[Week 4][P] Splice Willow <Chapter 1: A Chance for Promotion>

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[Week 4][P] Splice Willow <Chapter 1: A Chance for Promotion> Empty [Week 4][P] Splice Willow <Chapter 1: A Chance for Promotion>

Post  CapnWillow on Wed Jul 18, 2012 6:59 am

Willow’s head broke the surface of the water with an almost silent splash. He listened for a few seconds for the cry of discovery from a particularly observant sentry on the ship floating above him, but there was nothing. No noise at all apart from the waves splashing against the hull. He swam closer, reaching out to feel the planks of the hull in the darkness. All around him sparks and glimmers of reflected moonlight flashed and twinkled on the slight movements of the sea.
He drew his dagger, and holding it between his teeth, began to climb. Slowly and surely was the order of business today, so his ascent took some time. There was a heart stopping moment when he nearly lost his balance and had to throw himself against the side of the ship, knocking the hilt of his dagger against the wood with a loud thud, but after waiting frozen in fear of discovery for a few minutes, nothing came of it, and he resumed his climb. He could taste blood in his mouth. The dagger must have cut his gum when it knocked against the side. Clenching his teeth for fear of it slipping out, lubricated by the blood, he climbed on.

Eventually, he climbed up to the gunwale. Peering through a hole in the railing he saw the deck of the ship. Ropes coiled away, cannons rolled back from the gun ports, wood planks scrubbed clean and the staircase to the innards of the ship. He couldn’t see a sentry, but there would be one somewhere. He scanned again and saw a pile of sail cloth next to a cannon near the closer of the two staircases leading up to the quarterdeck. Willow lifted himself of the side of the gunwale, moving as slowly as he dared, and let himself down on to the deck. Keeping his head and shoulders low, he scampered over to the sail cloth and wriggled behind it. He positioned himself in a relatively comfortable position and waited.

He saw the watchman for the first time around 10 minutes after he had hidden himself away. The man was armed, awake and alert. A shame, Willow thought to himself. He had been hoping for a slovenly watchman that could be slipped past or avoided. He’d probably have to kill this one, just to be safe. The watchman walked up the stairs across the deck from him, and Willow heard his slow pace across the quarterdeck. He shifted himself up onto his feet and poised himself for the watchman’s return. The footsteps above him stopped. Willow froze. He didn’t think he had made any noise that could have given him away but you never knew...

But after a second or two, the footsteps resumed. Willow breathed out. The watchman started down the second staircase. Willow watched him walk past, waited until he passed, then slipped out from behind the sail cloth and crept up behind the watchman. The man was swinging his lantern back and forth as he walked with his left arm, his right hand in his pocket, so Willow his left arm to stop him dropping the lantern and thumped him hard with the hilt of his dagger. The man went out like a light. Willow slowly lowered his unconscious body to the ground and looked around to see if anyone had heard the scuffle. No-one had. Looking back to the watchman he thought hard for a few seconds about what to do with him. If he just left the guy out here someone could find him, or he could wake up. No, he had to do something with him, but what? He couldn’t exactly carry the guy downstairs and hide him in a barrel. And throwing him overboard would not only create a loud splash but the poor guy would probably drown. Not the nicest way to go. Casting around to find something useful, his eyes hit on a large coil of rope lying next to the nearest cannon, and an idea formed in his head.

It took a few minutes to implement his scheme, but it was effort that he was certain would pay off. His task completed, Willow began to creep down the stairs into the bowels of the ship. Snores and gentler breathing drifted up from the crew’s quarters, and a candle burning in the direction of the kitchen, towards the prow of the ship showed at least one other person was awake. Creeping towards the light, he made his way down another floor, to the storerooms. There were 3, all locked. He didn’t want to waste time picking the lock of the wrong room, so he sniffed each door, looking for the particular stink of black powder. He found it at the third door, and reaching into his shirt Willow pulled out the pouch he had oiled earlier to waterproof it. He opened it, and was glad to see the oiling had worked, as the delicate lock picks within were still dry. Not that a little water would make too much difference in the short term, but he didn’t want them rusting, not after how much trouble he’d had to go to, to get them in the first place.

A few minutes work had the lock to the gunner’s storeroom open and Willow inside. The gunner’s had considerately left plenty of matches and string strew all over the place, on top of the squat little barrels filled with explosive. There was even a candle; admittedly it was placed far enough away from anything else to be in no danger of igniting anything even if it was lit, which it wasn’t. Well, thought Willow, we can soon remedy that.

A short time later he was creeping towards the centre of the ship on his way back up to the deck; his tools safely back in their pouch. Reaching the second staircase, he looked up it staircase, then to the sides to check if the coast was clear. It wasn’t. His gaze met that of a scandalised looking sailor, who was staring at him in horror and anger along with several of his comrades. They were a good few metres away down the corridor that connected the storerooms to the rest of the ship.

“Who the fuck are you then?!” he roared.

“Time to go I think” Willow muttered. With that, he set off at full pelt towards the staircase, taking the steps 2 at a time. He could hear the sailors hot on his heels, and knew he had very little time. Speeding towards the staircase leading up to the deck, he heard the lead pursuer rousing the rest of the ship with cries of “Intruder! Intruder on board! Catch the bastard; he’s heading for the deck!”

Scrambling to his feet as he burst onto the deck, Willow grabbed the rope he had left tied to one of the railings and started sawing desperately though it. He could hear the ships crew waking up, rousing themselves to fury at the invader. The cries were particularly murderous now. Willow sawed faster. The rope frayed and gave just before the first sailor started stampeding up the steps. Just as the man reached the deck, there was a loud splash from the starboard side of the ship, as if a man had jumped into the sea.

“He’s jumped overboard! Over here!” cried the sailor, and dashed towards the sound, his crewmates following him. Grabbing the edge of the railing and staring over the side, they noticed the shape of a man floating in the water, ropes coiling in the water around him.

“There he is! I’m going in after him!” yelled the leader, and leapt over the railing, his mates cheering him on. The sailor landed with a splash close to the shape, and within a few seconds had swum over to it and grabbed him.

“Let’s have a look at your face then friend” growled the sailor, and yanked the face out of the water.

“What’s he look like then? Who is it?” his friends called down. The sailor looked up, a shocked expression on his face.

“It’s the night-watchman! He’s out cold! That bastard rigged him to drop in the water!”

On the port side of the ship, Willow slipped into the water with barely more than a splash, and started swimming as far away from the ship as he could, as fast as he could. He’d managed to put around 10 metres between himself and ship before one of the crew on the now packed deck noticed him and set up a cry. There were several sailors poised to jump him after him, but they stopped suddenly. A few shouts went out, followed by mocking laughter echoing out across the water.

“You may have got away from us lad, but you won’t get away from that!” shouted the sodden figure of the sailor who’d jumped in the other side, who had been helped back on board along with the unconscious night-watchman.

Willow turned back to look, and was greeted with the sight of a huge dark fin slicing through the water. It made wide, lazy circles around him as he watched then dived below the water. The jeers of the crew rang in his ears as he swam as fast as he could away from the ship. Suddenly, he felt something grab him under the water. He took a huge gulp of air before he was pulled under, and felt the water close over his head.

The watching crew watched for any sign of his fate with glee, but after he didn’t resurface, lost interest and began to disperse.

“I wonder what he was trying to do?” mused one of the men.

“I’m more concerned about where he came from! Look around, scan the horizon, there’s no ship out there but us!” replied one of his fellows.
And in the slowly appearing light of dawn it was indeed clear, there was no sail in sight.

“Hrm. Bit spooky if you ask me” muttered the first sailor, at which point the candle that Willow had lit down in the gunners storeroom burnt through the string he had balanced it against and fell, streaming sparks, onto the pile of gunpowder he had carefully positioned beneath it. The explosion was quite spectacular. The ship had been well stocked with plenty of powder. The fireball was twice as high as the main mast, spraying ash and bits of wood in to the surrounding water. The ship was blown apart, and sank within minutes.

A few hundred metres away, Willow surfaced with a gasp, panting for air.

“You could have warned me!” he spluttered, as the dark fin rose above the water, followed by the grinning head of Galeo the tiger shark fishman.

“You’re still alive aren’t you?” chuckled the huge fishman, treading water easily beside him, his head barely dipping with the movement of the waves. It was Galeo who had grabbed Willow and dragged him under, speeding him away with the speed only fishmen and mermaids posses underwater. He had also been the one who had taken him up to the ship in the first place. Galeo had then waited under the water for any sign of the mission going awry in case Willow needed his support.

“Yeah yeah, thanks very much you big fishy bastard.” Willow turned and scanned the horizon.

“How far away are we from the Scarlet?” he asked. The Scarlet Chance, owned by Captain Pelew, was the ship both he and Galeo were serving on.

“Not far, a couple of hours swim that way” Galeo replied, indicating with his head a direction westerly of the tower of smoke they had left behind them.

“How can you tell?” Willow asked curiously. He had wondered how the fishman had brought him straight to the enemy ship earlier, but had no chance to ask.

“I’m a shark fishman, I can smell ‘em in the water” replied Galeo, grinning.
“Fair enough. Shall we then?”

“Aye, hold on tight lad, I’m anxious to get back. From what I can tell they’ve got food on the go, there’s woodsmoke in the water, pine if I’m not mistaken. And the only pine we have on board is what Cook burns in the ovens.”

With that, Willow grabbed hold of Galeo’s fin and held on for dear life as the fishman sped them home. As the waves rushed by him, he reflected on his successful mission and the increased status that awaited him on his return.

Word Count: 2092

Posts : 28
Join date : 2012-06-26

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