There are three things that never change—time, fortune and promise. For some this is a good thing, for others—not so much.
Talia sat cross-legged on the edge of the ship; watching and waiting for something to happen. It had been exactly four weeks since she last saw her love, and now she couldn’t remember the way he smelled—out here the salt water mixed with the breeze in the most consuming of ways—getting stuck in the tunnels of the nose and eating at the brain. It was an unrelenting, fastidious cycle that couldn’t be stopped.
“We will reach port by the end of the week my dear; don’t be so down-trodden. Philip will be there one way or the other, I promise."
Today her fathers’ words weren’t the usual source of comfort she clung to. Instead, they wrapped up, festering in the pit of her stomach like the toiling, rolling waves below; a vast pit of anguish—and rightly so. She watched her father’s eyes search for the horizon. He had a look of terror, desperation, and unease. The same nervous, rabid look the rest of the crew had—except her father wasn’t talking about it like they were.
He kept tightly lipped when it came to matters of the sea. He knew trouble was brewing and deep down, she knew it too. It’d been months since they’d last had a run in with old Greeley James, Captain of the Seas Revenge, a filthy, bearded man—feared from one end of the ocean to the other.
Her father Captain Jonah Karver was the only man who’d ever gone against him and had lived to tell the tale—and trust me, the stories were all true, every last one—the Seas Revenge led a crew of misfit pirates, their convoy of ships set ablaze in a ghostly glow, each window burning into the sunset as they approached oncoming ships looking to pillage and plunder to their devilish delight.
They’d taken the last of her father’s ships—three in total, leaving Karver’s men to sail the seas on a cursed ship—Siren’s Deceit. A vessel comprised of bare-bones and rotting wood. She would sail nameless and faceless into the night, the only identifying piece—a wooden mermaid hung from the bow of the ship—crucified atop a bed of sanguine flowers.
‘She’s reliable, don’t you worry about that,” her father smiled as he stepped up onto the captain’s perch, a piercing squint clouding his handsome features— “besides, I haven’t seen any smoldering flames. We’re safe for another night…might want to get some sleep before the drunken fevers of boredom consume you.”
Talia huffed, resigning herself to a night of continued wallowing. Her mind traveling a thousand miles beyond the bows of their ship to what lay ahead.
“Whatcha got there,” a curious voice called from over Talia’s shoulder but she could barely hear him. Talia turned to find her close friend Thomas standing just steps away. She was expecting him. A friend since birth, they were practically siblings, twin-minds, two flames of a Phoenix wrapped around a beating heart. Where one was the other followed.
“Oh this, it’s nothing,” she lied, pulling inward as she turned back towards the calm seas.
“If it’s nothing then why hide?” he queried, his voice dropping lower as Talia refused to make eye-contact.
“Alright, if you must know, it’s a map. Philip gave it to me when I last saw him. Tucked it into some letters in a book for me to read. It’s the only thing keeping me sane while we are out here…”
“Talia…why would you bring those on board…” Thomas hissed, this time speaking in a tongue she couldn’t understand.
He’d dropped the folded paper onto the crudely waxed deck as though it was poison.
“Talia—you’ve cursed us…cursed us all…” his whisper barely discernible through the thicketed wind. Thomas always whispered when he spoke. It was a dreadful habit and months in close quarters wasn’t making it any easier.
He peered out to the setting sun.
“We’re in trouble Talia, the calm always brings a storm…”
It was the same look her father had just moments before.
Today the world dipped into the etched sands of time—cresting upon the waves of fortune, fraying on the ends of their worn rope—calling to them like an old friend.
The conclusion was inescapable. Luck and fortune would kill whoever wasn’t brave enough to battle death—or so Thomas said.
“Look up, look at us, we are committing egregious sins against the Commanding Oaths.” He stopped, pointing to the dreadful, inky black flags flying high above. They were sailing on borrowed time. Steering an unnamed ship towards the Port of Truce. The sentence for such treachery was death, even for a pirate.
“Your father is a good man, the best. He’s got prestige, laws, morals and decency…but this, this will get us killed. I warned you about Philip, I warned you and you didn’t listen…and now we are in hallowed waters, sacred waters and fate is upon us. I knew it, I knew it…I could feel it in my bones when I woke up this morning, something was wrong…”
Talia’d never seen such a look of disappointment as she listened to him ramble on. Of course, Thomas could have been overreacting, he was quite the worrier but still, she couldn’t believe she’d betrayed them all in such a manner.
To invite a pirate’s curse aboard a ship full of marked pirates was incomprehensible. One would even question how this was such a thing but it was. This map deemed it so.
“Philip shouldn’t have had this Talia; don’t you get it? He isn’t good…and for him to give this to you…”
Talia dropped her shoulders. Her heart hardening as reality sank in.
“I’m sorry but you need to go down to your bunk, you have to hide this, get rid of it, burn it, whatever you have to do…and while you're at it, pray to the gods that we make it through the night.”
From somewhere up above came a maddening howl. A piercing cry that sunk one’s heart straight to the bottom of their soles and sent rampant goosebumps cutting towards the tips of the fingers like mice scurrying from the tides of rising seawater on a sinking ship.
It was nearing midnight as she felt a bobbing nudge stir her from the comfort of sleep.
Was it the turbulence of waves or the docking of another boat that had made the interruption?
“We’d pillaged ships with reckless abandon looking for dirty gold and elusive youth. Tonight, we will not shelter, bunker and cower. We will fight. We will fight. We will fight…”
Her father’s harsh words anchored her to the spot. She wasn’t dreaming. The sounds of metal-capped boots landed with a deafening thud on the deck above—no doubt they were being boarded this very second.
Was the Seas Revenge back, calling for them as Thomas had warned—looking for their coveted map? Talia clutched her robes tightly as she donned a pair of cobbled boots. From a hole in the side she watched as silent coils of lightening flashed over the murky slick water before being washed away by the frosted caps of waves. There was nowhere to go, her father was right—they would have to fight. It was a darkly, unpleasant thought that chilled her to the core as her hand gripped the map in one hand and a knife in the other.
About the Creator
Writing my escape, my future…if you like what you read—leave a comment, an encouraging tip, or a heart—I’m always looking to improve, let me know if there is anything I can do better.
& above all—thank you for your time