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A thick white mist hangs over the Eastern Sea, covering all of the ships that are attempting to navigate the grey waters. The pirates sit on the bottom of their sleek ship, huddled amongst their chests of gold, shivering in fear despite the warmth of the night. Humfard the one-eyed hobgoblin jumps lithely up onto the aft castle towards Elkira, who steers the ship. a€œIta€™s unnatural, this fog, a€ he grumbles, a€œat this time of year it is.a€ a€œAye, Humfard, a€ responds the pirate woman, a€œI sense the work of a spell caster. Look, I cannot even see the bottom of the ship from up here.a€ Through the fog on the forecastle, two pirates stand and look over the side, trying to peer through the deep forbidding wall of whiteness. a€œDid you hear something?a€ one of them asks. a€œIt was like a splashing on the water.a€ a€œIt is just the ship.a€ a€œActually, it was me, a€ says a feminine voice from the gloom. They jump up, startled, as a soaking wet Mora steps from the shipa€™s wooden railing onto the top of the forecastle. The water on her cape and hood is evaporating, turning into steam as she moves. a€œI am looking for a band of travellers who stole the cargo of a ship called the Peregrine.a€ a€œHow?a€ stammers one of the pirates. The other draws his falchion and jumps at the cloaked figure. The scythe spins around and the man falls back, his arm severed. The second pirate jumps to the back of the forecastle and yells for help. Moraa€™s scythe slices across and cuts off his cry in mid-yell. His head falls down from the forecastle amongst his comrades. The second pirate is pulling himself away from Mora, dragging himself with his left hand. She is almost nonchalant in her execution of him, the point of her scythe stabbing down as she investigates the remainder of the forecastle. She walks to the edge of the forecastle and looks into the mist-filled hull of the ship. She can hear the shouts and yells of the pirates and she smiles to herself. She readies her scythe and jumps down from the forecastle, amongst the confused pirates. Humfard stares intently into the mist. a€œWhat is happening?a€ he growls. a€œI cannot see a thing.a€ Behind him, Elkira ties the steering in place and draws her falchion. a€œWe must investigate, a€ she says. a€œOur dog-brothers need our help.a€ a€œNo, a€ he mutters. a€œIf we go down into the mist, we will be ambushed. We will wait up here and catch them if they come up the ladder.a€ They wait, standing at the top of the ladder that leads from the hull. They can hear the sounds: of cries and shrieks, of muffled movements and the swish of sword and scythe strikes. A head flies out of the mist and crashes against the side of the forecastle, before dropping back into the hull. Two pirates run out of the mist towards the forecastle, screaming in fright. One appears to trip over and his body falls forward. Elkira notices that his legs are severed below the knee. The second pirate jumps up onto the ladder and Humfard reaches down a hand to help him up. He grabs the pirate by the hand and pulls him upwards, dragging him towards the top. The pirate shrieks in pain and Humfard grunts, unable to drag any further. Then the pirate is free and Humfard falls backwards; the body of the pirate falls onto him. Elkira gasps in fright; there is a huge hole in the piratea€™s back. Elkira turns back to the ladder and looks into the depths of the fog, her falchion ready. Humfard pushes the body from him and staggers to his feet. Humfard backs away from the edge with fear in his eyes. He hears a creaking sound behind him, like a door opening, and he turns around slowly. Mora is standing behind him, next to the trapdoor that leads from the cabin below, inside the aft castle. There are cuts on her cloak and blood splattered over it. Elkira notices that, although most of the blood is red, some of appears to be white and actually burns the cloak where it drips ontoassistance, even if only as a guide. Let me help you.a€ So I am to just let you infect me. a€œI dona#39;t see that you ... a€œArkaniais closer and hasatemple toArachnia, our spider god. Wewere going to Arkania in any event. I should complete the businessanbsp;...

Author:Melvin Karew
Publisher:Xlibris Corporation - 2012-10-30


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