Kasa Brace, The Crimson Pirate

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Chapter 30


Kasa and Elie stood on the of Devil’s Reaper’s portside deck. Elie was dressed in a similar fashion as Kasa, dark linens and soft leathers, though Elie wore a hood and mask of the same dark.materials. They nodded to one another and dived into the dark waters below. Kasa smiled, remembering the times they had practiced that dive in her youth. The water was cold and refreshing, like the morning mist when flying just above the cloud line. Kasa pushed forward, her tail swaying back and forth. She spotted Elie swimming like the water was her natural habitat and followed in her trail.

Moments later they crested the dark waters, their heads bobbing next to their target. Kasa gestured toward the anchor chain. Silently, the crimson pirate climbed the chain as runoff dripping from her soaked form to the bay below. Kasa shimmed onto edge of the main deck and peered over. As expected, there was a single watchman pacing the deck, glowstone lantern in hand. Kasa eased onto the deck and crept into the closest shadow. Elie did the same and they sat in silence watching the guard. He appeared to have no pattern to his movements; he was just wandering back and forth. Kasa imagined he was anxious for his relief to arrive, allowing him to partake in the booze and lust the town had to offer.

The guard moved to the bow and stared out at the lively port. Kasa nodded to Elie and they both made their way to the stairs that led down below. Quickly and quietly, like a pair of mice, they bypassed the gunnery and the sleeping quarters to the storage compartment deep in the bowels of the vessel. Kasa could hear the guard and at least two others shuffling above. She smirked at how easy it was.

She looked around the storage hull which was fairly full with enough supplies to keep a small town running. She had seen this make of ship before and knew how they were constructed. Without a word she signalled for Elie to follow her to the far end of the room. She checked the hull and began softly knocking. After moment she smiled at a spot that resonated a hollow note. She felt around the edge, finding a crusted-over hatch. Kasa withdrew her belt knife and scraped the buildup away. There was a shuffling by the door. Kasa paused. A lamplight illuminated beyond the crates that shielded their position. She listened as the pirate entered the room.

“I know there is some rum in here,” the pirate grumbled. Kasa held her breath, as did Elie. The pirate rooted around for a bit before making a satisfied cry. “There she be.”

Kasa listened as the pirate broke the wax seal and uncorked the bottle. The pirate very audibly took a pull from the bottle. He gasped happily and then the light faded from the room. Kasa waited for the man's footsteps to fade, then exhaled. Elie did the same. Kasa resumed her work, removing the crust from the hidden latch. After a few moments, the latch was clear and Kasa popped open a hidden compartment. Stale, moldy air wafted from the space. Kasa looked inside, her own glowing eyes providing a soft light. It was small space perfect for smuggling. The ship must have been a fairly new acquisition. The space had gone unused for quite some time.

“It’s a little cozy, but I’ll promise to play nice,” Kasa said.

Elie looked at her with blank expression. “That remains to be seen, Captain”

Elie climbed into the space. She took a moment to open her wax-lined pack and removed dry blankets and rations. Kasa waited; the space was going to be tight for the two them. After Elie was settled, Kasa joined in the space and closed the hatch door behind them. Kasa bundled close to Elie.

“We should be fine in here.”

“Hopefully it does not get too cold.”

“That shouldn't be a problem; I run hot,” Kasa said, wrapping her arms around Elie’s thin muscular form. She didn't realized how much she missed her friend, the one person that could resist her charms, both natural and supernatural. Elie did not resist the gesture but relaxed into a comfortable position. They sat in silence for a time, listening to the vessel above them. Kasa felt pain, not the physical sensation but the emotional pain of loss. She attributed the feeling to the distance between herself and Devil’s Reaper. It seemed the ship did not like her being gone too long.

Noise from above informed Kasa that Kritis had been successful.

“Looks like we are about to be on our way,” Kasa said, holding Elie close.

“It’s best that we rest,” Elie said.

“Not much choice there.”

Kasa shifted her weight as she felt the ship leaving the docks. The sound of the rolling waters of the bay filled the small hideaway. After a moment, they rolled slightly back, Elie sinking into her.

“And up we go.”

“That was very quick.”

“Fairly smooth, as well. They have a good wheelman.”

“Indeed,” Elie said.

Kasa laid her head back against the wall and listened to the rumbling winds. Elie shifted her weight and adjusted her weapons in front of her.

“ Elie, I…” Kasa paused, unsure if she should continue her line of thought.

“Thank you for being patient with me,” Elie said, filling the void. “I know you have been wanting to talk about the island and I appreciate that you did not pry.”

Kasa smiled. “Ten years on a enchanted rock filled with things trying to kill you is a traumatic event.”

“Yes.” Elie fell silent for a moment. Kasa felt her shift her weight again. Elie breathed in and let out a slow breath. “OK, ask your questions.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes; besides, you need the distraction,” Elie said, lightly batting Kasa’s tail away.

“Ow!” Kasa chuckled.

“How long after I left?”

“Not long, ‘bout a year I think.”

“What happened?”

“The storm. The Blue Whisper wasn't a flyer. We had no choice but to ride it out.” Elie rolled over to face Kasa. “The captain was at the wheel, wrestling the storm like she did those she entertained. Then the song blew in with the wind. Soft, sweet, melodic. Captain Celise, she steered us toward the sound, the others cheering her on, forgetting their duties. I didn't quite understand what was going on. I yelled commands, demanded that they returned to their stations, but my shouts fell on entranced ears. The captain was still the captain and even in the gale and rain she cleared much of the graveyard before we struck one of the husks. We were tossed about; some of the crew went overboard.”

Elie looked down, staring at nothing. They rolled slightly as the ship tilted to the port. Elie continued. “The ship was sinking and no one was trying to patch things. No one seemed to care.”

“What happened next?” Kasa asked.

“Those able began to swim, those unable drowned. I--I tried to help, but they fought me, all desiring to reach the island in the distance, to reach the owners of the song. I was confused; in the chaos, the siren stories didn't register.” Elie sighed. “So I stopped trying to help; I swam to shore. Some made it, some became shark food. I tried to talk to the captain. She did not respond; her solid sapphire eyes were vacant. That's when the undead attacked.”

Elie began to tremble as she relived the incident. “We fought-- Well, I fought. What the others did was struggle to get closer to the song, dying in the process.”

“How’d you survive?” Kasa asked.

“Carefully. The water walkers had their hands full with those left of the crew. I picked my battles and carved my way into the jungle. I scaled some trees and observed and survived. I studied the sirens but stayed clear of them.”

“What of the captain?”

“She actually made it to their keep. They kept her for a while. Eventually she died of starvation. She wouldn’t eat without being told.”

“Damn, that's horrible. What of Yoshio? Did that crazy bastard stick around after I departed the Blue Whisper?” Kasa said, wanting to change the subject.

“No, he left not long after you did. I believe he won a ship in a bet. He said something about sailing west.”

“Did he now? Amazing we never crossed paths.”

“I hope nothing ill has befallen him.”

“As do I.”

Elie rolled back over, pressing close to Kasa for warmth. “Kasa… Thank you. You survived the storm and even the imps. You could have sailed away.”

“I can't explain it. The song that entranced the Whisper’s crew had a different effect on me. It made me remember how I got on this path.” Kasa sighed. “After we got clear, I saw what remained of the Blue Whisper. I was compelled to find out what happened. In the end, I found you.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Elie.”

They laid silent in the cramped space and listened to the drone of the winds. Before long, Kasa let her eyes close and she slept.

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