167 The Pirate Lord*
Aegin thought he was drowning.
He'd hit the water pretty hard. In his desperation to get himself and Ebony out of the way of the falling mast he hadn't really braced for the fall. He'd barely even taken a breath. Landing on his back hadn't helped. It'd jolted the air from his lungs and he'd let go of Ebony in his desperation to get it back.
But just a glance up was enough to acknowledge that going up was a bad decision, he reached out and yanked Ebony down further with him, just as the scattered debris from the mast's fall broke the surface of the water and began to sink down. Ebony flinched and cried out, swallowing a mouthful of water as a rapidly sinking cannon barrel hit the bottom half of her leg. She slapped her free hand over her mouth, but Aegin could tell the damage was already done. Now she was drowning too.
Lungs burning and darkness closing in around his blurry vision, Aegin tried to pull them both up to the surface. But it was too far away.
Losing the last of his air, Aegin's world got darker and darker.
Just on the edge of unconsciousness, he felt a force propelling him and Ebony up to the surface, and he gasped as they broke through, a thick shadow depositing both of them haphazardly on the end of the fallen mast, right where the broken crow's nest floated.
Aegin knew that shadow. He coughed and spluttered as he did his best to look around.
"Rassa!" he called.
The fight was still going on just to his right. It looked as if the force of the mast crashing down had been enough to cleave the pirate ship on the port side of the Miranda in two. It seemed almost impossible, but that lightning had no doubt done its fair share of damage before the mast fell. Aegin's eyes fell on the still unconscious Ebony.
"Shit, Ebony?" asked Aegin as he pulled himself up and dragged her across the mast towards him. He shook her, but there was no response, "Ebony!"
It was to no avail. Aegin pinched her nose and brought his mouth to hers, blowing air into her lungs.
One breath, two breaths, three breaths.
Ebony coughed violently as the water that'd been in her lungs was expelled back into the ocean. She gasped for air as Aegin held her so that she wouldn't fall back into the water. He caught a glimpse of her leg then, the one that'd been hit by the falling barrel.
Broken. Definitely if the angle of her ankle had anything to say about it.
"My leg," Ebony managed through the coughing.
"Broken," Aegin replied as he helped her stabilise on the mast.
Ebony looked down, tears coming to her eyes at the pain.
"Ow," She whimpered, trying her best to fight through the pain.
Aegin looked around again, "Rassa!"
The reminder seemed to break Ebony from the pain, "Is he okay?"
"I don't know," Aegin replied, "We're not exactly in the best position to see the fight. Pretty sure it was his shadows that brought us up though".
"Brought us up?" asked Ebony, eyes wide, "You don't think…"
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Aegin dove back into the water, swimming through the debris as he tried to get a view of the water below, blurry as it was. But it was too shadowed from the hulls of the ships above, and the rest too dark to see anything. Aegin burst back above the water about ten metres from Ebony.
"Is he down there?"
Aegin's eyes widened as he caught some of the pirates throwing a rope down over her, "Look out!"
He powered through the water back to her as she screamed, fighting to free herself from the rope as they hauled her back onto what was left of the deck of their ship.
Aegin grabbed a hold of the hull and hauled himself up, fishing a couple of daggers from his belt to stab into the hull. He was up in a matter of a seconds as he listened to Ebony struggle on the deck above.
"Ebony!" he shouted, only to be whacked forward by a wooden staff of some kind. They'd been expecting him. He stumbled forwards towards where Ebony was being tied with several other members of The Miranda's crew.
A battered Tank and Isaac were among them, barely conscious. Clearly they'd put up a fight.
Aegin turned over and kicked out at those who wanted to capture him. They backed off, giving him enough room to use the momentum of throwing his legs to allow his body to follow through and right itself. He stood with his daggers up ready to attack.
"I wouldn't do that, boy," said the gravelly tone of one of the pirates who held a sword to Ebony's throat, "Rare to find a girl out here, I'd hate to have to mar her pretty face".
Aegin glared at him, then at those around him, then looked at Ebony, her eyes pleading with him.
Rassa was still nowhere in sight, and as he glanced over at The Miranda, he could see many other members of the crew, including Jeremiah and Midas, in the process of being captured.
Aegin growled and threw down his daggers, they embedded themselves in the broken deck and the pirate grinned, "Good choice".
"With those skills, he'll make a good fighter," said another.
"All in good time," replied the first, "We'll see what our Lord has to say first".
Through some not-so-gentle manhandling, those who were left out of The Miranda's crew, about half of it, were gathered together onto what was left of their ship. The Miranda, who had sailed across the seas for years, would likely not survive this encounter. Surveying the state of her, she was on her last legs, barely floating on the suface.
Aegin looked to Jeremiah as the Captain was thrown in with the rest of his crew, kneeling on the deck.
The Captain looked up at Aegin, his eyes sad. But Aegin's answer didn't come from Jeremiah.
The Pirate Captain, or no doubt the 'Lord' the other Pirates had referred to, swaggered onto the deck confidently, the sparks of his Vanguard intimidating all who saw it.
"He was a tenacious bastard, I'll give him that," the Lord said, "I doubt he was human from how quickly he moved, but he died anyway".
"No," whispered Ebony.
"A little shock and he was as useless as they come. He sunk to the depths of the ocean just like the other useless members of your crew," the Lord said.
"No!" cried Ebony, moving forward as best she could. The Pirate Lord grabbed her collar and hauled her to her feet.
"You best believe it little girl," he hissed, "And you best believe that you and everyone else here will join them if you aren't useful to me. So I suggest you behave".
He threw Ebony back down amongst the remaining crew, and she cried out at the pain in her ankle. The Pirate Lord didn't look in the least bit sympathetic to her pain, if anything, he seemed to relish it, "Get 'em all in the brig! We're bringing a haul back this time boys!"
A cheer rose up amongst the pirates, as Aegin did his best to help Ebony up.
There was no way Rassa was dead. No way.