Outlander Ch. 03bysirreadsalot10©
Drebin returned his attention to his retreating adversary. "It's not over yet, Liaman. The Outlander will be my prize, not yours," he said quietly.
"Is everyone all right?" Garek demanded from his place at the helm.
"Aye," Ithos said from where he knelt panting.
"Thank Lord Aramon," Garek breathed a sigh of relief. He turned the wheel to point the Arabella back toward the Maelstroms.
Ithos climbed to his feet and stared back at the Kraken. "Looks like they're giving up," he said.
"Adept Ava and the Outlander saved the ship," the sailor Charuk said. He seemed to have recovered from hitting his head and sat nearby. He stared at Jack, a look of awe on his young face.
Jack struggled up to a sitting position. He clutched at his right shoulder with his other hand. It felt as if it were on fire. He also realized that he'd torn the skin off his palms when he'd been thrown free of the rope handholds. A trickle of blood ran down his cheek. When the chain had snapped, a fragment of steel had flown past his face, leaving a shallow gash.
Ava saw the look of pain and the blood on the Outlander's face. She began crawling toward him. "You're hurt," she said. "Let me heal you." She reached out as though to lay her hand on Jack's cheek.
The look of genuine compassion on Ava's beautiful face as she approached caused a lump to form in Jack's throat. Suddenly he was on the verge of tears. He didn't want compassion. He wasn't ready for it. He just wanted to be left alone. "Don't touch me," he said harshly and leaned away from her outstretched hand.
She pulled her hand back as though burned. "Fine," she said as her expression hardened. She climbed to her feet and stalked back to her place at the bulkhead.
Jack got up, his knees voiced their familiar complaint, and followed her. He winced when his raw palms touched the rope hand-holds, but gritted his teeth and refused to let go. He studiously ignored the woman beside him, and stared ahead as they approached the mist.
As they sailed eastward, the rumbling steadily grew to a roar. Jack wanted desperately to ask someone exactly what lay ahead, but had promised Garek he would be quiet so he remained silent.
"Lower the sails," Garek yelled the order over the roar, and Ithos waved the flags again. Sailors scurried below and the sails were lowered and secured in a matter of moments. Now caught in the Maelstrom's pull, the Arabella continued to surge ahead. "Oarsmen, stand by."
Jack began to feel sprinkles of water hitting him and a moment later, they sailed into the mist. Jack realized immediately that it wasn't mist at all, but spray. The salty deluge bombarded him, and he fought to see ahead. His cheek burned as the airborne sea water bathed the bloody gash. The roaring reached a crescendo and then they were through the spray and into clear air.
Jacked blinked to clear his eyes of the oceans water then gasped. A giant whirlpool a thousand yards wide yawned before them. It swirled down, spiraling into a fathomless, mist-filled pit. Garek pointed the prow of the ship directly into the gaping maw.
"Holy shit," Jack yelled, but the words were lost in the roar of the vortex.