Styx sighed a defeated sigh of hungry annoyance. He wasn't going to bother responding to that, as he knew he was right. He had no idea how to sail one of these ships, much less alone. If it came to it he'd just have to eat most of the crew and leave enough of them alive to get him back to shore. This would all be worth it, if the captain's promise of a challenge lived up to the hype.
The two moved downstairs and toward the brig. He suddenly realized he was hungry for food just as much as blood at this point. So long as his sporadically annoying craving for flesh didn't kick in, however, he felt he'd be fine. Just a sip to tie him over, then a bit of food from whatever they had in the storeroom.
Ed and Leita simultaneously turned at the sound of footsteps, both startled by the idea that someone could have been eavesdropping. They had each been in such a vulnerable state that if even one of the pirates overheard them it would make things at least twice as uncomfortable as they already were. Crow's whistle up to the crow's nest gave the impression that he hadn't heard what they'd said, but it could have very well been his intention to give that impression. Whatever it was, Ed's full guard had been raised, back to his default state of alertness.
That was a good sign as any that their conversation had ended. While at first Ed regretted ever approaching her, he was now happy he did. He felt he understood her a lot more now; maybe she understood him a bit more too. He felt guilty having heard her story without telling his own, but he wasn't even quite sure he could bring himself to do so. Telling her story seemed to have brought her peace, but... he couldn't see it doing the same for himself. He believed she would have taken it well so it wasn't her reaction he was dreading. Did he really have a need to tell her?
Ed slowly stood from the floor, the sloshing of water still forcing him to be ever cautious. He rubbed his eyes as he tried to reattain his public mask. He didn't want to go back downstairs and try to sleep because he knew he wasn't going to get any, but he couldn't stay out here talking with Leita all night, especially due to this interruption. “Well... I guess I should head back to the cot.” He paused a moment, trying to decide whether or not he should say anything further before continuing. “Thanks for confiding in me. I know it must have been very hard for you, but... thank you for trusting me.”
Leita nodded, still blushing from the sudden intrusion and her awareness of the night watch. "Hm, thank for you ... hearing it, Edward-kun ... Good night ..."
She wasn't sure what she wanted to do with herself yet either. Should she go back to bed? She didn't want to go immediately, if Edward was going first. But would he really get any sleep? This worried her. Sleep-deprivation was no good. Being on a ship, Edward would need his full strength to cope. Her illusion spell only really worked as long as she was able to give it her full attention. Leita needed her own sleep too, so this was out of the question. She had often given Khaz sleeping potions for his insomnia, though these had stopped working on him for some reason she could not find. She had a feeling Edward might refuse. For the same reasons Rontu might refuse. They both probably felt some sense of safety at being able to wake up. Rontu was so alert because in some way it made him feel safer to be so hyper-aware of everything around him.
Leita worried her bottom lip as she watched Edward leave. What to do? Would Edward ever get any rest on this ship?
Before much else could be said, Blaze heard the creaking of boards nearby. His head twitched to the entrance of the brig at this. Damn, perhaps they had talked too long. Yet, more talking was still necessary, but they had run out of time.
Crow took up his perch, landing lightly on the edge of the crow's nest, lingering to allow the wind to sweep through his feathers. It seemed a tranquil enough night, despite their added numbers. So many new people left him feeling a bit edgy, but with his eyes from the air and another mate's eyes on deck he trusted enough in his crew to detect any threats. He settled into his watch comfortably.
Below deck, Cobra slugged Gunner in the belly to wake him and informed him that it was his watch. He grumbled loudly and stomped off, as she took her hammock.
Once on deck, Gunner gave Soot the old nod and as usual the man-cat said nothing. Only stared with his golden eyes and nodded, departing as silent as a shadow. Gunner had no idea where he went, but somehow he guessed that Soot didn't sleep much. Probably just went to hang out in some other shadow.
Gunner was not the silent type. Not that he'd ever given it much effort.
He swaggered, boots falling heavily on the deck, as he made his way over to the mast. He gave it a couple heavy handed rings with his fist and shouted up to the crow's nest, just to be sure Crow knew he was there. "Har, there, Feathers!"
On his way, he brushed by Ed, who was leavin, roughly and without an apology. It wasn't until he settled himself against the mast, arms crossed over his broad chest, that he noticed Leita was on deck. "Top o the evenin to ye," he grinned devilishly.
The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs sent Gosh's heart hammering in his chest. He had no doubts that if the pirates saw them, it would not go well. Fear reduced his voice to a ragged, shrill whisper. "Hiiiide."
He staggered back to his workbench, bending over his work doing his best to look focused.
Maelstrom's voice carried over the footsteps, like cool, steel banner. A smooth and polished edge. "Such a talented lad, to be sure. A talent should never be wasted, I always say."
Ooc: I made some assumptions here. I wasn't sure if Blaze successfully hid or not. Let me know if I should change anything.
The two stopped in the middle of the brig. Styx's eyes zeroed in on the scrawny figure behind the bars. “... Yet talents are wasted every day.” Styx answered the captain, referring mostly to the dozen or so talented people he'd already killed in this very room. “I'll take it from here, Mael-man.” Styx said, eyes still glued on the bony excuse of a boy. More of an appetizer than anything. Blech.
“Good evening, little man. Thought I'd drop by and say hello... so...” He smirked. “Hello.” He waved. “After all, it's visiting hours, at least I'd assume so 'cause something smells an awful lot like company in here.” Actually, he'd quite literally smelled him. Blaze had apparently been visiting with the nerd. Either that or he confused the crate by the door with a sleeping cot. Styx lightly kicked the crate to his right. “Hey Scarface, family and freaks only. Unless you're this kid's wife I suggest you skedaddle.”
Ed fell back in his cot. He rubbed his temples, mind racing with a million thoughts. He tried to get comfortable, but he knew he wasn't going to be sleeping. Instead he drifted into deep thought. His eyes traced the woodgrain in the ceiling as he replayed his conversation with Leita in his head. He thought through the encounter again and again, his perfect memory retelling the story with perfect accuracy. The memory was a good one. He couldn't help but smile as he played it in his head. In a moment, however, his smile faded. Despite how encouraged, and even happy, his conversation with Leita made him, he couldn't help but ask the one question he'd already been asking himself.
Blaze didn't need Gosh to tell him twice. He limped his gimp-self over and ducked behind one of the many crates. Particularly the one right next to the door. People don't tend to look behind themselves a lot when they enter a room. Unless that person was Rontu, the overly-paranoid. Then again, Blaze understood his thinking a lot more lately. Having assassins after him got him checking behind doors more often than not.
He heard Maelstrom talking to someone. "Such a talented lad, to be sure. A talent should never be wasted, I always say."
Then Blaze saw the giant freak from earlier step into the brig with the captain. “... Yet talents are wasted every day.” That sounded ominous somehow. “I'll take it from here, Mael-man.”
What were they going to do with this kid?
“Good evening, little man. Thought I'd drop by and say hello... so.... Hello.” He saw Styx wave at the kid. There was something Blaze definitely did not like about this. It made his insides twitch uncomfortably. “After all, it's visiting hours, at least I'd assume so 'cause something smells an awful lot like company in here.” Blaze's heart jumped into his throat, and he thought of how Ren often had a more acute sense of smell than others, being half-dragon. He had no idea what Styx was supposed to be, but he obviously wasn't human, so one couldn't rule out the stronger senses. Styx lightly kicked the crate Blaze was hiding behind. “Hey Scarface, family and freaks only. Unless you're this kid's wife I suggest you skedaddle.”
Well, sh**. This was an awkward position. Sure, he could lie and say he got lost, but that wouldn't explain why he was hiding. Blaze wondered if hiding had been the wrong move. Perhaps he should have let them find him here and then complain to Maelstrom about the horrible escort he had been given, for he was a poor lost cripple that Nails moved too quickly for. None of that mattered now though. He had to do something. He was caught. Sure, Styx probably didn't care, but Maelstrom wouldn't miss the oddity.
But also, what were they going to do to Gosh? Why were they here?
Blaze got up and limped out into view. He looked up to Styx and said, "Well, depends on what you consider a freak. Maybe I fall into the category. And aren't all us pirates brothers, mate?"
Leita flushed at Gunner's greeting. She didn't really quite know what to say, so she just nodded and quickly scurried away to a lower deck level, climbing down a ladder.
Gosh saw the look in Styx's eyes when he entered the room and he knew what had happened to people when he saw that hungry gleam. He'd had company in his cell...before that deadly look. Gosh shrank further back into the brig, as Styx had leered at him, thankful for the bars that separated them -for the moment.
When Styx detected Blaze, Gosh thought he was going to have a heart attack and die right there. Blaze stepped out, very cool-like, as though he were one of them. As though he had not been hiding. It was a great attempt, but Gosh knew it wouldn't work. All it could do was buy him time -a moment or two.
Maelstrom raised a pale eyebrow at Blaze. "What a surprise, Blaze. Did you get...lost?" He played the word like a dagger in his hand. "I thought Nails would have taken better care of you than that."
So this new guy was a mischief maker. Fun fun. Was he planning to break the little kid out or something? Why else would he have been hiding in here? It was possible he was just visiting, and then hid out of a sense of not wanting to be caught in an area he wasn't supposed to be in, but that still meant he had a guilty conscience at the very least. He could have been planning some sort of escape. What kind of escape, here on the open seas, was beyond him. Then again he'd seen magic do some pretty crazy things on this world. For all he knew, Blaze was an expert in creating magic portals to far away lands.
Then again, Styx was very very hungry and was most likely just looking for an excuse to sink his teeth into something less bony. That little scrawny kid was practically nothing. This scarred guy, however, would definitely satiate his hunger for a while, at least longer than the boy would have.
“Hey boss,” Styx said with a jovial smile, clearly poking fun at Mael's supposed authority over him. “What's his face here would make a pretty nice substitute, what do you think?”
Maelstrom raised a pale eyebrow at Blaze. "What a surprise, Blaze. Did you get...lost?" He played the word like a dagger in his hand. "I thought Nails would have taken better care of you than that."
“Hey boss,” Styx said with a jovial smile, clearly mocking Maelstrom in some way that was more apparent in his tone. “What's his face here would make a pretty nice substitute, what do you think?”
Blaze quirked disfigured eyebrow at this. Substitute for what exactly? Well, they had obviously come here for Gosh. Though he still didn't know what was behind that. He looked over to Maelstrom with this raised brow. "I'm ... not following any of this. Substitute for what?"
Blaze felt his mouth go dry. His one eye went a little wide. Whatever it was, he was sure that he didn't want it. "Trying not to kill him" usually never went over well. While he was sure the dark elves that disfigured his body hadn't expected him to live through the torture, they hadn't exactly wanted to make it a quick, painless death that still had dignity. Blaze's hand snapped up to the hilt over his shoulder and he lunged, his limp which he had over-exaggerated before became suddenly less pronounced. In his lunge, his sword came out to slash down on Maelstrom.
Styx observed the cripple as he went for his weapon, clearly not as crippled as he let on. As he watched, he briefly considered letting him attack the captain, just to see what would happen. It definitely would have made things interesting, but it would also make things a lot more complicated. No, he couldn't risk it. If something were to happen to Maelstrom then the ship would fall into disarray, especially considering the fact the First Mate wasn't on-board. He'd never get the challenge he was looking for if that were to happen.
Styx moved as the attacker did. The sound of metal on metal filled the confined quarters as Styx's hand latched harmlessly around the metal blade, treating it like it were made out of plastic. In one sharp movement, he effortlessly wrenched the sword from Blaze's hands, tossing it to the ground behind him. “Now now, that was hardly an adult reaction.” He took a single step toward the man, hungry eyes blocked by the white glint in his glasses.
Gosh shrieked at the harsh ring of steel, and at the frightening demonstration of Styx's brute strength. He had, after all, stopped a blade in full swing with bare hand.
Maelstrom stood and watched unflinching, a subtle yet satisfied smile on his pale lips as the sword clattered against the floorboards. Although he was an able swordsman and perfectly capable of defending himself, he did not prefer to demonstrate his abilities, as he preferred when others did not know what he was or was not capable of. While he doubted Styx's action, defending him from the attack, was based in any measure of loyalty he had not doubted that Styx would do so. With Blaze suddenly free game, it simply made sense.
Blaze stared over at his sword with one wide eye. It had been taken away from him like a stick tugged out of a child's hand. The fact that blade did not cut Styx was bad enough, but the sound it made, it was like the freak's skin was made of something harder than metal, or at least equal to it.
“Now now, that was hardly an adult reaction.” Blaze turned his gaze back to Styx. The way the freak stalked toward him as like a predator. Even without seeing his eyes, Blaze knew. This was a hunter. Blaze was the prey.
He had another sword, but what good would that do? This freak was too fast and just plain too freaky. What else was he capable of that Blaze didn't know? Blaze stepped backward, trying to think fast.
"I guess there's no trial period, eh?" said Blaze, his eye twitching to look over to Maelstrom, who was as cold as he was welcoming on deck earlier. Blaze swallowed. He sure got himself caught in the blink of an eye. He really shouldn't have hid like a guilty person.
Blaze swallowed again, looking back to Styx. There was nothing he could do. Kind of just like being back down in the torture chambers in Hyrule Castle. Hands bound and just waiting. He had always envied Ren. He had the power to just do. He always thought the reason Ren was always so direct about everything he did was because of that. He had the confidence that he could just blast through whatever got in his way. He didn't have to play politics or pretend to protect people. He also didn't have any of that getting in the way of protecting. Ren had the power to just do as he wanted. Well, Blaze didn't have that. This broken body was all that he had left.
Blaze just narrowed his eye as Styx came. Well, he supposed if this spared the kid pain, then it would probably be worth it. Part of him never minded the pain that was given to him. That was one thing he got from being tortured. It was hard to compare that agony to anything else in the world. And he felt like he owed it. To Leita. To Khaz. For not being brave enough before to do the right thing. 'Cause the goddesses knew the kind of pain they had to go through. That was one thing he knew without a doubt. He never wanted to be that coward again.
Blaze raised his one arm and flexed his fingers to urge Styx forward. "Well, come and get it then."
Disappointing. Styx expected him to put up a bit a fight. The guy was smarter than he gave him credit for, though. A fool would have rushed in and gotten his ass handed back to him on a silver laced china platter, but not this fool.
“Just hold still.” Styx said. “This won't hurt as much as it probably should.” The behemoth grabbed Blaze by the shoulder, his other hand covering the side of the man's face, pushing it to the side to expose his neck.
Styx was careful where he chose his bite this time. Usually he drank his victims dry so he didn't care about being precise, but right now he only had two resources. He'd have to let them live long enough to recuperate so he could drink again. Then again, if one of them died... he'd have a better excuse to feast on one of those mermaids.
His teeth sunk into flesh and blood pooled into his mouth. He drank slowly, maintaining a steady grip on Blaze's shoulder and the side of his head. Something in the back of his head begged him to clamp his jaw, take a bite out of his neck, and feast on his flesh. He resisted that urge. He hated that feeling, actually. These days, he'd feel that urge every time he drank blood, but he had been able to ignore up until this point, so he was able to push it back for now.
After a few more seconds, he felt he'd had enough blood. Well... if he drank anymore Blaze would pass out, anyway. He released his jaw, taking a step back from the stunned traveler. Styx was hardly full, but he would be able to manage living this way for a day or two. For now, however, he was hungry for some good old fashioned human food. “Thanks for the blood, man. Meet me in the mess hall if ya want to chat over some supper.” He patted Blaze on the shoulder like one would to a good friend. He gave Gosh a brief smile before leaving the room. Maybe he'd chat up Nails or Fable on the way there.
Blaze just stared up at him as he approached. It all felt rather surreally familiar. Yet almost comically different. His torturer had been a drow by the name Hyde Kushin. The drow was an abnormally short elf. Like nearly Leita's height. Styx was abnormally tall. But the sense of hunger about them felt the same.
“Just hold still ... This won't hurt as much as it probably should.” Blaze had no idea still what exactly was wanted from him. But it didn't matter. This guy was going to do it anyway. So he just stood there as Styx grabbed his shoulder and head and pushed them to expose his neck.
It was when Styx bit him that he was finally able to put two and two together. He wasn't really familiar with vampires. In Hyrule, they were mostly a myth. No one had ever really seen one. He had only just met one vampire: Adrien. Adrien was completely different than this guy. With Adrien, it was hard to tell the man was a vampire at all. Other than just that slight chill down the spine when he watched how the vampire moved about. The fact that Styx was a vampire hadn't occurred to him at all. The guy was so freaky looking it was rather impossible to tell exactly what he was supposed to be. So needlessly to say, he wasn't exactly expecting this.
Being bitten hurt. Being bitten at all by anything hurt. But again, not really that bad compared to what he had experienced before. Blaze grounded his teeth together. He stumbled back a step, but Styx's grip kept him in place.
A light-headed sensation spread over his body steadily. His body and mostly his limbs felt weaker and weaker. It began to get harder to stand up. Eventually, Styx released him. He heard the freak speak as if through a muffled curtain.
“Thanks for the blood, man. Meet me in the mess hall if ya want to chat over some supper.” He felt Styx's hand on his shoulder, which nearly knocked him over completely. Blaze staggered back, almost drunkenly, falling back onto a crate to hold himself up. His head felt light and dizzy. He put a hand to his neck, which was still bleeding.
Gosh watched in abject horror, covering his mouth with both hands as he watched Styx feed on Blaze as he had so many others before him. Watching him feed on others gave Gosh a sick, wriggly feeling in his belly, but he could never take his eyes away from the sight, knowing one day it would happen to him.
“Thanks for the blood, man. Meet me in the mess hall if ya want to chat over some supper.”
Maelstrom produced a set of keys on a ring and gave them a little jingle. "Don't you think we should put your food away, first?"
He stepped toward the brig and unlocked it, swinging the door open with a rusty creak. He lifted another set of manacles from the wall and tossed them inside. They rang heavily on the floorboards where they fell and Gosh flinched.
Styx shot Maelstrom a glare. His mind was set on food. He knew the good captain must have asked him this just to irritate him, or at least to remind him who was boss. Though Styx felt no real obligation to comply, he'd indulge him for now.
“Looks like we won't be having dinner together after all.” Styx said through a sarcastic smirk. He turned back to face Blaze, gently grabbing him by the shoulders. He led him into his new cell, picking the shackles off the floor. Huh... funny. The manacles must have been a joke. The guy had only one arm; how would this even work? He clasped them around his ankles instead, though doing so wouldn't accomplish much. He'd be able to pick away at them easily enough if he found something sharp, but Styx wouldn't complain. It wasn't his ship, after all, at least not officially speaking.
He found no need to be rough. In fact, under better circumstances, Styx figured he would have gotten along well with the guy. Times were tough, though, and a man's gotta survive.
“I guess I'll see you when you've fully recovered. For now, however, I've got the pirate equivalent of a cheeseburger waiting for me with my name on it.” He closed the barred door shut, giving the new prisoner a casual two-fingered salute. “Adios.” With that, he at last turned and left the room. Nothing was going to stop him from eating some real food.
Blaze was really only mildly able to try to swat Styx away with an arm, which was just largely ignored and perhaps completely unnoticed by the brute. But it wasn't really until he tightened the shackles on him that Blaze's hair really stood on end. He. Did not. Like. Shackles.
Soon he was pushed in, stumbling not only because of his lack of blood but because of the shackles on his ankles, and with the clanking of metal the door was shut on him. The sound clamored in his skull, echoing. Perhaps it was utterly ridiculous, but he could handle being feed upon by a vampire better than being bound in iron and thrown in a cell. To him, nothing else made him feel more trapped in his own head, which wasn't a place he really liked to be for too long.
Sure he always still thought about the torture. But he didn't really think about it. He wondered if that was how Khaz always did it. With so much in his life he tried shut out of his head. But it's never shut out. It's more like it's shut in. Just squeezed into the darkest corner until those days. The days it comes creeping back. Those were his bad days.
Maelstrom watched as Styx clamped the manacles on Blaze's limbs. It was a shame, in one sense, that he had yet to learn what Blaze had to offer his ship and already he'd had to resort to this. Yet, it was also a welcome turn of events considering Styx's appetite and the lack of alternatives. Such was the roll of the dice, the cruel turn of fate on unknown tides.
As he turned the key, feeling the tumblers click into place, he thought about saying something to the poor fool. Some clever jibe, some food for thought, incentive for favorable behavior. But in the end it didn't matter and Maelstrom never felt any need to offer an explanation unless it served him somehow. So, he left Blaze, swaying unsteadily in his weakened state with Gosh cowering against the farthest reach of the brig he could have placed himself. The lad's frightened eyes darted to Maelstrom's and he gave the young inventor a meaningful look.
Cold and silent, he headed up the stairs thinking on his mage. He would ask the alchemist to conjure something to put in Blaze's food to build his blood back quickly. Styx would need to feed again and he wanted him ready to withstand it without keeling over. The longer he had Blaze to sate the vampire's hunger, the longer he could keep his crew unscathed.
Blaze tried to sit down, but he mostly just fell down. A nameless frustration started souring in his chest as he watched Maelstrom walk away. Everything just seemed to have gone from bad to worse. Why had Adrien dropped him in the middle of the ocean? Now he was captured. Again. Held prisoner. Again.
The shackles felt heavy on his ankles. Blaze stared down at them, head still dizzy and too light. His stare steadily turned into a bitter glare. So here he was. Forced to wait. Wait for what, he didn't know. This time his friends had no idea he was in danger. They had saved him last time. Sort of. They had saved what was left of him when Kushin was done with him.
Blaze hated waiting. Having to sit there and wait for the goddesses knew what. Without a hope. What could he do anyway? He hated mostly the trapped feeling. He was caged. Again. And that ate at him more than anything else. No, he couldn't die like this.
His people needed him. If he died now and never returned, the Crones would have their way, and all the progress he had made to make his people as free as possible to do as they wished would be destroyed. They would be forced back to the old ways that had chained them in tradition and hate.
And he still didn't know where Kira and the others were, if they were okay or if they were dead. Khaz hadn't really ever recovered, but he had gone with them anyway, and that had worried him a lot. With his blood phobia, how was he supposed to fight to defend himself?
Blaze scooted into a corner. He needed his rest. He couldn't think straight like this, but he didn't want to sleep. And the anger still burned in his chest.