A Ship | Daniel Norrish


A Ship

‘Blood & Discovery’ Part 3

Daniel Norrish

Flintlocks and Folly Act 3


Taibald and Banda sprinted towards the horizon, still moving up the hill with the cloud of murderous, flying creatures drawing closer. Taibald clutched the purple melon under one arm and his pewter box under the other as he glimpsed back to the scene he’d left behind. The horde of orange cannibals was being annihilated as the members of the mysterious flying swarm dropped from the sky to strike them down.

The cloud was above them now and the first of the monsters dropped on top of Taibald. The sailor screamed and watched as the black ball unravelled like a length of spooled rope. The horrible, stretching thing scratched out at him with a hundred razor sharp arms. It looked like a millipede with a long mouth full of gnashing teeth and three black eyes sunk deep into its pointed face.

It was as long as a pirate’s eyeglass and it hung above Taibald in the hot, stinking air. In a second, the thing snapped clean in half and fell to the Earth in two separate pieces. Taibald glimpsed back to Banda and saw he had a scimitar in one hand and he was throwing thin wooden hatchets with the other.

Banda shot Taibald a furious look as he pointed to the horizon they had been running towards and Taibald knew he should be running again.

Now as they fled, Banda hung back a few paces behind Taibald and swatted the monsters from the air as they charged down to challenge the men.

Finally, the pair saw the lip of a cliff approaching. More and more of the enemies struck out at them as they sprinted towards the drop.

“Jump! Don’t think, just jump!” Taibald shrieked as he leapt from the rim of the island. For three full seconds, he dropped trough the air before the warm, tropical water swallowed his body.

Then he was swimming again with the pewter box under an arm and the melon floating in the water in front of him as he moved.
He looked up to see the whole swarm of slaughtering bugs spearing down towards them like the tail of a cyclone. Then he looked ahead to see the boat they were swimming towards was entirely made of wood. Even the sail was just a solid wooden panel with a purple ‘X’ drawn in the very centre. Taibald didn’t have time to think. He tossed the pewter box into the boat and climbed up with the melon and lifted the huge fruit above his head and hurled it with all his might into the ‘X’.

The result was immediate. The melon erupted with a slimy, stinking purple ink and the enemies instantly changed direction to charge at it.

As Taibald helped Banda aboard the vessel, every single flying creature flew directly towards the smashed melon and the sail. They collided with the wooden barrier like an almighty gust of wind and the boat leapt forward.

The impact was immense and both men had to fall to the deck and hold on to remain passengers in that peculiar ferry. The boat skimmed across the top of the water at an incredible speed and the men could see land approaching from ahead.

Banda pointed to the oncoming island and smiled and said, “Ship.”

Taibald could barely see as the boat careened forwards, but he could make out the towering masts of proper, seafaring ships.

The wooden boat did not slow and it did not alter its course as it slammed into the dock. The whole thing came roaring into the boardwalk of a port and splinters were thrown in every direction. The citizens of whatever town they were assaulting retreated in fear as the swarm of killing bugs took to the air once more. An army of soldiers in matching blue and green uniforms emerged from the buildings of the settlement and they fought desperately to intercept the monsters as they dipped to the ground to spill more blood.
Taibalt and Banda took a moment to steady themselves within the chaos of winged monsters and surprised soldiers. They saw terrified children cowering under market tables and scrambling through the broken windows of barricaded buildings while brave women struck out with shovels and kitchen knives.

“Taibald!”

In the midst of all this madness, Taibald heard his name.

“Taibald. Over here, on your right!” he looked to the right to see a huge, bearded man in a long, bearskin coat standing on the finest ship in the harbour.

“Captain?”

“Welcome back, have you come to return something of mine?” the marauding captain asked as he pointed to the pewter box Taibald had stolen from him.
Taibald grabbed Banda by the shoulders and stared into his eyes as he said, “That’s it, that’s the ship that will take us to Africa. We need that vessel. We need that man dead. Do you understand? Banda, talk to me!”

“Oui,” Banda replied and he drew two swords from somewhere in his arsenal.

As both men looked back to The Captain, they saw he had a long, metal pipe pressed to his shoulder. It looked something like the weapons Taibald carried in his pewter box, but much bigger. The Captain leant the barrel of it on the handrail of the ship.

“What is-” Taibald began to say as a fistful of smoke was thrown from the open end of the weapon and blood began to run down Taibald’s back. He let out a single, long breath and dropped onto his knees with his forehead on the red and cracked deck of the boardwalk.
Banda only watched him for an instant; he’d seen his share of dead men and he knew Taibald would never stand again.

“Come on native. Get up here!” The Captain called down to the dock as he poured black powder into the muzzle of the weapon.

Banda began to climb one of the thick mooring lines to the deck of the ship.

“Come on! Faster!” The Captain urged as he levelled the terrible armament at Banda.

As the wild warrior arrived at the handrail of the ship, The Captain pulled the trigger. Banda was standing completely upright on the railing as the smoke left the barrel once again and he simply dropped over the side of the ship to let the attack fly past him. Before The Captain could react, Banda had climbed aboard.
The wild warrior charged at The Captain and fear erupted over the seaman’s face for the first time. Swords were drawn and the pair were locked in a frantic flurry of sharpened steel. The sound of metal on metal was so loud that the soldiers on the dock peered up to see what was happening.

The men were evenly matched and whenever one attempted some almighty, crushing blow, the other seemed to evade it without effort.
Finally, the old, drunken Captain began to breathe heavy. He dropped back a few extra paces from Banda and drew another one of the savage, L shaped weapons. Without wasting a moment, he pointed and fired.

The smoke from the explosion clouded the deck of the ship and Banda only had enough time to throw his swords at The Captain. The two blades flew past the tired killer and he dropped his hand, just a little, so that the weapon’s sight shifted.

When the smoke cleared, Banda was standing to the side with blood running slowly from his left wrist.

“Fine,” The Captain said, “Again then,” he continued as he picked up one of his swords.

Banda just shook his head.

“What do you mean ‘no.’ You’re not getting off this ship.”

A grin spread across Banda’s face as The Captain looked down at himself. Two of the little wooden hatchets were lodged in his chest and a torrent of blood was being pumped out onto the floor below him.

“No, no. Wait.” The Captain said as he sat down on the ground.
Without a word, Banda picked up the long weapon that The Captain had used to kill Taibald. He examined it for a moment and then clutched at the skinny end while he hoisted the wooden back of the thing over his head. He brought it down on the skull of The Captain like and axe and left the strange thing lodged there at the top of his spine.
Banda strolled over the deck of the ship collecting up his armoury of weapons and tucking them back into their folds of his clothes. He looked out at the ruined town and saw that the flying creatures were slowly retreating as the last of the soldiers on the boardwalk fled or died.

He smiled as he thought of the ship he’d won and the looks on the faces of his friends and family back in Africa when he returned.

Then he screeched a single, thundering swearword when he realised that everyone who knew how to sail was lying dead back on the boardwalk.