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Pirate among thieves: Sacrifice

A sharp pain filled Domino’s consciousness as she started to come around. The headache only worsened when she opened her eyes and found herself facing the late afternoon sun. Her arms ached as well. trying to move, she found she couldn’t, her limbs were tied to a stake, arms above her head. She strained against the ropes, causing a few laughs from the figures she began to see through hazy vision.

Her head began to clear and she started to understand the situation. The stake was on the stone altar and the two cannons were aimed right at her. She could see her bag and weapons on the ground near one of the tribals. She hoped they hadn’t searched her too thoroughly.

The lead figure stepped closer. his accented English hard to understand, “With dawn comes flame, and then cannons claim flesh.”

Domino realized there was no way she could slip her bonds with them watching. It would take her far longer to get her arms free than it would for them to kill her. As she watched, two of the tribals set up a camp near the wooden cabin and retreated into tents, resting to be on watch later, she reasoned.

Resigning herself to a nasty sun burn, she settled back against the stake, slowly moving her wrists, working a bit of slack into the knots.

“Khinzir!”

Domino froze. One of the tribals approached, stopping just in front of her. He said something in a language she didn’t know and prodded her with his wooden club. Domino met his gaze and fixed him with a murderous glare. The man stepped back, apparently having expected fear, not anger in her eyes. The leader called to him and he quickly sat back with the others, glancing at her briefly before turning away again.

The other tribals laughed and nudged their comrade, saying words she was sure would be teasing if she could understand. The group started laughing, their attention wandering. She focused her efforts on the knots, gradually giving herself some wiggle room as the sun started to set.

Night began to fall. the tribals lit a fire as darkness spread through the camp. Domino smiled to herself as she imagined her captors burning in it, picturing the looks on their faces and fear in their eyes as flames spread over their bodies.

Her thoughts were interrupted when the group by the fire stood up, exchanged a few words with the other two as they emerged from the tents and swapped places with them. One of the pair settled by the fire, watching her, while the other took a stick, lit one end and began to circle the camp, peering into the darkness. His nervous movements and attentive stare gave the impression he was far more afraid of what might be out among the shadows and rocks than he was of her slipping her bonds.

While the man by the fire occupied himself cooking a small lizard on a stick, Domino checked the ropes. She had enough room now to slip her hands free, but her legs were still tied. She hoped the straight razor hidden in the lining of her boot was still there.

The pacing watchman stopped and drew his sword. He held his torch high, trying to peer into the shadows. His friend called to him, but he didn’t seem to hear. Suddenly, he took off running into the darkness. The man by the fire stood, calling out a word she assumed was the others name. The tribesman took out his own sword, grabbed a burning branch and, briefly checking she was still tied, moved in the direction the other had gone, calling his name in an increasingly worried tone.

Domino slipped her hands free and reached into her boot. Yes! The razor was still there. She sawed frantically at the ropes binding her legs, glancing at the watcher, hoping he didn’t turn. The thick rope started to come apart, threads fraying along with her nerves. The guard moved and her heart jumped. He had taken another step into the shadows and called again for his friend, still not looking her way.

The rope finally gave and she climbed down from the altar, legs shaky after holding her weight all day. Trying her best to tread lightly, she crept across the camp. The tribesman didn’t turn. She tiptoed closer, stepping right behind him before he finally thought to check on the prisoner. Domino moved with him as he turned, staying out of his sight-line as his gaze found the empty stake. As he drew breath to shout, she drew the razor across his throat. A gurgle, a gasp, then he fell, life leaving his eyes as his blood spilled into the rocky ground.

Domino quickly gathered her things, strapping her pistols to her legs and her sword back to her belt. She looked up to see the first watchman staring at her from the edge of the fires light. He held a large lizard in his hand. Before she could move he ululated loudly. Cursing, Domino drew her pistol and shot the man through the lung, stopping his call.

If the noise hadn’t woken the others, the shot definitely had. Domino ducked behind the altar in time to see the tribals leap from their tents, carrying rifles. Crawling along the ground as the men started to realise what had happened, she snuck towards the beach and the boats.

Fortunately the tide had come in while she was bound. Water lapped at the dinghies and she didn’t have to push one far before it was afloat.

A shout from the camp. One of them had seen her. Domino shoved her boat into the water and reached into her bag. Her panicking fingers found her roll of dynamite sticks. Striking a match, she lit the fuse and dropped it between the other two dinghies, before leaping into hers.

The tribals sprinted onto the beach and fired, making her duck for cover as bullets struck the water around her. They started pushing the other boats out, then began to run back up the path as the light from the fuse became visible.

Boom! Splinters rained down. Angry ululations echoed from the beach as Domino took out the oars stowed under the seat and rowed away into the night.

Part one: https://cityofnewbabbage.net/pirate-among-thieves-arrival-in-the-riff/

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