Payter shrugged expansively, his loose shirt straining across his massive chest and shoulders. “Because he’s Micah, and he hates everyone.” He chuckled softly.
“He tolerates me, because I’m not a burden. He thinks you will be—inconvenient.”
“I promise that as soon as I’m able, I’ll move on. I’ve no intention of imposing on your hospitality any longer than I must.”
“I don’t mind. I like your company. Micah isn’t much of a talker. He says I talk too much. I do that, because he’s not one to communicate. But I think that a man should speak his mind.”
“Depends upon what he has to say,” the gruff, deep voice intoned from the front room. “If he’s only going to babble incoherently, why speak?”
Raven chuckled, nodding. “Much my way of thinking. Though I don’t mind the chatter,” he told Payter, whose face had fallen when he heard Micah. “A spot of conversation, between men, is a good thing.”
“I wondered if you’d ever wake,” Micah said, stepping into the room. He was nearly as wide as he was tall. Though not a large man, nor a fat one, he was broad of hip and shoulder. He filled the doorway, leaning against the jamb.
“How long have I been here?” Raven drank more of the wine, which Payter had offered him.
“This is your fourth day.”
“Thank you for saving me. I don’t know how to repay you.”
“By leaving, and forgetting you ever met me,” was the matter-of-fact reply. Micah moved somewhat aggressively toward the bed.
“I will do so as soon as I’m able. I don’t want to be a nuisance.”
“You’re already one,” Micah shot back. “But Payter would never forgive me for leaving a man to drown, so I pulled you out.”
“I’m sorry that I’m trouble for you,” Raven answered stiffly. “It wasn’t my intention.”
“Why were you on the ship?”
“What ship?” Raven evaded the question.
“The empty one, I found not far from where I yanked you from the surf. Did you think no one would see?”
“I hoped.” There was no reason to deny it.
“What happened?” Micah demanded. He sat on the floor near the bed, leaning forward intently. “There were signs of a battle, blood everywhere, several days old. More than one man could spill, and live.”
Raven told his story, leaving out no detail. He didn’t feel exactly comfortable with these men, but he saw no reason to lie. He felt sure that Micah would know if he tried to hide anything, so he didn’t bother trying. Payter leaned forward, hanging on every word. Micah sank into himself, frown deepening with each detail.
“And you’re sure he’s dead?”
“Positive. I cut off his head and threw it overboard.”
Micah nodded, grumbling to himself in a language Raven didn’t know.
“Good. Good. One less monster in this world.” He squinted up at Raven. “Did he bite you?”
“I don’t think so. Why?”
“Claw you? Injure you in any way?”
“I don’t know,” Raven replied. “I don’t remember details. Someone yanked me from bed, and then I fell unconscious. I didn’t wake again for several days. By which time, everyone else was dead.”
“I didn’t get an exact count. Perhaps thirty, between passengers and crew?”
“And their bodies?”
“Overboard. I didn’t want any awkward questions, if I were found and stopped.”
Micah nodded. “Excellent. Good on you for that. Otherwise, who knows what might have happened. Like a plague ship. Glad I burned it.”
“You did? Why?”
“Can you explain it?” Payter asked suddenly.
“Where it came from? Because we can’t. We raised the sails, set fire to it, and watched it head out to sea. What’s left, will now be at the bottom of the ocean.”
“Oh. Yes, that was wise. I didn’t think of that. I’m sorry.”
“What’s your name?” Payter queried.
“Raven Willoughby. I’m from Wales. I was on my way to America, by way of Labrador and Newfoundland. I have business interests here, and in Maine.”
The two men nodded.
©2021 Dellani Oakes