Lyta: Landlocked

The second prologue piece for my serial.

I have also updated the ‘About’ section to include details of my novel.

Enjoy!

Bubbles / Ryan


They’d barely outrun the privateer that had been dogging them ever since they raided the Industrious Mermaid, the tight grey sails always on the horizon at their back. The morning had brought a reprieve with the first of winter’s storms, the thick fog allowing them to escape their pursuers and make for the caves.

Around Lyta, the sounds of the crew unloading the ship brought a sense of comforting familiarity. She had been sent to work with the crew of the Broken Spar in payment for a favour owed by her previous captain. She had only been a part of the ship for a few weeks and she already hated it. Unlike her previous crew-mates, the crew of the Spar were not smugglers. They were pirates.

Before taking to the sea, she had not known the difference. Now she did, and she hated what she had become. She had known that the Spar wasn’t a good ship to crew, and that her elf captain was a harsh master, from what she had heard from her old crew. She hadn’t truly realised what they meant until the first night.

She shuddered and closed her eyes, breathing quietly out through her nose.

“OY! DRAGONBORN! GET YER BACK INTA IT!” The grating voice of the Spar’s first mate cut through her reverie. She glanced over to where the half-blind dwarf stood, his hand on the barbed whip at his waist. He glared at her and she bent to pick up the box at her feet.

The crew of the Mermaid had put up a good fight, and their spellcaster had been impressive, but they hadn’t stood a chance. The ship had been boarded, seized and ransacked in less than two hours. They had left only enough provisions and equipment for the crew to limp into Scour’s docks and further spread the legend of Captain Melrahel and the Broken Spar. It was fortunate it had not taken longer for as soon as had they cut loose, the watch had seen the privateer’s sails and they’d had to lay on full sail to escape.

Lyta grunted as she put the box down on the floor at the back of the cave, the movement jarring her sword-belt and causing one of the sheaths to brush the shallow wound on her leg where a crossbow bolt had grazed her.

She heard booted footsteps behind her and turned. The captain was approaching, his thin, charcoal-skinned face broken by a broad smile. He held a small glass orb in one hand and was gesturing with the other to the two half-elves following him. They nodded and stopped walking, turning to face the rest of the cave.

“It is your lucky day, Lyta of Clan Hiskil. Your captain’s debt is repaid in full already.” He met her eyes and gestured to a staircase at the back of the cave. “You may leave when you are ready. No-one here will stop you.” The smile faded. “Tell anyone of what you have seen or done while a member of my crew and I will know. It would go poorly for you. Do you understand?”

She nodded, ignoring the swirling, purple mist in the glass orb as best she could.

“You have been a good crew member so I will allow you to take your share.” He threw her a small pouch. “If you ever wish to rejoin my crew, you will be welcome, young dragonborn.” There was a sinister tone in his voice that she couldn’t place. “Swift travels and smooth sailing.” She bowed her head in measured respect and hooked the pouch to her belt. When she looked up again, he had already left.

***

The rain beat steadily down at her, sliding easily from her copper scales. The halflings she travelled with shivered under their damp woollen cloaks.

“Come, let us find shelter.” She said, looking around. “There will not be a break in the rain tonight.”

“You’re right.” Tobias Stoutfoot, the leader of the little band, said. He motioned to his wife and she began to chivvy the rest into some sort of forage line as they stepped off the road and into the woodland running along the western edge of it.

While they began searching for edible plants, she strode off into the wood, looking for a suitable tree to erect some sort of shelter from. Tobias had told her what to look for the first night, when she had stumbled into their camp hours after leaving the pirates’ cave. He had offered her food and introduced his family as pilgrims heading for Scour. With no goal in mind, she had offered her skills with her blades in return for company. They had been happy to accept.

She let out a cry as she found what she thought to be a good tree and leant against it, missing the swaying of a deck beneath her feet. It was strange to her to walk on land so far from the sea. It was a new experience and none of her knowledge or skills, save those with her swords and her hands, stood her in good stead of finding employment before her old ship made port in Scour. She was confident it would. After all, everyone came to Scour eventually.

She had been standing there no more than ten minutes when Tobias ambled into the small clearing with the massive tree at the centre and gave her a nod. She began to collect the fallen branches from around the edges of the clearing, trying to shield the pine needles as best she could where they remained attached. Behind her, she could hear more of the Stoutfoots fanning out to do the same.

Mary, Tobias’ mother let out a whistle of warning as the sounds of footsteps approaching their clearing intruded on the rain drenched quiet. Lyta dropped the branches and strode to stand by Tobias, her blades drawn and held loosely at her sides. She watched as a tall figure strode confidently out of the treeline and towards them.

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