Two days passed after the battle. The rest of the fleet had slipped away and the Morrigan failed to find any traces of them. Shay didn’t seem too concerned, he and Gist agreeing that the French had gotten a clear message. However, Gist mentioned it unsettled him that there so many trespassing in British waters, which Shay seemed to condone. They said something about rendezvousing with a Captain—what was it? Hook? Crook? Selah didn’t know, as she wasn’t paying much attention to the conversation.
Meanwhile finally gaining the Assassin Hunter’s approval gave her mixed feelings. The girl knew she should be accepting it as flattery and it did prove that he did not loathe her, but she still felt unsettled. What had gained his approval? Had she somehow proven her competence? Or did she show she could kill as easily as him, or follow his orders without question? The Assassin still held her negative opinions of the Templar and still feared his intentions. Selah had lost her nerve to confront him since she was caught in his cabin.
Selah sighed as she made her way topside. What was Haytham thinking placing them together? Did he really expect them to get along? Yes, the Assassin may have accepted the Grandmaster, but that was only because she had been able to see his kindness. She still saw very little kindness in Shay.
When the teenager stepped onto the deck, a frigid gale immediately greeted her. The girl bundled in her coat with a whine. If her trip was already miserable, the weather was going to make it much worse, especially as they traveled further north. The sky was overcast, having a semi-dark realm suspend over the ocean. Selah was going to groan when suddenly a noise interrupted her.
Eyes widening, the girl snapped her head up to see several seagulls fluttering between the riggings. Wait. Selah spun around. Sure enough, the dark silhouette of land took up the horizon. They were close enough for Selah to see small columns of smoke rising into the sky and ships docked near some sort of settlement. The girl was able to notice that the Morrigan was heading towards it. Selah smiled. Land, at last!
Selah favored the rush through her body as she thought of the opportunity to get off this morceau de merde. Suddenly she heard footsteps behind her and Gist’s voice came.
“Hey, Selah, can you snatch the Captain for me?” the quartermaster asked.
The Assassin’s growing excitement was shot. She uncertainly looked her shoulder at the frontiersman, who seemed oblivious to her misery.
“Where is he?” the teenager asked cautiously.
Gist pointed up. “Up in the crow’s nest. The boys are busy and I’m not much of a climber.”
Selah could see how everyone else was busy. The crew was occupied with makeshift repairs of the Morrigan (which was one of the reasons while they were docking) and sorting through the cargo, as well as securing lines and preparations to dock. Meanwhile Gist looked almost in his sixties, so it was certain that climbing to the top of the ship would be an impossible task for him. But Selah had her own argument. If Shay was in the crow’s nest, couldn’t he see that they were nearing land?
Gist seemed to read the girl’s thoughts. “I need to discuss some things with the Captain before we make port. He tends to doze off while he’s up there sometimes, so get him down, would you?”
So Shay was sleeping and she was being tasked with waking him. Great. Selah would rather disturb a hibernating bear. All because the first mate couldn’t wait to talk with his captain.
Why me? Selah wanted to whine. Because she was only one who could climb up there, that’s why. The Assassin inwardly cursed. After a long moment, the girl gave a reluctant nod. Gist reacted like she was responded much more heartedly. He gave a laughing cheer.
“That’s a girl, Selah!” he exclaimed. “I’ll see you on the docks.”
He moved away, leaving Selah to start a painstaking climb to the top of the mast. She made it there in not much time, even though she wished it was longer. Sure enough, Shay was fast asleep, leaning against the mast that held sloop-of-war’s flag. The mast had a foothold which the captain sat on, his temple rest against the wooden pole with his arms and chin tucked to his chest.
Skin tingling, Selah cautiously neared. It was then she noticed the slumbering man’s furrowed eyebrows and half-hearted scowl. Suddenly he spoke, but it was a deep mumble of sleep.
“Forgive me… Hope,” he growled.
Selah started. Hope? Even though the sleep-talk came out as a slurred groan, the teenager could still hear the pain in the words. Even more cautious now, the girl reached out and placed a hand on Shay’s shoulder, squeezing and shaking him slightly.
“Shay,” Selah murmured.
The Assassin Hunter snapped his eyes open, his dark gaze full of death. Immediately Selah ripped away before he could have a chance to act upon it on her. However the terrifying glare disappeared when orientation returned to Shay. The Templar groaned and buried his eyes in hand, fingers massaging his eyelids.
“What,” he demanded grumpily.
Selah was regretting she agreed to Gist’s request, but spoke up before her tongue became too thick to speak. “Uh, Gist wants you.”
Shay growled again, but nodded in affirmative. Selah blinked when suddenly she noticed the dark bags under the Irishman’s eyes. She swallowed heavily.
“Bad dreams?” she guessed.
The dark glare returned. “No.”
The Assassin Hunter got up from his post and slipped past her without a word. Selah moved away, confused of what he meant. Then the realization hit her like a sack of bricks slamming into her stomach. Dreams of the past. The nightmares that had been torturing Selah for months, forcing her to relive her worst memories and echoed in her mind during her waking hours. So Shay suffered them, too.
Her stomach knotted. The girl vaguely remembered that she was in a constant sour mood when her dreams were at their worst. Maybe that was why Shay was so stern. But what could torture him so much?
The uneasy feeling that had been living in Selah’s gut during her stay on the Morrigan immediately disappeared when the sloop-of-war settled in place and the anchor dropped into the harbor. With a relieved sigh, Selah tentatively made her way to the ramp, nearing Shay and Gist as she did so.
“Captain Cook should be at the local fort, so you’re likely to find him there,” Gist was telling Shay.
The Assassin Hunter was nodding along. “Sounds fair enough. Can you handle the repairs and the supplies while I’m gone?”
Gist nodded obediently. “Why, of course, sir!”
Selah spied Shay giving another smile, seeming like he was humored by Gist’s jovial nature. Apparently his foul mood had faded. The Assassin decided to ignore her confusion as she followed a couple sailors to shore. However before she could near the ramp, Shay’s arm intercepted her.
“You stay on the ship,” he ordered.
Saying Selah’s heart sunk would be an understatement. “What? But—”
Shay’s demanding stare cut her off. “Stay. On. The Ship.”
The Assassin relented with a roll of her eyes. Judging she had no more protests, Shay ignored her as he barged past and made it to the ramp. Selah slumped miserably while Gist beamed beside her.
“Send the captain my regards!” the first mate hollered.
Shay waved a hand over his shoulder to show he had heard. Selah huffed and stormed away.
Instead of sitting on the railing this time, Selah sprawled across it. The back of her head rested upon the wood with her leg bent to keep her steady and the other brushing against the deck. The Morrigan was deathly still—the ocean being calm and the ship being tied securely. Bored was the least the girl was feeling.
It had been several hours since Shay had left and there was no sign of the Assassin Hunter. Gist had gone to shore to organize the cargo that the ship would be trading and gather materials necessary for repairs from the ship battle. The constant banging and brushing filling the air told reconstruction was already underway. Selah growled as the urge to cover her ears from the nuisance that engulfed her.
What was the point of this?! There was nothing for her to do and there wasn’t even anyone on the ship that cared for her presence. Nicholas even offered for the girl to accompany him and some sailors to the local tavern, which she reluctantly declined. Now Selah was reconsidering her decision. Since when was she subservient to others?! Just because Shay gave her a useless order did not mean she was required to follow it. Hell, there wasn’t anyone on the ship to stop her.
With a growl, the teenager bounded from her spot and stormed across the deck. Like she expected, not a soul spoke as she stepped down the ramp. Selah huffed again and mentally sent Shay a colorful message.
The girl quickly made her way off the docks and onto solid land. The shakiness and weakness in Selah’s legs immediately disappeared. The girl sighed in content, inhaling the fresh, earthly scent. The girl enjoyed her trips on the Brotherhood’s vessels, but she enjoyed the return to land even more. Whoever enjoyed spending all their time at sea was of no sane mind.
Before she could get caught, Selah slipped away towards the town. It was a small, modest settlement full of small wooden buildings. It was obviously built for passing sailors, being filled with inns and shops with red-faced men walking between them. Despite the fact it was well into the afternoon, the girl spied drunken sailors laughing outside of taverns. Selah rolled her eyes and continued on.
Now where was Nicholas? Joining him didn’t sound like a bad idea, and there was certainly nothing better to do. Shay couldn’t be angry with her for being safe with the crew, right? Besides, the girl felt it was likely she would return to ship before he did. Selah crossed a few more streets before finding a large tavern coated with fading yellow paint. Ignoring the pair of men straining their lungs with their deafening laughs, the girl slipped inside.
Immediately the stifling heat of warm bodies greeted her and the stench of alcohol and sweat smacked her in the face. Selah involuntarily scrunched up her face in disgust and brought a hand to her nose. She would quickly look for Nicholas in here before leaving. She possibly wouldn’t stay at all. It didn’t help that the tavern was packed as the girl pushed her way through, squeezing between tables and large bodies.
“Aren’t you a pretty ‘lil thing?”
Selah yelped as a large hand enveloped her arm in a painful grip. Before the teenager could pull away, she was yanked away from her path, her arm almost being pulled from its socket. Selah fell on top of something warm and the vile stench of alcohol filled her nostrils as something hot blew onto her face. Before the Assassin could register what had happened, she felt something rough press against her tender lips. Selah’s eyes went wide and she tried to pull away, but her body was locked in place. Suddenly something wet and slimy tried to part her lips, demanding entrance.
Immediately bile rose in Selah’s throat and her stomach flipped. With a gag, the Assassin shoved the man away, dislodging herself from his lap. The drunkard only laughed as the girl pushed away, swaying. Her knees felt weak and her head spun, nausea swimming around her. Selah gagged again as the urge to vomit lurched her body. Thankfully she didn’t, only stumbling backwards. The sailor that had assaulted her only laughed again, watching her with hungry eyes. He reached for her.
“Why don’t you come over here, darlin’?” he cooed with his sailor-thick accent.
Selah stumbled away again, only to ram into something solid behind her. Immediately that familiar dark presence loomed over her. Selah’s legs almost gave out from the wave of relief that coursed over her. The man reached for her again, only for Shay to grip the girl’s shoulder. The Templar pushed her away as he barged between them.
“Leave her alone,” he growled.
Now the sailor frowned in disappointment. “Bugger off, mate. Get your own whore.”
Selah’s skin crawled and she sensed Shay’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
“You and your mates should go home,” the captain suggested, but his tone wasn’t friendly at all. “Before you do something you’ll regret.”
The sailor stood up to near him, the other men sharing his table following suit. Selah’s assaulter tried to send a stream of insults at Shay, only for intelligible babble to come out. Shay shook his head like he was rolling his eyes. Without warning, a black fist shot out, slamming the drunkard right in the jugular. The sailor choked and a look of surprise lit up his face. It quickly disappeared as the Shay brought another fist to his temple, crashing the man onto the table next to him with moaning yelp.
Immediately the man’s goons pounced for the Templar. Selah cried as she was shoved away while Shay leaped back to avoid their claws, landing in the center of the tavern in a battle stance.
One of the drunks having a poor combination of fury and alcohol went for the Irishman first. Immediately his punch was pushed aside by Shay’s arm, exposing his body. The Hunter didn’t hesitate to land a blow right in the drunkard’s chin. The man stumbled only for Shay to steady him by harshly grabbing his shoulders. Instead of helping the man, the Templar forced the man’s body downward, right into the ex-Assassin’s knee. The drunk moaned in agony, only for Shay to land an uppercut to his chin, throwing the man to the floor.
Another sailor tried to assault the Templar from behind, only for Shay to whirl around and bend his body out of the way. The Assassin Hunter snatched the man by his collar and threw him around to crash onto a table. Immediately the fragile wood shattered apart from the weight and force of the impact. Apparently one of drunks was more sober than the others, having the sense pull out his flintlock. Shay immediately noticed. Instead of pulling out his own weapon or racing to stop him, the former Assassin snatched a stool beside him. With all his strength, he hurled it at the sailor, knocking him down with a startled cry.
By now other taverns patrons were joining in, wanting a piece of the action and a chance to take down the instigator of the fight. Shay didn’t care, already landing a merciless blow to a sailor’s crotch. When the man crippled in pain, the Irishman slammed a fist into his head and sent him to the floor. Selah watched it all with wide eyes, becoming a part of the audience that circled around the ring of fighters. Now she was having a better understanding of why Shay was so feared.
Another large sailor shot out a fist, only for Shay to easily catch it in his palm. The ex-Assassin snatched the man’s wrist and twisted it until the sailor yelled in pain. Shay struck an elbow at his throat, forcing him to stumble backwards. Once again the Templar snatched his adversary’s shoulders, but instead of kneeing them, the Assassin Hunter slammed his brow’s to the man’s in a painful head-butt. Shay released the drunk as the man fell to the ground, stumbling backwards with glazed eyes.
Selah immediately saw a scrawny man with a knife sneaking behind the dazed Templar. She narrowed her eyes. She was an Assassin, too! The teenager ripped away from the audience and lunged for the stalker. He gave a startled yell as the Assassin snatched his wrist and pried his weapon away. Keeping her hold, Selah ducked under the arm and positioned behind the man. She dragged the arm along with her and twisted it in a painful position. The stalker fell to his knees in discomfort. Selah took the opportunity to send a savage kick to his head, sending the man to the floor in unconsciousness.
By now Shay had noticed her, looking back at the girl with blinking eyes. Selah only nodded to him, like a message between comrades. The Templar seemed to understand and went back to the fight, fists and brutal kicks flying in every direction. Shay shoved a small man away, allowing Selah to catch him, locking her arms underneath her captive’s.
“Shay!” she called.
The Assassin Hunter sent a final blow to a vengeful drunk before turning around to heed her call. The Templar balled a fist in his palm before sending a savage attack at the captive’s face. Selah gasped as she was almost thrown to ground along with him, letting go at the last moment. She had to stumble to regain her balance. So strong!
She looked back to see a larger man had rammed Shay into the bar, successfully landing a blow to the ex-Assassin’s stomach. Instead of being crippled, Shay ignored the pain to snatch an abandoned bottle. He slammed it on the man’s head, the glass shattering on impact. The sailor fell, his head covered in blood and wine.
Finally the rest of the sailors gotten the message and it was clear they had no chance. They probably couldn’t fight if they wanted to, the floor crowded with moaning, squirming bodies. The audience inched away, trying to show they had no interest in the conflict. If the tavern was hot before, it was stifling now as a fine layer of sweat covered Selah’s skin and she panted to gain some air. She looked to Shay to see he was in a similar state. The Templar gripped to the counter to steady himself as he panted heavily, holding his stomach in mild discomfort.
Thinking he might be hurt, Selah moved to near him, but the Assassin Hunter was already straightening himself. Before Selah could react, Shay snatched her arm in a tight grip. The teenager could only wheeze before Shay spun her body around, only to gain a tighter grip on her other arm. Selah was lurched forward as the Irishman stormed out of the tavern. She followed along, stumbling after him. However the moment they reached stepped outside, Selah began to squirm and tried to pry Shay’s hand from her arm. The girl allowed herself to let out a cry.
“Ah! Shay, let go!” she wailed. “You’re hurting me!”
Her assaulter’s grip seemed gentle compared to the hold Shay held her now. Immediately the Templar stopped dead, jerking Selah’s body so she could face him. The young girl trembled at the fury burning in his cold glare.
“When I say stay on the ship, you stay on the ship!” he snarled.
“Are you always this stupid?”
Instead of replying, Selah jerked again as she tried to pull away. Shay’s grip was unrelenting.
“Answer me,” the Templar demanded.
“Why did you save me, then?” Selah retorted. “If all I am is a burden to you? Why don’t you kill me like all the others?”
Shay furrowed his eyebrows like he was confused. “What?”
“Aren’t you the Assassin Hunter? Then kill me!”
Selah gasped as suddenly Shay’s hand wrapped around her throat. He didn’t apply any pressure, allowing Selah to breathe, but he may as well have. His face was an inch from hers.
“Never call me that again,” he hissed in an unforgiving tone.
Now Selah was afraid. He was going to kill her, she knew it. Punish her, perhaps, at the very least. Selah was trembling madly and wanted to cry, not wanting to be at this monster’s mercy. Instinct finally kicking in, the Assassin brought a strong knee to Shay’s groin. Immediately the man’s horrifying glare disappeared when he yelled and shut his eyes in pain. His grip loosened just enough for Selah to pry herself away from her captor.
Without hesitation, the Assassin whirled around and ran. She heard Shay call after her, but ignored him as she disappeared into the streets.