He let the fisherman wander off, instead himself wandering toward the pier’s edge, and coming to it, sat himself to stare out into the bay. The grey mists, coiling in interwoven patterns, their slow waning and waxing as the breeze blew, hiding then revealing the ever present features of this cove. And always the dark, near black waters, the ancient eternal sea, reached as far as the mists would show, always ready to present its eternal mystery, its unsearchable deepness. It is to say he could not help but let his mind return to his youth aboard the Sisyphus, the zombies, Captain, the blood, and the cross he’d stolen so many years ago.
The ungraceful, booted steps of the soldiers approached, marching with a drummer boy beside. Turning, the lean figure broke from his sour musings, his black clothes, damp from the ocean spray, clinging to him like a second skin, and faced his pursuers.
Slowly standing, he heard one of them proclaim, “For the willful murder of Lieutenant Brown, I hereby place you under arrest. Throw down your sword.”
At the word of sword, the company—some ten or twelve strong marshaled in neat rows—uplifted their sabers. Still beside, the drummer boy stood, an oversized jacket about his shoulders matching those of his companions. He too, now stared out into the bay, into the mists, gazing upon the mysteries of the sea. The wind then suddenly moved with a tremendous howl, and about the pier did the fog thickly grow, covering the thin figure in its wispy tendrils.
The company stood, their eyes trained on the slowly fading form. In a moment, his black silhouette dissipated. Shortly there was a splash, and one soldier cried, “He’s in the water.”
They dispersed quickly, trying to catch sight of the swimming outlaw, before the drummer boy’s gargling pleas made clear who had entered the waves. The child was fished out, and explanations demanded. The boy expounded upon a hand which had shoved him over, and further reported that while falling he saw the man in black darting passed him—or, where he had been—through the mist back into the town.
Upon the cobbled paths the youth wandered, darting down alleyways and up byways, through many a diverse section of the city, desiring only to move from where the uniformed soldiers appeared. It was in this manner of avoiding the authorities that he happened upon others with the same intent. Taking what I suppose was a left turn, he stumbled upon an unestablished—albeit, ever present—clandestine marketplace. In the center of this, there was a fight.
It must have started soon upon his entrance, for it had not been but a moment that he ducked into this hideaway that there was a great caterwaul proceeding the formation of a ring of spectators. The condensing crowd thickened about the action, obscuring the contenders. It was but for the shoving in though, that the nameless hero was able to incorporate himself, coming to the very edge of the ring and subsequently melting into the crowd.
In the central space they encompassed two men were tearing off their clothes. The larger of the two, and larger by a good deal, though this was not fully accredited to his virtue of size as the other possessed next to nothing of said virtue, removed from himself the musty collarless shirt of a laborer, stained and well used. The other worked at loosening a fanciful knot of lace about his throat. He had folded in his arm a jacket of sorts, and the shirt he wore was of a thin quality ill-suited to protect the wearer from most weather; rather meant to be sported in better society than the culture found selling wares in back alleys.
However, his success with the lace, followed by his stripping down, exposed him unmistakably as a member of this clandestine market. His back had been scourged. Permanent welts were scared into his flesh like an executioner’s signature. A hush fell over the crowds who saw, but never turning away from his opponent, he kept this little matter hidden. Sidestepping, he handed his jacket, shirt, and tie over to some unnamed youth in the forefront of the mob, one adorned from head to toe in a stunning, monochrome black. The other man simply tossed his sole article behind him into his cheering corner. The battle was at hand.
They began circling, the one with his hips low and his head high, his chest facing the smaller man who in turn was on his toes, hardly touching the ground. His hands were closed in fists, his knuckles turning white. The other had his arms out, his open palms ready to ensnare anything in their grasp.
It was then some ill remark by the smaller man was made, something touching upon the subject of the larger man’s sister. The response was forthcoming. The man addressed lunged for his opponent’s leg, which for a moment had been put forward by a dangerously close step. The leg retreated though, as if the smaller man had been ready for such an action, and the larger then received upon his head a flurry of five blows before he was able to bring up his guard.
Yet even when the hands went up to defend, the smaller man did not faint in his resolve. Moving from the head he struck at the lower ribs exposed from the high guard. As if the blows before were playful, these showcased the smaller man’s full strength, the whole weight of his body thrown behind his fist.
As if struck themselves, those in the larger man’s corner let out a collective gasp. The man struck grunted, falling to a knee. On reflex he clutched at his side, again exposing his head. The boxer’s knuckles cut his opponent’s ear open like razorblades, one sure swipe bathing his hand in blood. The blow sent the kneeling man reeling, his glazed eyes seeing nothing as he limply collapsed into the alley’s muck.
At this point, the clink of passing gold seemed the final cornerstone of the affair, and matters of credit the beginning of others. The crowds were dissolving, the outer perimeter shrinking as bodies returned to whatever they had been distracted from.
Then someone shouted, “Stop him!” and the onlookers again condensed about the spectacle.
Over the fallen, the victor stood, his boot flying into the unconscious man’s stomach. Not a motion was made in self-defense, but limply, the larger man received the abuse. Into his face and chest the boots fell before three men came and bodily interposed themselves between this madman and their friend.
The boxer’s fist flew, and one of the rescuers fell. Another grabbed his arm, trying to pull him off of his victim. Sending one more kick at his opponent before being dragged away, the smaller man turned into the one holding his wrist, pulling the unsuspecting deliverer into his crooked elbow. With a bloody red nose, he was sent tumbling to the ground.
With a wild yell he jumped around, facing where he’d left his victim. The giant man had been drawn from the ring into the crowds, a wall of bodies standing in defense around him. A scream like a demon’s wail was rent from the boxer’s chest, and with that parting remark, he stormed off, stomping toward the unnamed man in black.