Kasa Brace, The Crimson Pirate

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Chapter 24

Kasa gathered her landing party and willed Devil’s Reaper to lower the away boat. Thrusk and Tillsa took the oars, and a few minutes later the small band was on shore. Kasa took in the sandy beach, the rocky outcropping, and dense jungle before her. If it were not the home of deadly temptresses from of a time where demons and devils ran free, it would have been a pretty place.

She noticed a path that had been worn into the dirt leading north into the jungle. Kasa, using hand signals, told Thrusk and Tillsa to stand watch over the boat. The crimson pirate signaled for the others to head in the direction of the path she spied. Broen took point, jungles being his natural habitat. They walked slowly, Kasa’s keen eyes watching for traps as they went. Something in her mind urged her forward, telling her that she needed to be there. At the end of the path they came upon a small camp. It was simple and well-weathered; there appeared to be remnants of supplies from sunken vessels placed in neat piles. A tent was constructed from old sails and scrap wood.

Kasa felt a tingle rise on the back of her neck. Instinctively, she tumbled backward, narrowly dodging the throwing knife that flew through the space she had just occupied, Kasa drew Blood Biter and aimed in the general direction of the blade’s origin. Not being able to hear put her at a disadvantage. This disadvantage did not appear to be a problem for Kritis, as he in a single motion drew Elenoren’s black blade and sliced cleanly through a palm tree. The tree fell and with it the nimble form of a female elf, bare to the hip, flipped through the air and landed softly with a thin, straight blade drawn. The elf was haggard, thin, and worn, her shorts were a patchwork of reclaimed materials, her hands appeared callused, and her bare arms and chest supported scars earned years ago.

The familiarity Kasa felt to the she-elf was instant: the stance, the stare, and the blade. It was Elie, her friend, her shipmate, the one that got away. Kasa lowered Blood Biter and raised a hand for the others to lower their weapons. Elie did not move or make any gesture that she recognized Kasa.

The crimson pirate threw up a hand signal, one that was only shared with the members of Blue Whisper’s crew. A small light of recognition flashed in the exhausted-looking elf’s eyes. She spelled out Kasa’s name in sign language. Kasa smiled and took a step forward with her hands raised. Elie lowered her blade slightly.

Elie eyed Kasa as if trying to determine if she were real or not. Kasa noticed that Elie’s ears were not blocked. How long had she been on the island, how long had she resisted the sirens call, or was the siren’s call a power similar to her own, a power that Elie could naturally resist? Kasa spoke and signed, “Elie, it’s me. I will not be able to hear you,” she said, pointing to the wax in her ears.

“If you are who you claim to be, prove it to me,” Elie signed back.

Kasa reached into the leather pouch on her hip and retrieved one of the few trinkets she always kept on her person. Pirates are a superstitious lot, and Kasa was no different. She withdrew a small beaded bracelet. The cord was made from used ship rope, and each bead was a different material taken from the sea, ports, and attacked ships. It had been a symbol of their friendship and Kasa’s promise to not attempt to charm her or others when it was time for learning. Elie visibly wilted with relief, and Kasa stepped forward and took her in an embrace.

They stood there for a moment before Broen tapped Kasa’s shoulder. Kasa broke from the hug and nodded to the sailor.

“Elie, are there any other survivors from Blue Whisper?”

The tired-looking elf shook her head.

“Do the sirens keep prisoners?” Kasa asked.

Elie shook her head and signed, “Not for long.”

“Very well then; we have no reason to stay,” Kasa signed to her friend before signing to the others to head back to the row boat.

Elie nodded in confirmation. She riffled through her meager belongings and filled a worn satchel with a few things. When she was ready, she turned to Kasa with her familiar blank expression. Kasa signalled for Broen to lead the way back. They went quietly and quickly through the jungle underbrush.

Elie placed a firm hand on Kasa’s shoulder as they drew near, then dashed forward. Kasa narrowed her eyes in a moment's confusion before surging forward, remembering that Elie could hear. Worry for Thrusk and Tillsa flash through her mind.

The small group burst out of the jungle, weapons drawn. Thrusk and Tillsa stood surrounded by the lumbering forms of long dead sailors, the bodies waterlogged and bloated, their skin shades of blues, greens, and purples, sea life growing from their mottled clothes and soggy flesh.

The undead lashed out hungerly at the sailors. Elie did not hesitate and began lopping off heads with a well-practiced hand. Kasa smiled and drew Dragon’s Breath from her right hip. The enchanted blade burst into cleansing fire, and she charged into the melee.

The undead were, as expected, slow to react, and more than half their number was diminished by the pirates’ initial advance. Thrusk let out a scream as one of the zombies broke through his defense. Kasa surged forward, cleaving through one zombie and kicking another. She pivoted on a single leg and buried Dragon's Breath’s blade through the skull of a third. Bodies littered the beach in their wake, bodies that were still moving. Alarmed, Kasa urged her crew forward, screaming commands she knew they could not hear.

As they reached the rowboat, Kasa could see more of the creatures rising from the sea. She waved for the others to get on board while Tillsa and Kritis took up the oars, but Thrusk, the big burly orc, continued fighting. Kasa hopped off the boat and grasped his shoulder. His skin was cold and a shade paler than normal. He looked down at her and shook his head.

Kasa frowned as he mouthed for her to go. She knew there was no cure for undeath. She patted him on the shoulder, slashed one last zombie across the face, separating the top half from the lower, and dashed back into the boat.

Kritis and Tillsa rowed as fast as they could back to Devil’s Reaper. Kasa watched in fury as the zombie flood overwhelmed Thrusk. He fought well, refusing to go down without a fight, but it was all in vain. Kasa willed Devil’s Reaper to lower the ropes, and the others secured the lines to the rowboat. She then willed the ropes to reel in.

Kleine rushed to her side, but Kasa did not say a word. Rage boiled deep within her and carried over to the ship itself; Devil's Reaper’s timber shivered with Kasa’s barely-contained anger. The flight sails unfurled as the traditional ones retracted. The riggings and lines adjusted themselves, forcing sailors to step clear or be injured. The side sails expanded and the ship lurched as she began to lift from the waters of the foul bay. The cannon doors on the port side of the ship opened and the twelve arcane pulse cannons rolled forward and primed themselves.

Though her bond, Kasa seized control of Devil’s Reaper from Des who immediately took a step back from the wheel. The furious captain maneuvered the ship, hovering fifteen feet above sea level, aiming the portside guns at the horde and opened fire. The beach exploded in a spray of wet sand and body parts. It was not enough. Kasa flew her ship, her companion, higher above the trees of the cursed island, searching for the sirens home. Elie appeared beside her and pointed northeast toward the single mountain.

The crimson pirate followed the she-elf’s instruction and located the creatures’ stone palace. Immediately, the flying imps darted toward the ship like a swarm of locusts, intent on defending their masters. The crew, all of whom were free of their duties, drew arms and fought off the flying invaders. Kasa willed the starboard cannons forward and rained unremorseful doom upon the sirens’ home. The pulses of purple arcane energy demolished the structure, and even though the candle wax was clogging her ears, Kasa could hear the sirens’ death cries.

She did not wait for the dust to clear; her wrath satisfied, she turned the ship skyward above the still-raging storm. Once above the clouds, she fell to one knee, releasing her hold on the ship. Devil’s Reaper list to one side, causing all on board to shift and frantically grab hold of something. Des quickly grabbed the wheel and righted the ship.

Kasa removed the candle wax from her ears and was flooded with an ocean of sound. Elie approached and kneeled before her.

“You cheat,” she said.

“How so?” Kasa asked.

“I have tried to kill those sirens for nearly a decade, and you show up and kill them in a day.”

“I had incentive,” Kasa said.

“Thank you, Kasa,” Elie said.

Kasa stood up and once more hugged her old friend. She looked over to her first mate. “Kleine, instruct Des to set course for the Hawk’s.”

“Aye, Captain,” Kleine replied.

“Elie, come with me; we have a lot of catching up to do,” Kasa said.

“I would like that.”

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