SCARS OF THE SEA / book two /// chapter 67
Posted February 10th, 2018 by Garrett
in a city drinking coffee
| 67 |
Utter darkness in the caves when sound erupted.
Brana jolted awake, her back screaming in agony. Her head flew into the clouds, lighter than a feather. For a second she thought she might pass out. But no, she didn’t. Her vision cleared and her eyes adjusted to the watery torchlight spilling in the hall beyond the cell bars.
It was a Savage with a sword and a torch, running from something further up. Too far for Brana to see, even if she pressed her face against the bars and squinted.
The slaves around her stirred, muttering things under their breath. A restless, buzzing hive. Was this freedom at last? Brana didn’t want to be too hopeful. It had been days, making it very likely that Finn and the others had forgotten about her and decided to move onward.
Or maybe they were the ones charging the camp, causing the yells and ringing of steel outside.
Brana stood, biting her cheek to block the pain pulsing up and down her spine.
“We are being saved!” Someone yelled.
No one seemed convinced. The Savage in the hall trembled, dropping the torch and breaking into a run—
A boulder soared down the cave and crushed every bone in the Savage’s body, sending man and stone to crumble against the wall.
The cell fell silent as every face turned to the wreckage.
“Mother of gods,” a woman muttered.
Chaos erupted. Women threw themselves against the bars, rattling their chains, screaming to be released.
Brana pushed against the pull of the crowd, trying to stand tall and see. The force of the moving bodies all around her was too much—her knees buckled, trying to relieve her back. Brana’s vision swirled as she descended to the cell, moments away from being trampled to death.
Something caught her, hauled her up to her feet.
“Brana, open your eyes.”
A man’s voice. A Savage?
Brana tried to squirm away from the hard grip under her arms, but could barely move her head aside. Even that sent whips of fire up and down her back. Silent tears bloomed at the corners of her eyes, trickling down the sides of her face.
“Gods help me,” the man said. He grunted and Brana’s stomach turned. Black spots rippled over her vision, fizzing away so she stared down the man’s back, swaying side-to-side as he ran. Where was he running to?
“What are you doing?” A familiar voice asked.
Brana felt herself being passed from one person to the next. She looked around, cradled in a familiar man’s arms, to see Phillip with his fists raised.
“Who the hell are you to take her away from me?” Phillip yelled over the uproar of the cell.
Brana craned her head up to see who he was threatening.
Another man came running up, a bloody sword in his hand. Finn.
“Brana, who is this?” Finn asked.
“She’s barely conscious,” Jack said.
“Please, let me help her—” Phillip started.
Finn’s fist flew into Phillip’s jaw, sending the Exiled Savage stumbling back into a crowd of bustling, frightened slaves.
Brana moved her mouth, lifted her dry tongue, and tried to force words that wouldn’t come.
That is Phillip. He’s the one who hurt Ciara. Who hurt me.
Instead spittle leaked out of her mouth.
“We have to get her out of here,” Jack said, turning out of the cell on quick feet.
Castor’s voice rose amid the noises of fighting. If all three men were right here, then who fought the Savages?
Brana’s heavy-lidded eyes flashed around, scanning the narrow cave. Dust floated around, obscuring the distance in a thick haze.
The next time she opened her eyes, the sunlight forced her to close them again.
But her ears were wide open. She heard every female battle cry soaring over the clash of pickaxes and steel and Savages grunting as they died.
Brana couldn’t help but smile before another dense wave of unconsciousness overthrew her.
Finn stared at the little girl nestled in blankets with her eyes closed, the warm glow of the fire casting long shadows across her cheeks. She looked so different than her sister, brown hair instead of red, skin like toffee, not pale and freckled. But the red stains around her mouth and the dirty knots in her hair discarded any conception of her being innocent.
They’d discovered the bloody ruins of her back after noticing that the backside of her filthy shirt was stained red. She wore fresh clothes now, one of the slave women having volunteered to change her. She’d been unconscious since the rescue.
Since they’d led over three hundred freed women out of those canyons.
And one man as prisoner. The man who had been carrying Brana was now tied up to a tree, gagged and staring at Finn with dark, hateful eyes.
Everything about him made him seem untrustworthy, including the jagged Exiled symbol carved into his forearm. It was a fresh scar, one he would bear for the remainder of his life.
They would see how long that would be.
The freed women occupied the forest, bundled around ten different campfires.
This is what they’d left Acantha to do. This is what he was meant to do. Seeing the light in the slaves’ eyes when they fought against their captors. As they left the canyons to live out their lives as free women and children. Mothers with hearts set on reuniting with their sons and daughters.
Castor grunted as he sat down beside Finn.
“What’s he staring at?” He asked.
Finn shrugged. “He’s been like that for hours.”
“It doesn’t make you uncomfortable?”
“No. It does.”
Castor walked around the fire and stood inches away from Phillip.
“Who are you?” He asked the gagged man. “Are you a Savage? Your arm tells me your an Exiled, but your eyes tell me you thirst for blood.”
Something low and tremulous, almost like a growl, rumbled inside the man’s throat.
“What are you going to do?” Castor cocked an eyebrow. “You’re all tied up.”
“His name is Phillip,” Brana murmured.
Finn jumped to her side. “What? What’d you say?”
“Who is he? How do you—”
“He’s…” Her voice was weak. Words away from giving out. “He hurt Ciara.”
Finn knew that was all she could manage before sleep took her back, but it was all he needed to hear.
He stood, his mind an inferno, his chest pounding, his fist balled. Each step toward that bastard felt like a step across singeing hot coals—he couldn’t get there fast enough.
Castor moved aside so Finn had easy access.
He grabbed the Savage by the shirt and pulled him forward. His fist came down with a satisfying crunch. And again, and again, and again, and again.
Until Phillip’s face was an unrecognizable, bloody pulp. Only then was Finn satisfied.
When it was over and his knuckles were torn, he reeled back and spit in the man’s face.
“A bastard like you doesn’t deserve to live,” Finn said. “But I’m going to let Ciara have the satisfaction of killing you.”
He turned back to the fire and paused, staring at the flickering flames. He smiled.
“I’ll make sure she does it nice and slow.”
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