Qasin looked at each side of his boat as a group of eight half-woman, half-reptile, scaly sea creatures climbed up the sides of the small, black sailboat he was steering. Each one had the upper body of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a very large and long serpent and was carrying a trident and net in her hands as they all made their way onto the craft.
“If you chop up a human and serve him with rice and seaweed, does it still count as sushi?” one of the Mermaids said to the other as she stood upright on her long snake-like tail, the others following suit.
“That all depends, how slimy and scaly of a man is he?” One of the darker-scaled ones laughed, adjusting her trident and net into a battle ready stance as she crept closer to Qasin and the boat’s wheel.
Qasin didn’t even bother moving or deign to give them a response. He didn’t have to. He could just tell by how they moved that they were slow and weak. Struggling to even pull themselves up with weapons in their hands, gravity and the elements alone were an enemy to these creatures who had been spoiled by the weightlessness of the sea. Like sponges in fresh water, they had grown soft and lost all chance of victory in a real battle. It was why they leaned on underhanded tactics, ambushing the untrained and relying on their superior numbers.
“Oh, we have one that is scared speechless. This should be fun.” A reddish-scaled one started twirling her trident like a baton–a difficult task considering its length–as she slithered closer to the statuesque Qasin.
“Well, I for one am happy for a change that our prey is silent,” one of the slimy guests chuckled to her cohorts. “The main course at a dinner party shouldn’t beg. It’s unsightly.”
As they jabbered on, Qasin pulled out his sword and rested it gently against his leg. Even though he wasn’t waving it around, the message was clear: he was, without a doubt, holding it as if threatening to transfix the first slithering creature to come within arm’s reach. The women, noting his confident posture, reeled back momentarily before casting their nets at him.
Before the nets could even spread out in the air, he had already dropped his weight, shifted his balance and shot out under them, transpiercing the closest mermaid on his right through the chest with his blade. As she let out a blood-gargled scream from the pain, he took his free hand and grabbed the haft of an incoming trident on his left side. Instead of trying to push against it, he yanked it behind him, throwing the trident into the side of the boat and pulling the wielder off balance. The look of shock on her face as the force jerked her forward quickly became the last expression she ever made as Qasin’s sword ripped free from his first victim’s chest and slashed straight through his second victim’s head, lopping it off just above the jaw line.
“Careful! He’s not going to go down easy!” The one furthest in the back yelled at her comrades, but they didn’t listen. Two more of the snakes threw their tridents at him, yet he easily parried one and grabbed the other with his left hand. As the now defenseless fiends tried to turn and run, he hurled the trident back at them, impaling the furthest scaly wretch in the back of the head. He then lunged forward and slashed the other of the two right between the shoulder blades.
“Run!” One of the small group of remaining attackers yelled, abandoning all hope as the last three snake-women went for the sides of the boat.
Qasin just smiled. Weak, soft bodies. They move like sand trying to squeeze through the center of an hourglass, he thought to himself as he hunted down and skewered, sliced, pierced and rended each of one his three slow victims before they could make it over the sides. The last one, pinned to the very railing she was trying to jump over, squirmed.
“Pleas . . . pl . . . let me . . . ive,” she managed to spit out, the loss of blood and crushed lung interrupting and drawing out her useless pleas for mercy.
“It is, as you said, unsightly to see people beg before they die,” Qasin mocked, ripping his sword free and splitting her right down the middle.
“Oh dear, after all the trouble I went through to procure us a small enough boat for you to pilot, you go and ruin it with all these stains,” Eve called out from behind Qasin, causing him to turn and look at her. “What? Don’t look at me. I’m not cleaning it up. You made the mess. You swab the deck.”
“Let the rain take care of it,” Qasin muttered, walking back behind the wheel. “It’s not like red and black don’t go together anyway.”
“Fine, rain. But if it doesn’t come off on its own, you’re paying someone to clean it up when we dock.” Eve paused, then let a wicked grin cross her face. “You’re just happy you had something entertaining to do for a change, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Yes, I am,” Qasin nodded, settling his hands back on the ship’s wheel.
“Good. Can’t let your blade dull, either. We have a lot to do in the future.”
“I know, but I don’t think any amount of practice will ever prepare me to fight your friend Stephanie. I don’t think the others could see, but I could. I watched her fight, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for that.”
“Awww, is my strong, little knight growing nervous?” She moved closer, placing one hand on his shoulder.
“Realistic. I think we need a plan if we’re to stop her before she uses your brother to complete her plan.”
“Don’t worry. She may have planned this for a long time, but I’ve been planning how to handle her for almost three decades.” Eve’s usually coy smile faded and a serious expression took its place. “I won’t let her plan come to fruition–not if I can help it.”
Qasin didn’t say anything. He just put one hand on Eve’s shoulder and looked out over the water.