Chapter 6: Trouble
"So you've finally gathered enough courage to face us. Or more correctly, you've gathered enough men that you think you can beat us." Balix taunted, a maniacal grin spreading across his face. He was finally going to get a chance at Resd without breaking any rules.
"You can't beat all of us, not with odds of ten to one."
"Five to one." Erland announced, drawing his short sword.
"We're helping." Devorn added, unsheathing his own blade.
"Four to one. They are my captains." Mirsha felt necessary to proclaim as she drew her rapier.
Viro winced. Mirsha had forgotten to disguise her voice, if they had any luck still with them, Resd wouldn't…
"A woman?" The man in question cried in surprise, staring at Mirsha before turning to Balix and Viro. "Just when I thought you couldn't sink any lower, you go and pull some stupid whore on board for company. She probably doesn't know which end of her sword to hold. Then again if she's pretty maybe I'll keep her."
Now normally Mirsha was fairly even-tempered but lately she'd been enduring snubs and insults because of her sex and hearing plenty of horribly sexist jokes. That and Resd set her on edge. So she snapped.
Mirsha sprinted forward drawing her rapier as she ran. The other four followed her in her attack. The young woman didn't even give the thugs time to react she just ran the first one straight through. She put her leg up and pushed him off the end of her blade before whirling about to face another target…
Balix slashed out the throat of one thug and eviscerated another, all the while getting closer to Resd. He was going to die.
Viro backed his twin up, keeping the thugs from coming in from behind. He prayed they'd all get through this intact as he slashed, dodged and parried…
Erland and Devorn were fighting back to back as they always did, harmonizing with one another in such a way that they were almost untouchable. Most of the thugs fighting them were already dead…
Mirsha was in her battle calm, completely unfazed by the carnage around and on her. She concentrated on the flow of the battle, making sure she wasn't pushed into a tight spot while doing as much damage as she could...
Balix killed the last man between him and Resd and was closing in on him when a huge explosion illuminated the night sky and made the very ground shake. Before he could regain his footing, his target had slipped away again.
Viro dispatched the last of the thugs near him and his twin when the explosion knocked him off his feet.
The twins leaned against one another and managed to stay standing as the ground rocked beneath their feet.
Mirsha kept her balance as the ground shook and killed the last of the thugs as he lost his balance.
When the ground heaved for the last time, they all reassembled themselves and took stock. Other then a few minor cuts and bruises from falling and one shallow cut that needed to be bandaged on Balix's part, they were all intact.
"Resd got away." Balix told them, voice bitter. "Just when I finally had him. I'm going to get him."
"Well you're going to have to wait until your arm gets better." Mirsha told him tartly, not liking the way he kept glancing out into the street. "Besides I want to know what caused that explosion."
The others voiced their agreement so the five of them set off in the direction the explosion had been and before long they had their answer. A storage house filled with gunpowder had exploded taking out an entire city block.
The entire city was at a stand still as people went to scavenge, help or merely gawk at the destruction wrought by such a powerful force. The crowds around the scene were immense and tightly packed.
Knowing the crew would be nervy after such and event, Balix and Viro elected to return to the ship and Mirsha followed by default not knowing where else to go.
"We'll see you again." Erland told the three of them.
"We're allies now." Devorn added. "No more fighting amongst one another."
With that the twins melted into the crowd, leaving Balix and Viro gaping. They'd never thought they'd live to see the day when Erland and Devorn would change their minds. Deciding not to push their luck for that day, the htree of them returned to the ship.
As the two captains had predicted, many of the crewmembers had gathered at the ship, swapping rumors about the explosion. When the crew caught sight of their leaders who had obvious, though minor, wounds, they enveloped them.
"Caught up with Resd and a bunch of his thugs." Viro explained as he cleared the way to the ship.
"Did you finally get him?"
"No. Bastard ran away before I could finish him." Balix hissed. "Used the explosion as cover. Don't know how he could run with the ground heaving and bucking like that."
"What about his thugs?"
"All dead." Mirsha told them, as she brought up the rear of the two half-captains as they made their way down to the rooms below deck. Balix was seated in the galley, pressing a cloth to his still bleeding wound. Viro appeared a few moments later with a roll of bandages.
"You'd better hold still this time." He ordered his twin.
"Stop!" Mirsha cried. The two men froze and looked at her.
"You haven't disinfected the wound yet!" She told them, scandalized.
"Why do we need to do that? It looks fine." Balix asked.
"Because you don't know what was on whatever it was that cut you, not to mention what diseases you might have picked up just walking over here." Mirsha said before walking over to where the keg of ale sat. She poured a little bit in a cup, brought it over to Balix and dumped it on his arm. He predictably jumped up and yelled.
"That stings!" he cried.
"Good. That means it's working. Now you can bandage it without worrying too much about infection." She replied.
"Where did you learn something like that?" Viro wanted to know as he carefully bandaged his twin's arm.
"Home. My teacher taught me what she knew about caring for wounds and then sent me to the local herb-midwife-healer. They both taught me how to prevent infections. You got to be careful with them. A wound might normally not be very threatening but if it goes septic… well Balix here would have had to have his arm removed if his cut had gone septic."
The injured captain muttered something; something Mirsha was sure wasn't complementary, before asking. "How did you manage to stay on your feet? You didn't even falter when the ground started moving."
Mirsha made a face. "Fenella made me train on the most impossible things. She said I should be able to fight on anything, moving or not. One of her favourites was the ball. I had to balance on a ball and fend off her attacks. That one alone took me nearly a year to learn to her satisfaction. You don't want to hear about the other things she trained me on."
Balix grinned, good humour revived. "Oh but we do."
The young woman rolled her eyes, not noticing that the rest of the crew had been around since she'd dumped the ale on Balix. "Well let's see, before the ball was me on ice. Before that was balancing on thin beams. After the ball I was in the trees then on horseback. Standing and sitting on the horse. I think I remember something about sand but I believe that was from when I was still a child. Fenella's probably at home devising new things to stick me on and whack me off of. I dread to think of what she's going to have prepared for my homecoming."
"That's quite the repertoire." Balix replied, a little surprised.
Mirsha snorted. "Not really. Most of that won't be of any use in a fight. I mean how often am I going to have to fight someone while balancing on a ball? I mean really."
"It came in useful today." Viro put in.
"Yes but how often am I going to be expected to fight during an earthquake?"
"Enough!" Balix cried. "You're giving me a headache. Let's go to bed and deal with tomorrow, tomorrow. Those of you who have duty had better get to it."
The rest of the crew scrambled either back up on deck into the city, back up on deck and to their posts or to their respective bunk. Mirsha followed Balix and Viro and said goodnight as they entered their room before flopping down on her own bunk. All in all she felt she'd done fairly well for her first foray into a pirate city. Tomorrow she'd get the stuff she wanted. Until then… She never finished that thought as sleep wrapped its misty tendrils about her and dragged her down, down into oblivion.