Well, another late Story a Week. I had a little writer's block last week and with all of the moving preparations as well... Anyway, it's here now. It's a little long, but this part of the story is pretty good. I'm quite proud of this one.
Without further ado...
Rixi stood there staring numbly at her short swords as they dripped blood onto the dirt floor. She felt, rather than saw, someone approach her.
She glanced up and saw Meentha standing near her, a concerned look on her face. Rixi tried to smile, but she knew that her smile was weak, at best.
Meentha asked, "How arre you doing, Rrixi?"
When Meentha said her name, Rixi's smile grew. "I like the way you say my name," she said. "It sounds more exotic."
"Arre you okay?" Meentha asked again.
Rixi's smile diminished a little, but she nodded. "I've never killed, nor helped to kill, another humanoid before," she said.
Meentha nodded. "I thought as much," she said. "Do not worrry yourrself, little one. Minotaurrs are notorriously evil crreaturres. The worrld is a betterr place with the death of this one."
Rixi nodded. "I guess so..." she started to say.
Cuddlington interrupted their conversation by saying, "Lasses, ye all ready to move on?"
Rixi nodded to Cuddlington and he waved them over. Meentha started walking over, but Rixi put her hand on the pantheron's arm. Meentha looked a question at her, and Rixi said, "Thanks."
Meentha smiled and nodded back. When the four of them were all standing together, the dwarf nodded to Melbrid. The sorcerer mumbled some mystical words and waved the wand over their heads. Rixi closed her eyes.
When she opened her eyes she was confused to find herself standing in the town square of Telquirk. She quickly glanced around and noticed a few subtle differences in the town. A couple of the shops had the wrong signs on them and there were a lot more ships in the harbor.
Rixi walked around town in a daze. The town was busier than she remembered. She wandered down to the wharf. Suddenly she stopped short.
She recognized one of the boats docked on the pier. She also recognized two of the people on the deck. "Mommy? Daddy?" she whispered.
She saw that the crew was preparing to push off. Frantically, she ran down the pier shouting, "Stop! Wait!"
Her parents turned toward her when they heard her shouting. They looked puzzled as they walked down the gangplank onto the pier. Rixi stopped in front of them, out of breath.
Rixi's mother said, "Rixi, dear, what's wrong?"
Rixi took a moment to catch her breath and said, sobbing, "I don't understand, how can you be here?"
Rixi's parents looked at each other and shrugged. Her mother said, "I don't understand you, dear. Calm down now, honey, and tell us what's wrong."
Rixi looked about the pier for a moment as she gathered her thoughts. She recognized more and more of the ships there as some of the ones that were lost in the past ten years. Understanding dawned on her. Her parents weren't back; Rixi had been transported to the past somehow.
She looked at her parents again with concern on her face. There could only be one reason why she was transported to the past with her parents there. "Don't go," she said, "I have a bad feeling about it."
Rixi's parents smiled down at her. Her father said, "You know, Losa, we could use another deck hand since Maveri is too sick to sail with us."
Her mother, Losa, replied with a smile, "I think you're right, Luvar. What do you say, Rixi?"
Rixi considered their offer for a moment. 'Maybe if I go along I'll be able to prevent whatever disaster would befall my parents,' she thought to herself. Aloud, "I think I'll go along."
Her parents each put an arm around Rixi and the three of them walked up the gangplank together. Rixi followed her father into the Captain's Cabin. She went to the large navigation table in the center of the room. She saw the course charted on the map and turned to her father, "Why does your course take you so far away from the continent?"
Her father put down the spyglass that he'd been cleaning and strode over to the map. He pointed at the farthest point from the continent that the course would take them. "We've heard a rumor of some schools of exceptionally large tuna out here and we thought that it would be worth spending a little extra time to take a look."
Rixi nodded to her father to show she understood. She looked more carefully at the route and saw that they would come close to several uncharted islands. Her father interrupted her studying by saying, "We're going to be pushing off soon, want to watch?" She nodded and followed him outside.
The next couple of days Rixi spent with her parents bathing in the warmth of their love and company. She realized that this event or whatever it was might be fleeting, so she tried to take advantage of the situation as best she could.
Rixi was sitting in the Captain's Cabin on the fourth day when she felt the ship slow. She stood and went out to the deck. She shielded her eyes from the sun as she scanned the deck for her father. She spotted him at the wheel when he waved her over.
"The lookout thinks he's spotted a school of tuna," her father announced when Rixi approached where he and the pilot were standing. "We're going to furl the sails soon and throw the nets over."
Rixi spent the next two days watching the crew fill their hold with the largest tuna that Rixi had ever seen. She wondered aloud to her father how the fish was kept fresh. "Oh, all fishing vessels have magically enchanted holds that keep the fish fresh," Luvar explained. "In the old days, fishermen would have to salt the fish right away, but that wasn't a very good system and they wouldn't dare try a fishing run this far away from their home port."
Rixi nodded absently. She was busy staring at something on the horizon. "What's that?" she asked, pointing.
Her father squinted at where she was pointed. Sighing, he pulled out his spyglass. Rixi knew that something was amiss when his stance turned rigid instead of being the casual gait he normally affected. All of a sudden he put the spyglass away and sprang into motion. He jumped down onto the main deck and started shouting orders to pull in all of the nets and prepare the sails.
Startled, Rixi turned to the wheelman and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Me thinks yer father seen something he don't like in that ship ye spotted," the old sea dog responded.
Rixi's heart pounded in her chest. 'This must be what happened to my parents,' she thought to herself. 'I would bet that that is a pirate ship.'
Now Rixi jumped down to the main deck and ran back into the Captain's Cabin. She practically bowled her mother over as she charged into the room. "What's going on?" Losa asked. "I heard shouting..."
She must have seen the dread on Rixi's face as her own face steeled in resolve. Rixi wasn't sure what her mother mumbled next, but it sounded something like "Pirates".
Losa ran over to a chest on one wall of the cabin and threw it open. She pulled out several wands and potions and pushed them into her belt pouches. Rixi went to where she had hidden her own weapons and started equipping herself. She felt a hand on her back and turned to see her mother's stern face looking at her own.
"A battle is no place for a child," her mother said.
Rixi's face showed determination as she said, "Mother, I cannot explain it now, but I'm no child. I will fight with you and there is nothing you can do to stop me."
Losa was taken aback by Rixi's fierce words. Gently she said, "As you wish, Rixi." She kissed her daughter on the forehead and ran out onto the deck.
Tears welled up in Rixi's eyes, but she fought them down. "I can make a difference here," she said as she charged out onto the deck.
She shielded her eyes from the bright sun as she stared out at the approaching vessel. It was much closer than before. Rixi dodged the sailors running about as she ran to the forecastle where her parents were standing. As she approached she heard her mother say, "...no doubt about their intentions?"
Luvar shook his head and replied, "None. They display no colors and heed no signals."
Rixi reached the forecastle just as the sailors unfurled the mainsail and the ship started moving. "Can we outrun them?" she asked her father.
Luvar turned to his daughter. He saw the weapons and equipment she was carrying and started to say something but was stopped when Losa shook her head. Sighing, he said, "Not likely, my dear. If they're good pirates, their ship is built to be faster than ours, not to mention the fact that we're carrying several tons of tuna in our hold."
Rixi glanced back to fast approaching pirate vessel. "How long do we have?" she asked.
Her father shrugged. "Perhaps fifteen minutes," he said. "I plan to sail directly towards them and then turn hard to port just after we pass broadside of them. Hopefully, that will buy us some additional time as they scramble to intercept us."
Her father ran back to the wheel. Rixi watched the approach of the pirate vessel with apprehension. They were getting close enough for Rixi to make out sailors running on the deck. The ship was about the same size as her father's, but it sported broadside cannon where the fishing vessel didn't. Rixi saw smoke bellow from the front of the other ship, then saw a splash about twenty yards fore and starboard of the fishing vessel.
"Great, they have a forward cannon on deck," her mother mumbled. She pulled out a stunning red wand from a pouch and aimed it at the other ship. "Just one more minute until we get into range..."
The pirate vessel sent another cannon ball sailing towards their ship. The range on this one was good, though five yards or so to port. The next one would probably land squarely.
Before they could get off another shot, Losa let loose with her wand. Several bright spheres of light sailed across the open water and struck one of the sailors serving the forward gun square in the chest. The man flew back and landed on the main deck, unmoving. Losa smiled at Rixi and said, "I just hope they don't have a real wizard or sorcerer on their ship. I couldn't match them with my meager skill."
Losa drew another wand as the ship neared and let loose a fireball at the other ship. The fireball exploded on the bow of the pirate vessel causing the rest of the guns crew to fly backward. The sail above the forecastle burst into flames.
The two ships were beside each other now and the pirate ships broadside guns opened up on the fishing vessel. Rixi felt the boards beneath her vibrate as the roundshot struck home. Rixi grimaced when she saw the pirate sailors wielding grappling hooks. Their approach was close enough that most of them stuck when they threw them over. Rixi was nearly thrown from her feet when the ship slewed to starboard as the sailors on the pirate vessel pulled the ships closer together.
Rixi jumped down to the main deck as pirates began to make the crossing to the fishing ship. Her qualms about killing humanoids from earlier in the day were thrown out into the wind as she began slashing and stabbing the intruders.
Rixi didn't get much of a chance to gauge the status of the overall battle as it raged around her, but she did notice every time the ship shuddered when something struck it. After one particularly large shake, Rixi dispatched the pirate she had been fighting and glanced around. The first thing she noticed was that two of the fishing boats masts had fallen and the sail on the mainmast was on fire. The pirate ship was faring much better, the fire Rixi had seen on the foremast's sail was out and there wasn't much other damage to speak of.
Then Rixi noted a figure moving about the pirate ship. The man was wearing simple robes and walking about the ship confidently. Rixi could tell right away that he was a wizard. Growling, she stormed over to the rail and grasped the nearest rope. She swung over to the pirate vessel and landed near the wizard.
"Ah, what's this? One of the peasant fishermen wishes to bring the battle to our ship?" the wizard said.
Rixi ignored the man's brash comments and growled again as she charged him. He just stood there smiling as she passed right through him. Rixi stumbled for a couple of steps and looked up to see the wizard standing on the quarterdeck, smiling down at her. "You're no match for me, little girl," the wizard boasted. "I've killed the meager sorceress your ship boasted and I've been plastering your vessel with my destructive..."
The man's boasting was silenced when Rixi charged him again. This time, she stopped short of his image and spun around to where he had been standing before. Sure enough, the wizard was there. Rixi launched both of her short swords at him and quickly drew her daggers. She watched as the short swords reached their target and she stabbed into the image of the wizard standing behind her. She smiled as her daggers penetrated flesh and she heard the wizard gasp. The image on the main deck disappeared.
She withdrew her daggers and turned on the wizard. She stabbed him again with both daggers and watched as the life drained from him. Something inside her cried out, but she pushed the feelings down deep. She cleaned her daggers and returned them to their hiding places. She quickly jumped down to the main deck and retrieved her short swords.
Rixi took a moment to assess the situation. The pirate ship was all but deserted with most of the pirates aboard the fishing vessel. The fighting over there seemed to have stopped with most of the sailors dead or surrendered. Rixi saw that a full third of the fishing vessel was on fire. Tears welled up again in her eyes, but she fought them back as she ran to the rail. She swung back to the fishing ship. The pirates seemed to ignore her presence as they looted and corralled their prisoners.
She turned to run to the forecastle, but stopped short when she saw the wall of flames engulfing the entire deck there. Tears welling up, she ran instead to the poopdeck where the wheel was. As she approached she saw several bodies piled up there.
She cautiously began sifting through the bodies until she saw a shining spyglass. Sobbing, she pushed the body of a dead pirate off of her father's body. Tears began pouring down and blurred her vision. The closed her eyes and let the tears come.
After a few moments, she began to wipe her face and she opened her eyes. She was startled to see that she was no longer kneeling on the fishing vessel, but was in an unfamiliar room. She saw the wizard Yif standing over her.