Vividam: Prologue


Part Three: Latya

"It be me tonight, ma'am Captain," Grewald broke the silence of the prison cell. "And I know you'd be blaming yourself…" he took a swallow of the swill wine. I didn't answer him; instead I focused all my strength into clenching my hands so tightly they bled. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to open them again.

He glanced at me, taking notice of the blood but ignored it, "do us all a favor ma'am Captain, and don't pin this on yourself." He took a deep breath, "if you have to die, die telling the world about the traitorous bastard who led us here."

"Grewald," I spoke softly, feeling exhausted. "I'm sorry, I've failed us…"

"Like I said, Captain…we were all behind you." He handed me the drink. "I'm sure as all the hells of this earth that your whole crew is after him, even in death." He laughed, far too heartily for a dying man.

It wasn't long until Royal guards noisily barged into the cell, and ordered for us to get up. One of them sharply tugged on my arm. He pushed me out of the cell door and Grewald was following closely. I saw that he held no fear in his eyes, and I felt ashamed.

"Master Richard would have you in the high balcony to watch the execution, as always." The guard who pulled me up said.

The master of the realm had made me watch every execution of my crew. And I knew that I was being saved for last, the master made it known, as the grand finally. I had thought that by the last man, I would have been numb to the pain, but that was not the case. It was even more painful now.

As we pass the execution grounds, Grewald was separated from me…myself being led to the high balconies to accompany the master, and Grewald to the gallows. The screams of the crowd were relentless and vicious.

They want him dead. I thought.

They want you dead. My thoughts betrayed me.

I reached the high balcony; the master was smiling, as if greeting an old friend. "Welcome, welcome!" He said, his arms reaching out for an embrace he would never get.

"Are you forcing me to watch? Just like the others?" I asked flatly.

The master laughed, "You're that eager for it?" His words cut deep. I wanted to strike him, kill him on the spot and then jump off the balcony into the crowd below.

"I'm never eager to see one of my own die," I replied, there was no strength in not caring for others.

The master shrugged and forced me to sit next to him, "I want you to watch, and if you look away, I promise you that I will store his rotting flesh in your cell." His voice was threatening and hard, for a moment I was afraid.

Ignore it.

I soaked in the sounds of the dead man's drums as it beat low and steady. "Of course I won't look away..." I whispered. "You don't look away from a blue blood," I said, never looking at the master.

"Blue blood?" the master laughed. "I wasn't aware that pirates and thieves started to bequeath their people."

"We don't," I said more slowly, "Grewald is a blue blood from the Eastern lands… and a ward of the Flood-Tamers." I said, a small smile forming on my lips. Perhaps I could save at least Grewald's life.

"You're lying…" the master said, realizing what this could mean. I watched Grewald walk up to the gallows and the drums beat faster as the executioner placed the noose around his neck.

"Any last words?" the executioner that accompanied Grewald asked.

I saw Grewald nod, and with a great booming voice, he shouts for all to hear, "The East will not stand idle!"

Before the master could stop the executioner, the lever had been pulled and Grewald hung dead. He turns to me and grabs my neck, "fix this or I will—!"

"Will what?" I ask him, finding myself eerily calm. "Kill me? You've taken my ship, you've taken my crew, and you set free that bastard traitor." I breathed in deeply, "Whatever you can do to me, you have done. You have nothing else to threaten me with… you didn't have anything to do so in the first place."

"Wasn't that the whole point of these executions? Because you can't find anything to threaten me with but death? You can try and kill me, but do you know that Flood-Tamers put their traders above the Royal family and its subjects? You kill me and all hells on earth will be after your soul."

The master didn't answer, fear had stuck in his throat, I was sure. So I continued, "At any day, the Flood-Tamers will find their ward's blood on your hands. Your southern lands will suffer relentless rains; your crops will drown, along with your people. And you will have the most painful punishment of them all. You'll be made to swallow water to fill your lungs, but you will never die. And if you've never had that sensation, I can assure you that it is nothing like you've ever felt."