“How do you like your time on the Sea Sorceress,” Ramir asked as I scrubbed the floor.
“I’ve had better days,” I replied as I dumped a chamber pot overboard, “I can think of a lot of places I’d rather be.”
“Take a break for a minute,” Ramir asked, scratching his head by his left horn.
I set the pot down and walked far enough away that I didn’t have to smell it before sitting down with my back against the rail. The red skins creature I knew as Ramir sat next to me, poking his tail out the side.
“We’ve been working together for two weeks, I figure it’s probably time that we actually talk,” Ramir said, “I’ve seen the way you look at me, and I want to promise you I’m not like those things in Hell’s Gate that the stories are about.”
“What things?” I asked, shaking my head, “Honestly, I have no idea what any of that means. I’m sorry if I stare, I’ve never seen anyone that looks like you.”
“Bullshit,” Ramir said, “I don’t believe you.”
“Seriously. I have no idea what you are, but you seem alright to me,” I said.
“You really aren’t from here, are you?” he asked.
I shook my head. “My world doesn’t have ogres and goblins. There are only humans and animals.”
“Well, I am the bastard child of a devil and a human. My mother was shocked when she saw me, I can promise you that,” Ramir said, producing a flask. He took a swig and offered it to me. “People here are not very trusting of my kind. They think we are more like our fathers than the humans that raised us.”
“Your mother kept you?” I asked, taking a drink off the flask. The liquid burned like no alcohol I had ever had and tasted like seawater. I coughed.
“Take it easy there, Colin. Capt’n will likely throw me overboard if you die drinking my swill,” Ramir said, retrieving the flask, capping it, and resting his head on the rail. “I was a lucky one. My mother didn’t raise me, but the midwife did drop me at the orphanage. A lot of my kind are killed outright when we’re born, and more still are abandoned in places left to the elements to dispose of.”
“How did you get on the ship?” I asked.
“I was fourteen when I came here. Barmwich, the mage capital, had done a sweep of the city, collecting up every half-devil they could. Rather than be arrested for existing and likely being used for experiments, I opted to steal a boat and left the docks without anything. It wasn’t long before a storm had caught me, and I ended up lost with no way of rowing the boat. Evenwood found me out there and brought me aboard,” Ramir said. “He’s an odd one, but doesn’t judge people by their looks.”
“You had said something about Hell’s Gate? What’s that?” I asked.
“It’s out in western Thait. A few hundred years ago, a bunch of mages decided that they wanted more power. Naturally, they went poking things that shouldn’t be poked. The rituals they used opened a massive gate to the nine hells, and chaos ensued. It took almost fifty years for the clerics to contain it, but they weren’t able to close it,” Ramir said.
“Colin,” Evenwood yelled as he walked to the rail of the upper deck, “Come here, please.”
“Better get moving,” Ramir said. “Whenever he’s done with you, finish up with the chamber pots, get cleaned up, and meet me in the galley.”
“Alright,” I said as I rose. I walked up the stairs where Evenwood waited with a broad smile.
“How’re you getting along?” Evenwood asked.
“Things are alright,” I replied.
“How’s Ramir treating you?” he asked.
“He’s good. He was just telling me about where he came from,” I said.
“Things are rough for half-devils in Krath. Not one is safe anywhere on the island,” Evenwood said, shaking his head.
“Do you need anything?” I asked.
“I wanted to make sure you were getting along alright,” Evenwood said. “I’ve got a soft spot for lost travelers.”
“Why?” I asked.
“To be honest, it’s probably because of the three weeks I spent drifting on a piece of the first ship I ever crewed,” Evenwood said.
“This would be about ten years ago now, but I was the second mate on the Lucky Lady out west, and a Kraken attacked our vessel. I tried to help everyone I could, but the ship went down so fast that I was only able to swim to a piece of the remnants of that ship,” he said. “I floated for three weeks before the whirlpool here in Krath almost nabbed me. It was the spires of Pirate’s Bay that saved me ultimately. I landed there, got some fresh water, stole some food, and began making my way through the town.”
“I spent about a month on the island, picking pockets and scavenging what I could for food, but I could hear the seas calling me back. So, I found a vessel, this vessel,” he said, pointing down at the deck, “and I stole it from the docks along with four other men.”
“You stole this ship?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Evenwood said, his eyes filled with a fire I hadn’t seen before. “The original captain wasn’t too pleased either. He hunted for me for two years before he found me. When he did, he told me I had a choice. Work for him, or die.”
“So you decided to work for him,” I said. “You’re still here, after all.”
“I challenged him to a game of chance and won not only this ship and my freedom but also his hat and rapier,” Evenwood said, placing a hand on the weapon at his side. “Which brings me to my next point. No shipmate should ever go without a way of defending themselves.”
“I don’t know how to use a weapon,” I admitted.
“This ship is full of many useful creatures. Any of them will teach you, I can promise you that. ” Evenwood said, pushing the blade and sheath into my hand as he winked at me. “Now, get back to work.”