Pirate Story / Chapter 6
by alisa

Dimitri pulled into the harbor of Serenity Villiage the day after Cruz and the Black Ship had left. A thick fog had prevented them from running across each other at sea.

In a rage, Dimitri burned the vineyards to the ground while the settlers fled into the forest.
Hectal knew that Cruz had a lair on the cliffs of Ahktav. It was a fortress, invulnerable to attack. It would be best for them to overtake the Black Ship on the high seas. They set sail for Ahktav on the evening tide.

Lord Hectal climbed up to the crow's nest and contemplated his life. Seven hundred and some odd years. He'd seen a lot. He'd been a lot. He'd had so many (50? 60?) children, that he couldn't remember them all.

Lowthian was from the last batch. He hadn't particularly cared for her mother. Lowthian looked just like her. Valiun was her name. She had left about fifteen years ago. In that cold low voice of hers she had one day announced she was taking a hunting holiday 'inland' and that's the last he had seen of her.

He had sent detectives for a few years, but she had successfully covered her trail.

They had met at a festival in the mountains. She was incredibly arresting. Her skin was porcelain, her white hair cropped short like a soldier in the fashion of the times. She was wearing a shift of finely woven silver mail. She reminded him of ice.

He had watched her all week at that festival. She moved about with an entourage of other women. With an easy smile she radiated a cool superiority. He sized her up as a perfect arm piece. And she was, for awhile.

Then she began to get restless. She would go off on hunting trips for months at a time. Her daughter did not inspire any motherly affection. In fact, she seemed to annoy her.

Hectal didn't have time for Lowthian while she was a child either. Raising children was women’s work. Organizing the staff, the doctors, the nursery, the nanny’s, the teachers - was female activity. Lowthian had been left to nurses, tutors and her own devices.

She was her mothers daughter, he mused, cold and aloof. Hectal didn't feel anymore guilt over his arrangement with Vekna. He was pissed off at being duped. She was his property and he would have her back.

Whether or not Dimitri's ship could overtake Cruz was debatable. The Black Ship was a sleek streamlined schooner, but they had the element of surprise on their side and they carried no cargo. The Black Ship was loaded with rum and wine.

They had Cruz out-manned; Dimitri knew he could wipe him out if he could catch him. There were forty heavily armed men and fourteen cannons on Dimitri's rebuilt ship.

***

True to his routine, John had woken by the cold fireplace, shivering and hung-over. He went to his chambers and heated a bath. Now sitting in the steaming water, he began to feel almost human again. Lovely.

His door smacked open and Tamat floated in.
‘Good morning, John.’

She glanced at the shutters and they slammed shut. Tamat disliked sunlight. She moved to the tub and he watched with fascination as she lowered herself into the water with him.

He was frozen, speechless.
She put her hands on his shoulders and began to massage them slowly. Yellow and unblinking, he couldn't keep from staring into those eyes.

She moved her hands down his neck, his chest, his stomach, the water slowly turning red. John was getting hard. Amazing really, as well as overwhelming. He put his hand behind her neck and pulled her to him. He kissed her slowly; her lips were cool and sweet. She smelled so good; she licked his lips and kissed him back.

That was it. He had to have her, fear only heightened his desire. Hardly aware of his actions, he picked her up out of the water and carried her to his bed. He couldn’t believe it. There she was, lying in his bed, looking at him longingly, inviting him in.

‘…make love with me,’ she thought, her voice sending a shudder down his spine. He didn’t need further encouragement, he started fucking her. She wrapped her legs around his waist and kissed him, slipping her tongue in his mouth.

John wasn’t a player but he’d had a fair number of women in his eighteen years. He was always honestly a little shy around women and it was just so cute. He was good looking and he worked for one of the richest men in the city. He had casual hook ups all the time when he was in town. None of them could compare. It was nothing like this

Her body was flawless, her skin was so soft it was surreal; her pussy was perfection, hot and tight and seemed to pulse with his heartbeat. He was blind, thinking of nothing just feeling the overwhelming sensations of sex.

***

Out on the sea, Lowthian and Cruz were also going at it. Cruz noticed as he lay on her that his skin was becoming slightly silvery, like hers. A side effect of the transfusions, no doubt. He had her tied down. Not necessary, where could she go at sea? He just got off on it.
There was a banging on the cabin door.
‘Captain, we’ve spied a ship.’
‘I'll be right up.’ He untied Lowthian.
‘Company,’ he said.

***

Up on deck he looked through his spyglass and recognized the ship.
‘The bastard lives! I've met him twice, he told his crew. Dimitri. His boat is a tub. Slow and the man is an idiot. Keep ahead of him until dark. We’ll circle around. Last time he had opium. Maybe we'll be lucky again.’

Cruz was pleased. Opium was worth more than gold in Ahktav.

Lowthian had quietly come up the steps to the deck in time to hear this speech. Dimitri was a friend of her father's. A knot formed in her belly. She went to the rail and vomited. She felt a little better, but dizzy.

She went to the galley to make some tea. Strange, this nausea, she'd never felt seasick before.

Zeke was watching her. Damn her and Cruz. He'd send them both to hell before he'd watch them raise a family. He had 4 older sisters, fifteen nieces and nephews. He knew women puked when they were pregnant.

Fucking traitors, both of them, deserting him like everyone always did. Zeke's hands were shaking. He needed a drink. He went down to the cargo hold.

Lowthian didn’t suspect pregnancy and she didn’t see Zeke. She made her tea then found Cruz and told him about Dimitri’s relationship with her father.

***

John lay on top of Tamat and bit her neck. Her long nails digging into the small of his back. Ecstasy.
‘John, she thought into his mind, come back…’ she laughed softly, kissed his eye lids. They slowly drifted down from the rafters, back to his bed. John rolled onto his side, chin in hand and stared at her. He didn't know how much time had gone by but it was dark out.

Tamat stretched and rolled onto her stomach. She so reminded him of a cat. The way she flexed her fingers, the way her pupils changed shape with the changes in her mood.

She looked at him, sleepy.
‘Are you happy, John?’
‘Yes,’ he murmured.
‘We could be together forever....’
‘Yes,’ he said mechanically.
‘I am returning to the Abyss.’

John thought, well this is it, dragged off by a demon. I guess I always knew something like this would happen.

He ran his hand over her thigh. Her perfect thigh.
‘Will I be able to live there? Do we have to go now?’
She wrapped her arms around him.
‘No silly, you will not accompany me.’ She smiled, thinking his query stated an eagerness to join her.
‘In a week you will open a gate for me here. That is a simple task for you to perform, you have done this before.’

Oh yeah, he remembered.

‘Tamat… what did you do with the baby?’
He wasn't sure he wanted to hear it, but if he had to sacrifice another child...
‘The child grows fat and happy. He is healthy.’

She climbed on top of him. ‘You do not need to offer another child. Simply open the gate and I will come. Do you understand John?’ She gently rocked her hips back and forth.
He was getting turned on again.
‘Yea I understand, but why don't you have Vekna do it?’
Vekna is not yet well. His mind is still in shadows.’

Of course, the opposite was true. Every day Vekna grew stronger. Even though his memory was still cloudy, he was more powerful than he had ever been. A sleeping dragon. Not a wizard to toy with at any rate. Definitely not a wizard to give the upper hand to.

Tamat knew he would one day regain his faculties, if he remained under control he would be a powerful ally. An important tool, her first cleric.

If not, if Vekna could control her, she was sure he would imprison her within the Abyss. She could get out when other demons were called, but he would simply stop doing it. Perhaps he would find a way to secure the gate permanently again.

How many other wizards conjured entities from this material plane? Less and less. It could be decades. It could be another hundred years. No. Best to use this boy who was so pliable.

‘Be careful with Vekna, she whispered to John. Avoid him as much as you can but keep him fed.’

Avoid him? Not a problem.

He rolled her onto her back and kissed her beautiful tits. This was insane. Here he was holding this monster in his arms and he couldn't get enough of her. He clenched a fist of her hair with one hand and put his hard dick into her with the other. What the hell, he thought, there is no way I’m getting out of this situation alive, I might as well go for it.

***

The night was inky; no moon, no stars.

‘Hard to port,’ said Cruz quietly. His new crew had been waiting for this - violence was finally upon them. They had been sitting on that fucking island for weeks. They needed to kill something like a junkie needs a fix. Silently, the Black Ship swung around.

***

At midnight as John lay exhausted in his bed, Tamat slowly spiraled up to the ceiling. ‘Five days, John….’ as she dematerialized.

John blinked. She was gone?
Only then did his situation sink in. She was gone and couldn't return without his help. He absolutely would never do it!
But then, would Vekna? They were pretty chummy, those two.

What if the deadline passed and then Vekna brought her back? She would kill John for betrayal. Probably drink his blood.

Maybe it would be best to just do as she wished. What had she really done wrong? She made love to him, the best sex he ever had…she was so beautiful...

He had to get a grip for crying out loud! It was just a game. To make him crave her and do as she asked. He wouldn't do it. The only other person he knew capable of calling her back was Vekna.

What if Vekna were gone, out of the equation? Was there some way to fix all of this horror he had caused?

***

‘When we're upon her, we'll fire cannons. The fucking idiot still thinks we’re in front of him.’ They watched Dimitri's boat, glowing with lanterns, approach.

When they were in range, the Black Ship let off a volley of cannon fire.

Taken by surprise, again, Dimitri took direct hits and two of his men fell overboard. ‘Fire port side,’ he yelled.
‘Hard to starboard,’ said Cruz.

The ship swung to the right as cannon balls splashed into the water inches from them.
‘Damn him with his own game! Douse the lights and hard to port,’ Hectal yelled.

Down in the cargo hold, Zeke woke up. The cannon fire made his head throb. He crawled up the ladder and staggered on deck.

The Black Ship fired stern cannons and swung around, hoping to get aside Dimitri again. A little more difficult now that he wasn't a beacon to aim at, he’d pulled farther away as well. They circled each other blasting away, aiming at the cannon flashes, neither sustaining any serious damage.

***

Should he kill Vekna? He had served him, obeyed him, hell he thought of him as a father figure.. But over the last couple month’s he had seen Vekna evolve; or dissolve, depending on how you looked at it.

Vekna was becoming a demon, there was no denying it. He had already killed dozens of slaves and servants.

Most of the time Tamat and Vekna had disposed of the bodies themselves; Tamat would simply stare at them for a minute and they would burst into white hot flame; dissolving in a few moments.

But there had been times John would stumble on a three day dead corpse starting to rot. He would drag, gagging, it into the courtyard and burn it the old fashioned way. It had happened more times than he cared to remember.

He poured himself another shot of whiskey. John admitted to himself he should have let Vekna go when Cruz split his skull. He was dead.

How many more people would have to die because of John's mistake?

He would kill Vekna tonight and end this nightmare.
He just needed a little more liquid courage.

***

‘Stop firing, ordered Cruz, and everyone shut up.’
They were hit mid-deck by a spent ball.

Lowthian had cowered in the captain's quarters when the battle began but finding it more nerve wracking to stay below came above and found Cruz on deck. She put her arm around him. She was scared but exhilarated. Voices from the other ship drifted across the water to them.
‘That's my father!’ she whispered.
‘What?’
‘My father, I'm sure of it. He's chasing me down, the villain. After what he's done to me, he thinks I would go back home? I'd sooner cut my own throat.’

‘Quite the coincidence if he's not after you,’ Cruz conceded. He was still wearing his bathrobe. He pulled her in front of him and wrapped her up in it. He put his chin on her shoulder and whispered in her ear,
‘Didn't you tell me you wanted to kill him?’
Lowthian snuggled against him. In the warring factions of her mind, her father was more a villian than Cruz.
‘I want revenge.’
Cruz smiled and hugged her closer.

***

John went out to the stables and got an axe. He walked back into the castle and went to the second floor. He checked each room methodically. Must be in his study. He climbed the spiral staircase to the western tower and there Vekna was, facing away from the door. Hands folded behind his back, he stared out the window into the inky sky.

‘Unusual night, isn't it, John?’

John froze in his tracks and held the axe behind his back.
‘Um yes, no stars,’ he took another tentative step forward. Vekna stayed as he was.
John took a deep breath and lunged across the tower, embedding the axe in Vekna's back.

The wizard screamed an ear-piercing roar. John screamed too and ran backward. Stumbling over his own feet, he fell on his ass.

Vekna turned towards him, his yellow eyes emitting sparks. He reached behind him and pried the hatchet from his spine. John had buried it up to the hilt. It dripped with blood. John crab-walked backwards.
Vekna screamed at him again hurling the axe at John's head.

John rolled to his side and it flew by, inches from his face. He threw a bronze chalice wildly. It hit Vekna on the thigh. He staggered.
Searing, blinding pain was shooting through Vekna's spine. He saw black stars swimming in front of him. He thought he was going to pass out. The pain was so excruciating it made him vomit. He clutched the mantel of the fireplace and closed his eyes. He tried to breathe slowly, willing himself to stay conscious.

Finally the initial impact subsided a little and he could move again. He looked around the room. John was gone.

His mind reeled. What had caused this treachery? He had raised John from a boy, cared for him more than his own children. He had loved John.

His memories came flying back to him. Years of them clamoring into his brain in mere seconds. It was too much. He dropped to his knees and held his head in his hands.

***

John bolted out the kitchen door and into the courtyard. He flew across the yard to the gardens. Down the unkept lawns to the hidden door. He grabbed a large rock off the ground and pounded in the cornerstone. Every muscle aching, sweat pouring down his face and neck, he inched it in.

Gods, what had happened? He should have made sure he was dead. He should have struck him again...but...but he had freaked. He felt so horribly guilty. Vekna had been a father to him. He looked so pathetic, so betrayed.

The door clacked open. John was crying as he crawled through the open step. No. He had done the right thing. The man he had known and loved was no more. That thing in the tower wasn't Vekna.

He set his shoulder to the stone and forced it shut. He started forward. Slow hesitant steps. This blackness was tangible. The air so thick and old he felt himself buried alive. Claustrophobia bore down upon him, but he forced himself on.

***

The two captains circled each other endlessly in the waves. Cruz and Lowthian stood at the helm, statuesque, chain-smoking, cupping the cherry coals with their palms. Zeke stole beside them.

‘Zeke, you startled me,’ murmured Lowthian. He took a swig of his bottle. Cruz watched him. That bottle...150 proof rum.
‘Zeke, bring a case of that on deck. No, get some help and bring four.’ They were less than a hundred yards from Dimitri. Zeke obeyed orders and picked up his switchblade enroute.
‘Fine time to get drunk,’ quipped Lowthian.
‘Just a thought, just a thought,’ Cruz whispered.

Lord Hectal spotted the Black Ship, blotting out a lone star on the horizon. Only a short blink, but it was enough. Ready all starboard cannons he ordered the crew...and fire!’

They all hit the deck on the Black Ship as cannon balls whizzed over their heads. They took a direct hit in the bow. Cruz fired back and took evasive action.
Zeke staggered on deck with a case of rum.
‘Go get a sheet off my bed. Hurry! We have to get close to them!"
He held Lowthian by the shoulders, ‘I'll burn that son of a bitch into the waves.’

***

Vekna sat before the cauldron. He had made use of his new found memory and prepared a seek and find spell. Now as he stared into the smoke looking for John, he saw the sea battle raging before his eyes.

Cruz. Here was the man who caused this grief. He put thoughts of John on the back burner, that traitor couldn't get far. He would go to the ship, kill Cruz, bring the girl back here and then he would find John.

***

Cruz hurled a molotov cocktail onto the deck of Dimitri's ship. It shattered, spreading flames across the boards.
An explosion rocked the Black Ship. She was taking on water. The crew hurled grappling hooks at the other schooner trying to pull her in.
Lowthian threw a couple of bottles, then she saw her father. That bastard.
She grabbed a sword and ran astern. The ships crashed together.

Vekna materialized on the bow. Wrapped in a black cloak he was unnoticed in the melee.
Lowthian made her way through the battling men ducking swords and dodging bodies. Scrambling aboard Dimitri's ship at the stern, she headed for the bow. She couldn't see her father yet, but she knew he was near.

The ship was in flames, the great sails billowing fire.

Vekna walked slowly. He could feel blood trickling down his spine. A wound like his would have killed any mortal man and here he was walking...OK, stumbling a little, but alive. And hungry.

He grabbed a crewman and pulled him behind a crate, ripping open his jugular with his fingernails. He sucked greedily on the warm, sticky blood.

***

Lowthian spotted her father. Hatred welled inside her. How could he have done this to her? All this destruction, this entire nightmare; it was his fault. He was to blame and now she would kill him.

Then unbidden came another feeling. Was it guilt? Or shame? Love? She was torn by conflict. How could she kill her own Daddy? Even after his betrayal Visions danced unbidden.
Sitting at the top of the green marble stairway in the grand ballroom of their castle and watching him dance at a party. She had been maybe five. She had felt so calm and serene watching the party and he had seen her and waved.

Her sixth birthday. The year her mother had left for good. He had given her a tract of land. They traced it out on a map. It was on the coast, just above the outskirts of the city. He colored in the lines for her with sky blue ink.
‘See this? This part of the mountain is yours.’

Later... maybe thirteen, racing her horse against his in a mad gallop through the forest surrounding their lands.They had laughed and laughed, just the two of them.

But how many times had he ignored her? Walked past her without even a glance? Disappeared for months at a time without a word? He had abandoned her as a child and betrayed her unforgivably now.

All this went whizzing through her mind in mere seconds as she crept closer to him.
Behind him now.
One quick thrust and it would be over. And she realized there was no way she could ever do it.

‘Father,’ she called softly. She needed him. Daddy. She suddenly ached for him to turn around and pick her up and hold her tight. To say ‘I love you sweetheart I'm sorry, so sorry. I'll take you home and everything will be all right.’

She held her breath as he turned and looked down at her.
‘Lowthian, he exclaimed, go below before you get hurt!
He didn't seem at all surprised to see her. It was almost as if he was expecting her. She stared at him stupidly, blankly, waiting.
‘Did you hear me? Do as I say! Haven't you caused me enough problems?

She swung.

A fountain opened in his head. He stared at her, disbelieving, took a step forward and collapsed. The battle continued on around her.

She felt numb. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. She watched the men fighting one another, their swords clanging together. She watched them die, falling slowly like a macabre dance.

She looked again at the still man lying at her feet. He didn't look real. He had a curious expression on his face. Surprise? Amazement? She realized she was still holding the sword and let it fall from her hand.

It took forever to hit the deck, blood spraying off the steel in a graceful arc.
And then the boat lurched hard to port.
Lowthian fell to her knees and snapped out of her fog.


This ship was sinking. She made a dash for the stern. She looked across and saw Cruz fighting. He was laughing. Dimitri's boat was being deserted, the mast crashed behind her caving in a great section of the deck. The ship was leaning heavily. Lowthian scrambled to the stern just in time to see the rope holding the two boats together disintegrate in fire.
Panic! She saw Zeke on the Black Ship and started screaming for him. He finally looked up, ‘Throw down a rope for me!’ She jumped overboard.
Lowthian wasn't a very good swimmer but she could swim twenty yards. She bobbed against the side of the Black Ship, clawing for a handhold.
‘Zeke!’ Where was he? She was drowning!

A rope was thrown over the side. She grabbed hold and started to climb up. She had pulled herself out of the water when Dimitri grabbed her foot.

Screaming, she tried to kick him off, but he had been drowning too, and wouldn't let go of her. A knife flew through the air and pierced his good eye. He screamed and lost his grip, falling back into the water. She looked up. It was Zeke. He had thrown his switchblade. She climbed.

Cruz saw Vekna. A black silhouette with glowing yellow coals for eyes.

Gods Be Damned! That was a fucking wizard for ya, they were so hard to kill! He turned and ran to his cabin and grabbed a mace then he ran to the galley. Cleaver worked once, he thought, picking it up.

***

John reached the end of the tunnel. The way was blocked by a cave-in but he could hear the surf just a few feet away. He started digging.

***

Zeke pulled Lowthian over the rail. ‘Thank you for saving me!’ She leaned over and tried to catch her breath.
‘I just wanted the pleasure of killing you myself.’ He lunged at her, stumbling. She shrieked and ducked past him, running down the deck. She tripped over a dead body and went flying, landing near the galley door. There was Cruz.

‘Zeke's trying to kill me!’ She screamed, frantic.
Vekna loomed over the hatch, sword raised above his head.
Cruz grabbed Lowthian and pulled her inside as Vekna's sword splintered the door frame. They scrambled through the galley down to the crew's quarters.

Zeke drunkenly ran into Vekna and he grabbed him to keep from falling. The wizard sized him up as an ally.
‘Boy, you flush them through to the captain's quarters. I'll be waiting. I want the girl alive.’
‘Yes, sir,’ he said, but Fat chance, is what he was thinking. Whoever this yellow-eyed nightmare was, Zeke was not changing his plans. He crept inside.

Cruz and Lowthian were in the crew quarters prying boards off the floor with the cleaver. ‘If we can get down into the cargo hold, we can come through on the other side of the deck and nail that fuck’ Cruz whispered.


Zeke crept in, he didn't see them. Lowthian tapped Cruz on the shoulder and pointed him out. Cruz stood up and walked across the room, Zeke finally noticed and lunged at him. Cruz blocked his blow and broke his forearm.
Amazing how much stronger I am! He broke Zeke's neck and let his body drop.

Lowthian squeezed through the hole in the floor and splashed into the cargo hold. The water was up to her waist. She pushed through debris and knocked into crates. It was black and she was freezing.

She heard Cruz hacking at the hole with the cleaver and she headed in the opposite direction. There was a ladder down on the other side somewhere, where they had kept the children. The noise stopped. She hesitated for a moment, then kept going on.

Bumbling around crates, stumbling over bottles under the water, she got lost.

The cargo hold was huge. She could barely see her fingers in front of her face. She heard a loud splash. Thank God, that must be Cruz. He'd figure it out. She opened her mouth to yell, then she saw the eyes.

Seeming to hover in the air, a pair of glowing yellow eyes beamed out into the hold.

She sunk up to her chin. Trying to hide, she slowly backed away, careful not to splash. Slowly he came forward. She could hear him breathing. She was near the wall and the bottom of the boat was slanted. She reached out to steady herself and toppled a tower of rum. Vekna changed direction and came after her.

Lowthian splashed away. She could see the ladder now but Vekna reached her before she climbed the first rung. He clamped his left hand around her right.
‘Remember me?’ he asked. He climbed out of the hold dragging her up behind him.

Cruz was waiting. He had given up on getting into the cargo hold and ran back the way Zeke had come through. He swung the mace, hitting Vekna in the throat. Vekna reeled, letting go of Lowthian. She dropped back into the cargo hold with a splash.
The boat was filling with water, she could just keep her head up.

Vekna punched Cruz. He flew into the air and landed in a heap.
Cruz staggered to his feet. He shook his head. Vekna's neck was ripped open and yet he was still this strong? This was not going his way.

The overcast sky was breaking up and the moon drifted out bathing them in cool blue light. Vekna grabbed Cruz by the neck and started to squeeze the life out of him.

Lowthian climbed out of the hold with two bottles and smashed them on the rail, breaking off the necks. Rags and matches were scattered all over the deck. She frantically stuffed the bottles with pieces of sheet and lit them.

She threw a bottle at the grappling men. Vekna's cloak caught fire, still he wouldn't let go of the captains neck. Cruz blacked out.
Lowthian lit the other bottle and threw wildly. It shattered on the mast. Flames spread to the sails. Vekna was a pillar of fire. He lurched toward her.

Lowthian ran to the rail and jumped overboard. Dog-paddling to a piece of wreckage from Dimitri's ship, she clawed onto it and kicked furiously; Trying to put distance between herself and the Black Ship.


When she looked back she could see Vekna still standing, completely ablaze now. The Black Ship lay low in the water, her sails and rigging burning out of control. Vekna fell to his knees. Then, it looked like he just disappeared.

She presumed Cruz was toast as well. Free at last!

***

John broke through the wall of the cliff about twenty feet above the surf. After being in complete darkness for so many hours, the moonlight seemed like day. He took a huge gulping breath of air and looked out over the sea.

He could see the Black Ship glowing out there. He watched it burn, momentarily mesmerized. He rubbed his sore bleeding hands.
He needed to make some decisions, like which way to run. Then he saw her, floating off the reef.

It was a young girl. He'd have to help her. John climbed down the rocks and into the sea. He swam to her.

 
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