Torrinda wakes, once again, drenched in sweat. He rolls over to a sitting position on his hammock. “How many?” He asks himself, rubbing his face with his hands. “How many nightmares is that now?” Drained and tired, his sleep – or lack thereof – has been filled with just that. Every time he closes his eyes he is greeted with gruesome scenes of his crewmates’ demise by an unseen assailant. With dark circles and bags forming under his eyes, he looks up to the ceiling of his cabin, all of this getting to him.
“Damn you!” He yells. “Damn you and your soul stone…” He sighs and lays back down. Maybe, just maybe, this time won’t be filled with a nightmare…
* * * * *
Tarnaa, keeping a watchful eye on Torr since the incident on the deck, fears something bad. Her primal, warrior, instincts telling her to not ignore this. She had silently waited for Torr to be relieved of his watch so she could wait outside his sleeping quarters in hopes of gather more information.
Now she has
Retracing back to her youth, and the stories and lectures there in, she remembers the warrior tales of such a stone, and wonders how he has come into contact with one and then the shades that hunt it. It looks like she will have to sharpen her sword for the inevitable battle that will take place…
* * * * *
In the mess hall, with the morning sun still making its way into the sky, through tears of bread, Tarnaa watches. Several tables down, and out of his sight, she ponders whether she should confront him or not… She takes the chance and walks over towards his table and sits behind him, her back turned to his.
“I like the way you handle your sword. It seems to come to you naturally…” Tarnaa comments. “Do you practice at night when no one is around?”
Torr, shocked that Tarnaa would even bother talking to him, turns slightly to regard her, his eyes still burning and tired from an unrestful slumber. He looks down at the weapon in question laying on top of the table, his hand touching the hilt. “I have been known to use it when needed… Behind this gangly frame is a seasoned war…”
The conversation comes to an abrupt end as the Captain makes his way through the mess hall catching Torr’s attention. From the last conversation the two had had, the old sea dog has a sidelong glance, keeping the young man on the outskirts of his vision, the line of questioning bothering the captain more than he thought it would.
Torr’s thoughts were not because the captain simply walked through the hall, but rather his eyes had focused on the captain’s hip, or rather the double barrel pistol sitting on it. The gun itself is ordinary, but what catches his eye is the dark purple jewel embedded into its wood grain handle. Torr drops his biscuit from his left hand, his jaw slightly hanging open.
“Of course…” Torr whispers to himself, but not quiet enough, Tarnaa listening as well. “he would have it on him. That powerful a relic should not be left unattended.” Not even bothering to dump his tray of food, Torr stands up, grabs his sword, and follows the captain out of the mess hall, a few steps behind.
Tarnaa, too, leaves her place at the table, following them both, her thoughts now churning inside her mind. She now wonders if and or how the captain might be involved in all of this…
Above the decks the captain, using his looking glass to survey the water’s horizon looks back towards the helmsman.
“Aye, Mighty, take her port ’bout three degrees..”
“Morning cap’n.” Torr, smiling as he walks up to the railing, calls. “Seas are looking calm today.”
A little unnerved by the man following him around, rolls his good eye before turning to regard his first mate.
“AAaaRrrGGG, calm seas mean no damn wind…”
Torr nods and gazes out to the sea, his eyes keeping the jewel always in their sight. Without any filter whatsoever, he blurts out a question.
“Have you ever shot anyone cap’n?” He looks from the sea back over towards the man. “I mean… defeated.. other pirates? I noticed your pistol on your hip. It is a marvelous piece… May I hold it?”
Exactly what the wise captain had thought. Everything always comes back around to that damn jewel. He smirks at the question however.
“You little squid. You’ll shoot your bloody eye out! Then you’ll need a patch over it like me!”
Torr chuckles at the response, his eyes never leaving the jewel set in the weapon. “How did you get it? One of your famous booty hauls I bet?”
The captain sighs deeply and turns to face Torr squarely. Instead of telling him what he wants to know, he has ways of dealing with such a thing…
“I want ya to go inspect the hull of the ship. Start at the aft and then ye be goin’ all the way to stern…looking for mice..”
Mice? This is a ship… It’s probably full of mice. Torr thinks in his head. However, the captain has given him a direct order. “Yes, sir…” He reluctantly agrees and walks away, pondering how he is going to get that pistol away from the captain. So lost in his own thoughts, he doesn’t even realize Huff has made her way over to him, the woman calling his name several times.
“Thor… Thor.. THOR!” She shouts. She shakes her head as he looks up to regard her. “Hey, can you get some palm trees and coconuts .. I need them for our outfits tonight. We are having a LU themed party! And also you will need to pick up some orchids for the leis, get ingredients for pina coladas, steal the captain’s secret rum stash for them and then grab the ukulele playing monkey band….”
Torr, sinking back into his thoughts, nods his head blankly. “Yeah, sounds good…”
“Sounds good!?” Huff scoffs at Torr, his lack of respect when this party needs to be at its very best! “Sounds good!? Oh, no, no, no, no! That is only the beginning of my grandiose plans!” She cocks her head to the side. “…Err, Thor.. Why are you drooling, unbathed and have glassy eyes? …Thor… Just.. Just dont let me down…” She walks away, her mind racing over and over every fine detail.
“…Party would be good…” Torr suddenly states, a plan coming to fruition in his mind. “Everyone would be there …including the captain! Huff..! What kind of party…” His vision comes back into focus to find that the party planner has removed herself.
* * * * *
Torr is getting ready by he mirror, running the plan in his head over and over. He splashes water on his face and nods into his reflection in the mirror. “Tonight.”
“Oh?” The same bone chilling voice asks, the very same from the night he was ‘alone’. “What happens tonight?”
“I.. I will get what you have asked for.” Torr replies, his heart beginning to race from the unannounced guest. “Tonight at the party.”
“Party!?” The voice asks, surprised, then wounded. “I did not get an invitation.. I just happen to love parties. All those souls gathered in one place… You plan on taking Shimmergloom off your captain? What, with all those crewmates around you? What will you tell them when you are labeled as a thief and traitor?”
“I… I..” Torr tries to respond, but finds he has not even remotely thought about that scenario.
“Exactly. Now, look at me…”
Torr looks behind him and around the room, but no one is there and nothing is out of the ordinary.
Torr looks back into the mirror at his reflection, jumping back as it sneers before him!
“How?” Torr mutters, his heart ready to leap out of his throat. He feels the hairs stand up on the back of his neck again.
“It matters not.” The voice answers. “I have changed my mind, mortal. I no longer holding you responsible for obtaining my jewel. Instead, I think I will attend this party after all. With or without an invitation!”
“But..” Torr, dumbfounded beyond comprehension begins to speak. He is unsure how a being from the shadow plane can exist in this world. “How?”
“Like this!” The image in the mirror suddenly reaches out to grab Torr’s shoulders! In one quick motion Torr’s vision shifts, everything the same, but backwards. The mocking laughter fills his cabin, Torr looking back at his reflection. “Get comfortable in there my FRIEND. It’s going to be a KILLER party!”
Torr moves to grab the image, only to be blocked by the glass! He then realizes that he is the one trapped inside the mirror! He bangs on his side of the glass, the sound muffled, but with no other plan he continues to bang and call for anyone that could possibly hear him…
* * * * *
She slips further into the shadows as Torr exits his chambers. She moves to follow him, but something stops her. Tarnaa looks at Torr as he walks towards the stairs leading away from his cabin, her sixth sense telling her – no screaming at her – that something is terribly wrong! She waits for a few more seconds before she runs into Torr’s quarters, the dimly lit room eerily still, the candles barely casting any light.
She perks up as a small, faint, thumping noise can be heard at the back of her conscience, the sound telling her that she is not alone. She walks over to the bowl full of water and dips her finger into the liquid to see that it is indeed water and that it is still warm.
She looks up at the mirror and quickly turns around seeing Torr has come back into the room, but yet there is no one behind her. As she turns to the mirror again, she now sees Torr in a new way; a trapped prisoner…
* * * * *
“…All ye now hush.. Ole Pirate is proposin’ a toast. I wanna thank good ole Huffy for puttin’ on a hell of a party… Although the grass skirt is ridin’ up my… Anywho, ya done good girl, ya done good!” He raises his pina colada up to clink everyone else’s glass and takes a large swig of the drink.
“Here, here!” ‘Torr’ toasts, a little too loudly. “I, too, would like to propose a toast. First off, to the crew.” He smiles, a bit differently than what everyone is accustomed to. “Loyal, loyal crew… And to the CAPTAIN. Oh what adventures we have seen. Isn’t that right, CAPTAIN?”
“What are ye goin’ on about, boy?” The captain asks, his curiosity raised.
“Don’t be coy, CAPTAIN..” ‘Torr’ continues. “Why don’t you entertain us with one of your yarns, CAPTAIN.. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe how you came across that jewel embedded into your pistol?”
It is at that moment that the captain realizes that Torr isn’t Torr at all. The lad never calls him anything other than ‘Cap’n’. “Who are you?”
‘Torr’ laughs and throws his drink down, the glass smashing on the hard wooden floor. “Why, CAPTAIN, it’s me. Torrinda.”
“He is not who he says he is!” Tarnaa shouts as she enters the ball room. She points to the impostor. “This, THING, is NOT Torrinda…”
‘Torr’ snears and growls, his cover blown in an instant.
“This, is the real Torrinda…” Tarnaa oves the mirror from behind her and holds it in front of her so everyone can see the trapped crewmate for themselves. “He is trapped!”
“He is..” ‘Torr’ states. “And every passing hour he will become less and less until he becomes a permanent resident in my realm of shadows, his soul twisted and broken for all eternity!” He laughs evilly, eyeing everyone. “So, CAPTAIN, I give you a choice. Give me what I want and I will go away. Plain and simple.”
Tarnaa, placing the mirror on the refreshment table, itches to use her sword. She puts her hand on the hilt and takes a step closer, her knuckles turning white with the tight grip upon the weapon.
“Ease up there Xena…” ‘Torr’ threatens. “Remember, this is STILL Torr’s body. Any wound you inflict on me will only cause irreparable harm to him. I would tell you all that I told your pathetic crew mate, but wait! I think good ole CAPTAIN could tell it better. What do you say, CAPTAIN, tell you crew what you have done to them!” ‘Torr’ cackles loudly and snaps his fingers, a dark dot forming before him. It begins to quiver and take shape, elongating into a wavy line of darkness. With both hands, he reaches into the tear and pulls it open slightly.
“I’ll be seeing you!” He pulls it open further and slips inside, the tear vanishing almost instantly, Tarnaa just a few steps away, sword drawn and seething in anger.
“Oh, how rude of me.” The voice echoes throughout the room, the candles’ light slowly diminishing. “I left without giving you all a present.. After all, what kind of invitee would I be if I didn’t get you all a little something!?” The voice laughs once again. “You are all in luck. It is a gift you ALL will enjoy!”
The flames begin to dance, the shadows cast around the room swaying back and forth until they begin to take shape! Slowly, one by one, the shadows take a step closer to the crewmates, the beings themself seemingly coming out from the walls.
“What in the nine hells is that!?” Someone in the back asks.
Tarnaa, closest to the first shadow, takes a swing, her finely crafted blade severing the shadow’s head from its shoulders. The head falls to the floor and beings to grow another body! The one in front of her growing another head as well!! Feeling her trusted companion has failed her, she takes a step back, her eyes watching as more and more come from the walls.
Outnumbering the crew a full two to one, with more forming, the crewmates are all backed towards the refreshment table, the captain stepping forward to protect his crew. He draws out his pistol and fires, point blank, into the ‘face’ of a shadow, only to see the bullets split the head in half! It struggles and sways to the left, then back to the right. As it sways to the right, the other side pulls in the opposite direction tearing the shadow in half to form two!
An arrow whizzes passed the captain’s ear and takes one newly formed shadow right in the face, the streaking arrow head blowing through to hit two more standing behind it. When the projectile hits the wall, it buries itself up the the fletch.
Everyone looks back at the origin of the arrow seeing the woman letting go of another shot, its tip sparkling as it catches the candle light.
“Mejoltman!!” Everyone gasps. They stop and stare as the shadows who were hit fall to the ground in a pile of ash. As they do, a candle burns a little brighter.
The second arrow hits home and drops two more shadows, their bodies dropping into piles of ash, just like the previous ones she had hit. Again, another candle in the room begins to glow more brightly, the remaining shadows hesitant to take any more action.
An arrow sizzles in.
Two more drop.
Mejoltman looks over towards Alex, the two of them nearly sharing the same idea. They have been around each other for so long that they can almost think what the other one is thinking. Not quite telepathy, but something very similar.
They both come to the same conclusion of using fire as a weapon. She nods to the burly man and he takes off, leaving them as he exits the room. The shadows begin to merge together, their images overlapping each other until they form one large, imposing image! Mejo fires an arrow into its face, but the image snatches it up and out of thin air with the two arms it has formed.
“Ok than…” She states. The thing snaps the shaft in two and throws it to the ground. She fires again and again, the arrows leaving and appearing in her hands as if they never move, the projectiles keeping the shadow ducking, dodging and parting so to not get hit. “Now what?”
Alex suddenly arrives back into the room and sets a keg of oil down on the floor. With a small throwing axe he cracks the keg apart, the head of his weapon covered in the syrupy substance. This plan cannot have any mistakes or else the whole ship will go down in flames. He grabs Tarnaa’s sword from her hands and wipes the blade with an oil soaked rag, the man squeezing the oozing liquid down to the weapon’s hilt. He tosses it back to her and grabs a candle from the table, the flame igniting the sword in an angry blaze.
Seeing the new weapon, the shadow roars in outrage and takes a step forward.
An arrow hits it high in the shoulder.
Than another. And another.
“Now!” Mejo roars to Tarnaa, her arrows nearly depleted. “I will keep it distracted for you!”
With a battle cry, Tarnaa sprints towards the shadow with her flaming sword held high, both hands gripping the weapon’s hilt. She brings it down right as the shadow’s arm tries to block the blow.
It severs clean through above the wrist, the arm falling on the floor.
A painful roar escapes the shadow, the candles flickering with the intensity. Tarnaa looks up to the thing is it begins to reach out and grab her, its fingers dangerously close…
Another, Mejo’s last arrow, buries itself into the shadow’s arm making it retrace a step. Tarnaa wastes no time and swings her mighty sword again, the flames tearing through the previous limb, this time hacking it at the elbow. The ease of the swing, however, puts her off balance, exposing her to an attack from the side…
Alex, his axe burning brightly, hurls his weapon at the shadow, the weapon hitting the shadow in the face, the flames licking at the shadow, disintegrating it as it eats away.
Thankful for the save, Tarnaa grips her sword tightly and swings upward, the flaming tip tearing upward from hip to shoulder. As her momentum plays out, she side steps and continues her sword around and back through the waist of the thing, the image falling down slowly, the body snowing ash upon the ground…
“What was all that about?” Huff asks, drinking the last of her delicious pina colada.
Alex, picking up his no longer flaming axe, watches Mejo pick up her arrows, the heads made of something different than your average wood or stone. He looks over towards the shocked captain and nods.
“I think it’s time you told them…”
The captain takes a deep, steadying breath and looks into the faces of his beloved crew. “I think it’s time I tell ye all somethin’ I thought I’d never have to retell again…”
The captain tells the crew the story of how he came to obtain Shimmergloom, holding up the jeweled pistol for all to see. “I feel I have let ye all down… For that, Pirate apologizes. If ye be wantin’ to leave when we make port, I won’t be blaming ye. Ye can leave, no questions asked…”
They shake their heads, a crewmate walking up from the crowd. “We’ll follow ya captain..”
“Witchy, aye lass, that ya will… Your a good wench!” Captain replies, glad to have such a loyal crew.
“To hell and…” Witchy states, a portion of the shadow Tarnaa had cut off has inched its way onto the crewmate’s shoulder. As the chilling touch enters her body, she opens her mouth to scream, but no sound comes out! Instead her skin turns pale, so pale that it is nearly gray! Before any one can react, she falls to the ground in a pile of ash..
Tarnaa, looking at the pile in disbelief, now realizes how close she had come to the same, horrible fate. She looks back at Mejo and Alex, silently thanking them with a nod of her head.
“Wait.” Huffy comments, everyone turning to regard her holding up the mirror that Torrinda is still trapped in. “What are we gonna do with this? How do we get Thor out?” She sets the mirror up so it is propped up, Torr glad that most of them made it through this insane ordeal. He looks to them all and bags on his side of the mirror.
“Break it?” Alex suggests. “Will that work?” He uses the butt end of his axe, the weapon coming down upon the glass, but when it comes into contact, the mirror doesn’t break. Instead it ripples, black smoke rolling like a rock thrown into a still pond, and transfers back the force applied, sending Alex crashing back into the wall, his body slamming hard and slips down. “Nevermind that idea…”
Torr looks on and frowns…
Buried At Sea by Matt Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.atramentous.net.