I’m setting a new goal of writing one short story each month. Most of them will be in the same universe as Storm Raven, as that world lends itself well to stories that take place outside of the novels I plan to write. This first short story, Nereyda and the Ravager, is intended to be a quick, fun read. I hope you enjoy it.
Nereyda perched on the edge of the dock, her legs dangling so that her bare feet rested in the water, with her boots sitting on her left side. As the refreshing night air breezed through through the black hair that trailed over her shoulders, she gazed at the silver moon on the horizon with her violet eyes. Her ship, the Storm Raven, rested behind her in the harbor water. Most of the crew had gone into town to spend the loot that they had taken on the last voyage. Only a handful of crew members remained on the ship, including Nereyda’s first mate, Brynja.
A cry broke the peaceful atmosphere. Looking up, Nereyda saw two men dragging a young woman along the dock leading to the Ravager, the ship of Nereyda’s rival, Captain Flint.
Nereyda looked over her shoulder. “Brynja, round up the crew and get the ship ready.”
“Now? We’re not supposed to leave until tomorrow morning.”
Nereyda gave a quick nod. “Now.”
“All right, Captain.” Brynja ran off.
Turning back to the commotion on the other dock, Nereyda saw that the pirates had nearly dragged the woman to their ship. Despite her struggling, she had not managed to get free of her captors.
After clipping her boots to her belt, Nereyda slipped into the water and began to swim across the harbor. She swam toward the aft of the Ravager, away from the shore. Distracted with taking their hostage aboard, the men didn’t notice her approaching their ship.
As she reached the hull of the ship, Nereyda heard the girl crying from the deck above.
The ship towered over her, with three rows of guns bristling from her side. She began to pull herself up the side of the Ravager, using the crossbeams and gun ports as hand and footholds. As she climbed, she overheard the pirates talking.
“Look what we found,” said one man.
“Oh yes, she’ll keep us entertained on the trip to the Mucever Strait,” said another.
“Please,” said the girl, “just let me go back home.”
“We’ll bring you home,” said the first man, “along with all of the loot we take.”
Footsteps pounded on the deck, then halted.
“Where do you think you’re trying to go?” said the second man.
“Let me go.”
“No, I don’t think I will. It’s time to see how good you’re going to be.”
Nereyda reached the railing and peered over. One of the pirates shoved the girl against the central mast. His left hand rested on the mast as he used his arm and body to prevent her from escaping. He ran his right hand along her cheek. She tried to turn away, but it was a useless move. The other man watched with a crooked smile.
Creeping over the railing, Nereyda slipped her boots onto her feet and drew her knife from her belt. In her dark leather armor, she remained invisible in the shadows. She stood and, with a flick of her wrist, sent the blade sailing through the air.
It plunged into the pirate’s hand, pinning it to the mast.
“Argh!” he shouted. His hand shot away from the girl and clutched at the knife. Blood ran out of the wound.
The other pirate looked over at her with wide eyes and a gaping mouth of blackened teeth.
Nereyda looked the girl straight in the eyes. “ What are you waiting for? Get the hell out of here.”
The girl slid out from between the pirate and the mast, then ran down the gangway to flee.
“What are you doing here?” said Black Teeth.
“I heard that you wanted some fun and thought I could help you out.” Nereyda smiled.
The pirate by the mast sucked in his breath with a hiss as he pulled the knife from his hand. He dropped the blade to the deck and clutched his wounded hand. “What about this seems fun to you?”
She sauntered out of the shadows and into the moonlight. “To me? Well, now that you aren’t about to hurt someone, all of it.”
The door from the cabin at the aft of the ship groaned open. A tall, lanky man walked out onto the deck, flanked by two other men. “What’s going on here?” said the tall man. Nereyda recognized him as Berk, the first mate of the Ravager.
“We caught a girl for some fun, but this wench let her go.”
Berk looked over at her. “Aren’t you Captain Nereyda?”
“I am. If you have a pen, I’ll even give you my autograph.”
He laughed in her face. “Aren’t you supposed to be some hotshot new captain? You’re just a little girl.”
At nineteen years old, Nereyda was well aware that she was one of the youngest pirate captains. “What does that say about you? A little girl sneaks onto your ship, and you think you need five men to get rid of her.”
He sneered at her. “You know it’s a great crime in Freyport to trespass on another captain’s ship.”
“Maybe,” she shrugged, “but so is kidnapping. By the way, nobody in my crew has to capture someone just to get laid.”
He looked around at his men. “Get her off this ship, one way or another.”
The group of pirates surrounded Nereyda as she backed against the railing and rested her hand on the hilt of her sword. “Before we get started,” she said, “what’s this I hear about Mucever Strait tomorrow?”
Berk rounded on the man with black teeth and the one with the bloody hand. “Which of you told her about the gems?”
“Actually, you just did.” She winked.
“Enough of this.” Berk charged at her and drew his sword.
Nereyda drew hers just as he slashed down at her. She raised her blade to deflect his. The impact of the blow pressed her back into the railing.
She swung her sword from her left shoulder to his right side.
Berk brought his blade across to sweep hers away.
As he did this, he opened up his stance, and she stepped inside his reach. An elbow strike to his nose made him stagger back. Nereyda spun past him to face the rest of the pirates.
Her opponents pressed in from all sides.
Nereyda moved in a flurry to defend herself.
A gap opened between them, and she rolled out of the melee.
After breaking through the line of pirates, Nereyda dashed up the stairs to the helm. As she sprinted past the wheel, she bent down and slashed the line that connected it to the rudder. With the ship disabled, she jumped onto the aft railing. Spinning around on the balls of her feet, she bowed to the pursuing pirates and bowed. “Thanks for the tip about the gems. Maybe I’ll bring you one as a souvenir.” She turned back around and dove into the water below.
As swam through the chilly water, gunshots sounded from the deck of the Ravager, though the bullets all splashed into the water around Nereyda without hitting her. When she reached the dock where the Storm Raven sat, she climbed out of the water and ran onto the deck of her ship. Brynja stood waiting next to the helm.
“Is the whole crew here?”
“Good.” Nereyda took her place at the wheel. “Let’s set a course to the Mucever Strait.”