Zorok wiped the blood from his sword before crouching to step into the cave. The natives of the island could do nothing to stop Zorok, most feared pirate in the land, and his crew. They all lay dead, limp fingers still grasping their primitive weapons, while Zorok was free to enter the cave and claim the treasure.
As he led his crewmen through the tunnel, Tom, who had a flare for languages, interpreted the symbols painted on the walls from the line behind him.
“Great evil lies within.” Tom stopped to read, squinting in the torch light. “If stirred it will devour the souls of those who dared to waken it.”
“Would you stop reading those,” called a man behind Tom, “You’re holding up the line.”
Just as the whole line was moving steadily, Zorok stopped. There was nothing but cave wall in front of him. Someone from the back of the line cursed at Tom, thinking he was the one holding it up again.
“Well that ain’t no treasure,” said a crewman right behind Zorok.
“Quit your whining,” Zorok said. “It doesn’t end here.” He dropped to the ground and crawled forward into a hole that his men couldn’t see because they were too busy complaining.
Zorok expected to find himself in a claustrophobic tunnel, but instead his lone torch barely reached the shadows of the cavern in which he stood. The center was filled with knee-high chests. Zorok went to the nearest one and shot the lock. He opened it. Shining gold coins filled his gaze.
“This is it boys.” He grinned. He turned around and the grin came off his face. None of his crew were there. He grumbled under his breath as he walked back to the hole. Were the idiots scared or just too stupid to find the hole, or was it Tom and his walls of doom holding them up?
The hole was gone. Zorok scowled and moved his torch along the cave wall, searching for the place where he came in. It wasn’t there. He called out to his men, but it remained eerily silent except for a trickling sound on the other side of the cavern.
A small wind brushed against his cheek. At first he thought it came from the hole he was looking for, but before he could follow it, the wind grew stronger, coming from all directions including the solid wall behind him. The wind merged into one place in the center of the room and a mass of swirling black appeared. The wind stopped as the black shaped itself into a seven-foot, human-shaped form covered in a black, hooded cloak.
Zorok drew his gun.
“Time is up. You made a deal with my master, and he wants his payment,” the form said in an eerie dead-pan voice.
“I don’t make deals,” he said keeping his gun up and his stance ready. “I do what I wish and crush those who oppose.”
“You made a deal,” said the hooded figure, “Now your soul belongs to my master.”
Zorok laughed dryly. “Tell your master, whoever he is, he can have it.”
“He doesn’t need your permission,” said the figure, moving forward. Zorok was ready to hear some enchantment murmured that was supposed to take his soul, but the figure put his hand into his cloak. He drew out a sword that glowed slightly, giving off a faint white light. The moment he did, Zorok fired. The bullet disappeared in his black torso. A rumbling sound came from under the hood that could have been a laugh.
“You can’t kill me.” The glowing sword moved steadily toward him. Stepping back, Zorok drew his own sword.
“Who is this master you serve?” he asked, hoping to stall so he could look for a way out of the cavern. Never had his opponents been immune to death.
“The devil.” The figure brought his sword down. Zorok blocked the blow and spun out of the thing’s reach.
“I made no deal with the devil,” said Zorok backing away slowly.
“That’s what they all say,” said the eerie voice. “But you’ve made the deal early in life and confirmed it many times since.” The thing didn’t move after him, so Zorok took the chance to look around for some way out.
“Every time you stabbed a woman, every time you shot a man, every time you ordered your men to kill children, a deal was made.” The figure thrust his glowing sword at Zorok. Their swords clanged against each other and locked.
“You can tell the devil,” he grunted, “that my soul is mine.” He used all his strength to push the glowing sword off his own, and ran toward a dark liquid ribbon on the cave floor behind him. He hoped the river didn’t stay underwater for too long.
As he jumped, he heard the eerie voice call after him, “Your cannot keep your soul forever. Memento mori.”
Cold water merged over his head. He swam with the current hoping it would lead him out of the cave. After a few seconds, he tried to come up. He was met with hard stone. He kept swimming and tried again, but he was still underground. This wasn’t the way Zorok, most feared of the seas, should lose his life.
Just as he was sure the devil would get his soul after all, his head burst out of the water and his lungs filled with air. He could see the moon half hidden behind the jungle foliage. He dragged himself to the bank and a wild laugh of relief came out of his mouth. He was Zorok, the pirate who tricked the devil.
His laughter died. The last thing the hooded figure said to him stopped his little celebration. He didn’t need Tom to understand what those last two words meant.
Remember that you will die.
This is a shortened version of a story I posted a few months ago. It was 2,000 words long! Getting it down to 900 (which is still over) was a challenge. I had to cut some of the stuff I really liked, including the open line which I loved. It really pulled you into the story, but it was part of a scene I cut from this verson. 😦 But it was good practice at, well you know, that thing all writers have to do called killing your darlings.
Anyway, I shortened it for the Wow 555 challenge. Read other’s entries or enter your own. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite!