Option three came out on top for Ruin of a Rescue last week. Or this week. Well, that week that we just had. Thanks to all for voting, I had fun writing today's episode.
“You know him?” Altin spat the words viciously. “You’re friends?”
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re any more than acquaintances, bucko,” Warin turned to Altin. “But I’ll say that I like her more than you already so you should watch your mouth.”
The gypsy boy shut his mouth, jaw clenching. For the first time I noticed a long pale scar trailing along his jaw. His dark blue eyes bored into mine with unconcealed fire.
“My lady,” Warin turned back to me, “I think we have a bit of catching up to do.”
“Uh captain?” One of the crew stepped forward. “What should we do with Gypsy Boy?”
Captain Wielder hesitated, meeting Altin’s glare unflinchingly. “He knows better than to run,” he said eventually. “If he misbehaves send him below decks or give him a bucket to scrub the decks, either one.”
He moved toward the cabin door, jerking his head at me to follow him.
The inside was largely dominated by a long table, spread with maps and charts, a sun clock and compass teetering on the corner. Warin pushed them further on, dragging a chair out from under the table. “Please take a seat,” he offered, seating himself on the table, the only other option in the room.
I sat, discovering the chair, worn though it looked, was reasonably comfortable.
“First,” Warin rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “I’d like to know how you ended up in the very same place as I am.”
“It’s a bit of a long story, I guess,” I started, thinking back on the last few days.
Warin didn’t say anything, only watched me steadily, his brown eyes interested. “Whenever you’re ready, my lady,” he said. “I may be able to assist, you never know. Sea travel is faster than going by land.”
I hesitated for another moment, but Captain Wielder was right. If he could help, maybe we’d be able to get to the places faster.
“Alright then,” I sighed.
Explaining seemed to take forever. Warin listened patiently while I forgot parts and jumped back and forth as I remembered details.
“It sounds like quite an adventure,” he remarked when I finally stopped. “First a Lady, then a Gypsy. What’ll you be next?” The captain raised his eyebrows.
“Did you have a suggestion?” I asked, sensing that he did.
“Oh,” he scratched his ear. “I was thinking maybe a Pirate.”
“A pirate?” I repeated.
“No? As you wish. I will sail you to Sáliner and pass you over to the Quests, I’m sure you’ll be glad to leave me behind for good this time, eh?” Warin stood, moving to the porthole, water spraying onto the glass in splashes of white.
I opened my mouth, trying to think of an answer. “You...you’d do that? For me?”
He turned back, eyes earnest. “A lady’s wishes must be honoured,” he said.
“But Leonora has told you to stop chasing her around and you haven’t,” I pointed out.
The pirate captain shook his head, a smile playing on his lips. “She hasn’t actually. Never in my hearing at least.”
I stopped, staring at the mischievous smile. “She never told you to stop?”
“Never,” Warin Wielder agreed. “If she had...” he shook his head, the smile lingering still. “But she hasn’t.”
“I can’t believe it,” I breathed.
“It’s true,” Warin replied. He strode to the door, “We’re headed for Sáliner then.”
I jumped up and followed him onto the deck, blinking in the brighter light.
Altin was sitting on a barrel, a pirate grinning beside him as he jerked thorn spikes from the gypsy’s arm one by one.
“You couldn’t be more careful?” Altin gritted through clenched teeth, his words turning into a gasp of pain as another long spike was tossed to the deck.
“You got to do that here?” another pirate asked, turning from his task at the sail ropes. “Fix ‘im up below decks so we don’t all have to listen.”
The pirate shrugged and dragged Altin up by the arm.
“I can walk,” he growled, jerking away.
“Well, come on.”
Warin snorted, muttering something under his breath and turned away toward the steering deck. Striding up the steps, he reached the tiller man, clapping his shoulder.
“I’ll relieve you now, bucko,” Warin said. “You take a break.”
The man nodded gratefully, moving past me and down onto the main deck.
“So you’re just going to take me to Sáliner and drop me off and then sail away?” I asked.
“Something along those lines,” Warin shrugged.
“What about Altin?”
“Who’s Altin?” Warin frowned, turning a bewildered look on me.
“Oh, er...he’s the gypsy boy,” I explained.
“Gypsy Boy? I haven’t a clue. Maybe we’ll keep him for a while.” Warin looked out across the sea.
“The rest of the gypsies won’t know that he’s alright, though,” I said.
Warin gave no response, his eyes fixed unblinkingly on the horizon.
“Get below decks,” he said, his voice stern. “Now.”
“Now.” His tone brooked no argument.
I turned, following his gaze.
A long black ship sliced through the water, dark sails showing its kind.
“Get. Below. Decks.” Warin’s voice was short and clipped. “Change of plans.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Get the girl below decks,” Captain Wielder ordered one of the crewmen. “The rest of you, ready weapons.”
“Who is that?” I yelled as the crewman’s hand fell onto my shoulder.
“That, my lady, is the kind of pirate you don’t want to become acquainted with,” Warin replied shortly, eyes fixed on the ship.
“I thought the Rift was faster than all the other ships,” I protested, resisting as the man pulled me back toward the hatch.
“So then, I lied,” Warin finally looked down at me. “Now get below.”
The pirate kicked open the hatch, pointing downwards. “Captain’s orders,” he reminded me.
I ground my teeth. Why would no one explain what was going on?
“What’s so bad about that ship?” I asked him, stepping down onto the rungs of the ladder.
“Ye don’t want to know miss,” the man shook his head. “You just stay down there with Gypsy Boy and don’t come up until some’un comes to fetch you.”
“But--” I started.
The pirate held up his hand. “No more.” He started pushing the hatch closed and I had to scramble down the ladder or get jammed in it.
The dim light from a couple hanging lanterns lit the narrow passage. I entered the main room, a long dining table taking up the main area, another door leading to a sleeping quarters.
“Tossed you down here too now?” Altin’s voice asked from one of the hammocks.
“There was something going on,” I replied, annoyed and wanting to take it out on someone.
Slumping down against the wall on a pile of blankets, I crossed my arms over my stomach, glaring at the floor.
“And your acquaintance didn’t want you getting hurt.”
“Why do you always have to be so annoying and grumpy?” I burst out, clenching my hands into fists.
He didn’t reply for a few minutes but when he did his voice was soft. “You would be.”
“What makes you say that? You barely know me,” I retorted bitingly.
“And what about you? Do you know me?”
I stopped, suddenly thinking about it. The sound of waves against the hull of the Rift, and the muffled voices and footsteps of the crew were the only noise in the silence.
“Everyone does it,” Altin murmured, his voice tight. “They see Jas. Perfect, happy, little Jas and everyone likes him. Mam and dad too. ‘Why can’t you be more like Jas?’ ‘See what Jas just did? If you acted more like him, it would be much nicer.’“
I heard the Gypsy Boy’s breathing catch slightly. “‘Don’t worry about Altin. He’s the heir of leadership, he’ll be fine.’ It’s nothing new.”
I straightened, just able to see his hunched form in the hammock. “I’m sorry,” I said eventually.
He snorted, offering no further response.
Slumping down again, I rested my head on my knees, trying to calm my whirling thoughts.
Little maid. I await you...
You must search for me, find me.
I have waited so long...
I jerked my head up. What had been happening? Blinking to clear my eyes, I frowned, feeling like there was something I’d forgotten.
The shouts and footsteps above became louder, more desperate.
Another sound mingled with them. Clashing, like steel against steel.
If the Rift wasn’t the fastest ship, then that meant the other pirate could catch up eventually.
They could catch up and board.
And that ship had looked bigger than the Rift. It could hold more men.
I squeezed my arms tighter around myself.
Warin was the best sword fighter ever, he would be able to defeat them.
The hatch burst open, sound bursting louder.
Sounds of a fight.
I scrambled up, barely on my feet before a huge brawny figure charged into the room.
With a leap, Altin was out of the hammock, ducking under the first blow, his fist smashing into the man’s nose. The man lashed out, catching the gypsy boy in the stomach. Altin reeled back, collapsing on all fours, gasping.
I tried to run, but a second man grabbed my hair, jerking me backward off my feet. I cried out in pain, falling to the floor.
The man dragged me upright, sending pain ripping through my scalp. Ignoring Altin, groaning on the floor, he hauled me out of the room, up the ladder and onto the deck.
The crew of the Rift were completely subdued, far outnumbered by the brawny men facing them. None seemed to be terribly injured, though all were sporting blood.
A furious Warin was being held by three men, each far bigger than himself. On the deck around him, foreign pirates were scrambling away, seriously wounded, dragging one barely conscious man.
He was good, then.
A massive man paced along in front of Warin’s men, hand resting on his sword hilt, a leering smile playing across his face.
“I say, what have we found here?” He stepped closer, grabbing me from my captor.
“Well look at that, Wielder. You got yerself a little pirate wench,” he smiled at me, eyes hungry.
I tried to pull away, but his grip was impossible.
A scuffle came from behind. “Don’t you dare touch her,” Altin said, his voice dark.
The pirate captain reached out his hand and brushed it against my cheek, eyes daring Altin.
“Podrido ticălos,” he growled. He grabbed my arm, dragging me behind him.
Without warning, the pirate reached forward, grabbing Altin by the throat and hauling him forward off his feet. “We’ll take this with us,” he said, shoving him at the pirate crew.
They dragged him onto their ship, forcing him through the hatch.
I backed away further, staring in horror at the man.
He leered in my direction. “Pity we don’t have room for more than one.” He sneered at Warin. “I don’t understand how you can keep up the ‘infamous pirate’ trick. Anyone with brains could see through it.”
Warin snarled, beyond words in his fury.
“It disappoints me that you couldn’t put up more resistance,” the other pirate continued. “You should get yourself a real crew, Wielder.”
With that, he turned, gesturing to his crew to follow, and leapt back on board his own ship. Axes cut through the grappling ropes, allowing the two vessels to bob apart.
Warin, released from the pirate’s grip as the returned to their ship, grabbed up an oar, shoving it into the side of the other ship, pushing the Rift free. The rest of the crew jumped to help.
The jeering of the other pirates slowly dimmed as the sail caught the wind and the Rift swooped over the waves in the opposite direction than the pirates.
Captain Wielder was at the tiller again, face fixed in a furious scowl.
“You’re wanting to know where we are going, I suppose.” Warin looked grim as I approached.
“Well...yes,” I said.
He remained silent for a moment, then finally turned his glare from the sea.
1. He looked at me, eyes flashing. “We’re going to get my prisoner back.”
2. “Sáliner.” He met my eyes for a short moment before dropping his gaze to the deck. “I drop you off, you go adventuring. We part ways unlikely friends.”
3. “Getting to land before that storm catches up,” Warin nodded at the horizon.
It was another fairly long one again today, 2k and somethingorother. (if you want the exact number it was 2,086)
Hope you liked it.