Owin #32 — Bodies on the beach

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Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo
Photo ©Depositphotos.com / Oleksandr Minyaylo

Gwen remained curled up against a large boulder as she watched what she believed to be Warren carry a lamp over to the fire pit. She had done as Owin insisted, moved away from the campsite and just up the slope to a point where she could hide in the darkness.

The sounds of the fighting, and the occasional glint of steel slashing the air and people, had not lasted long. She had tracked Owin as best she could, but lost him early in the fighting. While the other men had scrambled out of their blankets quickly, they started the battle outnumbered.  Fortunately, they appeared to win the battle.

When Warren lit the lamp from the embers of the fire, she immediately noticed Calvin standing close by with his hands on his side.  He moved in obvious distress.

“Damn it, I knew coming in late would be a problem,” Calvin swore. “Sleeping on the damn beach where we took on goods is never a good idea.  Bastard cut me.”

Gwen saw his hands covered in blood as he pulled them away to examine his side in the light.

“Quiet,” Arn said, moving across the beach with a crossbow in his hands. “Make sure none of them get away.”

Gwen noticed Owin slightly up the slope and he seemed to move without any pain. Please don’t be hurt, she said to herself. The idea of being alone with these pirates and smugglers sent chills down her spine. I’d run away first.

She took a deep breath and pushed those thoughts from her as she considered coming out of hiding now that the fighting was over. However, she suspected Owin would want her to remain hidden until he called her. I’ll just wait, she decided.  Though she had feared for Owin’s safety, she wished she had been able to see him in action.  She knew he could teach her a lot.

She closed her eyes as she watched Imtor drag a body closer to the fire pit. A second lamp had been lit and she could clearly see the dead man’s head was barely attached.

Hearing the sound of rocks moving and twigs snapping, it took all of her willpower to remain still. The sounds had come from behind her and with great care, she turn her head slowly to look up the slope. After having stared at the lamps, she could barely see anything, but someone on the ridge moved again drawing her attention.  Concentrating, she tried to force her eyes make sense of the shadows. After a moment, she saw a form against the backdrop of the night sky and the person appeared to have a crossbow.

With or without weapons, she could not hope to engage the man. However, she knew he meant the others harm. “Bowman!” she shouted and then quickly moved around to the other side of the boulder. “On the ridge above me!”

The person on the ridge cursed and the crossbow discharged. Another curse followed. She heard the people behind her running across the beach and then the person on the ridge start to scramble away.

A crossbow from behind her discharged and more cursing came from the ridge. Two men ran past her and started to scramble up the slope. Turning to look behind her, she could only see a couple of dead bodies in the light of the lamps. The others had all disappeared in the darkness, leaving only the sounds of their movement. Just my luck, all alone again.

After some time, Owin appeared out of the darkness and came over to her. “You okay?”

She nodded her head. “Yeah. You?”

Owin nodded his head as well. “Nothing serious. A few scratches, but I’ll live.”  He cleared his throat.  “Tyron is dead as is Den’ah. Calvin’s got a bad cut and is in the boat. The others are on the ridge looking for these people’s campsite.”

“Are we in trouble?”

Owin shrugged. “Arn’s not hurt from what I can tell. The two brothers are fine.”

She watched Owin’s face in the light of the distant lamps. He did not appear to be concerned, but this projection of confidence worried her. Owin typically gave her more cues into his thoughts.

The sound of someone coming down the ridge turned her head. Arn’s large form approached them and the Captain spoke with a strong voice. “Girl, I must stay you’ve impressed me. I’d expected a lot of squealing and crying and wining.”

Gwen’s lip curled slightly; the backhanded compliment did not sit well with her. “I saw no benefit for doing that.”

Arn chuckled and tossed something at her, which she instinctively caught. The jingle of coins and the size of the bag told her it was a pouch. The sticky blood on the surface made her apprehensive. “You called out a warning and perhaps saved my life or one the others. You earned the kill in my mind. You get the money.”

Gwen looked back up to meet Arn’s gaze. “Can I have his weapons as well?”

“Damn, Owin, you’ve got a good one here.” Arn nodded his head. “If you’ve the stomach to clear the body, it’s yours.”

Gwen looked over to Owin. “It’ll save us having to buy you something,” he replied to her unvocalized question.

“Thank you,” she said.

She was about to move around Arn when he raised a hand to stop her.  With his voice lowered, he spoke to both of them. “Tyron and Den’ah are dead.  I’m going to need the two of you to step up and support me if something happens. I don’t want to wake up with one of the brother’s blade through my neck. With Calvin injured, perhaps fatally, I’ve lost half my crew and worse, the half I trusted.”

“I suspect if they make a move, we’ll end up over board as well,” Owin said. “We’ve got mutual interest in keeping each other alive.”

“I’d dump them now, but we don’t have enough people to sail The Needle without them. Just be ready if something happens.”

Gwen watched him turn back to her.  With raised voice, he said, “We’ll now, girl, get up the ridge and clear the body. You want the stuff, do the work.”

“Yes, Sir,” she replied, uncertain how she felt about Arn, but now definitely fearful for the rest of the journey.

Continue to the next episode.