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Freedom Part Three

Black and white photo of a pirate ship on the open sea

A sudden explosion jarred Kaine from his thoughts, and propelled him out of bed. It was the middle of the night, and he had been getting his first good night of rest since coming on board Freedom nearly three weeks ago. He had just gotten his “sea legs”, and had spent the past two days learning navigation and piloting from Captain Terrapin. The work was more cerebral than physical, and Kaine found it to be a welcome respite from the rigors of adventuring.

He was ready instantly, having learned long ago to rest while still wearing all of his armor and equipment. He picked himself off of the floor, and flung open the door to his cabin. It was raining fire, and the crew were busy putting out the flames that had erupted all over the deck. An enemy warship was moving towards Freedom off of the port bow. With a quick glance he found Sophia, Nightshade, and Captain Terrapin standing next to a geyser that was spraying sea foam thirty feet into the air.

He ran over to where they were standing, and gaped in awe at the plume of water. Sophia began chanting, and raised her staff high over her head. A blue aura enveloped her, and she began bringing her staff slowly downward. As she did, the water began to fall. She shouted at Kaine.

“I can’t hold it for long! Get below deck and see if you can find something to patch the hole!”

“Like what?”

“Something! Anything!” As an afterthought, she added “Something wooden would be nice!!”

Kaine ran and jumped down the ladder, hitting the floor below at full stride. He looked around, and his eyes settled on some barrels of food that were stored in the corner. He grabbed one, and threw it in the hole, where the water was still frothing against the force of Ayla’s magic. He looked up at her through the hole in the deck above.

“Will that do?”

“Yeah!” She turned to the Captain. “Now!”

Captain Terrapin grasped the hilt of his sword and closed his eyes. As he began to chant, an eerie purple aura surrounded him, and the keg slowly started to melt. The wood and iron of the keg flowed into the hull, and patched the hole completely. The captain turned away and started barking orders at sailors who were busy putting out the flames.

Kaine rushed back upstairs, only to find that the enemy sailors had boarded Freedom, and a chaotic melee was raging around him. Kaine unsheathed his sword, and lunged at the nearest enemy. He ran the first one through the back, pulled his sword out, and used it to deflect a blow coming in from his side. His counterattack bounced off of his opponent’s buckler, and he barely got his sword back up in time to parry the incoming blow. He used his free hand to punch the man in the face, and he used the forward momentum to spin himself around and decapitate his opponent. He noticed Runt making his way towards Sophia, cutting a path through the enemy sailors.

Runt was built for combat, and he relished the opportunity to work out his frustrations. He used his claws to spear an enemy sailor through the chest, and then tossed the still-screaming man overboard with one arm. He repeated the move with his other arm on the next sailor, and again, and again, cutting a large swath through the enemy sailors. It didn’t take him long to reach Sophia. She stood behind him and cast a spell which created a huge barrier over Freedom, preventing the raining fire from getting to the ship. She had to concentrate just to keep it up, and so Runt fought off anyone dumb enough to try to approach her.

Nightshade pulled a flask from her pack, and drained the potion. In an instant, she was up in the crow’s nest where she had an eagle’s eye view of the battle. She slipped her longbow from her shoulder, and began picking off sailors one by one with deadly accuracy. Even with the pitching and rolling of the ship, she never missed a target.

Captain Terrapin called out to Kaine, and he ran over to where the captain was standing. “I’m going to put an end to this,” said the captain. “I need you to cover me while I cast a spell.”

Kaine and several of the sailors stood in a protective circle around the captain, and fought off attackers as they came near. Kaine could hear the captain begin to chant, and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as magical energy crackled behind him. From the corner of his eye, he saw the captain grasp the hilt of his sword and pull it out…only it wasn’t a sword at all. It was actually a small, metallic cross that the captain brandished before him as he began to chant.

“In Nomine Exterminis!!” yelled the captain, and on that last word, all of the heads of the enemy sailors simultaneously exploded, spraying Freedom with blood. Sophia screamed in pain, and collapsed, her magic shield falling with her. Runt howled in pain and fury, and he too collapsed on top of Sophia. Nightshade fell from her perch on the crow’s nest, and landed in a broken heap on the main deck. Kaine spun around in bewilderment, staring at the glow that was spreading from the captain. The captain and all of his sailors seemed to be unaffected. Strangely, Kaine himself felt nothing as the waves of magic rolled over him.

The other ship imploded upon itself, and sank beneath the waves. Kaine stood and gaped at the Captain. A sudden realization that he was in very bad company entered his mind as Freedom’s sailors suddenly grabbed him and threw him in chains. He stood staring, blankly, still not fully comprehending the sudden change in his fortune. He stared at the broken, bleeding bodies of his compatriots, and vowed revenge. He tried to lunge at the captain, but his shackles held him fast. As he was being dragged below deck, he heard the captain give a most disturbing order:

“Throw them in with the other one. Our Dark Lord will feast well on this trip.”