The Harpooned Whale

'The Harpooned Whale' is set on the high seas and follows the adventures of Erin, a steely young woman with a violent streak, and Scarlet who is thrown into her world.

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6. Chapter Six: Scarlet

 

      I screwed my eyes up against the bright sunshine. My arms were aching from all the scrubbing I had been doing. I hoped that I wouldn't have to do any more. Callum had been right about Erin making me work hard.

      My gaze went to the purple haired pirate warrior as she descended the rope ladder from the crow's nest, her ponytail swinging as she moved. She looked as at ease in the baking Suns as she had in the smoky pub.

      “Drew, replace Nigel,” she ordered the man with the beanie.

      Getting to my feet, with much effort, I approached where she was stood at the side of the ship, staring off into the distance.

      “Erin, can I talk to you?” I asked. She didn't answer so I continued. “Would it be possible for me to have a cabin? I've never had a hammock before and...” I trailed off when she walked away. “Wait,” I said, reaching out and grabbing her arm.

      Anger flashed in Erin's sapphire eyes. “Remove your hand or I'll break it,” she snarled.

      I released her as if I'd been burned and she strode away.

      On the other side of the deck Callum laughed to himself. A cigarette dangled from his lips. “You're lucky she didn't hurt you. I've seen her beat up men for less.”

      “She doesn't like being touched,” Ryall explained from where he was leaning against the mast.

      Gazing after Erin as she disappeared behind a door, I realised that my dream of being friends with her was just that, a dream.

 

      Throughout the rest of the day I got to know the crew better. There were lots of them, and most of them kept themselves to themselves, but I soon recognised the noisier ones. One Eyed Derrik was the man with the eye-patch. The ginger haired man was called Nigel. Drew, Callum and Edgar were the other big personalities. Alderman, the ships sorcerer appeared briefly before returning to his cabin. I'd never been interested in sorcery or in learning it. It was just cheap parlour tricks.

      After a surprisingly delicious dinner, a group of us gathered on the deck. Nigel and Ryall started singing a shanty and Drew played along on his guitar. Captain Basingstoke and Erin joined us. Erin's expression was unreadable as she sipped from a jug of grog.

      The singing and general good mood vanished when Erin stood up, drawing her cutlass.

      “Get up,” she told me.

      A nearby lantern cast light on her, making her face look eerie in the pitch black of the night.

      Warily I stood up, wondering what she was planning.

      Erin's sapphire eyes went to my belt. I could have sworn I heard her sigh. To the man nearest to me she said. “Kit, give him your cutlass.”

      Kit was a middle aged man, and one of the quieter members of the crew. His nose was crooked, as if it had been broken and not reset properly. His hand shook as he unsheathed his cutlass and handed it to me.

      Erin attacked me without any warning, her blade slicing through the air as fast as lightning. I only just managed to block her just in time to prevent her cutlass from chopping off my neck. I was a bad swordsman and quickly found myself struggling to keep up with Erin's never-ending attacks. It wasn't long, probably less than a minute, before I was on the wooden deck, a cold metal blade pressed to my jugular. Sweat ran down my face and I was breathing heavily. Erin looked as cool as a cucumber.

      “That's enough, Erin,” Captain Basingstoke said when his daughter didn't move.

      Erin's face was unreadable as she sheathed her cutlass and disappeared below deck.

      “Sorry about tha',” Basingstoke chuckled, helping me to my feet. “She gets a bit carried away sometimes.”      

      I clenched my hands into fists, aware that I was shaking.

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