The sun had just crested the horizon, the smell of the sea thick in the air, the pleasant aromas from the port still lingering about. On the docks, where the ship has been anchored, it is already alive with activity as the new passengers are making their way up the loading platform, the many notched planks reaching up to the main deck where they are greeted, with a gruff and grunt, by the veteran shipmates who are not thrilled with the new ‘batch’ coming aboard. They file on, one by one, to stand by another group of the crew who are awaiting the captain’s presence. More than one of them eyeing the weapons and stern looks up the battle hardened crew.
If they only knew the half of it.
Standing there amidst the squalls of flying seagulls, the captain’s door finally opens bringing everyone to attention. The salty dog makes his way over, looking each one of them up and down, sizing them up, one by one.
“So..” The captain begins. “Ye all think yer worthy of passage on me here ship do ye?”
“Aye!” One of them calls out, the youngest of the new bunch. With his interruption, the captain walks directly over to stand in front of the young man’s smiling face, the lad all too happy to be here where adventure awaits.
“What be yer name, boy?” The captain asks. The young man nods and begins to speak, but as his mouth opens, the captain interrupts him.
“It don’t matter!” He growls, getting the attention of all the new mates. With his nose inches away, the captain’s eyes him with all seriousness. “Let it be known that if ye think yer stay on me ship is naught but a vacation, I’ll save ye the trouble and toss ye over here and now!” He leans back, away from the young man, and begins his walk along the others, speaking as much to him as everyone else. “That goes for ye all! I don’t want no prissy, pansy, wetting their diaper babies on me ship! If that be yer callin’, then ye best be turning back ‘round and go on home with yer tails between yer legs!” He stops pacing, his eyes going to each member, stopping only briefly in order to keep their attention, and gauge their reactions. With his ‘inspection finished, he walks back to his regular crew and turns to face the boots once more.
“Now that the pleasantries are out of the way and none of ye are standin’ in a puddle, welcome aboard. I be the captain of this motley crew.” He motions his arm out to encompass his loyal mates. He notices that one of them, two if you count Torrinda, are not present, but continues one. “I run a tight ship. There be no lollygagging. The sea is an unforgiving wench. Smack her on the ass an give er hell!” He grins, then clears his throat. “She be a cruel mistress, so don’t any of ye forget it. Pirages, danger, and the occasional party.” He looks back again, seeing that the party planner herself, Huff, isn’t present
“Where be that wench anyway?”
Tarnaa and Mejo glance quickly at one another, both of the knowing exactly where she is and why she isn’t here now.
“That damn woman pullin’ a Van Winkle on me?” The captain asks, the previous weeks reminding him that there are forces at play here the likes of which can be deadly. He suddenly thinks of Witchy and the subsequent actions of her demise. He recalls her body falling to ash, but suddenly replaces her with Huff. That thought causes him great concern. Not wanting to cause alarm, he downplays his fear.
“If… I catch her asleep in her bunk.” The captain improvises. “I’ll… tan her a good one so she cannot sit down for a week.”
Again Tarnaa and Mejo exchange concerned glances, Mejo’s eyes widening as she motions for Tarnaa to say or do something with a motion of her head.
“Sick.” Tarnaa blurts out as she looks to Mejo. The sudden comment stops the captain in his tracks, the man a few feet from entering into the ship.
“What?” The captain asks.
With a nod from Mejo, Tarnaa looks at the captain. “Sick, captain.” She answers, making this up as she goes. The captain puts his hands on his hips and nods his head for her to continue.
“The party.” She begins again, her mind running through possible scenarios as she stalls for time. “After the events of the party, she became ill.”
The captain wonders, not for the first time, if there is something between the lines. He can’t figure out why, with every sentence, Tarnaa looks back to Mejo, almost as if she is making sure their stories add up.
“Well, by all means. I’d better check up on the lass.” He turns towards the doorway, fully expecting a reply, the wily captain silently nodding as the response comes quickly.
Not shocked by the reply, but feigning interest, he turns to Tarnaa and Mejo, the latter the one to reply.
“The drinks… She said that the pina coladas she had were playing with her head, so she went to lie down in hopes of staving off the sickness.”
He suppresses his grin, knowing full well that Huff, of all the people aboard his ship, can hold her liquor, almost as good as the captain. However, seeing them both squirm like this makes him feel good indeed. He lets them continue, each digging the hole deeper and deeper.
“I believe she will be fine.” Tarnaa says through a deep breath, glad that they have stopped him, for now. “With time and a little peace, she shall be back to her spry self.”
Mejo nods, hoping that they have diffused the situation. The captain has always been good at hiding his true feelings, not one to wear them openly, so she will take the small victory where she can. Without any more action, she can feel more at ease.
“Well, that’s good enough fer me. We will leave her be. Probably fakin’ the whole thing just to plan another one of her parties.” He walks back to stand where he started, watching the two women out of the corner of his eye. He claps his hands together to bring the boots’ attentions back to him. “So get ye to yer quarters, unpack yer things. We be leaving at dusk.”
“Captain..” Alex says, the man taking a step forward, away from the crew. “That… might not be a wise choice.
“Aaargghh! The captain growls and eyes his right hand man. “Last time I checked, I was the damn captain! What I say be the law! We leave at dusk!” Alex, with his hands up to apologize, nods and steps back in line. He hopes that, with a new group of crewmates, they will get a night free from any unexpected guests. “Now, if there aint any more lip, yer dismissed. Show them where they be stayin’.”
* * * * *
It was strange, and yet exciting all at once. The young man who was made an example of on decks, thinks to himself. He can feel the excitement and adventure surrounding the vessel. With space tight, he has to share a place with another of the newly acquired hands. She walks in, not pleased at who her bunk mate is.
“Wonderful… “ She states, putting her stuff on the top bunk, and removing the young man’s to the bottom. “Ladies first.” The young man turns and, after taking note of his stuff being moved, he smiles.
“Sounds good to me.” He extends his hand. “I’m Jazz, by the way.” The woman looks at his hand, her expression showing she would rather not, when she doesn’t reach for it. He extends it again and looks down from her to his waiting hand.
“Ugh…” She moans, finally taking the hand in a quick handshake. She rubs her palm against her outer thigh to get rid of the claminess of his hand.
“Sorry.” Jazz apologizes, wiping off his own hand. “It’s just the excitement. Can you imagine the stories that we will get to know? The sights we will get to see.” He takes a deep breath and nods. “I never caught your name.”
“Didn’t throw it.” She answers dryly. After a brief uncomfortable stare, she shakes her head. “Arlynne.”
“Well met, Arlynne.” He turns back to look out of the port hole to see the waves lapping gently against this side of the ship. “I bet we get to see some pirates! Well, other than the captain that is. And the others.” He whistles, the sound high and then flows lower. “What do you think..?” He turns around as he begins his last question, only to find Arlynne has removed herself from the area. He grins and chuckles, his eyes going back to the small window once again. “We are gonna have lots of fun..”
* * * * *
As the day continues on, the crewmates trying to get to know anyone they can, the routine is normal. As the day begins to pass, and the sun begins its decline in the sky, it is nearly time to disembark, but below decks, a certain group are still cautious about a certain crew member.
Huff, her body feeling stiff, opens on eye, the orb lazily peering around to find she is somewhere deep down in the ship. With a feeling of panic, she opens the other eye and begins to rise up to a sitting position. Nausea washes over her instantly, the whole room feeling as if it is spinning.
“Uggh..” She moans, her hands going to the sides of her head, the fingers rubbing at her temples. “Pina coladas… Thor, what did you put in them?”
She looks up at the sound, turning slowly to regard the imprisoned Torr inside the mirror to the side on her right.
“Oh.” She greets. “Some party, huh? Must have been. I don’t remember much of it…” She closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths in order to stop the vomit rising in her throat.
She looks over again, wiping the sweat beading on her forehead, seeing Torr holding up his piece of canvas with a note on it, backwards, so she can read it.
“Last night… Yes?” She waits as another message is written. “Attacked?” She asks, confused. She tries to recall the events and then it suddenly hits her, the memories of the night flooding back all at once. She swoons as the images assault her, her hand going to her neck to feel the dried blood and bite marks. “You… You cannot be serious!” She claims, fearful and angered all at once. She grits her teeth and looks at the mirror, a curious expression etched on her face.
“How did I get here than?” She looks around the small cubby, knowing she would never enter such a place. Her eyes suddenly widen. “Did, HE, put me in here?”
Torr shakes his head and begins to write on the canvas once more, showing it when he has completed the next answer.
“Mejo and Tarnaa.” Huff nods, relieved that someone found her and has taken care of her at least. SHe looks to the exit. “I should probably make an appearance. If I dont sneak out and give the captain an hard time, he will know something is up.”
Torr shakes his head, holding up a new message.
“Stay?” She reads it aloud. “My dear, Torr. Don’t worry. I’ll cover this,” She points to her neck, “up so no one will see. I just need to make it to my bunk.” She smiles and stands, using the mirror to support herself. With a wink to Torr, who is shaking his head, she exits the small room.
Torr sighs and bangs his head against the mirror knowing this will not go well at all.
Outside the room, Huff looks around to make sure no one is around, and then begins to quickly tip toe along, the woman believing she is one of those stealthy ninjas from overseas. She giggles to herself and thinks about doing a tuck and roll, but the nausea returns making her rethink her approach. With no one around she is able to make it to her bunk without being seen.
Once inside, she spots the pina colada still by the mirror, an unquenchable thirst creeping upon her. She calmly walks over and downs the remaining contents, wiping her mouth after she is done. Clearing her throat, the dryness still there, Huff quickly gets changed and wraps a scarf around her neck. She turns to leave…
And throws up the pina colada she had just drank.
Spitting out the last remnants, she wipes her mouth off with the back of her hand, the tight stomach muscles telling her something isn’t right.
Huff turns to regard the woman standing in her doorway. She has never seen this person before so she smiles meekly and kneels down to clean it up. The woman also comes in, kneels down beside her, and helps with the cleaning.
“I… had too much to drink last night.” Huff lies, her clothes she was wearing being used to wipe up the floor.
“That’s OK.” The woman replies. “I’m Kat, by the way.” She smiles and extends her hand.
“Huffette. Huff for short.”
The two share a handshake and continue to clean up, Kat sharing a story of why she has come onto the ship. As she tells her tale, Huff cannot concentrate on the words, a sound interrupting her thoughts.
“I’m sorry.” Huff interrupts. “Did you hear that?”
Kat looks into Huff’s eyes listening for anything, and then shakes her head. “No?”
Huff shrugs it off. “Sorry. You were saying?”
Kat continues, Huff’s smile genuine.
Before Huff opens her mouth she looks over at Kat, her mind not letting the noise go. She watches the lips move, but she can no longer focus on the words coming out. Instead, her eyes widen as she notices the vein in her neck thrumming.
It coincides with the sound in her mind, and when she focuses in on it, they are one in the same. She is actually hearing Kat’s heartbeat! Without thinking it, Huff licks her dry lips, the thirst from earlier coming back hard.
“There.” Kat declares, turning and smiling at Huff, breaking the other woman’s trance. “I think thanks good.”
Huff, not listening, blinks several times. “What?” She asks, her mind drowning in the noise, the pains in her stomach turning knots with her insides.
“I said I believe we are done.” She stands up and stretches. “Well, Huff, it was nice to get to meet you.”
“Wait!” Huff calls out, Kat having begun to leave. “I… I have something I think you’d like.”
“Oh?” Kat asks as she turns around.
Huff, unsure what she is even doing, motions her over and stands by a dresser, the one with the bejeweled mirror, inches to the side.
“Wow.” Kat exclaims looking at the mirror. “It is beautiful.”
With no reply coming, her body almost controlling itself, Huff reaches up with her right hand and grabs ahold of Kat’s hair on the back of her head.
“What are you…”
With strength beyond her comprehension, Huff tugs backwards, her fist clenching the woman’s hair, bending Kat so she is off balance.
“Ow! Huff… You’re hurting… ow!”
She can actually smell it! Huff licks her lips in anticipation, her brain telling her to go for it. She cannot understand these feelings, but she cannot ignore them any longer. With each pulse in the vein, Huffette slowly loses herself, her eyes becoming bloodshot and her K-9 teeth start to elongate.
She sinks her teeth into the soft flesh of Kat’s neck, the fangs penetrating the layers of skin to reach their goal. As soon as she tastes the blood, Huff grunts and grabs Kat tighter while she drinks the life out of her. Desperate claws are ignored, Kat sluggishly trying to fight back, making her drink more and more. A wash of ecstasy fills her, the wicked thirst finally sedated.
After a few minutes, Kat’s arms fall to the side, the woman’s body leaning heavily against Huff’s grasp. The weight is insignificant, Huff pulling the rag doll-like body in closer, drinking every last drop she can. When the body produces no more, Kat’s heart no longer pumping and supplying the sweet offering, Huff just drops the body to collapse on the ground. She raises her gaze to the ceiling, eyes closed, and licks the blood from her lips, enjoying every second of what she had done.
“Huff!” Mejo and Tarnaa’s voice, from further down the way, calls out. They both enter the female’s quarters, glad to see they have found her. “Torr said you’d… be.. Here…” The two women instantly spot the lifeless body of Kat, her skin almost gray from lack of blood on the floor, two wounds present on the neck.
“Huff…” Mejo begins, her eyes never leaving the body as Tarnaa kneels down to check Kat’s vitals. She purses her lips when Tarnaa shakes her head. “What did you do?” She now looks to the tormented woman.
Huff opens her eyes, no longer bloodshot, her teeth returned to normal, the feelings and hunger no longer present. She looks to the both of them and then looks down at the body near her feet.
“I… I.” Huff tries to explain, her mind a jumbled mess of emotions. She sees Tarnaa’s hand gripping the hilt of her sword and takes a step back. “I didnt… I didnt mean to!” She backs up to the dresser. “I don’t know what came over me.”
Mejo, seeing Tarnaa on the defensive, puts a calming hand on her sword arm. When Tarnaa looks over to her Mejo nods to indicate everything will be alright.
“I know, Huff.” She says, fully knowing how fragile her psyche is right now. “I didn’t expect the transformation to happen this quickly, but it has.” She takes a step, slowly and deliberately, over the body, her arms up to show she means no harm. “But you have tasted.” She looks down at Kat, Huff likewise. “And will have ended your thirst… for now.”
Huff’s vision comes back up at that comment. “What do you mean?”
Mejo takes another step. “The thirst will come back. It ALWAYS come back.”
“We should end this.” Tarna growls, her hand returned to the sword’s hilt. “Before anyone else gets hurt. It’s bad enough we have a shade running around, but a vampire…”
“Tarnaa, stop.” Mejo commands.
“Maybe you are ok with the fact that things on this ship are beyond normal bounds, but I am not! I say we take care of things before it’s too late.” She unsheaths her sword more and takes a threatening step towards Huff.
“That is enough, Tarnaa!” Mejo yells, the woman giving Tarnaa a cold, hard, stare.
“When will it be enough?” Tarnaa, her eyes fixed on Huff, growls. “Maybe when it is you lying cold and dead on the floor, maybe then it will be enough!”
Huff, rage boiling over everything, the bickering, the fact that she has killed, all be it by actions not of her control, and the fact that Tarnaa is correct. She feels the power surging through her, losing herself again. She takes the two steps and closes the ground between herself and Tarnaa.
Her arm shoots out and grabs the woman by the throat, Huff easily lifting the warrior woman off the ground. The sword falls to the ground as Huff squeezes tighter, Tarnaa’s hands coming up to her throat in an attempt to pry them away.
“Huffette!” Mejo screams. “Stop this at once!” She steps in to help, but freezes in her tracks as Huff fixes her a look so evil it drains the blood from her face, those bloodshot eyes boring holes right through her soul.
The looks is powerful enough to halt anything Mejo tries. Her limbs will not function to her call, the only thing she can do is watch as Tarnaa’s face changes in hue from pink, to red, then to blue.
“Huff…” Tarnaa manages to say, the sound garbled. “P…please..”
The reaction isn’t exactly what she would want, but Huff finally ends the ‘game’ by tossing Tarnaa over and into Mejo, the two of them crashing against the wall. Huff vacates the room while they both groan in protest.
* * * * *
On an island, somewhere, and nowhere all at once, there is a cave. The tribes that live near this cave speak of a god, one who supplements them and cares for them. The indigenous people of the island pray to shrines built in her image. She repays them by bringing in people to the island for them to… enjoy.
Beyond the torches and huts, passed the waterfall and through the narrow jungle path, is the entrance to this cave of a ‘god’. The cave is a sight in and of itself, the likeness of some giant maw rising out from the Earth to snatch and devour any who might venture near. Stalagmites and stalactites hang and rise to form sadistic teeth.
Inside the opening, through twists and turns, there are two people inside; the ‘god’ and the fake Torrinda. The god sits on a throne of bone, the human skulls being used as the arm rests. She sits there in all her ‘glory’, a mischievous grin on her lips, her fiery eyes smoldering as her shade is relaying to her the information. She laughs, her stark, raven black hair falling off her shoulders with the action, the shade retelling what he did to the one they call Huffy.
“Well done, Malakai.” The god congratulates, her voice seductive. She runs her hand over her face, tucking a few strands of her hair behind her ear. “I am thoroughly impressed how fast you have caused chaos aboard that ship. Maybe now, after all these years, I will finally get my prized captain.”
Malakai grins from ear to ear. A shade, now more powerful because of the ‘borrowed’ body, he can only lives to serve his master; the queen succubus. He looks at her now, however, in a different manner, the human body letting him take in her evil beauty even more. The ashen skin, so smooth, her toned, curvaceous body all the more alluring while he is in this body.
She suddenly spreads her blackish, red leathery wings behind her as she stands up. A look of concentration displayed on her angular features.
“I can feel it!” She declares, her skin growing goosebumps. “Malakai, the one you call Huff is waking up and I can feel her connection to me!” She closes her eyes, crosses her arms and rubs her hands over her shoulders and down her biceps feeling the flesh, watching the scene play out miles and miles away on the ship.
Malakai, too, can feel it, he being the one to inflict Huffette with the ‘sickness’. He grins as the uncontrollable urges force Huff into unthinkable thoughts.
“Why dont we…” The succubus begins, a moan escaping her lips. “Help… Her along!” She instills her will through the connection, forcing the thoughts, making Huff actually act upon the urges she is faced with. When the woman finally sinks her teeth into Kat’s neck, the succubus rocks back on her heels, the pure ecstasy forcing her to fall into her throne.
“Absolutely wonderful!” She cries, fully immersed in the connection, feeling as if she is right beside the hungry woman, tasting the life force draining out of Kat, her barbed tail smacking the side of the throne. When there is no more life left inside the victim, she opens her eyes, fires burning as intensely as they ever have, and looks to Malakai. With a devilish grin plastered on her face, she nods.
“I was correct.” She implies, fully confident as how things are progressing. The captain, who she has known for so very long, is within reach. He may have escaped her grasp the last time they had met, but this time, through cunning and manipulation, her prize will be delivered once more. And when he is shackled at her feet, pleading for his life… She lets the thoughts linger, focusing again on Huff, giving an added strength to the woman when she is confronted by the other two crew mates.
“As you always are, my queen, my Bladen’Kurst.” Malakai bows, speaking the creatures full name.
“Let us not waste this fine work my dearest Malakai.” Bladen’Kurst suddenly announces, more devious tasks coming to mind. “And move on to our next steps. I want you to make it so the ship, while upon the seas, will need to make land fast in order to stop her from sinking.”
“An island perhaps?” Malakai asks, knowing, and following along with her line of reasoning.
“Yes.” She grins, that devilishly beautiful smile coming to her face once more. “Make it so it has to limp into the island, where I will greet them.”
“Or they will.” Malakai states, referring to the tribal gathering that also inhabits the island.
“They will, no doubt, ‘trim the fat’. I will let them know who they can, and cannot, interfere with.” Bladen’Kurst answers, the tone in her voice telling him that they will head her instructions.
“So go.” She continues, sweeping her arm out, her blood red nails pointing to the exit of her chambers. “Prepare what you need. I know you will be up to the task.”
Malakai humbly bows, trusting in his most beautiful master. He spins on his heels and exits the chamber to continue his chaotic work.
* * * * *
Somewhere else, on a similar island home, another being stirs. Inside a mountain, not a cave, she, too, sits on a throne, this one having two large devilish skulls sitting atop the arm rests, but unlike the other throne, these have dazzling sapphires socketed into each ocular cavity. Her long blue nails tap at the skull on her right as she has her chin in the palm of her left. Through a scurrying device she watches the succubus hand out her orders. She stops tapping and waves her hand, the image swirling into nothing.
“Well, well.” She states, leaning back in her throne, her hands palming the skulls, her index and pinkie fingers rubbing the temple bones in a clockwise manner. “It looks as if she is at it again, Horadrim.”
At the mention of its name, the young dragon, its scales shimmering in the torchlight, raises its head, small puffs of frost coming out of its nostrils as it breaths. It repositions its tail, the many frozen barbed appendage wrapping around itself as it settles back down. It puts its head down and puffs out a larger breath, the frost floating slightly before it disintegrates in the air, an act telling this woman it does not surprise it in the least.
She brings a hand up to pinch at her bottom lip, the being lost in thought. Bladen’Kurst isn’t one to mess with, but surely not one beyond herself. She lowers her hand and begins to tap the craniums once more, a conundrum forming. She, like Bladen’Kurst, has an affiliation with the human captain, but her involvement is much different.
“So many questions, so little time.” She absently states, her fingernails echoing off the skulls. “Maybe I should spoil her fun and take him myself?” She looks over at the dragon, a smile coming to her lips, her icy blue eyes staring at her companion.
“What do you think, Horadrim?”
Again, the dragon opens its eyes, eyes as deep and crystalline as the woman’s beside it, raises its head to regard the question.
“Should we beat her to the punch, or sit here in our icy kingdom and wait to see how it all plays out?”
Again, the dragon puffs out its breath and repositions itself more comfortably, a sheen of ice forming on its scales. The woman laughs, an innocent sound, and nods.
“Very well than. We will continue to watch her, along with the crew to see what will come to pass.”
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.