Autumn Harvest, Trader’s Day 16, Year of the Lion number 427; October 5, 1738 Agathon
Let me back up so that this can be told accurately. We left Swarmgarde ten days ago, en route to the Isle of Scone, in the middle of the Raubian sea. We’re equipped for three months, even though we only expect to be at sea for two, not counting the layover at the island.
Xyrlina, an elf, is the reason. She booked our ship and crew for this voyage, and, from what I’m told, is paying us handsomely. Not that there’s much to spend on while at sea.
Dagmar and I are the lookouts. There was a third, but he was left behind in Swarmgarde. Orwan is one of the new recruits and we’ve been training him. Like I’m qualified to train a new crewman; I’ve only been at it a couple weeks myself. But apparently, Orwan was the lookout on another ship, so comes with experience.
Because I have the best eyes and ears, being Tabaxi and all, I get the night shift. It’s why I haven’t been keeping this journal as up to date as I like. I thought about writing by moonlight in the crows nest, but we’re in the black moon phase right now. A few days ago it followed the sun as the sun set. Now it precedes the sun when it rises. It will be full in a couple weeks, where it will shed enough light for me to write.
But I digress.
Yesterday, towards the end of Orwan’s shift, I was up and getting ready. I am the only woman on the crew, not counting our passenger, so I have my own cabin below decks. I have a routine I go through – stretching, exercising, meditating. For a job that is mostly boring and uneventful, I don’t want to fall asleep, so I endeavor to keep my body and mind alert and awake.
Suddenly the ship jerked to port, with a thunderous boom. I picked myself up just as we were hit again, this time lurching me forward. I grabbed my pouch and launched myself toward the cabin door, grabbing the latch just as the ship rocked a third time. I held on, opened the latch and burst into the corridor. Other crewmen were coming out of their cabins. Dagmar was there, but he had a huge lesion on his forehead. The shirt he held to it barely staunched the blood. Using my claws to dig in to the wood-paneled walls, I scrambled up the stairs to the deck.
Here I saw pandemonium. Another ship had pulled alongside ours. Their crew had thrown ropes with grappling hooks over to ours and others were swinging onto our deck, engaging our sailors in vicious sword fights. I looked up to the crows nest and saw Orwan. He had a bow out and took aim. I watched in horror as his arrow found its target: Captain Silverkeep! The traitor! The arrow caught the half-orc in the thigh and he raged in agony as he continued to fight the three pirates surrounding him. Several men from both sides either lay motionless or writhed in pain on the deck from bloody wounds. I watched as Orwan notched another arrow and took aim again. I made my decision. I quickly scaled the mast, even though the mainsail was burning. Orwan’s next arrow barely missed the captain, but he was already preparing for another shot.
I reached the top of the mast seconds later and scaled over the rim of the nest. Claws unsheathed, I grabbed the traitor by the shoulder and pulled hard. He didn’t see me coming. I felt his flesh between my fingers as I yanked him over the side. He fell headfirst and hit the deck hard, looking like a child’s rag-doll as he lay motionless.
The ship lurched again as the two vessels crashed into each other. More pirates swung across to our ship. I spotted the man who looked like the enemy captain giving orders on their aft castle. I grabbed the end of a rope and jumped out, away from the other ship. As the rope played out, I prepared for the jerk. Using my body effectively, I turned my momentum toward the pirate ship and let go near its aft mast. Their sails were down as part of their attack plan. This didn’t bother me – my claws held fast to the wooden beam. From here, I sprung down directly behind the pirate. He spun around, hearing me land, and swung is saber right at my face. I easily ducked his attack, stepped inside his guard and scraped him with both of my claws. I felt the chill from my dragon card transmit through me and into him. He backed away and I pressed my advantage. I attacked again, but he blocked my talons with his sword. I was lucky I wasn’t hurt by this. He tried to retaliate, but I was too quick. I jumped over his swing and held on to the cross beam over our heads.
Out of his reach, I swung around and attacked again. I knew other things were going on in the battle, but I couldn’t spare my attention. He tried to impale me as I came down, but my catlike reflexes allowed me to twist in the air, avoiding his blade. I came down on top of him and held his head between my hands. My claws ripped his skin to shreds and I heard him scream in pain. He dropped his sword to pry my claws from his face, but I held on. He may have been stronger than me, but I had the advantage of position. I shifted two fingers and plunged those claws into his eyes. Now I let him go, landing in a crouch nearby. He hollered his agony, covering his bloody face with his hands. I scooped up his sword, held it high, then yelled out, “Your captain is defeated! Stand down or else!”
Other than the suffering captain, I was alone on the aft castle. So far, no one seemed to notice what I had done or heeded my call. Having no experience at the helm of a ship, I knew I was taking a huge risk when I took the wheel and spun it hard to the left. Slowly the two ships parted from each other. Both ships leaned toward the other as the ropes and grapples held on, but they were getting pulled taut. Several fighters fell into the water between the ships, but I couldn’t be concerned about them right now.
Concentrating on my balance, I ran along the starboard rail of the pirate ship and used the captain’s sword to cut the ropes. His blade cut through them surprisingly easily. As some were cut, others lost their hold and pulled loose, raking and scraping as the heavy grapples struggled for purchase. With their captain no longer giving orders, and their ship pulling away, the pirates realized the battle had been turned against their favor. Several of them jumped back to their ship as the Outlaw Girl’s crew pressed their newfound advantage.
Within moments, the battle was over. Bodies of the dead pirates were cast overboard without ceremony, including Orwan, the traitor. Our dead, however, were handled reverently. There were many injuries, including Captain Silverkeep.
Xyrlina emerged from where ever she’d been hiding and knelt over the captain. With a touch, his wounds stitched up and the bleeding stopped. She did this again with each of the other wounded men until she stood up and whispered, “I can do no more magic today. You should all rest. Wash yourselves then cover the open wounds with clean cloth.”
Three sailors pulled down the still burning main sail and rolled it tightly to snuff out the flames. “We are fortunate we brought spares. This can be cut up to patch other damage,” said Mak Vashiga from the helm. He turned to me. “Kabize, you fought bravely and acted decisively. Good work. It seems our Second Mate is no more. If Cap agrees, I’d like to promote you to that position.”
Captain Silvertree nodded. I’ve been promoted.
Of course, I have no idea what Second Mate does. I don’t feel like I earned anything – I just did what had to be done. I’m not proud that I killed one man and maimed another. Yet still, seven of our crew will never go home. The rest will bear the scars from this battle for the rest of their lives.
We decided to remain adrift, letting the ocean take us where it chooses for now. Dagmar agreed to cover my shift in the nest, despite his headache. As I was sitting down in the galley, Xyrlina sat down next to me and said, “That blade you recovered is magical. Tomorrow I will tell you everything about it. You were wise to claim it.”
Up until that point, Xyrlina had not spoken to me.
Previous: Through a Cat’s Eyes – 9.3