Chapter 1: The Crew of the Sea Fog

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The entire town had been burnt to the ground. Hailie could see everything from where she was standing on the cliff, the smoking rubble that had once been a town and all the way out to the sea with one sweep of her eyes. Her clothes were covered in ashes and dirt and she had a burn on her arm that was begging for attention, but it wasn't serious so she ignored it for now. She couldn't remember how many times she had lost her home or how many people she'd watch die in front of her or how many times she had just stood by and watched while it happened. She felt the familiar feeling of helplessness tighten around her stomach and she gritted her teeth. She really wanted to hit something but she forced herself to remain calm for the little girl next to her.

Hailie lifted her eyes back to the shrinking dot on the horizon, the boat that held the few survivors of the town, and Benji, Faith's seventeen year old brother. There was the immediate surge of anger at the pirates and at herself. She had promised their parents she would look after them and she had failed. She and Faith were only the two people left.

She had to go after them but all the boats had been destroyed and she couldn't go up against so many men by herself. They had been savage and she hated to admit how terrified she had been of them. It made her want to go after them even more.

A tiny hand tightened around hers and she looked down at Faith's dirty face. She had been brave for a six year old. She hadn't cried and had followed every instruction so far perfectly. Her pajamas were covered in ashes and she had scrapes on her arms. She had only managed to slip on her sneakers before the men had attacked the guest-house that she and Benji had been staying in. If she hadn't been out night fishing she would have been able to come sooner and get Benji as well. She would have been closer. She would have gotten there faster.

"We'll get him back right?" Faith asked, pulling her from her thoughts.

"I told him I would come for him. We will get him back." Another promise. This one she will keep.

"How?"

She didn't know. "I will figure something out," Hailie said. "It has been a long night. Would you like me to get you something to eat?"

"I'm not hungry."

She pulled her away from the cliff and towards the trees. "Come. There is no use staying here. Let us get cleaned up first and then we need to see what we can salvage from the rubble. We have to-"

"Use what we have to get what we want," Faith finished. It was something Hailie often said.

She squeezed her hand. "Good girl. You are learning." Hailie led her through the trees and towards a small stream. Her arm was hurting more now and she glanced down at it. It was red and would probably blister, but it should heal pretty quickly. She fixed the bag she had tied around her waist. "The first thing we need to do is decide what it is that we want," she said, trying to distract the little girl.

"To get Benji back."

"That is right but to accomplish that goal we need certain tools and supplies." She pushed past some bushes and the stream ran right in front of them. She knelt down by the edge and stuck her arm into the water. The relief was immediate and she could feel herself calming down. "What do you think we would need to get, for when we go after him?" she asked.

Faith knelt down beside her and splashed water over her face. "A boat and food."

"Yes but we will also need water and weapons to fight them and rope and medicine in case something happens to one of us. We must have these items before we can even think of going after those pirates." The only weapon she had on her was the knife she had strapped to her thigh. They would also need help but there wasn't another town for miles. The next town was about a day's journey by boat but they would have to walk. She hoped someone saw all the smoke. If a merchant ship came then they could ask for help or at least passage to the next town. They couldn't ask for help if it was a Navy ship.

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