(Or hilariously, since I said it, and I'm absolutely hilarious.)
I feel like I complain about how hard this is too much, because really it's something I look forward to.
I go 'Ooh Thursday. I'd better write. Can't wait to hear how much everyone likes it.' You're like a cheer squad. You're the pressy-down-button on a pen that makes the ink-thing come out so it can write.
You're the handle for the potato-masher-me.
Yeah okay. That last one was just weird.
So, off the topic of potatoes. Unexpected Undoing got the most votes for option one. So one won on that one for once (sorry, I just like saying that. It'll get old one day I suppose...when I'm ancient or something...just kidding, I don't think the story is going to be that long)
It's slightly disjointed this week because I didn't want the nothing of travel to go on too long and get you all yawning and snoozing off...zzzzzz. Oh sorry. I dropped off then just thinking about it.
Guess we'd better get to it before even Bob falls asleep.
He looked at me, eyes flashing. “We’re going to get my prisoner back.”
I stopped short. “Whoa, just hold on a second there,” I protested. “You were just defeated by those guys, and now you want to chase after them?”
Warin jerked his head at the nearby first mate and handed over the tiller to him. “I cannot let him think to get away with my own prisoner,” he growled.
I took a pace backward before Warin’s fury.
The captain stood silently for a moment before turning and stalking to the back of the ship. Rigid with anger.
“Those two have complexed history,” the first mate said grimly.
I turned to him. “What kind of history?”
“They grew up in the same village. Rantu - that pirate captain - was always a bully. One day Warin found him beating up a small boy. He tried to stop him. Since that day they had a never-ending feud.”
“You said tried,” I repeated. “Only tried, or did he succeed.”
The first mate shook his head, but before he could speak, another voice joined the conversation.
“I was beaten hard that day.” Warin’s voice was low, and he didn’t turn from the sea. “The first boy ran as soon as Rantu was focused on me. I figured he was going for help.”
I didn’t say anything. What could I say?
“He didn’t return. It was months before I was well again. After that, I dedicated my life to learning the art of swordsmanship.” Finally the captain turned around. “Once I became the best fencer, I would be able to defend the weak and innocent when they could not do it themselves.”
“So you became a pirate?” I asked, unthinkingly.
Warin’s fists clenched. “In name perhaps, not in deed.”
“But you go around chasing after people just to fight them and make yourself more famous,” I pointed out, my voice rising. “How is that protecting the weak and innocent.”
Warin Wielder turned away, a shaking breath releasing.
I realised what I had said. “I--I’m sorry. I didn’t mean...”
The pirate captain turned back, a single stride taking him halfway across the distance separating us.
I could feel the anger radiating off him.
“Please, I didn’t--”
His eyes softened behind the blazing anger. “The deeds that become famous are not all I do,” he murmured. “Rescues, giving loot to that poor village suffering under the weight of its landlord, smuggling goods to the starving villages plagued by the Shadow Sickness.”
“You do all that?” I asked. “You risk your lives for all that?”
Warin didn’t reply, turning to his first mate. “Set a course for Pyre-ite Island. At this rate, we may even reach it before Rantu.”
“Wait...” I watched Warin as he strode into his cabin, the door shutting behind him. “Did he just say...Pyre-ite Island?”
I sat in large coil of rope, fiddling with the hem of my shirt. Warin had given me new clothes, boy’s clothes that were better for sea wear. Apparently, among other things, he had an assortment of clothing supplies for a poor coastal village.
That was still twisting my mind.
Warin Wielder, the infamous pirate of the Notrias Sea, delivering clothes and food to various villages.
It completely changed everything.
It was like he was the secret hero of half the coast.
More than half actually.
How they were even called pirates, I couldn’t understand.
The men on deck, nodded at me as they passed, the one man wearing a scruffy hat giving it a tip as he smiled in my direction.
“Part o’ the crew, it seems,” he remarked in passing. “Pleasure to meet ye. The name’s Gripper.”
“Louise Conwell,” I returned, licking my dry lips and tasting the salt of the spray.
“Would yer like me to show you how as to tar ‘em ropes you be sittin’ on. Ter be useful-like,” he suggested.
I glanced down at the ropes. “Ah...I guess so,” I shrugged.
Gripper left, to return a moment later with a bucket of tar and a brush. “It’s like this, see,” he said, beginning to brush the tar along the thick fibres of the rope.
It wasn’t long before my hands were black with tar and the rope almost as covered. Gripper decided I didn’t need his assistance anymore, and left to take his lookout watch.
Being part of the crew was all well enough, but I was glad I didn’t have to do lookout duty. Heights didn’t always agree with me.
A scratching of fabric behind me made me look up, half turning to see Warin standing, a smile twisting his lips as he watched me.
“How long have you been there?” I asked.
“A couple of minutes,” he replied. “I didn’t want to interrupt.”
“But now?” I prompted, glancing at my hands and wondering how to get the tar off.
“You could always ignore me,’ he suggested.
I shrugged, wiping my hands on the legs of my trousers. “How long will it take to get to Pyre-ite Island?” I asked, changing the topic.
Warin glanced upward toward the sun, and out over the waves for a moment before replying. “It this weather keeps up, I’m saying first light tomorrow. A little over two days from our starting point.”
I nodded, thinking hard. “Have you got a plan yet?”
Warin looked down at me. “Naturally.”
“We land on the west of the Island, travel overland and spirit Gypsy Boy away before they notice a thing.”
I flicked a clump of tar, only to get it stuck to my finger. Frowning, I wiped it on the deck. “What could go wrong with that?” I asked.
“First off, the wind could take us too far north and we get wrecked on the reef above the Island, barring that, we could get ashore and all be bitten by deadly snakes and die within the hour. Or, if we survive both of those, we could become lost and wander off the cliffs, drown in the swamp, or simply starve to death.” Warin shrugged matter-of-factly.
I raised my eyebrows. “That sounds cheerful.”
“That’s not even mentioning if Rantu see us before we do them. In that case there is a high chance of impaled guts, blood and swords all round,” Warin added.
Staring at him a moment with my mouth open, I started to say something, only to have him interrupt.
“Should I say something about the possibility that they see the Rift before they see us and just hang around there waiting for us to return successful only to find a horde of grumpy pirates on our very ship?”
I glared at him. “Do you mind?”
“Only answering your question, my lady.” He bowed deeply.
Snorting, I turned back to the tarred rope, pretending to study it with great interest.
Warin pulled on the oars, glancing over his shoulder to make sure we were headed in the right direction. “Keep a lookout,” he muttered. “Don’t want to land only to find pirates waiting to jump out of the trees at us. We avoid the reef, only two dozen obstacles left. Pirates and snakes come next. Pirates and snakes also keep coming until we’re back at sea again.”
I peered at the shore through the dawn mist, the dim light making it hard to see anything. “Are there any nice inhabitants of this island or is it all pirates?”
“Entirely populated by pirates,” Warin said, the corner of his mouth twisting upward in a grim smile. “Not many at the same time, generally, and Rantu is worst of them all.”
“And you?” I asked.
“I don’t advertise my presence the few times I come here,” he replied, heaving back the oars. “I may be the most infamous of the pirates, and apparently even own this sea, but many other pirates wish to heighten their own status by defeating me. My reputation is the thing that stops them most of the time. News of another defeated swordsman, another won combat. It keeps them guessing.”
“That’s why you do it,” I said. “You fight them to keep your reputation so you don’t have to fight the other pirates.”
“So I can keep them at bay for long enough to deliver supplies to half a dozen villages before the pirates come hunting once more.”
A movement in the trees just off the shore made me frown, narrowing my eyes to peer more closely.
“What is it?” Warin’s voice became suddenly tight.
A brown rabbit hopped out of the trees onto the seaside, white tail flashing.
“A rabbit,” I gasped, unable to not smile.
It was so cute.
“Good, fresh meat is something we’re going to be needing.”
“Fresh meat?” I blurted, shocked.
“Do you have a problem?” he asked, pulling the oars in and swinging his legs over the side into the water.
“But...” I blinked as the bunny disappeared back into the undergrowth. “It looked so...nice.”
Warin shook his head, shoving the boat forward onto the rocky beach. “Out,” he signalled with his hand. “And keep watching the forest. Don’t trust anything that moves.”
I scrambled out, my tall boots splashing through the water, thankfully oiled enough to keep my feet dry.
Warin waved his hand at the Rift, the ‘all clear’ signal.
The other rowboats started gliding out across the water, the main part of the crew on board them, six men left as guards.
They wouldn’t be much against Rantu’s crew.
As I looked back, a dull shape through the mist caught my eye. Frowning closer, I realised it was land, dark with trees. A cold finger traced up my spine.
“Warin,” I called his attention. “What’s that?”
He turned, following my gaze. “The land? Just another island in the archipelago. Why?”
I shrugged the question off. “Nothing.” Returning my eyes to the shifting mist through the trees. I stared at the forest, scanning the shadows for any sign of danger.
The rest of the crew landed on the shore, Warin stepping forward to drag up the first boat.
A hiss crept through the air.
I jumped backward sightly, searching the ground for the creature that had made the noise.
Then the hiss turned into a low laugh.
Sinister and echoing.
I spun around, a cold feeling creeping over me.
I am waiting, little maid. Do not delay... you are so very near.
There is so much potential in you...I can feel it even from here.
You could be powerful.
Something seemed to be wrapping around my mind, invading my thoughts. The words coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
I pulled away, shoving at the dark tendrils inside of me.
They slid in tantalising circles, weaving slyly.
Get out, I screamed in my head.
Then everything went dark. Pain exploded in my mind.
1. “Louise, no,” it is the voice of Marius. “You must leave. You can’t be here.”
2. Something rough slapped against my cheek, wrenching me into reality.
3. “What’s happening?” Warin’s sharp voice barked in my ear. “Someone check around for a snake, she’s been hurt somehow.”
It appears that these story segments have minds of their own as to how long they end up. It came out almost to 2k again this week!
Hopefully the disjointedness was easy to follow. (Trust me, it's nothing to what my sister Alice gets when she reads through my unfinished 1st draft of Monsieur Scattlocke) And if I overlooked details, (like whether Gypsy Boy had all the spikes pulled out of his arms or not) do feel free to ask. I tend to overlook details at times.
Thanks for being my potato-masher-handle, everyone.