Chapter I: Nightmare (Part 4)

“DAMIEN, how close are we to our destination?”

This voice only belonged to the infamous Aden Summerfeld who once lived near the port city: Seriate. He belonged to the country of Bherghen, but he grew up close to the county lines of Seriate and the cold wilderness. His raven hair that looked like messy bed hair dancing in the wind, and his emerald-colored eyes were one of many traits he flaunted. He was brilliant in his studies, and for three years had attended one of the best academies this country had to offer. While his background was shrouded in mystery, the crew never doubted his word.

The navigator who had been steering with his hand turned the wheel as the wind pushed their vessel off course slightly, but he corrected the direction. He shrugged to his friend while looking ahead. His azure eyes gleamed intelligence and humor within those eyes. The wind which had been helping their flight would inevitably go away, and was now pushing them away from their destination. His white shirt was open at the collar fluttered with the wind, letting the last bit of sun soak into his collarbone, while he wore a deep navy blue vest that accentuated his eyes. The wind was being persistent.

“We’re not close then, huh? Well damn, I thought the sails were by and far in our favor today.”

Standing at the wheel was his older half-brother by ten months who commanded and navigated the vessel as Commander. Damien Drummond could not have agreed with him. Earlier that day he was sure they would make it into town before the sun would set. That would also mean that they would avoid the strange looks and possible murmurs of being “pirates”.

It was surprising but most of the folks on his ship were young. They were merely an upper class merchant ship, travelling around to different continents delivering goods. When they stopped in towns to restock, they paid the merchants there to help boost the economy. This was only one of their assignments. Their second objective dealt with the State’s operatives. In other words they were mercenaries hired to fight for The State.

Aden grunted. He turned his raven head to look away from his companion as he became suspicious of something in the distance. “Damien, I’ll take the wheel. I see the town in the distance. It’s strangely lit up though.”

“Smells like fire and smoke.” Damien’s nose picked up instantly.

“Go inform the crew. They might have been attacked by pirates.”

Damien balked with some humor, “You bossy son of a bitch. Are we preparing for battle?”

The Captain stared into the distance, but with the sun almost gone he could not make out much more. “No, not yet. We’re just here to see if the rumors were true. We’ll observe for the time being.”

Damien just smirked, rolling his eyes. He was used to Aden calling the shots so he did his best to lighten the mood Aden sourly put the crew in. The warrant officers and crew did not approve of Aden’s behavior when he was first introduced, but after they warmed up to his icy exterior he was a formidable friend to have. He had also gained the respect and support from them when he won against his oldest sibling, Xavier Drummond. He was seven years his senior, but after winning the Captain’s title from him, Aden sailed them around the world without caring about the State’s true goals in mind.

In the beginning Xavier was the Captain of the beautiful ship known as The Division, but when he was playing poker against the current Captain, there were the typical shortcomings and opportunities for cheating. After drinking plenty of alcohol and not recognizing his younger sibling to have cheated, Xavier lost everything when they began wagering their titles of being Captain and Commander. Later on the older male would claim he did it because he hated backing down from a challenge.

In the end they ended up switching roles, and for the most part the crew didn’t mind when they started to appreciate Aden for who he was. In fact the crew all appeared to like Aden more as their captain. Xavier did not have much care for a title, because he knew the title was all that it was. He understood that it was also a means for the State to keep them in line with their protocols and plans, and that to the older male was just another chain to keep him tied down. All he wanted to do was sail his father’s merchant ship delivering goods and exploring the globe in search for adventure.  Damien did not mind about their switch in titles, as long as they were altogether during their missions. His family was what kept him grounded in the long amounts of time working for that government entity.

“Damien quit daydreaming about having sex with a girl.” This caused the Demeuillieun boy to jump out of his stupor to shout angrily back at his companion. Aden nonchalantly took the verbal backlashing with a smirk and it never ceased as he sensed Damien becoming more flustered.

“Aden, why the hell d’you say that! I wasn’t thinking about sleeping with anyone!”

This only caused Aden to give a shrug, “Just wanted to get your attention.”

The blonde-haired male felt his face flush a deep crimson while he turned sharply away.

“Shut up you stupid perverted State-officer-wannabe.”

Aden smirked broadened, “I wasn’t the one thinking about it. You were.”

Damien just huffed at Aden’s statement and was about to make a retort if it hadn’t been for Sarah walking up the stairs to the steering wheel. She was wearing her form fitting dress that was a deep green color. Leo Ashcroft, warrant officer three and close friend to Damien, had gotten the dress while he was out at the previous town because he was tired of seeing Sarah dress like a man. Damien knew the real reason behind why he got the dress, especially because the color looked amazing with her emerald eyes and glossy perm-like strands of hair. It was also those eyes that held retort and sarcasm. Even though she had her moments of rage, the crew on the vessel knew that they could rely on her if they ever needed a lady’s advice.

For him, it was strange to travel the world with her. Damien knew his father had tried to arrange a marriage between him and the Moreno clan. Luckily Xavier was able to put an end to that silliness when he told their father to mind his own business. While the blonde Drummond knew his father only meant well for his future and the future of their prominent merchant clan, he honestly wasn’t ready for marriage or having children for that matter.

“Aden your face is all red did you get sunburned? You know you should take better care of yourself!” She reached him in no time at all and pulled a bandana out from her concealed bosom pocket her makeshift black corset had. Damien forgot to mention that Sarah was vying for Aden’s everlasting attention instead of his, so it somehow worked out in the end. Of course her affection never ended how she wanted it too, especially since he ignored her half the time.

“Put this over your head, Aden.” Aden shoved her concern away by turning his head away.

“Tch.”

Another older gentleman with a beanie and a tattoo of a crescent moon and stars under his left ear appeared from below the deck to see smoke now billowing from the east. His navy blue eyes widened as he noticed the fire was spreading across the line of shore just indicating how terrible the situation was. He also could see that their “new” Captain was being hit on. It was all perfect timing as Xavier fumed in anger, as the end of spring’s wind danced through his sweat-dripping bangs.

“Damned wench you have impeccable timing when a town is burning down; and he knows how to bloody take care of himself!” Gruffly the man turned his head in the direction of the potential town.  Yes, he was certain they were too late. Though there was something peculiar about the smell. It had a familiar resonance they all knew too well. It wasn’t their duty to tend to towns that had been pillaged or defend them, but it also wasn’t in his policy to leave someone to die. Xavier knew that they would get in trouble if it was discovered they intervened a pirate attack, but how could they remain still.

“Xavier how dare you say that to me! I should have you know that if I was home you would be groveling with treasures at my feet!” Damien sighed as he grabbed the telescope that was attached to his belt loop. The Moreno clan was highly funded through their merchant shops located around the Na Luna province, Torrek, and Liliec. It would be an understatement to say that she came from just a rich family. Damien offered his older brother his telescope as Sarah glared daggers.

“Good luck sweetie, but I swing for the other team.” Lifting it to his right eye he spied three to four pirate ships with an all too familiar insignia. “It’s him.”

“Aden.” Damien spoke, terror on the tip of his tongue as he turned his attention to him. Aden was staring in the same direction with concentration to kill.

“He’s picked a particular spot to ravage.” The raven nodded his head before looking through the scope Xavier offered. While Sarah bickered in the background he was gathering intelligence. Aden sighed. He wasn’t able to concentrate due to her incessant chatter so he passed the telescope back to his blonde navigator. Turning to the tanned-skin young lady, he openly glared right back.

“Sarah.” Aden coldly addressed her with a pierced look. “The town is burning to a crisp so unless you would like the clean-up duty you should take heed with your stupidity.”

The girl with permed brunette colored haired flinched at this but Xavier was not deterred by his younger sibling’s remark.

“Oh so now it’s her fault.” Xavier quickly stated.  “You’re the one who started this by flirting with—” He never finished as two males with sandy brown hair jumped down from out of nowhere. They were dressed in the traditional garb of a pirate with a white open un-sleeved tee shirt with lacing keeping it semi-closed in the front.

“Leo, Jakob?” She asked them with confusion, and they saluted.

“We’ve got all the supplies ready downstairs Captain!” Jakob Preston said.

“We also found out that the port is called Cliffside due to the huge cliff located south of the main government estate. Also it belongs to new Fleet Admiral Gerald Rothschild.” Leo Ashcroft stated with enthusiasm and fright. “If we go in we may be slaughtered.”

Damien perked at the mentioning of the Fleet Admiral. “Rothschild? You mean the one who supposedly annihilated Zaine’s pirate fleets in less than two weeks?”

Aden narrowed his eyes. It seemed he found out why Zaine would choose this particular location to strike. The man was not someone to leave debts unpaid. “Hm.”

Xavier was annoyed that they had forgotten his existence and grunted in pain. The boys were still standing on his back. “Can you get off me already?!”

“Can’t,” replied the males with chagrin.

Jakob continued with a smirk. “We can’t go ‘til the Captain releases us from our posts.” Xavier growled out that he used to be the Captain but Aden waved the two away.

Once they were off his back, Xavier sat up and rubbed his lower spine slowly. He was too old to be playing around.

“What are we waiting for Captain Aden!” Jakob looked out into the horizon with Damien.

“Yeah, there might be damsels in need of rescuing in that town!” Leo piped in as he ran over to Damien’s other side.

Sarah thought about it for a second, “Why would someone so heinous do such a thing to innocents?” She asked. Xavier saw Aden turn a dark glare toward the burning town, his mind already living in past memories.

“They are pirates. They plunder. They steal. They rape, murder, and take what they want.” Xavier stated with a tint of sadness. “They are also probably looking in vain for those Relic Stones. Who knows if they truly exist or not?” This peaked Aden’s interest before Xavier had time to comment further.

“They do exist.” He deadpanned. Everyone shifted their attention to his statement.

“Aden.” Damien said slowly. “I thought the Relic Stones were nothing more than a myth. The State even states it is a fable for children’s bedtime stories.”

“Then you’re brainwashed like the other fools.” He gave them his usual cold remark, and once he did this, it instantly became a conversation breaker.

Xavier, who could not handle the stressful environment Aden had created, grabbed onto Sarah and said: “You want a raise?”

Sarah felt her left eye twitch at the stupid comment. “Xavier is your brain fried? Do you remember how much dreggs my family gets yearly?”

All he could do was smile. “I know. Aden was telling me that I used to never offer any of the crew a raise, so now I can officially say I offered someone a raise.”

Sarah shook her head at the justification. “Does that mean I get a raise?”

Aden deadpanned. “No. Shut your stupid mouth Xav and go back to your job.”

Sarah shook her head while pretending to be hurt. “Well if Aden says so, I must be obliged to such consequences. This lifestyle is hard to become accustomed to without a servant at your beck and call.”

Her statement soon became a thing in the wind as Damien turned to her with an eyebrow raised.

Leo jumped in with his two cents while Jakob started running circles around the girl. “Consequences of the lifestyle? Didn’t you say you wanted to follow the Captain to the ends of the Earth?”

Sarah smacked the annoying Jakob and dragged out her demon side. She hissed angrily at the two, holding Jakob by his collar. “What the hell did you dare say to me?”

“Eep! It’s the scary demon lady!!!” Somehow Jakob and Leo escaped from her clutches and jumped off the deck into the quarters below. Angrily she pursued them.

“Come back here you evil minions! I’ll show you a true evil Demon Lady!”

The three remaining males residing on deck remained still, unsure of the events that had just occurred. It was unfortunate that none of the females on board were normal and sane. Their chef was also female but when she was angry, it was not pleasant to be around.

Before anyone could say anything about it though Damien gasped as they broke the horizon. Through his telescope the blonde boy had seen something shocking. “Aden, someone was thrown off the cliff!”

Damien, Xavier, and Aden both ran to the side of the ship as they witnessed a young lady falling. Her eye-catching auburn hair fluttered around her, and her skirt was haphazardly tangling between her legs. As they watched her fall, they noticed her crash right on a branch. Her body curled sickeningly over the branch causing the three to wince. That impact must have surely broken a few ribs.

They noticed that she struggled to look up, and they followed what they assumed was her gaze.

Following her gaze at Cliffside all three saw three particular people dressed in a similar fashion of Captain Zaine’s fleet. While one had begun their retreat away, the other two remained fixated looking down. The woman and the man were respectively known as Claire and Zaine to them. As a whole team, they had not run into this deadly duo, they heard of their impeccable death runs. The pirates must have noticed their ship in the distance as they turned their gazes to where Aden, Damien, and Xavier were watching.

Chills ran down all of their spines. Those murderous pirates knew they were coming, and they were welcoming them to try and stop them.

“That fucking bastard was here after all!” Xavier growled out as he charged over to the steering wheel. “What of the girl? Does she look alive?”

Damien lifted up his telescope to try and find the girl dangling on the branch. Except she was gone. “She’s gone!”

Aden headed to the starboard side where the Drifters were tied up at. His brothers had not realized what he was doing until Xavier had finally started yelling.

“Quick, call a man overboard protocol! Huh?! Where’d Aden go?” The large splashing sound gave away the captain’s location as Damien pinpointed him. He had needed a moment to determine that the splashing sound was indeed Aden with two other crew men taking one of their Drifters to sea.

“I think Aden just took a Drifter to save the drowning person already.” Xavier sighed, shaking his head as his younger sibling was ignoring protocol again.

“Thanks for asking, brat!” Xavier yelled over the roar of the chaos, but then narrowed his azure eyes. Xavier began to feel the anxiety slowly start in the lower back of his spine when he thought that Zaine was solely attacking due to the rumors around the Fleet Admiral. “What if everyone was murdered for that stupid tale? Does Zaine honestly think that the Fleet Admiral would carry such a thing as the Relic Stones?”

Damien shook his head to forget the swarming of haunting memories. “We can only do what we can to avenge those who are dead. Let’s hope we can get in touch with Admiral Chief Julian later to discuss possible retaliations.”

Xavier nodded in agreement before looking back at the cliff where he last was. “They disappeared!”

Damien blinked, “I’ll rouse the rest of the crew to get ready to help this port.”

Nodding Xavier watched as Damien ran down the stairs toward the main entrance. Ringing a bell of battle the guys all stormed out to their stations.

“Markus, Leo, get the anchor ready; Jakob and Michael get the sails down. Wolfe, you and the guys get the canons ready; our time for revenge is upon us. Let’s get ready for battle!”

The men roared an agreement as Xavier stood triumphantly at the steering wheel. “It feels good to be in charge.”

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