Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here. If you are easily triggered for any reason, please pass this episode up.
There was deep hatred between Nicholas and Gryll. All reason was lost as the two ships grew closer, neither giving right of way.
At the last possible moment, the Grasshopper veered to starboard, and wood splintered in all directions as the Netty Northwich and The Grasshopper collided.
There was no give in the crew of either side as both were hardened to the rigors of war and fear was but a useful tool for the preservation of limb. Sword and spear parried and thrust for mastery.
“This is between me and Nicholas.”
It was the chilling voice of Captain Gryll. His men withdrew and Nicholas motioned his men behind. It was to be a duel.
Nicholas did not hesitate.
“Patrick Gryll, I should have killed you myself when I had the chance in the Carisiolian camp. You are a disgrace and I shall cut you down.”
Gryll’s eyes lit up, and he stared afar off.
“You and Pontus tied me to a log and set me adrift.”
“You murdered a man in his sleep, Patrick.
You had done it before and you would have done it again. You needed killing, but the high command would not allow it. I followed orders those days and should have done it myself. “
Gryll, enraged, charged with his sword and was met by Nicholas. Gryll worked his way left to Nicholas’ bad eye, but Nicholas was prepared and countered.
With the other men, Ashton looked on. They were evenly matched and one of them would die or be seriously injured.
There was something familiar about their conversation that Ashton could not place.
Captain Gryll was nimble as a cat, and fierce as a bear, and Nicholas disciplined and methodical, trusting to the formality of his military training.
There was something off in the fight as Gryll looked above. Was there another dragon he was waiting for?
“Corbae!” He shouted as they fought.
Nicholas had enough of it all and used his superior size and brawn to bring the fight to a close. He shouted, “For Northwich! And Her Warriors!”
The telltale sound of a murder of crows descended in a “kraw kraw” .
There were hundreds of them and they began attacking the Netty Northwich.
The disruption gave Gryll advantage and he cut through Nick’s defenses, stabbing him deeply in the liver below the sternum.
Nicholas was done for and continued fighting, a dead man. His chest began to stain red.
A familiar bird amongst the crows seemed to lead them. “Erbe!”
The crows stopped the attack and immediately flew to Ashton. Distracted, Gryll looked shocked. “Corbae!” He yelled.
The distraction was enough and Captain Gryll’s head lay on the deck.
Ashton ran to the aid of Captain Nicholas but to no avail. The wound was deep and he had bled far too much.
Lulach took charge and ordered the Grasshopper burned, her crew provisioned and set adrift in rowboats. The body of Gryll was unceremoniously thrown overboard with his head.
There was mourning as the death of Captain Nicholas was confirmed by Ashton.
Patrick. Who was Patrick? He felt his chest pocket for the oilskin sealed letter he treasured from his mother. There was no need to pull it out, he had memorized it.
My dearest Patrick,
I hope writing this will fill the void of our separation. I cannot bear that you are gone.
When we were married in that rough Carsiolian camp, I felt so safe and complete with you. I thought we would be together forever. You brought me such joy, such hope for the future.
You were so kind and gentle. Our son is seventeen now and quite a man. He looks just like you Patrick. He plows the fields and forages for our home. He’s so kind and gentle, just like you.
When we kissed on our wedding day, I promised to be forever by your side and I tried to be. Life has a way of destroying what we really want.
I am so deeply sorry, Patrick, I had to do some awful things to get through some tough spots and I fear I didn’t meet your expectations.
They say you are gone but I like to think that you turned into a sea animal that day they tied you to a log and set you adrift. I await the return that will never come. I love you.
From what Nicholas had indicated, Ashton had met his father for the first and last time.
This was a secret best kept to himself.
There was the kraw of a crow and Erbe landed on his shoulder.
For the moment, he was afraid, and angry.
“Dirty crow, get away from me!”
Startled, the crow departed. No one seemed to notice.
He had named the crow Erbe, and what had Gryll called him? Corbae.
It was unreal.