“What are we going to do?” Ivonelfe asks, her and Tarnaa dodging the large leaves and low lying branches. They are being pursued by a few cannibals, the same ones that knocked the Captain upside the head. “What is our plan of action?”
Tarnaa, a woman warrior, seasoned by countless battles, tries to think of one. The whirlwind of events are causing her to lose focus. She reaches up and grabs a tree limb, propelling herself over a tangle of tree roots. She lands softly and continues on, Ivon following right behind.
“Tarnaa, did you hear me?”
“I heard you!” She answers, more harshly than she meant it to be. “Sorry. Yes. I did.” She ducks under some vines wrapped around an opening, knowing what they MUST do, but executing it, with at least three murderous dogs chasing them, she is unable to. She would rather sit and fully workout the plan, but any second they now squander, is a second they can ill afford to lose.
A smaller, concealed branch scrapes Tarnaa’s cheek, drawing a thin red line on her face. She doesn’t even register it and runs on, slowly pacing the outskirts of the encampment, hoping there will not be a group of tribal members awaiting them around one blind turn.
“We have to get back to the settlement.” Tarnaa says, her eyes darting left and right. “You know what will happen if the Captain is not rescued.”
Ivon nods, then realizes Tarna cannot ‘hear’ a nod. “You are right. What are you thinking?”
A grin forms on Tarnaa’s lips, one she hasn’t felt in a while. A plan begins to take shape in her mind, one that might kill them both. “Bait.”
“What?” Ivonelfe asks, blocking foliage with an upraised forearm. “What do you mean, ‘bait’?”
“We lure them in.” Tarnaa answers. “When they come close to investigate, we ambush them before they have a chance to react.”
“A reasonable plan.” Ivon states, the woman getting a stitch in her side. “What are we going to use for bait?”
Tarnaa looks back with that grin, indicating Ivonelfe is that bait. The woman’s eyes widen when she realizes it as well. “Are you up for it?” She asks.
“Do I have any other choice?” Ivon asks, knowing not much else is available to them. She sighs deeply, hoping that it will work as well as Tarnaa believes. That grin, however, tells her it just might. “How we gonna do this?”
“Follow my lead…”
* * * * *
“What is going on?” Huff asks, her and Malakai hidden in between two huts. They watch as more and more of the gathering leave, their intended target one of them. Since the sudden change, they have both kept to the shadows, trying to solve the riddle.
“I do not know for sure.” Malakai answers, peering around the corner in order to get a better look. “They are definitely animated. Perhaps your friends have arrived.”
Panic wells up inside of her, thoughts of her family being killed out there somewhere, turned into another feast. She nearly bolts away from their concealment, but she doesn’t. She needs them to fully believe she is following in line and is compliant with their goals and wishes. Knowing that they can take care of themselves, she changes the subject.
“Did you see the Chief’s son among one of them that has taken off in the wake of the others?”
“I did.” He grins, liking her train of thought. “Why do you ask?”
Partially because of the thirst creeping in at her, but mostly because she might inadvertently help her friends in the process, she laughs softly. “Because I am hungry. His blood will taste all the sweeter since he is of royal lineage, will it not?”
“Indeed it will, Huffy. Indeed it will.” He rubs his hands together, this Huff more to his liking. “Let’s move!”
* * * * *
“You are sure this will work?” Ivon asks, for about the tenth time.
The two of them have found a break in the pursuit, Tarnaa finding a nice spot for their trap. Believing they can detect the smell of blood, she has nicked the palm of her hand in order to bait them into this small opening, the blood being smeared on the leaves around them.
“Your turn.” Tarnaa states, turning towards Ivonelfe, her sword ready in her hand.
“I don’t think they can tell the difference!” Ivon rebuttals, holding her hand against her chest. “Is your’s not enough!?”
“You want to be certain that this works, right?”
Ivon nods, slowly lowering her hands.
“And make them believe you are too wounded too fight back, right?”
Another nod, Ivon’s hand slowly extending outward. “Do what you have to…”
Tarnaa takes Ivon’s hand in her off hand, flipping it so the palm is face up. Placing her sword inches away, preparing to cut a small gash, Ivon retracts her hand suddenly. Before Tarnaa can asky why, the woman looks behind them.
“I think they are here!” She slowly backs away a few steps, the sounds of crunching limbs and leaves being hacked away echoing loudly in their ears. Before any other action can be made to set the trap, three cannibals emerge into their spot, sure enough, drawn to the scent of blood. They look to the blood smeared leaves and then to the two women standing all alone.
“Tunga mik!” It says, the two of them by his side laughing with the remark. It looks at Tarnaa, then to the sword at her side, puffing out his chest. “Dunka meblik!” He pounds his chest with his other hand.
“What is he saying?” Ivon asks into Tarnaa’s ear.
Knowing a warrior when she sees one, Tarnaa knows exactly what it is saying, even though she doesn’t speak the language. The way the man has stepped forward, the confident posture, and the beating of his chest, this man is challenging her, thinking himself beyond the female.
She will show him differently.
He comes on in a wild abandon, thrusting his dagger towards her, then stops short, reversing it’s momentum and arching high to take aim at her face as the stone blade races down.
Ivon jumps to the side, away from the fight, fearing her companion might be dead.
The sound of stone hitting off metal tells her otherwise.
Fully in control of her movements, Tarnaa parried the attack, fully expecting the ruse. As her sword connects with the dagger, she falls deeper into that instinctual warrior, the hunter she once was before coming aboard the ship. Not regretting her choice, but glad things have turned in such a manner, she revels in the dance of a warrior, seemingly picking off her opponents attacks as if she was reading his mind.
A dagger swipe comes in at face height, but it doesn’t connect, Tarnaa watching as the blade falls from his right hand only to be caught by his left hand. Now in a crouch, the dagger is slashed across Tarnaa’s thigh as her sword hums harmlessly above the man’s head.
Taking a step back, Tarnaa’s lip snarls in rage as she had been fooled. She can feel the warm blood trickle from the superficial wound, but pays it no attention. Instead, she locks her gaze on her opponent, the man savoring the clever move by licking the blood from the stone blade.
“Milli to-wok.” Translated means ‘first blood’. The other two laugh and clap, both of them fully subdued by the cunning of their prince in battle.
Not waiting, fully enraged, Tarnaa lunges at the man, her sword leading. She misses, by inches, and forces the muscles in her arms to bring the blade back, fully spinning a complete circuit. While her arms use the momentum of the spin, the blade catches the man in the chest, cutting and splintering the bone armor to slash into the skin. As her move is played out, she looks at her blade, feeling the contact and welcoming the red stain on the weapon.
The warrior looks down at his chest, seeing the destroyed ribcage chest armor, as well as the line of blood beginning to seep down to his navel. He looks up to Tarnaa and nods, showing the woman some amount of respect. With a quick yank, he tears the binding off the armor so it no longer rests on his body, but now falls to the ground. He puts his free hand up to stop the other two members – each of them taking an advancing step – to hold them in check. He smiles at Tarnaa, flipping the dagger from one hand to the other.
* * * * *
“Wait.” Huff says, stopping along the path. When Malakai turns to regard her, the woman has her eyes closed. “I smell blood. And it is fresh.”
“Lead the way…”
* * * * *
Another failed attack, followed by several more, and Tarnaa is getting the technique down. Her attacker is no slouch, several of these attacks could have drawn more blood, or worse, if she was but a second slower in reacting. The holes in her defense are solid, Tarnaa not letting any more tricks slip through. More on the defense to gain how well this man fights, she can see several opportunities to end it.
But she doesn’t.
She cannot let these feelings diminish, the adrenaline of war and battle thrumming through her veins, nearly synching up with the dull drum beat in the distance. The funny thing is, the stand off is enjoyable!
“Come one then!” She roars, inviting him in, picking the weapon off easily when he does. “You can do better than this! SHOW ME!”
The warrior prince takes a moment to admire the woman in front of him. In another life, these two would have been equals, possibly friends, but now, with everything surrounding this deadly encounter, he, too, is enjoying it. No more, he says in his head, looking to end this quarrel once and for all. He stalks around in a circle, like a hunting cat cornering it’s prey.
He rushes in, stops as Tarnaa’s blade comes up to meet him, and tucks down into a roll upon the ground, coming back up quickly to score a hit into her exposed ribs.
Only ribs are not what he sees.
A solid knee connects flush in his face, an explosion of light and pain upon impact, the man momentarily stunned by Tarnaa’s counter. She slams the pommel of her sword into the prince’s face twice, then lets him fall to the ground, unconscious.
The two men look at each other and begin to take a step forward.
Until a hand shoots through their chests, each limb holding their beating hearts!
Seconds tick by as the two men cannot comprehend what they are seeing, falling to the ground, but held up by those hands. They slowly slide back through the chest cavity, the bodies finally falling to reveal Huff as the attacker!
“You!” Tarnaa yells fiercely.
“Stop!” Huff commands, looking at Tarnaa directly. “I do not have much time.” She looks back, then to her hands still holding the, now dead, hearts. She drops them, her face showing cracks in her determination and control. “Malakai is near. However, it is good to see you survived the ship. Are you alone, I heard you yelling so I came expecting to help.”
“No.” Ivon chimes in. “We had us, Jazz…” She says with a frown, Huff conceding the hint with remorse. “And the Captain.”
“He’s here!?” Huff asks, then quiets her voice. “Where is he?”
“Captured.” Tarnaa takes over. “After Jazz gave his life to protect him, they got him.”
The pink hues can be seen on the horizon, a fact not lost on the dawn aware Huff. “I will get him.”
“Get who?” Malakai, coming up to Huff, asks. He looks down at the two dead men on the ground, up to Huff, then towards Tarnaa and Ivonelfe.
“Ahh yes! If it isn’t Xena, the warrior princess.” He looks at her blood stained sword, then to the unconscious man at her feet. “Still feisty as ever! Thank you for detaining the prince.” He bows dramatically. “Now, I’d like to personally invite you all back to OUR master’s home.” He smiles and looks around. “Your Captain, too! He is the guest of honor after all!”
Tarnaa and Ivonelfe look to each other, unsure of whether they should tell him where he is.
“He’s captured.” Huff says, looking at the two females, each one of them giving her a shocked expression. “These two are the only ones left.”
“Ahh, splendid!” He claps his hands. “The morning is about to break and this day keeps getting better and better! Ladies, if you will follow me please.”
“I think not!” Tarnaa exclaims boldly. “If you think we will go without a fight, you are mistaken.”
Malakai, shaking his head, grins. “I expect that coming from a spirited warrior. But what I find even more amusing, is the fact that you think you have a choice in the matter! You WILL follow me, or I will..”
“Go with him.” Huff announces. “I do not want anyone else to die while on this island.”
Malakai bursts into a fit of laughter.
“You all believe you will just be able to tiptoe off this island, everything right as rain?” He sighs. “I thought you people were smart enough to realize that there is no escape. The end game is you, all dying at the hands of the Queen of Demons! That’s it. No more.” He ‘dusts’ his hands off. “Done, Finished. Now, before I have to make Huff kill one of you, lets go” He holds up his hand, the powers from the ring opening up a doorway to the Queen’s lair.
Not wanting to cause any more problems, Huff reaches over and grabs the sleeping prince, throwing him over her shoulder before she walks the two ladies into the doorway, Malakai the last to enter.
* * * * *
“That should do it.” Mejoltman says, Duncraig getting another vial full of the thick sap. “I may have over done it, but I have a feeling it will be well needed.”
The glacial yeti nods, taking the broken branches and bundling them under one arm to take back to his fire pit. It has not said much since the retelling of the story, Mejotlman trying to sort through it’s emotions. When they get back to the yeti’s cave, he drops the firewood and begins to stoke the coals.
“You should come with me.” Mejo blurts out, she, herself, surprised the thought was spoken out loud.
Duncraig stops and looks up to see a smiling Mejo. “I…” It looks down to the fire. “I belong here.”
“I understand you feel that way, but what is it that keeps you grounded in this spot?”
He thinks it through, unable to come up with a good argument.
“And you have fulfilled your vow.” Mejo continues. Duncraig looks up to her again. “You have waited here, for me, and thus I had arrived, relieving you of your internal duty.”
He seems to be leaning towards her way of thinking. Duncraig looks around his tiny – for a yeti- cave and the bleak landscape surrounding it. “I would not be a burden?”
“Never!” Mejo answers, the smile nearly in her ears. “The other crew mates will come to know you, and welcome you.”
“How will we leave this place?” Duncraig asks, intrigue settling into the beast.
“How I came here, of course.” Mejo says, fishing out the last hourglass. “With this.” She holds the item up for him to see. “It is a powerful item that will create a doorway for me, US, to travel back to the ship, where I can then tend to Alex.”
It nods, not really understanding the magical properties human ‘toys’ can possess. Still, that nagging thought of living a life full of adventure has it nodding, eager to partake in the incredible journey ahead.
“Then let us be off!” Mejo throws the hourglass down upon the ground.
* * * * *
“Psst.” The annoying sound echoes once more. “Psst. Hey, you awake over there? Psst!”
“Good God, boy!” The Captain growls, trying to reserve his energy by closing his eyes, but when he does, his ‘neighbor’ interrupts the peaceful relaxation. “Ye know I be..”
“Oh. Did I wake you? Working on some beauty sleep?” He chuckles , unable to hold a straight face. “You’ll need to sleep for years if that is the case!” He goes into his fits of laughter, tears forming in his eyes. “Oh man, whew!”
“Now, if ya be done, yer wakin’ up little missy o’er here.”
Alexandria slowly stirs, her head coming back up from it’s awkward angle she fell asleep in. “Ooh..” She says as she turns to one side, the jolt of pain causing her to open her sleepy eyes, yawning as she turns to see the Captain.
“Oh.” Another yawn. “Hello. What are you in for?” She smiles, then begins to look him over. “Eye patch, sleeveless vest showing off your abs and arms…”
“Aye, ya thinking I be some sorta man meat fer yer eyes?”
“And very thick accent.” She finishes through being interrupted.
“Tell her you’re a pirate! Tell her!” Steve begs. “I bet she’d like that!” He says excitedly.
“I think she be hearin’ ya.”
“Hearing what?” Alexandria asks, looking at the Captain confused.
The Captain laughs. “That’s what I be sayin’. Hearing what!”
Alexandria continues to look at him puzzlingly, not sure if this man has been out in the sun for too long. “How did you get here?”
“I be caught by them savages.” He answers angrily, spitting on the ground. “I get outta here, I’ll tan them a good one.”
“Good luck with that.” She says, the pains in her ankles and wrists – the skin rubbed raw – reminding her how futile it is that they will ever be free again.
“I know, he’s tried. Believe you, me!” Steve chimes in. “Tell her why you are here! Tell her of your adventures!”
“My name’s Alexandria. Alexandria Beaumont. Andy for short.” She smiles warmly. “Nice to meet you, Captain…?”
“Pirate.” He answers. “I be known by many a names. Captain, Pirate…”
“You have a REAL name?” She asks, intrigued once again.
“Aye.” Not wanting to exchange personal info on himself, he changes the subject. “But why ye here, tied to a tree like me? What’s a pretty thing like ye be doin’ in a place like this?”
“OOh! You’re a regular Don Juan!”
“Well,” She begins, the blush evident in her face from the compliment, causing her to turn away. “I’m an explorer. I wonder around this world looking for interesting places that still exist, finding hidden relics long forgotten with the passage of time.” She looks back over to him now that the redness has left her face. “Recording bits of history for those who want to know. Share my knowledge.”
The Captain takes it in, watching her closely. He sees the raw skin on her ankles and wrists and wonders how they are going to get out.
“She IS attractive, don’t you think?” Steve asks. “Nice all around package, would you agree?”
“Oh.” Andy says, stopping suddenly. “I’m sorry to bore you to tears.”
“Way to go, Greg! You really know your way with women, don’t you!?”
“No.” The Captain says, glaring over at Steve. “It wasn’t meant fer you.” He looks back at her, nodding his apology and for her to continue.
“I’m the only one here..?” She states, still feeling awkward about his outbursts.
“I feel the same way, lass.” He turns to grin at Steve, the man frowning. “Ye knew this island,” He turns back to Andy. “Be full o’ danger?”
“Yes. And no.” She takes a moment to think it through. “I knew the dangers of getting to the island, but I didn’t know the severity of the dangers concerning outsiders coming into the tribe’s region. Now I do.” She looks down her torso and continues to her toes.
“Ye be aware these savages be cannibals?” Captain asks.
“Yeah. And we are on the menu!” Steve adds, for no other reason than to keep himself relevant.
“I figured that.” Andy answers, sighing. “When my two colleagues didn’t come back, I felt something odd. Then one indigenous tribal member came up to check on me. He said something as he pointed to the log,” She motions towards the log on the Captain’s right. “And rubbed his stomach. I put two and two together.”
“Four! That makes four! Attractive and smart. Looks like a keeper.”
“But enough about me.” Andy says, a smirk on her lips. “Tell me a little bit about you Captain. You have a ship?”
“Sun’s coming up.” He replies, still dodging any personal info. The fact is not lost on Andy as well, the woman catching every detail he is divulging, as well as some he is not.
“It always seems to do so…” Andy says, looking up at the once dark night sky, the stars disappearing as a blanket of lighter blue begins to fill the sky.
* * * * *
“And Huff? How well did she do?” Bladen’Kurst asks, excitement in her tone. “How many did she kill?”
Huff cocks an eyebrow, knowing, or thinking, that they shared some sort of connection. Why, how, else would she have known so much prior to all this?
“Two.” Malakai answers, grinning as he sees Bladen’Kurst’s frown. “But she ripped their hearts right from their chests!”
That gets a reaction!
She stands up from her throne, her wings spreading outward. “Huff! You magnificent creature!”
“I was hoping you would be pleased.” She lies, still trying to decode something important. Behind her, Tarnaa snorts. “I was hoping you could feel the elation of the kill.” She bows low, hoping her line of thinking is correct, and the link between them is no more.
“Know that I am Huff!” Kurst answers. “You are becoming a great and powerful ally. I fear that we no longer get to share in the pure ecstasy of the kills. It does sadden me, but!” She claps her hands together, walking over to stand beside Huff, the Queen nearly as tall as a seven foot man! “It seems we have some uninvited guests. Friends of yours, I would imagine?”
Huff turns to face Ivonelfe and Tarnaa, both standing against the wall near the throne room’s entrance. She looks at Tarnaa, that same determined snarl from back on the Phoenix Rising. “Were.” Huff says evenly, coldly. “Were my friends.”
“Oh, how sad.” Bladen’Kurst plays her part. “Well than, since we know where my dear Pirate Captain resides, what shall we do with these two? Huff?” Bladen’Kurst turns, one black wing whooshing wind as she turns. “Any thoughts on the matter?”
The internal clock ticking, Huff’s brain working through so many things, looks up at Bladen’Kurst and grins. “I never did get to feast. I fear my appetite is beyond me.” She turns towards the two ladies, her eyes filling with blood.
“Very well, my pet. Why don’t you take the warrior. She will make a fine meal!”
“No.” Huff growls, a snarling sound. “I want the delicate one first!” She slowly stalks in, both Ivonelfe and Tarnaa all the way against the wall, licking her lips and then shows her teeth as they elongate.
“Over my dead body you…” Tarnaa, stepping up to block the vampire from taking Ivonelfe, gets a backhand slap so powerful it makes her spin a full 360 degrees before she crashes down against the wall. Huff chuckles, the demon she is enjoying the power inside of her.
“Now, for you, Ivon…”
Lighting quick, Huff grabs a hold of Ivonelfe by the shoulders and spins her around, slipping one arm around the front of her neck. She slowly turns so everyone can see exactly what she is going to do.
“Wait!” Bladen’Kurst says, a devious smile coming to her face, the fires intensifying in her eyes. “Malakai, fetch the dear old Captain. I want to see the pain on his face when his dear Huff destroys another crew member!”
“As you wish, my beautiful Queen.” Malakai bows, using his ring to open up his extra dimensional doorway. With one last grin, he winks at Huff, surprised at how ruthless she has become, and takes his leave.
* * * * *
“I know!” Mejo says softly, back inside the ship, Duncraig hitting his head on the rafters in the ceiling, not for the first time. “I am sorry about the confined space. This is where I concoct my items. I am done though!” She walks over, carrying an obsidian bowl, with silver designs running through, the mixture completed. She brings the Oxnalt filled bowl and kneels beside Alex, sets it down, and wipes a moist rag across the sweat covered brow. She brings it down and dips the corner of the cloth into the mixture, the dark purple, sludge-like salve attaching to the material, and delicately wipes the puss covered wound along his arm, coating it with each dip.
Alex twitches violently, but stops as Duncraig places a massive hand down on the man’s chest and abdomen.
“Thank you.” Mejo, continuing the dipping and wiping, says, working easier now that the movement is done. One final coating has the entire wound covered, the arm looking like it is covered in crumbled gelatin.
“Ok.” She says, rising to stand, a jolt of pain shooting up her injured arm, forgetting it was even wounded. Through a grimace, she stands, the mystic happy with how things have turned out. “Now we let the Oxnalt do the rest. Thank you again.”
“Yes.” Duncraig replies, releasing Alex and standing, crouching, as to not bang it’s head on the wooden supports above.
“I assure you, once we are above decks, you will be more comfortable.”
“My cave is, was, bigger than this tiny place!” Duncraig says, jokingly.
“He needs to rest now.” Mejo, carefully setting Alex’s arm beside his torso, says. “Let us go up top and gather what has been transpiring since I last left.
Exiting her room, she nearly bumps into Zoey as she races through the corridor, a torch in one hand, and some small tailor shears in her other.
“Sorry!” Zoey calls back.
“Did your mother never tell you to not run with those in your hand?” Mejo asks.
“They are for Torr!” She yells, still running. “I know how to get him out!”
“Oh really!?” Mejo says to herself now that Zoey is long gone, out of earshot. “I would very much like to see what she has figured out when I could not.”
“Who is this, Torr?” Duncraig asks, ducking through the doorway.
“Another member of the crew you will meet. Let us hurry so we do not miss it!”
* * * * *
“I’ve noticed you keep dodging me when I ask you about your life. Is there a reason behind it?”
The Captain shrugs.
“Ooh! I know! Pick me!” Steve says, nearly jumping out of his restraints. “He is afraid to let anyone get close to him. Am I right? He loses people left and right so he doesn’t want to invest the time, or effort, in letting anyone beyond the wall he puts up. Sound about right?”
“Oh, what do ye know..” The pirate says, Andy taking it as a slap in her face.
“Oh, why don’t you go take a long walk off a short cliff!”
“What now?” The captain asks, turning to regard her.
“You heard me, pompous ass.”
“No, I was talkin’ to..”
A shimmer of light forms just in front of the two tied up prisoners, Malakai walking through the doorway. He smiles seeing the Captain bound to the log, then looks to his right and sees Andy.
“Well, look what we have here. Two turtle doves.”
“Who the hell are you?” Andy asks, looking around and wondering where he came from. “And…”
“Shh…” Malakai, putting his finger to her lips, says, stopping her from speaking. “Adults are talking.” He turns to the Captain, a sincere admiration on his face. “It is time. Time for you and Bladen’Kurst to come together once again. It is going to be fun!”
“Can I go!?” Steve asks. “Please, his BEST friend should come along as well. It is only fair!”
“I just need one more person to join us before we take our leave.”
“Yes!” Steve adds. “I knew it would be me!” He frowns seeing Malakai walk away. “Hey… Wait! Where…” He looks back over to the Captain. “Sailor Sam, where’s he going?”
“It don’t matter. It’s not you he be after.” The Captain answers, watching the shade disappear from sight.
“Thank the heavens for that!” Andy says in disgust. “He’s lucky I didn’t bite his finger off!” The Captain chuckles at that, his head still turned so she cannot see his reaction.
* * * * *
“And then cut him out!” Zoey says to Mejo, her eyes keep going up to the large, hairy yeti, mesmerized and alarmed all at once.
“You think this lantern is enough of a heat source to complete the task?” Mejo asks, not convinced.
“Probably not, but we have to try.”
“Agreed. Give it your best shot.” Mejo concludes.
Zoey takes the glass off the lantern, exposing the candle. She gets in position and begins to bring the two items together. The candle dances the closer it comes to the mirror, the light of the flame growing dark in color. When it touches the smooth glass, a ripple of shadow washes over the glass, wiping out the flickering candle.
“What!?” Zoey says, the darkness hiding her confusion.
“It is the mirror…” Mejo says quietly, her mind whirling around ideas and theories. “Interesting. Light the candle. Duncraig, please grab me that torch.”
When the candle is lit, and the torch nearby, she tries again, the candle doused out once more. “As I thought.” Mejo says. “Now the torch.” The larger flame comes up to the mirror’s surface, the wash of shadow comes over, but a hiss echoes in the small room, the sound of air escaping.
“Stop!” Mejo yells, tingling with excitement, the torch removed. “I have a theory. Alex tried to smash the glass, but ended up being rejected by the mirror, the thing itself rebounding the attempt back at him. You, Zoey, used a candle to heat up the mirror, and it extinguished the flame.” She stands up, watching Torr inside. “But the torch, larger than the flickering candle, could not fully combat the flames, and thus gave off that noise you heard.”
“What does it mean?” Duncraig asks what Zoey was going to, just quicker to the punch.
“If this works, I will show you!” She looks at the shears by Zoey on the floor. “These will not work. Although your deduction of cutting him out may still. However, we need something that can cut glass in its present state. A diamond.”
A diamond! Torr knows he has seen one, a large one, but he cannot seem to place where it was. He thinks hard, then remembers holding one large, nearly perfectly cut diamond, and getting yelled at to put it back!
“Something you’d like to add, Torr?” Mejo asks, all three of them watching the man write on his last spot of canvas.
* * * * *
“And here he is now!” Bladen’Kurst replies, giddy and excited as Malakai brings the Captain, hands bound behind his back, and a battered tribal chief, the Captain’s pistol aimed at the large man’s face.
“Oh, you wonderful Malakai! You have exceeded my expectations!” She grins at the Captain, licking her lips. “Welcome home, Greg!”
* * * * *
“What is in the pouch?” Zoey, ever observant, asks.
“It is ‘moon dust’. My own invention.” Mejo answers, grabbing a large pinch of the powder between her index finger and thumb. “Now, when I sprinkle this upon the mirror, be cautions. I know not what it will do…”
* * * * *
“Feast your eyes Captain!” Malakai declares, all eyes on Huff who still holds Ivonelfe.
“Yes, your little, Huff, has become one of us now.” Bladen’Kurst says, twisting the proverbial dagger into the Captain. He stares into Huff’s eyes, the muscle on his cheek twitching ever so slightly. “Go ahead my pet, continue on with what you were…”
Malakai stumbles, nearly falling to the ground. When he looks up, he is pale and covered in sweat.
“Malakai?” Bladen’Kurst asks, the tense moment slowly dying away. With a pained look on her face, she asks. “What is wrong with you?”
“I don’t…” He pulls himself up using a stalactite nearby. He suddenly opens his eyes wide in horror! “The mirror! They.. They are…” He clutches his head with both hands, falling down to the ground. “AaAarRRrrgGGghhhh!!
* * * * *
“Now, Torr!” Mejo yells, Torr holding onto the diamond – the brilliant jewel had been placed for him to grab – drawing a deep gouge into the glass, on both sides!
“It’s working!” Zoey exclaims, jumping up and down. “It’s really working!”
* * * * *
“NoooOOOooO!” Malakai, crawling towards Bladen’Kurst, cries out, his body slowly becoming less substantial. With a deep sorrow in his eyes, he looks up to meet Bladen’Kurst’s beautiful face to see a small bit of remorse.
Then he is gone, the pistol the only thing left upon the ground where he once was.
“Malakai?” Bladen’Kurst asks again, looking at where he used to be.
Suddenly Ivonelfe screams out as Huff begins to feed! She holds Ivon tightly, each and everyone looking over as Ivonelfe’s feet try to reach the ground, the woman’s toes of her boots scrapping the rocks.
“Yes, Huff. Carry on indeed! Malakai was a fine soldier, but I have you now!” With a smug look, Bladen’Kurst looks over to the Captain. “How do you like your precious, Huff Captain Gregory?”
He still stares, unblinking and quiet.
With a growl, Huff tosses Ivonelfe behind her to fall at the body of Tarnaa, a wicked grin on her face as she licks the blood off her teeth.
“You will suffer for what you have done!” Tarnaa, holding Ivonelfe close in her lap, threatens
Huff ignores the woman and walks over to stand beside Bladen’Kurst. She stares at the Captain, the man broken and defeated.
“Ye win…” He says, barely above a whisper.
“What was that?” Kurst asks, her cupped hand around her ear. “I didn’t quite catch that. Could you speak up?”
“I said ye won!” He takes a deep breath, then looks from Huff to the Queen of Demons. “Ye took half me crew, ye done caused damage to me ship. An ya have me, dead ta rights. Ye win. Leave the others be. Ye got what ye wanted.”
Bladen’Kurst, pondering the surrender, nods. “Oh, But I did, and I do, don’t I little Gregory? Killing your crew would be too easy. Even I don’t feel the need to totally destroy you. What would be the fun in that?” The Captain turns his head slightly at the mention of that. “I think it would be more fun to torment you for all eternity!” She begins playing with a purple gem set within a ring on her finger, twisting it around. “Keep you where I can snatch you at any given moment. That sounds…” She looks to the prized man. “Delicious!”
“Just get it over with!” The Captain, tired of the games, bellows. “If ye got the guts.”
That triggers her!
The fires burn in her eyes; white hot. Her face contorts in rage as she thrusts her hand forward, a beam of dark, smoky, purple light washes over the man, the power of the ring lifting him off the ground!
* * * * *
The smoke and haze settling down, Zoey fumbles around trying to grab the torch. With it finally in hand, she struggles to get it relit in the darkness. After her third attempt, the torch flares to life. The flaming light shows the wisps of smoke coming from the mirror, Mejo lying next to Duncraig – the beast shielded her from the blast – and another person’s feet. She rubs her eyes, the sting of the smoke possibly playing tricks on her, but the feet remain!
“What?” She asks quietly, bringing the torch along the legs and torso to see Torrinda lying on the floor. “Did it work?” She asks, reaching to touch the man.
His eyes shoot open!
The images, the sounds, the seemingly life time away from the world comes back to him, Malakai’s own thoughts and images replaying in a jumbled mess. He focuses in on the torchlight, seeing Zoey before him. He reaches up to touch the torch, trying to see if this is real or a twisted dream.
The hot flame gives him his answer!
“Well what did you expect!?” Zoey scolds, looking at Torr and shaking her head.
“Ughh…” Mejo moans, more because she is buried in fur than in any pain. When she is released, she takes a few deep gulps of air, then looks at Torr. “We found a way.”
“Yes.” Torr states, his mind sorting through the puzzle of images. He can’t tell what is happening already, or what possibly had. “But I fear it is too late.” He closes his eyes, calming his breathing.
“What?” Zoey and Mejo ask in unison.
“Something is, or was,” He answers, his eyes still closed. “Happening. All I can feel is we don’t have a lot of time.” He winces as the image of Huff attacking Ivonelfe floats through. “They are all in danger.”
“Who is?” Mejo asks sliding closer to Torr, putting a hand on his shoulder. “Tell me what you see.”
“I… I see..” He growls, the images too random to make sense. “The Cap’n… I see Huff. They..” He shakes his head, the mental toll too much. He hangs his head in shame. “She’s too powerful.”
“You mean Huff?” Mejo asks, concerned that the woman has fully left the human side and is now all demon.
“Worse than Huff.” Torr answers. An image comes into his mind, one where a ring is used to walk between worlds. He opens his eyes and brings up his hand.
The ring is there!
“What is it?” Duncraig asks, the yeti sitting on the floor, patches of singed fur covering his front.
“This ring. I…” Torr rubs the band, feeling the power bestowed inside the item. “It allows me, allowed Malakai, to pass through dimensions in order to travel great distances.”
All of them looking at the ring in his finger begin to wonder if it will work for Torr as it did with Malakai.
“Do you know how it works?” Zoey asks, feeling the time is near for them to help out, if they are able.
“Let us see…” Torr concentrates on the ring, letting his eyes blur and see passed the object. Slowly he can see traces of a doorway start to form, the shimmering lines outlining the portal.
“I can.” He states, not breaking his trance. “If we step through and appear beside this… demon Queen, this Bladen’Kurst, we need to come up with a plan.”
“Right.” Mejo agrees, looking to Duncraig and Zoey. “We will more than likely encounter much trouble. I will bring what I can to help anywho are, and may become, wounded.”
“I will go.” Duncraig says, pounding his chest with a fist. “A friend of Mejo in need is a friend of Duncraig! I will show this so called Queen raw strength!”
Torr looks at the mountain of a beast, but what he knows, and has seen, he wonders if it will be enough.
“And you?” Mejo asks Zoey, the young woman torn on what decision she should side with.
“I… I mean…” She sighs, deciding on what path she shall take. “I want to go, I really do. I just don’t want to slow any of you down in the process.”
“Zoey.” Torr says, the doorway fully traced. “We may need all the help we can get.”
“Then count me in!”
* * * * *
The Captain is a full three feet off the ground, his body suspended in the glow of the purple light. He grits his teeth as the pain begins to break through hi threshold, eyeing Huff all the while. Through the pain, he gives her a nod, a fitting farewell…
“Now Huff!” Ivonelfe shouts.
“What?!” Bladen’Kurst asks, suddenly seeing Ivon up to a sitting position. “How?”
She gets tackled by a raging Huff, the woman using her demonic ‘heritage’ to over power the demon Queen, the two of them crashing into the throne and continue, both of them tumbling over it and onto the floor. With the link broken, the ring’s light fades, the Captain falling to the ground.
“YOU!” Bladen’Kurst screams, her arms struggling as Huff tries to force her arms down, the demon’s fiery eyes glaring into Huff’s vampiric face.
“What’s the matter?” Huff responds, the super human strength able to push the arms down above Bladen’Kurst’s head. “You didn’t think a party planner could be so deceiving?”
She growls and continues to struggle.
“It’s true!” Ivon says, trying to help Tarnaa up, the warrior woman’s knee badly twisted from the uneven terrain when she went stumbling from Huff’s back hand. “When she held me in front of her, and everyone was watching that shade disappear, she whispered to me her plan! I was to act as if she was feeding off of me. Then she threw me down so I was behind her, that way no one could get a good look at my neck.”
Tarnaa does just that, seeing no blood or bite marks.
“She’s right.” Huff grunts, forcing an arm back down. “The blood i licked from my lips and teeth were from me biting into my own lip. A party planner is thorough in all the little details.” She smiles, the force needed to hold Bladen’Kurst down making it look like more of a grimace. She turns to see Ivon – carrying Tarnaa’s arm around her shoulder so the woman can hobble – make their way to their Captain.
“So, you’ve thought of everything.” Bladen’Kurst answers, the calmness in her voice causing Huff to turn back to face her. “I’ve simply lost then. Bested by a crew… of HUMANS!”
Despite all her strength, Huff’s arms begin to rise as Bladen’Kurst pushes back!
“You foolish girl! Do you actually think your meager attempts at strength are match for my own!?” Bladen’Kurst has Huff up in a kneeling position, she herself up and sitting. “I am the Queen of Demons! I do not bow down to your kind, no matter if you are ‘tainted’ by power!” In one gigantic show of power, Kurst roars in fury, pushing Huff back and onto her back, the demon’s tail thumping at the side of Huff’s face.
“To think you had this GRAND PLAN!” She laughs, a chill running through Huff’s spine as she knows this, thing, is beyond her.
“Let her go demon!” Tarnaa, sword in hand, yells, hobbling a step with Ivon still being used as a crutch. “I swear I will finish you!”
“HA!” Bladen’Kurst replies, no fear whatsoever in her tone. “Look at you, you cannot even stand, let alone swing that toy upon me! Save your breath, because there will not be many left before I personally end each and ev-”
A large furry, clawed, hand swipes her in the face, knocking her off of Huff.
“Mejo!” Tarnaa cries, welcoming the woman, and big hairy creature that she is accompanied with. Her jaw drops as Malakai comes in after them, but wait. No, she can see that it is, yes! It really is Torrinda! “Torr!”
He smiles and slips over to the two women who are kneeling beside the Captain.
“Oh, so you brought some more playthings?” Bladen’Kurst says, getting back to a standing position, four deep gouges at her cheek slowly leaking blood down the side of her face. “Good! More people to kill!”
“Your fight is with me now!” Duncraig, his chest covered in the little spray of blood, states defiantly. He growls and runs into meet the demon, the yeti slightly taller! They crash together in a monumental collision, both of them smashing through the throne.
Torr, back to looking at his ‘Cap’n’, slaps his face several times to get him to wake up.
“I know!” Huff, now by their side, says. “All the damn rum’s gone!” She looks down at the man, hoping to stir some emotion into him.
“Get the nail polish!” She yells. “Paint them toes pink!”
“Ye do that, ya damn wench, I’ll skin ya and wear ye as a coat…” The Captain, groggy and sore, states as he opens his eye to find Huff smiling down upon him. Though the fight is just beyond him, he looks over and sees Torr, free from the mirror.
“Aye, lad. Ye made it. Welcome back.”
Torr, and the others, sit the Captain up, a roar erupts to the right of them, one of concern. They turn to see Duncraig, a gash on his ribs, swiping and missing with a clawed hand, stung again with that tearing, barbed tail, a new wound forming on his chest to stain the fur bright red.
“Can you stand?” Torr asks, watching the fight, mesmerized.
“I think so.” He grunts as they help him to his feet. “He gonna be Ok? Whatever the hell he is?”
“I do not know.” Mejo answers, fearful at the turn of the fight. The lumbering yeti hasn’t placed many blows upon the demon Queen, yet the large creature has many covering his upper body.
“Then let us be quick.” Torr directs. “Mejo, Ivon, take Tarnaa and Zoey, and I will take the Captain while he..”
“Duncraig. His name is Duncraig.” Mejo interrupts.
“Yes.” Torr apologizes. “While, Duncraig,” he nods to Mejo. “buys us the time we need to get them out of here. You got that, Zoey?” He looks up seeing the woman’s face locked into the struggle. She gasps as BK ducks under a swipe, grabs the arm as it passes, and jumps over it’s right shoulder, the wicked tail ripping fur and flesh at it’s trapezoid.
“ZOEY!” Torr yells, getting her to jump. “Do you understand?”
She looks away for a second, realizing she is not the only one there. “Uh… Yes! Yes, I understand.”
“Then move!” Torr orders. They get Ivon and Tarnaa moving, the Captain soon following. As they near the doorway…
“NO!” BK shrieks, the sound amplified by her demonic heritage. She wraps her tail around Duncraig’s throat as she twists the yeti’s arm out of its shoulder socket, the beast roaring in pain and outrage.
“No one is leaving!” She holds up her hand again the ring sending forth the purple light to shine upon the Captain. Torr is forced aside by the intensity, and watches as the Captain is hoisted up into the air once again.
“Demon!” Torr yells, looking at BK, that wonderful and wicked creature. “You cannot have him!”
“Oh?” She asks, confused by the appearance of Malakai, fighting on the other side, a grin on her flawless face. “Who asked you?”
A gurgling noise ensues as the barbed tail has cut through the fur, slashed upon the skin and has cut Duncraig’s throat open. The towering yeti begins to sway as the oxygen, and blood, are incapacitating the large creature.
“Say goodbye to your beloved Captain!” The beam intensifies, a yell coming from the suspended man.
“BLADEN’KURST! STOP THIS!” Huff yells out, the command falling on deaf ears. They all watch in horror as the Captain slowly starts to elongate, his body becoming stretched beyond normal bounds. Piece by piece the man breaks away, the purple light taking him away from this world, and his family and friends, and they cannot do anything to stop it.
Torr, in a fit of rage, grabs Tarnaa’s sword from her hand. “Huff, Mejo, get these people out of here.” He orders through clenched teeth.
“You can’t!” Huff argues. “She is more powerful than you can imagine!”
“I said get them out of here!” He yells loudly, Huff startled by the intensity. “I will end her here and now for all the pain and torment she has caused. This world will be free from her clutches.”
“Mmmm.” Bladen’Kurst purrs, tightening her tail around Duncraig’s neck, the crack of bone echoing in the cave, and all their ears. Both combatants fall to the ground.
“We are running out of time!” Torr yells again, looking to the fallen yeti. “Mejo! Huff! Please!”
“What about them?” Huff asks, turning to indicate the chief and prince, the cannibal members, only to find that they are gone. “What about you?” She changes the subject of her argument. “You cannot hope to win!”
A small smiles forms on Torr’s face. “I will close the doorway after you have gone through.” He says, ignoring her questions. “If I make it back, I will join you.” He points to his ring. “If I don’t…” He looks into her eyes. “Then tell Mighty to set sail and get as far away from here as you can.”
BK releases her tail around Duncraig and stands atop the beast.
“I won’t let you!” Huff says, shaking her head. “I’ve lost enough crewmates all ready. I don’t want to lose you too! You just got back to us!” Huff says, tears in her eyes, from the Captain, to the yeti, and now at the prospect of losing her planning partner.
“For me, Huff.” Torr says, putting a hand upon her shoulder. “And for the Captain. Get everyone safe.”
“Huff, we need to go.” Mejo pleads, Tarnaa, along with Ivon and Zoey, exit through the doorway.
Huff looks at Torr, her heart breaking again for the second time. “Kill that bitch…” She leans in and gives him a small peck on the cheek for luck before she, too, exits the cave.
“So, then there were only two.” BK laughs and wipes the blood from her cheek. “It’s too bad…”
“ENOUGH!” Torr screams into her boast, his grip tight on Tarnaa’s sword. “For all the members, all my friends you have harmed, for the ship you nearly destroyed, the lives that will never be the same.” He stalks in slowly, determined. “And for the captain. You. Will. DIE!”
“What makes you think…” Her eyes grow wide as she realizes it too late, cut off mid sentence. She looks down at the sword sticking out of her chest.
Using a second doorway, after closing the first, Torr had used the deception to open another one behind the demon. Knowing he was no match for her in physical strength, he had used Malakai’s knowledge, thus her’s as well, against her.
She spits out a gout of blood, her knees growing weak and falls down to one. “You… You glorious bastard…”
“That is for the Captain.” He whispers into her ear, the blade between the shoulder blades, right where the wings connect to her back. He slowly pulls the blade out, the action making Bladen’Kurst tremble. “And this… this is for everyone else!” He swings the sword down, the blade in line with her beautiful, exposed neck…
* * * * *
The Phoenix Rising limps it’s way through Chum Waters and out back into the open waters. The day nearly at its peak, the sun bright and reflecting off the waters. Giving Torr the time he asked for, and a few extra, they have moved off in hopes he will return by the powers of the ring. Ten minutes of slow sailing later, and the majority begin to believe that he did not make it out of the battle alive.
Down below, the wounded are tended to, Alex – awake and his arm bandaged – the Oxnalt doing it’s job, helps get Tarnaa onto the table, Mejo wrapping the warrior’s knee in medicated bandage to help with the inflammation. Huff stands in the back, still very much a vampire, but glad to see Tarnaa, and those who survived, getting the help they deserve.
“We Ok?” Tarnaa asks, leaning up on her elbows, looking at Huff. “I mean, I did try to kill you before. Are we in good standing?”
Huff nods, glad that the woman can see beyond her abnormality. “We are. Remember, I almost killed you, too.”
“And injured her knee.” Mejo points out, motioning Tarnaa to lie back down.
“You think he did it?” Tarnaa asks, looking up to the rafters. “You think Bladen’Kurst is dead?”
Huff, unsure, shrugs. “I honestly don’t know. He said he would return if he did defeat her. I was hoping I would have returned to normal with her defeat, but I still feel the urges…”
“That is because you were turned by Malakai.” Torr says stepping through the extra dimensional doorway to join them all. He is covered in the cuts and nicks of battle, blood covering his body.
“You’re alive!” Zoey says, patting him on the back. “You did it?”
He nods and smiles, making his way to Huffette. “I brought somebody with me…”
All eyes turn to see a woman step through the doorway, her fiery red hair and khaki shorts telling who she is.
“This is Alexandria Beaumont.” Torr states. “Andy for short.” He winks at her. “I saw her in one of Malakai’s images. I couldn’t leave her there with those savages.”
Andy bows slightly, unsure of her new surroundings and ‘friends’. “Hi…”
Huff smiles and walks over to her, extending her hand. “Welcome aboard, Andy. It’s good to meet you.”
“Likewise!” She says looking around the room. “Where is your Captain?” She asks, looking at each face in the room. “Is he above decks? I would very much like to finish our conversation!”
They all look back at her, sorrow etched in each of their faces, a sign she knows all too well. “He didn’t make it, huh?”
The ship sails on, slowly and cautiously, each member carrying a deep sadness in their hearts for all the fallen, their ‘kin’ they have come to know and love, finally ending a whirlwind of events.
* * * * *
Blue sits back in her throne, torn by the emotions running through her body. She gives several ‘hmmm’’s as she ponders these feelings. She comes to smile though as she dismisses her scrying.
“Torrinda. You are something of an enigma. Well played. Well played indeed!” She laughs, a full belly roar, Horadrim – the dragon nearly twice the size as before on the ship – whips its tail up and down, raising it’s serpent neck to regard her…
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.