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Pirate Ophelia, Part 5

by Jen Sullivan 2 months ago in Series · updated 2 months ago
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Chapters 13-15

Book cover art, Jen Sullivan

Continued from Part 4

Chapter XIII: Old Friends

They had managed to gain a few more crew members after Janneke’s speech in the tavern. Tortuga was filled with pirates and those wanting to be pirates, allowing them to speak freely and recruit more crew for their ships. Janneke, Ophelia, and James were joined by Rose, Erik, and Edward to inspect the ships that were now part of Janneke’s fleet. James’s ship, a Spanish Galleon named Conquistador, was the largest in the fleet, though it’s size also made it the slowest. The rest of the fleet was made up of a mix of brigs and frigates, all of which were being reinforced to resist damage and equipped with more cannons. James and Liam funded much of the upgrades for the ships, hoping that their actions would eventually clear James’s name and allow him to live his life without being hunted.

Liam and Ophelia parted from the group later that evening and boarded his ship, a fully armed frigate named Morrigan. Most of his crew had joined the others in the tavern, though some remained to watch over the ship.

“How long have you been sailing?” he asked Ophelia as they entered his quarters on the ship. He motioned for her to take one of two chairs in the corner while he sat in the other.

“Well,” she began, “it’s only been ten months or so. What about you?”

“Several years. Of course I didn’t become captain in my first year! I’m impressed.”

“Thanks,” she blushed. “I have Janneke to thank for it. It was her decision to promote me.”

“She chose you for a reason. Don’t doubt yourself.”

“You said earlier that you sail under Dutch colors? How did that happen?”

“Well, I first sailed on an English ship, but the captain was absolutely horrible.”

“That sounds quite familiar actually,” Ophelia laughed.

“We were docked overnight in the town of Saint Martin and I was talking with a captain. He sailed for the Dutch West India Company and offered to take me on board. I was soon promoted to Bosun. But the life of a merchant wasn’t for me, so I convinced the governor of Saint Eustatius to give me a letter of marque. I’ve been privateering ever since.”

“You mentioned earlier that something happened back home with the English.”

“Yes,” he said quietly as he stared at the floor.

“Liam?” Ophelia asked cautiously. “Is everything okay?”

“English soldiers killed my parents. They claim it was an accident. I don’t believe it. We moved to a small farm years ago, back when we were kids. My father had inherited some land and we moved there. That’s why we moved.” He looked at Ophelia and squeezed her hand. “I really missed you. You were my best friend back then.”

“I’ve missed you too,” she replied.

“I was at sea when they killed my family. Sailing with that English captain. That joke of a man. My sister, Brigid, was thankfully not home at the time. She left Ireland after that and came to the Caribbean to find me…to tell me. She now lives in Saint Augustine. She couldn’t go back.”

“I’m so sorry, Liam,” Ophelia said as she left her chair to give him a hug.

“That was years ago. It still angers me, giving me a reason to fight the English. That was when I decided I wanted to be a privateer. I wanted to fight the English, even if I could only do so while they were at war with Holland.” He looked at Ophelia as she sat back down in her chair. “I noticed that you sail under English colors.”

“I went with whatever captain would sign me up.” She smiled at him and he smiled back. They spent the rest of the night catching up, with Ophelia telling him the entire story of her rise to captain.

* * * * *

Janneke, Rose, James, Erik, and Edward had gathered below the deck of the HMS Hydra with the intention to discuss how they would proceed. However, after merely an hour of planning, the group needed some time to unwind. Janneke missed Erik and Edward, a feeling that was mutual on their part as well, so they began reminiscing about their brief time together, telling Rose and James the story of how they met.

James was quite interested in Edward once he learned of his blacksmithing abilities, repeatedly attempting to make conversation with him to no avail. Edward had never been much of a talker, always keeping to himself whenever possible. He and Erik had become close, but still no one knew much about his past. Noticing that he was getting irritated by the attention, Janneke quickly changed the subject, asking James about his own past.

“I’ve been sailing since I was fifteen,” James said proudly. “Been captain for at least four years now. I’ve always sailed as a privateer, though—never served on a merchant ship or in the royal navy.”

“And he’s been full of himself as long as I’ve known him,” Rose laughed.

“You’re one to talk!” James chuckled back at her. “Rose and I have been sailing together for…uh…”

“Seven years,” she interrupted.

“I know!” he replied. “Anyway, we served together on an English brig. We’ve been sailing together ever since. She’s like an annoying sister, but she’s an excellent crew member and one hell of a fighter. She refuses to take a higher rank, though, only accepting the position of ‘powder monkey,’ carrying gunpowder wherever needed on the ship.”

“Why?” Janneke asked Rose, thoroughly perplexed why someone so intelligent wanted a position usually reserved for young boys.

“I like the name,” she stated. There was a brief pause before all of them started laughing, Rose included.

“No matter what her rank,” James continued once the laughter died down, “the crew still treat her as if she held a higher position. They follow her orders as if they were my own.” He looked at Rose and smiled. “She has proven herself many times and is my most trusted crewmate. She’s like family.”

Janneke, Erik, and Edward exchanged looks. They once had the same connection, along with Ophelia and Celia, before they were separated. Janneke longed for her seafaring family to be completely reunited, but it didn’t look like it would ever happen. Celia was not one of them anymore—she was now their enemy. Janneke felt sadness creep into her heart. It was very possible that Celia would be killed in their attempt to clear their own names. She still loved the girl as a sister but could never live peacefully knowing she would be hunted for the rest of her life. Either she was going to clear her own name or die trying.

“What’s wrong?” James asked her.

“Nothing,” she grunted, trying to retain her inner calmness and hide her true feelings. “Tired I guess. It’s getting late,” she said as she got to her feet.

“Yes, I guess it is,” James replied, disappointment on his face. He looked at Rose. “I suppose we should return to our ship.” The two of them got to their feet. “Good night,” he said to Janneke before he and Rose headed on to the deck.

Erik also stood up. “I’m going to get back to the Honeysuckle. Have to make sure the crew get enough sleep.”

“Thank you for everything, Erik,” Janneke called to him before he reached the stairs. He smiled back at her before leaving.

Edward remained seated, looking sullen.

“Everything okay?” Janneke asked him.

“Not really,” he replied. “Celia was family, and now she’s hunting us.”

“I know. It upsets me, too.”

“There has to be another solution.”

“I don’t think there is.”

“Why her?” he asked, looking Janneke in the eye.

“I don’t know. I guess because she’s young and intelligent. The rest of us are a bit too set in our ways.”

He stared into the empty mug in his hand. “The English always use whoever they want.”

“I guess.” Janneke had rarely spent much time alone with Edward before. To her knowledge, he had never spoken of his past to anyone in the crew. But the two of them always shared a special bond—one that was present since their meeting. They had a mutual respect for each other from the beginning. “You should join us on the Hydra,” she suggested.

“Leave Erik and Ophelia?” he asked.

“It’s just a thought. I miss our crew,” Janneke whispered.

“I’ll consider it.”

“I’d be glad to have you on board but understand if you want to stay with Erik and Ophelia. Sometimes I wish I was still there, too.” Janneke started to leave but froze when she heard Edward speak.

“My wife was killed by the English,” he said quietly.

“Wow. Edward, I’m so sorry.” She walked over to him and stood beside him, squeezing his shoulder in sympathy.

“We were living in Antigua. My wife was working for the English governor there. I didn’t know that until after she died. Pirates came and took us hostage, insisting that the English offer them amnesty in exchange for our freedom. The governor didn’t care and ordered his soldiers to open fire. I was wounded, but my wife was killed. It’s why I don’t care for either the English or pirates.”

Janneke kept her hand on Edward’s shoulder. He had never shared anything about his past with them.

“It was a long time ago,” he continued. “Celia reminds me of her. She looks so much like her. Her dark curly hair, the way her brown eyes sparkle. It’s almost as if they were related. I guess that’s why it bothers me so much. It’s as if I am losing my wife all over again.” He turned and looked up at Janneke, sadness in his eyes. She suddenly felt very close to him, as if they had been though a traumatic experience together.

“I too lost someone I cared about because of pirates,” Janneke said. “It was shortly after I began sailing with the English. We became close friends almost right away. She was killed when the ship was attacked by pirates. It’s not the same as your loss, but—”

“—you still understand,” Edward interrupted.

“Yes.”

“I’m glad I convinced you to take me with you that day. I was wasting away on that island.”

“I’m glad we could help you,” Janneke replied.

“I suppose I should head back to the Honeysuckle now.”

“Yeah, it is getting late and we have a lot to do tomorrow.”

“The first thing we should do,” Edward said as he stood up, “is rename the ship. ‘Honeysuckle’ is hardly a name for a pirate ship.”

Janneke chuckled to herself as he left. She had said something very similar to Celia months ago. Yes, it was time to rename the ship and to start their new lives as pirates.

Chapter XIV: The Sparrow

The HMS Sparrow sat in the harbor, her crew loading supplies in preparation for a long journey. Celia watched from a distance, her heart conflicted. She was ecstatic to have her own ship and crew, but it came at a very high price. If she succeeded with her mission, her friends would be gone—friends who were the closest thing she had to family in the Caribbean. She was initially given the job to track down Janneke and bring her to Kingston for questioning, a job which she thought would bring them closer together. She knew Janneke and was certain there was a justifiable reason she had committed acts of piracy. If she could find her and help her, perhaps they would be able to sail as a fleet, allowing Celia to join the competition Janneke and Ophelia seemed to be having before things went wrong. But that was before Ophelia disappeared in the night, surrounding herself in a cloud of suspicion. Now Celia was to find her too and return her to Kingston, though Ophelia had yet to commit a crime.

Celia thought back over the series of events over the past few weeks. At first, she believed that Janneke had committed crimes in an attempt to punish her for staying on Kingston for so long. As she thought about it more, she realized that she knew Janneke would never do that. Janneke knew that Celia wanted to return to the sea but was ordered to stay behind. She had to find Janneke and learn the truth.

“They are ready to leave,” a voice came from behind her. She turned to see the governor standing just feet from her, his footsteps drowned out by the thoughts swimming in her head.

“Then I guess I shall head out,” she replied.

“Be careful, Celia,” the governor said in a gloomy tone. “I don’t know what has happened, but she might be dangerous. Sometimes people will do whatever it takes to get their way, even if it means hurting the ones they once loved.” He gave her a hug and watched as she walked down the street toward the docks.

As she boarded the ship, Celia was overcome with mixed emotions. She finally was returning to the seas that she loved, on her own ship at that, but she felt a great loss in her heart. The governor had made it sound as if Janneke could not be saved—she was now a dangerous pirate who would kill Celia before returning to face the charges against her. Celia still had hope, though it dwindled every day that Janneke didn’t turn herself in.

Celia gave the command to raise the anchor and lower the sails. She felt a sudden rush of power course through her. This was her ship with her crew, and the ocean was a vast area of which she had only ever seen a fraction. She could go anywhere and do anything she wanted, yet she didn’t know where to start. If she was going to find Janneke, she would start in Curacao, the town that she remembered Janneke said reminded her of home.

* * * * *

Ophelia had not slept well after returning to her ship the previous evening. She was glad to be reunited with Liam after so much time had passed, but she felt an overwhelming sense of dread. There was so much at stake now. So many lives. Celia was still her friend, and she would be greatly outnumbered if she encountered their entire fleet. She didn’t want to lose any of her friends, though she knew there was little choice in the matter. She herself would soon be hunted as well, likely facing the gallows if she was caught.

“Are you okay?” a voice whispered behind her. She turned around, startled at the sound of someone so close to her. Liam stood in her doorway looking worried.

“Yes,” she replied, half lying to him.

“No you’re not.”

“I’m just worried. Celia—the one who is hunting Janneke—she was my friend. Still is, I assume. No matter what happens, I am going to lose someone I love, whether it is Janneke or Celia. I don’t see any other way for it to end.”

Liam approached her and gave her a hug. “You never know what the future holds.”

“I know,” she replied, “I just wish things could be different.”

“So do I,” Janneke said from the doorway. Liam turned around, his arm still around Ophelia in an effort to comfort her. “I wish more than anything that this wouldn’t have happened. I loved Celia. I still do. But there is no turning back now.” She entered the captain’s quarters and clasp Ophelia on the shoulder. “We are pirates! And we will live a free life until we die.”

“Aye!” James shouted as he appeared in the doorway.

“Aye,” Liam added. Ophelia let out a chuckle before nodding in agreement.

“I’m taking Edward,” Janneke stated. “He and I discussed it last night and I talked to him again just now. Is that okay, or do you need him?”

“No, he can sail with you,” Ophelia replied.

“Excellent. I could use some more crew. Most of mine were left behind in Barbados.”

“Rose is staying with you,” James insisted. “You need crew and she’s worth at least two good men. Five normal ones,” he laughed.

“I welcome the help.”

“I have plenty of crew,” Liam stated. “You can take a few of mine.”

“Thank you.” Janneke smiled at Ophelia. “Everything is going to be fine. All is not lost.”

Ophelia smiled back, her fear subsiding. She had always admired Janneke’s ability to stay calm in almost any situation. “Where are we off to?” she asked.

“Barbados,” James replied. Janneke gave him a questioning glance. “We need to rescue your crew.”

“To Barbados then,” Liam said as he joined James.

“Okay, Barbados it is,” Janneke added. She walked to the door, then turned to face Ophelia before she left. “But first, Edward said it’s time to rename your ship.” She smiled, then turned again and walked through the door, leaving Ophelia to think about what she should now call her ship.

* * * * *

The HMS Sparrow reached the small town of Curacao. There were two ships docked in the harbor, though neither was the HMS Hydra. Celia was unsure where to look from there. She had let some of her crew go ashore while she studied her maps in her quarters. She looked around the room, pride rising within her. She had her own ship, her own captain’s quarters, and her own crew. She would rather it had been under better circumstances, but it was a start.

As she looked over the map of the Caribbean, she felt at a loss for where to go next. It was a lot of ocean to cover, and the chances of simply running into their quarry were very slim. She remembered the details of Captain James’s crimes as she spotted Barbados on the map. She wasn’t sure if they would return there, but thought it was the best lead she had at that moment.

“Captain?”

“Yes?” Celia asked as she looked up. Her bosun, Miguel, stood in the doorway. Though he was young and inexperienced, he showed promise.

“Word in the local tavern is that the Hydra and her crew spent several days here. They left over a week ago.”

“Did you hear where they went?”

“Only that they sailed north.”

Celia looked over the map again. North of Curacao was Santa Domingo, but she doubted Janneke was headed there. She still thought their best chance was to sail to Barbados and go from there, hoping that they could find clues that would allow them to retrace the path of the HMS Hydra.

“Captain?” Another crewman appeared in the doorway next to Miguel. “Someone in town said they heard the crew of the Hydra speak of Tortuga.”

Celia looked at the map again. If Janneke wanted to avoid the heavily traveled areas of the Caribbean, she would certainly avoid the area around Jamaica, and the quickest route to Tortuga was to sail north. “That’s where we’ll look next,” she told the two men standing in her doorway. “We will sail north from here and go between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico,” she said while tracing the route with her finger on the map. “That’s likely the course the Hydra took. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find them along the way.”

Chapter XV: The Fleet

Ophelia felt excitement as she followed in the convoy of ships leaving Tortuga. Janneke’s ship, now simply called Hydra as it was no longer an English ship, led the convoy. James’s ship, Conquistador, followed second, with Liam behind him aboard the Morrigan. Ophelia’s ship, now named Kraken, was fourth in line with the remaining six ships following her. She had put a lot of thought into the new name of her ship. She liked Janneke’s idea of using the name of a mythical creature, and since she felt at home on the seas, she thought there was no better name than that of a mythical sea monster.

Once the ships were far enough away from Tortuga, they began to separate. While there was safety in numbers, a fleet of ten ships was likely to draw unwanted attention, so they had agreed to each sail to their own liking to the French town of Martinique. There they would regroup and plan their attack on Barbados.

As the ships began to separate, Ophelia noticed there was some obvious friendly competition between some of the captains. Captain Frederick, Captain Victoria, and Captain Gregor seemed to be racing each other. The three got along well, though Victoria and Frederick often gave Gregor a hard time since he was still inexperienced. Always wanting to do her own thing, Captain Angelika broke off from the group immediately to take her own route. Captain Jack fell behind the rest, seeming to be leisurely enjoying his sea cruise. Though she had little interaction with Jack, Ophelia liked him. He was very easy going and generally enjoyed life. Captain Elise stayed close to the Hydra and the Conquistador while the Morrigan and Kraken broke off from them. Ophelia thought it was best that they travel with at least one other ship and had already decided to stay close to the Morrigan. Aside from wanting to stay close to Liam, the Morrigan was the most heavily armed ship in the fleet, and Ophelia figured if they were going to be attacked, Liam was most likely to win any battle.

* * * * *

James watched as both the Morrigan and Kraken sailed farther north. Janneke had intended for her ship to sail alone, but he insisted the Conquistador would serve as an escort. Captain Elise had planned to stick with the Hydra as well, though partially out of her own fear of being attacked. While Elise had been captain of her ship for years, her experience was mostly that of a merchant.

The three ships continued on their journey, with the Conquistador now leading the other two. Janneke had suggested they take the less traveled route between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico—the same passage they had taken on the way to Tortuga. As they passed Isla de la Mona, a small island belonging to Puerto Rico, James noticed a ship in the distance. Doubting they had anything to worry about among the vast ocean, he anxiously awaited word from the lookout in the crow’s nest.

“Ship ahoy,” the man called down. “Flying English colors. Looks like a frigate.”

James could feel his heart increase in pace. He had a bad feeling about the whole situation. He looked back at the Hydra. If anything happened to Janneke, he would never forgive himself. She was now being hunted because of him. He knew she could take care of herself, but he wanted to be there with her, fighting beside her if she had to fight. Though he had only known her for a short time, he really cared about her and would do anything he could to protect her. He only hoped he would still have the chance to someday tell her how he felt.

The English frigate drew closer with each passing second. James held his breath, hoping that the ship would not know of their wanted status. There were many ships in the Caribbean and some didn’t always have updated information. He hoped more than anything that the frigate would pass by them without a second glance.

Within minutes the frigate was passing them. James tried to keep a calm, casual appearance in an effort to not seem suspicious to the passing ship and to keep his crew calm. They needed to pass unnoticed.

James looked back and saw the Hydra pass the frigate without any issue. He breathed a sigh of relief. They were safe. The frigate was not a threat to them. They could continue on their way unharmed.

Then he heard cannons fire. He looked back, his chest feeling like his heart had been ripped out. The frigate had opened fire.

* * * * *

Celia came out on to the deck when she heard three ships had been spotted in the distance. Part of her hoped it wasn’t Janneke—she would rather meet her on land where there was less chance of casualties. If they met at sea, there would be a battle and she could lose any chance of saving Janneke…of bringing her back alive.

However, Celia wanted it to be over. She hated the idea of hunting her friends. She wanted to sail as a privateer, just as she had done under Janneke and the previous captain. She found that she didn’t care for bounty hunting, and especially not when her quarry was someone she cared about.

The three ships were closing quickly. Celia could tell that only one of the three ships was a frigate, with the first one being a Spanish galleon and the last one a brig. As the Sparrow was passing the galleon, Celia kept her eyes on the frigate. She searched for anything that looked familiar. She hadn’t seen the Hydra since the day Janneke first sailed off on it months ago, and even then she hadn’t taken a good look at it. She noticed there was a serpent figurehead at the prow of the ship. If there ever was a figurehead that fit Janneke, that had to be it. But she still needed to be sure.

Then she saw her—Janneke was at the helm of the frigate. They had nearly passed the ship when Celia gave the orders to raise the sails and open fire. The cannonballs struck the side of the Hydra, her crew ducking for cover. Within seconds the ship returned fire upon the Sparrow. The third ship in the convoy had altered its course and fired upon the Sparrow as well, killing several men on the deck. Celia gave the order to fire upon the brig, figuring it would be an easy target to neutralize before attacking the Hydra in full force.

The Sparrow fired again and again upon the brig, disabling it quickly. But Celia had been over confident, under estimating her enemies. The galleon opened fire on the Sparrow with a mix of chain-shot and grape-shot, taking out the mizzenmast and several more of the crew. Celia dove to avoid the falling sails while her crew rallied to return fire. The crew of the Hydra took aim at the powder kegs on the deck, striking one of them. Several more of Celia’s crew were killed in the explosion.

Realizing that they were severely overpowered, Celia gave the order to retreat. Her crew worked quickly to lower the remaining sails in an effort to put distance between them and the enemy ships. Celia looked back, expecting to see Janneke in pursuit, but she was not. The Hydra was sailing away with the galleon while only the top sails of the brig could be seen above the surface of the water, the rest of it consumed by the sea.

Continue to part 6

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About the author

Jen Sullivan

I am a gamer, a geek, a writer, an entrepreneur, and a gardener, among many things. I have a lot of knowledge and opinions to share with the world, along with creations from my chaotic mind.

Follow me on Facebook: @jensully17

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