This is a legit update. I am back! I recently acquired a new computer and am once again capable of writing and posting. I am so pleased to be back and sharing this with you! Especially because I have been feeling very inspired as of late.
It has been a long time since I've posted on this. If you are a newcomer I highly suggest you read the prequel to this story, High Seas and Golden Skies before you begin this one. It will make a lot more sense.
I won't make you wait any longer! Please enjoy the next installment of SFFS!
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN SOUL EATER
The wind was howling through the lines over head as sheets of rain fell down upon them. The boat rocked roughly as Maka staggered and grabbed hold of the mast. She had been in plenty of storms, many awful as this but she had never been on such a foreign vessel during. She had been on this ship for a month now and she only had a vague idea of how the ships rigging and sails worked. She was a fish out of water, in water rather.
She coughed a little and observed the crew scrambling about. She felt utterly useless, as she watched one of the little coloured scraps of cloth come loose and go tearing across the sky and into the churning waves. A few days prior Angela had taught her they were prayer flags, strung up around the ship for good fortune on their voyage. She mentally chagrined. Such luck they were having this day.
A booming call echoed out over a thunderclap in the form of instructions for the crew. Maka pulled herself forward to lend a hand where she could, helping them to pull in one of the nearby ropes and tie it off.
Water sluiced across the deck a she scrambled to the hatchway. She had heard the cry for water in the well a few moments before, or thought she had anyways. As she made her way down into the dimly lit hatchway her thoughts crossed to Angela and her protector. They were both down below in the passenger's cabin currently. Maka felt sick at the thought, being tossed around below in the dark wasn't an appealing concept, she would rather be doing than waiting.
A bucket full of water was thrust into her arms and she found someone above her reaching for it already. She had inadvertently joined the chain to clear out the water.
Little did she realize how long this storm would go on. Hours quickly turned into days with only minimal lulls in between. "The straits," was the Captain's only explanation for it. Apparently this was normal for a crossing, you could see how truly comfortable the Captain was with this as he was often laughing and joking as though the weather were blue skies and sunshine.
On the fourth day of the storm it lulled, though the rain still fell the waves calmed to a manageable churn. Maka had finally convinced the Captain to begin teaching her about the ship so she might be of use. As she hauled on the rigging under the Captain's instruction she felt eyes on her.
She caught sight of Mifune in her peripheral vision. The ever silent guard was watching her work intently. Angela came bounding out from the cabin, she was wrapped in a too big oil cloak to protect her from the rain. Mifune's gaze moved to Angela immediately, handing her a small sweet from the stash he kept in his pockets for her. She thanked him with a tight hug around his legs and then ran off to talk to one of the sailors. Maka still knew little about the pair. Angela had taken a shine to her though so she was often in their company throughout the voyage. Any interaction she'd had with Mifune has been minimal, he hardly spoke.
"What do you know of them?" She asked the Captain. The massive bearded man turned to her.
"The guard and the girl?" Maka nodded. "Very little, they keep mostly to themselves. They've been with us for a while now. They were on our sister vessel the 'Jaybird' before us. The rumor is they are running from something. But as to what, we don't know."
Maka glanced over at the seemingly carefree little girl, the sunlight falling on her oil cloak was making the rain that had fallen on it shine.
She paused. There was sunlight.
The rest of the crew appeared to be realizing the same thing. Hoods were being taken down all over the deck as the clouds broke apart above them and the slowing rain came to a stop. Maka finished tying off the line and rushed to the railing.
The sea was utterly calm now and smooth as glass. The sky was a crisp blue without a single cloud in sight. She drew her hood back and the sun fell on her in a crown of warmth. After being damp and cold for the longest time the sun felt miraculous. It didn't stop her from feeling an impending sense of dread though. For the storm to so suddenly clear up could only mean one thing. They had sailed themselves into the eye of the storm.
She was alarmed as the Captain stormed by in a furious dash for the quarterdeck where his first mate resided.
"Where are we?" he boomed out. He approached him quickly, gripping his arms tightly. "I said where are we! We aren't scheduled to exit the straits for another two days!"
"The-the storm must have put us off course, Captain." The Captain turned on heal and rushed into his cabin, his first mate following close behind. Maka was baffled by the Captain's behaviour and more than a little worried.
Mifune and Angela appeared at her elbow.
"Why is he so upset?" She asked the sandy haired guardian. "I would think a bit of reprieve from the storm would be a good thing." He frowned, glancing out at the still waters.
"There is a legend. That in the eyes of the strait there is a beast. A Wyrm of epic proportions that hungers for ships and their sailors. They say it consumes all that enters its home and none are left to live which is why all Captains will chance circling the eye and remaining in the stormy seas." A light breeze toyed with his hair as he stared serenely despite his frightening words. Angela whimpered beside him and he seemed to snap from his reverie.
He turned to her and crouched so they were level. His normally serious expression turned to one of quiet comfort.
"But sailors are suspicious folk and tell tales of a great many things that aren't true. If there is a beast who leaves none to live then how do people hear of it?" Angela's eyes widened and a hesitant smile played at her lips.
"Because somebody lives?" Mifune nodded and handed her another sweet as he patted her head and rose from his crouch.
"That is exactly right, because somebody always lives."
The Captain emerged from his cabin sometime later. He looked frazzled at first in Maka's opinion but he quickly grew cheery again as he faced his crew and passengers. She could tell the smile was false. Her head was aching from her storm sense, being in the eye she could feel the raging waters around them, it was making her less concerned with the Captain's show and more concerned with possibly taking a nap.
"We will rest here for a day!" The Captain announced. "Weigh anchor, mates. We will make any repairs as needed and take some well needed time before we return to the storm." The crew dispersed as they went to their duties. Maka waited until they had left and tried to catch the Captain's eye. He very pointedly avoided her and then ducked back into his cabin. His first mate hadn't emerged still.
Maka frowned and rubbed her head, something else was going on here and he wasn't sharing it with anyone. Except perhaps his first mate. She felt a tug on her pant leg. She glanced down to find Angela smiling up at her.
"Wanna play dice? It's so nice out!"
"How do you know how to play dice? You shouldn't be able to gamble!" Maka half laughed. Angela grinned.
"I've been on boats for a long time now. All sailors do when they have spare time is gamble. Mifune and I play for candies most of the time." Unable to resist the little one's request she agreed and followed her over to what she could only assume was the optimal place to play. Mifune was nowhere in sight though.
"Where is your shadow?" Angela hopped up onto a barrel as she produced a set of dice from her pocket.
"He gave me some candies and said to come play with you. He has something to do." Maka's brow furrowed, perhaps even more unusual than the Captain's behaviour. Mifune rarely left Angela's side. Especially while entrusting her care to someone else. Perhaps Maka had inadvertently managed to earn their trust though.
The little one was very good at the game they played. She quickly won the majority of the candies they were playing for. Grinning, she popped one into her mouth as she kicked her little legs against the side of the barrel with hollow thumps.
The sun was beginning to go down, the sky turning quickly to an inky purple and blue as the stars came out. As Angela pulled her loot towards her with a beaming expression Maka registered the Captain's cabin door opening to her right. The first mate emerged looking glassy eyed and strange. He walked slowly in the direction of the bow. The Captain exited after his first mate, he was wearing a bizarre set of robes she hadn't seen him don before, made of a heavy looking black velvet.
Maka stood up, her stomach flopped uncomfortably inside her. Something felt very wrong about this situation. The first mate approached the edge and stopped, staring blankly out at the sea. She ushered Angela close, tucking her behind her legs protectively.
"Captain," Maka called. The crew had all stopped at this point too, staring at the Captain and first mate with confused expressions. He did not turn to look at her and she moved forward after him, Angela following closely. "Captain, what is going on?" she demanded.
He climbed on top a stack of crates, raising his hands to the sky in eerie silence. The pleasant breeze they'd had stopped abruptly.
"Lord Gyran! Master of the eye! I summon you to take an offering that we would pass safely through your home." He boomed out. "Grant us your presence, consume this man and let me live another day!" he produced some sort of foliage from his sleeve and lit it on fire before tossing it into the sea before him. The first mate remained perfectly still where he stood. Appearing to not even be phased by being offered up to some sort of beast.
There was a beat where nobody said anything and then madness erupted on the deck. Sailors shouting in protest and panic as their Captain had just appeared to offer his first mate as a sacrifice in some sort of dark ritual. The Captain was laughing like he'd gone mad at his place on top of the crates. Maka rushed forward from behind, snatching up a row boats oar as she went. She swung with her all her might and cracked him over the head. The Captain's eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed in a heap.
"That's enough!" She shouted from her place on top of the crates and everyone fell silent. She gestured to a nearby pair of deckhands. "Tie him up somewhere please." She turned back to the rest and away from the sea. "The Captain has clearly lost his mind. That is not to say we should all lose our own heads, we must gather ourselves and continue our journey."
As she spoke she realized the sailors eyes were not trained on her, but behind her. "Oh for gods sake, no beast is going to rise from the depths. The man is just mad. Someone tend to the first mate, the Captain may have poisoned him." Slowly the mouth of each man and woman facing behind her began to drop. She felt the crates beneath her begin to shake. She caught her balance and whirled.
The water in front of the ship was roiling. Bubbling upward in foam and bubbles. She felt her own mouth hanging open. It had to be a coincidence, it was a school of fish certainly. Or something of the like.
The boat rocked as something exploded out of the water. Water sprayed up and outward, soaking the first mate who still stood at the bow. The thing rose high out of the water, thicker than redwood trees and perhaps towering even higher. It could have wrapped itself around the ship at least three times and that was just what they could see out of the water, there was certainly more beneath the surface. It was covered in shimmering blue-green scales. No doubt it would blend beneath the waves as well as something its size could. Maka could not make out it face in this moment, it was too high and with the light behind it, casting it in shadow.
"Maka! It is the Wyrm! The Legend is true!" She whirled. Mifune was standing twenty paces away from her with a bow in his hands, already nocked with an arrow and aimed in the beast's direction. Shocked she pulled herself together and leapt down from the crates. The crew was weeping and shouting, many had fallen to their knees praying aloud that they might find mercy from their gods. She backed away from the bow, pushing Angela along behind her and closer to Mifune. Maybe it would go away if they didn't provoke it? Currently it just hung there, wavering back in forth in front of the ship.
"How is this possible?" she wondered out loud. Mifune answered her.
"I cannot be sure. Though I discovered dark magic materials in the Captain's quarters. He is a member of the cult of Gyran. I do not believe he intended to take us this way for our trip though."
Her eyes tore away from the beast to the first mate. If the ritual the Captain had worked was more than madness then the first mate was truly in danger. She felt her sword pressed into her hand by Mifune. He has retrieved it for her that blessedly genius man. She thrust it into her belt and rushed forward to attempt to save the first mates life.
It was when she started to move that the beast started to move as well. The sound of its massive head cutting through the air reached her and she realized then she would not make it in time. The head came crashing onto the deck overtop of the first mate. She heard wood crunch as it bit into the planks and then heard it tear as it pulled away. It had eaten the first mate in a single bite and taken a large piece of the bow in the process.
Chaos erupted. The crew began screaming and running every which way. She watched in horror as the head swept across the sky, consuming sailors high in the crow's nest and causing part of the mast and rigging to come tumbling down. An arrow snaked past her, embedding itself in the Wyrm's belly. The monster didn't even flinch and to be honest the arrow looked like a splinter where it has stuck in the beasts form.
Its massive head snaked down again, biting a sailor in half as he tried to run away. Maka cried out and in a fit of rage she ran at it.
It has massive yellow eyes, fins on the top of its head and both sides of its face. There was no visible nose but its mouth was massive, taking up more than half of its head and filled with jagged teeth. Maka came up from the side. Its front facing eyes preventing her from being seen. She struck, stabbing her sword deep into one of the creature's eyes. It screamed, a high pitched and unholy sound that made her skin prickle and air seem to quaver. It pulled back sharply, Maka still holding tightly to the blades handle as greenish colored blood gushed from its wound.
More arrows flew below as she was lifted off the deck, peppering its face around her. She mentally cursed Mifune and hoped he dared aim while she was there because he knew he could not miss. It swung its head and she continued to struggle to hold on.
The tail emerged from the water, smashing across the deck violently as it thrashed in pain. She could hear the screams of the crew below. She could not hold on any longer as it swung its head again and she and the sword came free.
She felt herself soaring through the air, thinking this would be her end when she struck the netted shroud. She clutched the ropes for dear life as the ship rocked wildly under the creature's attack.
Wide eyed she watched as an arrow found its target, striking the beasts other eye as she could only imagine Mifune intended. It shrieked again and lifted itself up as high as she hoped it could and then it came crashing down again right across the deck. She felt the ship break. Felt it split in two as the world around her seemed to rip apart. The shroud no longer stable she felt herself falling, she could only hope she hit water from this height instead of the deck.
A falling piece of timber assured she wouldn't be conscious to truly know which she struck.
What what! Chapter complete!
I had Mifune use a bow here but I know he doesn't usually. It suited my needs more so. I promise the next time he fights it will be with a samurai sword as it should be! I will hopefully have the next chapter ready to go soon!
I know its been a long time and I don't deserve your forgiveness but I ask it all the same! I have a working computer to write on now so you can expect better updating from now.
Thank you so much for reading and following! It means a lot to me.