Situated in the lofty apartments of the Raging Dracon, Amenii was pleased to see not much had changed. Tom Cat still had the flare for extravagant, that, she suspected matched his ego and corresponding pride.
Every surface was covered with plush carpets or fine silks that must have cost a fortune, or in his case more likely taken on a privateering expedition. Gold trim had been worked into the hand carved railings, wall studs, and even his black oak desk, his pride and joy, that he sat behind now. Silhouetted behind two red stain glass windows of golden dragons on a field of red, sat the ship’s captain, coolly eyeing her with a mixture of surprise and coy pleasantries.
Amenii knew better than to trust that lazy grin that touched the corner of Tom’s face, the cat had not risen to his lofty position by being lax in his diligence.
‘Oakwoods.’ He purred, drawing out the word as though pulling it from a long forgotten memory. ‘It’s been a long time.’
‘Three years.’ Amenii countered with a smile of her own.
‘So it has.’ Nodding absently, Tom made a dismissive gesture of not being concerned. ‘Do you by chance recall our last meeting?’
‘Let me refresh your memory.’ Standing, Tom pressed both his hands onto this cluttered desk. ‘I believe I told you, that, and I am using my own words here, ‘I am going to use that fluffy little rump of your to swab half the cannons on my ship.’ Does that sound right to you?’
‘Now Tom-‘ Amenii began, raising her hands defensively. ‘About that…’
But Toms attention was no longer on her, instead it was focused just over her right shoulder. A second later massive paws came crashing down seizing her in an iron grip.
‘Mr. Hendriks.’ Tom’s cool expression never wavered, if anything there was a sense of amusement in his voice as he spoke. ‘Make it so.’
‘Wait!’ Amenii screamed, fighting against the larger mammal’s grasp. ‘I can make it up to you! There’s an opportunity – I just need a ship!’
No sooner had she gotten the words out than the door to the captains quarters were slammed shut behind her as Mr. Hendriks dragged her up over the deck.
‘Well that went well.’ Amenii murmured, not really caring who heard anymore.
‘Not the brightest move there Oakwoods.’ Hendriks growled, shaking his head as he shifted her just under his massive arm. ‘You know the Captain is still sore about you running off on him.’
Snorting, Amenii folded her arms, not making any effort to escape, that that it would matter anyways.
‘Humph,’ she scoffed, ‘I thought he would have been over that by now.’
‘He has a long memory. In particular to when it comes to you.’ Clomping down the stairs to the lower decks he moved to the storage crates, and with a mindless gesture tossed her into one of the cleaner areas. Looking around, he made an effort to see if anyone was within earshot. ‘What were you thinking coming here!’
‘As I told Tom, I need a ship.’ Amenii stood, brushing herself off with an air of indignity. ‘Simple as that.’
‘And you just thought Tom was going to give you one?’
Shaking his head, Hendricks pulled a coil of rope from the nearby crate. ‘All you’re going to get is a short walk off a the deck with iron fetters. You really must be desperate to come all the way back here.’
Amenii just shrugged.
Eyes scanning the lower deck again, Hendriks fixed his gaze on her.
‘It’s still not too late for you to pull one of your miraculous escapes.’ The touch of a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. ‘There’s a port hole over there, and…’ He let his voice trail off.
Smiling up at him, Amenii strained on her tip toes, Hendriks met her half way there letting her plant a light kiss on the corner of his mouth.
‘Thanks, but I’ll take my chances.’
‘Your funeral.’ He muttered, and in a well trained motion, slipped the rope over her pulling her in close. ‘You know what happens next.’
Moments later, Amenii lay on the deck, arms cocooned in the rough hemp she looked up at her once friend, and now jailer.
‘You don’t think he was serious about that whole cannon thing, was he?’
The look Hendriks gave her was not the most reassuring.
‘You had better hope he was.’
Turning on his heal, he strode from her sight, leaving her with her thoughts.
The Sea Devil
Spike Those Drinks!
Back again, to this Pirate story, featuring Port Royal and all manner of other fun things that go on here. Proper links will be used from here on out, for those of you who are interested, the story starts at the bottom link.
He took a step forwards, and in the dim light of the only candle the foxes shadowy form became material. Tall and gaunt his scent was unmistakable as were the furs he wore over his chest and shoulders.
Mind reeling, she had hoped that this had all been a bad dream. That the smothering air of the sled had only been steam from one of the vents from the burrow. The burrow, her family, her only home she had known, all gone. Now replaced by a frozen nightmare of stone, blood, and darkness.
‘H-home.’ Amenii sputtered, slowly raising her head from her chest, she wanted to run, to claw his eyes out, to scream for what good it would do her. Woven bonds of rope held her in place though, digging into her wrists with each movement, preventing her from exercising any of her desires. ‘Home?’ she protested.
‘You mean you larder.’ The words spilled from her mouth before she could check them. ‘Your – your going to keep me here until you decide to make a meal of me! I – I heard the stories…your going to crack my legs, suck the fat from my bones! Your-‘
The blow took her across the face, sharp and painful.
Her face burned, and the taste of copper was in her mouth, welling up from her broken lip. Kindling her courage, Amenii slowly raised her eyes, and in an instant wished she had not. The gaunt figure before her was no longer smiling, his face replaced with a mask of barely controlled rage. Lips curling up to reveal wicked teeth, he snarled pushing his face inches from hers. Trying to retreat she pressed herself to the pole, and closed her eyes.
That was a mistake.
A weathered hand closed over her throat, clawed fingers constricting, cutting deep into her fur. Gasping, Amenii shook her head trying to free herself. This only seemed provoke his wrath further, as the fingers clamped down choking off her air.
‘Look. At. Me.’ The fox growled in her ear and when she refused, his grip closed causing several pops to emanate from her neck. Amenii could not hear them over the pounding of blood in her ears, but feel them as the muscles dug into bone. He was going to – going -
With a pure effort of will, she forced her eyes to crack open. Before her green eyes, wild with fury burned in the darkness. There was something in those eyes, a madness, lurking just under the surface.
‘You insolent little morsel.’ Her captor hissed between clenched teeth. ‘You dare…’
Tears welled up from her burning eyes, the world teetered on the edge of oblivion, and his grip vanished. Drawing in a ragged gasp of air, Amenii’s body convulsed as she tired to force air through her crushed throat. It was all she could do to hand from the post and suck down what air she could, and in the darkness before her, her captor growled deep in his throat.
The sound of retreating footsteps drew her attention enough to raise her pounding head, he was retreating to the room’s only ladder muttering to himself. As his hands moved to grasp the rungs he paused, catching her looking at him.
‘I think it’s time for a lesson in manners, little morsel.’ His lips curling into a cruel smile. Stepping away from the ladder he worked his way over to the candle, and in a single motion snuffed out the flame, casting the room into darkness. ‘Insolents will only get you punished.’ His voice echoed in the dark, moments later she could hear the creaking sound of his weight carrying him up the ladder to the cave above.
‘No…’ she croaked, looking up at the dim outline of the trapdoor, just as her captor slammed it shut. ‘N-o!’
Darkness. There was nothing but darkness, the cold, and pressing silence around her. Shivering, Amenii tried to bunch in on herself as much as the ropes would allow. He would be back, he wouldn’t leave her down here, not after – after, he had traded so much for her. He wouldn’t.
How long it had been, Amenii could not tell. Hours, Days, weeks maybe… All was the same in the darkness. Shifting to leer up at the darkness above her she cursed him, the pain in her wrists had become a dull throb, only flaring when she tired to move her arms. She had given up trying to escape long ago, twisting out of her bonds and been a mistake, one that had left her wrists raw and bleeding.
The cold had begun to seep into her limbs the second she had stopped her struggles. Seeping up from the stone floor it worked its way through her toes, and up her legs, sapping her strength. The tingling pain as her body pulled itself inward had long faded, leaving her legs numb from the knees down. Her arms had lasted longer, but after her failure to escape her bonds the cold had robbed her of her fingers and later her arms. As she felt her body surccum to the cold her mind had raced, panicked, as she knew what came next.
She had screamed for him, at him, cursed him with every word, in every language she knew. The only response this had gotten from him was to dull scraping of a heavy object being rolled over the outline of the trapdoor above her. Amenii regretted that too.
‘He-el-p…’ her voice cracked, devolving into a coughing fit. ‘-elp m-‘
Her tongue was swollen and her cracked lip pulsed with wave after wave of pain, refusing to heal.
Letting herself sag forwards she rested, the pain was excruciating as her full body weight dug into her wrists, but she was to tired to scream. Her throat burned, and for the hundredth time she wondered how much longer she would last. Had this been his intention all along, not a companion, not a servant, but a meal… that was all she was to him. A meal, meat to be stuffed into one of his sacks.
The flare of light took her by surprise, had she fallen asleep?
He was there, a shadow surrounded by a pool of light. There was no way to mistake his gaunt figure, and the leering smile that spread over his face. Then he was there beside her, hands moving to brush her cheek, as gentile as any lover.
‘There, there little one.’ His voice soft, soothing. ‘No more need for tears.’
Behind her the bonds that held her slackened and Amenii felt her body fall forwards. It was all so dream like, she could feel her face slap the floor, but is was as though she were looking down on her own body. The world swam before her, and she was in his arms, he was carrying her up, up, up, into the light, warmth. Was this how death was supposed to feel, soft, comfortable…
I am so afraid.
His hands moved to grasp her shoulders, resting his weight on her. This close she could smell his musky fur coupled with the smell of tanned furs, and just under their surface was the unmistakable smell of dried blood.
‘I’m not going to hurt you.’ He continued fingers moving to caress her tense form. It was all she could do to not scream, run, and try to take her chances in the drifts. Only the fact that he would follow, chase her down and knowing her tribe, they would help him. She would be a runaway in their eyes, property that was trying to escape its rightful owner and such would be subjected to the laws of the Drifts.
‘Come.’ He motioned, guiding her away from the only home she had known. Stomach knotting, she could not bring herself to look back, she knew they would not be there. Her family, or the one that had found her, could not bring themselves to watch her go. Property. That’s all she was now.
Ahead of her a rudimentary sled cobbled together of wood collected and traded from the coast. The wood alone was a sign of wealth, she tried not to look at the various furs that covered the sled.
Before the sled two of the rabbits were hooking up the shaggy plow beast, covered in dense fur it lumbered in place uneasily. Barely sentient the creature shook its massive head and emitted an unintelligible grunt. It was a beast in all forms of the word, it had been deliberately bred to pull and with the aid of several rare herbs its mind had been all but erased. Looking at it she couldn’t repress a shiver; how easy it would be for her new owner to do the same for her. One, two doses and she would be just as mindless as the beast before her, dead inside.
The tears she had been trying to hold back welled in her eyes, and in a wash flowed forth cascading down her cheeks. ‘P-Please.’ She shuddered ‘Please don’t –‘
Behind her the claws came out digging into the shoulders of her coat.
‘Get in the sled.’ His voice was soft but cold, and when she hesitated his hands closed around her waist, lifting her up and stuffed her roughly under the under the hides. ‘This will go easier for you if you cooperate.’
Stuffed uncomfortably under the rough coverings she could see something behind those eyes, a fire that seemed to flicker just under his control. God. He was a…
Her eyes trailed up to the headdress that covered his brow and barley suppressed a scream. Stitched together a grey pelt with long black tipped ears hung down over his shoulders. Hollow eyes sockets stared back at her, and in that moment she could almost see her own future.
A rough hand grasped her face, claws digging into her fur she let out a muffled scream. Stuffed under the hides she tried to shift her body around the packages wrapped under the sled. Before she could protest, he pulled the hides down over form, leaving her in the darkness of the sled. Above her tight cords dug into back, neck, and across her face.
It was hard to breath, the furs were crushing into her face, the sent choking, smothering her. She tried to scream again, only to have her world sway as an even deeper darkness threatened to take her. Weakly she punched at the thick hides, they remained unmoving despite her frantic efforts. Drawing in another shaky breath she screamed – and as though in response to her plea a crack opened in the darkness and with it came a swirl of cold air.
And his scent.
‘None of that now Little Tasty.’ The foxes voice whispered. ‘None of that.’
C.S. Notes: For those of you who have never heard of Zootopia: Arctic Drift - you can find the first page here: Zootopia: Arctic Drift
Page One begins here: Zootopia: Arctic Drift P.1 There are 10 other pages of this comic found further on in the gallery.
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