Queen of the Sea Ch. 01byLady_Katka©
Lighting flashed and the thunder crashed with a loud BOOM, making her jump and hug her mother's leg. She was comforted to feel her mothers hand stroke her hair while she pressed her face into the tattered skirts that her mother always wore.
"It will be alright my little one, it can't hurt you, you are safe and cozy inside the house" came her mother's soft rich voice. The house was more of a shack than anything, it also leaned whichever way the wind blew. This storm was making the walls shake and the roof rattle, but hearing her mothers words made her relax. Her father just stood by the window staring out at whatever it was he was watching, she was never quite sure why he watched so intently, there was never anything there.
"Go say goodnight to your papa" her mother whispered. She didn't need to be told twice, she loved her papa more than anything in the world. She pulled on his trousers to get his attention away from the window. He looked down away from the window, into her small innocent face. He smiled. "Well my kitten" He always called her kitten, because he thought her green eyes were catlike, teased her about it all the time. She always laughed when he did. "It seems like the end of another day, you should be in bed" He put his hands under her arms and lifted her up in his strong arms, carrying her to her little bed, which was really just straw stuffed into a sack. He pretended to drop her and then catch her, making her giggle. "You be a good little girl and go straight to sleep now" Her eyelids already heavy, "I will papa, I love you"
"I love you too kitten" He said lightly touching his fingertip to her nose with a smile. Turning to leave her to sleep. She fell asleep quickly.
A loud noise that didn't sound anything like what the thunder sounded like woke her up. The house was dark, but when she looked she could see bobbing lights outside. She wasn't awake enough to realize they were torches. Her father rushed in and picked her up quickly, his eyes wide with fear, fear for her safety.
"Shhhh kitten, don't make a sound, you have to stay hidden until it is all over. No matter what happens don't come out, don't make a sound. Remember your papa loves you." He whispered urgently as he hid her behind a false wall. She never even knew there was such a thing. Not wanting to say anything even though she was more afraid then ever before, she just nodded. He closed the wall, but she could still peek out a small crack between the boards. She saw a large man enter the room, followed but a few others carrying torches to light the room. They were all wearing very bright red coats, they would have been pretty if they weren't so frightening.
"Trying to escape? You should no there is no escape for you Robert. You gave us a good chase for a few years but you had to know we would catch you eventually. You are scheduled to be hung by the neck until dead for your crimes against the crown."
A glint caught her eye, she looked and saw a shiny sword in the man's hand, it was a very sharp, well looked after sword.
"But seeing as you made an escape before, I do not think I will risk transporting you again." He says in a coldly and calmly. Then before she could even close her eyes, the man in red stepped forward, sliding the sword through her fathers body as if it was warm butter. She covered her mouth with her hand, she was told not to make a sound, but she could not take her eyes off what had just happened. Her father bent over the sword, its end coming out his back. The man in red pushed him off, and he fell to the floor with a thud. The man cleaned his sword on her father's clothes, putting it back in the sheath. "You won't be any more trouble now" he said with an evil sounding chuckle.
She could feel the hot tears sliding silently down her face. She waited until the men left, before daring to come out of her hiding place. Her mother was nowhere to be found. After she looked for her mother she went back to her fathers body. Kneeling down beside him, his body still warm to the touch, blood starting to pool on the floor. She cried against her fathers chest, until she was to tired to continue. She spent the whole night beside her father.
The next morning, she found her courage, rose to her feet, lit a lantern with what was left of the fire in the hearth. She poured kerosene around the house before walking out. Standing in front of the place she called home. She threw the lantern into the house with all her might. The fire burning the small shack quickly. She stood there just watching it burn. The heat and smoke burned her eyes, but she did not cry. She would never cry again.
Leaning against the railing of the ship, feeling the soft ocean breeze on her face, the sweet smell of water and salt filling her nostrils, the soft lapping of the waves against the hull soothing her as she stood there with her eyes closed, lost in her thoughts. The noise of the crew doing their tasks behind her seemed far away as her mind drifted in her memories. Walking up almost silently behind her was a man, quite large, his muscles bulging in his arms, easily seen as he didn't wear a shirt with sleeves, only a vest. Bald with dark eyes, earring in one ear, dark tan, and tall. He had a pistol on one hip and a cutlass put through the belt of his trousers on his other side. However he looked strong enough to kill a man without even touching his weapons, his hands were big enough to crush a skull without much effort. She was seemingly unaware of his presence. At least he thought she was until her voice broke the silence between them, "Did you need something?"
He froze in his steps. "Yes... Captain." He said his voice revealed his respect for his captain, as well as a little fear. Just the way she liked it. "The men wanted to know, well they wished to know...."
"Spit it out, I haven't all day! I know you all want to know something but you were the unfortunate one who drew the short straw and had to ask so what is it. Speak and have it done with" She said turning to face him. Her hair tucked under a large tri-corner hat. Face was tanned yet still pale enough to look white, dark red lips, her feminine form covered with male sailing clothes, large leather boots, and a dark long coat. Her weapons, at least the ones you could see included a cutlass in a sheath on her left side, a pistol on the right, two more pistols that she wore on a holster that went across her chest. She also had several weapons that could not be seen, a sharp dagger hidden in each boot, as well as one down the waist of her trousers in the back, and a stiletto blade that kept her hair up on top of her head under her hat. A girl must always be prepared, especially when on a ship crewed by men, pirates at that. Her bright eyes seemed to turn dark as her gaze penetrated him. He took a step back.
"We was wonderin' when we would going to port. We are wantin' to spend some of our share of the plunder"
"Soon enough, within the next day or two if the winds stay with us. You will have spent your share on ale and friendly women before you know it" She said turning back to look at the ocean.
"The others will be happy to hear it, thank you Captain." he said hurrying away.
"We plunder enough for everyone to have a small fortune yet not a single one of them has a penny to their name. It all goes to the tavern, whether it be drink or women." Shaking her head "Fools and their money I suppose, but it keeps me in a crew willing to do anything to have a little more, can't complain to much about that"
Sighs and turns around on her heel and walks quickly to her cabin to look over charts and maps. Closes the door behind her, no need to lock it as the crew knows any man who enters her cabin without permission would be shot dead before the door was even open fully. She takes off her hat, and removes the stiletto, her long blonde locks flow down her back as she shakes it out. Removes her heavy coat as well before she sits at her table. The table is covered with maps and charts, cannot even see the dark wood of the table. She searches through the paper before she finds the instrument she needs to measure the distance on the chart. Leaning over the chart, calculating the distance they have covered, yet to cover, and thinking about where to head next. She will not know for sure until they reach port as she has to find out what trade ships will be in the area, and she knew just how to do that.
"I hate pirates!" came the loud cry of Captain Bruce Carlix from the longboat as he tried to drag it onto the beach. Even with the help of the soldiers the longboat was heavy, it took all of their strength, at least what was left of it. This would normally be a task for many more men, and would be done in short order but there was only six of them, and they are lucky to be alive. He could still hear the cannons being fired, could hear the splitting of the wood, see the smoke, smell the gunpowder. The cries of his men as they died still rung clearly in his ears, the sound would haunt a normal man, but he was one of the Royal Navy's finest officers, death didn't bother him. What bothered him was he allowed a pirate to get the best of him and sink his ship. He would have been at the bottom of the sea if he hadn't been dragged out by a few survivors of his ship. The reason they survived was because as soon as the first shot sounded, these cowards lowered a longboat to escape, they were deserting, like rats fleeing a sinking ship he thought to himself bitterly. He would normally punish deserters, the ones he could catch anyway, with severe flogging, but he could not flog these men because if they hadn't been cowards he would not be alive.
"We all hate pirates Captain, but they took us by surprise, how were we to know they would ambush us like that, especially under the cover of darkness."
"Because they are pirates, they don't play by the rules of fair play. They are cowards the whole lot of them!" His face bright red with anger. "Lets find some fresh water, we will rest for until tomorrow, then we will make our way back home, we were not to far away from port when we were attacked" the other soldiers agree, as they are so weary they could just drop.
Later that night, once everything grew dark, he lied on his back, hands behind his head staring up at the stars. "I vow to see those pirates hanged. No matter what it takes, I will track them down and see justice done."
"Bloody weather set us back" she says to her quartermaster.
"Aye, added a week to the journey, but on the other hand we lost a few crew members which makes the rest of the shares greater."
"Always thinking about the bottom line to line your pockets with gold aren't you Will" she says with a smile. He sounded cold when he talked that way, but it was probably how the rest of the men were feeling as well. Besides when joining a pirate crew you are not signing up for a life that will lead you into old age. They knew the risks, but it was a shame they died because of a storm and not a battle, as that is how most of us want to die. Live and die by our swords, we do not want to be hanged, we want to die in a glorious battle. None of us were going to mourn the loss of these souls for very long.
"LAND HO" comes the call from the crows nest. She reaches into the pocket of her coat and takes out her spy glass. Pulling it to its full length and putting it to her eye, it is true there was land in the distance. They would be in port before nightfall, to the relief of the crew as well as herself. She wanted to unload the plunder, as it was causing her ship to sit low in the water with its weight. The ship will be a lot faster once they unload, she would also like to hire a few more hands, due to the storm robbing her of good sailors.
It was dusk when they finally dropped anchor. I swing down to the pier by a rope, the dock master eager to greet me.
"Kit, it has been a long time. What have you brought for me today, you know I will give you a good deal on all your goods that you have shipped in." He grins with a wink.
"Of course, you always do, I couldn't ask for anymore. Well I could but I am a realistic person." she says with a little laugh then begins to list off all the things she has in the ship. They include, cotton, calico, silk, as well as miscellaneous items taken from the ships. He nods, and calculates how much that would be worth and how much he will pay her for it. He gives her the money, she lets the quarter master hand out the shares while she over sees the off loading. The crew eager to get to their shore leave.
................. Carlix was never so happy to see the lights of a town, as they had been walking for days, but it felt like years. He was eager to have a good meal, and a good drink, after that he would sleep better than he had in a long time. He knew he would be given credit at the tavern and inn, he was after all a member of the Royal Navy, nobody would turn him away. Tomorrow he will work on getting another ship, with another crew and start tracking down those filthy pirates. He looked down at himself, he hoped they recognized him as a member of the navy because he had taken off his signature red coat long ago, it was much to hot in the sun to wear, and he knew he would be issued another when he got to a town. He was to focussed on food and drink to bother with that now.
He nearly stumbled into the tavern. The room was dark, poorly lit and it was obvious why, the place was unkempt. Tables were wobbly and cracked, they were in desperate need for new ones, the floor was dirty, and sticky from pints of ale being spilled on it and not cleaned up properly, and it was in dire need of a new coat of white wash on the walls. The food smelled wonderful, and he was in no position to be picky. He sits at the only available table, orders a mug of ale and a plate of roasted meat. The bar maid brings his order quite quickly as she tries to keep up with her duties. Only once he has quenched his thirst and put some proper food in his belly does he take notice of the rowdy crowd.
Most of the customers were men, obviously sailors who had just been payed. All were drinking and quite a few had painted up women sitting in their laps. They were laughing and running their fingers over the heads of the men. These women were those whose friendly company could be purchased for a price. It seemed they had no problem finding customers tonight, and these men will have spent their pay by first light if they are not careful. Carlix shook his head in disgust, he never did understand the appeal of paying for a woman's company and attention. Any respectable man would not spend his hard earned coin on a woman who is only interested in a man until his money runs out, then turns her attention to the next man with a shiny round coin. He was only interested in respectable women, modest women, someone who he could show off on his are in high society.
Before he was done his meal, he is interrupted by a few sailors who have obviously been here to long and have spent to much money on the ale. They pull up chairs and sit hard, one on each side of him.
"Evening sailor" says one his eyes only half open, a sloppy grin on his face. "What brings you to this fine establissssshment tonight" says the other slurring his words and laughs about it.
Before Carlix can even try to tell them that he just wants to enjoy a meal in peace. The other starts talking again, "You don't look like a pirate, or at least one that has gotten payed, you aren't enjoying yourself enough for that"
"You out of work? There are plenty of ships hiring down at the pier. ‘Dark Waters' is even looking for hands, so if she has openings I am sure others do as well. You should go look for work there in the next few days, that is unless you enjoy having empty pockets"
Carlix opens his mouth to speak but before he can get any words out, two painted women come to the table, cooing at each of the men on his sides. "Oh here you are, we were wondering where you two handsome men had gone, come with us, we have something fun planned" They walk away and the two sailors eagerly chase after them. The women squealing with what would seem like delight.
‘Dark Waters' is here.... well that is something. If his memory served him that was the name of the ship that ambushed him. He saw the name in the moonlight while he floated in the water as it was sailing away. The winds may have just changed, to favour him. He smiled for the first time since his ship sank. He goes to his room at the inn, a plan already forming in his mind.
The sun shone brightly through the cracks in the shudders, the light streamed across Carlix's eyes. They fluttered open, he squinted at first, then rubbing the sleep from his face vigorously with both hands, swinging his feet out of bed, more than eager to get the day under way, after all it was time to put his plan into action. He doesn't use the wash basin in his room, he doesn't want to look clean in anyway. He dresses in his clothes that he still has, not planning on getting new ones anymore. These tattered ones are more appropriate for what he has in mind anyway, he doesn't bother to wear his boots, choosing to go barefoot instead. He glances in the looking glass, once he is satisfied with his appearance he leaves the inn.
Walking down to the docks, he makes sure to walk with a slower gate, slouching a little, trying to look unkempt and improper, well at least to the eyes of high society. He takes his time going from ship to ship, talking with anyone willing to talk with him. Not just talking about the ships, but the weather, the women and whatever else comes up. He starts to ask about a job, some turn him down flat, others consider him and even offer to hire him. He sees a large ship with the words Dark Waters written on the stern. That is the ship he is interested in, the one he has come for, the one that vexes him and invades his dreams nightly. He stops the dock master, points to it and asks "I heard she was hiring, true?"
"Aye, it be true, but you don't want to work on that ship" he says not taking his eyes off his log book, going over some numbers.
Carlix grabs his shirt and shakes him slightly making sure he is paying close attention. "I need to be hired on that ship. Who do I speak to? Tell me." The dock master points to the man standing near the ship, "His name is Will, he is the quartermaster."
Carlix nods and lets him go. Walking over to Will, he is much larger than Carlix, he appears very strong, but his size indicates he may be slow. Someone who looks very intimidating none the less, shouldn't underestimate him, probably smarter than he looks. There is a reason why he is the quartermaster, and not someone else, can't possibly be his size alone.
"Good day, I hear you be hiring, this be true?" Carlix asks putting a smile on his face, wanting to get off on the right foot, as he needs to be hired.
"Aye, it be true. What of it?" comes the gruff answer from Will.
"I have come for a position on this fine crew."
"Have you ever sailed before?"
"I am an experienced sailor" Carlix said confidently as it was true and he was proud of it.
"Who have you sailed under?"
"Who have I sailed under? Uhhhh.... well" he fidgets nervously knowing he cannot tell the truth, as that would reveal himself as a member of the navy. He quickly racks his brain to remember a pirate captain, any would be fine. While he thinks Will crosses his large arms in front of his barrel chest, flexing his muscles slightly for effect. He better come up with an answer and fast. "Boswain, sailed under him for years" he says nervously hoping this is an acceptable answer.
"Boswain, I knew him, shame what happened to him.... oh well" Will says brushing it off to Carlix's surprise, has this man no feelings. He knew Boswain had been captured, executed and put on display as a warning to other pirates, yet this man showed no emotion over a fallen comrade. These pirates were savages, barbarians, no feelings for one of their own, despicable.