E V A N D E R and S O L I A
Solia hastened back to Evander, stepping between him and the beasts. The closest one was smaller, adolescent, and ignored her at first. She caught it by the arm as it lunged for her partner, jerking it up off of its feet, then as if the thing had been made of dirt and feather rather than flesh and scale, she hurled it away, against the helm’s railing.
The second was fully matured, with a wide jaw and hands big enough to grip a man’s skull and tear it to ribbons with its claws. She glanced to where the unfortunate crewman had been cut down. His sword lay there, skittering about the wood as the waves rocked the Skullfish. Too far for her to reach, but perhaps Evander could.
Before she could suggest as much, the bigger Savorask crashed into her—or more accurately, against her. For its size it might have expected an easy tackle, but instead she only staggered back, and its claws scraped awkwardly past her ribs and collar.
Solia had an instinct for momentum, especially in combat. She knew if she tried, she could right herself and try to force the beast back outright, but even caught off-guard this position was no disadvantage. She leaned into the stagger, stepping into a sturdier stance, then took the Savorask by its neck and side and in a whirl threw it head-over-heels across the helm.
The younger one had composed itself, and its sights had not strayed from Evander. It stalked towards him, evidently wary of any more surprises, but seemed no less ferocious. Solia meant to engage it again, but before she could even start for it, a sudden and powerful force latched itself about her left arm and stayed her.
Turning, she saw that the adult had its tongue wound up her forearm, and from across the helm had begun trying to reel her in. To her surprise she had to fight just to keep herself stationary, and as the Savorask found its footing, that too became a struggle. Not for the first time, she had underestimated flesh.
“Evander! she called, when it became clear she could not intervene. “The sword! Arm yourself!”
Evander didn’t need to hear her call twice, eyeing the approaching Savorask making its way toward him at a menacingly slow, measured pace. He met the eyes of the creature as he pushed himself up from the deck to stand on his own two feet once more, before suddenly dashing for the sword. The creature reacted to his sudden movement by quickening its own pace, hurrying toward him in a race to reach the blade before Evander could grab it.
With the advantage of initiative, Evander managed to reach the blade not a second before the long claws of the Savorask would have sliced at his vulnerable flesh - and instead the creature now found itself on the defensive, with Evander grabbing the bottom of the blade’s hilt and lifting it in an upward slash aimed in the general direction of the beast. It may have been young, but it was not an easy target, and it lept backward in a quick reaction to the swing of the blade that allowed it to escape almost unscathed, bar a slight slash on its chest.
The creature backed off for a moment as it re-evaluated the situation, and began to feel the shock and pain of the light wound from the blade.
In this moment of opportunity, Evander turned his attention quickly back to Solia, who was still wrestling against the larger Savorask that had its powerful tongue wrapped around her forearm, attempting to pull her towards it.
Spinning on his heel, he hurriedly took the few steps required to shorten the distance between himself and the two, raising the blade in the air and bringing it down with considerable force to cut the tongue of the Savorask and free his partner.
Unfortunately the beast was spurred into panic by the oncoming blade, briny adrenaline surging through it that granted it the kind of strength only living things could will themselves into. It did not release Solia, but rather tightened its grip and threw itself back, and her forward—directly into Evander’s path.
The sound was unpleasant, but it was also unlike the parting of flesh, and there was no agonized scream to join it. Instead, the slamming edge skirted down her shoulder and embedded itself a few centimeters into her bicep. She blinked, thankful that her upper arm was in better shape than her forearm. Even though the sword was plain and simply-edged, a powerful swing might have shattered her elbow completely.
“I appreciate your efforts, Evander—” she began, only to be hauled ever closer to the large Savorask. The sword wriggled free of her arm and clattered to the ground at Evander’s feet.
It may have been worth trying to resist, plant her feet into the deck and hope she didn’t crater the wood. Instead she let herself go on, nearly jogging into the beast’s pull until the moment of truth arrived, and it made to clamp its jaws down on her weakened arm. Right then, she took a solid stance and swung the fist of her right arm, free of chips and cracks, in from the side. Most of the teeth there broke free, or just broke. She took a firm hold of the hinge of the beast’s jaw to anchor it, gripped the tongue with her damaged hand and wrenched it back with as much force as she could safely muster.
This sound was unpleasant. Something further down in the Savorask’s body came loose, or perhaps it was many things; admittedly she wasn’t entirely savvy of their biology. Regardless, the thing went limp, its tongue slackened, and she shoved it away.
Her focus returned to her partner to see how he was faring.
Evander was admittedly taken aback by the situation, still processing the relatively quick succession of events that led to Solia destroying her opponent. He made a mental note that it was probably a good idea to remain on her good side if he didn’t want to find himself dismembered. Indeed, the source of her strength was puzzling - but he didn’t have time to think on that for now.
The younger Savorask, seemingly enraged by the rather brutal death of its companion, parent, or whatever it might have been, let out an almighty screech as it sped towards him.
“Ah, damn”, he thought. Awkwardly planting his feet firmly on the ground with a slight space apart from one another, in an attempt to mimic the stance he had once been taught to use when ‘bracing’ for an impact, he was well aware that his days of trained combat were but a distant memory. And his abilities in the battle against these creatures only highlighted as much.
The creature came within striking distance of Evander after only a few seconds, arms outstretched and flailing wildly at its target. Given the pace of his foe, he had found himself with little time to properly react - and beyond bracing for the inevitable and physical clash between the two, he could do little more than raise his sword. Evander gripped the hilt of his dull blade with both hands and raised it to his side so that his shoulder faced the creature. Grimacing, he awaited the attacks of the creature as its claws came hurtling toward him.
Strike, slash, the Savorask’s claws were vicious and quick, but thankfully it hadn’t saw fit to employ its razor jaws. In truth, there wasn’t enough time for the beast. Even if Evander had been entirely unarmed and immobile, there was too much of him to go through, and too little space between them, and his partner.
Solia closed the distance much like the Savorask had—a few long strides, a nasty swipe, and she had the thing by one of its slimy wrists. She dragged it away and flung it heavily against the railing. At first it managed to stay aboard, but one crushing blow to its underdeveloped ribcage was enough to cave them in, and the beast toppled over, back into the crashing waves.
“Evander?” she called back, and returned to the helm. “Are you alright?”
Evander looked himself up and down, noticing a slight gash on his right upper-arm. The adrenaline had prevented him from feeling any great pain thus far - but now that he had noticed the wound, he would be lying if he said it did not hurt. Despite this, however, he had escaped remarkably unscathed, and it wasn’t merely luck that had saved him.
“Just fantastic”, he said in reply through gritted teeth. He covered the wound with his left hand, with some drops of blood escaping through the gaps between his fingers. It had been a while - a long while- since he’d been injured, and even though his new battle-wound wasn’t anything serious, he hadn’t yet become re-accustomed to the experience.
“Looks like we got all of ‘em up here.”, he remarked while surveying the helm one final time. “Rather, you got all of them. It’s a good thing you were around!”
“I appreciate your assistance in kind,” Solia said, eyes hovering over his wound. “I apologize for leaving you alone against the beast. We should find a healer for that, when this is settled.”
Evander offered only a slight shrug in response, typical of a Northerner unused to accepting much help. “We’ll see. It’s not too bad.”
Turning his attention to the situation on the rest of the ship in an effort to steer the conversation away from the wound, and better hide the pain, he gave a slight nod to the deck below the helm as he looked over the railing toward the fighting still ensuing. It was chaotic, but it appeared as though the crew were gradually bringing things back under control.
“This is not how I thought today was going to go.”