Yay for the fight sequences!
As Steel and the Lintha captain advanced, circling each other warily, Alina shook off her reluctance. She didn't know what Narquss had done to her, but the effects were fading, and she knew that the pause engineered by Steel's appearance couldn't last. As she watched, Narquss leapt forwards, bringing his great sword around in an overhand slash. Steel caught it, impossibly, on the prongs of his sais, sending Narquss stumbling backwards, and then pursued, his cloak whipping around him to coil on his arms. Alina turned her attention to the crews; Lintha charged forwards to be met by Steel's crew. Quickly, she grabbed for her chakram, sending a pair of of Essence-replicas slicing through two Lintha that were moving to surround an unfortunate crewman, and raced for Lodaris. To her left, the Lintha ship's tendrils raised, slamming down towards the ship, only to be stopped by the strange shadows, who abandoned the Lintha to protect the Azure Rider. To her right, the scarf-clad woman raised her hands and began chanting in a strange, obscene tongue. Black Essence gathered around her, spiralling towards her mouth.
Lodaris was still kneeling, unmoving. To Alina's shock, there were tears running down his cheeks. She knelt by him, twisting to send a flight of chakrams towards a trio of pirates who thought the two were fair game. "Lodaris, we have to help. The crew needs us."
"I betrayed him." Lodaris's voice was broken. "I betrayed them all. It was all for nothing." He looked down at his swords, hopelessly. Alina gritted her teeth.
"There are monsters here, monk!" Her voice was harsh. Flipping up, she twisted her chakram again, sending it slamming into a pirate and spiralling him into the ocean. She glanced at the demonic ship. The shadows, impossibly, were buckling under the weight of its tendrils. A third shadow poured from the mouth of the veil-wrapped woman, racing to support them. Steel and Narquss were focused on nothing but each other; a storm of black and green and a blur of motion. Dark Essence gathered around Steel in a bonfire, and a black sun burned on his forehead. "We need you!"
"How do I know?" The words were little more than a whisper. "How can I tell the monsters from the innocent?"
"That ship is a monster!" Alina pointed to the Lintha ship, and Lodaris's head came up. "It's a Lintha-spawned demon of some sort. No questions, there."
Lodaris stood slowly, gripping his swords with his right hand. With his left, he wiped at his tears, a grim face replacing the sorrowful one. "You are right." He looked to her. "Forgive my lapse. It was inexcusable." He passed his other sword to his left hand, and started to run. As he reached the edge of the ship, he leapt through the air. In midair, he ignited, flames pouring from him like a bonfire, and he let out a tremendous warcry. For a fraction of a second, all fighting onboard the ship paused as everyone stared, and then he landed on the Lintha warship, driving his twin daiklaves into its hide as flames poured off him. The ship screamed, a high-pitched, mournful sound, and the tendrils attaching it to the Rider abruptly detached, leaving the shadows to return their attention to the Lintha as they started flailing at the firey man who was destroying their host.
Alina started running as well, wrapping herself in the wind as she leapt, grabbing the rigging with one hand and sending off flights of chakrams, defending any of the Rider's crewmen who were hard-pressed. Unseen and unprepared, the Lintha fell like wheat as she sliced at them, cut down from above by waves of shurikens. Those that survived that were outmatched by the three shadows racing around the deck, grabbing and crushing the life from them, or by the crew of the Rider, rallying and ready to fight.
On the Lintha ship, Lodaris was an avatar of destruction. Racing across the demon's hide, he left trails of destruction, slicing gashes from its hide which he cauterized with his overwhelming anima. Leaping through a hole opened by his attacks to avoid a slamming tendril, he found himself landing on a wooden deck. He looked around, raising an eyebrow. The demon was not the ship, it seemed; instead, it stretched over the ship like a second skin. His smile as he realized this was not pleasant, as the deck ignited beneath him.
Meanwhile, Steel and Narquss continued their dance. Steel laughed as he balanced the tips of his sais on his opponent's swordpoint, flipping over him to strike at his back. Narquss spun, bringing his sword around to slash Steel's weapon from the air, and Steel's cloak came up, wrapping around Narquss's blade and pulling it to one side. A sai tip sliced Narquss, and the Lintha captain staggered backwards, looking down in shock. Steel wagged the sai at him with a grin. "You're good, captain sir, but not good enough. Time for our little game to end, I think." He slipped forwards, his sais flickering around, and stabbed forwards; Narquss raised the daiklave, only to find that Steel had dropped low, sliding under the massive blade and springing up to slam both sais into his opponent's chest. His cloak rippled backwards, pushing the sword away, and the Lintha captain gasped. He opened his mouth to speak, but only blood bubbled upwards. A moment later, his daiklave slipped from nerveless fingers and crashed to the deck.
Steel sighed, looking down at his foe. "Barely a challenge." He looked up at the few Lintha still fighting his men, with a shrug, and leapt into the fray.
The Lintha ship was a bonfire, now, and the demon wrapped around was pulled away, in an amorphous mass. Lodaris sliced away at it, as it died, leaving the Lintha nowhere to run to. Between Alina's chakram, the shifting shadows on the deck, and Steel's quick actions, they were soon destroyed. The flames around Lodaris died, and he leapt back to the Azure Rider as the Lintha ship sank into the sea.
Alina let the winds around her die, and dropped from the rigging. Steel was not glowing strongly, but an aura of darkness still clung to him, and the black sunburst on his brow bled sluggishly. He bowed to the two travellers with a smile. "Thank you for your assistance." Looking towards the bosun, he waved a hand over the deck. "Any of ours dead?"
"No, sir, but Hartley's badly hurt, and we have three more'll have lasting scars."
"Very good." Turning back to Alina and Lodaris, he smiled. "So, my passengers. I think we should talk. If you would follow me to my quarters?" Without waiting for a reply, he turned, flicking blood off his sais as he smoothly resheathed them, and strode towards the cabin door. The woman standing there nodded once, and then followed him in. Alina and Lodaris looked at each other.
"We don't seem to have much choice." Alina shrugged, and followed Captain Steel indoors. Lodaris, frowning, did the same.