Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
Lee watched the horizon while keeping a steady hand on the helm. The waves gently lapped onto the boat, deceiving the untrained seaman that all was well. He knew that even the gentlest of waves could easily change the course of the ship if it was left unchecked. He had no intention of heading back into the storm they had just battled throughout the night. Even he, who loved the challenge more the crew, had enough of the raging waters.
He glanced behind the ship, watching the dark clouds continue on their way to land. The rain was much needed along the coast but he knew that by the time the clouds dumped their contents into the ocean along the way, only a sprinkle would make it there and the land would remain dry.
"Timmy!" Lee called out to his second in command below. Within a minute, the man was beside him, waiting for his orders.
"What's our timeline looking like?" Lee asked quietly, not wanting the surrounding men to take part in the conversation.
A deep frown creased Timothy's eyes as he answered, his voice low and rough, "We've been sailing for at least two weeks and I think we have at least half that ahead of us. You need to be ready by the time we get there, Lee. Murgun won't like what you're gonna say so I'd be prepared for anything."
"I know, Tim. But I'm not a pushover and he damn well knows it and if he doesn't then he's about to find out. I'll stand by what I have to say, even with the threats that will come. He may be our Headmaster but he will not cheat me and my men what we own." Lee stated, a steely defiance lacing his words. He meant every word.
Timothy cleared his throat and bowed his head slightly before he spoke, "He's the Headmaster, yes, but one of pirates. If you think cheating his men at every chance he gets isn't part of the job description, then you've got another thing coming for you."
"True enough but it's not going to happen. If he thinks he can treat me like this after years of perfect attendence, perfect contribution, perfect everything!? If he does, he'll be short of his biggest contributer." He said dangerously low.
Timothy gave one of the men one nod and he took Lee's place at the wheel.
Lee, knowing his move was wise, led Timothy down to his quarters and closed the door tightly behind them. This was precisely why he was his second. He always kept his head cool even when his Captain was speaking borderline rebellion. He had the good will to bring him somewhere more private instead of hanging him, as was the punishment for even uttering something against the Headmaster.
"You need to watch your words, Lee. You may be Captain but there are men on this ship that would turn you over in a heartbeat. I wouldn't as you know but there are some that would. If you feel the urge to express your hate, please do it in private." Timothy said firmly. Not a tone Lee favoured coming from a man below him.
"And you watch how you talk to me. I may be a friend but I am your Captain first." He retorted, a warning in every word.
"Yes, Captain." Timothy raised an eyebrow but said nothing to match the look in his eye. The little spit of anger that rested there was nothing new to Lee. They'd had similar conversations in the past.
"Dismissed." He said with a wave of his hand, no longer wishing to discuss anything with him. Timothy moved stiffly towards the door and left.
Left alone, Lee sat angrily on the stool at his desk. He found Murgun's letter of cheating words and read it again, looking for something he might have missed. Some clue as to why he was suddenly being treated as if he were nobody. He held his unofficial seat of the Coucil with pride and being treated as such was not acceptable. He would get to the bottom of the reason and if there were none, he would be more then angry.
He huffed as he tossed the letter away. He would deal with this. One way or the other.
The dark and omnious cliff ahead loomed over the blue masts of Lee's ship. He stood at the helm, carefully listening for his man in the crow's nest above to tell him where the sea stacks were. Big towers of death stacked as rocks was what they were. If his ship touched the sharp edges of the stacks, it would take considerable damage that would require immediate attention. If he crashed into them, it meant shipwreck. The sails had been lowered to prevent getting any tears in them or unpredictable gusts of wind.
"Gently to your left!" The man above him called. He leaned his weight to hold the position. The ship creaked in the quiet darkness, echoing throughout the hollow spaces between each stack. It made for an eerie sound in the cover of night.
Lee held his breath as if his breathing would cover the man's voice above. With every call he heard, he listened to the orders with much focus. Every man around him held their breath and kept their movement limited and soft if one was necessary. The ship could easily have been mistaken for a ghost ship as it always could be when entering the Coven of Hallowguards. Silent, careful and dangerous.
Two flaming torches appeared before a gaping hole in the cliff as they turned the ship past two towering stacks. A man stood there, waiting for their arrival. He recognized him but his name escaped his mind. Nevertheless, Lee stood straighter, letting his shoulders fill his jacket completely. Even though he thought it was completely ridiculous, he had soon learned that looking bigger was necessary if you wanted to be treated with respect. The first time he had walked through that gateway, he had done so timidly and was treated as less then a dog. He was quick to realize what changes he needed to make.
As the oarmen lifted up their oars with a soft splash in the water, the ship slowed to an easier docking pace. Lee brought it to the right where a line of docks were filled with varying sizes of ships. He sailed past them, watching each one carefully, fully hoping one in particular wasn't there. Grey, red and blue sails were docked and he sighed in relief as the red ship was too big to be Alexandra's.
To Lee, she'd been premoted from grey much to quickly. Only she had progressed as fast as he did and it was ill deserved. Her successes were based upon luck rather then skill but with a face like hers, Murgun was wrapped around her little finger and as such, skill wasn't required. A bottle of whiskey and a late night was all she needed to get what she wanted.
He scoffed to himself at the mere thought of her but kept his focus on safely docking the ship. He took the last port at the end. He knew things could get messy and if they did, he wanted to be closest to the way out. The first was already taken which left the last as the best option. His men often complained at his choices because they saw it as demeaning their status but survival meant more to him then social views. Especially when surrounded by thieves and cheats who wouldn't hesitate to slit your throat if given a reason.
"Captain Lee," the man greeted him as he jumped out of the ship and onto the dock.
"What is it?" He asked, already tired of the facade of friendliness.
"I'm to escort you to the Headmaster as soon as you arrive. If you could follow me quietly, it would be much appreciated." He said, his face turning from a friendly pageboy to the criminal he was. Lee smiled and tilted his head to the side, acknowledging his request with no promise of complying with it. Loopholes. He learned to find them at every opportunity.
A knot formed in his stomach as he sensed the distinct danger that reeked in the air. The situation was worse then he previously thought. He took a few steps away from the man and Timothy automatically followed.
Timothy leaned into him as he quietly listened to Lee, "Chances are this isn't going to go the way I want it to. You keep the ship ready to leave at a moment's notice. Try to stay low and don't attract attention. Be ready to dispatch of the ones too loyal to Murgun. Understood?"
Timothy gave him a sharp nod before leaping back onto the rails of the ship.
"Dan, bring Captain Joss along with us," Lee commanded and seeing the man's confusion, he smiled sweetly, "A gift for Murgun."
As the man turned, Lee followed with Dan, Mark and Captain Joss close behind him. Dan and Mark, both excellent fighters were also very disposable and made perfect backup if it was needed. Which he was almost certain it was going to be. The whole place reeked of an ambush and yet, he didn't really understand why. Yes, he was late with his payment but that alone didn't deserve this. Something was going on. Something much more complex was at play.
He couldn't help but keep his hand by the blade that hung at his hip. His eyes went this way and that, watching every shadow and every movement. He waited. For what? He wasn't sure of that yet.
A set of familiar doors came into view ahead of them. The oaken wood carved intricately into the tattoo that marked every member. The skeleton key matched the one on his arm, each tooth decayed, every piece of skin stretched and disfigured. He looked back to see Joss's face as he beheld the doors. Despite his own dread of walking through them, a smile twisted onto his face as he watched Joss realize where he had been brought.
"Is this-?" Joss's voice trailed off into an unspoken question.
Lee turned around, walking backwards, a sick smile on his lips as he said, "Yes, the master headquarters of Hallowguards. Welcome." He bowed mockingly, knowing the fear that now creeped into Joss's heart.
He spun back around and his own dread filled his mind more then the satisfaction of Joss's fear. It did help, of course, but he knew nothing could prepare him for what was about to come. Murgun could be painfully unpredictable.
The doors swung open to reveal the ever endearing death stare of Murgun Ralehes. He sat behind his desk, hands folded loosely around themselves. The scar, running underneath his left eye down to the center of his chin twitched with a chilling confirmation of his mood. His dark blue overcoat hung around his shoulders, making the white of his hair emphasize his young face. What he really noticed was the ire in his stone cold, blue eyes.
With the silence of the room, Lee took the chance to look around the room. He was surprised Murgun occupied it alone. He'd expected at least a few men to be there, swords at their hips in case they were needed. He didn't know if he should be relieved or even more concerned.
Murgun leaned back in his chair and spoke after a sigh, "Captain Lee, how good of you to join us today. We have much to discuss."
Lee barely managed not to flinch at the doors slamming behind him, making him alone with the man. He stood tall and proud without an ounce of weakness showing.
"Always a pleasure to see you, Murgun." He replied, bowing his head respectfully.A flicker of annoyance flashed through his eyes but it left as quickly as it came. Instead he smiled, a dangerous glint in his eyes.
"You know the penalty of arriving late with payment," he said with a sharp change in his voice, "Even as a Blue Captain, you will heed to the laws as a member. You, like any other member, hold no excuse that will pardon breaking a law. Especially one as crucial as this."
Lee felt his jaw push forward in frustration as he spoke, "Murgun, my ship needed repair after damage it took during a storm," he saw Murgun about to speak but he held a hand up to silence him, a dangerous move, before continuing, "Yes, I know, you give an amount of time to allow for such troubles but I was stopped again to aquire you an extra contribution I think you would appreciate. If you would rather continue treating me in this manner, I will gladly reap the rewards from it myself. It's your choice."
The feeling in the air went from screaming caution to danger. He knew his words wouldn't be let go but he had enough of being treated this way. Always under pressure and rules. He was a pirate, dammit! He was made to break rules.
"If you would like to continue this way, Lee, I highly recommend not doing so...before it is too late for you to go back. Disrespect is what you have shown me and I should strip you of your captaincy for daring it. But," he paused, looking him straight in the eye, "I have more use of you alive rather then dead."
"I think I would rather death." He muttered before thinking better of the words. His heart thudded against his chest as he waited for Murgun to explode. He knew he was testing his luck but he couldn't help it.
"Do not test me, Lee, I warn you. I may have use of you but continuous disrespect will not be tolerated. If you give me your due payment and the consequence of being late, I will overlook this unpleasant ordeal and things will go back to the way they should be. I ask you not to make be dispose of one of my best members."
Kiss ass. Lee thought while rolling his eyes to himself.
He forced himself to cool his head a little before replying, "Enough of the pleasantries. What is this really about? I have been late before and this is not what I came back to. Cut the crap."
Murgun stood up and clasped his hands behind his back as if restraining himself and said a single word, "Kristine."
A cold hand grabbed at Lee's heart. This was much, much worse. This would mean most definite exhile...definite death. He moved his hand strategically to his blade and kept it there, ready to draw the sword.
He stood straighter as Murgun continued to speak, "You, Lee, have been supporting her needs even as you work under me. You explicitely denied our agreement we made the first moment you walked through those doors. You have disrespected me in the most grievious of ways and I warn you, it will not go unnoticed."
His voice rose higher until it echoed throughout the room, his anger showing in his face. If looks could kill, Lee would be willing to make a bet that he was just killed a few times over. The burning in Murgun's eyes was something he'd always avoided but this was inevitable. He knew the risk of helping her and if given the chance, he would do it a hundred times over.
He was silent for a moment, wracking his brain for an out. When he found none, he spoke bluntly, "What I used my coin on is none of your concern. I have helped her, yes, but I don't believe that was in our agreement. Our agreement was that I would never again come into contact with her which I have honoured in every way. I have never written to her. I have never touched her. I have never set my eyes on her. I haven't done anything that I am ashamed of. I am a man of my word."
Murgun's lips pressed together in a tight line as he listened to him. He knew what was going to happen and stayed on the edge of his toes. Even with minor disagreements they've had before, daggers have been thrown his way. Of course, they were more of a warning then anything but with warnings out of the way already, Lee had no doubt he would try get him.
"We did not cover those, I do admit, but those were basic details that should have been considered by you without my command. I knew you had a brain and could use it...I do not appreciate this acting out. Especially in a matter so crucial to our agreement. I trusted you to understand that. I was apparently wrong. I do not like to be wrong." Murgun was cold as he spoke, no emotion showed in his usual tells. This in itself was a way of knowing he was very close to losing his patience.
Lee subtly shifted a step backwards but kept Murgun's attention away from it by replying, "I see you don't like your own teachings used against you."
A confused look took the place of Murgun's increasing impatience as he asked, "And what is that, may I ask?"
"Loopholes. You taught me from the second I walked into through those doors to always look for a way out. A way to honourably dishonor an agreement. You never once thought it could be used against you, did you? You should think before you teach your members such easy ways to respect what you've commanded while still doing exactly what we want to." The sharpness as he spoke surprised him but he, in no way, considered changing his tune. Murgun was too powerful for too long and enough was enough.
Murgun chuckled quietly, a smile spreading across his face. He carefully started walking towards Lee with a cautious look in his eye. Lee stood still, watching his every move, waiting for him to lunge forward and attack. He'd seen it happen to countless other men. They would become so absorbed in the soft way he walked that they would become unaware of the predator in front of them.
It came as he expected. Murgun sprung forward with his dagger in hand. Lee dodged him but kept his foot out in front of him, hoping for the chance to send to Headmaster flying. It didn't work but he never really expected it to. Murgun spun around, cool calculation in his eyes as he studied his stance.
Lee took this time to draw his sword. He kept a watchful eye on his opponent and was slightly taken back by the smug grin that curled on his lips as he did so.
Shit. He'd played right into his plan. The sword would hinder his ability to move, giving Murgun more chances to sneak his own blade through his defense.
Well, the best defence is to go on offence. Lee stepped closer and started swinging his blade at him strategically. Murgun blocked each strike with some effort but he wouldn't be that easy to escape. He knew he was only at a slight disadvantage with his dagger. To any other man, it would scream death but to the Headmaster, it was merely an inconvenience.
"I really didn't want to go about it this way but you had a chance. You ignored it and have pushed yourself beyond saving," he paused as he parried one of Lee's blows, "You will regret ever disrespecting me. You have not only signed your own sentence but Timothy's, your crew's, your village's, your Kristine's."
Lee hissed in anger and swung at his hard. It nicked the Headmaster's arm as he threw himself the other way. He cried out in pain and anger and came back with force. Lee blocked his attacks. He would've smiled as Murgun became blind with rage but he was to focused on not getting killed. He quickly jumped on top of the desk to get away, scattering papers everywhere.
He quickly calculated the odds of Murgun blocking him and decided within a split second that it would be worth the risk. He jumped up and swinging his blade aside, he came down on the man's face with his fist with all his strength. A satisfying crunch met his ears as his body crumpled underneath the force. He fell passed Murgun's unconscious body and stifled a grunt as his own blade cut into his shoulder.
He scrambled to his feet and picked up his long, slender sword. He held it over Murgun's neck, a small feeling of remorse as he held it high.
A sharp pain in his shoulder made him drop his sword before he could finish him. He spun around to see two men coming from outside the doors, one with a bow and one with a sword. He glanced at his shoulder. An arrow head stuck nicely out of his shirt, blood staining the white fabric he wore.
He picked his sword up as the first man swung his blade at him. The second man loaded his crossbow with another arrow. They must have been new recruits because their tactic was ridiculously flawed. Lee blocked his blade with one forceful blow, throwing the man off-balance as he took his arm, spun him around and let his comrade shoot him. He smiled wickedly as he heard the crunch of arrow in bone and the scream of agony. He quickly put his blade around the screaming man's throat and moved it in one swift movement. The scream changed to an abrubt gurgle.
The second man stared in shock as he realized what had happened. His eyes met Lee's and a fiery anger replaced his shock. He smiled. The boy fumbled to reload as he walked towards him, swinging his blade around. The anger slowly ebbed into fear as the boy realized there was no time to load up another arrow.
"Good try." Lee smiled coldly as he ran his blade through his stomach.
He didn't take the time to watch him dramatically fall to his knees as they all do. He was out the door, running through the stone cavern. He cast a glance towards Dan and Mark's limp bodies and grimaced at the amount of blood spilled on the ground. He nodded his head once to acknowledge their passing before grabbing a stunned Captain Joss to follow him. He smartly chose to follow as the echoing of many running feet sounded from the tunnel behind them.
The torches along the walls lit up the dark rockway, casting shadows along every corner. A pair of two men charged at Lee from around one corner. He shoved his shoulder into one of them while slicing the other's chest. As he crumpled to the ground, he spun around, tripping the other and ran him through.
He took off at another run, not caring now if Joss was behind him. Yes, he would fetch a fair price but he valued his own life more then the coin.
The familiar feel of a wooden dock ran under his feet and he was relieved to see Timothy, yelling orders as he began the process of undocking the ship. Lee knew that the process would take a few minutes. He glanced at the ships he was passing. He knew only three of them would able to out-do his own. He grinned slightly as he leaped onto one of them, sword drawn. He ran the blade across the main sail's rope, knowing it would taake them at least an hour to get it properly working again.
He jumped from ship to dock, ship to dock, cutting every main sail. He kept a watchful eye on his own ship as it drifted a little further out with each minute that passed. It was worth taking this chance because they wouldn't attempt to take him in one of the smaller vessels. It wouldn't be a very smart idea and they weren't stupid. Brainless and blindly lead, yes...stupid no.
"Lee!" Murgun was standing at the start of the deck, blood trickling down his forehead. The red deeply contrasted the blue of his eyes, showing off the blood rage in them.
He took that as the cue to get his ass on his own ship. He jumped onto the last dock and knowing he'd need some force to propel himself onto his ship, he put his sword away and ran. He felt the edge of the deck under his feet and he pushed as hard as he could. The air beneath him was no comfort until he felt wood underneath his hands. He'd barely grabbed hold of it and his fingers started to slip.
Timothy appeared above him and he took his hand to pull him up. He found his feet and helped his man pull him up onto the deck. He crouched behind the rails with a heave. He heard a snap behind him as a sharp tug went to his shoulder. He shouted a rather vulgar word at Timothy as he snapped the shaft of the arrow, accidently twisting it in the process.
Timothy left him there and he could hear him shouting orders, getting them moving faster. Lee stood up as they gained speed and listened to Murgun shout angrily as he found his parting gift on his three best ships. He grinned and ran up to the helm to watch them fumble around, looking for something to fix their ships quickly.
"You're a dead man! You and your lot! Say good-bye to Kristine!" Murgun bellowed out towards them.
"Yeah, whatever you say." Lee muttered and turning around to face the men, he shouted, "If you don't want to be on his hit list then leave now. If you've had enough of his shit, stay where you stand."
Not one man moved. He grinned and faced the wind with a steady hand on the wheel. Lee was only now the true captain over his men.