The battle had become exhausting. Amanda hit the rigging and took a second to catch her breath before the sailor she faced rushed in to disembowel her. She grabbed the ropes over her head and jumped, throwing her feet out in the vicinity of his head. The heel of her boot connected with his cheek, knocking him sideways and fouling his attack.
Dropping down, she slashed her cutlass through the air haphazardly. She had little left to give and expected nothing aside from a renewal of caution on his part. To her surprise, it bit into his neck and painted the world red. Panting and ready to drop, she scanned the deck and saw no one else near her. The sailor fell to the deck, gasping for breath. She sagged and leaned against the deck railing.
The main sail had caught fire. Tiny bits of burning canvas drifted down on the ocean breeze, waiting for the perfect moment to find something flammable. Bodies littered the deck, the wails of distraught women filled the air, and slick blood covered everything. Two of her brothers and a handful of cousins had the last five sailors cornered at the prow, and obvious desperation signaled their likely surrender as soon as the next man fell, if not sooner.
With her part in this battle over, she nudged the fallen sailor with a foot. He hadn’t died yet, so she plunged her cutlass into his chest. They wouldn’t tend to the injured, and she didn’t want to think about anyone living long enough to drown when they threw the bodies overboard. Yanking the blade out, she wiped it on his pants and sheathed it.
Her cheek stung. She touched it and checked her glove to find a fresh smear of blood. Muscle aches wriggled their way to the surface, clamoring for attention. Tomorrow, she’d find bruises all over her body. At least no one had hit her head.
She crouched and patted the body down, finding nothing but a crumpled piece of parchment in one pocket. After tucking that into a pocket, she grabbed his legs and dragged him to the railing. His sword lay on the deck still, and she picked it up. The straight blade, its hilt polished silver and studded with freshwater pearls, struck her as too foppish and ostentatious to be worth using. Looking it over, she wondered who its owner had been, and if this man’s death would cause her family trouble.
Lee French has published several fantasy and science fiction novels, and is a member of the Edgewise Word Inn staff
Image credit: Anry Nemo – http://anry.deviantart.com/