The Callindra Chronicles Book 2: The Rise of Evil – Chapter 38

On the deck, they saw a nightmare crew of sailors rushing about and performing various tasks to keep the ship crashing through the waves.  They were all half rotting waterlogged corpses and surrounded by faint blueish green light.  None of them stopped working, but none of them failed to notice them as they climbed over the rail.  Their stares went beyond hostile and ventured into a kind of eager anticipation accompanied by unfathomed hatred and hunger.

“What in the nine Hells is this?”  Asked Cronos, looking around and drawing his sword.

“Captain Gale’s Stormraker little mortal.”  A man with a flowing black coat that hung below his knees.  Crackles of blueish flame played about his body and he wasn’t looking at Cronos, but at Callindra.  “Woe betide those who cross the Captain’s path.”  He smiled a feral grin.

Callindra didn’t give him the satisfaction of reaching for Brightfang.  “Give us a lift then?”  She asked, her voice level and even.  “Our island has disintegrated and you seem to have run over our longboat.”

The man barked a sharp laugh, “Ha!  Captain, what say you?  Should we give these poor shipwrecked lambs passage to the nearest safe harbor?”

The main cabin door slammed open and a man resplendent in a red coat embroidered with thread of gold wearing a wide brimmed tricorn hat and carrying a wide bladed cutlass strode forth, the heels of his boots striking a sharp cadence on the wood of the deck.

“What possible reason would I have to give shelter to those weak and foolish enough to stray into Bloodtear’s path my first mate?”  He bellowed, and his crew all laughed, their voices full of eager hunger that was reflected on their faces.

“You killed my boat.”  Callindra said, with a shrug.  “My brother paid good money for that boat.  What are you, some kind of pirates?”

“Of course we’re pirates you stupid little chit!”  The first mate said with another laugh.

“The question was a rhetorical one.”  Tryst said from the other side of the ship.  The sailors shrank back from an aura of greenish gold light that forced the ghostly forms away from him, but the Captain didn’t flinch.

“This here is my ship.”  Gale said, touching the rail and sending a flare of phosphorescent flames licking down the length of the wood.  “Your little god ain’t calling the shots here, I am.”  He clenched his fist and the light around Tryst winked out.

Callindra chose this moment of distraction to whip Brightfang from his scabbard and leap at the Captain, swinging her blade in three vicious slashes at neck, gut and knee levels.  To her shock, the strikes passed through him entirely, not even ruffling his beard or parting a single thread of his long coat.

Gale burst out laughing, “Oh I love this little wench, such SPIRIT don’t you think lads?”  His crew released a cheer, or maybe a jeer and closed around her and her brothers.

“You think our gods are powerless?”  Tryst demanded, raising his shield.  The golden light began to emanate from it once more and beads of sweat trickled down his face.

“She is with us, no matter what you think you hold over us.”  Callindra said, suddenly very conscious of the flowers twining through her hair.  “We are no easy meat.”

Vilhylm put a mask on and thick vines began to grow out of his sleeves sprouting thorns and tendrils.  Cronos twisted a ring on his hand and his skin took on the aspect of tree bark.  The four carefully moved until they were back to back, facing outward.

“TAKE THEM!”  Gale bellowed and the ghostly crew descended on them in a howling mass.

The enhancements gifted them by the Goddess shone brightly as the crew attacked.  When Cronos and Vilhylm returned the attack they found that instead of their weapons passing harmlessly through their enemies, they struck home with flashes of what almost appeared to be sunlight.  Spurred by her brother’s success, Callindra wove her blade in twisting pattern and released a blast of Njordi’s ice cold breath.  It cut through the ranks like knives of ice, blasting them into motes of blue green flame.

Tryst took three long strides forward through the hole she had made and lashed out with his hammer, striking the First Mate in the side with brutal force.  The pirate snarled in pain and anger as he tumbled to one side.  Her other two brothers ran forward, trying to reach the captain but were intercepted by a half dozen forms dropping from the rigging wielding swords and knives.  With a madcap grin, Callindra took a running leap over the melee, landing with a vicious downward swipe of her blade that Gale barely sidestepped.

“What affront is this?”  He asked, fixing her with an enraged glare.  She had sliced off the corner of his tricorn hat.

“We don’t have time for this.”  Callindra said, menacing him with her sword as he moved to draw his cutlass.  “Just give us safe passage to the shore of The Shieldlands and we won’t be forced to destroy you and your crew.”

“Little upstart, this is MY domain!”  He roared, pulling his sword from the scabbard in a twisting motion that knocked Brightfang aside as he nearly cut her arm off at the shoulder.

“If it’s a fight you want it’s a fight you’ll get.”  She said with a series of feints that ended with a thrust that nearly took him through the ribs.

They battled back and forth along the deck as the ship continued racing in front of a driving wind.  The Captain was good and at times it was all Callindra could do to keep her head on her shoulders.  After a few minutes, she sported a dozen shallow cuts that were gradually being stitched closed by tiny Brightstar vines.  Finally, she heard the sound she had been waiting for and broke from the fight, sprinting towards her brothers.

“Now!  Run and jump, it’s our chance!”  She shouted, sliding under a sword slash and reaching the railing.  Spinning around, she saw Cronos backing the wrong direction, facing an onslaught from three sailors.  She spun Brightfang on his chain and flung him across the deck, hamstringing one of them as Cronos cut another down.  Yanking her blade back to her hand she dove overboard in a long swan dive.

The roaring sound she had heard was the crash of surf against the shore.  As the four of them leaped off Bloodtear, they saw it continue sailing by, heeling over in the wind.  The speed it was traveling made coming about to re-engage them all but impossible.

Tryst had the most trouble getting to shore, but Vilhylm’s vines allowed him to pull them both through the water to the shore.  Coughing and spluttering, Callindra dragged herself ashore.  Strangely, despite the near miss she felt a surge of pride swelling in her chest.  It took her a few moments to realize why.  She had given an order and they had obeyed it.  Furthermore, it was an order that had almost certainly saved their lives.  She had led and they had followed.

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