Owin #34 — Battle on the boat

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

For the next two days, they stayed on The Needle, even at night. Privacy had diminished in the open boat and Owin’s pride in Gwen grew at her willingness to silently deal with the situation.  It was not easy for her, but she bore the challenge well.

Most of the time, she continued to minister to Calvin, whose condition had not improved, but had only marginally worsened. Fortunately, her commanding tone kept the bald man from protesting too much.

Arn had taken note of her, but the Captain did not do or say anything.  Owin watched as Arn kept his focus on Warren and Imtor. Those two had toned down their bravado and had become far too helpful for Owin’s liking. No one suddenly starts to like someone just because something bad happened to someone else.

Without privacy, no opportunity had emerged where he could consult with Arn on the brothers, but Owin had a sense they were waiting until they reached a certain landmark before making their move.  Too much of their focus seemed to be on which port they were passing.

For the two of them, Owin knew sailing the ship would be hard, but not impossible. However, if they had to actually row The Needle, they would need to keep either him or Arn alive. And that choice is complicated by Gwen, Owin admitted. If they kill her, they know they have to kill me, which means, leaving Arn alive. If they think they can keep her under their control, they know they have me and could kill Arn.

Owin sighed as he looked out at the shoreline to the east. The sun had grown low in the sky and they would be dropping the sail and anchor before long. Imtor’s innocent close proximity to Gwen for the last couple of turns of the glass made Owin’s hands itch. The man had offered to help with preparing dinner three times before Gwen gave in to the demand.

“You need help moving Calvin?” came the man’s grating voice.

Owin had watched Warren’s drift close to his crossbow several times, but always remained at least a step away.  It allowed the older brother a position between Owin and Gwen as well as kept the crates between himself and Arn. Do I move first or wait to be certain? When he worked for the Duke there had never been any hesitation and the doubt annoyed him.

Damn, he swore as Warren bent over and put his hands on the loaded crossbow. “Gwen, now!” Owin shouted, hoping she would keep out of Imtor’s grasp.

Owin ripped a throwing knife from its sheath and launched it into Warren’s lower back. The man cried out in pain, but he did not drop the crossbow. Jumping over the bench between them, Owin hit Warren’s back as the brother fired the crossbow at Arn.

Taking an elbow to the chin, Owin grabbed his knife and twisted it out of the larger man’s back. The screams of pain carried across the waves. However, Warren managed to twist away and turned to face Owin.

Owin saw Imtor grab Gwen from behind, but she slammed her heel down on the top of his foot and the cry of pain escaped his lips.  She twisted in his grasp and the surprise on the man’s face told Owin she had placed her dagger into his gut.  Imtor stood for a moment, but visceral hate filled his face and he pushed her backwards, throwing her over Calvin and the sidewall of the ship.

Owin growled with rage as the sound of Gwen hitting water came to him. With the knife in his left hand, he pulled his sword with his right and pressed forward.

“Damn you, Owin, we’d have let you live!”

Slashing with the knife, he drove Warren back a step before he trusted with his sword. The blade grazed Warren’s side as the large man twisted. But Owin continued his motion and drove his knife into Warren’s armpit.

“Damn you, Owin!”

Warren lashed out with the dagger in his hand, but Owin anticipated the move and drove home his sword.  With the color draining immediately from the man’s face, Owin knew the wound would kill, but he did not wait for Warren to expire. Instead he turned back to where Gwen had stood just in time to see Arn fling Imtor over the edge of the boat.

“We have to turn her around!” Owin called out as he moved toward the ropes to drop the sail.

“I’ve got her,” Calvin called out. The wounded man was leaning over the edge of the boat. The grimace in his voice spoke of his pain.

Moving across the deck, Owin came around Calvin and saw Gwen looking up at him. Calvin had one of her wrists in his hand and she struggled to keep hold of the edge of the boat with her other bloody hand.

Owin reached around Calvin and grabbed her wrist from the bald man.  With Arn’s help, they lifted her from the water and dragged her over the edge of the boat.  She dropped down on the bench next to Calvin.

“Thank you,” she said with a weary smile as water poured off her.

Owin took a moment and calmed himself. The thought that he almost lost her left him trembling. “You okay?” he asked, glancing both at Gwen as well as Calvin.

Gwen nodded her head. “That happened quick.” She glanced at Calvin and moved over to help him get comfortable. “Thank you, Calvin.”

Owin knelt down and assisted her. “Yes, thank you so much.”

Calvin shrugged. “If I live to make it to port, take me out to a good meal.”

“You’ve got it,” Owin said. Standing up, he turned to where he left Warren.

Arn stepped around them and moved over to Warren’s body. “You saved my life, my boy. You ever need a job, I’ll hire you on the spot.”

Owin nodded his head, but had no desire to be a pirate. “I may take you up on that at some point. But for now, I’ve got another job to do.”

“Fair enough.”

Owin glanced back to Gwen and she smiled back at him. We made it another day, but I’ve got to get us out of this life.

Continue to next episode.