Mists of Kel Doran
Season 1 - Dragon-Touched
Episode 1 - The Weave of Fate
Chapter 13 - Bubble of Hope
Chapter XIII - Bubble of Hope
Approximate read time ~ 9 minutes
Taryn shifted on the deck on the Promenade. All around was fire, smoke, and the stench of charred flesh. Masts and sail had fallen across all three ships and he found himself pinned between the cabin wall and the flames, a large column resting on top of his legs.. The deck of the Orcus was now several feet above…and rising. As barrels rolled across the burning deck, realization set in. We're sinking.
He pressed against the fallen mast, but it would not budge. He twisted his legs to free them from the weight, but his strength failed long before he gained an inch. He collapsed back to the deck and peered toward the edge of the ship. The black waters of the Abyssal Sea were now inches from the deck, littered with bodies of children, dead pirates, and burned soldiers. Triangular fins glided through the wreckage, weaving in and out of the floating bodies. Sharks had joined the hapless trio, and there was plenty of blood in the water.
As the flames engulfed the battered deck, the ropes and sails ignited. The air filled with burning bits of fabric, falling like snow across the scene. The ‘snowflakes of fire’ sizzled when they landed into the water below, or flared when they landed on the deck, rope, or dead bodies. The fires grew, the morning breeze fanning the flames.
Taryn’s heart raced as he searched the deck of the Promenade. He reached for an unconscious pirate while the flames crept closer. He scoured the pirate’s pockets for something…anything that would help free his legs, but came up empty. The deck of the Orcus was now well out of reach. There was nowhere to go.
Cooper clung to the forecastle high overhead and saw Taryn fight for freedom, a prisoner to the oncoming flames. He saw the bodies floating in the sea and the sharks navigating the wreckage. He looked up and saw the Orcus, fires burning across the deck, its main mast toppled across the Promenade. He knew the pirate ship was not the safest place in the sea, but it gave better odds than swimming in the shark-infested waters below.
“Hang on!” he shouted. Taryn looked up, a panicked expression stretched across his face. “I’m coming down there,” Cooper continued. “Somehow,” he mumbled as he looked around the shattered deck.
“H…Hurry!” Taryn shouted back, his voice cracking under the pressure.
Cooper surveyed the tangled web of sail and cables from the fallen masts. He slipped off his belt, then balanced himself on the top deck. As his mind calculated, he heard a loud ‘thwack!’ near his feet. He stumbled, failing back to the deck, then lifted his head to see a crossbow bolt wedged a few inches from his face. He scanned across the ship and saw a Cyrean soldier knelt on the deck of the Orcus. He loaded another bolt into his crossbow and took aim.
“Oh, you've gotta be kidding me!” The pirate yelled as he refocused on the fallen mast. Cooper cursed his luck, jumped to his feet, and lunged. He flung his belt around the nearest yard, catching it as it wrapped around. He pulled the ends together and hoisted himself up as another ‘thwack!’ landed just by his shoulder.
Cooper looked back toward the soldier and mumbled under his breath. “I should have stayed in bed,” he said as he shook his head in disbelief. He reached up and clung to broken yard, then felt the large mast list toward the sea. He watched as the black waters grew closer and several large sharks circled the area. Cooper’s eyes then darted back to the soldier, loading yet another bolt!
He scurried up the belt and dove for the mast as its tip plunged into the dark waters. Cooper pulled himself up as the mast started to roll. The mighty timber angled upward while it continued its decent into the cool waters, raising Cooper high above the broken deck. His feet slipped as he leapt forward, falling onto the Promenade’s main mast, still clinging to the Orcus.
Cooper misjudged the distance and landed with a thud. He clawed at the mast while his body slid backwards. Another ‘thwack!’ rang out as a bolt slammed in front of his face.
“Will you stop shooting at me!” Cooper shouted. He hung lower, hiding his body behind the large mast. As he felt his grip fail, he yelled back to the soldier in desperation, “don't suppose you're up for a small bribe, kind sir?” Cooper listened, but heard no response. He waited for the next bolt to land, but knew his grip would not hold long.
“Hurry! What’s taking so long?” came a hysterical scream from the deck. Cooper peaked through his armpit to see the water creep up the deck. Taryn’s waist was now underwater while the young man frantically pulled against his pinned legs.
“I’m a little busy here!” Cooper yelled, his words wrapped in frustration.
He rolled his eyes, then pulled himself up. Once he gained his footing, he looked back toward the soldier, already taking aim.
“I’m sorry, did you say yes?” Cooper said. His sarcasm was lost on the soldier, however, who pulled the trigger. The bolt screamed through the air, striking Cooper’s vest, just under the shoulder. Cooper heard a loud CRACK and stumbled backward, the bolt lodged deep into his shoulder. He took a few awkward steps, but lost his footing. He slipped on the mast before rolling onto the burning deck. Smoke billowed out of Cooper’s vest, enveloping the pirate in a thick gray cloud.
Dense smoke poured from underneath Quinn. Within moments, the deck was concealed from the rails of the Orcus. Cooper groaned and opened his eyes, but was unable to see through the billowing fog. He thought the fall had blinded him, but subtle hints of light rippled through the smoke. He also thought he landed in the middle of the flames, but there was no pain, and no fire. Finally, he heard a familiar THWACK near his head, and the subtle outline of a crossbow bolt a few feet from him.
Taryn’s cries for help continued as Cooper lifted himself off the deck and staggered through the deep blanket of fog. Puzzled, he surveyed the new bolt lodged near his head, then felt his wounded shoulder. Under his jacket, he found several fragments of broken glass.
Cooper’s training taught him to always carry potions, usually to get out of trouble. He scanned the silhouettes of flames and chuckled, realizing a fog potion would have been an infinitely better choice aboard a ship made of wood, rope, and cloth.
A few seconds later, another crossbow bolt found its way to the deck. The soldier was still firing, though the fog concealed the pirate’s true location. Cooper crawled along the deck until he felt the cool waters of the Abyssal Sea. Another crossbow bolt ricocheted in the distance while Quinn felt for the fallen mast, knowing it lead to Taryn. He listened for the cries for help…but they had stopped.
Cooper leaned to his left then to his right, feeling with his one good arm. The water made it up to his waist, but there was still no sign of Taryn or Jorel. He stood up to see above the fog and hit his head on something large. His ears rang and his head ached as he found the mast he was looking for. Cooper knelt lower and whispered, “hey!” There was no response. He squinted through the fog,
“Taryn” he said a little louder, but still no answer.
The water was now chest high and climbing as Cooper crawled into the sea, guided by the large mast. The flames from the Promenade created shadows that bounced through the fog, and screams from fighting drowned any chance to hear Taryn. Cooper strained his ears and waded farther into the sea, the salt water burning as it touched his wounded shoulder.
He winced in pain and lifted himself above the waterline. The wind had dispersed most of the fog and he could see the outline of the Promenade’s deck. To his horror, the cabin was no longer visible, replaced by the choppy waters of the Sea.
Cooper sighed and looked back to the Orcus, his mind weighing his chance of survival. As the ghostly silhouette faded into obscurity, Cooper turned toward the cabin and peered into the blackened abyss.
“Bubbles,” he whispered. A steady stream of air emerged from the water about ten feet away. He drew a big breath and dove under the waves. Pinned against the deck was Taryn, eyes wide and fear draped over his face. He was fighting for his life, but losing. The weight of the mast stretched across his legs, keeping him pinned.
Cooper swam down and tested the weight of the mast. He braced his feet on the deck, wedged his good shoulder under the mast, and lifted. It did not budge. He repositioned his feet and braced once more. With all his might, he pressed against the massive timber, but nothing. Out of breath, he swam back to the top and found himself once again in fog.
The pirate reached for his pocket, but his wounded shoulder limited his movement. “Dammit!” he muttered, then shook his arm, working his jacket free. Cooper rifled through his pockets, finding a small, clear vial. He felt around his waist and grabbed his dagger, then cast his vest aside.
Cooper took another breath and dove toward Taryn. Several feet down, Cooper popped the vial and a steady stream of bubbles rushed toward the surface. The pirate took a long, steady breath from the vial, then shoved it between Taryn’s lips, forcing his mouth open. Taryn’s face turned from a look of panic to a look of confusion, and finally to a look of relief as he realized he could breath.
Regaining his senses, Taryn looked around for the pirate that saved him, but he was nowhere to be found. He then tested his legs against the mast, but he was still pinned beneath the waves.
Cooper worked his way toward the bottom of the ship, clawing his way along the submerged hull. As he rolled with the aft of the sinking vessel, he tapped wood and searched intently. A small trickle of bubbles emerged from a crack between the planks. Cooper rammed his dagger into the crack and pulled with all his might, but nothing happened. He worked the dagger back and forth, pushing it in tighter, then tugged again. The amount of bubbles intensified.
Cooper braced his feet and pulled against the dagger with all his might. Air poured from the opening. The pirate stuck his mouth to the hole and took a small breath before bracing once more. As though his life depended on it, he tugged against the dagger. With a crack, the board gave way and a torrent of air rushed out of the ship. Cooper lost his footing, and his dagger. As the pirate slipped away from the ship, the blade sank harmlessly to the ocean floor.
The ship’s descent accelerated while the mast remained floating atop the dark water. The weight slowly lifted off Taryn, who was able to squirm his way out from the massive timber. With the air draining from his vial, he raced to the surface, exhausted. He emerged from the black water, gasping for air, then looked around for Cooper, but he was nowhere to be found.
Taryn was disoriented and tired, but determined to find the man that saved him. He took a large breath and dove. He found Cooper, his foot tangled among the ropes of the sinking ship. Taryn dove and swam toward the pirate. He struggled to work the ropes free and swam to the surface, the limp pirate in tow.
The pair emerged from the water with a surge, the sounds of the battle raging high above. Taryn pulled Cooper with him until they arrived at the base of the pirate ship and a pair of ropes dangling from the tangled mess.
Taryn looped the rope under the arms of the pirate and scaled the hull. He climbed over the rail, then spun around and tugged on Cooper’s rope. In time, the pirate’s body reached the deck. With a thud, Cooper fell over the rail and landed on the solid surface. A large burst of water shot from his mouth and he started coughing, desperate for air.
Cooper’s vision was blurred. He strained his eyes, but only saw faint shapes moving about. As his sight improved, he focused on the sound of combat…the LACK of the combat. The deck of the pirate ship had grown eerily quiet.
“You alright, Coop,” a sincere voice called out in the haze. Cooper’s eyes moved toward the voice and saw the silhouette of Taryn, kneeling over him. As his eyes came back into focus, he looked back toward the deck.
The battle was over. Several pirates were on their knees, their weapons tossed aside, all looking at Cooper. He turned his head again to see a host of Cyrean soldiers, weapons drawn, pointing at him.
Cooper fell back down onto the deck, a small grin across his face. As the irony unfolded before him, he gave a soft chuckle, saying “of course, brother.”
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Mists of Kel Doran