It was fierce. The battle between Elliot’s crew and Rieker Hobbs lasted an hour before the order for surrendering was made. While the instruction was to gather everyone on board to the main deck, many of those who refused had been immediately shot.
It was shortly after them surrendering that the pirates went down into the companionway to where Charlotte’s stateroom was located and forced the two occupants to come up. When they were tied at the wrists did the pirates shove both of them together with the remaining crew and captains.
“Mind I ask what an auxiliary boat is doing out in the middle of pirate territory?” the man with greasy black hair and pointed black eyes sneered at Elliot’s group. No one said a word as the man walked down the main deck with an authoritative aura.
“Who is the captain of this vessel?” he smirked as he walked down the line of men tied. He was about to reach the end of the men before Elliot, the third one in the row of twenty, stated that he was the captain. Simone, next to him, stated that he was the commander in charge of helping his captain.
Some of the pirates sniggered at how young these two men were, but Rieker was not deterred. Walking back, he knelt to their level before decking Elliot in the cheek. Simone grimaced, and Charlotte gave a soft gasp when Elliot fell back. Nielsen gritted his teeth, but no one could attempt to do anything.
“I asked you who the captain was before I reached you, and you tell me when I reached the end of your line. You test your luck, sailor.”
Elliot spit out blood from his mouth as two pirates roughly handled him up into the kneeling position.
“My apologies, pirate. I normally don’t cater to scum.” Simone winced once again when Rieker threw another punch. This one went straight into Elliot’s solar plexus, which caused him to sputter. Elliot doubled over only for a second, but the two pirates forced him back up.
“I would hold your tongue if I were you.” He raised his fist to hit Elliot once more, but someone shrieked for the man to stop. Elliot, Simone, and Nielsen gave shocked looks at Charlotte who was on the verge of tears, pleading with the pirate.
“Sir, you’ll kill him. Please stop it, I beg of you!”
Rieker slowly turned his head over to where the apparent boy was pleading from. Some pirates who looked at Charlotte’s plea only chuckled; some even boisterously laughed.
“Why should I do that? Hmm?” Rieker walked over to where Charlotte kneeled, and deftly grabbing hold of the boy’s collar. Hefting him off the ground, Rieker gleamed as he saw the frightened expression on the youth’s face.
“This is my son’s first voyage, sir. He didn’t mean any harm!” Nielsen quickly jumped up onto his left foot for leverage but felt another pirate force his body down onto his knees.
“Surely, you wouldn’t hurt a child!” another deckhand who knew the identity of Charlotte had spoken up but was also silenced by being slammed down.
Charlotte struggled to maintain a footing on the ground, but with the man’s sheer strength holding her over a couple of inches off the ground did she truly understand she was out of her league. The man holding her seemed to know that she knew that and only smirked.
“My fellow pirates, this gentle fellow suggests I not kill his captain. Shall I honor his request?” Some of the pirates guffawed while others whispered of Rieker being a sadist to youths.
Rieker smirked at his crew before turning back to the boy. “I shall spare your captain’s life, boy, but I can’t say the same for you. I love to watch youngsters writhe in agony myself. I wonder what wonderful expressions you’ll give me.” He laughed at the boy’s attempt to get out of his hold, but with the boy’s hands tied behind his back, he couldn’t offer much resistance.
“Fillet the boy, Captain!”
“Skewer him with your sword!”
“Show him the plank!”
“Stone him, Captain!”
Charlotte trembled as the pirates shouted back things worse and worse it seemed. Rieker seemed to contemplate on all the ideas given to him before laughing himself. Dropping the lad onto her feet, the captain gave her an evil smile. Two men appeared with knives and ripped off her ropes that tied her hands behind her back but held her securely between them.
“Your father said it was your first voyage, right, boy?”
Charlotte could barely even register what was being said as they were ushering her forward to the bulwark. She didn’t want to go into the ocean again, not after that incident one year ago.
She was shaking as the men pushed her into the railing while Mr. Nielsen was shouting for them to spare her life and take his own. She heard the crew fighting their adversaries but ending futilely. The only ones who remained stationary were Simone and Elliot who looked back with a grimace. She saw the look they gave her, and she knew that they couldn’t help her even if she begged them.
“The boy’s quaking in his boots, Captain.”
“Stone him, Captain!”
“Shove ’im off the plank!”
The crew was getting restless, but Rieker swiped his gloved hand to the side, silencing everyone.
As she felt the last rays of sunlight upon her face, she closed her eyes and imagined a place where there was no fighting and no more bloodshed. She imagined her baby brother laughing and her father’s soft touch upon her visage. She remembered smoky emerald eyes boring into her in the dead of night as she lied through her teeth about who she really was.
Annoyed at the peaceful expression on Charlotte’s face, Rieker ordered the man beside her to punch her in the cheek. When it connected, she felt stars disconnecting in her mind and her balance shifting to absolute nothing. Collapsing was the only thing she could do to make the hit hurt less than it did.
“I hate that look already, boy. You want to die that quickly?”
The crew raved while Elliot’s team squirmed under them. Charlotte merely spit out the blood of her mouth just like Elliot had done.
“Hold him still, men. I’ve decided his fate.”
Charlotte felt herself being pulled up from the ground, and while she was supported by the pirates, Rieker smirked, “Zaine granted me many things in my day, but when he granted me this power from a Relic stone, I made it a day to remember. I love toying with my victims, especially ones as stupid as you. Curse me and that man as you cry out in a slow, agonizing death.” He narrowed his eyes, focusing his power to the boy, but after a few seconds, nothing occurred. Some of the pirates became restless, asking what was wrong and why wasn’t he performing his power.
One pirate, who had been next to him, had been dumb enough to say, “Are you sure it’s working today, Captain?”
The instant he said it, Rieker reached out to the man and glared menacingly. The pirate widened his eyes in shock, and then he screamed in the most agonizing way possible. Everyone on deck watched as the pirate’s legs had been turned to stone, and it wasn’t stopping. Only when the man was encased in complete stone did Rieker seem satisfied.
“Pirate or not, if you doubt my skill, I will kill you myself.” Rieker drew his sword and instantly broke down what remained of his crew member. Everyone in Elliot’s crew gasped in shock as how brittle the man had become.
Rieker played no more games as he strutted over to where Charlotte was standing. Grabbing her face within his hand and squeezing it, he concentrated all his strength into turning the girl to stone. Nothing happened. Charlotte stood paralyzed, afraid of what would happen to her, but there she stood unharmed while a disgruntled and violently tempered Rieker stood raging.
As a few minutes passed, Rieker gave a hiss and shoved the boy back. The inertia took its course as Charlotte felt her head snapping back over the rail. Her hat went flying, allowing her long auburn locks to escape the thresholds of her hat. She swung around in a desperate act to catch the hat but failed.
The wind blew it off, fore to sea, where she would not be able to hide who she truly was. Many gasped at her sudden transformation. The only one who appeared affected by the sudden change was Rieker. His expression went from confusion to pure putrid anger.
“Lionsheart, run! Get out of here!” Mr. Nielsen shouted. He knew Rieker would recognize her as the wanted girl the pirates wanted to hang.
Elliot yelled at her to jump off the ship. Simone gave him a shocked expression but noticed what no one else did.
The dirty blond male turned back to Charlotte and shouted for the girl to jump. “Why do you look like her? Why?”
Charlotte trembled, her feet unable to obey her. She tried to comprehend all the loud noises around her and just couldn’t. What kept her frozen in fear though was that man’s darkened glare.
“I don’t understand what you mean!” she retorted, afraid of his response. Spitting in anger, the man raged at his men. Even if her body was frozen, her voice operated enough to talk.
“If she won’t turn to stone, tie that vixen’s hands and feet so that she can’t swim!” Rieker ordered his crew as a vein popped in his temple and throat. “I’ll have the bitch die once and for all and be done with it!”
“Wait! No, let me go!” Charlotte screamed, finally realizing what just happened. The men grasped her two hands painfully behind her back while another had grabbed her flailing feet together binding them. “No! I don’t want to be thrown in. Not again!” She was on the verge of another panic attack, but the men manhandling her paid her no mind.
The rope bit into her skin as they finished tying her.
“Stop. She’s only a child!”
“Take my life instead!” Nielsen and the other men beside Elliot and Simone pleaded, not wanting the poor girl to be abandoned into the dark sea at night. Any chances of survival were slim to none at nighttime.
Rieker walked with a fury as he gripped Charlotte’s face in his hand once more, only this time he thrust her forward and hung her where she was dangling off. She was struggling with him as tears poured down her cheeks.
“Now if only Shannon gave me that look many years ago. It might have saved you some torment in the long run.” And with a flick of his wrist, he thrust the girl into the dark depths.
Charlotte screamed as she crashed into the ocean below.
۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞ ۞