Thoughts flickered feebly though his mind, he was not aware of them. As if through a smokescreen he watched Shaben raise his musket towards the darkening indigo sky, heard the weak scream of the wounded man, the splash of his body into the frothing, hungry waters. He shut his eyes against the dark, breathing lightly, terrified of what he would have seen had he opened his eyes. Evani’s voice murmured, soft as a lotus blossom upon the wind, so weak. The heavy footsteps of the mercenary as he took the lifesaving medicine from her and crossed the deck, the overwhelming relief that followed, and pitiful gratitude. He bowed his dark snarled head and suddenly lapsed into something he had refused to partake in for at least twenty years.
A sharp, heartbreaking keening sound broke through the placidity of his prayer and it was like acid upon his ear. His eyes snapped open, shot with gray in the gathering clouds, searching for the source of distress. His breath caught in his throat, his eyes locked upon her. Horror swept every iota of rational thought from his mind. He reeled at the sight, and hung back, trembling, unsure of how to help, afraid his clumsy hands would injure her further. Forcing himself to remain calm he gently turned himself onto his belly, a bolt of excruciating agony firing up his leg as his body professed its indignation. He crawled towards her, and upon reaching her, slapped her hands away from the bolt. “Stop”, he hissed, fear causing his tone to become much harsher than he intended.
”Stop it, you’re killing yourself”.
He instantly realised the fierceness of his tone and drew back, eyes dark with apology. Gently, he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to the comforting warmth of his body. “Shhhh”, he intoned, kissing the tears from her eyes, tenderly stroking her hair. “Shh”. He attempted to comfort her, the gods knew he attempted to. He glanced down to the crossbow bolt, to the actively bleeding wound.
Finally, he drew away slightly, locking eyes with her.
“Hold on to me”, he murmured, keeping his voice low and soothing. “I need to remove the bolt, or else it will get infected. Do you understand me?” He unwrapped his arms from around her and gently began to tear a small hole in the fabric of her shirt around the wound, careful not to touch it. “It will hurt terribly, but it needs to be done to save you. “
He waited a moment for her consent and when it was given, he critically surveyed the wound. A hundred macabre memories flashed into his mind unbidden, bringing with them tools for healing. He remembered. Carefully gripping the bolt with both hands he paused, forcing himself to tear his eyes away from her tear-streaked face, and pulled. His stomach clenched, knowing how agonising the pain would have to be as he eased the bolt from her tattered flesh. The barbs caught once, and hot blood poured over his hands, but otherwise it slid cleanly from her body as he pulled and tugged with all his strength, attempting not to hurt her, knowing that he must.
Finally, the bolt clattered to the blood-stained deck beside them. Emotions flared up inside him but he pushed them away for now, cautiously peering at the wound. It was grave, that was certain, but would not be fatal. He was relived to see that it had bypassed organs, and it had been buried harmlessly into muscle.
The exertion had opened up his own wound, and he panted, pushing back the creeping abyss. There was no time to comfort her; her bleeding had to be stopped. He grabbed his cloak and pulled out a second packet of herbs, anserke, and then began to tear the cloak itself into ragged strips. When he had a pile of them coiled on deck, he poured a small amount of the precious medicine into his hand. Gently as he knew how he pressed the herb against the bolt-wound. Almost immediately the alarming flow of blood slowed to a trickle. He placed more of the medicine on the wound until it slowed further, nearly stopping. He sighed, instinctively knowing that the most crucial part was over and done.
He then hesitated, a dark red blush creeping over his cheekbones. Carefully, as to preserve her modesty he lifted up the edge of her shirt just enough so he could bandage the wound. He wrapped the makeshift bandages about her and then tied it securely. She was safe.
Exhaustion crept over him and he groaned as he looked down at his thigh with its reddened bandages. He had aggravated it. Clenching his teeth against the pain that was to come he untied the tourniquet, and as blood rushed back to his leg, the wound bled more heavily. He cursed and grabbed for the anserke, rubbing it into the wound. When the bleeding slowed to his satisfaction, he took the bandages and tied the first one over the bleeding gash. He snarled savagely at the exquisite pain that resulted from his actions but continued wrapping it, feeling the coarse fabric draw into the wound. Finally bound, he collapsed against the deck, breathing heavily.
He rested for a moment and then reminded himself that there were more important things to attend to. He lay there, not expecting any thanks, eyes hooded, listening to Evani’s quiet noises of pain. He closed his eyes and when he spoke, his voice was weak.
“When his wound is attended to, Shaben should be able to help you to a cabin where you can rest…I cannot”.
Posted on 2008-04-21 at 21:25:02.
Edited on 2008-04-21 at 21:30:55 by Septimus Sandalwood
Shaben was too busy to hear the cries of the people he'd saved, his arm was getting evermore painful as he lost blood and the dark encroached and threatened to devour him. With what seemed like the last of his strength he laid down his musket and pulled out his dagger, a beautiful stiletto dagger with a leather handle and a long, straight, clean blade, and with that dagger he stabbed for the last man. His family's greatest treasure, an heirloom past down for generations from father to son dug its self into the mans hand and as the man screamed and let go of the cargo netting Shaben's grip let go of the dagger, it was unintentional that he let go of it and he fell to the deck sobbing as soon as he realised what had happened, to any on looker it would seem like he had been hit but something or that he morned the death of the men, it was not so, he cryed as he had dropped the last thing that his farther had ever given him. In his flop to the deck he also knocked the pistol from his belt and it fell into the water, another thing lost but the pistol could easily be replaced.
The mercenary heard the scream as he rushed to the back of the ship, realizing within himself that the time of combat had surely passed during those moments he had chosen to aid the fallen, but there was no regret in the choice he had made and certainly no hesitation in what he must do now.
Shaben lay in a small pool of blood, his body twitching under the duress of what had gone before. His musket lay nearby, but it was not a weapon the man needed as he seemed to be shaking from his own deep rooted sobs from deep within himself in a private agony; so the mercenary laid The Equalizer near the musket to give his own weapon some company, while he did what was now in his power to do for the wounded man that the lady had called Shaben.
As the mercenary approached, he withdrew a small portion of the herbs that he was carrying in his left hand, rolling them together between the thumb and fingers of his right hand. Then he clenched his left fist tightly around the remaining herbs, applying pressure on the wounded arm with his clenched fist.
As gently [but firmly]as possible, the mercenary began applying the rolled herbs directly into the wound to cause the bleeding to stanch.
Thankfully, the herbs began to slowly work their curative power upon the open wound while the mercenary breathed a silent prayer, meticulously applying pressure to the wound, forcing the herbs to penetrate the unnatural cavity and seal the damage that had been done.
As a result, the wound began to close under the care of the mercenary who had administered such remedies for longer than he dare care to remember.
After sprinkling a few more herbs on top of the closed wound, the mercenary pocketed the remainder and quickly tore a portion of Shaben's tattered shirt to make a makeshift bandage, securing the sprinkled herbs to do their work, before making sure no more intruders were trying to climb the netting in an effort to press the attack.
Satisfied that no further danger was lurking at the back of the ship, the mercenary hoisted Shaben into an upright position, placing his left arm underneath Shaben's right armpit, encircling his back and securing him beneath his left armpit to carry him back to his comrades, pausing only long enough to stoop and retrieve Shaben's musket and The Equalizer, before helping Shaben across the deck to reunite with the woman and her wounded companion.
When Rex, his hired mercenary, came up to him he pushed his hand away, he wanted to be left alone but a lump had come to his throat so he couldn't say anything. When he did see what Rex was doing he steamed the flow and sat up so that Rex could use the herbs on his are but when it came to he ripping a piece of his cloak he stopped him and tore a piece from his shirt instead as his cloak, although bloodstained, could be washed and it had not been cut as it had slipped of his arm when he took his shot when the soldier made his attack.
Thanking Rex as he was helped to his feet but neglected help to walk over to the others. "Thank you for following and having faith in me."
typical Shaben, his eyes running and arm bandaged up with a scrap of his own shirt but he could still give a speech "Welcome aboard The Theurgeme, the captain is a good friend of mine, one of the many I have made on the mainland. Now, a confession, Septimus, you are ready for your return to the world I take it, unfortunately your ship is no longer your own. After your death it was found and the government took it, not long after that your crew stole it back in the hope that you would return. The ship was sunk, I was on the attack ship that sunk it, in-fact, I was the one who also signed the order, you see, if it stayed it remained a symbol of you and if I let it, um, survive there would have been an investigation and we would have been found out. Also, the Council of 6 will only let us have one gun each on the mainland, it was that or they turn us in as soon as we make birth."
Wiping a few tears from his eyes he finished and sat on the deck waiting for the questions to start streaming in.
Evani leaned against the casks, staring down at the bloodied deck, and drifted in and out of pain. There were moments that her body felt like a thousand shards of broken glass. She choked on the salt air and gripped the bolt to try again and then Septimus was there.
She barely registered the sting as he slapped her hands away. She was numb to the sharpness of his tone, and could see only the pain in his eyes. Even as she heard him growl, her thoughts disintigrated, and she worried about Shaben, about the mercenary, about the soldiers they left behind. She closed her eyes, feeling agin as if she were buring alive on broken glass, and then suddenly he was there.
Septimus held her a moment, easing the pain that filled her hollow places, and then was gone. The bolt tore through her anew as he removed it and she cried out in agony as it fell to the deck.
He cared for her wounds, stopped the bleeding, and bled anew himself. Her head fell tot he side, and she watched him suffer, feeling every bit responsible for his fresh pain.
"Don't be an ass," she hissed, through teeth clenched with fresh pain. She cringed inwardly at her tone, less gentle than she intended. Evani softened her tone and laughed, though it came out choked and strangled, more like a howling cry. "Don't think for a moment you're going to have all the fun, love."
Yet despite her desire to stand, to fight, she could not move. Fatigue, exhaustion, and stiffness overcame her and she lie upon the deck, staring up into the sky as the sails billowed and furled. Clouds moved above her, and gulls called out in the heavens as they looped and flew.
She watched the mercenary bring Shaben to them, and then Shaben spoke, naturally eloquent despite the ruin.
"Where exactly are we going, Shaben? What are we running from?"
His mind reeled, unable to process the words spilling restlessly, without cease, mercilessly.
Professed secrets followed immediately by confession.
He cocked his head up to look at him, his dark matted hair falling unceremoniously over his brow. His eyes narrowed into gems of crystalline beauty, pure and cold. No words. His heart pounded in the silence, threatening to break free of its confines. Unable to bear the tension any longer, he grabbed for his tattered cloak, and fished through its deep, hand-sewn pockets, never taking his eyes off Shaben. He grabbed for his pipe through the speech, lit it with a rather soggy match and drew the smoke far into his lungs.
They locked eyes, Shaben adamant, still noble even with a few pitiful scraps of fabric blinding his flesh together, Septimus the picture of nonchalance, calming destroying the remainder of his lungs, anything to restore even a hint of normality. He exhaled a cloud of smoke and tapped off the ash, coughing violently, once, twice, and stowed the pipe away again. In spite of the nagging pain it generated he managed to turn his back to him, hot anger pulsing through his blood.
The faces of his crew flashed into his minds’ eye, the desperate men, the pull of the sails. Hard faces, weathered faces. Young faces with native, knowing eyes. The drink. The drive. The drag. Men who had waited for him in spite of their better judgment.
He shut his eyes against a thousand torrid recollections, the gallantry of crimson sails brushed against the midnight sky like insect wings in the dark. The feel of his first love, his own, her deck slick with rain, with blood, with oil. Death to those who defend her. Insane, fractured thoughts plagued him, he muttered into the growing cloudiness of his own lunacy. The soft wood of the rail. The feel of the wheel against his callused palm. The knowledge of his kingdom, gone. Nothing was worth that, not even to his own life.
He saw the betrayal written on fifty faces.
Poor fools. Poor brave fools who understood nothing of justice. Who understood nothing of Shaben. Fire. Loyalty written in blood. The great dying groan of the magnificent Acheron as she submitted to the waves. The screaming of the men, going down, going home.
His eyes snapped open, a terrible emptiness resonating inside him. He forced himself to rise, pain jolting throughout his body at the quick movement. He balanced himself precariously on his uninjured leg, despising himself in his ridiculousness. He limped forward a step and almost crumpled, his entire body trembling. Tears poured down over the slopes of his cheeks, the echo of Shaben’s indifference poisoning his conscience, eliminating it.
He turned to face him.
“How many of my men did you kill, Shaben”, he whispered hollowly, his eyes frighteningly black holes.
“But tell, me how many?”
He laughed, a haunting, bloodcurdling sound that mixed, swerving with the seagulls. “How many…did you slaughter…to save your own skin?” He reconsidered. “Or should I say, our skins.” He managed another step, and stopped, panting. “Would that I would have died! They were my men. They would have died for me, and I for them.” He lifted his head to look at him, and smiled humourlessly. “Kill me now, Shaben, now that I have nothing to live for. I thank you for your loyalty”. He locked eyes with him, his manner bitterly sarcastic.
“ I thank you for, ah, believing in me…”
Suddenly he lunged forward in his fury towards Shaben, enraged at his nonchalance, his confession towards the destruction of his home, his kingdom, his freedom. He felt himself buckle to the ground instantly and caught himself on the palms of his hands before his wound came in contact with the deck. Low noises of agony came from his throat, red fury burst behind his eyes. Despising his weakness he managed to sit up, his eyes instinctively flashing to the mercenary, expecting him to have come to his employer's rescue. Now he would understand. He would know....that...
Evani’s voice cut through the crimson blindness and he glanced to her with wounded eyes. He professed his love solely with his eyes, eyes dark with tears and pain and regret. The red cloud abated somewhat and he moved towards her, drawing her into his arms, his heart tight with the fullness of his emotion. This was what he had to live for, he thought fiercely.
This was his family, and this was his home.
Posted on 2008-04-23 at 01:00:11.
Edited on 2008-04-24 at 10:13:35 by Septimus Sandalwood
As Septimus came at him he didn't step back, he lunged forward and caught him as he fell. What he had done Septimus must never know but he must know this. He helped Septimus to lay down, put his own head next to his friends and whispered. "She sank yes, but none of her crew died, many of them wanted to but I ordered that they be taken to the mainland, there is a port city in Amn but has been taken by ogres, it's a pirate port and they were taken ashore there. They have dispersed among other ships but come together every anniversary of your death."
Before sitting down with his back to the side of the ship
Addressing Evani and ignoring the pain in his arm. "We are running from Lantan, it is a war machine intent on attacking Amn. We must worn The Council of 6 in Athkatla, after that I don't know."
Posted on 2008-04-23 at 08:15:02.
Edited on 2008-04-23 at 16:03:27 by Loki
Waves slapped the sides of the ship, batting the vessel playfully. She was moved, positioned, and she did not protest. Eavni settled into Septimus' arms and rested her head on his shoulder, her hand on his chest. Shaben's words weighed heavily on her, but she could not remember why. There was something, something she had heard while wandering, but right now she was too tired, too sore, to think. Her blood hurt.
"How long before the call to war? We'll need some time to throw them from our scent or we risk the very lives we intend to save."
I hear her calling to me ... wooing me ... to hold her in my arms ... caress her ... kiss her ... reassure her ... that she still holds a special place in my heart ... in my life ...
She does not like to be abandoned ... ignored in times of calm ... she likes to be near the action ... counted among the weapons ... even if she is idle ... she is ready when I need her ... she needs to be needed ...
So I go to her ... quietly ... discreetly ... I find her waiting where I left her ... yearning for my touch ... and I for hers ... we embrace ... as one with each other ...
No need for her to be jealous ... for The Equalizer knows his place ... as she knows hers ... for we are a happy family ... seeking to right the wrong ...
Quietly we return to the others ... content to be together again ... when we hear the words that thrill a mercenary ... and his close family of skilled labors of love ...
War is in the air ... the players must assemble ... warnings must be issued ... the unsuspecting be alerted ... another chance to right a wrong ...
Time now for bed ... and reflection ... plus pray we go undetected ...
Instinctively he thrust his hands out in front of him to catch himself, in spite of himself watching his old friend’s every move. A pair of strong hands caught him and he fought against their hold for a split second, flailing, and then went limp, allowing Shaben to help him recline against the deck. He seethed, breathing in sharp gasps of air sucked from between clenched teeth. Feral eyes tracked him, softening slightly, unwillingly. An incredible gust of relief swept through him, filling his mind with blessed white noise.
“Thank you”, he managed brokenly, his eyes suddenly deep set and very very dark, a split second of emerald swimming in a sea of black. He shifted onto his side, their close proximity suddenly uncomfortable. He bowed his shaggy head, listening to the pacifying whisper and draw of the waves, pounding in rhythm to the ominous reminder that their peace was inherently doomed from the start. He glanced up, ears cocked for information, a clear expression of displeasure flickering across his visage.
“How noble”, he murmured morosely. He smiled a crooked smile. “You know Shaben”, he whispered, “I had never before had any intention of being a hero.” He sighed. “And all this time I was under the impression that I was only saving our skins…but hundreds? Your soft heart belies you, my friend”.
He fell into silence, electric fear pulsing through his blood, invigorating him. Atonement for the cruelties of the sea, a kinder sacrifice. The gifts of life, swiftly stolen, returned. In his heart there was a certain sweetness in the memory of heroics, the popularity, the settlement. Love, from a far greater endeavour. And as he wrapped his arms around Evani in a desperate attempt to dispel the heaviness, the terrible finality of his friend’s words, he wondered if he so needed love after all.
How easily, he thought drowsily, the heart dictated the course of action. The shear power of love, that brought him entirely under the power of this slight female’s hand. For love, he knew that he was weak, and powerless, entirely willing to grant her anything and everything.
And so he would cut off his very life if she only requested it.
“I love you”, he whispered with as much tenderness as his voice would allow, and rested his head against hers. Friendship rested in his heart, settled with compatibility. He felt the sheer strength of the emotion overtake all logic, all better judgment, loving without judgment. Nothingness but her.
The fearful beauty of the blankness.
The complex simplicity of his world.
Exhaustion quickly reminded him of his dire condition and he gently unwrapped his arms from about her. He apologised briefly and stumbled to his feet. Supporting himself on the rail, he hesitated, his wounded leg useless, aching with a deep primitive agony. Managing by a bout of rather undignified hopping, he made his way to the door, back straight, cursing his appearance. After a perilous journey down the stairs, he searched for an unoccupied cabin and finding one by sheer luck, he limped precariously into it, collapsing into the strung hammock. He gritted his teeth against the pain, shutting his eyes to the light, the impossibly uncertain words echoing mercilessly in his brain insuring only one conceivable outcome.
He laughed heartlessly into the dark.
Posted on 2008-04-26 at 19:36:14.
Edited on 2008-04-26 at 21:05:12 by Septimus Sandalwood
The words had no sooner left her lips than oblivion overtook her. Drifting in a black abyss, she was only dimly aware of sound, of motion, and felt more than heard Septimus' confession whispered like a caress against her flesh.
My love, she sighed inside herself, but when her lips parted, only vacant breath escaped. Deeper she drifted into the darkness within, and came upon a memory she longed to forget.
It was only a year since the massacre, and though the muerderous band had broken ranks and scattered, two could be found easily, living like vagabonds in the woods of a distant land. She had come upon them in the night, cold and soaked to the bones by unrelenting storms, and she waited in the dense trees unntil they had fallen asleep.
Evani moved low and quiet, pausing at each snap of branch to see if her approach had come under notice, but nothing happened. Emboldened, she slipped inside the tent and found one man already dead, stabbed through the heart and his possessions taken by the other man. She felt cheated, robbed of retribution, and so stripped herself to the seranade of snoring. Pulling back the blankets from the murderer, she straddled him, naked and shivering. the unanticipated weight woke him quickly, though he warmed to her presence.
Teasing, tempting, she robbed him of self control and at the moment when he was weakest, when he was about to burst with desire and lust, she bent heself backwards skillfully, grabbed the blade from the chest of his slain comrade, and lunged forward, sweeping the blade across his throat.
He convulsed beeath her, blood spray hot against her cold body, and she rose from him slowly, watching his life seep away. Evani poured the contents of his waterskin over her, and dried herself with a spare cloth before dressing in the spare clothing of the dead men. A shirt from one, the pants of another. She laced her boots slowly as nausea hit, and it rolled over her in waves. She shook, suddenly cold from the inside.
As she slipped from the tent, from the forest, she felt the darkness of her deeds carve a hollow place inside her. She had killed cowardly, she had taken a life as brutally and despicably as they had done at the temple, and she would be forever changed.
Through the windswept depth of night, the rosettes of darkness swirled in lunatic patterns along the wall. Ever twisting, ever hovering lower, lighter, against the dreaming face like bats or maybe moths, something from a nightmare, brushing his thoughts with pale, dusty wings. And then to the whitewashed wall, pinned there like insects, or perhaps roses. Yes, perhaps that was more apt, pinned like dying roses in the dark. He tossed, tousled hair veiling his features, ever so often his outstretched hand striking against the woven cocoon of his hammock. And then stillness and settled breathing, a dead face, all of alabaster skin, hollowed cheeks, eyelids stained the delicate lilac colour of exhaustion.
Intoxicated by the sweetness of his own madness.
Dreams. For him, sleep was never dreamless. In rapid succession one after the other, always terrifyingly alike. A stumble. A step. Fighting. Now that was something that did not terrify him or even truly concern him. The smell of death, quietly cloying. Soldiers. He impatiently batted them away, they were not his quarry. Ah. Their leader. He crept towards him as he had been taught, body close to the ground, a tight coil of frantic energy. Blood pounded through his ears like a tribal drum, fueling his muscles. He could see the delicate pulse in his throat, smell the scent of his sweat and fear, hear the frenetic beat of his heart. He was stag-like. Weak.
And as always, he leapt at him, a blaze of fury and unleashed steel. He could taste the blood of his enemy, hot and vital, a scent like freshly shorn copper. He could see it. And then, again, was the shocking sensation of surprise, the horrifying, deep burn, the searing heat of the bullet striking and then lodging itself into flesh. The odour of blood in his nostrils, the knowledge that it was his own. And then the disbelief that flooded through him, swept through him, sending him crashing unceremoniously to his knees, crashing and bleeding. Dark forest green eyes glazing over from shock as he collapsed, his weapon falling uselessly from his nerveless fingers.
He was nothing.
Septimus jerked himself from sleep, his breathing coming in short hard gasps. He winced, registering the pain as real, and shifted off his injured leg. The night terrors faded, burying into his subconscious, he never did remember them. Only a sense of foreboding remained, he thought drowsily as he gazed up into the ceiling, a sensation that did not quickly dissipate. Hoping for a chance to ease his spirits he climbed out of the hammock, maneuvering himself with an awkward grace, and limped over to the door. He glanced quickly to make sure that he was alone and then shuffled softly down the corridor, ignoring the pain that resulted from his efforts.
Mounting the stairs and opening the door to the deck, he was rewarded instantly with a gust of sea air. He smiled in spite of himself, falling at ease once again to the rhythm of the ship, her moods, her ways. Forcing himself to the rail, past the ghostly, desolate plane of the deck, he supported himself heavily on it, scanning the stars, listening to the playful slap of the waves against the ship’s hull. Alone, and in spite of himself he turned his head to regard the waves, their grey-green friendliness turned almost ebony by moonlight, like shimmering oil. He shivered as the wind tore through the thin material of his cloak and felt an inexplicable desire that made his stomach turn with dread. Looking away from the beguiling sea he wondered faintly of the morbidity of man, that he had felt a strong need to jump into their welcoming embrace, to swim in them, to drown…
He stood, his eyes drawn again to the water, his hand on the rail. Perhaps, he thought, without the slightest idea that he had thought it, perhaps it was for the best. A low sound cut through his morose thoughts, his head turning sharply to search for the source of the noise. There. Blended in with the shadows Evani lay still on the deck where he had left her all those hours ago. Endeared, but fearing for her safety he limped over to her crumpled form. He knelt beside her and brushed a strand of her fine auburn hair from her eyes, all the while murmuring soft, soothing nothingness. He gently woke her from sleep, and smiled at her, his eyes fine jade in the moonlight.He drew closer to her, acutely aware of the bare skin of his chest beneath his cloak, his shirt sacrificed to save them, to save him.
“It’s not safe alone out here, love”, he whispered quietly, thoughts far away.
“At least let me stay out here with you”.
Posted on 2008-04-28 at 22:31:02.
Edited on 2008-04-28 at 22:49:33 by Septimus Sandalwood
In dreams, she relived moments of disgrace, moments of failure, moments of suffering, and each memory she passed through made her long for shelter. Evani ran her hands along the walls of the catacombs within her mind and prayed that the next face she saw be his, the one to whom she felt bound, but all she passed were scenes in which she'd strayed from the path taught to her in the temple.
She could not wake. Each trick failed, each attempt to rouse herself was met only by whispered laughter from within. Septimus, she sighed, please, please come find me.
On the deck, Evani moaned in her sleep. A thick fog rolled in and the sea calmed. Peace, finally.
She thought of him, imagined Septimus taking her in his arms. Strange, how she had only known him two days yet could envision the whole of her life intertwined with his. How handsome she had thought him when she thought that he was Ben. It made sense now, his question about how much she knew the pirate lord. Had she lied, had she hung on false bravado and claimed to have met him, she would have proven herself unworthy of his trust.
Ah, the pirate lord, with whom she'd fallen in love over many a fire, warmed in chill nights by tales of his daring escapes and debauchery. How strange that she found peace in his touch, and another world within his eyes. How odd that she felt so complete that night in the tavern, as if sitting at his table were the most natural place in the world for her to be.
On the deck of the ship, Evani moaned, and Septimus found her in the fog, held her to him as she woke slowly.
Her eyes found his in the darkness, and she touched his face. "You found me," she whispered. "You found me in the darkness."
Painfully aware of her limitations, she melted into his embrace. She shivered beneath him, trembling at the faint whisper of his fingerstips along her vulernerability. Reaching past her anxious heart, she traced the line and curve of his jaw, brushing his lips, his cheek, and finally pushing a fallen spray of ebon silk, the curtain of his hair, behind his perfect ears.
She could no longer see the knots in the wood panelling, or smell the ocean from the small, dingy window. Her entire world had fallen away and now encompassed only him, herself, and the cool wind blowing across their heated bodies.
He was patient, slow, torturous slow, agonizingly slow. Painstakingly, he outlined the shadows of her flesh with his fingertips until each nerve and thread of self control rang, screaming, through her taut frame. She turned her head, closing her eyes to sensation that crashed in waves against emotion. She felt herself drowing in his desire and gasped for air, yet could find none. His mouth covered hers, his tongue seeking out her primitive needs. Like the figurehead on his beloved ship, she rose upon a wave of desire and pressed herself against him, breaking through the final wall of reservation. her arms encircled him, pulling him down, down. She was an ocean of longing. He groaned as she whimpered, and growled as she sighed, riding her tides and ebbing till she moaned, blissful, enraptured. And in the midst of the satisfying chaos, she heard a single voice, clear among the din, and it was her own.
A communion like dying, a flash. And then exhaustion, settling bone-deep into his body. He supported himself on the palms of his hands and withdrew slightly, breathing coming in short hard gasps. He rolled onto his back, ignoring the insistent sting as the hard wood paneling slapped against his wound. His eyes swerved over to her, hooded and impossibly dark, full black in the light of the waning moon. A smile touched his lips at her words, crookedly, endearingly, and he entwined his fingers in hers, tugging her gently to him, against him. No words, he communicated completely in silence. He rested, enchanted by the warmth of her body, the slow rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Thoughtless.
Her fingers lightly traced the scars that lashed across his alabaster flesh, his stories. His eyes closed and he recalled the origin of each one. The faded slice-marks from prison, where he had been cut by the iron bars in his escape, the jagged, healed wounds from a dozen failed battles. Twin gunshots, blistered. An odd burn that skated his thin wrist, visible as he moved in the shadows. A mark that looked almost like a brand. Painful memories tore his breath from his throat and unable to bear it, he reached for her, drew her, his lips crashing securely, fiercely against hers, all tenderness forgotten.
He was a boy again.
In the lucid caverns of his mind an image was conjured, of the dank and the dark. He could smell again the scent of stale urine and desperation that clung hopelessly to the walls of the forgotten place. He could feel the planks of the makeshift cot beneath him, the chill of the stone, the pain of metal clamped too tightly around his wrists. He fixed his gaze resolutely to the blankness of the ceiling, his eyes enormous and speechless in his pale, gaunt face. He closed his eyes, panting, fear and defiance registered in the tense posture of his body.
Two words, that ricocheted eerily against the stone walls of his cell, unfeeling as the latticed bars. He felt two heavy, callused hands grab his slight shoulders and slam him back against the wall. Pain burst in his head sending a wave of white noise, obliterating all senses. He was still aware as a hot trickle of blood dripped down his cheek, heard it with insane clarity as it struck stone. More movement around him now, he was being unshackled. Air caressed his bleeding wrists and instinctively he winced, drawing his limbs away from his tormentors. He was slammed back against the wall again, his head cracking against the stone. Dimly, he felt his left wrist being held, positioned, heard his brother’s voice, soft and indistinct, felt a sudden heat, felt fear.
Agony that he had never known existed blazed through the cage of his mind. He could smell burning flesh, feel it as the white-hot brand dug deeper into his skin. He screamed, and when the hands holding him up relinquished their hold he fell to his knees, holding his injured wrist and quietly sobbing. His eyes were open now, fixed on the clear brand of a seven seared into the scant flesh of his arm.His eyes flew towards the world outside his chamber as soft laughter reached his ears, mild and unrelenting.
His brother stood before him in full militia uniform, weak blue eyes swimming with contempt and perhaps even satisfaction. Septimus bowed his head, cowed. He had no strength left to fight the man he once sprang at whenever he glimpsed him near his cell. He merely held his wrist, whimpering. “You”, Quintus said lightly, “are going to die”. He was met with a weak snarl in reply. “You do know that, don’t you? “ He inspected his nails in boredom. “The hangman has already been scheduled, the public, notified. “
Septimus continued to sob. Quintus gestured towards his wounded arm. “Seven for the seventh son of a seventh son. Quite appropriate wouldn’t you say?” His eyes hardened into chips of glacial ice. “Pirate”.
The youngest of the brothers trembled under his elder brother’s hatred. He already understood the subtle meaning of this final humiliation, his last despair. Symbolic agony. Branding was for animals. He had been dehumanised. He would not even be granted the death of a man. Branding was for owned livestock. Hanging was for dogs. His carcass would be cut down and burned, even in death he would be consumed in fire.
He was left to lick his wound until he fell into an uneasy sleep.
He broke the kiss, his pained, somehow ancient eyes locking onto hers for a split second before he embraced her slight frame, his head over her shoulder, their hears pounding in communion. “Why do you love me”, he whispered brokenly, memories of what had just been accomplished trailing through his mind like smoke. He broke off again, breathing hard, and kissed her urgently and when he pulled back, his eyes were wild. He smoothed back her dark red hair that glowed like embers in the moonlight, traced the perfect curve of her jaw. The brand stood, stark and sinister, red against his white flesh. A bitter expression turned down the corners of his mouth.
“Come with me back to my cabin”, he murmured breathlessly. He stood and grabbed his ragged cloak, wrapping it around himself. Shivering in the cold, he held out his hand. “Help me forget”. He smiled suddenly, startlingly innocent and heartbreakingly sad.
“I’m terrified of the dark”.
Posted on 2008-05-01 at 00:44:53.
Edited on 2008-05-01 at 10:38:12 by Septimus Sandalwood
Once Septimus and the lady had finished asking questions he went to his cabin without a second word, he had killed again, he didn't like killing, and soon he found himself in his cabin. A small room with a comfortable enough bed, a chest to put his items in and a stout lock on the door which he used quickly, he then undressed, go into a set of conferable cotton robes and fell asleep almost instantly.
His night was a rough nigh, full of turbulence and fear and worries, oh how he worried. He heard footsteps outside and disregarded them, who ever it would could wait for the morning if they needed him. In fact, he wasn't sure weather he would leave his cabin in the morning, things were far simpler when he didn't have the monkey and it's girl friend to distract him and ask questions, he use to be in a position of unquestionable authority before he had started all this undercover work. At least the monkey was well trained.