Hayraven’s Unofficial Chronicles Part 1
Jun 23rd, 2017
The Great Pirate Vladislovas. With every step, in the shadow of his footsteps, remained the blood of his defeated enemies. Demons bowed their heads and drew away in his presence. No being was more vicious or brutal than the Great Pirate.
In front of the ruthless Vladislovas stood a much younger Hayraven. From the splashing waves to the rocking boats, all became silent. Even the seagulls soaring up high had quieted down to watch them. There was no prize for the winner of this battle; the fight was for the title of Great Pirate.
Hayraven drew his cutlass first and began by attacking Vladislovas in swift steps, aiming once for his chest, twice for each side of his torso. But his attacks were too obvious for Vladislovas. Grabbing ahold of Hayraven’s cutlass, he kicked him in the pit of his stomach, knocking him over.
Then, as if to teach the younger pirate a lesson, he hit Hayraven with the hilt of his sword again and again. Hayraven barely escaped the cruel pirate’s attack to regain his footing. He was already injured, and Vladislovas looked set for victory.
Hayraven swallowed once. If he were to surrender, the brutal but skillful Vladislovas may take him as his subordinate. This likely had crossed Vladislovas’ mind, seeing how he had chosen to spare Hayraven’s life until then. But Hayraven shook away the thought. He began to collect himself as he shot his opponent a hidden smirk.
Again, he charged unto Vladislovas, stubbornly delivering the same attacks he knew were in vain. Vladislovas grew bored of toying with the young Hayraven. It would be the sharpened blade instead of the hilt striking at his throat next.
Then, Hayraven suddenly turned, drew a pistol out from its holster and pulled the trigger. The bullet lodged itself precisely in the middle of Vladislovas' forehead and his large body slowly collapsed towards Hayraven.
Thud! The small boat, no longer able to withstand the weight of both Vladislovas and Hayraven, tilted over. Waves splashed against the hull, and the cries of seagulls began to fill the air again. Nobody came to the surface. And the waves swept away the name of the Great Pirate.
Far away from where the sea swallowed the small boat and the two pirates was a large ship. In it, two groups of men had divided themselves between bow and stern; each busy setting up camp on their end of the ship.
The men avoided looking directly at the opposite side as they worked. Their eyes were locked in another direction: the direction in which the captain of each group had departed on a small boat long before.
The ship where they stood was the last one remaining of a battle that went on for two entire days. Now, the men had been forced into a silent confrontation. One side owned the ship; the other lost theirs, and had come aboard to continue the battle hand-to-hand.
If their pact was to be honored, both sides would soon become the crew of that very ship, regardless of who had first served in it. All had agreed that he who survived and returned to the ship would be made captain, be it Vladislovas or Hayraven. No pirate dared to defy Vladislovas, but if the young Hayraven was to kill him, the same would be true for him.
Bored of the stagnant tension, one man from Vladislovas’ crew that occupied the stern of the ship decided to break the silence. It was Seadog, a pirate with a large dog tattoo drawn across his broad chest. “If no one returns before sunset, I say we heave up anchor and leave.”
The oldest member of Hayraven’s remaining crew stood up from the ship’s bow. His arms were as thick as logs and enveloped by two wreathing sea snake tattoos. The oddly-named Oceanid replied to Seadog’s proposal. “If you swear not to attack us until we reach Vernike Island.”
Seadog did not hesitate. “I swear on the name of Jurate, that whoever attacks the other side before we arrive in Vernike Island will forever turn into ballast for the Kivotos.”
Oceanid repeated Seadog’s oath, followed by the men on either side of the ship.
Seadog took a glance at the sky and spoke again. “We’d better pray for a storm in the meantime. Though, with this weather…”
Oceanid, a veteran of the sea himself, agreed with Seadog, though he too thought a storm to be unlikely. “With the men we have, I don’t think we can work this ship under a storm anyway. We’ll barely make it to Vernike with all the crew and any good weather Jurate can bless us with. We couldn’t fight even if we wanted to.”
So it was. The battle of the last two days had been violent and intense. They no longer wished to fight over whom to name their captain. If they did, they certainly knew that nothing was to be gained from that.
He who returned to the ship would be made captain, be it Vladislovas or Hayraven. If neither did, the crew would leave the waters, and a new struggle for power would surely ensue. After the ship reached Vernike or another suitable port, that is. They would first ensure that the ship could sail with half of the remaining crew, or perhaps even half of that.
With as few men as that would entail, reclaiming the authority of any of the former captains would be close to impossible, and they would likely be exterminated or taken under a new pirate crew. To both ends of that leaderless ship, there was nothing to do then but wait for one of the great pirates to emerge victorious.
Seadog and Oceanid had fallen silent. They stared into the horizon, avoiding each other’s unpleasant gaze. That both men were wise enough not to start another conflict was a fortunate thing.
It was in that moment that they heard the sound of someone climbing up the rope ladder that hung from the side of the ship. The sparse crew meant that no one had been assigned to the lookout atop of the mast. The only way to look was to lean down from the edge of the ship, an act too risky for any of the men on board to pursue.
They had not heard the small boat approach the ship, so whoever it was who was climbing that rope ladder, he would have had to swim his way back. The small boat was far too distant for that to seem plausible, but it was even less likely that someone else had happened to approach the ship in those waters.
The men on deck focused on the sounds of the climbing stranger, until a hand emerged and gripped the edge of the gunwale. The hand was not familiar to them, perhaps from all the blood, sun and sea that had washed over it on the long way to the ship. No one offered to help. If, by any chance, that hand belonged to the rival captain, they did not want his crew to misunderstand it as an attempted attack. Seadog and Oceanid remained silent, focusing their attention on the edge of the ship while signaling their crews to stay still.
The hand gripping the gunwale trembled as it pulled up the heavy body of the stranger, revealing his face. Nearly unrecognizable by his subordinates were Hayraven’s features, mangled by multiple wounds and sheer exhaustion.
Every pirate on the ship thanked Jurate for giving them the victor they so eagerly awaited.
Hayraven climbed over the gunwale and stood on the deck, looking at the men on each side of the ship before addressing them.
“I grant you all permission to board my ship.”
He spoke as if he had been alone on the ship waiting for the others to board. That may have not been the case, but to sailors of all kinds, boarding permission was an important convention. It was also a sign that all of the crews’ problems had been solved, as no man had any intentions to defy his authority. Knowing this, Hayraven spoke again.
“The captain’s cabin…”
Hayraven collapsed onto the deck before he could finish his sentence, and the pirates around him hurried to help. Old and new members of his crew laid the unconscious Hayraven down in the captain’s cabin.
<To be continued>