The sound of cannon fire and screaming startled Lann from his impromptu nap. Blearily rubbing his eyes and stumbling to his feet, the young man pressed his body against the cool metal bars of the entrance to his cell. He watched as the guards, half-dressed and mostly still asleep, rushed past his cell and shouted rapid-fire orders as they headed down the stairs to the armory.

None of them paid any heed towards Lann or the other prisoners. The giant man in the cell next to him, his name was Krunk or something, started to bang on the metal bars with his hands while demanding to be set free. Of course, this roused the rest of the others as they too started to create a ruckus and soon there was chaos as the warden on the prison tried to get everybody to quiet down by firing his pistol several times at the ceiling.

The ceiling gave a mighty tremble before it broke apart; a huge chunk of stone squished the warden like a bug. Looking up at the sky, Lann saw flaming fireballs flying towards the hole. The chunks of debris that exploded upon contact destroyed most of the floor before crushing through the rest of the stonework. The stone floor shifted and, with a mighty crack, half of the cell block gave way and fell into the dark and still waters below. From the absurd height of the prison, it was unlikely that anyone had survived the fall.

It was just his luck that he was the only person on the other side of the cell block. And he was still stuck behind the bars!

As if it was the answer to his dilemma, a flaming cannonball smashed into the left side of the cell's bars like a knife through butter, the heat melting a hole through both the metal and the floor. Lann squeezed through the small hole, ignoring the pain on his back from getting caught on the jagged metal edges in his hurry, and dashed down the stairs to the armory. It was just in time too as the rest of the top floor gave a resounding crack and lurched into the ocean. Just a moment too slow and he would've been dead along with the rest of the prisoners.

The armory was bustling with activity as the remaining prison guards rushed around and grabbed what they could from the weapon racks before racing out of the building and into the burning courtyard. One of the last two guards noticed Lann as he crept close to a sword rack.

"Hey! You there!" Lann grabbed the remaining two swords from the rack and advanced on the guard and slit his neck before he had the time to yell anything else. The other guard surprised him and grabbed from behind in a headlock, but Lann managed to aim a downwards kick at his shin.

When the guard let go with a surprised shout of pain, Lann picked up the swords he dropped and shoved one through the wheezing guard's gullet. The man stumbled backwards and tripped over his feet before flopping onto his side, unmoving.

Lann glanced at the two swords he held. It was a strange feeling to hold something so familiar yet at the same time he knew it was the first time doing so. It felt like a case of creepy déjà vu.

Shaking his head, Lann made his way quickly into the fray of the courtyard. As he sliced his way through the weakened remnants of the prison's guards, he also dodged the flaming cannonballs that detonated shrapnel and tar everywhere and anywhere the 25-pound metal balls hit.

After the 12th guard fell to his blades, Lann heard ominous rumbling sounds coming from behind and turned to see the prison collapsing into chunks of debris before toppling over the cliff and into the ocean. The remaining guards, upon seeing their outpost crumble and disappear, quickly turned tail and ran in the other direction but from out of nowhere a cannon ball exploded near the guards, killing them.

Only one guard in the far-off distance was left to crawl away in the mud, but how he was going to cross the ocean to get back to the mainland without a boat was questionable so Lann let him be. It was time to escape back to town and hide out for a bit before rejoining the rest of the street rats.

Turning around, Lann walked face-first into a metal-covered chest and promptly stumbled backwards… into another chest, but this time it wasn't covered in metal.

He heard some woman's shrill scream of "CAN WE KEEP THIS ONE?" before whoever he had just bumped into grabbed him from behind in a bear hug that felt like it crushed all of his ribs into powder. The person, apparently female from the bouncing chest he could feel awkwardly pushing against his back, proceeded to treat him as if he was a ragdoll and swung him around like he weighed nothing.

From his limp and folded-in-half position Lann could see one pair of really large feet and three pairs of smaller ones.

Whoever they were, they were wearing eccentrically buckled leather boots, and usually that meant they were pirates. Since pirates were the only ones who would wear such funny looking shoes. Well, maybe, but it was just his luck to escape prison and then get captured by bloodthirsty pirates instead. Yep, life sucked.

The woman spun him around a few more times and his head banged painfully against somebody's metal chest plate. Ouch. And then another bang. And another.

Seriously, the woman really should stop spinning around. Did she eat too much sugar or something?

Another bang, this time against something that felt like a large chunk of wood, and the swing had enough force behind it that it knocked him unconscious.


Evie looked sheepishly down at the dirty and bedraggled red-head that had suddenly felt like he had gotten at least a hundred pounds heavier in dead weight. She really didn't mean to swing him into Karok's wooden pillar, and definitely not head first.

Well, at least he wasn't bleeding from a crack in his skull. That would've been really bad since they didn't recruit a doctor. Well, she needed to find one first, and they were already in short-supply anyways.

Fiona sighed and took the unconscious young man from Evie and slung him over her armored shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Once her crazy captain got it in her head that someone should join the crew, it was impossible to convince her otherwise. It was better to just go along with her ideas, since not even Karok could argue with that fact and he had the most sway over his dear wife.

What she saw in this scrawny kid, he wasn't a man until he could prove himself to her, Fiona would never be able to completely figure out, but it probably had something to do with his surprising ability to dual-wield. Or the fact that he had the most unusually colored hair because really, bright red hair? It was like a neon sign saying OVER HERE!

Next to Fiona, Kai sighed and ran a hand through his hair as Evie flounced about trying to convince her husband to do… something. He wasn't paying that much attention to whatever rapid-fire babble was coming out of her mouth at the moment. They were all making their way back to the ship, which had been hastily docked in a small rocky alcove that had effectively hid it from scouting enemy ships while they had been busy with the guards.

As Karok and Evie walked ahead, Fiona and Kai continued at a more leisurely pace. The archer's eyes skimmed over the limp curve of their newest member's back, taking in the light scarring and lithe muscles. The messy crimson fluff of hair made him look younger than he probably was, but it didn't take an idiot to tell that the man had lived the rough life for quite a while.

Kai accidentally caught Fiona's eyes while he had been distracted, and her blue eyes stared knowingly into his. She raised a thin eyebrow and Kai looked away with a huff. He was definitely not interested with the man she was carrying over her shoulder. Well, some tiny part of him in some dark corner of his mind wanted to feel if the wild mess of hair felt as soft as it looked─ wait, no. Just no.

Fiona snorted and walked faster to catch up with her captain and the cook. Kai stubbornly kept pace with her, but he avoided meeting her eyes again as they got back on the ship. They parted ways once on deck with Fiona and the human baggage heading towards the crew's quarters, while Kai made his way over to the anchor drop-chain with his customary angry-expression firmly glued onto his face.

There was a lot post-raid work to do and Kai was damn sure going to do it, soft-looking crimson fluffs of hair be damned!