Friday, 26 August 2016

Swords, Sails + Scoundrels: Judging Justly

Hey-o everyone!

Eggh, these titles are getting gradually harder to think of. I mean, choosing something alliterating from the selection of J, K, L, O, Q, X, Y, Z? It's not the easiest.

But it makes for some funny (and very random) ideas suggested. 

Honestly, I'm just dreading when I'm left with X, Y and Z. *cringes*

Apparently people are in slight uncertainty whether they wanted me to say my one won thing so half of you voted for option one and the other half for option three. So Inmates in the Island's Inland ended up with equal votes for both. And so I wrote them both combined...sorta...good enough anyway.

Hope you enjoy. :)



“Change of plans. I don’t know about you,” Warin started to stand, “But I’m not sitting here letting that happen.”

I grabbed his arm, fear clenching my throat. “Something isn’t right here,” I said, a cold touch of dread tingling the back of my neck.

“What do you mean?” he asked, glancing down, eyes flashing.

“It’s...I don’t know. Something just isn’t right.” Goosebumps prickled up my arms.

“I agree,” Warin scowled, pulling his arm away and standing. “And that’s what’s not right.” He strode from the shadows toward the brawling pirates.

“Wait no!” I scrambled out after him, stumbling over a stick. “I thought we agreed not to just walk right in.”

Warin didn’t reply, his tense form radiating fury as he continued toward the group. Reaching the cheering pirates unnoticed, he shoved forward between them, stepping between them and Altin.

I ran over the sand, my feet slipping as it squeaked under my weight. I ducked between the pirates in time to see one man reel back, stumbling over into the sand from the force of Warin’s punch.

All the men froze, staring at Warin.

Then Rantu began to laugh, slowly at first then getting louder until his face flushed a bright pink.

Warin stood rigid, his sword sliding from its sheath, blade red in the firelight. 

“So you’ve come back for more, eh?” he asked, choking down the laughter. “Captain Wielder, protector of the innocent.” He snorted a laugh again. “I hope you see how ridiculous that is.”

“What about how ridiculous you look?” I asked before I could stop the words.

Every eye turned to me and I clamped my mouth shut, swallowing back any more stupid words.

Rantu glowered, no sign of the cruel humour left.

Why had I said anything? I slapped myself inwardly, wishing I could unsay the words.

No matter how true they were.

Warin lifted the point of his sword toward Rantu’s over-large nose. “If any man wishes to fight, he can come to me. Only a coward attacks girls.”

Rantu narrowed his eyes, stepping back from the threat of the sword up his nose. “Now now, Wielder. Do you really think you’re in a position for making threats?”

“I don’t know Rantu. You tell me. Are you?” Warin asked.

The pirate captain’s eyes flicked to someone behind me, and he nodded.

A thick arm wrapped around my waist pulling me off my feet. The cold edge of a dagger touched against my throat and I stifled a scream.

Warin spun, his sword up ready.

“I’d say...no,” Rantu said smoothly.

Warin’s knuckles went white on the hilt of his sword. “Did I mention the coward part?” he asked, voice low and furious.

Rantu laughed. “Not a coward, simply a man who takes the advantages offered him and uses them to his best purposes. The weak and innocent will always be your downfall, Wielder.”

My breath came tightly, the dagger against my throat seeming to block the air. Why was it always me?

The pirate held me off my feet, so only my toes brushed the sand, giving me no chance of struggling away.

Altin, half lying on the ground, squirmed forward toward me. Something metal in his hand flashed in the light of the fire.

If no one noticed he might make it.

Another moment.

He was going to make it.

Then a pirate’s boot kicked out, taking Altin in the stomach. He hunched into a ball, the knife flying from his grasp with a convulse of pain.

His dark blue eyes met mine, fear masking over the pain.

Fear for me.

Why would he care about me?

“Your pride will be your downfall.” Warin spat in the sand.

“Pride? No. I have no need of pride.” A cruel smile played across Rantu’s lips.

“Then I will be,” Warin snarled.

Rantu tsked at him, shaking his head slowly. “Did I not say that you weren’t in a position to be making threats?”

As a group, the pirates nearest Warin drew their long daggers, stepping forward around him.

I felt a sob of helplessness choke in my throat.

It couldn’t end like this.

I could barely breathe. Fear was blocking off my windpipe, suffocating me in its folds.

The pirates took another step closer, almost within reach of Warin’s long sword.

“Do you have any more idle threats up your sleeve?” Rantu asked, his dagger gleaming.

“None idle,” Warin said. “But if you care to glance over your shoulder, you might see that I am not alone.”

Rantu laughed. “We won’t fall for that trick, Wielder. Think of something original.”

“How about if I say that your ship is burning?” Warin asked calmly.

More than one pirate looked over their shoulder, including the man holding me.

There was a moment of silence as they tried to comprehend what they saw.

Then chaos broke loose.

The dagger at my throat slipped away and I kicked backward, my heel connecting with the pirate’s shin. He jerked back with a howl, and I dropped, falling sideways into the fire.

The glowing orange coals crunched under my hands sending sparks flaring up into the sky, I rolled to the side desperately. Agony blistered up my palms, and I gasped, hunching over and pressing the burnt skin into the cold sand. 

White lines jagged the edges of my vision.

Warin grabbed my arm, hauling me to my feet. “Run, before they notice.”

He ran across the sand toward the nearest trees, his arm under Altin’s as he half-dragged the battered Gypsy Boy at a run.

I staggered forward, almost falling headlong into the sand as a piece of driftwood rolled underfoot.

My pulse pounded through my ears, pain screaming from my hands. The sand slid uncertainly beneath me as I reeled across the beach toward the trees.

Shouts of pursuing pirates echoed from behind and I scrambled faster, blocking out everything but the trees.

I had to reach the trees.

Warin was almost at them, and I forced myself to run faster. My legs wavered beneath me and I stumbled, picking myself up and struggling on again.

Just a little longer.

Just to the trees.

I tripped on a tuft of grass, almost falling again, but Warin was there. He hooked his free arm below mine, pulling me onward.

“You can do it,” he said.

I just wanted to stop and collapse on the ground. Forget about the pirates, forget Marius. Forget this whole adventure.

I just wanted it all to stop.

“Louise, you’ve got to keep going. I can’t carry you both.” Warin’s voice was sharp.

“I can’t,” I choked on the words, a weary sob catching in my throat.

“Yes you can.” Warin pulled me on, his arm supporting me as I stumbled again.

The thudding squeak of footsteps behind us was drawing closer. They would catch up any moment.

Trees loomed up on either side of us and Warin dived forward, weaving around a thick moss-hung trunk.

With an echoing roar from above, three dark figures dropped just in front of us, swords raised and ready. I screamed, trying to jerk back.

“Come on,” Warin said, teeth gritted.

The figures charged past, running at the pirates with bellows of rage.

Our men.

The men who had been searching for Altin from the trees.

Before I could feel relief, Warin stumbled, falling against a tree, panting heavily. Altin slipped from his grasp, slumping limply to the ground.

Shouts of alarm and terror echo from the beach and then the three men where beside us again, one picking up Altin and slinging him over his shoulder.

“Dark figures from the trees,” Warin gasped, a faint smile on his lips. “This island must be haunted after all.”

“Are you alright capt’in?” one man grunted the question, sheathing his sword at his belt.

“Perfectly,” Warin nodded.

The blistering pain in my hands throbbed through my mind, stars dancing past my eyes. I swayed, almost collapsing.

Warin caught me, arms supporting me before I could fall. “Hold on, Louise,” he said, breath brushing against my ear. “We’ll get you back to the Rift.”

“I’ll find the others,” a voice on my left said, and running footsteps crunched away.

“Do you think you can run?” Warin asked.

I blinked to clear my mind, swallowing several times. “Y-yes, I think so.”

The shouting from the beach started drawing nearer again.

“Time to find out,” Warin said grimly, starting forward, his arm still around me.

My heart thumped in time with our footsteps, pounding through my mind, every beat sending a new flare of pain.

More stars flecked across my vision.

How long could I go on for before I collapsed?

Vines caught at my hair, tugging at the impossible tangles, grasping at the light linen of my shirt. It was almost as if they wanted to stop me.

I wouldn’t let them.

I couldn’t.

Warin’s breath was panting beside me, though I could barely see his outline in the dark. More footsteps joined us as the rest of the pirates came from their places, scrambling over logs and through undergrowth, praying that no one stepped on a snake.

If anyone was left behind there was no way of telling until the morning.

The darkness was impossible to penetrate.

Only the sounds of running. Of crashing through the bushes and ferns, of falling over logs, stumbling into another crewman in the dark.

What if I had gone blind?

Panic started tightening my throat, making it hard to breathe. My legs crumpled beneath me and Warin scooped me up, barely hesitating as he started to carry me.

Slowly the light seemed to be getting brighter again. The trees were thinning, undergrowth growing sparser.

Warin stumbled to one knee, setting me down, his chest heaving with exertion.

I stood, swaying as the blistering pain throbbed across my palms. 

Where were we?

“Warin?” I turned back to his gasping figure.

“Don’t worry. Keep going as best you can. I’ll be fine.” He waved a hand, the action just visible in the star light.

I stumbled forward a few steps, hearing the grunt breath of the crew as they staggered after me.

Keep going.

We had to get to the Rift.

I took another step and the ground disappeared from under my foot, sucked away by some hidden force.


҉

1. “The swamp!” a pirate to my left yelled, his feet disappearing under him as the ground sunk away.

2. I fell headlong, slithering and rolling down an unseen slope in the darkness.

3. Something cold as ice wrapped around my legs, dragging me down. Into Darkness.

҉

And there we go. If the title is totally unrelated to anything...sorry. I couldn't think up anything better. :)

I'm excited to see how you guys liked today's part.

Fair Winds!


Jane Maree

16 comments:

  1. It is meant to be 2 then 1 (rolling down the hill before the fire swamp and the quicksand...).
    I think I'll vote for 2 this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, somehow I hadn't pictured the swamp that...hot? I was thinking more sludgy and mud. xD

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  2. Really great! I want to see what happens if she is in Darkness, if it is Darkness, or just darkness. Either way is dark, therefore interesting. So, if you couldn't guess... 3. Plus the ice feeling may be nice for her after the fire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! :) Glad you thought it was good.

      Hmm, hadn't actually thought about the ice/burnt hands thing. That's a good point. (one of those nice practical things I tend to overlook) :D

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Ooh cool, another vote for three. :)

      Delete
  4. So I am just now noticing that your titles have been alphabetical...and I feel rather silly. -_-
    I vote for 2 this time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hehe, that's kinda funny that you hadn't noticed. I'm doing my best not to double up on the letters but the list is slooowly getting smaller. ;)

      Delete
  5. Great chapter. I'm thinking option 3. It sounds dark and mysterious. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Anna! Yes...dark and mysterious is nice and exciting. :)

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  6. Bad, bad, bad. I like Louise, you shouldn't hurt her so much. If you're going to be so unkind you will have to have time out (for a long time). I really think some cold water and a make-do bandage on her hands would be wise. We don't need to maim her.

    Joshua and Samuel vote for 3. Samuel likes the Darkness (as part of the story, not as in he actually likes it). I vote for one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yus. Mission successful. You're meant to like her. It's meant to be painful. It's all about twisting the reader's emotions. :P *rubs hands together like the evil author I am*

      Cool! Thanks for voting. :)

      Delete
  7. EEP I LOVE THIS PART! *gives you thumbs up* I vote for 3!

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    Replies
    1. YAY! Thanks Savvy!

      Wow. Looks like there's a TON of votes for three!

      Delete
  8. I quite like swamps in stories so I'm gonna be different and vote for number the one :D (even though it seems to have little to no chance of getting in xD)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh cool! (You took a while commenting this time! I was starting to wonder if you'd forgotten) :D

      Delete

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