Chapter II: Bloody Reigns of Fire (Part 1)

THE NEXT MORNING arrived quickly for the exhausted crew. The fires that had remained strong over the night had finally died down and Xavier’s crew had just finished their investigations. Unfortunately they had found no survivors in the area and what made it worse were their own small causalities. There was a small fight between the two crews at first but when Zaine and Claire boarded their ship, they disappeared without a trace. His ship remained elusive, and it easily outflanked The Division even on the best of sailing days.

They set camp up for the time being, the people of The Division were searching for any supplies left. The one who issued the command was Xavier. He was resting on a burned seat while trying to figure out why they were two steps behind their target, and he was still fuming at the thought of not being able to help.

“Damn it all!” He replied whacking the chair he was sitting under. His strength was enough to turn the charred chair into just a mess of ash, easily dropping the Commander to the ground.

Sarah stood right beside him as if to make sure he didn’t do anything rash. Gesturing with her hand, she offered her assistance but he measly waved her concern elsewhere. Pretending to brush off some dust Xavier had pulled himself off his bottom, “Thanks but I’m fine.”

Sarah became angry at the snap comment and let him have it instead. “How dare you! That’s the last time I’ll be helpful to you!”

He just crossed his arms and let one of his hands touch his hilt of his sword. “Who cares Sarah, give it a rest.”

This time Sarah could feel the vein popping from her temple as she clenched her fists. “Oh you jerk! This is one of the many reasons why I hate men!”

Something stirred behind Xavier. Leaping in front of the girl besides him he tried to sense what was there. Was it foe? Friend? As if expecting Zaine himself to pop up Sarah clung to Xavier’s sleeve as he drew his sword.

“Who’s there? Come out!” The thing which had been caught decided to throw something at the man. It bounced right off of his forehead and onto the ground.

“Ow! What the hell was that?!” Sarah saw it as just a wooden box and nothing more.

“It’s a wooden box; if it was a pirate lingering around wouldn’t it have thrown a real dagger?” Xavier who had been rubbing his forehead crouched down and picked up the thing.

“Who’s there?” Sarah said as she looked into the bushes. From behind them, a young sixteen to seventeen year old male came out. His face was disheveled and he had a small frame. His glasses were cracked and his sandy blonde hair was caked with dirt and blood. He looked like he had seen better days.

“A kid?” The male looked scared as Xavier looked him up.

“I’m Tyler Marklin.” The male said with a stutter.

Before Xavier and Sarah could ask the boy what exactly happened, there was rustling coming from the south. Turning to their new guest they noticed that it was their water-drenched captain and mysterious young lady. The two crew men that were assisting him had started making their rounds on the land to help salvage.

“Friend or Foe?” Aden asked while he closed the distance in four quick strides to them. He easily kept an even pace, even with a waterlogged auburn beauty slung over his shoulder. There he knelt on the ground and carefully laid out the woman. She was indeed quite a beauty.

“It’s a friend Captain.” Sarah replied with a flick of her manicured hand.

Glaring at the girl Xavier gave a retort: “He chucked a box at my head; how is that a friend?” Continuing to complain he rubbed his aforementioned head.

Aden looked at the boy before smirking. “And you probably deserved it Xav.”

Sarah directed her attention to the girl, and while she was slightly jealous of her looks, she knew this girl was in for far worse. There was blood still oozing from the wounds she had received. There were also heavy red imprints on the woman’s neck. Sarah couldn’t even tell if the woman was unconscious or just dead.

Xavier whistled. “Zaine and Claire must have cornered her. I’m surprised she wasn’t sliced up more than she is now.”

“Don’t forget about that third person.” Aden ripped off his sleeve with his sword to make a swift bondage over her serious wounds. “Where’s Damien?”

“Behind you,” Xavier pointed to Damien running toward them with several things in hand. One of which was a medical kit. Once the blonde had reached them, Damien moved to the unconscious girl’s side to check for a pulse. “And I didn’t forget about that mystery person. The investigation has not come up with any strong leads to who may be conspiring with the pirates.”

“Damien, will she be alright?” Sarah wondered with curiosity, staring down between the unconscious girl and the blonde.

“She looks alive.” The blonde started but the one known as Tyler approached the girl. Placing his two forefingers on the jugular of the girl’s throat Marklin began counting the beats.

“Her pulse is weak. She needs medical attention immediately.” Damien looked to the newcomer. “She had a nasty impact with a branch to her mid-abdomen. Possibility of broken ribs?” Tyler assessed her with a critical eye while Aden pulled out a pocket knife from his utility belt.

“Move.” Aden expertly cut along the side of her corset, the fabric easily cutting away by the sharp blade. When the piece was removed, he then started to cut apart the side of her cream dress. Sarah went to object about his removing her clothing, but Damien stopped her.

While he cut her dress apart, he still managed to keep her clothed in the appropriate places. Underneath there were bruises decorating her sides. Tyler went to examine her sides carefully, but seemed squeamish to touch a young lady. Aden waved him aside and merely placed his hands upon her right side. When he finished, he moved his hands delicately over to her left side. When he was done checking upon her bodice, he shrugged his jacket off to cover her once again.  “Bruised ribcage on the left hand side, bones feel like they’re in place. She does need medical attention to survive.” Xavier and Sarah both sighed in relief, but the new girl was not in the clear just yet.

Damien turned his attention at Sarah. “Once we’re on the ship, could you properly clean and dress her wounds? It would not bode well if she died from infections.”

Sarah nodded. “Yeah, no problem.”

Tyler stared unbelievably at the water-logged mistress unsure if she was truly alright. Her chest was slowly rising and falling, and she looked extremely exhausted even in her sleep.

“I had the misfortune to arrive in town ten minutes before the pirates showed up. I was running some errands near the ports when all of these gruffy men brandished their swords and knives. I was lucky to escape from harm.” He continued off until only silence met them all.

“I heard that Zaine slain the Fleet Admiral here in a battle.” Damien said, bringing the attention from the girl to him. Aden easily guessed what happened next.

“The rumor is that the Fleet Admiral and Zaine crossed blades.” Something did not match up though. What did it have to do with this girl who was fighting them off at the Cliff?

Xavier was thinking along the same lines bringing his hand up to his chin. “There was a lot of collateral damage just to kill one person. Perhaps this girl knows something?”

Aden nodded in agreement. For once he and Xavier agreed on something. “Perhaps. We need to wait for her to wake up though.”

Sarah sadly peered down at the waterlogged girl. “Zaine’s wrath has affected us all, our towns attacked and mercilessly slain for reasons similar to the legend. When will this senseless search for those accursed jewels cease?”

Damien, the quietest of them all, lightly traced his fingers over Charlotte’s pale cheek. She looked so fragile but at the same time strong. He knew of those pirate’s fighting habits. He knew that these particular men attacked from the shadows and planted traps.

Aden was thinking along the same lines. If these guys had needed to throw Charlotte off the cliff she must have managed to disable their use of their swords. This led Damien and Aden to believe that Charlotte was more than just a beauty.

Tyler Marklin looked at the now barren lands. His brown eyes still wide from shock and despair at such destruction. He couldn’t stand the sight of death and now he was in the middle of it. How was he ever going to report back to his own Lady in waiting that he could not fulfill his task?

Xavier looked down at the two sole survivors of the attack and frowned. It would be bad to leave them here, but it may be disadvantageous to bring them on board. He did not want to bring any more harm down upon any more people. “Well I know Damien mentioned taking her aboard to clean her wounds, but don’t you guys think we should treat these two on land here?”

Aden turned his green eyes over to his crew before laying upon the two new additions to the group. It was true what Xavier was saying, but at the same time it would not be wise to leave such a valuable piece of information behind. Crossing his arms he turned his back to them and started walking toward the ship.

“Let the boy decide for himself if he wants to come but we’re taking the girl. Gather the others as we leave.”

Sarah gasped at his persistence upon taking the girl before chasing after Aden. “Wait for me Aden!”

Xavier and Damien both shrugged before walking over to the unconscious girl. Damien grabbed hold of her body but had some difficulty pulling her up in a bridal style. Xavier just laughed at his attempt.

The blonde boy was flustered but regained his composure. “Just help me lift her so that she doesn’t hurt her ribcage!”

Xavier couldn’t help it as he roared some more. “Sure, sure. I forgot how you are the princess of the group, besides Sarah of course.”

“Shut up!” Damien yelled, trying hard to hide his flush red cheeks.

Marklin stood up behind them to help them with the girl. He had made his decision. “I’ll help too!”

۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞

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