NotoriousMature

Rayna positioned herself on the Crow's nest of the Asterius upon the realization that their supply town, Grenshaw; was burning. Helplessly she lost herself in her head as smoke blurred her vision and the unpleasant aroma of rotting flesh stung her nose.

Random attacks like this were often caused by Air Rats or Pirates who were out to prove something. This would be the first of many attacks. During these dark raids people hated Air Rats ad their foul reputations were renewed with hatred. 

Rayna stood solemnly in a trance while her crew awaited orders. The sound of the gun shot hitting a target on the Asterius abruptly drew Rayna out of her daze. With instinctive grace Rayna jumped from the lookout onto the main deck where Coty was pressed up against a wall. A newly created hole was formed inches from her head.

“Was it a one shot?” Rayna asked in a hushed tone so only the navigator could hear.

“I'm almost certain,” Coty replied.

Coty's certainty was the only motivation Rayna needed. The truth was that Rayna wasn't much of a gunmen and hated going up against someone who was. Rayna drew her rapier and charged through the screen of smoke towards the gunmen as Coty called after her.

Rayna's sword clashed with something solid. The offender was slow to retaliate as iron shackles bound his wrists and restricted his movement.

Iron.

Rayna remembered her own mask. It was back in her quarters and not upon her face, which was where she preferred it in a fight. With her free hand Rayna covered her face. The man laughed at her gesture. It was a deep sarcastic sound.

“Something funny Shackles?” Rayna asked edging closer. The man balanced himself on the high ledge of the Asterius. All Rayna needed to do was jab him in the chest and the fight would be over.

“Your a woman.” The man said. It was a simple statement; an observation. Rayna hadn't been wearing any disguises and she had spoken. Breaking two rules of the Iron Viking.

“To hell with it,” she muttered, removing her hand from her face and charging the man. He jumped off the railing and landed behind Rayna so that when Rayna turned the shackled man had backed her up against the railing. Rayna resisted the urge to glance over her shoulder at the ice cold water far below the Asterius.

The man was so close in perimeter that Rayna couldn't strike him with her sword. She had no leverage. She glanced into the man's haunted eyes and saw something she could work with.

Fear, regret.

Rayna's own features softened. “What is your name? Why did you shoot my ship?”

“I am not your gunmen. I am Asher Saint,” he replied.

The corner's of Rayna's mouth twitched. “You have got to be kidding me.”

Asher Saint lowered his sword. “Trust me I wish I were.”

Rayna had heard the rumors about Asher Saint. She had always imagined he would look more like a hell hound and less like a... Saint. Rayna shook that thought away. If anything his features made him more predatorial. 

Rayna cursed herself again for not wearing her mask. Asher lowered his eyes, and his mouth moved in a slow chant.

Was he ... Actually praying? Rayna doubted it. Quickly, Rayna snapped her wrist back to his cheek. Her brass knuckles took a layer of skin off of his cheek.

Asher cursed and dropped his sword. Rayna let her own sword fall to the deck as well. She pushed hard at the man's chest. He staggered backwards like a limp drunk. Why wasn't he trying harder?

“Fight me you coward!” Rayna screamed, pushing him harder to provoke him. He dropped to the deck of the wooden floor, sprawled out on his back. “You dare insult me Asher Saint! Aboard my own ship! Fight me you damn coward!”

Rayna saw a dangerous glint in Asher's eyes that resonated of life. Rayna grinned. She was finally getting somewhere. She kicked Asher's sword back over to him and picked up her own. “Good to see you've washed the blood of the innocent from the hilt of your sword. Saint.”

Asher ignored her quip and quickly got back on his feet and regained his composure. His shoulders tensed as he struck his sword against Rayna's rapier. Rayna backed away on her feet, though Asher was quicker and overpowering with his sword. His movements and dexterity told Rayna he was an expert swordmen. She wasn't surprised. Contrary to his name the man had gained a reputation as a ferocious killer.

Rayna knew the deck of the Asterius better than Asher and that was her only advantage in the fight. Asher was not a small man, he would not be easy to take down. Rayna switched gears and summoned the strength behind her movements to gain the upper hand in the fight. Alas Rayna was leading Asher; making him step backwards and not the other way around.

Asher fumbled against the stocky cannon, and Rayna took advantage by striking her sword against his rib  cage. Asher growled in response, but just as the shackles he wore, his injury did little to slow him down. Asher spun around the cannon, putting it in between the two of them. Rayna could hardly graze him with her sword. Quickly and carelessly Asher lunged for the rapier. He held both swords out of reach.

Rayna narrowed her eyes. “You are a cheat Asher Saint!”

Asher levled his gaze to hers. “I am a lot of things. But never a cheat. What is your name?”

“Rayna,” The response came out in a whisper as the great Iron Viking surprised herself yet again. She never gave out her real name. Now here she was giving it out to the notorious Asher Saint.

Rule number three, broken.

Rayna heard footsteps behind her as someone was approaching.

“You have little self control. You should be fighting with your mind not your anger.” Asher said before stepping onto the ledge of the ship. He glanced back over his shoulder at Rayna before jumping off the Asterius into the icy sea.

Damn, Rayna thought. There was a bounty over Saint's head and she had let him get away, with her sword nontheless!

The End

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