Blazing Glory Ch. 09byShadwNinjaX©
"An interesting tale you speak, Blaze. But I can tell you're telling the truth. I've seen your type before. Strong willed with a head filled with a sense of honor and to do what is right. How we are so much alike and different at the same time, you and I," she chuckled with a shake of her head. Marissa raised the mug swiftly and drained it like the best professional ale drinker in the world before slamming the empty container down on the table. "Aye then! I will do it. You're in luck, Blaze. I am shipping out this eve' with my crew and as by the looks of the light outside that will be soon. You and your friends gather your things up quickly. Meet me at my ship at the eastern most pier."
Blaze nearly sighed audibly in relief before smiling and rising to his feet. "Thank you Marissa."
"No, Blaze. Thank you. It was getting boring enough around here anyway. That and I've sensed a change in the wind. A storm is brewing and your tale explains what I've been suspecting. And before you go," she said, standing as she whipped out a long bladed dagger.
Blaze looked instantly over his shoulder to see Rae swiftly rising as he knew she would. He quickly raised a hand in assurance to stop the drowess from springing into action. With his friend stayed for the time being, he looked back to Marissa. He swore his jaw dropped off his face to clatter on the table below.
Marissa drew the sharp edge across her open palm, opening a slash that wept with her blood. She then looked to him and indicated she wanted his hand. He hesitated and knew what was expected to happen. A leap of faith, he reminded himself as he held out his same hand. She swiftly drew her blade across his palm, the edge slicing into his flesh with a painful bite as his own blood surged forth now. Jamming the blade into the wooden table, she clasped her bloody hand with his. Their blood mingled together as they held their grips.
"Blood to seal the deal," she grinned, releasing his hand. She reached into a small bag resting behind her chair to fish out bandages. Marissa tossed him some before wrapping her wounded hand. "You and your friends have a couple hours before needing to be at my ship. Don't be late..."
Marissa grinned as she grabbed her bag, dagger and moved towards the door, the patrons moving aside to give her space as she passed. Blaze wondered why everyone seemed to fear her. She had been friendly enough to him. Shaking his head in wonderment, he walked back over to others.
"I'll heal that, Blaze," Rae said as she stood with the others.
"No," he shook his head as he wrapped the bandage tightly about his right hand. "If she doesn't opt for the same treatment, neither should I. Last thing I want to do is imply weakness by being unable to handle one cut. Something warns me that is the last thing I want to do with that woman."
"So what was the result of the meeting then," Tyra asked with a frown.
"Marissa has agreed to carry us to where we wish to go. We need to be at the eastern pier soon," he answered.
He could see all of them visibly relax at the revelation of the good news. They had all been very tense to see if they could succeed in getting a lift out of this dump of a city as soon as possible. Noticing the lewd glances more and more being directed their way inside the tavern, such concern was warranted. The beautiful ladies were drawing the wrong type of attention and would soon start a frenzied riot of drunken bastards trying to get their hands on them. He could understand their eagerness to leave.
The group moved then as swiftly as they could to exit the Busty Mermaid and out into the evening twilight. The group discussed their options of what to do next now that they had a ship to travel upon. Before leaving, Queen Allora told them of an ideal elven town to come ashore on as it was very close to the Great Boaz Wall as well as the dwarves. Most seafaring folk were familiar with the small elven port on the western side of the Sonel Sea. From there they would find the dwarves to lead them through the tunnels and caverns to the other side where Koas rules. There they would try to find the goddess's generals as stealthily as they could and kill them.
As they drew closer to the eastern side of the port of Synan, their gazes were drawn from time to time to a sight that made them wonder as they conversed. It was clearly the largest vessel in port and tied to the dock. Three masts adorned its structure with the largest being a massive beam of wood able hoist three sails vertically. On the back was an extended portion with what looked like glass windows. An expensive commodity for a sea faring traveler to be sure. What confused Blaze was the number of square etches in the side that looked like cutouts for windows that weren't finished. Odd...
Blaze blinked as he looked up at the impressive vessel as they walked down to the dock towards it. Glancing ahead, he saw her familiar blonde hair flaming red in the setting sunlight. Above her, crewmen were hauling on a rope and pulley system to lift a large crate nestled in a net. The crate swayed to the side and bumped into the side of the ship roughly. Marissa quickly became furious and shook her fist up at her crewmembers as Blaze and his friends drew close to her.
"Careful with that cackle fruit ye bloody fools or I'll keelhaul all of yer asses!" Marissa screamed. "And I wanted this crate of limes aboard yesterday! The last thing I need is all yer bloody asses getting scurvy! Move it!"
"Aye Cap'n Red!" they answered in renewed effort.
The whole dock shook with the impact and drew Marissa's attention away. She saw four women near her looking down at a familiar man who seemed to have fallen flat on his face. Chuckling softly, the half-lycan moved over to them. "Careful of the planks that stick up a bit. They can trip you easily as you can see."
Blaze groaned face down into the wood as he couldn't believe what he'd heard those men say. That was what had made him miss a step and crash face first into the wood. Damn his face was smarting! Staggering to his feet, he peered out at Marissa with one eye through his hand holding his face.
"Red! As in THE Captain Red?" he asked incredulously.
All of the others, including Kendra, looked at him with confusion. They didn't know, he realized. Not surprising really. Even Kendra in all her time in the world hadn't spent much time by the seas. But to those that lived by the sea like Blaze had in Kyros, everyone knew of Captain Red. The most infamous pirate there was. The most cunning mind at sea that no rival pirate captain and government navy could kill. And when one eventually got lucky and captured Red, the notorious pirate always managed to somehow get away mysteriously. So frustrated were other pirates and the navy that they apprehended innocents before realizing they had the wrong person when reports came in of Captain Red striking somewhere else.
Marissa Red placed a hand on her cocked hip as she grinned proudly, "Aye, Blaze. I'm that Captain Red. When you hired the best in Synan, you were really hiring the best of the high seas."
Blaze turned to the others and gave them a brief explanation of who Captain Red was and the legend behind her. When he was done, the ladies looked to Marissa with a newfound measure of respect. The notorious pirate simply grinned and gave a flourish of a bow.
"All that is said is true. But I can't take all of the credit..." she laughed. Blaze blinked at that last statement but the pirate continued on as she looked to him. "I'm impressed with your knowledge of me Blaze..."
Blaze blushed slightly and scratched the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Well to be truthful, I wanted to know everything there was to know about you when I was real young. Before my dreams of adventuring, I longed for a time to become a pirate on your crew sailing the seas."
"Well now you get your chance, dear Blaze," she laughed and smiled to him mischievously. "And perhaps you'll get to learn even more about me on this trip. Welcome aboard the Crimson Dawn."
Blaze and his friends looked up to the massive pirate ship before following the notorious pirate up the gangplank onto the deck. The ship was bustling like the tavern they had recently left. Pirates milled all about busily with their tasks of loading the needed supplies, sharpening cutlasses, or wiping the deck. Seeing ropes tied to a railing and dangling overboard, Blaze curiously looked over to see pirates tied to the other end as they vigorously worked to remove visible barnacles on the lower part of the ship. From the drunken lot he heard pirates could be, this crew seemed to be very efficient in what they did.
"You will be staying below not far from my own quarters," Marissa was saying when his attention returned. "And don't worry about these worthless lots I have for a crew. They know full well how to properly treat guests. Especially when it comes to treating women on my ship with the utmost respect."
Nadine mewed softly as she eyed and dangling rope over her that was swaying enticingly for her to swat at. "Is there anything we can do to help?" the near-hypnotized catwoman asked.
"No," Marissa said with a shake of her head as she led them to a bolted door leading into the back end of the Crimson Dawn. "Please forgive me, but I will not put guests to work on my ship. It wouldn't be proper now would it? Besides, Blaze will be the one to work in payment for this journey of yours."
Blaze drew up to a halt and blinked, "Huh?"
Marissa turned about as she opened the door to let the other ladies through. She chuckled and smiled to him. She bent down to pick up a brush and bucket of water before thrusting it into his arms. "Aye. Work. You can start by swabbing the poop deck. Come see me when you are finished."
Kendra looked over her shoulder to him uncertainly before giving him a small helpless shrug. The captain's orders were the captain's orders after all. What could she do? Marissa gave him a wink before pulling the door shut behind her as she stepped inside, leaving him alone. He stood there numbly with his brush and bucket as he couldn't believe what had just transpired.
Poop deck?... Oh... shit.....
To the fortune of the dismayed young warrior, he found out that the 'poop deck' wasn't what he feared. A big burly man pointed it to him as the highest deck on the ship at the stern. It was above Captain Red's quarters. For the rest of the evening, Blaze set about working hard, shirtless and on his hands and knees. He scrubbed the deck with the soapy water and brush to clean it of dirt and trash acquired by the boots of the crew while at port. The sky was in the burning flames of brightly lit clouds against the coming dusk. Much to the surprise of the crew, he had finished the broad expanse by himself in only a few hours.
Wiping the pouring sweat from his brow, Blaze happily tossed the scrub into the bucket with a splash. Lugging the sloshing liquid down the stairs to the main deck, he grunted and placed the heavy water-filled bucket down by the door. He silently hoped Marissa wasn't getting impatient waiting on him. The last thing he needed to do was infuriate one of the best pirates in the world. Opening the door, he stepped inside the cooler shade of the hallway lit by a few tightly sealed lanterns.
He had just closed the door and turned to the hallway when he bumped into someone. He nearly jumped out of his skin in surprise as nearly did the other person.
"Oh! Bloody Hell.... Sorry Blaze. I was just coming to check.... on.... you..." Marissa said as her words trailed off as those deep blue eyes looked at him.
The young man blinked as his apology stopped halfway to his tongue as he noticed her odd gaze. Looking down at himself, he nearly yelped in true Nadine fashion! He'd forgotten his shirt was hanging over the railing on the upper deck outside. And he was here in front of Captain Red with no shirt on and sweat dripping down his chest. He couldn't help but notice her tongue lick her lips slightly as her gaze lingered for a moment before looking up into his eyes. He began to fold his arms across his chest in an effort to cover himself properly but she stayed the motion with her hand on his right arm.
"No. It's fine Blaze," she chuckled with that likable grin, "The other men work often without their shirts as well. So don't worry. Besides, it looks like we need to get you working on that sailor's tan.... And I mean often..."
Blaze blinked as that last statement sounding like an added afterthought slipping out. Whether she realized it or not, she didn't give a hint as she brushed closely by him and told him to follow her. He did as she requested and followed her outside. Marissa inspected the work of her crew as they finished. She was impressed by how clean the deck was by his work. He was pleased by the compliment as he watched her move to the railing.
"Alright ye bloody buggarts! Untie us from the docks and hoist the sails! We're away from this rat hole tonight!" she barked to the fearsome looking crew below her. "Bardok! I want an account of the fathoms every minute we go out. This bloody port as a nasty reef below I would like to avoid!"
"Aye Cap'n!" said the massively muscled pirate with an eye patch over his left eye. The man was as big as a bull and just as hairy. Marissa noticed his calculating look of the man's abilities and grinned.
"My second-in-command. A good man and friend to us, having been my father's closest friend," she explained. Her expression at that revelation became one of sadness briefly before turning away and striding over to a large wheel with knobs sticking out of it at steady intervals around the edges.
She gripped one and held onto the wheel as they started to drift away from the dock. Seagulls cries rose in the late evening air as the ruffling sound of cloth was heard when the sails were dropped down from their rigging. The gentle breeze coming from the land north caught the sails and billowed out slightly. Marissa turned to him and grinned when she saw him stumble slightly as the Crimson Dawn began to roll gently with the small waves of the Sonel Sea.
"Don't have yer sea legs yet, bucko?" she laughed and pulled him over close to her so he could grip the wheel and steady himself.
Blaze cleared his throat in sheer embarrassment and glanced away as he looked back towards the land gradually moving away in the distance. "No. Even though I was born in a fishing village, I forsook the life of a fisherman in my dreams to become to warrior."
Her blue eye looked to him out of the corner of her eyes as she smiled, "Seems like you're doing a mighty fine job on your adventure here so far, young Blaze."
He couldn't help but chuckle and nod in agreement as he looked back to the open vastness of water before them. "I suppose so. But yes, I never really set foot on a ship before let alone a boat."
"Well I hope you enjoy this then. I've always loved the freedom of the open seas," she whispered softly with a wistful gaze of silence for a few moments before she looked to him. "You and your friends are in luck though. Kendra told me where you wish to go and it's along our route to meet up with my fleet."
"Aye. When you become as famous as I have, you tend to accrue quite a large following. The Crimson Dawn is just one of many ships and crews that belong to me," she stated quite proudly.
Blaze grinned, but barely managed as he was beginning to feel a bit woozy. The increasing sway of the ship with the larger waves encountered was not helping. Try as he might, he couldn't shake the feeling. Marissa looked back to him after a few moments and blinked at what she saw.
"Bloody hell... You're getting green about the gills Blaze. You'd best move over to the side of the ship and heave overboard lest you make a mess of what you've already cleaned," she said with a small laugh and shake of her head.
Blaze was quick to follow her advice and soon found himself leaning over the railing in misery as his stomach rolled about. Dear heavens why did he have to feel like this?
"Blaze!" called a cheery voice suddenly to his side. Glancing up, he saw the gorgeous catwoman bounding up the stairs with something in her hands.
"Guess what, Blaze," she chirped happily. Her golden eyes blinked when he groaned in response. Shrugging, she grinned and held up her hand for him to see. "They have sushi on board! Look here! They even have calamari!!! Want some?"
Blaze's eyes grew wide at the site of those tentacles before Nadine ecstatically popped one into her mouth. Oh dear holy mother of Stavros!!! His head whipped back overboard.
"Eeeewww Blaze! You not feeling well? Oh well! More for me then!" she giggled and popped another in her mouth.
After a good number minutes of introducing the Sonel Sea to the contents of his stomach, Blaze looked back up to see Nadine gone and Marissa leaning heavily on the wheel as she was still trying to recover from laughing so hard.
"Blaze," she managed finally as she wiped the tears from her eyes and looked to him with a big smile. "Go to my quarters to find a root. I keep it for travelers on my ship to ease their troubled stomach. Chew it and you'll be fine before you know it."
Blaze managed a weak smile and could only nod to her in thanks before stumbling down the wooden stairs and through the door. He was thankful for the hallway being very narrow so he could brace the walls as he walked to prevent from stumbling. Ignoring the steps down into the lower compartments he made his way to the large door at the end of the short hall. There was no mistaking it as Captain Red's quarters with the red skull grinning nastily down at him from above the door. He swallowed as he hesitated for a moment before opening the door into the pirate's living quarters.
The room was surprisingly larger than he expected to find on a ship. He'd always heard stories of tight, uncomfortable quarters. But when you're the captain, you get some nice luxuries he supposed. All about the room were trinkets of pillaging and battles won. Silk drapes hung in various places while in others gold necklaces and beads. Swords, cutlasses, and daggers of all types lay on display racks all about, looking like an armory. Testing one of the display blades, he found it sharp and swiftly drew blood. Useful still, he thought as he sucked in the small bloody prick to his thumb.
There was plenty of furniture in Red's room as well with everything bolted to the floor. A table with four chairs to dine at sat nearest to him. A lounge chair rested against the wall with a longcoat of pirate looks to it tossed upon its cushioning. He was surprised to even find a bed big enough for two resting against the opposite wall. A mahogany desk of impressive size and craftsmanship was at the other end of the room.
Not seeing any other place where containers could possibly be, he made his way to the desk and sat down in the chair. He couldn't help but take a moment to look in front of him and appreciate the view of the fading light of day through the large glass planes. An unobstructed view of the dark waters swirling about in the wake left behind by the Crimson Dawn. He was quickly reminded of the task at hand though as the ship bobbed up and down slightly. Being polite to pay no mind to the parchments on her desk in which he had no business reading, Blaze opened the first drawer. Just more blank parchments, ink bottle, and a feather quill. Opening the second drawer on the left, he found what he was looking for.
But the small jar filled with roots wasn't what grabbed his attention and curiosity. An odd object lay beside the jar that confused him greatly. What was it? Lifting the object out with his hands carefully, he studied it intently. One part seemed to be made of wood and fitted for the hand to grip. A strange metal ring protruded from it to curve around and connect with the metal portion. Inside the ring was another small metal extension. He found it was just big enough for his finger. Odd... The other portion of the object was all metal and looked to be a narrow tube of sorts. But for what? Blinking, the young warrior held the object up even with his face as he looked down the small barrel with his one eye. Nearly fumbling the object, he slid his finger through the small ring for a better grip as he peered down the odd metal tube.