f it had not been the shouted warning, surely the hiss of his sword being drawn from it’s scabbard should have alerted me. There is something about that sound, something that piques your senses and jolts every nerve ending to instant attention.
I did not get up from my kneeling position, but I did not need to, the shout of,” Look out!” I thanked the Deity that I had kept the Sidhe tridents close at hand. With a flick of my wrist, I kept the cutlass that was aimed at my neck from striking it’s mark. With a quick turn I was able to spring to my feet and move to a better tactical position.
The clamour of pistols and the strike of steel against steel, filled my ears and even amid the din, I trained my hearing on the Qua’btan’s voice. Even as I fought off the enemy boarders, I kept one eye on his movement and signal to ward off the early morning attackers. The Viper’s crew fought off the assailants with raucous cries and ferocity and I did all that I could to match their determination.
A grizzle-faced swab came over the side of the rail brandishing a short bladed cutlass, his red eyes glared at me and he laughed derisively, no doubt he thought the “boy” before him an easy mark. I set eyes upon him and with a wide arc, I struck the intruding swab across the jaw with the tip of the blade, sending him sprawling back against the rail. With a animal-like roar that surprised even me, I was on him again. I thrust the blade up into his belly, yanking up and over. Blood spilled from his gut onto my shirt and trousers, with a thud he fell to the deck only to have another of his comrades come up behind him brandishing a pistol. Before I could recover a crack of pistol fire whizzed past my ear and shattered the breastbone of my would-be attacker. Breathlessly I glanced, panic still washing over her to see the Qua’btan, flintlock pointed toward them. Without a moment of hesitation, I raised my sword and turned, crossing blades with another man. We traded parries and blocks, and somehow, though he was much taller than I was, I was able to match him blow for blow.
Still I heard the Qua’btan’s voice, “Steady, men, Steady!”
Leading with the blade I forced my assailant off balance and he stumbled back a step. With a sweeping kick I knocked him against another of his own men whose own blade was drawn, leaving them both to topple onto the deck. I wiped the sweat from her cheek with a bloodied hand. I noticed that my headdress was coming undone, but I did not dare stop long enough to resecure it. Glancing over once more at the Qua’btan who was crouched down next to one of his own crewman who was seriously injured, I was momentarily reassured. We were able to hold for now.
The dark haired corsair’s garments were also soaked with blood and a knife of fear seared its way across my heart. I wanted to leap over the sweating, writhing mayhem in order to reach him, but the swirling sea of bodies locked in life or death struggle that held me back. From my vantage point, I could see that behind he and the fallen crew member was one of the enemy with a clear pistol shot at the back of my companion’s head.
“Qua’btan! Look out! ” I cried out to him, praying that he would hear her. Recalling all the memory of my sword practice, I raised the blade over my head and quickly took aim. With a whirling sweeping motion, I sent my cutlass end over end toward the assassin’s back. I did not realise until it was too late that the end of my turban had been caught in the handle of my cutlass. As the weapon sailed through the air torward its intended target, the blue silk swath unravelled itself and followed the trajectory with precision. With a sickening, searing slice, the blade went through the man’s back and out the other end of him, the point of the blade hitting him squarely in the heart. Blood and flotsam from the blow flew in all directions as the man fell forward next to the Qua’btan and the fellow crewmember of the Viper. I did not have time to gasp as the Qua’btan’s eyes met mine. My heart went immediately into my throat. It was clear now that I was forfeit. To be truthful, we were both of us forfeit now.
” God’s teeth! A woman! ” One of the men cried.
There were more murmurs among the members of the Viper’s crew and that of the remaining enemy crew who were barely clinging to any hope of survival.
” A woman…a woman…the captain’s got hisseff a woman…”
I moved to take up another cutlass that was on the deck but one of the Viper’s crew kicked it away just as I bent for it. Leaving me to sprawl on the deck. Even Mafouzi, who had been one of my staunchest supporters when he thought me a cabin boy stood and stared. His fear of bad luck had overcome his sense of loyalty, I thought sadly.
“Aye ! The Q’abtan has got hisself a wench, ” Billy Bones, elbowed his way forward, ” and disguised her as his cabin boy!” Bones shouted, fixing me with a stare that was pure hate. He then cried out, “I say that the wench is plunder right ought ta be shared amongst us all! What say you, lads? ”
“Lah! This be the Captain we’re speakin’ ill of -” Mafouz began to voice his objection, to be at least a calm voice of reason. But no sooner had he opened his mouth to speek, Billy Bones silenced the large grizzled old corsair with a blow to the head, leaving him to slide to the deck unconscious.
The Qua’btan stood up and strode toward Billy Bones, standing head to head and inches from Billy’s face, he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Stand down, Mr. Bones! That’s an order!” the Qua’btan’s voice rang out, “This wench is under my protection and she most certainly is not plunder!”
” I will not stand down! ” Billy Bones came stepped forward, drawing himself up to his height which was slightly taller than the Qua’btan. Bones then turned his appeal to the other men in the Viper’s crew, ” Men are we gonna follow the orders of a man that clearly violates every code we live by?”
The crew murmured amongst themselves, jostling and some licking their lips with the anticipation of enjoying a bit of female delight before tossing her overboard.
” Nay…he violated the code” shouted one, “I say we get rid of the Captain and stand us a new one!”
“Nay…. he violated our trust! Kill ‘im I say!” shouted another.
Billy moved to take me by the arm and cast me into the centre of the men, but the Qua’btan stood between them and placed me behind himself protectively. One of the pirates reached out to touch my hair and with a growling snarl I kicked him in the groin, sending him reeling into three other men, causing the crew to laugh and jeer.
By now most of the other crewmembers of the Viper stood with weapons drawn. Slowly they began to converge on the Qua’btan and I who stood back to back. I felt his hand against my thigh as he tried to be as reassuring as possible, but it was clear that we had by now lost all control of the situation. These men, except those who were loyal like Mafouz, who now lay unconscious on the deck, intended to kill the Qua’btan!
‘So be it’, I thought, if it had to end like this, I would fight with everything I had to stand by his side, if he were to perish, then by the Gods, I would take as many of them with mr as I could. I would not stop fighting until they had to kill me. Before I could draw another breath, I felt my hand being grabbed, He scooped me up in his arms and pitched me toward an opening between two of the Viper’s crew, into the sea below.
Having not been prepared to be tossed into the waves, I took a lungful of water. My orientation was only gone for a moment before I instinctively made my way back toward the surface coughing and sputtering. A moment later I heard a second splash and prayed it was the Qua’btan who had come in after me. I tread water for a moment and in a panic wondered how long I could last on the sea without a ship or a boat. Smoke and debris from the battle floated upon the water.
” Morgan’s Poxed Liver! ” I heard his familiar voice beside me, “Thank the God’s you can swim! ”
I let out a choke of relief!
Suddenly a cannonball tore through the ships hull right over our heads. There was a hideous screech of splitting wood and debris rained down upon us. The Qua’btan tapped me and pointed toward an abandoned jolly boat nearby.
” Get in the boat, Lass! ” he shouted over the din of explosions and shouting of the battle that continued to ensue.
I swam the short distance and tried to get in, but failed, nearly bringing it over the top of them. The Qua’btan dove underneath so that he could boost me up into the boat. Like a sea otter, he slid up into the boat beside me and quickly took up the oars. Rowing with all his strength he pulled. I moved to help but he shook his head. We had to get out of the line of fire, and it was better if he did it himself.
It was some minutes, and we slipped into the smoke that obscured us from the view of the Viper and the Man O’War. I stared back at the receding vessels, my knuckles white as I almost expected them to be. I stayed in a crouch, half-expecting them to open fire upon the Qua’btan and me once again.
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1726