Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 5 - Page 23

The Dying Goddess "No power but silence?" said one of the Hagroners. "A power you ought command for yourself, Fyrk," said Harldr. "She's just a silent old crone. I'll spare no time on her. Take this load to the deck." Fyrk and his fellow exchanged a roll of the eyes and then did as their new captain - for so they had agreed among themselves - commanded. The woman was light in their strong arms and they had no trouble traversing the stairs with her in their hands, Harldr behind. Once up on deck they made their way to the gunwale while Hardly scampered up the gangway to the poop deck. He brandished the cutlass and announced his mutiny to all the crew. A few cheered, mostly ex-pirates who longed for their former profession. The rest looked at the woman in the Hagroners hands and their sailing master bearing the captain's accouterments and they said nothing but returned to their work. "Not impressed, eh?" said Harldr. "Very well. The captain makes no difference to the rats, I guess. Then we'll just unload unwanted cargo and be about our business. Make ready the longboats! There's a rich port to be had!" He signaled again to the Hagroners, who, without ceremony, tossed the woman overboard. She hit the waves with a soft splash and no sign of her followed. But no longboats made ready to sail. No one paid any attention to Harldr or what he had done. Harldr stood and watched them with utter confusion. "Do you not hear?" he yelled. "I am your captain now. Must I toss you all over the side?" "You are new," said a voice behind him. Harldr turned. He saw the mute Caraca flanked by dead men, grey-skinned and black-eyed and betraying no animating spirit but standing there in uncanny threat regardless. "Who said that?" "You are new" said the voice again, and again it seemed behind him. Harldr turned again and saw only the crew, ex- slaves and a few ex-pirates, going about their tasks. One former corsair, a huge bearded beast from Beyond-the- Axe, looked at him with piteous eyes, shaking his head. "You ought not have been made sailing-master," said the voice, again behind him. Harldr turned again and Caraca was before him, locking eyes with him. He heard the voice again. "You do not know the Dread. I warned Drea not to appoint you, but we had need of a sailing-master and you were skilled." "I am skilled," said Harldr. "You were skilled," said the voice, and the sailing-master felt a strong tug on his chest. He looked down and saw a blue-hilted dagger with a dark triangular blade emerging from his heart. He fell to the ground and with his last breath saw Drea, his captain, emerging from the deep in a geyser of seawater. * * *