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The deck of the Carrion Carrick was on fire. Swords flashing, voices screaming different things – curses, the mangled language of spells, the sounds of bodies slamming against the wood, cries of pain, all that sort of thing.
Drusk felt the new wound on his forehead like a hot burn. He knew it felt that way because he would… been branded, when his desires landed with him in the hold of a ship much like this, when he first encountered the bloated slave trade of the money parasites of Essek. The memory cut through his distraction, sharpening him like the stone he dragged across his ax blade every time he saw one of these black barges on the horizon.
“Kill you!” The Ogre in the captain’s coat sprayed saliva with his words. “My ship! Mine! Tear you in half!”
“Gotta say,” Drusk rolled out of the way of a massive overhand blow, then used the creature’s thigh as a platform and jumped into the air above. Considering his size, he was distantly proud of the jump, but didn’t let himself be distracted. Instead, he grunted syllables of force as he pulled the ax over his head and came down, the glint of thunder booming up and down with the spell, down his arms and into the axe. “Worst last words ever.”
The sound of the battle echoed across the deck, shaking the rigging. The few remaining Essekian sailors who hadn’t yet bled to death on deck or tried to put out the fire felt it in their teeth. Turning to the quarterdeck, they all saw the aftermath – the ten-foot musculature and resentment, the captain of the ship, Goron the Three-Eyed himself paused for a moment as if he couldn’t quite comprehend what had just happened to him. .
Drusk literally stood on his shoulders, ripped the ax from the creature’s head and shook it, and drove the behemoth down as it collapsed. He stood on the beast’s chest, holding his ax above his head, knowing he had their attention.
“Two choices! The first: throw those guns away, hand over the keys, and we’ll let you live. Second? You can carry this dead idiot to the gates of death and tell the dead how you became stupid slaves, willfully stole the lives of others and died for it. Pick one, I’m bored now.”
“I’m bored now?”
Drusk looked up from the ledger he’d found in Goron’s quarters. The Carrion Carrick was a good ship. Sure, the flame damage had been a bit of a pain, but in the end, even with that, it was a worthwhile prize, and the various freed slaves already took part in a makeshift crew.
“Do not” Sarsha me. That was great.”
‘It worked, didn’t it? I made them lay down their swords and now we have 22 slavers in the cages they used to hold their victims.” He sighed and touched his head where Goron had torn his scalp. Sarsha had healed it, but it still stung. “Now all we have to do is find out where we can get on the Summer Sea” to take them.”
“I’d rather not go there.” He fought back another sigh, took a sip of Goron’s really quite exquisite Shidhu† He had no idea where it was made, but the sweet bite and burnt caramel flavor made him think it came from Vinolo or one of the smaller towns around it. Memories tried to flood him – his younger self, arrogant, brash to the point of conceit, and so damn secure of himself, even when he blundered his first command right through the storm and got his crew half-swamped. Memories of an uprising, flashing knives, Tantolo’s death.
The old man warned me and I didn’t listen and when he tried to save the crew from my idiocy I killed him for it† Not his best hour, nor one he wanted to remember or relive. His uncle would certainly bring it up if he took them to Coltica.
“Okay, so if not Coltica, then where?”
“I’m looking at this ledger.” Drusk showed it to Sarsha. “Look here. Lots of freight picked up in Mikelema.”
“That’s on the edge of the Icewall.”
“On the edge, yet in the light.” Drusk took another sip. “This is really excellent stuff. Would you like a puff?”
She nodded and he handed it. Took a sip, grimaced a bit at the surprise bite.
“What’s that? Tastes like Rumbuillion, but kicks a lot harder.”
“think it is Shidhu† Think Rumbuillion but with 80% cask strength.” He laughed at the look on her face, the way her human forehead wrinkled as she frowned. It made her look more orca-like, and Drusk liked it, even though she wasn’t and he was. “My people find it more difficult.”
“I’m not touching that.”
“Yes, and don’t think I’m not disappointed.” He grinned at her, took the bottle back, but didn’t take a sip. A clear head was what he needed. “If we look at the charts, if we stop at Vinolo for supplies…”
“In a stolen Essek slave ship?”
“Perfect coverage. Remember when the bastards sold? us to slaves? Not much chance Vinolo’s wharf will get a closer look at this ship, and we’ve got Goron’s stash of gold to bribe the bullet’s gaunt butt. We’ll have anyone who wants to leave there resupply and return most of our new crew to where they were stolen. It’s win/win.”
“Do you actually know” Why were they enslaved? Or how? What kind of welcome shall we have?”
“No, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?” He favored her with his grind, waiting for him to see her soften in unwilling acceptance. “Besides, we’ve never been to Mikelma. Perfect trip to make some cards, huh?”
“You and your cards.”
“Portolans are needed, I love the job, and if we run into any more Essekian bastards, well…” He gestured around Goron’s cabin. “We have this new ship to introduce them to. I say let’s roll the dice.”
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#Drusk #halforc #pirate #captain