The Curse Of The Eclipsium (The Midnight People 1)

In the fantasy world of Riarkum, where powerful yet dangerous 'midnight people' live hidden away from human civilization, the crew of the Eclipsium have been cursed with vampirism for over a century. When Ander Zavien is rescued from his execution by the ships mysterious Quarter-Master 'Ransom', he is pulled into the center of a violent conflict between those who are willing to sacrifice everything to reverse their curse, and the order of night-hunters set on destroying it entirely.
As his own blood hangs in the balance, he seeks out the truth of why these creatures of night are fighting to keep him alive, and why they call him 'Firstblood.'


18. Chapter 18 - Chains Cut

Ander made his way to the central masting. Soon, and after much difficulty, he wrestled his way up the rigging to the crows nest, Ruth's long bow strapped across his back. Questioning why they could not have a less potentially life threatening method of getting there, and with rope burns stinging at his ankles and palms, he settled and uncovered the spyglass tied around a coil of rope at the central pillar.

The Witacer was nearing; and had he not known of the cargo it held, it would not have sparked his suspicion at all. Infact, as he peered through the glass at the auburn polishing of the railings, and the white-clad captain stood at the bow, he was sure that he had seen a ship of its appearance before.

The crew below were shouting orders. He could hear Hunter cry out something far below, though his voice did not clearly carry, and without warning the ship jerked. Ander was thrown aside, landing heavily against the railing.

The Eclipsium turned faster than any ship he had seen before. Infact, as it did, Ander had to grip the bars of the railing and hold in the previous days dinner. Being so high up only made the experience less comfortable.

The Witacer certainly took it's approach as startling, as seeing the pirates flag flying in the wind, it seemed to stay its course.

The Eclipsium only grew closer.

Knowledge of pirate waters used to be a factor in everything, from business scopes to military tactics. You could not order a cotton shipment from the Sounderlands, or steel from Tordan, and not consider the probability that said ship would encounter the renowned raiders.

Now that pirates were becoming less of a commodity, there was less need for caution. But not a soul was incapable of recognising a black flag, and what it stood for.

That additional splash of red was like a skilled martial artist opting to carry a gun around with them, just incase.

Still, this sort of do-gooding on the part of a pirate ship was unheard of to him. He had gathered only rumours and stories, labeling all of their kind as heartless murderers, ruthless thieves and vile rapists.

He had known in the back of his mind that not all pirates could possibly turn to that life just to be outlaws. These men and women, reluctant to drink human blood, had an additional reason to remain at sea than adventure prospects.

Of course they couldn't all be in search of Davy Jones trust fund like the stories prompted, because that was all they were; stories. About as likely as the sun fairies moulding spring.

Ander sighed to himself. Honestly, vampires and mages and drifting spirits and shape changers had only been stories until recently, as well.

The Eclipsium barreled through the water with relentless speed, waves crashing against the hull, and life on the deck of the Witacer began to work in fast forward. They were moving cargo, bolting the hatches; each sailor dashed about in a mad frenzy for his weapon.

Soon enough, they were so close that without turning, they would surely crash.

That was when, dramatic as ever, the ship was swung around abruptly; leaving barely inches left between the two. And on the the deck of the Eclipsium, lengthy planks were thrown across to reach the Witacer.




Ransom joined the charge with his sword in one hand, and his dagger pulled from his sleeve and grasped in the other.

Samson was ahead of him, running at the crowded slavers at speed. His face was almost forcibly expressionless, yet Ransom knew the fury he was concealing. He looked at these men rushing about the deck of the Witacer for weapons, and he saw the men who had abused him. Nothing more.

He sprinted, then finally faded to a blur that tore through the men as swift and silently as a plague. 
Before they even registered that he had struck them, two toppled to the ground, each clutching at their stomachs with bulging eyes and wheezing loudly. Samson grinned a little in triumph. 

While Cyro defended his back, blocking strikes left and right with only his iron gauntlets against steel blades, Samson tied the two together. Ropes bound them and they collapsed in a heap, barely struggling as they coughed and groaned.

Cyro gritted his teeth and abruptly head butted a man to his left, knocking him cleanly out cold, before spinning to block another assault.

Samson, whilst Cyro parried, emerged behind his attacker with ease. Within moments, he was gagged, and brought to the ground.

Reynick had been told to hold back incase he was needed, as Hunter doubted he was any good in a short distance fighting situation. However Ransom smirked at the very idea that they would come to need his help. It was almost tragically easy for them.

He spotted three slavers, rounding on him with faces twisted in fury though sweaty with fear, and rose his sword. He doubted that he would require it.

They charged, yelling animalistically, and Ransom dodged quickly to the side with his leg out beside him. Two men after each other tripped over it, unseeing, and while this distracted the third he spun the sword in his hand so that the hilt replaced the blade.

Ransom swung it back, then promptly smashed him around the head with the bronze, falling in a heap.

Davelynn emerged before him, done beating sense into the man now lying in a heap behind her, and dropped to one knee with a coil of rope in hand. She tied the ankles of the three together without a word while the two still conscious struggled and wrestled against her grip.

With a sigh as casual as ever, a jerk of her elbow quickly ended their struggling. The two were knocked unconscious beside their companion.

She looked to him with a grim smile.

"Below the belt, eh?"

"Chivalry is only for those who expect it in return." Ransom said calmly, and threw his elbow back to meet the jaw of the man behind him, who cried out and collapsed onto his back.

Ransom stepped back onto his stomach without so much as turning his head. The man shrieked in pain.

Davelynn arched an eyebrow. "I can't help but to admire you at times like this, which is probably a very bad sign."

"Behind you."

Davelynn abruptly balanced on her toes, and spun, tripping the attacker behind her with one sweep of her outstretched leg.

He collapsed with a gasp, and she tied him twice as quick, snickering.

"You call that song and dance just now stealth?" She said to the dizzied man, who whimpered at her closeness.

"What's Ruth squawking about?" Samson muttered from a few metres away, with a fistful of a mans hair in his hand, periodically landing a knee in his now incredibly broken face.

Across the plank from where she kept her hands poised on the cannon - just incase - Ruth was waving her arms and barking something unintelligible, pointing to the upper mast of the Witacers deck.

There sat an archer, his eye trained on captain hunter, and his finger poised on his bowstring.

The arrow there was definitely silver, as the arrows on his back and in the refill sacks behind him were all definitely silver. There seemed to be row upon row of them needlessly stored there...

"Oh, crap! CAPTAIN!" Samson warned, before taking a punch to the stomach and keeling over a moment. His eyes narrowed dangerously. The man poising to land another hit was promptly on his back, with the man kneeling on his stomach and, to put it plainly, beating the living daylights out of him.

Before the archer set on Hunter could release, an arrow buried itself barely an inch from his head in the wood, a rusted and blunt looking thing from the Eclipsiums crows nest.

The archer, taken aback, set his sights on Ander, who was reloading as quickly as he could manage. Once the man gathered his thoughts, he stared angrily at him. 

He took aim quickly, this time at him, and did not hesitate to release automatically. Ander dodged only by leaping, tumbling into a roll and finally crashing against the barrier, gasping with the impact. 

Samson, still fighting far below, saw this and cursed loudly. "I think Anders been hit!"

The silver arrow no where to be seen, the archer sought out a new target, apparently very much convinced that Ander had indeed been hit.

But as he took aim at Ransom this time, who was tying up the beaten men that Davelynn left in her wake, Ander fumbled about the crows nest to recover his bow. He urgently took aim.

Anders arrow soared, and imbedded itself in the mans chest, forcing him to cry out in pain and immediately drop his weapon. The archer collapsed heavily, writhing in pain for a few moments before going limp, his heart punctured.

Ander breathed out steadily. The threat was gone.

Below, the last of the slavers were being rounded up. The Witacers captain backed further away to the hull, almost stepping off the edge, clutching his powdered wig in both hands like a comforter and sweating buckets. "Y-You ungodly, ruthless thieves!"

"The only thief here," Hunter sighed, striding across from the Eclipsiums plank, "-is you, captain. You steal lives. We're here to return them."

"T-To Vialta?"

"To wherever these free people wish to go."

Hunter drew his sword, stepping forward, and pointed it to the captains throat.

He smiled grimly, and nodded his head to the side, gesturing with the blade as he did. "I suggest, captain, that you jump. Take that weasel of a quarter master getting crushed by a life boat with you.." 
The slender, rat faced man across the deck unsuccessfully dragging several stone of wood behind him abruptly dropped it, raised his hands in surrender.

Hunter nodded to the railing.

After a minute of removing layers and placing jewellery in hunters outstretched palm, they stepped to the edge.

"Here," the quarter master spat bitterly, "catch!"

He launched his ring through the air, and Hunter caught it, before swearing loudly and gasping in pain.

The silver adornment rolled across the floorboards, Hunter gaping at the large red ring starting to blister on his palm. His eyes narrowed furiously.

"Oh, the poor sod is gonna get it now," Edward muttered, and after striding promptly toward the two with what might as well have been the grim reapers cloak flapping around him, Hunters boot met the wailing quarter masters backside, and launched him overboard.

The captain, knowing and accepting his fate, held his nose and pencil jumped into the water. Both were met with a splash.


Ander finally clambered down from the upper mast and ran across the plank to the Witacer, looking about him in alarm. Only one man had been killed, if the so-called-captain and his pet rat didn't count. The others were either entirely out cold, or lying on their backs and groaning, their hands and ankles tightly bound with rope.

Only Edward and a couple of other deckhands lingered on deck, quickly redirecting him to a removed grate leading below. 

Ander was hesitant to approach. He had never imagined having to actually see a slave hold, and now..

He swallowed the lump in his throat, and ventured into the cramped, dimly lit space. The smell hit him before the noise did.

Ander had witnessed hardship and depravity before, even experienced it, but as he stepped further into the hold, he knew that this was an entirely new level of cruelty.

Samson and the others had unchained the large majority, but there were so many of them.. Hundreds of men, women, and young children, all lain across the wooden shelves like cargo, their ankles bound together.

The human filth, the bloodstains..

Ransom was holding the hands of a crying woman, attempting to console her, though he seemed taken aback when she threw her frail arms around him and instead sobbed into his shoulder. He held her like a fragile child, ever cautious. His face was screaming out fir some knowledge on how to comfort someone in such a situation.

Davelynn and Ruth were unchaining many of the class B's, finding that the children who could stand leapt up to cling to them, several pairs of arms wrapped around their legs.

Reynick was going from place to place, relieving pain where he could with a cloth over his mouth and nose. There were so many injuries, even the most desensitised of the crew appeared visibly disgusted.

Even Alec, who Ander had not noticed approaching, was helping. So many were his own age, and one boy stopped to take hold of his shoulders, thanking him for his freedom in a language that he did not know.

Ander felt momentarily numb, though eventually stepped forward to their aid. He headed first to Samson, who was on his knees in the waste covered aisle unchaining a group of beaten and dangerously thin Vialtan children.

He glanced about for a key, them asked him instead. "D-Do you have a -"

"My belt," Samson nodded down to the bunch of rusted keys at his waist, without taking his eyes from the task. "Hurry along, they're in a bad way."

Ander nodded, quickly taking them, and turned to one of the shelves.

The woman there looked overcome. Her large brown eyes welled with tears, that flooded her cheeks as he unchained both her and those around her.

When he turned to move along to the next lot, lips pressed suddenly to his cheek. He flustered in response.

"T-Thankyou so much." She sobbed, holding onto his arm. She stumbled a little upon standing, like she hadn't in a long time, and he caught her in the nick of time, aiding her to her feet with hands beneath her arms.

She thanked him again weakly. Though her accent was strong, he heard her loud and clear. "Y-You have done a great thing, boy.."


Ander couldn't say anything. What was there to say? No matter how much he had suffered, these people had endured a living hell. They had been dehumanised and sold like goods, then virtually tortured beyond comprehension.

There was nothing he could muster in his mind to even begin to understand their agony. Instead. He just drew her close to him.

"..You are safe now, miss, I promise."

"I-I know. Because of your friends and yourself.. I hope you gave those monstrous men what for."

He held her for a few moments, before she withdrew, her eyes wide with sudden realisation. "My daughter, where is she? S-She is maybe half your height, with-"


Dragging Alec behind her, a young Vialtan girl hurtled towards them with impossible energy. The woman in Anders arms saw her, and something behind her eyes connected. Her hands flew to her face. "Oh, Fiara!"

The two met in a passionate embrace, the mother stroking her daughters hair and sobbing into her shoulder uncontrollably.

They spoke once more in a language neither Ander or Alec knew, but as the two held each other's faces, crying and whispering soft words, they both smiled.

"It's beautiful." Alec said softly, looking about him. "They never forgot how to love.. Even the most horrible pain doesn't steal that gift, yeah?"

Ander gave him a sidelong smile. He ruffled the boys hair lightly. "Yeah, Alec. Come on, there's more down there."

After a few moments, they continued on with the locks. It took a long time, but eventually every last slave had been freed.

They began pouring onto the deck, where they were met with slavers tied to the masts.

Hunter rushed out before them. Ander did not know where he had previously been, but he hadn't seen him below deck at all.

"You may do with them what you wish, once we leave you! You are free men and women now. Return to your homelands if you choose to!" He cried, and was met with a hearty chorus of cheers and hoots.

The crew joined them, though many were distracted by the bloodied noses of slavers around them.
It was clever what they had done, Ander thought. None had been killed, so scarcely any blood had been spilt. They would not become frenzied this way, and they would not hurt any innocents.

He smiled a little. It was all a calculated move.

Those that they rescued scattered about the deck, many spitting on the slavers as they passed them, and gathered at the bow. They appeared to be nominating who could sail, when one caught hunters arm.

"A moment, please," said a tall Vialtan man that towered over even the captain. "You.. have saved my people and I. You deserve your share of any gold in the captains quarters; their blood money is worthless to us."

"Rather useless to us too, I'm afraid." Hunter smiled blandly. "My friend, this deed was not for coin. We expect nothing-"

"-weapons, then? They keep a supply in the taller part of the boat."

The man pointed up to the crows nest, squinting past the sun, and a Hunter followed his gaze.

He visibly paled. It was the silver, all of it in one place like an emergency stockpile. He looked away quickly.

"Thankyou," he said mildly, "But I must decline. You will need such supplies on your journey."

The man smiled. He offered a hand to Hunter, then gripped his wrist. "I began to think that no white man would respect us. I thank you for changing my mind."

"This ship is yours now!" Davelynn called out, and was met with another hearty cheer.

Ander chuckled. He leaned against the railing with folded arms.

A few minutes later, he noticed Hunter and the firstmates congregating together by the plank.

"-You couldn't find anything relevant to the find in the captains quarters?"

"'Twas one thing. It was a letter printed multiple times, to maybe 30 ships, warning of 'multiple heavily armed pirate and rebel ships' and claiming that silver weaponry is the newest and most efficient in the imperial armoury.."

"..And?" Yates asked.

Davelynn glowered at him. "And, this along with the island ambush can now confirm our suspicions. The imperials and the hunters are allied, and that means that the imperials know of our existence, at least."

"But slave ships prepared for us? The imperials don't deal in slavery. These slavers were soundermen through and through, even their flag is that of Queen Zaphares!"

"Then, we haven't just got the imperium with knowledge of us.." Ransom breathed.

Hunter, who had been pacing, halted to stare at them. "You're right. Its not just the imperium, and it's not just the Sounderlands. It's the entire bloody Dioman empire."




Ander, despite having his friends beside him, couldn't sit still that evening.

"If the empire now has entire squadrons of trained midnight hunters in its army.. Oh, bloody hell." Samson breathed.

Reynick glowered at him. "Yes, very insightful! We're all going to die!"

"No, we're not! Probably.. But look on the brightside, there's like a thirty percent chance I'll die human." Samson winked.

Reynick looked less than impressed. "How is that even remotely a bright side to me? I'm just stuck with you like some captured maiden until you're done with the whole affair.."

Samson chuckled, and patted him on the back. "Don't tell me you don't enjoy our company."

The three were sat around on the floor of the bilge with one candle between them, others scattered around the room in their glass cases hanging from the wall, or atop barrels lower down. Ander sat cross legged against the wall, quiet and apparently in a world of his own.

Reynick looked at him and sighed sadly. "Are you quite alright, Ander?"

"Regretting my life choices to a degree, but of course, Reynick."

Samson looked at him. "You know, seeing those slaves today upset me too. Brought things back a little, y'know?"

Ander swallowed hard. He gave him a reassuring smile. "I know you hate cushy stuff, just.. If you want to talk about it.-"

"They used to force work on us house slaves that I could just barely get through." Samson started without warning. He hesitated, seeing the surprise in his face that he had even taken him up on it. "I slept on the floor day to day, though I got barely five hours rest. When we didn't finish in time, we got our punishments."

Both Reynick and Ander were silent, listening intently. Samson sighed. "It warms my heart to know that they'll never suffer like that. For me.. There didn't seem to be a life. I wasn't living. I was working in agony, then sleeping, then dragging myself back up and repeating the cycle day to day."

"Did you ever consider.. Offing, yourself?" Ander asked. Samson looked up at the dim candle right illuminating the small space, and breathed a slow sigh. "Yeah, I did. But Cyro kept telling me we'd escape someday, it kept me going. Even as they beat us, and.. I felt that icy burn of a whip tear my flesh, you know, and I thought my tears would blind me.. I saw it."

"Saw what..?"

"The sun setting over water, the lake I came from. I wanted to return there. I was determined to, I guess.."

Ander stared at him, how his eyes had glazed a moment as he spoke of the agony he had endured. It sounded too much to possibly remain optimistic through.

Samson had kept his smile through it all.

He sighed between his teeth, looking down sullenly. "You're very inspirational.. Just, I don't see much hope in my future. There's no home to return to. Honestly, I should just drown myself while the option exists."

"ANDER!" Samson exclaimed, eyes suddenly wide in horror.

Reynick brought his fist down on the barrel he leaned on abruptly. His clouded pink eyes were thin, scolding him. "You think that, is an.. Option?" He snapped. Ander gaped at him in shock.

He reluctantly relaxed his fist, and slumped from his tense posture, breathing out steadily to calm himself. "Ander.. Hear me now. Suicide, is no natural option. It is weak. And you are not weak. To kill oneself is to eliminate all chances of life getting better. To hope that it will takes a lot of strength, but it is strength I believe you possess."

He paused a moment, and amended himself. "If not buried under a lot of stubbornness."

Samson smiled, pushing his blonde curls back from his face as he looked at him. He chuckled, breaking the silence. "When did we get all emotional here?"

Reynick grinned, rolling his eyes, and Ander smiled, too. With just the corners of his lips, but the light reached his eyes. He tried to imagine that sun that Samson spoke of, a light at the end of the tunnel 
He thought of Alec. He thought of the promise he had made to see him grow to adulthood, to be cured and to live a full life.

"Thankyou." He breathed. "That's.. Wise advice."

"I am wise, Ander." Reynick smiled proudly, folding his arms. Then he yawned deeply, shutting his eyes a second and covering his mouth.

He shook it off. "I'm also very tired. I expect you'll be leaving, blondie."

Samson rolled his eyes. "Blondie has a name."

He stood up, and nudged the flat of Anders back with his boot before leaving for the steps. "I expect you won't need tucking in, ladies?" He teased.

Ander rolled his eyes back at him.  "G'night.." He managed exhaustedly.

Samson smirked, then took hold of the top rung of the ladder, and pulled himself up to the hold in one fluent motion, disappearing from sight.

Reynick, once Ander settled onto his sheets beside the wall, had already curled up with one knee to his chest, leaning his head against a sack of flour. The white material matched his hair, which had regained its straightness somehow, splayed out around his head flatly. He was stiff, guarded even as he prepared to sleep, though half from the discomfort of his makeshift bed on the hard wooden flooring.

Ander leant his head against the sack, facing the mans back, maybe a metre between them. Before suddenly, Reynick groaned deeply from frustration. "The candles."

"Damn, I just got what could be called comfortable.." Ander mumbled lazily.

Before Ander could start to set out, his room mate raised his hand, propping himself up on one elbow. His palm started to glow like it had on the island, but a light shade of blue. The light was eerily beautiful, an orb growing from the centre of his palm and extending out.

Slowly, a tendril of the living light started to grow. It snaked through the room, like a piece of illuminous rope, extended in mid air. Until it passed through the first candle.

One by one, it touched the flames, passing straight through the containers they were kept in, and each candle was extinguished abruptly, shedding darkness to that corner of the bilge. The only light left behind was the dancing blue tendril, like a single firework in the blackness, as it shrank, returning to ground level and lighting Reynicks palm.

Then, darkness.

"It's called the lumi." Reynick mumbled into the space. "It extracts energy. It would be faster if I was less tired, but it's my favourite spell."

"It's.." Ander searched for words to describe the captivating blue light, other than the obvious. "-Interesting."

"Would you like to speak for a while?" Reynick asked. "You seemed troubled earlier."

"Really.." Ander sighed. "I'm fine."

"I have stories to share, if it may distract you?"

"Fine." Ander groaned. He rolled onto his front to rearrange himself. "Tell me of someone interesting you've met."

Reynick breathed a gentle sigh, lying back and staring up at the ceiling. "Finnian Goras a fascinating one.. The leader of a drifter clan at Vialta."

"I don't know very much about drifters, I just keep hearing the word." Ander sighed. "Are they like ghosts?"

"They can be, but aren't most humans?" Chuckled Reynick softly. "Drifters have the ability to come and to as they please, masters of hiding. It makes them extremely feared by hunters, because they can just as easily infiltrate their ranks.. You mentioned you were once in an orphanage, I assume it was strictly Staraniun?"

"Of course.."

"And Staraniuns, from what I gather, believe that Stara and the lords of truth pushed back the demons of the earth so that humans could be freed of sin, to begin again. They believe that demonic possession occurs when a demon finds it's way back to earth from the dark world?"

"Did you swallow Hunters copy of the book of Stara or something, Reynick?"

"Well, in a similar way that a demon might possess a human, a drifter may do the same. Though very rarely with malicious intent, I assure you.. They possess their own body of course, unlike demons, a bod that can shift by choice between its physical and ethereal form at a whim. Don't ask me quite how it's possible.."

"I find it more unsettling that you speak of demons like they're real.." Muttered Ander. Reynick chuckled lightly again.

"No, Ander, it's just an easier way of explaining such a thing to a blank slate like yourself. Drifters share similar traits with the fictional demons because they have been mistaken for them many a time.. Though perhaps fuelling the beliefs of the hopeless is not entirely bad."

Ander sunk a little, at the cruel reality of it. If there were no demons, how much more of the book he had been raised on was a harsh lie?

He breathed a sigh. "You were talking about the drifters leader."

"Ah, yes. He's a quiet young man, likely no older than yourself in appearance, but a wise leader treasured by his people. I recall his green eyes more so than anything else, if that dies not sound strange. They were.. lively, wide and innocent. Very much like Alecs, if you acknowledge the effect they have. Because he has the sort of face you just want to pinch, you know? One that could only be described as cute"

Ander looked slightly puzzled. "He sounds like a school boy?"

"Ah, but a facade, Ander. He can quite easily transform that baby face to the opposite. He goes from gentle and really quite harmless, to someone who probably wouldn't hesitate to run you through with a red hot poker sharpened to a point, all without even changing his smile." A small, appreciative smirk came to his face, and he chuckled. "Who knows how he manages it! It's one of the tricks that makes him so persuasive."

"Perhaps I should figure out how to do that.."

"You could start by washing more, adopting a less hysterical smile, and shrinking several inches."

Ander chuckled a little, shaking off the insult. "Thanks a lot. Now a blow to my ego or anything."

"Ego isn't a word Finnian knows." Reynick smiled. "He's very, quaint.. A pacifist through and through, and twice as warmhearted. It's inspiring at the right angle."

"Were you two, you know, involved?" Ander asked.

Reynick looked at him suddenly, like he had just asked him to recite the Staraniun prayer in Sparish. "You must be joking?" He gaped.

Ander realised, in shame, that he had made a mistake. "Uh, I'm sorry, I-"

"Not every person identifying as bisexual in this world wants to get everyone they see into bed, Anderson! I have a respect for Finnian, as I do for you! Like heterosexuals don't have romantic feelings for everyone of the opposite gender they meet, nor do I for everyone I come across. You're male, I have been in relationships with men, but does not mean I'd kiss you! This is the same with Finnian."

Ander was flustered with embarrassment, raising his hands quickly to disarm him, though he doubted he could see it in the dark space. "Alright, I'm sorry, I meant nothing offensive by it!"

Reynick grumbled as he rolled back onto his side. "Comments like that are made so regularly, I needed to get it out to at least one person.. I apologise that you were in the line of fire. Now, I need rest, and so do you. Sleep well, Ander."

Ander frowned. He lay flat again with an exasperated sigh.

"Goodnight, my friend."

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