Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


In the Belly of the Black Wind
IC Date: Day 25 of Month 11, 162 AC
RL Date: July 31, 2011.
Participants: Almer Connington, Alyard Corbray, Ammon Massey, Dagur Saltcliffe, Katla Greyjoy, Reyna Saltcliffe
Locations: Crackclaw Point: The Black Wind
Comments: This is the log for inside The Black Wind, Sullehman Saan’s ship, and thus is only part of the full log that recounts the recovery of the ladies Reyna Saltcliffe, Mellony Fossoway, and Katla Greyjoy and the defeat of Sullehman Saan, self-styled Prince of the Narrow Sea.

Summary: Sers Dagur Saltcliffe and Alyard Corbray, along with Dagur’s squire Ammon Massey, sneak aboard the Black Wind to rescue Dagur’s wife the lady Reyna Saltcliffe, and the ladies Mellony Fossoway and Katla Greyjoy – and then… run into complications.

Crackclaw Point: The Black Wind

The waning moon is obscured by clouds this night, though the racing wind occasionally bares a patch of sky for it to shine through. Waves slap against the anchored ships of the Prince of the Narrow Sea, for the sea races ahead of the wind on such a night, dark and full of noises. The creak of the hull, the rush of the wind, the snapping of lines and lowered sails, the shouting of the watch, all combine to fill the night with sound.

In the first mate’s cabin, a trio of women try to sleep. Mellony Fossoway has only just returned from Saan’s cabin, and she is lying on the single berth fast asleep. On the floor, the remaining two women have made their beds as best they may from blankets and bits of clothing. Reyna Saltcliffe lies curled on one in a restive dose, for she returned from Saan’s cabin a few hours earlier, bent with pain and bearing no more information for her troubles than when she left. “Tomorrow,” is all she said to Katla Greyjoy, who has pains of her own, before crumpling into her bed to find what sleep she can when there is no comfort or surcease from pain.

Occasionally, a muffled voice can be heard from the deck; save that and the night sounds of a ship at anchor, all else is quiet. The night shift is heavier than usual, but still many of the crew sleep—for with all the Westerosi ships in their possession now, what threat is there?

Then, there is another sound closer at hand. The guard outside the door asks a sleepy question.

It ends on a choked gasp—and then, silence again. Until the door creaks, pushed open. And there stand a handful of the crew, one in the doorway and the others behind him. But he holds a blood-stained dagger and at his feet lies the crumpled body of the guard. The ship rolls a little and the lantern hanging by the door sways with it. Light washes across one side of his face—hair damp as if it had been dripping wet only a little while ago, the wrapped hilt of a longsword jutting above his right shoulder, the lean, hard lines of jaw and chin.

The ironborn woman is dozing fitfully, tucked up in her corner and curled up, fingers clenched in fists even as she falls into unconsciousness, and then shifts. The pain wakes her again, and she shifts to something perhaps a hint more comfortable, and she sleeps again, and the process repeats itself. The door opens, and it startles her awake, her face shadowed, one hand folding out to hide the light, to better see who, now, has come to abuse them.

Reyna makes a low sound of pain as she lifts her head, a pathetic little whimper that is so unlike her as to be laughable. She squints against the light, then mumbles, “S’only a dream, Katla,” before letting her head back down. Mellony does not stir at all, and it would seem she is the only one capable of sleep this night.

One man emerges from the shadows, dragging the guard’s corpse with him and stuffing it into a darkened corner. He is dressed from head to toe in black, still sodden and dripping from the sea. His short hair is plastered to his head; his eyes are red and bloodshot, as if he had been crying. But Ammon Massey is not crying now.

He straightens from his task to look at the women, one finger raised against his lips.

Katla blinks, groggy, wincing as she shifts, biting back a noise of pain, mostly successful. She’s confused, clearly, and rubs her eyes, making another pained sound. “Reyna…” her voice is soft, confused, worried, almost afraid, and she pushes herself back a little closer to the wall, groping for something.

Glancing over his shoulder, the man in the doorway says something in a quiet murmur. It sends two of the men away, one to each end of the passage to keep watch. And then, turning back, he moves into the room on silent feet, eyes shadowed in the gloom—but from the way his head is turned, his gaze seems fixed on Reyna.

And then he is kneeling beside her, a calloused swordsman’s hand clamped over her mouth, his murmur loud enough to reach the other women: “Not a sound. Katla, hush!”

It is a familiar voice.

A third steps in behind Ammon Massey, his tight fitting crimson jerkin still dripping wet. His wavy black hair is tied back, though a few stray locks still cling to his face. The pale light flickers against his grey eyes.

Ser Alyard Corbray has a simple black scabbard in his left hand, the sword within not the one most commonly attributed to him, a simple black pommel has replaced the usual bright heart. He looks to Katla for a few moments, leaving Dagur to speak with her for now.

A third steps into the cabin, he is wearing dark leather and a threadbare grey woollen cloak draped over his left shoulder. His wavy black hair is tied back, though a few stray locks still cling to his face, slick with sweat perhaps. The pale light flickers against his grey eyes.

Hanging from his belt is a shortsword in an old leather scabbard and in his right hand a notched dirk. The newcomer’s gaze lingers on Katla Greyjoy as the other speaks.

The squire spares only the briefest of glances over the women as Dagur takes control. Then Ammon is closing the door softly, holding it open just a crack. He leans against the wall, one hand grasping the hilt of his sword, keeping watch out into the hallway.

Reyna gasps when the hand comes over her mouth, her eyes going wide in terror and pain. But her struggle eases when she hears his voice, and then she is only confused. Mellony is awake now as well, pushing up onto her hands. “Does he want me again?” she asks in a dull voice.

A dream - could it be? Reyna had promised tomorrow, but promises have meant little with Sullehman Saan. Katla looks at the men, and then to Reyna and Mellony, her eyes wide. Her gaze flicks back and forth from face to face, but there is little brightness in it now, the blue shadowed and dull, sleepy confusion warring with physical agony.

Wordlessly, Dagur points the squire to Mellony with his free hand. Stooping, mouth to Reyna’s ear, he murmurs to her, fierce and urgent—then freezes, lifting his head.

For there has been a sound from outside; a whisper of steel, a man’s voice raised in question, speaking a foreign tongue, a choked half-cry as he is cut off mid-way.

And jerking upright, the Iron Serpent takes Reyna by the arm and pulls her up, his voice still low but no longer a whisper: “Katla, up. Up, woman! Mellony—Ammon, get her on her feet!”

Ammon hesitates only long enough to draw his sword before heeding Dagur’s order. He grabs Mellony under the arm and hauls her roughly to her feet. His eyes never leave the doorway.

The half-cry alerts the Valeknight and he utters something under his breath before moving over to Katla. “Come on.” He utters, trying to pull her up by her upper arm. There is a sense of urgency about him tonight, even as he pulls the dirk from his sword belt and slips it into her hand.

“Follow behind me, Katla.” Alyard whispers before unsheathing his shortsword.

Reyna comes up to her feet, but not silently. Too many hands have gripped her arm, and too many bruised muscles are attached to it, and she lets out a sobbing “AAAH!” of pain. Her movements as she whispers a frantic apology are stiff and unnatural.

Mellony, too, whimpers in pain as she comes to her feet. “I don’t want to, not again, not so soon,” she says, resisting the squire’s handling. “He’s had me twice already, and he said I could sleep ‘cause I was good at the parley. He promised I could.” But she goes after a moment, weeping silently but quiescent.

Katla hisses in pain as Alyard grabs her arm, and it’s not a silent sound, but better than the louder noise she clearly wants to make as another paroxysm of pain wracks her at the touch. Her eyes pinched shut, she turns bloodless-white for a moment as one hand fumbles for the berth, pulling herself up the rest of the way. It takes a few moments before she can open her eyes again, and she takes the dirk when she has control over herself again.

Dagur freezes at Reyna’s cry. There is utter silence in its wake. And then, from somewhere close by, a hoarse shout of alarm. Steel clashes against steel at the other end of the passage and the night’s silence is destroyed.

He closes his eyes for one brief moment. And then, the Iron Serpent, so careful with what he shows, kisses his wife fierce and hard. Then, he is pulling away, turning to the door without a backward look, reaching up and behind to draw that cruelly sharp blade as he steps out into the passage.

“Alyard. Ammon. With me. We hold them until the others come.”

If Dagur’s fit of romanticism and passion sway him, Ammon doesn’t show it. Instead, he pushes Mellony roughly behind him, back towards the two women. He takes two quick steps towards the door, but tops suddenly. The squire offers Reyna one quick look before stepping from the cabin.

“Make sure Rys gets home,” he says in a voice strained and cracking. And then he steps up next to the Iron Serpent.

Reyna raises her arms too slowly to cling to Dagur before he is already gone from her, and the longing in her eyes is as terrible as it is brief. “I will,” she says hoarsely to Ammon. Then she catches Mellony and draws the girl back with her to stand beside Katla. “Is it real?” she whispers to her fellow captive. “Is it, Katla?”

Alyard has no kisses to share, just a dirk and a reassuring smile. “When the time comes, stick close, remember.” He says, making sure the message is clear before he turns to leave the Greyjoy girl. The bandaged left hand drops back to his side and he strides back to Dagur’s side, the dark shortsword held tightly in his right hand.

Steel rings from both ends of the passage now. At the end leading further below, the Company’s man holds firm, two pirates already dead before him. He is panting, a cut on his arm bleeding, as he stares into the darkness; movement stirs there. And then, with a roar of blood-fury more a beast’s than human, Vulk of Ib is emerging from the shadows, others streaming behind him; short and wide, thick with muscle, bare chest covered with a pelt of hair and a short-hafted axe in each hand, he is a fearsome figure.

“Alyard!” the Iron Serpent calls, pointing to that end with his blade. And then, spinning around, he is sprinting to the other end, calling to Ammon. For the man there is hard-pressed, trying desperately to hold off two of the crew. And behind them, more are appearing.

And reaching them, the ironman takes one of the pirates in the throat—but too late, for the other has already skewered the Company man who is dead before he hits the ground.

Ammon flicks a quick glance to Vulk, the man who protected the treacherous Saan from a brother’s vengeance. But his master is calling, and so Ammon follows at Dagur’s heels. The squire steps over his fallen comrade without a second and, with a contemptuous flick of his wrist, opens a red smile across the remaining pirate’s throat.

“You come early!” roars Vulk, finishing the poor Company man with a blow of one axe. He kicks the body aside and advances. “I come take women like man! They virgins so, Saan say, and here I find sneaking thieves!” He grins at Alyard. “So I cut off feet and take you so instead. Is good.” And he turs the axes in his hands, leering at the squire and waiting for his attack.

Katla is wary, and her hand shifts around the dirk, holding it white-knuckled as she watches the men slip away. She turns to Reyna, her voice soft, just for the other women. “I think it is. I hope…” and then she shakes her head, unwilling to even venture that this is a dream.

From one end of the passage, where Ammon and Dagur have moved, comes another pirate, another Ibbenese by the look of him - dark, short and muscled, a longaxe in his hand, bouncing with momentum to match the eager, bloodthirsty look in his eyes.

Alyard offers little more than a nod to Dagur before he starts his charge down to the passageway. His threadbare cloak flaps behind him as his boots thud against the wooden floor. The bandaged left arm is revealed now, the sodden cloth stretched as the Valeknight flexes his arm. He throws himself into the defence of the passage, hurriedly shouting, “hold firm!”

Sadly it is too late and Alyard is alone in his defence. “There are no virgins for you, pirate!” Alyard spits, thrusting at Vulk with his sword, aiming to put it between his ribs before he can do too much damage.

“Tell me if you find any in the seven hells…”

Alyard attacks Vulk of Ib with his sword… and strikes him with a powerful blow!

For just a moment, the Iron Serpent and his squire have won themselves a breathing space. It doesn’t last long. Footsteps pound along the passage—and then they are boiling out of the shadows, men of the crew with bare steel and promises of death. That charge forces back the ironman and Ammon until finally they hold fast just a few paces from the cabin door.

Sparks flare as steel meets steel; the ironman fights with gritted teeth. But he still has time to call out: “Above! It’s started!”

For there are cries of alarm from the deck as well—and suddenly, the ship rocks violently as if another one has scraped alongside. Dagur is thrown against the wall.

And as he steadies himself again, there is a flash of gold further down the passage; someone vaults down the ladder graceful as a hunting cat. And drawing his slim blade, blue eyes ablaze, jerkin of hardened leather buckled on over his padded doublet, the Prince of the Narrow Sea stalks towards the fight.

“Many virgins in world after world,” says Vulk—then grunts in pain as blood spurts from his ribs. He says something in vile Ibbenese before swinging both axes in a nasty crosscut that looks to decapitate Alyard.

Vulk of Ib attacks Alyard with his mass weapon… and strikes him with a hard blow!

Another man moves into view as Ammon fells his foe and falls back before the onslaught. This one is short and well muscled, with a long axe. Ammon eyes the small man as he bounces here and there like a cat with a string. And for all the many advantages quickness can bring in a fight—well, size has its advantage too. With a bestial roar, Ammon leaps at the pirate, his sword crashing down from overhead.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and strikes him with a swift blow!

Tipuk’s mouth hangs open in a moment of shock, unable to quite dodge the blow in the small confines of the quarters, but he is able to block enough of it with the haft of his axe that the swordstrike cuts him thinly, blood streaking down one shoulder and along his arm. “You pretty,” he says thoughtfully, “like sister. Pretty too, we all wanted turns with sister. Saan said no,” Tipuk adds, swinging his axe downward towards Ammon’s shoulder as if to cleave it off.
Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… and strikes him with a hard blow!

“Not where you wi…” Alyard is cut short as the ship rocks and it almost certainly saves his life, thrown to the side he takes one of Vulk’s axes to the shoulder. Split leather reveals a bloody gash that causes the knight to wince. His steadies himself and smirks at the hulking pirate before springing back into life. The shortsword comes down in a wide arc, trying to relieve Vulk of one of his axes, /and/ his right hand.

Alyard attacks Vulk of Ib with his sword… and strikes him with a powerful blow!

A pirate crumples to his knees before Dagur; the ironman lets his weight pull him off his blade. And he stares at that approaching apparition of silk and steel amidst all the carnage. Slowly, by degrees, his face hardens, skin seeming to stretch tight, eyes rimmed with red, teeth baring in a feral snarl.

The Lysene captain stops a few paces away, flicking a glance past Dagur at the women in the cabin’s doorway. “After I have defeated you,” he says conversationally, “I will make you watch as I take your wife in every way a man can take a woman.”

And silent as death, the Iron Serpent leaps at him. Sullehman Saan brings up his own blade and the two men meet in a blur of steel.

Dagur attacks Sullehman with his sword… and strikes him with a swift blow!
Sullehman attacks Dagur with his sword… merely strikes a glancing blow!

Alyard succeeds. Vulk’s left hand, still gripping its axe, goes skittering down the passageway, leaving the hulking Ibbenese to gawk at the stump. Then, with a roar of rage and pain, he cleaves down toward Alyard’s head.

Vulk of Ib attacks Alyard with his mass weapon… with no result as the two warriors battle!

Ammon’s eye tracks the axe’s descent and he steps into it. Tipuk strikes true, but Ammon’s sudden move ensures that the axe’s haft smashes into his shoulder, not the cruely sharp edge. Even so, there is a loud SLAP as the squire is struck and he stumbles a bit. And surprsingly, he laughs.

“Be quiet, worm,” Ammon says, flicking his blade out toward’s Tipuk’s chin.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and has his blow intercepted by Tipuk.

Side by side the Iron Serpent and his squire fight, holding one end of the passage. And as Dagur and the Lysene captain pull apart, both are bleeding from shallow cuts; the ironman’s arm and Sullehman’s cheek. The pirate captain touches a hand to it, then looks up with a look of incredulous anger. For surely it will scar.

And then he is attacking again, cutting high, low, low again—and Dagur is countering desperately, for here is a swordsman who seems his match in skill. Enough of a match, in fact, that he opens up the space for one his crew to slip right past and run for the women.

“Ware!” cries the ironman, cutting wildly at Sullehman, then spinning around, exposing his back in a desperate attempt to catch the pirate before he can reach the women.

Dagur attacks Sullehman with his sword… and strikes him with a swift blow!

Sullehman attacks Dagur with his sword… and has his blow intercepted by Dagur.

“Quiet? Ladies not so quiet when we take them. Wailing like pretty things,” Tipuk says conversationally as he avoids Ammon’s blow, and shifts the axe in his hands, making a matching swing again from the opposite side, again towards the shoulder.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… result as the two warriors battle!

Alyard’s sword comes up to meet Vulks axe and requires two hands to keep it from coming back down on him. These men are poorly matched when it comes to strength, the gap between them a chasm. The Valeknight uses all his strength to try and shove the axe to one side with his blade so he can strike once more, this time a lightning quick slash meant to open him from chin to chest.

Alyard attacks Vulk of Ib with his sword… and has his blow intercepted by Vulk.

But a lazy swing towards the sword arm is easily parried, and Ammon does so—and brings his leg up in a front kick to Tipuk’s groin.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and has his blow intercepted by Tipuk.

Ib blocks the blow with a desperately raised axe, pale now from blood loss and pain. “I will bugger you until you weep,” he snarls through gritted teeth, placing himself between Alyard and the cabin to make way for his captain. “Until you bleed.” Then he strikes, aiming again for the man’s head.

Vulk of Ib attacks Alyard with his mass weapon… with no result as the two warriors battle!

Tipuk laughs and shifts back slightly, the longaxe’s haft dropping down to block the kick. “Maybe instead, I take you, share you with crew?” Considering, looking over Ammon’s shoulder to where Vulk and Alyard battle, where others have slid down the hall towards the women, and then he raises the axe slightly to cut down across Ammon’s shoulders for a third time, the axe leaving little room to manouvre.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon…and has his blow intercepted by Ammon.

Inside the cabin, the women are clustered together in abject terror, Mellony and Reyna with their arms around one another, all of them pressed into the corner in a vain attempt at hiding. “He’s coming,” Mellony says almost dreamily, disengaging from Reyna suddenly. “I hear him. My sweet captain.”

Alyard ducks this time and sees the axe cut clean air above his head. “Bugger me!? With what?” Alyard replies, a dark look in his eyes from his crouched position. He rises, bringing the sword up with both hands, aiming to put it just above the pirate’s groin.

Alyard attacks Vulk of Ib with his sword…and has his blow intercepted by Vulk.

That wild swing proves a lucky one, for it scores another shallow cut along Sullehman’s shoulder, pushing him back a pace. But then he is into the attack again and the Iron Serpent must turn back to face him or be stabbed in the back, all the while backing towards the cabin and the pirate advancing on the women.

Steel sings against steel, breaks apart, meets again; they are fighting with a skill that takes the breath, these two men, their swords flashing blurs in the swaying lamplight. And the Iron Serpent is not even bothering to defend himself now; he is on the attack, always the attack, a rumbling snarl in his throat like a wolf’s, lost to blood-madness.

Dagur attacks Sullehman with his sword… and strikes him with a shattering blow!

Again, Ammon sees the pirate’s attack coming. The squire moves quickly now, dropping to one knee. His left hand catches Tipuk’s arm at the wrist, stopping the Tipuk’s axe dead. Ammon pushes back, slashing out at the man’s knees as he comes to his feet once more.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and misses by a narrow margin!

Again Vulk blocks Alyard’s blow with his axe. “Bugger you,” he says, grinning a terrible red-toothed grin. “Fuck in arse,” he adds helpfully, in case Alyard did not understand. Then he feints toward Alyard’s head, changing his attack at the last moment to strike at his neck instead.

Vulk of Ib attacks Alyard with his mass weapon… and strikes him with a swift blow!

Katla’s fingers clench, loosen, clench again around the hilt of the dirk, licking her lips, her eyes blazing for a moment at the clash of steel, almost… yearning for something. There is no red in her eyes, but there is still something that does not seem entirely pleasant, or clear of thought.

Tipuk laughs, and dodges the blade. “Oh, pretty boy, yes, yes. You do not need hands, no,” the Ibbense man says to Ammon, and as he does, swings his axe to take off one of those hands.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… and has his blow intercepted by Ammon.

Alyard has no time for a witty reply, the axe skims his neck, drawing a red line between it and his shoulder. He gasps, raising his left hand to touch it briefly, checking for how much blood he’s losing perhaps. It only takes a moment though and he’s back on the offensive, lashing out with another powerful slash to hopefully relieve Vulk of his second hand.

Alyard attacks Vulk of Ib with his sword… and strikes him with a hard blow!

Sparks fly as the head of Tipuk’s axe is parried by Ammon’s blade, and again Ammon surges forward. The squire doesn’t seem to be aware that his own allies are being pushed back as he desperately attempts to gain ground, stabbing out with his blade.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and strikes him with a swift blow!

Tipuk blinks, watching the sword thrust catch part of his side, clearly unexpected after so many missed blows and parries. The blood streaks down, dripping on the boards beneath their feet in the passageway as he lets out a few choice invectives in Ibbenese and then swinging his axe, hard, at Ammon’s chest.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon…with no result as the two warriors battle!

The song of steel builds to a crescendo. They are not moving now, the Iron Serpent and the Prince of the Narrow Sea. Feet braced, they stand there in the centre of the passage; cut, parry, counter, cut again, all with the unthinking skill of men born to the sword. A single breath separates victory from defeat here.

And it is Sullehman Saan who falters, leaving himself open for just a moment too long. It is all the ironman needs. He drives the Lysene captain’s blade wide—and skewers him through his shoulder, a foot of bloody steel standing out behind the man.

With a choked scream, Sullehman falls to his knees. Placing a foot on his chest, Dagur kicks him back off his blade—and then he is spinning around, sprinting down the passage, flinging himself at the pirate just as the man enters the cabin.

Whirling with a hoarse cry, the pirate meets Dagur’s blade with his own, his back to the women.

Ammon hollows out as Tipuk’s axe comes on—just enough to dodge the blow. The squire bellows a wordless battle-cry as his eyes catch the blood trickling from his opponent’s side. Ammon comes on, swinging his sword in an up thrust in the wake of Tipuk’s passing axe. The target is the pirates elbow.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and strikes him with a powerful blow!

The hand flies, with the axe, and Vulk looks stunned. “Vulk still has cock,” he says in disbelief as he watches the blood pumping from the stumps of his hands. “Vulk still has cock. Vulk still has cock. Vulk…” he goes to his knees, face bloodless pale, the flow of blood from his stumps slowing. “Still… has…. cock…” and then he keels over, eyes fixed and staring.

The Ibbenese man facing Ammon looks surprised again as his elbow cracks beneath the force of the blow, and he nearly drops the axe - if it were only a short-hafted axe. Still, he has one hand, one arm, still good—and swings again, his eyes raging now, the pain beginning to overwhelm his sense.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… has his blow intercepted by Ammon’s shield.

The dirk in her hands shifts again, and Katla watches the man enter the cabin, then spin to meet Dagur’s blade, and she takes one step, two, raising the dirk in her hand and plunging it into the man’s lower abdomen, beneath his ribs in the sweet soft unprotected spaces. She thrusts the dirk in once, withdraws it, thrusts it in again, her eyes not focused on anything but the blade and the man before her.

Reyna cries out as Mellony breaks away from her. “Mellony, no!” But the girl, taller than Reyna and heavier, and she is easily away. She slips past the tumult at the cabin door and rushes to Saan, dropping to her knees. “My poor sweet captain,” she coos, rising again and stepping right out of her dress so she can press it to the bleeding sword wound in Sullehman’s shoulder. Her shift is stained with blood and worse, but she sees only the bleeing Prince of the Narrow Sea, not the fighting and dying around her.

The Ibbenese man facing Ammon looks surprised again as his elbow cracks beneath the force of the blow, and he nearly drops the axe - if it were only a short-hafted axe. Still, he has one hand, one arm, still good—and swings again, his eyes raging now, the pain beginning to overwhelm his sense.

Again, the pirate’s axe is slow. Again, Ammon intercepts it. And again, Ammon surges forward. The big squire is moving quickly now, pushing the pace, pushing the pirate back. Massey lets go with a vicious back swing, again toward’s Tipuk’s knees.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and misses by a narrow margin!

The Massey squire barely catches the man’s breeches, slicing open the leather above the knees, and it seems that such a strike was the last thing to push him over the edge - for now Tipuk begins to swing, careless of whether it is friend or foe he might strike, the axe flashing in the wavering lamplight.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… and strikes him with a swift blow!

Alyard kicks Vulk’s hand away, flashing the corpse a quick smile before he begins to move back to the cabin door. “How much longer?” He asks Dagur hurriedly.

Unfortunately for Ammon, Tipuk strikes him. The squire steps aside as the axe comes in, but not quick enough. It slices Ammon’s shoulder; blood flies. But it is just a fleshwound, and Ammon respondes with another overhead strike.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and strikes him with a swift blow!

A roar, a swing, a spurt of blood that cleaves well into Tipuk’s shoulder, baring fat and muscle. The squat man lets out another roar of unintelligible Ibbenese as he swings again, force over focus, toward Ammon’s arms and chest.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… and has his blow intercepted by Ammon.

Another block by Ammon, another backswing, this time for the Ibbenese’s face.

Ammon attacks Tipuk with his sword… and merely strikes a glancing blow!

“Pretty,” the Ibbenese says, pushing forward. “Pretty like sister, pretty like ladies,” and even Saan’s fall seems to go unnoticed as he presses forward, towards the cabin - and Dagur, and Alyard, and the others.

Tipuk attacks Ammon with his mass weapon… and strikes him with a shattering blow!

It is a moment of madness. The pirate stiffens with a choked scream, back arching, as Katla plunges the dagger into him. The Iron Serpent uses it to slash his throat open—then curses, blinded by splatters of blood, groping blindly for Mellony as she slips past him. But too late.

And a few heartbeats later, Sullehman Saan is pulling himself to his feet, clutching the Fossoway girl’s shoulder, calling hoarsely to his men. But they have melted away, gone abovedeck where, from the sound of it, a battle rages.

A moment of indecision—and then the pirate captain, draws Mellony before him, unsheathing his dagger with his good hand, murmuring to her: “Come, little bird. Time we left, yes? Just the two of us. Would you like that?” And he begins backing towards the ladder.

There is something wild in the ironman’s eyes, beyond reason or even sanity. He only has time to rasp to Alyard, each word thick and twisted as if he has difficulty speaking: “Bring the women.” Then, he is moving down the corridor, past Ammon as he falls, cutting backhanded almost casually at Tipuk as he passes, gaze never straying from Sullehman as the Lysene captain pulls himself up the ladder one-handed, then takes Mellony up after him.

Dagur attacks Tipuk with his sword… and strikes him with a hard blow!

Ammon gives ground before Tipuk. Suddenly, his eyes widen and the squire hesitates. Saan is down! Saan is esca——Ammon sees Tipuk’s attack at the last second. He tries to spin aside, tries desperately to get away. He brings his shield up to parry the blow, but Ammon wears no shield. There is a scream and blood and the squire tumbles to the ground.

Tipuk roars out as Dagur swings, hits him, cleaves him shoulder to waist and then the pirate falls down with an almost surreal slowness into the passageway, the axe clattering to the floor as he tries to hold himself together, but fails.

From inside the cabin, Katla steps back as the pirate before her is struck by Dagur, and she keeps the dirk clenched tightly in her fist, breathing quick and shallow, her dulled eyes flickering with a bright inner fire before dimming again as the pirate crumples down, leaving the door open to the passageway.

Blood. Blood and blood and bloodd. It is too much for Reyna, and she screams. It is a harsh sound torn from a throat already ravaged by screaming, hoarse and almost animal in her near breakdown. “Katla,” she gasps, trying to contain her panic. “Katla, I can’t go out there. I can’t.”

Mellony smiles at Saan, however, letting him pull her along with him. “Yes, it’s not nice here at all, my lord, not nice at all. Let us go away somewhere, just the two of us.” And she is still speaking thus to him as he hauls her away, her face turned away from the carnage.

Another nod and the bloodied Alyard move into the cabin, his shoulder and neck now slick with crimson. “It is time, can you both walk?” He asks them both before his gaze shifts to Katla’s hands, giving nothing away with his expression. “Now…” He adds, extending his left arm should either need assistance. Once the ladies are in line, he leads them out into the passageway now filled with bloody footsteps and gore.

He calls a halt at Ammon to help him up. “Come on…”

Ammon is groggy as Alyard yanks him to his feet, pale from the fight and stress and loss of blood. His left hand is a ruin of crimson; blood still flowing freely. He tucks that hand across his body, picks his fallen sword from the deck, and moves slowly after Corbray.

Katla looks to Reyna, swallows loudly. “We’re trapped as fish in a net if we stay. We have to leave, Reyna. Follow Corbray,” she jerks her chin at the tall knight, “close your eyes, do what you must, but we cannot stay.” She looks down at her hands wet with blood, the dirk clutched tightly in them, “You go. I will follow behind you.”

Reyna, wide-eyed, holds Katla’s gaze. She nods suddenly, finding some last precious reserve of courage. “All right. All right,” she says, squeezing her skirts in her hands and lifting them out of the gore. With her eyes fixed on the ladder, she moves stiffly but quickly out, down the passageway, and up the ladder without looking back.