World of Crystals > The Legend of Captain Bloodmoon
The Legend of Captain Bloodmoon
Sailing in absolute darkness, with only a moon and stars enshrouded by clouds to guide him, the captain set keen eyes upon his target in the distance. It was large and unwieldy as were most Xsian vessels of the day, built for maximum cargo capacity with little thought given to speed. Most likely it was laden down with silks and spices from Maho-Kuni, given their location, perhaps silver from Gin-Goku-Jin. Regardless, it was fat with riches, and slow like a grazing herd animal; ripe for the picking by the right predator.
The Danse Macabre was the fastest ship in all of Xsia, and Captain Kyrian Bloodmoon was that right predator.
They did not know that these were his waters, as were all the waters of Xsia. They did not know that in these dark seas, there was no Emperor Kai. Kyrian Bloodmoon was Emperor, here. And it was time for tribute to be paid to His Imperial Majesty, of course. The wind was unfavorable that night, so much so that the merchant vessel had dropped sail and resorted to rowing. Kyrian, of course, did not let such a trifling thing as the weather stop him. Lowering the spyglass, he closed his eyes, drew forth and focused his will, spoke a single word, and summoned forth the wind at his back. Child's play.
"Ren," Kyrian said softly to the wiry young man beside him, "are the men in position?"
"Yes, Captain. We merely await your order."
He waited. They were quickly closing in on the merchant junk, lit up in the night sky and totally unaware of their approach.
"Now," Kyrian breathed, and Ren pounded his chest in salute, leaping down with his sword drawn to signal the lurking pirates, who were all crouching at the rail like tigers waiting to pounce. A faint smile etched upon his lips, he drew the tasseled sword from its sheath at his side and led the charge; though his men carried boarding hooks, he needed no such implements. Kyrian climbed on the rail, and aimed his sword at the target vessel. One could even say he was posing.
He did have a rather pronounced flair for the dramatic, admittedly. It inspired awe and trembling in his crew all the same, even those veterans who were used to the sight. At a well-timed gust of wind, a pair of large, white wings sprouted from Kyrian's back, and he soared across to the other vessel with a terrible cry, followed by the ropes and hooks of his men.
It was not a boarding so much as a slaughter. Shouts and cries of alarm went out but Kyrian's crew had caught the victims so by surprise that there was little they could to do repel them by the time it was clear what was happening. The merchant crew's "guards", if one could dignify them with such a term, were little more than farmers, ill-trained with poor equipment. The pirates made quick and brutal work of them, none so fierce as Kyrian, who spun and beheaded a pair of hapless sailors in quick succession. Here was the legendarily short-sighted greed of Hai-Xsian merchants on full display, Kyrian thought, silently snorting to himself in derision. What does it profit a man to build the most expensive of ships and spend nothing to protect them? Kyrian had seen this frequently of late, and it continually baffled him.
Not that he was complaining. Their carelessness had made him a very rich man, after all.
The few sailors who remained threw down their swords and fell to their knees in surrender. Kyrian savored this part, always. He stood somewhat apart as his men rounded them up, waiting for the victims to be bound. Wings stained red with blood, Kyrian walked down the line of terrified sailors. All of them stank of fear in equal measure to the disgusting sweat they were covered in. At least one had pissed himself. Shameful degenerates all, Kyrian thought in disgust. None were worthy to pass through his domain, even as chattel.
Eyes blazing in anger, he caught one by the throat, his sharp fingernails digging into the sailor's filthy neck so hard as to faintly draw blood. "Do you fear death?" Kyrian asked.
"I--" his captive gasped, unable to breathe. The man was shaking, tears streaming down his dirt-stained cheeks, spluttering some superstitious prayer to his ancestors to save him.
"Such things have no power here," Kyrian said coldly, his eyes harder than agates. "The sea is my domain. I ask you again: do you fear death?"
Kyrian casually crushed his windpipe and snapped his neck. The sailor dropped dead to the deck.
One by one, Captain Bloodmoon went down the line with the same question, placing each man's destiny in his own hands. If they answered yes, they died. If they answered no, they were shackled and left as his men stripped their vessel of cargo. Those who did not fear death--those who did not fear him would quickly learn to. They would learn that they should have said yes.
One by one, men were snuffed out as the lanterns on the Danse Macabre. One by one, they were put in chains. And as the last of the cargo was gone, Kyrian snapped his fingers and set the junk's sails ablaze. His back to the quickly spreading flames, and to the screams that followed, Kyrian glided back to his own vessel, wings shimmering into nothingness as he took the wheel and sailed away.
Perhaps this would provide a suitable message to the merchant swine of Hai-Xsia:
Send worthy men, and they will not die as pigs.