and while we can sit here and bask in the fact we have come out of recent events even stronger, let us not forget that there is one man who is not here tonight. The man I speak of held a high place in all of our hearts and this gathering is not a gloomy reminder of his tragic end, but rather a celebration of the life that was Greg, the Captain, as you will. So raise your glasses.” Everyone at the table raises their individual beverage containers. “To the Captain. Gone, but not forgotten.”
“To the Captain.” They all say in unison, each taking a drink in honoring the man.
“Alex.” Huff calls after she has taken her drink. “You knew him better than most of us here. Will you grace us with a story that we have not yet heard?”
“Aye.” Alex says, then takes a large gulp of his drink. Setting his mug down on the table, he begins his tale. “I’ll tell you about when I first met Greg…”
* * * * *
The small echoes of a torch burning causes Mejo to stir, the woman coming back to consciousness. As she opens her eyes, the images are blurred, but she can actually make out shapes! She is no longer inside the dark mass.
As the images come into focus, she can make out a white mass charing at another disfigured shape. Blinking several times, and squinting, she can see the white blob is actually a fur covered creature, one she has seen before.
Her elation is short lived, however, as she watches, again, the demise of the majestic yeti at the hands of the other figure who is now crystal clear, a being she could never forget.
“Mmmm.” Bladen’Kurst purrs, tightening her tail around Duncraig’s neck.
Mejo, seeing this all before, closes her eyes as the spine of her friend is broken, the loud crack of bone echoing throughout the cave. She opens her eyes and wants to scream out in protest, but she gets beaten to the punch.
“We’re running out of time!” She hears Torr yell. “Mejo, Huff, please!”
Mejo shifts to the side so she can see all the gathered members. The confused woman watches it all play out until there is only Bladen’Kurst and Torr left in the chamber.
“So, then there were only two.” Bladen’Kurst laughs while wiping the blood from her cheek. “It’s too bad.”
“Enough!” Torr yells.
Mejo watches as Torr suddenly vanishes and reappears behind the demon queen, as evident as Tarnaa’s sword pierced through her chest.
“And this is for everyone else!” He yells, the sword now raised high for the killing blow. Mejo watches the descent of the weapon…
Only to see Torr stop before it connects.
“I cannot…” The loud clang of the sword hitting the ground makes Mejo cringe. Torr walks over to face Bladen’Kurst, the demon queen looking into Torr’s eyes as he holds her face with his hand. “I cannot explain it, but something is prohibiting me from striking such a beautiful creature to death…”
Mejo’s jaw drops open as she watches Bladen’Kurst lean in and kiss Torr! Deeply and passionately!
The walls of the cavern begin to melt away, the rough stone being replaced with the inner workings of the ship. Thinking she has come out from the ritual, she looks around, seeing that she is not in her room, but rather in another.
Zoey is asleep on the cot, her head still attached, very much alive.
“What am I seeing?” Mejo whispers, wondering if this is what really had happened, or if it is some backfiring side effect of the Dreamscape ritual. She closes her mouth as a doorway appears by Zoey’s cot, Torrinda walking through to stand next to the sleeping woman. With a little nudge, Torr rouses Zoey from her slumber.
“Zoey.” Torr whispers. “Sorry to wake you.”
“Mmm” Zoey yawns as she tries to stay awake. “What’s up?”
“Well, I wanted to thank you for setting me free from the mirror. And as a token of my gratitude, I wanted to bring you a gift.”
“A what?” Zoey replies, rubbing her eyes.
In walks Bladen’Kurst from the extra-dimensional doorway, her eyes burning brightly. Before anyone can say or do anything, Bladen’Kurst thrusts her hand down into Zoey’s chest, ripping her heart out of her body. The sight of the organ, blood still trying to pump, makes Zoey scream bloody murder, that same bone chilling, ear splitting sound Mejo remembers hearing.
Suddenly the area around her fades away until the darkness returns. Having enough of this encounter, Mejo tries to break off the connection to Torr.
“Mejo, Mejo, Mejo.” Torr’s voice calls out in the darkness. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. You went and stuck your nose where it didn’t belong, didn’t you? It’s not the first time you have gone and done it either.”
“I am only doing what you asked me.” Mejo says into the darkness.
“That is odd. I didn’t ask you do to anything. Torrinda asked you to watch his dreams. Oh, but you went further, didn’t you. You were not satisfied until you found something incriminating. Well, you found it! How does it taste?”
“Malakai!” Mejo growls the name as she realizes whom she is speaking with. This darkness inside Torrinda now begins to make a lot of sense. “You know they will find out what you have done. Alex was right not to trust you.” Mejo boldly states. “You will pay for what you have done.”
“Yes, in due time.” Malakai states, his calmness making Mejo uneasy. “But in the meantime, no one knows what has transpired here tonight. Hell, even sweet Torrinda doesn’t know what is going on. To him, he is having another one of this strange dreams. It was no coincidence that we are the only ones aboard the ship.”
Mejoltman begins to figure things out, albeit, too late. “You! You… set this all up…”
“Correct.” He confirms her fears. “Now that you are out of the way, there will be little resistance.”
“Wait!” Mejo tries to desperately delay while she thinks of a way out of this. “What do you mean? I am still on the ship. I WILL alert everyone, and there is nothing you can do to stop me from doing so.”
“Hmmm.” Malakai says dramatically. “Strange. I am awake and can see you lying on the floor, yet you are still stuck inside. Most peculiar, don’t you agree?”
Mejo begins to panic. If he is already out of the ritual and awake, where is she now?
“Hope you enjoy the dark, Mejo. Welcome to your new home…”