There was a loud cracking sound of wood slamming against wood as she walked to the door, and the ship lurched suddenly, making her topple against the table at the side of the room, the impact of it temporarily knocking the breath from her small body. Balancing against it for a moment, she shook her head as if in a daze, as loud noises and yelling rang in her ears. She thought at first that it was her imagination but grew terrified when she heard the sound of running feet and then the haunting noise of battle joined that brought instantly the dreaded memories of a time before. She heard a man scream and the heavy thud of a body falling on the deck above her. Metal sang against metal, and the popping of pistols rang in her ears. She was petrified for a moment, shocked and revulsed by what she now knew was happening above her.
“But why are we under attack and by whom?” her mind rang and demanded an answer as she stood clutching the edge of the table.
Her mind suddenly snapped alert and a great rage rose up within her, boiling her blood and driving all thoughts of caution and her own safety from her mind. Blurred pictures of Clairemont’s Keep and her father’s death raced through her mind, made more real by the sounds of the battle overhead. Taking the knife from the wheel of cheese that sat upon the table, she ran from the room towards the deadly battle above her.
Leigha stopped for a moment when she reached the top of the stairs, her eyes wide with horror and the blood in her veins turning cold with shock. Captain Tolwin had remained on board with a dozen of his men, most of which had been butchered by the filthy men that had boarded the Pepperwind. She heaved the contents of her stomach upon the bloodied deck when her gaze fell on the sight of Captain Tolwin’s body, his head lying neatly severed beside it with his eyes and tongue bulging out grotesquely from the moment of his death. A few of the sailors still fought on valiantly. She could see the large figure of Adam among them as he stood swinging a sword at half a dozen pirates who beset him as if they were a swarm of bees coming in swiftly and dodging back again, leaving gaping holes peppered all over his huge body. His lifeblood flowed freely, but still he kept fighting, his great strength felling first one man, then another, bringing more of the pirates against him. Leigha watched the bizarre scene for a moment, feeling as if she were in a nightmare. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion as her mind detached itself from the stark horror around her. She heard a voice screaming over and over, “Where is Simon? Where is Simon?” though she was not conscious that it was her own.
Turning her misted gaze towards the land, she saw the men on the shore running to their small boats to come and help those on the Pepperwind.
“Simon is coming!” she giggled hysterically and then turned back towards Adam. “Everything will be all right! Simon is coming!”
She realized as she yelled the words to her large friend that Simon would not get there on time, for Adam was covered in his own blood from the wounds that had been inflicted upon him. Leigha stared in amazement that he could still stand and fight. She heard him trying to yell something at her. Not comprehending his words, her anger flared, and she knew that someone must help him. Remembering the knife she still clutched in her hand, she charged into the middle of the pirates, stabbing and slicing at any in her way as she fought to reach Adam’s side. One man’s dagger came down and ripped open the length of her sleeve, leaving a red trail of her blood oozing down to mark its passage. She felt not the wound as she staggered on to Adam.
Adam did not see her approach until she had reached his side, and the shock of seeing her in the middle of the battle made him drop his guard for a moment. It was a moment that he could ill afford, for as he turned to push her out of harm’s way, the bearded pirate captain drove his broad sword deep into Adam’s back, and his eyes grew wide with shock and puzzlement at the mortal wound just dealt him. He looked down at Leigha, where she now lay against the side of the ship, giving a small whimper of agony as he realized that he could do nothing more to save her now. The last sounds he heard before his great body fell to the deck in a lifeless heap was Leigha’s horrified scream and his killer’s insane laughter.
The sun glinted off of the steel blade as it rose upwards then arched down to stab deeply into the wooden planking of the ship, barely missing Leigha’s head. There was blood all about the deck as men continued fighting. The scene was ghastly, and the man that held the sword that had so nearly come to destroying Leigha’s young life grinned evilly down at his victim as she cowered down lower against the side ropes. His face came close to hers, the stench of his breath mingling with the sea air that blew about him. As he reached out to take hold of her face in his bloodied hands, Leigha screamed in terror.
The captain lifted her trembling body up in his strong arms, his dark eyes piercing deeply into her own before taking a moment to look over the prize he held. Leigha took advantage of his pause and began pounding on his chest and face, trying vainly to make him release her. The effort only brought the man’s deep laughter as he wordlessly carried her to the side of the ship that faced his own. Climbing up on the railing, he dangled Leigha in one arm while using the other for balance before jumping from the Pepperwind to his own vessel. Landing with a loud thud, he set Leigha on her feet, turning her to face him, his black eyes once again locking with her frightened ones.
“Relax, little tiger.” His voice came huskily in English, his yellow teeth showing between his thin lips as he drew them back in what he supposed was a pleasing smile, “The battle is over now and the prize is won!”
Leigha looked at him in awe, stunned that she was the prize of which he spoke, the reason why even now, the last men that had been aboard the Pepperwind were being killed as the pirates left the death ship and returned, yelling and screaming in triumph, to their own.
Lee, Virginia (2011-01-20). Dagon’s Blood (p. 363). Xlibris. Kindle Edition.