Red Seas Ch. 01byGwen81©
This story is based upon the authors own concepts of vampires and those beings similar to them. Names of cities and other locals are property of Lazarus of Cross Keep, a role play that the author participated in. The characters mentioned, however, are the sole property and envisioning of the author.... Now that the legalities are out of the way - Enjoy!
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Shadows were sent scattering to unnamed nooks and corners as another flash of blinding lightening burst forth from the canopy of storm clouds overhead. The rain was like a curtain, blocking out all hope of light and ending vision at the bow point of the vessel that was buffeted by unyielding waves. Passengers and sailors struggled to remain upright with each slam of the massive swells, as more then once the boat was nearly toppled bow over stern. Lifelines were pulled taut and crisscrossed here and there, keeping men from falling overboard as they were pummeled by white water washing over the deck.
Suddenly, all went very quiet. As if Death had already claimed those that were aboard.
That was when it happened...
The swell rose right at the rear of the ship, pulling her up and up until people were grabbing for what they could to keep from falling forwards into the abyss at the front of the vessel. But it was all for nothing as she went with the roll of water. The hull cracking like eggshells against the force of it. The main mast long since shattered by a bolt of lightening, crumbled as they hit the water, deck first. The heavy beam forced through mid ship like a needle through fabric.
All was black.
Cold fury sweeping people to the darkest depths below and dragging men bound by ropes to the vessel with its broken body.
A few lucky ones were able to escape the pull, cutting loose their lines at the last second before they were upturned, and getting thrown into the water. Even three passengers had found their way above deck to brave the torrent around them. Though it had not lasted much longer after she was sunk, as if that was the squall's only purpose. But the end had not spared all of the escapees. One passenger and two sailors were left to float in the grand expanse of the sea.
It is the passenger that seemed to take the interest of the others; he was strong and would not give in to the weather. He had even been heard cursing it through out the worst of the barrage. Saying he would not be killed by a sea's tantrum. And now it seemed he had proven his words true. If not for the large bump on his head that had him unconscious and floating at their side. They took in that he had only one arm but that had not kept him from swimming through the undertow of the waves to resurface, nor had it kept him from untangling one of the sailors from the tug of a rope about his ankle. For that alone they stayed at his side, gathering what surfaced to fashion a raft. Land was on the horizon and it was land that they rowed forth for. Their silent companion lay upon the makeshift boat with his feet dangling in the waters at the raft's end.
It was hours that they floated and paddled straight ahead for the thin strip of black on the horizon. The sun had come high in the noonday sky but dark clouds had blocked the light from them. A blessing and a warning that the storm might not yet have ended. All too soon night settled and they were still far off from the place they worked so hard to journey to.
The sailors pulled themselves aboard the raft as best they could, one to either side of the man that slept like dead, and decided a rest before moving on would be best.
Only they and those that took them away will forever know how they disappeared in the night.
Mid afternoon the next day the lapping of small waves upon black sand dragged the tiny makeshift vessel onto the beach. The island was uninhabited in the traditional sense. Neither village nor hut rose from the foliage of the rocky little continent. But there were people, a raider vessel had anchored off shore and the captain with part of the crew had come in long boats to hide what they had plundered from merchants and travelers. And the dark mass that seemed to want to blend in with the sands was of immediate scrutiny by several members of the crew.
But it was the Captain who knelt at the man's side and rolled him to his back. Taking away the heavy leather cloak that covered his soaked body from view. Rose lips curled on a canvas of honey-toned skin. Waves of blackened blood tumbled over the thin shoulders of a woman's well-kept body as she drew off the bandana upon her head to wipe blood and sand from his face.
Captain Christina Blaengr knew a prize when she found one. And this one would fetch a grand amount for her despite a missing arm.
"Take him with us, and put him in my cabin. We will bring him to Nadea and see if old One Eye wants him to sell." Her voice was hardened by the winds of the sea and the rise it had to take to shout her orders over canon fire and storms that threatened to take her life.
The bear of a man that stood at her side joined her on the sand and ran his fingers over the unconscious one's mouth, and with a growl drew back the top lip to expose what he had figured would be there. A pair of perfect fangs was fully extended as if he had just fed. And he would have to whenever he awoke from his trauma. Several of her other men crossed themselves at the site. Vampires and others like them were not unknown to their world but they were all feared. Age-old superstitions would never die no matter how many were out there that lived in semi peaceful cohabitation with their neighbors. And Benjamin was the first to voice his opinion of his Captain's decision.
"We should leave him to starve and rot... Or better throw him back out to sea for the demons to take."
Calm eyes, a hue of aqua that matched the shallows of the sea around them turned to the rugged beast at her side. Her smile spread in a threat over perfect teeth. "You would not be refusing a direct order would you, sailor? 'Cause last I checked that was cause enough for me to offer your stinking carcass to the demons myself."
"Of course not, Cap'n, just voicing my own opinion and what I would do."
Several murmurs of agreement rose as well but were stamped out with a simple glare on her part. She was a woman, yes, but she had her father's way of control, and they had only needed to see her loss of temper once to know when to shut up.
They had lost seven men in that mutiny - Respect was earned and fear was put into place.
"Your opinion has been taken to heart, Ben, but he will be taken aboard and I will love to see the gold I can get for him. Just think with it we can take a bit of a break in Nadea. Maybe visit a certain house you all seem to favor..."
That clenched it. They may not like that idea of bringing aboard the lowest of beings of their world but the thought of sex and alcohol was all they needed to ease their superstitions for the trip. The Mistress of White Rose Tavern would be grateful again for Christina's business on the morrow of a fortnight, and the aging whore would once more be made sure to keep her gossiping trap shut as to the Ocean Rose's true occupation.
Their booty secured for future spending beneath the rock and sand of the tiny island, they boarded ship once more and set sail for the wide arcing trip to Maledus. Plenty of birth given to the island of Esperanza and their ship hunters.
The newest shipmate remained out for two nights of the journey, watched over and tended by the Captain herself. It was not that she bore any interest in the vampire, more like she did not want a fidgety sailor to get blade happy with her prize. Cursing the superstitions of the world she sat in the window seat of her cabin and looked out over the glassy surface of the sea behind them. Moon and stars reflected on the surface making the illusion of flying instead of floating.
This was her home.
Her place in the world.
To hell and high water with any that sought her out to end that life.
If she could sell her own cousin into slavery for a few coins in her purse then she was surer then hell able to blow the hull off a military vessel... That and any merchant that did not want to peacefully hand over their cache to her. The thought drew a smile to her lips, just as the memory of the last captain's face when she lifted her finely honed blade to the air and ordered her men to fire. She was laughing as they sank and blaming it on the stubborn goat that refused her.
Granted she had gained two new crewman from the sea that day. One she was looking forwards to luring into her bed, though from the looks of him she would simply have to open her cabin door and he would walk right in. But a good romp in the sheets would have to wait until her bed was her own again.
Her smile faded as she looked back to the one that was there now, and with a rake of delicate fingers through her hair she rose from her perch to cover the distance between them. The lightweight of her small body barely making the bed creak beneath her. He was getting worse. When they had found him, his skin had still been touched with a deep caress of the sun, an odd thing for their kind, or at least the ones she had seen. Now, however the color had faded to an ashy contrast of what it had been. If he died she would not get the money she wanted. He had to be as strong as she knew he could be when they arrived in Nadea, or that missing arm would be all that they saw.
A short profanity slipped with a hiss from her lips.
Her dagger drawn from her calf she slid her glove from her and drew the diamond honed tip along the line of her inner wrist. Keeping the mark jagged around the main artery to avoid bleeding out before it could be mended. The snaking design was pressed to his lips while her other hand - still holding the lethal blade - parted open his mouth.
For a moment she worried he was too far-gone to be of good. Then he stirred, his tongue sliding over the wound she had made and despite her control it also slid a shiver down her spine. The touch of his mouth sealing about the cut found her lower lip captured beneath her teeth, it was one of the strangest, albeit intoxicating, sensations she had ever felt, and it left her mouth dry as he reached weakly to grasp the back of her wrist and bury her skin to his lips.
His first taste of blood in nearly a week was like heaven, or at least a close enough paradise. The blood was a woman's, and it was freely given, cut from her own body by her own hand. She could not have known that her gift was already drawing a bridge between them. Sending her thoughts and feelings back to him. There was no fear. He could smell the sea on her and sweat and dulled bath oil. This was no slave, nor was she of the upper class. Death seemed to cling to her; it was not out of sorrow but out of battle. She was a killer and she enjoyed her life, one he could very easily take and suddenly had the very urge to do so.
Crimson rimmed silver flew open as his grip on her wrist tightened, his tongue slid over it to seal that wound before he tore her arm away and released it, reaching for the nape of her neck. She was drugged by it already, how he swam in her head with images of sweat glistening on skin and bodies tangled together. It was his personal way of drawing his victims. They felt his bite but were lost in the false cover of lust before they knew their last breath was sliding from them.
She would be like all the others.
His eyes had been the most frightening of all that was happening. As clear and sharp as the dagger she held, even the blood rimmed color matched her blade, and though her body did not register true fear of him there was a sudden apprehension of what was happening to her. Then his hand was around the back of her neck drawing her down to him. Her body hot with the dreams he spun in her head, she could feel the touches on her skin, the little fires that they left behind.
The heat of his body over her...
A shuddering breath trembled from her lips just as his own covered them. A kiss that she had never thought to experience joined the picture show in her mind making it seem all the more real.
She was lost.
To his surprise so was he.
He had not expected to kiss her, but to sink his teeth into the gentle curve of her throat and now something else joined the bloodlust. He was not a fool to what it was but had other needs at the moment and with a low growl forced his mind back to them. At the same moment forcing her to the bed beneath him. His single arm held most of his weight from her, his skin itched from the salt that had dried on his open shirt but it was just another thing to forget about for the time being, and the first feel of her flesh yielding to his bite sent all other thoughts away.
Her willingness to let him take was half induced by the images he placed in her mind, but only half, she was enthralled by it and captured. Her fingers tightened on the hilt of her dagger to keep her from falling all the way in the vampire's trap. Not even when her body arched to him at the taking of her blood once more did she loosen her grip. She kept herself divided between the fantasy he spun and the reality of it all. That separation of her self had kept her sane through the years of raiding and killing, and this time she knew it would keep her alive.
He was up on his knees, his body arched over her to continue his feeding; finding the lacing of her shirt, pulling it free of the buckskin slacks she wore, he let his fingers glide over what his mind had touched. There were times when he would lose himself to a victim, using their body even as he took their life, and this seemed to be one of those. Firm curves and lean muscles met his exploring hand.
She was young.
Very young and the realization shocked him as he dug in her mind finding her memories. The woman under him was just that. Only recently turning of age, and already one that shared his love of life and death. And that life was fading, slowly, but it was burning down under his taking.
Until the end of a dagger bit into his side.
It was not a scream, but more of a beast's roar that tore from him at the sudden awakening of reality.
She would not die by his hands.
The dagger twisted mercilessly in his flesh as she found her boot in his stomach and was pushing his shocked body off of her with the last ounce of strength she had. Leaping to her feet, wobbling in a moment of light-headedness, but over all perfectly fine she had known when she was getting to close to be able to fight and had stopped it. His shocked form lay on the floor of her cabin staring up at her with a snarl on his lips. Eyes of crimson looking from her determined face to the blood she let seep from her to the dagger she clung to like it was her only hook in the world.
Admiration found him.
That and sudden fiery anger.
"Did you think that I would let you kill me, vampire? I have a bit more restraint the that, and I want to enjoy the money your hide will bring me. "
She actually crouched down before him, pointing the tip of the blade to the scar mark beneath his chin. Her silent threat taken to heart as the pounding at her door suddenly burst open under the large fist of Ben and several of her other men.
That was enough to keep him down.
He was not at his full strength, not yet, and not by far, and the seven foot tall brute the was now hauling him up back the back of his neck would take all his skill alone in the state he was in.
"Want I should throw him over board, Cap'n?"
"No, Ben... He is still of worth and he is not yet back to his real strength."
"I don' wan' him up to full strength 'round you, Cap'n, I want him weak and in chains."
Like a captured kitten, his eyes darted between them above the oddly placid voice that rumbled past his blood-tinted lips, "Don't I get any say in this?"
She said it like she would refuse a offer for tea, and it had his brow lifted over orbs of silver that had slowly come back during the exchange. His tongue slid over the line of his teeth as the beast of a man lowered him down to his feet once more and shoved him hard towards Christina.
The point of a sword buried into his back.
"Seal it now, or I won't obey my Cap'n order."
"Ben, that isn't necessary..."
The words were cut off as his tongue met her skin, his hand again sliding to the nape of her neck. Silence was a blanket in the room as her eyes opened wide before closing with a dark shadow sliding over the turquoise depths. He was again filling her mind with those images, and other promises that lingered even when he pulled back to give her his dark smile. The wound that he had gained in his side was unfelt and already healing from the strength he had gained in his feeding. The scent of blood heavy in the air.
She stumbled for words, forcing her to shake her head clear she looked to Ben with the true determination and command of her position. "Chain him to the corner of my bed on a very short link. I don't want him near any of my crew."
"Do not argue with me, Ben. Do it now, and the rest of you back to work!"
It was rare that she needed to raise her voice, but now she had to, she had to so that she could maintain her own grasp on reality. Her mind fighting with the luring words and erotic images in it. She would see him pay for this with a whip to his back and the blood of a diseased thief from her brig. She would see him pay, then indulge herself in what she wanted from him...
... Three days he had been made to drink the blood that smelled rotted even though it had come fresh from another on the ship, and his distain for the woman that had him bound so close to her grew with each drop. She was taking her time in getting to what ever port she had planned to sell him at. But that was not in the least the most infuriating thing about her. It was that Cross bitch all over again, only in a much more worldly package.
She ignored him for the purpose of creating want, not flirting with the hopes she could turn it away when flames were lit.
This lady wanted to get burned.
The thought had his mind reeling when she would enter her cabin at the set of the sun to fill ledgers and charts, and study maps. Not once looking up at him, not even acknowledging his presence as she stripped down for the night to only thin undergarments mere inches out of reach. If she did not know what she was doing he would have to rework his thoughts about women. Even his lures, projections of his gaze trailing her body as she slept, bathed, and dressed; gained not even a flicker of her eyes. Even now as her athletic figure crawled into the large bed for another night, she did not seem to notice his direct observations.
For all the hardness that she portrayed, and all the scars that marred her sun-caressed skin she was soft to the touch. Pliable when urged like all women. He had the joy of watching a few of her more heated dreams and knew that beneath the indifferent and icy exterior she was a woman like all the rest. He had even taken the liberty to share in those dreams; angered when she ended them with the vision of a teasing smile, and her physical form rolling over on the bed to put the smooth curving line of her back to him.
It was said in a whisper, not really meant to be overheard as he had suspected her to have already fallen asleep. Her breath coming in smooth steady draws. But to his dismay she shifted, coming to her knees and hands. Moving over the bed in a motion that so resembled a sleek predator he felt his breath catch. Moonlight filtered in through the window to draw a silver haze over her.
Not a predator... something worse.
She held the vision of a siren just then. All allure and promise with a lift of one finely sculpted brow, toned in mahogany over eyes that were a dark aqua in the night's shadows. Skin, darkened by the sun was lighter almost pale in the light but still highly contrast to the sheer startling white of her night clothes. He was unable to take his eyes from her from the moment he heard her move to the last breath as she lay upon her stomach and set her chin upon crossed forearms at the foot of the bed. She knew the flames that had ignited in his eyes, and continued that lazy smile that reminded him of early morning afterglow.