14 Riders on the Storm
(From the point of view of Damian Carmichael)
From a distance, we could still see the sight of Izrecael burning from afar as if the booming rain of our surrounding did not at all stop the ravaging onslaught occurring in the empire we once called 'home.' Since it was already night time, I cannot see the smoke coming out of the surface of our once-great empire, unlike earlier. Needless to say, amid this endless storm in the embrace of the night, the sight of our beloved sanctuary's continued destruction is the least of our worries.
The storm kept on throughout our poor cog, making the ocean beneath us to hurl rampant chaos of waves that slaps its metallic golden hull. I tried all that I could, running all over the ship on my own as Madame Belladonna does her best to care for the two princes AND my Uncle Roberto both at the same time. Madame Belladonna placed the two princes inside of two small box-shaped, emerald-colored, seven-layered barriers on her left side. At the same time, she renewed the bandage around Uncle Roberto's severed leg. I could see a small chunk of broken bone sticking out of my uncle's severed feet while Madame Belladonna wordlessly reapplied layers after layers of bandages on his leg. It looked harrowing, I'm not gonna lie, since it kept on bleeding profusely even with the gauze. I don't know why it was still not stopping even after hours upon hours of medical efforts that Madame Belladonna had spent on it.
Luckily, we've seen a lot of bandages inside of the Captain's Quarters just lying around there. If we were a standard crew with all of us as heavily wounded as Uncle Roberto, these bundles of bandages wouldn't last for a day. However, since there's only five of us here, and there's only one person who needs immediate medical attention, we could use that gauze for about three days tops. However, we are now in the third day of our journey, and once our medical supplies have been depleted, it would take a matter of hours before Sir Roberto would finally meet the other fallen warriors on the Other Side. Because of this, my uncle kept apologizing to all of us as he laid weak on the best bed in the ship, feeling sorry for being a liability, not just for the people in the ship but for the now-dead King Vortigern as well.
Yes, the king is dead, damn it, what else are we supposed to do about it? We are all facing our own problems here, and the fact that our king is dead is not a comforting thought. Damn it... He was a good man, a great king, he... He will be greatly missed, but I just can't seem to accept the suddenness of it all since I literally just saw his face less than an hour before his death. It was all too surreal for me to admit it, I...
Even Madame Belladonna had a hard time accepting it herself, for she had remained quiet throughout this journey, only speaking silent whispers to the princes. She had been awake for two days now, and we're now on the third day of our voyage. We thought it would be a relatively peaceful voyage, but when the sun fell, the storm hit us along with it, making it even more impossible for any of us to sleep. During these three days, she never once took her eyes off the late king's children, taking care of them even if her life ends because of it. In fact, even the two princes who remained relatively mute during the entire battle that ravaged Izrecael had finally started wailing while our sheep rocked from all over the place thanks to this strong wind and rough waves.
Madame Belladonna and I had not yet eaten anything for three days, but none of us had the time to complain or feel it. In less than two days, we will finally see the large docks of Duibhne, and that was the only time we could truly rest. Thus, Madame Belladonna continued to care for the princes and Uncle Roberto. Meanwhile, she is also managing the insides of the ship, such as the steam engine room, and ensuring that no leak would enter the interiors of the vessel by remedying any leaks that may appear using her barriers.
Meanwhile, I decided to keep up the speed of the ship to move up with the oncoming titan-like waves while the storm continues to rage throughout the dark embrace of this cruel night. Thus, I rushed all over the place, so the wrathful punches of the storm's breeze would not put too much strain on the mast and the sails. However, it's proving to be an impossibility in this deadly weather as I stared with blurring eyesight at the now tattered sailcloth. I also looked at the colossal steam pipeline on top of the ship's stern and heaved a listless and defeated groan after seeing that the black smoke coming from out of the ship's golden pipes had slowly decreased. This is bad. The engine is losing some steam, and this might mean we would soon have to face the fact that we would have to brave this storm in the middle of the night with no light. This was something I do not at all want to happen now that Madame Belladonna already had enough on her hands. The last thing I wish to happen is to ask her magic to bring forth light in this ship. However, that just might be what we have to get.
In a perfect world, I would have asked Madame Belladonna to cover the entire ship with her powerful barrier, but this is not a perfect world. After all, doing that meant the breeze would not properly enter the vessel while we're still being rocked back and forth by the waves below us. It would also bring more strain to the now busy Madame Belladonna since she's the only magician in this cog. Besides, I know that her barrier is reliable, but is it strong enough to prevent the wrath of nature from entering our ship for hours?
I almost lost consciousness because of the fatigue eating the vitality that I tried my hardest to grasp, coupled with the lack of sleep and the wounds that began to reopen throughout my body. However, that loud sound of wood and ripping cloth cracking and tearing above me as a great shadow surrounded me had awakened me from my dazed state.
"Oh, shit!" I said as I ran towards the side of the ship's mast to prevent it from falling over. I took a wooden ladder in the engine room, along with a hammer and a box of nails.
The sound of ropes giving in to the might of the storm's breeze finally made a noticeable crack appear on the wooden mast of the ship. Only then have I realized that these things I have taken with me would not be able to fix what is not happening before me, and no other objects inside of the ship can stop this sail from falling onto the deck. What was I even thinking of doing with this ladder and hammer? Such foolishness might be the work of my adrenaline, pumping me to survive, or maybe this is just some kind of spontaneous moment of stupidity. Nonetheless, I went straight below the falling mast to use my body and push it forward to keep it from completely falling into the now flooding deck of the ship. However, I felt like my effort to save it had only accelerated the inevitable, for it roared hundreds of varying crackling noises to alarm me that I would not be able to do anything to keep it from its assured destruction. I knew that very well, but I still tried all that I could to prolong its life even if it means my life would cease just for this mast to keep standing firm. This ship is housing the only hope of Izrecael along with the strongest magician I had ever laid my eyes on, and I would sacrifice myself if it means these people would get to live for the betterment of the empire.
And as I heard the waves punching through the walls of our ship and the breeze continuing to devour our cold bodies whole, I saw the image of the ship's mast falling towards my stunned body.
I then looked at the familiar voice of a woman rushing towards me in slow motion as I saw the sail falling towards my peripheral vision.
That was the last thing I saw before I saw nothing else but black.
It still baffled me to this day as to how I survived that day; all I know for sure is that it left a massive crack on my stomach and ripped the side of my face from my temples down to my left shoulder. I awakened after that incident in the only other available room beside the captain's quarters. When I opened my eyes, I heard the familiar unbearable cries of the seagulls in the horizon as the dazzling light of the sun hit my face through the open window, making me see the cloudless blue skies and the calm stillness of the sea.
"You're awake." The voice of a woman beside me made me jump right away. That was the first time I heard Madame Belladonna's voice again after the news of King Vortigern's death rang through our ears.
I saw that I was only wearing a white linen shirt and short trousers while a newer set of bandages were wrapped around my body and the side of my face. I then looked down below me to see the beaming smile of Madame Belladonna as she laid with me on the bed with her arms gently tapping my wounds.
"Does it still hurt?" Madame Belladonna said as she crawled up into my face, caressing my cheek gently with her soft and warm hands.
"N-no... I, uhh... Madame Belladonna, I...!" I stuttered as my face flushed while seeing Madame Belladonna beside me on the bed while only wearing a thin white dress.
"I'm sorry, Sir Damian. There are only two beds on this ship. I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty to lay on the same bed as you."
I then looked around to realize that we're inside of a still wet room. I saw countless objects all over the floor; one such mess was my armor that has been messily thrown at the corner like it was taken out of me in a hurry. The two princes are also placed on the bed on the left side of Madame Belladonna while she simultaneously tended to my wounds some more on her right hand. I then gulped my saliva as I looked at the king-sized bed we're laying on at present. It still had a lot of space even if all of us were occupying it together, which made it possible for two people like us to sleep on it effortlessly.
"I... I don't mind at all; it's just that this situation is—"
"Shush now, Sir Damian, you're still wounded, so go back to sleep again." Madame Belladonna said with a gentle chuckle as he laid beside my chest again with a pair of twinkling and tired eyes. "I hope... you don't mind me sleeping here..." Madame Belladonna weakly whispered as she continued to check on the wounds on my chest gently.
I then looked at the window beside me as I heard the sound of hissing and mechanical noises accompanying loud thuds and metal clanking sounds. "Madame Belladonna... Am I dead?"
"What are you talking about? Of course not! Why are you saying that?" Madame Belladonna whispered as her consciousness slowly dwindled.
"Because I think I might be in heaven."
"I don't know, Sir Damian," Madame Belladonna said as she heaved a silent chuckle beside me. "but what I do know is that I am happy that we're all still alive."
I then allowed my weak body the rest it very much deserves as I heard the familiar shouts of an old drunk outside of the room as if he was celebrating some kind of birthday party.
"I DID IT! THE MAST IS FIXED! WE CAN MOVE AGAIN!" The slurring voice of Uncle Roberto echoed outside as his loud, cranky voice slowly approached us.
However, the only thing he found in the bed is two tired people giving themselves their needed rest beside two babies chuckling and playing together with delight.
"... ahhh... I shouldn't have been too loud." Uncle Roberto said as he approached us while my vision slowly blurs into dreamland. I could hear the sound of metallic whirring and hissing along with the single footstep of his only working feet. "I'll be taking care of the princes for ya! You two sleep for uncle!"