Waiting offshore.

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Fengbo sailed along smooth waters for days.

Liu and I cared for the men we had rescued, but two died, nonetheless.

As we sat on deck, with the evening sun shining upon us, Liu said, “It is alright, you know.”

I took my pipe out of my mouth, tamped down the tobacco a bit more with my thumb and asked, “What’s that?”

“Their deaths.”

I grunted my disagreement.

“No,” Fengbo stated, his voice rolling across the deck as the thinking ship trimmed his own sails. “He is quite right, Blood.”

“How’s that?” I asked, relighting my tobacco.

“This is not your world,” the ship told me. “So, you do not know their beliefs. They will be born again, better from their experiences.”

“And,” Liu added, “they died free. You rescued them, Duncan. They did not die as slaves.”

“Would that they hadn’t died at all,” I muttered around the pipe’s stem. “Would they could have killed a few of their tormentors.”

“That is not the fate for most,” Fengbo reminded me. “Few are those who survive and wreak vengeance upon their enemies.”

“The sooner I find Gao, the happier I will be,” I told them. “I have no love for how this land is run.”

Liu chuckled. “Neither do we.”

Silence fell over us, and then I asked, “Where will you go when Gao is dead?”

“We have discussed that,” Fengbo answered.

“We do not know,” Liu answered simply.

“Hm,” I said. “I know.”

Liu looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

“You’ll come back with me,” I stated, “if you want. I’ve plenty of land. Islands too. I’ve a hell of a lake, Fengbo, if you’d like to sail on it.”

“All of us?” Liu asked, surprised.

“All of you,” I nodded.

I was about to speak again when Fengbo said, “Look to the west.”

We did so, and as a low mist parted, we caught sight of the shore. Buildings crowded along its edge, and over the smell of the sea, I caught the stench of humanity.

“That is where Gao lives,” Liu muttered. “We can try to land tonight.”

I shook my head. “No. You’ll stay here, with the others. If Fengbo can tack in, I’ll get off close to land and find Gao on my own.”

“You will be alone,” Liu said. “You could die.”

“I could,” I agreed. “But I won’t.”

“How can you know?” Fengbo asked.

“Because I’ve more killing to do.”

#China #Horrorstories

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Nicholas Efstathiou

Husband, father, and writer.

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