The small life boat slowly makes its way through the strangely calm waters, each member inside cautiously looking for the large dorsal fins of the sharks that are no doubt out and about. Jazz, rowing along just fine, has his mind set on one goal; getting them to the largest of the islands in Chum Waters. Avoiding the jagged juts of land that would tear the boat apart, he trusts in his lookouts, Ivonelfe and Tarnaa, knowing they will not let him, or the rest of the boatmates, down.
“One coming up on our left!” Ivon states, the dark formed land mass’s shadow poking through the still waters. Jazz rows accordingly, the small boat making it’s slight correction flawlessly. As they pass by the rocks, they spot what appears to be a skull sitting on one of the flatter portions.
“Washed up from the waters be me guess.” The Captain states, everyone’s vision then going to the dark water. Several more silent, but no less tense, moments pass, the lantern in the Captain’s hand glowing a weak beacon in an unfavorable setting.
A small thump, the boat rocking gently, startles them.
“We have a fin…” Tarnaa confirms, the dark fin slicing through the water before it goes under the surface. “Brace yourselves. They appear to be gathering in numbers.”
Another thump confirms that remark.
“Get us there quickly, Jazz, my boy.” The Captain states, fearing that the bumps upon the ship will only become more fierce, and more frequent. Rowing as hard as he can, Jazz ignores the tired pains in his shoulders, focusing on only moving them in order to prevent them from staying in one spot for too long.
“Here comes another!” Ivon calls, the woman shifting her balance to counter the weight of the encounter.
The ship rocks violently, the Captain, years and years at sea, unmoving like a statue, where as Jazz nearly loses an oar when Tarnaa’s repositioning bumps his left side.
“Should I stop their advancements?” Tarnaa asks, control of her balance once more, pulling her sword out of her sheath a fraction, the blade gleaming in the moonlight.
“No.” The Captain answers, shaking his head. “That’ll draw more to us. Them sharks be eatin’ anything they be gettin’ their teeth on. Even other sharks. The blood’d draw more to us, an we aint be wantin’ that.”
A rippling, bubbling mass forms off to the side, two sharks fighting one another for the chance at the next pass.
“I see it!” The captain, ignoring the present danger, calls. The glow of a fire somewhere on the dark landmass up ahead tells them that their location draws near.
The bubbling mass subsides, the once white bubbles stained dark red from the losing combatant.
* * * * *
“They are a tribe of long lost origin.” Malakai explains to Huff, the two of them overlooking the gathered, the tribal members joined at the bonfire, enjoying a feast. “These waters, these islands, used to be one whole land formation.” Huff nods, half listening, but trying to plan far enough ahead for anything to work well enough. She knows the Captain is probably on his way as they are here now, watching the tribesman eat, pray, and dance.
“Which one is the elder?” Huff asks, breaking through Malakai’s ‘history’ lesson. “Which one do we need to scare so Kurst can get her point across?”
Malakai grins, thinking that Huff is truly thinking about making an example of these dancing, praying fools. He points towards the bonfire, and the large man sitting behind it, his body covered in tattoos, bones pierced through the bridge of his nose.
“That is the chief, the father of the daughter I abducted for you to feed from.” He says, watching Huff out of the corner of his eye. “It would be he that we would introduce you to.”
“Than what are we waiting for?” Huff asks, her knuckles turning white with her tight grip on the rocks.
“Patience.” Malakai answers. “There is a ritual feast happening. They will be too occupied for us to raise alarm. After all,” He turns and grins evilly. “We want their full attention when we tear a few of them apart.”
Glad for the hesitation, Huff visibly relaxes, her blood flowing through her hands once again. “So we sit, and wait? When they are feasting, and I, too, wish to eat?” She adds the last question, more to keep him thinking that she is compliant in everything she has said.
“You will have your fun, I assure you. There are plenty around that you can pick from. To make our point, however, we need to locate the chief’s son. THAT will get his attention!” Huff nods, not caring in the least. She thinks of ways to turn the conversation to better her understanding of a few things that she has been pondering.
“What else can I do?”
“Hmm?” Malakai, not understanding, asks. “Nothing. We sit and wait.”
“No. I mean, me. What other powers do I possess? I cant only just be a vampire, right?”
“True.” Malakai agrees. “You are filled with inhuman strength, the ability to rip someone apart without much effort.”
“I know that already.” Huff argues. “But isn’t there anything else?” She looks at him, reminded of her conversations with Thor and the mischief they would cause for the Captain. “Can I fly?”
“Unless you grow wings.” Malakai laughs. “No.”
“Can I use those doors you use?”
“I am afraid not.” He holds up his hand, a silver ring on his ring finger. “I have this. Our master had bestowed it to me so I can come and go as I please.”
“Fine.” Huff grunts. Sitting back down and folding her arms over her chest. “What about the mirror trick? Can I trap someone inside like you did with Thor?”
He shakes his head. “Understand, this body is only serving as it needs to be. I am a shade. While it is true that I turned you into a vampire, I have other things available to me. The mirror trick, as you call it, is only a gateway used for me to travel between worlds. I would not exist as I am now if I did not have a host for me to occupy.”
Huff takes it all in, expecting as much, but hoping she had something more when it comes to these new powers. “Will Thor eventually die?”
Malakai leans back against the rock, looking at Huff, trying to see beyond her questioning. Maybe she isn’t quite ready to come into the fold, her feelings still too fresh. With time she will learn how to turn them off and only worry about herself. “They will all, eventually die. One by one. The woman at the party, the one you had feasted upon in your room. Alex, if he ever gives in to the sickness that he is infected with, and even your dear Captain will perish at the hands of Bladen’Kurst. One by one.”
“But Thor. He’s stuck in the mirror. How will he die?”
“I will continue to grow stronger in this body, while he will become less and less. Until there is nothing left on the other side.”
“Unless they can break him out.” Huff concludes, hoping for an answer she can use.
Instead he laughs. “IF. If they break him out. The line between the realms is powerful indeed. You simply cannot hope to shatter the glass.” It is true. She remembers Alex trying that very thing.
“So he is truly a lost cause?” She asks, trying not to sound interested.
“It would appear so.” Malakai states, seemingly shutting the door on the conversation. “Besides, I am far more fun than that fool.”
* * * * *
The wind is something else! Mejoltman says to herself, trudging through the snows of Glacial Pass. She remembers the area so keenly that she feels as if the trees are calling to her. With one foot in front of the other, she continues on, pulling her hood down farther to block the biting, stinging wind.
Little does she know that a pair of eyes are watching her from a distance.
* * * * *
“So, you are Torr.” Zoey states, looking at the trapped crewmate inside the mirror. She leans her head to the side, taking in the delicate intricacies of the framing of the mirror. “You got any ideas?”
Torr frowns, his tired visage and slumping shoulders telling her that he really is short on time. He slowly shakes his head.
“Ok than.” She bites her bottom lip and tries to think of something. “Can’t you just break it?”
Torr shakes his head and then writes on his canvas.
‘Alex Tried. Rejected.’
“If we throw it down?” She asks.
Again he shrugs, willing to try anything at this point.
Zoey grabs the mirror and raises it above her head. “Here goes nothing.” She throws it down on the floor, hoping to hear a crash of glass.
It drops, but no crash.
The mirror lands with a dull thud. Picking it up to inspect the face, Zoey notices that Torr is gone! “It worked! I did it!” She grins and looks around the small room. “Alright, now where are you?”
She returns her gaze back to the mirror to see Torr standing there, without a head!
“Ooh! What did I do!?” She asks, fearing the worst. She slowly watches Torr reappear, his eyes looking darker than they were before. “I’m so sorry! I didnt think…”
Torr interrupts, shaking his head and writes more on the nearly full canvas. ‘Not You. Power Of Mirror.’
“Hmmm.” Zoey states, glad she wasn’t the cause after all. But she is still stumped, like the Captain had said before, they could not figure it out either. “So hitting it doesn’t work. Dropping it doesn’t work.” A moment of contemplation. “What if we cut it?”
Torr cocks his head to the side, his brow furrowed in confusion of how to cut the enchanted mirror.
“I know a glass maker back where I am from. They are able to make many glorious, and beautiful things. I watched them as they would heat up the melted glass and blow through a metal tubing in order to expand it. They would cut it off the pipe using some sort of shears. Maybe we can heat the mirror up enough to be able to cut through and get you out that way?”
It’s worth a shot, Torr tells himself. Being stuck in an alternate world is starting to take its toll. He hasn’t seen the sun in quite a while, nor has he seen most of the other crewmates. It’s time for him to be set free. Damn that shade anyway!
* * * * *
The boat glides in on the dirt, Jazz and the Captain pulling it up far enough so it will not slip back out into the sea. They tie if off on a fallen tree, confident that it will hold until they get back.
“Ok, where to?” Jazz asks, the last knot securred. The sound of ominous drums fills the air, giving even more of a creepy atmosphere to the island.
“Aye.” The Captain nods, thinking the same thing. He has been here before, however, and knows where Bladen’Kurst and Huff are likely at. Getting to the cave, and passed the other inhabitants without being caught, is the real test. “We be followin’ the jungle. Keep the glow of them fires to yer right. We don’t want none of them knowin’ we be here.” He looks back to Ivonelfe and Tarnaa. “Keep yer eyes open. This island be nothin’ but trouble.”
They begin their trek into the jungle island, each one tense and awaiting danger.
* * * * *
Around a large mountain of ice and snow, Mejo has come into Nevermelt. The wind, stolen by the security of the mountains, is crisp and pure. Not nearly as cold, but chilly nonetheless, she can see the treeline in the distance and picks up her pace, her feet long numb from the cold wet ground.
A rolling ball of snow blocks her path.
She comes to a stop, curious as to how such a big, round ball of snow could make it’s way to block the path she was taking.
“Trespassers will be dealt with by pain of death.” A throaty, growling voice calls forth, the mountains playing tricks as they throw the voice in every direction.
Mejo closes her eyes, not wanting to move and startle whatever it is that is watching her. “I only come for the Winter Wood. Nothing more.”
“And what would a HUMAN want with it?”
She takes a deep calming breath. “Someone dear to me is riddled with a fever, an infection with in the body. I plan on using the sap and creating a mixture.”
“Oxnalt.” The voice answers, aware of the healing properties the mixture possesses. “I know of the creation in which you seek.” Mejo smiles and opens her eyes, hoping that this thing will let her continue now that it knows what she is here to obtain. “But I cannot let you take the Winter Wood…”
Her eyes widen as the snowball comes to life! Wait, not a snowball, but a large ball of fur that resembles the snow. It stands to tower over her, it’s blue face peering down at her.
A Glacial Yeti!
She remembers the creatures, aggressive in nature, and untrusting. She looks up to the beast now and begins to finger the last hourglass in case she needs to make a hastily get away.
“Unless…” The yeti continues, it’s yellow teeth peeking out from it’s mouth with every word. “You are worthy enough. Are you, Mejoltman?”
It knows her name! She peers into the creature’s face, trying to take everything in. By all accounts, she should be dead, this beast ripping her to shreds for even being so close.
But it has not.
“You know my name, mighty beast. But i do not know yours.” Mejo, playing off her thoughts, bows to show it the proper respect.
“Of course, you would not.”
It’s those eyes. Something about those eyes, intelligent beyond their standards, that sparks some sort of recognition within her, but she still doesn’t have the full picture.
“I was much younger back then.” It continues, staring into Mejo’s eyes intently. “You found me, broken and left for dead…”
Boom! Images suddenly explode into Mejo’s mind, coming to stop at a young yeti lying still on the snow filled vale. It’s leg badly twisted – broken – and several wounds covering its body. Despite the very real danger surrounding them, Blue and Mejo stopped and tended to him, at Mejo’s insistence, bringing hope to the beast.
“I do recall you now. But we never exchanged pleasantries.” She says, no name coming to her.
“There were none. But in my semi conscious state, I came to hear your name from the other one. A name I would never forget.”
“How did you know I would come here…” She leaves it open, indicating she would now like to know it’s name.
“Duncraig.” It answers her unasked question. “And I knew someday you would return. I have been guarding this sacred forest since I was fully healed, knowing that one day you would come back.”
“And you were right.”
“Tell me, Mejoltman.” The majestic beast, turning the conversation, begins. “Why do you seek the Winter Wood?”
She explains the story of the ship full of zombies, Duncraig walking with her to a small sheltered cave. He starts a small fire, the two of them sitting by it as the continues, ending with her coming into Glacial Pass.
“Very interesting tale indeed.” Duncraig says while nodding, wishing he could live some kind of adventure like that. “This Alex you speak of, a lover?”
“No!” Mejo answers, a laugh coming through. “But I do care for him. Like a brother. You know, family.”
“I do not.” It says, it’s face suddenly turning in confusion. “We Glacial Yetis are not family minded creatures. We are left to fend for ourselves at a very young age. As you saw when you found me, no one cared for Duncraig, no one was afraid he might be dying, alone.”
“That is, must, be horrible.”
“I know not, for I know nothing different.” He rises from his sitting position. “Come, let us get what you seek.”
She smiles, but is pained by the fact that Duncraig has never been apart of something like a family dynamic. She frowns again as she follows him out to the white and black trunks of the forest.
* * * * *
“Ok, the feast is over.” Malakai concludes, seeing the tribe returning from their tables, most of them too full to partake in the dancing. “It appears the meal was definitely adequate. See how they move sluggishly?”
She can. They appear to be moving as if in quicksand, their stomachs bloated from their meals. “Now?” Huff asks.
“I think we can introduce ourselves, yes.”
They scale down the rock formation and land on the ground, Huff looking to see if she can spot any of the crew. Their path takes them around the encampment, passing a butcher’s table and the remains of their dinner. Trying to supress the sudden craving at the sight of blood, she focuses in on the blood stained wooden box, her wonderment of what kind of precious animal they had just devoured. Peering inside, she finds what she is looking for.
A human’s decapitated head, it’s eyes open and staring out at her!
Startled by the realization, Huff takes a few steps back. “What? They… They eat people!?”
Malakai, looking into the box, nods. “Yes, they do. Cannibals.” He grabs a severed hand, waving the limb at Huff. “They tend to do that. Hope this wasn’t anyone you knew?” He frowns and drops the hand back into the box.
Thankfully no. She shakes her head at the thought of eating human flesh, then realizes she is a cannibal too, sort of. She looks away as she feels the urge, the sight of blood brings up in her. Trying to calm herself, she follows Malakai through the maze of huts.
* * * * *
“Shh.” The Captain orders, stopping Jazz from speaking again. “I don’t know if she be out and about, or in the cave. Me bets are in the cave.”
Jazz nods silently, Tarnaa and Ivonelfe following along, careful to spot trouble areas – dried limbs, leaves – and slowly make their way through, the light light of the fire extremely close.
“Aye.” The Captain stops, looking at something up ahead. “What that be?” They slowly make their way over, seeing two small piles of supplies. Knowing the tribe to live off the land, this seems out of place. But he quickly surmises what it entails.
“Look alive. We aint be the only ones here.” He looks up ahead and catches a glimpse of someone, but he can’t make it out fully. She turns around a hut and disappears. “Huff?”
“Captain?” Jazz asks, looking in the direction as well. “You see something?”
The Captain shakes his head. “Thought I did. Get these broken down. I’m meanin’ to take what we can.” They do so, taking a few bags of jerky and dried fruit, a machete, as well as a bottle of whiskey. They continue on, spotting the same table Huff and Malakai were at moments ago when the Captain thought he saw her. Jazz looks into the box and nearly jumps out of his skin.
“What boy? Why are ye hoppin’ like ye been electra… elect… Shocked?”
Jazz doesn’t answer, just shakes his head pointing at the box. As they look, the young man vomits into a bush.
“Well that explains the supplies we found.” Tarnaa states, not too shocked by the fact this island appears to be the home of cannibals. She pulls her sword completely out of her sheath, expecting a group to come at them any second now.
“A travesty.” Ivon says, saddened by the loss of life, the poor soul’s remains a harsh reminder of how dangerous this island is. “We should properly bury him.”
“No time.” The Captain confirms, quietly getting everyone back into the cover of the jungle. They’ll be back ta finish the rest of him. Lets go.”
“Unba, unba tik tik…” A voice is heard, a member walking into view from around a hut. Sure enough, it pulls the head out of the box, by the hair, and grabs a hand. He looks at it, then places the head down on the table. Grabbing the hand with two of his own, he snaps the index finger, breaking the bone, then puts it into his mouth, biting down and twisting the hand around until the finger comes loose. It gnaws on it and picks up the head, starting to walk back.
Jazz, watching it all, cannot help his body’s reaction…
And throws up again.
“Bok?” The man says, turning around, peering into the area where they are taking cover. “Minuk, bok bok!” He listens for anymore sound, spitting the chew up finger out of his mouth. “Millik? Millik wok nokshe?”
“It smells horrible!” Tarnaa whispers quietly, covering her nose with her empty hand. “Jazz, why!”
“Shhh.” Ivon calls softly, watching the confused man stare at them as they are hidden. “Be ready. I think he knows we are here.”
The tribal member turns around and continues back towards the fire.
“Whew!” Ivonelfe says relieved. She slowly moves away from the area of vomit, each other member doing the same. “I think we are safe for now. Let’s keep moving. Captain, where to?”
Before the Captain can say where to go…
“MILLIK!” A hurled dagger is thrown into the area of them all, missing by inches.
“We been spotted!” The Captain yells, no need for stealth. “Run! Make for the mountains!” He pulls out his rapier. “I’ll meet up with ya’s.”
“No!” Jazz states emphatically. “It is my fault they knew we were here.” He shoves the Captain away, trying to get the man moving.
“Ye damned fool! Run, boy! I’ll take care o’ him!”
A second dagger whistles in, Jazz catching the gleam of the blade and steps in front of his Captain, taking it square in the chest. Everything seems to slow down for the young man. The yelling is quieter, the sounds duller, all the while the colors slowly fade around him. He begins to fall, a slight smile on his face.
“No!” The Captain yells in rage, knowing that Jazz took what was aimed for him, the young man stepping up, again, when called upon. Grabbing him as he falls, holding him up right, Jazz not even realizing what has happened, puts a fire under the Captain’s ass. The crusty sea dog hands him off to the two women and leaps out of the cover, catching their attacker by surprise, the slender sword buried deeply into the man’s throat. Growling into the dying face, the Captain headbutts it for good measure, breaking bone and smashing cartilage to the side. He kicks the body off his sword, stabbing the man upon the ground repeatedly.
“He’s not going to make it.” Ivonelfe says as the Captain returns, holding Jazz’s hand in hers.
“Aye, ya damned fool!” He begins, speaking to Jazz. “Know that ya done right by me, boy. I been glad to have ye aboard me ship, fightin’ by me side.”
The heartfelt remarks makes Jazz smile more, his vision starting to blur as his heart begins to shut down. Blood begins to form in the corners of his mouth, the clock of life ticking away. He weakly reaches up, offering his hand, in which the Captain takes, and shakes it. Still with that smile, Jazz releases his grip and brings his hand up to salute, the young man passing on.
The Captain salutes his shipmate, the boiling rage returning once again. He looks to Ivon, moisture in her eyes, and Tarnaa, the woman having the same feelings as he does.
“Let’s stop foolin’ ‘round.” The Captain solemnly states. “For Jazz, and any and everyone else, let’s be killin’ that wench!” He looks to Ivon and Tarnaa, both their eyes wide in horror.
“What?” Pirate asks, right before getting clubbed in the back of the head…
* * * * *
How long has passed, cannot be answered. Slowly, bit by bit, reality begins to piece itself back together. The drums play out, louder than before, the popping and crackle of the fire now registering. The heavy eyelid begins to open, fluttering as it struggles to remain up.
“Is he?” A male voice is registered. “Is he finally awake?” After several more attempts, the Captain’s eye opens, finding a splitting headache. “He is!” The pirate reaches to rub the pounding lump on the back of his head, but the hands are tied to a log. “Oh my stars! He is awake! Welcome back!”
Captain looks to his right, seeing a sleeping redhead tied to a log, then to the left, seeing a man, tied up like he must be, smiling. “Whew!” He says. “Through we lost ya! They brought you here, you were all,” He closes his eyes, his head to the side and tongue sticking out. “Thought you were dead.”
Again Greg struggles against his bonds, annoyed at the chipper attitude of his prison mate. Trying to ignore him, he looks back over to the redhead, wondering if she belongs to those supplies they had found.
Then it dawns on him.
“Ivon! Tarnaa!” He winces. “Jazz…”
“Ooh! Are we saying random names?” The man asks. “Can I play? Karl! Samantha! ..uh… Benjamin!” He laughs heartily. “This is fun! Good time killer.”
“Who in the bloody hell are you?” Fully annoyed, the Captain asks, the man still grinning. “And knock off that stupid grin. We be in trouble, or are ya too dimwitted to even realize it?”
The smile fades, replaced by a hurt, pouting lip. “Ouch. Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the tied up log!” He chuckles, that grin returning. “Oh, I know we are in trouble. Lots of trouble. Probably end up being breakfast. You do know these people eat other people!” He asks, shocked and amazed all at once. “I’ve never met cannibals before. Am I dressed right? How is my hair?” He looks over towards the Captain. “Oh, but you! Where did you get that vest? Is that eye patch real?”
“Will ye shut yer trap!”
“Hmm..” He says, thinking it over. “I could, but then silence would take over, driving us crazy!”
“The only one that be driven crazy, be me! Now, keep quiet while I be thinkin’ how to get outta this.”
“Yeah. That isn’t going to happen.” He shakes his head. “They are REALLY good at tying knots.”
“We’ll be seein’ about that. I been a sailor since afore ye were a twinkle in yer daddy’s eye. I’ll get these out.” He struggles and grunts, turning his body every which way.
“Oh man! I see it! They are coming undone! …Nope. Wait, I was wrong. Still tight and not moving. Some sailor you are.” He laughs, mocking the man simply because it is fun to do so, knowing he wants to get loose so he can throttle him!
“Well good luck, Sailor Sam.”
“What?” The Captain asks, stopping his struggling. “I’m not Sam. Names Pirate. Ima Captain of a crew. Ship’s name be Phoenix Rising. Best ship that ever sailed the seas.”
“Oh!” He says excitedly. “A pirate! Ooh! Shiver me timbers!” He continues that mocking tone, laughing since there is nothing the Captain can do about it. “Well, yo-ho there, Pirate! Me name be Steve. Aaarrrgghh!”
Buried At Sea by Matt Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.atramentous.net.