He tried to fight against me and I admit when he managed to get a hold of my broken wrist I nearly screamed in pain, but I think I was screaming already. His face changed colors. It went from red to purple finally to blue and suddenly he stopped struggling with me. He hung limp from the chain around his neck and if we hadn’t already been in a heap on the floor, we’d have definitely fallen down. I doubt I had the strength to hold him up. I waited, just to make sure he had stopped breathing.
“Why me?” I finally asked his corpse, but I had killed him before thinking to question him. “Why was I to bed fed to the dragon?” I only heard the whispers in my head. I searched his pockets for the keys to the shackles, but his pockets only turned up coins like the one the Captain had shown me, some papers with intricate drawing on them, some were green, but others were purple or a peach color. I tossed them aside, I found a handkerchief and some small white papers with handwriting on them. No keys.
“Hey! Hey darlin!” Came the broad voice of the happy go lucky dragon chow that had been chained to the post next to me.
“Louella,” came the whispers in my ear. The whispers seemed to sound a lot like Mitch I realized.
“Mitch?” I caught myself saying his name.
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM I could hear the cannons of the Deceit still going. I thought of Gertie and how I suddenly missed the simplicity of caring for a cannon on a pirate ship. Dragon Chow was covered in head to toe with bloody ichor and bits of flesh and organs dangled from him. He was still chained to the post. He involuntarily ducked at the sound of the cannons. I was actually kind of amazed that he had remained alive. Why hadn’t he been the first one yelling: EAT ME! I thought of the dead pregnant women, and their dead unborn children. What bastards these people were.
The island lurched again, this time much more noticeable as I saw that a second dragon had fallen. Only the three smaller males seemed to be fighting the Deceit, the big female was currently unseen in her place under the island. Was she clinging to the bottom? Was there a cave down there? I gripped the staircase to keep from falling off. I suddenly saw a ring of keys hanging from a peg on the side of the dais, or the dragon food dish to be more exact.
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM The cannons spoke up again. I looked over at the Deceit. The last male dragon had learned to dodge the cannonballs. The Deceit was trying to come in closer, to make the dragon attempt to lower its guard by thinking it was able to reach the air ship. The dragon would strain against its chain, I doubted the single dragon could move the island all that much. The Deceit would fire and he would dive immediately. The cannonballs sailed harmlessly over him and would crash into the island.
I jogged down the stairs towards the key ring, I managed to get the keys off the hook only to be thrown to my feet and the keys thrown from my hands as the island lurched again, this time, violently. The ground tilted and I was tumbled off my feet. I tried to put down my hands again and in a groan of pain was reminded my wrist was broken. I looked up to see the keys had landed on the dias and were sliding towards the edge.
“No, no, no,” I shouted jumping to my feet and chasing after them. “Grab the keys!” I shouted to Dragon Chow, he was hanging from the post that he was chained to. He tried to step on them, but missed, they slid past him and what felt like even more quickly to the edge. Suddenly the island mostly up righted itself and the keys stopped moving. I ran to them and picked them up, it took several tries to find the right key, but finally the shackles were off my wrists. I don’t know why I saved him, but I brought the keys to Dragon Chow and once again went through several before releasing him.
“Thanks,” he said to me.
“Louella,” I realized the whispers were coming more frequently not lessening, and it finally dawned on me that I must totally be insane, because if the whispers were the hallucinated song of the Sky Kraken spawn, I had not given them my real name. I had introduced myself as Honesty.
“Still think it’s an honor to be offered to the dragons?” I asked pulling some entrails off his shoulder, showing them to him, and tossing them away.
BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM
“With the blessing we have a chance to come back as the mighty dragons,” he replied and I wanted to ask him about the dragons, since he obviously, despite being so deluded, knew a lot about them. The island lurched again and this time it didn’t upright itself. As a matter of fact I saw the Deceit now headed straight towards the island. I had a feeling that they had just killed the last male and it was the weight of the three dead dragons that was causing the island to tilt.
I was so happy to see the cloud ship, and standing proudly on the bow, one leg on the rail, skyglass in hand, was the Captain. Slightly behind him was Sam. I had only been gone a day or so but they seemed different and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
The Deceit only a little worse for wear, came close enough to the island for the pirates to swing from the ship onto the land. As a group they marched forward, the Captain in the lead, Sam at this side. The Captains had changed his clothes, his overcoat was now red, dirty, brown breeches, a once white shirt under, a tricorn on his head. The Captain only had one change of clothes, which was more than most of the crew had. Sam seemed more confident, well he’d always been confident, he’d always had that aristocratic air about him as if he was better than us pirates. He wore clothes similar to the Captain, but these weren’t the Captain’s extras, these fit him better. He carried his own cutlass and single shot musket. I also noticed some not just stubble, but what looked like a whispy several week growth on Sam’s face. His hair, though mostly covered by a tricorn was still blonde and actually shorter than when I’d seen him last. So while I’d been on the surface for like two days they’d gone, got Sam clothes, a hair cut and weapons? I really began to doubt my importance to the Deceit crew, except for the fact they were pirates, no I wasn’t important to the crew, though I’d proven my worth, I was still replaceable. Easily replaceable. Anyone could really take care of a cannon. I had just taken pride in my cannon, Gertie.
I moved to jog towards the Captain, to show I was alive, to rejoin the crew. Dragon Chow grabbed my arm. I noticed that Webb was not among them, I assumed he was staying on the Deceit.
“What are you doing?” He asked. “Those are pirates, they’ll cut you down.” I gave him my incredulous look both barrels.
“That is my crew, you idiot,” I replied to him shrugging him off. I jogged to the Captain who in truth acted like he didn’t know who I was at first and did try to cut me down. He squinted at me.
“Honesty? What? You’re alive!” He exclaimed. He almost seemed happy to see me and honestly really, really surprised. “Have you been here all this time?”
“No, just got here today, been on the surface actually, maybe I’ll tell you about when you explain to me what the hell happened on the Deceit that made you cut loose the shark cage,” I snapped at him. His eyes got a far away glassy look as if he was trying to remember something that happened a long time ago.
“Sky Kraken attacked us, sorry Honesty, we had to cut you loose or it was going to taken down the entire ship,” the Captain explained.
“He won’t admit it, but he missed you,” said Sam from next to him.
“You!” I pointed at him, he looked taken aback. I held up my wrist, broken, but scarred. “How did you get these? A crazy engineer give them to you?” Sam looked surprised at the scars on my wrist, that matched the scars on his wrist.
“They’re the mark of those to be offered,” came the broad voice from behind me, “Usually we’re born with them.”
“Born with them, my ass,” I stated, “I think you’re chosen at birth to be dragon food. Is that why you ran away, Sam? You didn’t want to be fed to the dragon?” Sam remained silent. I looked back at Dragon Chow. There was recognition in Dragon Chow’s face. “You know him?”
“Sam Chapman, the one who built a raft and abandoned the island, abandoned us,” Dragon Chow stated.
“Yeah because he got smart enough to realize that being served up as tasty morsels to your dragons was not the kind of future Mrs. Chapman’s little boy wanted to have,” I stated and Sam still remained silent. I saw the Captain bristle a little bit, but for the moment he also remained quiet. “God this place is fucked up.”
“You’ve been here awhile, tell us, where do they keep the gold?” The Captain asked changing the subject.
“Awhile? I’ve been here long enough to eat, take a bath, get drugged and offered as dinner to the dragons,” I stated quickly.
“So you’ve been on the surface all this time?” the Captain asked and suddenly Sam, who was much shorter than the Captain whispered something in his ear. The Captain nodded and slowly moved his hand to the handle of the the musket tucked in his belt. I took a step back, cautiously. At the moment there was no one around us. As far as I’d seen of Draco Island they didn’t even have a militia or policing force or guards. Once the Deceit had begun firing on the dragons, the citizens had scattered.
“Run!” The whisper came urgently to my ear. I looked back at Dragon Chow who has not close enough to have whispered in my ear.
“I’ve been gone three days,” I stated. The Captain wrapped his long fingers around the the musket and was slowly pulling it from his belt. “Captain?” I asked questioningly. He slowly raised the musket towards me. “Captain?”
“We thought you were dead, Honesty, I hated to lose one of my best cannoneers,” he slowly began still raising the musket.
“It’s only been three days,” I said taking another step back. Sam looked at me with sorrowful eyes. “What is going on?” I asked.
“It hasn’t been three days, Honesty, you’ve been gone five years,” the Captain said quietly. His musket aimed at my chest.
“Five years?” I asked uncertain. Was that why the Captain and Sam looked different? They were five years older? The new clothes on Sam, the haircut, they weren’t something they did in the last three days, but something in the last five years? “Captain?” I asked again.
“You’re Sky Kraken spawn now, Honesty, you just don’t know it,” Sam stated plainly.
“Run! Louella!” I heard the whispers and finally obeyed. I ran. I heard the musket fire but it was Dragon Chow who suddenly doubled over. A hand grasping his abdomen. He had missed me. I just kept running. It would take him awhile to reload and the accuracy was shit, but I didn’t want him to get lucky.
I ran towards the nearest building and burst through the door. It was oddly a chapel of some sort. Others had already taken refuge inside it. I saw people crouched down between pews and before an altar. However instead of the usually Christianic church, this seemed to be dedicated to a worship of the dragons. Where normally a cross or crucified Jesus would be on the wall behind the altar was instead a massive dragon head, red in color like the dragons who towed the island. The entire chapel was in dragons and fires. I was amazed at how intricate some of the murals were upon the walls. There was the Sky Kraken, shown in a position as the devil, well even across multiple religions his role hadn’t changed. They were the only ones where I’d seen the Sky Kraken depicted as he really was, most just had tentacles poking up and curling through clouds. This showed him as the man with the tentacle arms and legs, except they showed his head as being horned and and his skin red.
I turned and closed the doors behind me, and for good measure dragged a pew in front of them.
“What do they want?” An elderly woman asked me. They were huddled around the altar. She had a black kerchief on her head.
“They want your rivers of sapphires, your trees of emeralds, and your mountains of gold,” I stated to her.
“We don’t have any of that,” she replied.
“I know, but they don’t.”