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Kadriya woke to a stiff neck and foggy mind. Inwardly she groaned and awkwardly stretched her limbs despite their protest and her bound wrists. To gather her bearings she took a look around the small cell she shared with four other women.
To her left sat a young woman with a mane of golden curls. Her gown and cloak were of fine quality, the clothing of a respected lady. This young woman, however, did not possess the demeanor of one. She refused to cower from the burly seamen who kept them prisoner. Instead she remained tall and proud, meeting the men's gazes with her own ferocious hazel eyes.
Directly adjacent to Kadriya sat an older woman. A silver cross rested on her chest, one she kept mostly clutched in her hands as she prayed for salvation. Her dress was old and worn, but once might've been the envy of others. The woman's severe and stiff bun was now falling apart, tendrils draped over the woman's pointed face. She tried to push the hair back with her tied hands, but it's was a fruitless effort. The woman gave a huff of annoyance and instead went back to praying.
A sniffle sounded in the small cell that dragged Kadriya's attention from the woman to a young girl wrapped in a strangers arms. She had knotted pale blonde hair, and oversized clothes of poor quality that failed to hide her frail body. Nor did the garment hide the old bruises that marred her skin. Her brown doe eyes were full of tears she was fighting. The strangers arms tightened around her and Kadriya's eyes traveled from the young girls round face to the stranger.
A woman possibly older than Kadriya herself held the girl in the circle of her arms. The woman's straight scarlet hair was off to the side, revealing her high cheekbones and sorrowful yet empathetic blue eyes. Her dress was beautiful but of cheap material, while her cloak was dark, plain, and heavily worn through.
The matron opened her eyes, while continuing to pray, to give the girl a scornful look. When the girl let out another set of small whimpers, the crone stopped her infuriating chant to set her beady eyes in a glare upon her.
"Quiet yourself." The woman's voice cut sharply.
The young girl hiccuped and tried her best to comply to the demand. The stranger who held her met the glare of the religious woman.
"She is young and scared of what may happen. Surely you could sympathize." She challenged.
The old woman bowed her head and stated, "God will protect us."
"God has left us!" The young girl wailed and hid her face in her comforters embrace.
The woman gasped. "Such a horrible child! You shall go to hell!"
Th red haired woman whispered words to the girl. Trying to soothe her once more.
The young woman with gold curls decided to join in. With a set shoulders and a set mind she met the eyes of the old woman. "What a horrible woman you are. Frightening this young girl more."
The crone glared back. "Respect your elders, your parents must've never taught you manners!"
"I respect those who respect me." The young girl ground out from clenched teeth. "Certainly you don't deserve it." With a knowing smirk she mused "I'd rot in hell before I gave you any."
This sent the woman into another fit of shrill shrieks. The young woman seemed amused by it. "Unholy spawn of Satan! The Devil will gladly grant your wish and drag you down to a pit of endless woe!" She glared at her three offenders, her complexion growing red. "You are the reasons this is happening! God has done this to us because of your unbelief! We will go to hel-!"
"I assure you he did not" Kadriya cut in.
With her red face, flaring nostrils, and disorderly hair the woman looked foolish. Kadriya smiled at the woman's outrage. Causing a deeper red to spread over the woman's face.
Kadriya held out her tied wrists. "God didn't do this to us." She looked at the other women, the young girls doe eyes peeping up at her. She turned back the crone, "Those men did this to us."
She lowered her hands. "God played no part in this."
"I wouldn't expect a gypsy to understand." She spat.
Used to this sort of encounter, the insult passed over Kadriya like water over a swan's wings. For while she did have the appearance of a gypsy, with her charms and mix matched clothing, she was not affiliated with those known nomads. Her own living had even resembled the gypsy life. However, even to those lively and beautiful people she was an outcast.
She lazily played with the charms around her neck, smirking once more. "Witch." She corrected.
The woman blinked. "I beg your pardon!"
Kadriya leaned forward. "I. Am. A. Witch." The woman howled and moved further away while the other three sat stiff.
"I can save us." She assured, "If that is what you wish."
She met their looks of anticipation. "What are your names?"
The one to her left spoke first, "Leondria."
Then the kind woman, "Damiana."
"Ailis." Sniffled the young girl.
"Kadriya." She smiled. "I can help us survive this."
Her lips thinned. "But I must have your permission."
The woman went from banging on the bars to screeching at them about their unholy pact. "Satan's cohorts! The lot of you! You shall die and be dragged to the depths of hell! Punished for-!"
The women heard a loud bang and the stomping feet of crew members making their way toward them. The crone began shrieking for them to remove her from her confinement with the evil spirits.
Kadriya whipped back to the others. "Before they get here you must give me permission, I cannot do anything without it."
Before she had her answer two hardened sailors were at their cell and roughly ushering them from their confinement to the corridor. Prodding the girls to follow the other man down the creaky corridor. Soon they reached a rickety stair that would lead them to the deck.
"Let's go," the sailor in the back snapped, pushing them up the steps to go up. Though the sun still hid behind sinister looking clouds and no rain beat down upon them. While the storm at taken a short reprieve, everyone could see the storm quickly approaching them.
They lined the women up, sailors keeping a wide berth around them. The boat swayed and the wind whipped their skirts about their legs. The captain stood in front of them, beard unkempt, and his eyes bloodshot and sunken. Kadriya could see the desperation hidden there.
"Ye have been accused of causing my ship and crew great torment by the way of unnatural forces." His hand tightened on the hilt of his sword. The old woman spouted off her horror at being accused of such atrocious crimes.
"Silence woman!" He berated her. She sniveled and stood with a straight back. Refusing to let the tears fall from her eyes.
"Ye will be tried for yer crimes." He turned to his crew, "Men, what say ye men? Innocent?"
"Guilty?" He snarled.
The men raised their fists and weapons, letting out a mighty and angry cry. "AYE!"
"Then you know what to do!" The captain bellowed back with arms open wide. "Have at it men!"
The four women crowded together as the crew closed in, the matron held her cross while pleading for her life. It was then that they noticed the plank. Ailis gasped and started crying. Fear struck them in their core.
"Don't run." Kadriya hurriedly whispered, sensing their urgency. "There's no where to go."
"Get rid of the squabbling saint first!" Shouted the captain. Instantly the woman bolted.
"Get her!" The Captain roared. It drew the attention of the crew long enough to leave the group of four alone for a moment. Kadriya took advantage of this.
"Your answers?" She questioned calmly. Each in turn gave her a nod of finality, they wanted to survive.
They turned in horror to see the women caught, sailors leading her to the plank. She still fought tooth and nails and her cries of innocence fell on deaf ears. The men pushed her out onto the plank and aimed guns and swords at her. She saw her two choices. Death from the men or death from the sea. When she refused to make one, instead choosing to plead her case, a shot rang out. A wound that would not kill, but one that knocked the woman off the board with a hideous wail of pain and terror.
"Who's next?" One man shouted gleefully
One sailor stepped forward to grab Ailis. The girl cried out in absolute terror. Kadriya quickly moved in front of the girl, offering herself in Ailis place. The men snickered but said nothing, taking the silent sacrificial lamb to the plank.
Kadriya was gripped hard and thrown onto the blank. She stumbled but kept her balance and turned back to face the men. She spoke with her chin held high.
"May I have a few final words?"
One sneered at her. "Sure. Not much help it will do fo' ya."
He chuckled and the other men echoed him. "But go ahead woman give us yer last words."
She paused, gaining their full attention, netting their eyes with savagery in her green eyes. "You will not survive!" She howled along with the wind. It picked up, her hair and skirts whipping wildly around her. The men trembled at the sight in front of them. "You will suffer death by the very forces you attempt to sacrifice us to!"
"Strike her down!" The captain bellowed over the wind. The men advanced once more.
Kadriya let out a powerful and commanding screech. Drawing the men to a halt. Her face contorted into terrifying rage, her eyes held hell fire within them as she meet the petrified stares of each man. She yelled out the torments they would endure for harming innocents. The men trembled before her, none willing to take a step forward, she started to chant in an unknown tongue.
"Oh for the love of God!" The captain pulled out his firearm, he was almost imperceptibly shaking. Before a shot could ring out, Kadriya dived into the swirling angry sea below.
Quickly the men grabbed the remaining three and forced them all onto the plank. The women walked tentatively to the end, huddling together. Thinking all was was lost, tears slid down their faces. Then they heard a familiar voice carried on the wind.
The three gripped each other tight and with terror in their hearts, leaped.
Once the women hit the frigid waters, the air was knocked from them. Thrashing frantically in terror, they tried desperately to swim up, and fill their burning lungs. Their heavy dresses dragged them further from salvation. Their weakened muscles screamed from lack of oxygen. Slowly each could no longer fight, and so one by one they slowly sank to darkness.
Above, the men suffered as Kadriya prophesied.
Lounging on a rock, Kadriya reveled in the feeling of the sun warming her bare body.
Looking down she saw Leondria in the water. Her curly hair covered her bare chest, and her lower body treading water with the help of her powerful tail. There read mischief on her face.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" She smirked down at her.
"There's a ship." Leondria drew her attention out further. The sight of the ship sent a shiver of pleasure through her body. She turned back to Leondria with a sensual smile.
"New toys." She purred out. Diving into the water, Kadriya now reveled in the feeling of her new form. It was sleek and powerful, nothing the world had seen before.
She turned to Leondria, "Let's get Damiana and Ailis."