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Voyage of the Chevalier: Episode 1 - A Nefarious Patron

Word Hunt Challenge: cog, heir, mermaid; steampunk sci-fantasy

By Ian ReadPublished 12 months ago Updated 10 months ago 21 min read
Steamship woodcutting, image obtained from public domain, modified using Pixlr

The harbor of New Colverelle is a noisy place, by all consideration. Waves crash against the sea cliffs, roosting seagulls shout their cacophonies, and the unmistakable sound of steam and cog hiss and squeal as cargo is loaded and unloaded from myriad ships bound for the Serene Republic and her many colonies. Despite the unpleasant industrial sounds and smells, there was a bleak beauty about this particular day as the morning sun began its ascent over the horizon. The few resolute tropical plants clinging to life in this mechanized marvel drank the light greedily as the first whisps of black smoke escaped from their chimneys. Work starts early in the harbor, as Duncan Fourchette and his crew knew well.

Duncan climbed steadily up three flights of the metal steps of a warehouse. The cargo lift was delayed at the middle floor and he lacked the patience to wait for it to come down, especially since this was such an unexpected -and unwelcome- call.

“Best to get this over and done,” he whispered to himself as he ascended the last few steps.

He exited the stairs and walked over a catwalk to a supervisor’s office overlooking the two levels in the warehouse. Inside was a man at a large mahogany desk enjoying a cigar and a cup of coffee in a pewter mug. He was a portly man, but well dressed in bespoke linens and silks, a stark contrast to the more athletic and pragmatically dressed Duncan. This man spoke to whom Duncan assumed to be a supervisor of some sort. This third man was sent away when Duncan was finally noticed.

“Monsieur Delaneuve,” Duncan said plainly, “interesting time of day for a meeting.”

“Idle hands and all that, Monsieur,” Delaneuve said smugly, “but I am disappointed you have not come to see me sooner, especially with the 25,000 crowns you owe me.”

Duncan knew this was coming the moment he was called to Delaneuve’s office. “And I appreciate your generosity greatly, monsieur. That kraken nearly tore the screws off my boat, and those repairs don’t come cheap…”

Delaneuve put a hand in the air and spoke, “Flattery and excuses are not what I want from you, Monsieur. You assured me you would have enough to pay me after your run.”

“Monsieur Delaneuve, I have nearly half for you,” Duncan reasoned, “but that weasel cut my pay last second. He said I was a day behind schedule, as if live mandrake root isn’t difficult enough to move without the unpredictable weather New Dunkelberg is famous for. He could pay customs ten times over with the amount he owes me! You should pay him a visit and…”

“I care not for your dissatisfied patrons. I am a businessman, not a thief, Duncan,” said Delaneuve, taking a leisurely puff from his cigar, “though fools might find that a narrow distinction.”

Duncan led into his compromise, “Then allow me a chance to get another commission. I already promised…”

Delaneuve interrupted, “I have your promises in writing, Monsieur. Your finding a commission is unnecessary…”

Duncan had a look of dread as he watched Delaneuve pause to blow smoke through his nostrils. Delaneuve smiled roguishly.

“…so instead I will give you one myself, one I think you would be wise to accept. You see, until you pay me my 25,000 crowns -plus my late fees- I own your little sea engine, the Chevalier. By the way, that is a cute name for a steamship, Monsieur Fourchette. One telegram from me and the Colonial Authority will be alerted to the repossession notice I am preparing to place on it. I wonder what a smuggler without a ship does for work?”

Delaneuve waited a moment to let Duncan realize his implication before continuing, “Now, to business. A friend of mine in Coldport has requested…”

“Coldport!” Duncan exclaimed, “That’s Republic lands!”

Delaneuve chuckled with sardonic disappointment, “Afraid of a customs patrol near the mainland, cher ami? And I thought you were the best.”

Duncan paused and weighed his answer carefully. He needed to lie, “Not afraid, Monsieur. I just avoid the Republic because it is near impossible to enter their waters without getting boarded by customs.”

Near impossible are odds I like, Monsieur,” he said while handing a packet of documents, “Now, this gentleman, Oswald Desjardins, has ordered a discrete shipment of live cargo to Coldport.”

Duncan paused, “What sort of live cargo?”

Delaneuve grinned, “You will see soon. It has been sent to the Chevalier already. My offer is reasonable, you deliver the specimen to my friend in Coldport and bring me back what you owe from the commission. Consider the rest as compensation for lost wages and supplies. I am a generous man after all.”

Generosity is a contradiction in terms with men like Delaneuve, Duncan knew. He simply accepted the documents, bid a silent farewell, and left the way he came.

It was a short walk to the Chevalier. Twice he had to dodge speeding steam lorries as they rushed along the main thoroughfare overladen with freight. Men were lucky not to be crushed by the things more than seldomly. Still, the sun was not even completely over the horizon when he found his crew heaving a mysterious metal container up the gangplank. One man, older with graying but well-styled hair and sideburns, was shaking his head on the pier as he talked with two random laborers. This man was Marcel Powell, his lieutenant and quartermaster.

“I’m telling you; I would know if we had a live cargo, especially destined for Coldport!” said Marcel to the dockworkers.

Duncan stepped up to Marcel, interceding for both him and the confused dockworkers, “It’s alright, Marcel, we’ve just taken it on.”

“Coldport, Captain?” Marcel said, a hint of fear in his voice.

“Just bring it on, lads, put it deep in the hold but leave a path to it.” Duncan said to his two crewmen hoisting the box in place.

The two men looked relieved, but at the same time equally confused, “Aye aye, sir. But it feels like nought but a box full o’ water, sir!”

Ouais, Capitaine,” the other said, “are we taking salt water aboard?”

Duncan momentarily raised a curious eyebrow at the observation, but then offered a disquieting look to his crew as if to say shut it and get it on the ship! They did just that.

He looked back to the dockworkers, “Anything else?”

They looked through a small folio then placed it on a large crate with a smaller chest on top, “Manifest says ‘ichthyological specimen, consignment of preserved herring, and Captain’s advance’, Monsieur.”

“Very well,” said Duncan, “Adieu.”

The two dockworkers left. Marcel turned and beckoned Duncan aboard the Chevalier. It was small, as far as steamships go. Duncan would have preferred an airship, but those are expensive and notoriously difficult to maintain. No, the Chevalier was home. It was a single steam engine ship with two helical props, one funnel, auxiliary sails, and a top speed of 15 knots at full steam, all in all the state of the art of twenty years prior.

Marcel walked across the deck and underneath the poop deck, where the captain’s quarters were. Duncan followed; arms crossed behind his back. Inside was a deckhand mopping.

“Leave,” Marcel ordered. The boy rushed out and Duncan sat at his desk. Marcel locked the door behind the boy and waited until he was sure they were alone.

Marcel turned and bounded back across the room, “Coldport! Are you crazy, Louis!”

“Duncan,” he corrected.

Duncan,” Marcel continued, “you are the last heir to the Grand Royaume de Cœurlion! The Republic wants your head!”

“Listen, Marcel, you were my tutor and you have saved my life on numerous occasions since the revolution but hear me when I say the Royaume is dead! There is no throne anymore, only survival. The Republic turned me out of hearth and home, the Maker damn me if I let Delaneuve do the same!”

Mille diables! It’s always something when I hear that name.” Marcel said.

Duncan sighed and recounted his meeting to Marcel.

“Do you think he knows who you are?” Marcel asked, pacing the floor.

“Doubtful, but there’s no knowing with Delaneuve. I tried playing cards with the man once, never again. The man is as unreadable as dragon-script,” said Duncan.

Marcel scratched the stubble on his chin at that disturbing thought, then asked, “And he didn’t say what the live cargo was?”

“No, I think he was trying to imply it was a secret for when we set off. The manifest simply said ‘ichthyological specimen.’ It came in a long metal box.”

“Ichthyological… how large was the box?”

“Maybe over four feet wide, equally thick, close to seven long.”

A grim realization hit the two men as they looked at each other in panic.

“Charlatan!” said Marcel.

“Scoundrel!” cursed Duncan.

The two men hastily left the quarters and ran over the deck and down into the hold. There, a handful of crewmen were chatting.

“Have the customs men been yet?” Duncan asked them hurriedly.

One said, “No, Captain, they didn’t even board. They signed off an’ left.”

“Give us the hold,” ordered Marcel.

The crew left. Duncan and Marcel eyed each other nervously, then gazed back at the metal box. Duncan spied several release catches on the top of the container next to a half dozen curious holes. Duncan winced as he realized what he might have been forced to take aboard. He unfastened the catches and opened the lid on the box. Duncan jumped back, hands on a revolver hidden in his coat, as a shape surged forth along with a spray of salt water.

As the shape hung over the edge drawing heavy exasperated breaths, Duncan and Marcel looked at each other knowingly, their suspicions confirmed. Before them sat a live mermaid.

The form the two men immediately saw was that of a younger adult woman with an almost ethereal beauty, though it was plainly evident beneath her long drenched brown hair that her neck was lined with gill slits and her fingers webbed and tipped in slender, lethal-looking claws. It was also apparent as she lifted herself from her metal prison that her lower half was a fish tail with scales as radiant as a full moon. She stared at Marcel and Duncan with otherworldly luminescent blue eyes, passingly reminiscent of a fish’s. There was an uncanny intelligence behind her cold stare as she ducked back in the box a little and looked the two men over. The men briefly saw a manacle clamped at the base of her tail at a narrow point just above the fins, specially made for mermaids they imagined.

“Duncan, a word…”

The two crept to the far end of the hold and began to whisper.

“Barbaric, that man is,” said Duncan.

“Is he mad? A mermaid? That trade is extremely illegal in the Republic! How are we supposed to get into Coldport with her… it?” Marcel squeaked.

“It’s alright, Marcel, we’ll figure out- “

“Alright? This is a bad idea, Duncan!”

“Marcel, if we don’t do this, Delaneuve is going to take the Chevalier, our livelihood! Forget living like princes, we’ll live worse than rats. If we run, we’ll either be outlawed or killed depending on what he knows about us! Sure, we could always flee to New Dunkelberg in the Imperium, but we would never be safe from Republic assassins and bounty hunters. Besides, how does a winter sequestered in that rimy waste sound?”

Marcel shivered.

Duncan continued, “Delaneuve has us by the short hairs, Marcel. This is our only choice.”

“There has got to be another way. I say dump it overboard once we’re deep over the Salais Sea. It can survive…”

She can speak for herself,” said the mermaid suddenly from across the hold.

The two men turned their heads dumbfounded. Marcel blushed in shame.

“And please don’t leave me in the deep. It’s dangerous.” she said plainly.

Duncan walked towards the mermaid and spoke at a normal volume, “I’m sorry. We only knew- “

“I know,” she said dolefully, “I heard.”

Marcel and Duncan looked at each other with equal parts pity and unease.

“Marcel,” said Duncan suddenly.


“See if you can find the key for that cruel thing in our ‘advance’…” he said, pointing at the manacle.

He nodded and went to search the crates.

“… as long as you promise not to run away.” He said to the mermaid.

She gestured at her large tail and replied, “I wouldn’t get far, I assure you.”

Duncan and the mermaid looked into each other’s eyes, examining the other closely. Duncan saw not pain, but resignation from her. The mermaid was not sure what she saw, pity, compassion, uncertainty? Her new captors confused her. Marcel returned with the key and handed it to Duncan. He reached into her water-filled box suddenly with both hands. The mermaid flinched as he fumbled with the lock -which was beginning to rust. She gripped the rim of the box with one hand and began to raise the other as if to strike with her claws but immediately hesitated. Duncan saw this from the corner of his eye and paused, looking toward her calmly. Marcel patted a hand to his own revolver by fearful reflex. The mermaid sat back down, offering silent consent. Once Duncan was sure she was not going to attack him, he finished unlocking the rusted contraption and removed the chain from the box altogether.

“Marcel,” he said, “once we are out of sight of New Colverelle, toss this over. Customs men will get suspicious if they see it lying about.”

“Captain, are you sure this is…”

“And forge a new manifest. ‘Ichthyological specimen’ is too suggestive and suspicious, a bit of Delaneuve’s twisted humor if I had to guess. Come up with something clever.”

“Duncan, I…”

“And make sure the crew know not to come down here without permission. Maker knows how they’ll react to a mermaid aboard…”

Marcel nodded, walking slowly towards the entry hatch while searching for some convincing words.

“How chivalrous, keeping me here, alone, a secret,” the mermaid said cuttingly, “is that for my protection or yours, mon capitaine?”

“Both,” Duncan said honestly with a hint of regret.

“Am I to assume I am to be shut back in this lightless tomb?” she asked.

Duncan’s heart quaked as he considered the question before saying, “Not unless we are boarded, or the crew need access.”

The water sloshed around her as she sat upright, seeming shocked at the answer, a gleam of relief in her eye. Her face then went back to its previous expression as she slouched back down, “At least the warden’s giving me a larger cell…”

Duncan’s heart sank to new depths. The sight of the mermaid as she said this was enough to change all but the cruelest hearts. Her face was expressionless, but her eyes remained locked on his. Her gaze betrayed an abject understanding of her fate. Duncan steeled himself as he knew Delaneuve left him with no choice but to carry this through.

After a sigh, she continued, “… I don’t suppose I can get some food before we set off?”

Duncan walked over to the crate of herring. The moment the cover was lifted, the mermaid contorted her face and flared her gills in disgust, as if the very smell were toxic. The outlandish sight made Duncan’s blood run cold.

“Ach! What do you think I am,” she said brazenly, “a seal? Since I’ve been captive, I’ve had enough herring to provision a dozen men!”

Duncan was flustered, stammering over his own thoughts, saying, “Apologies, I meant no offense. I just… what do… your people… eat, then?”

The mermaid calmed herself and leisurely considered it, relishing the opportunity to make someone else uncomfortable for once, “The same things as you, I guess. Though if it must be fish, please find something different like mackerel or cod.”

Duncan turned to Marcel, who was going up the steep steps to the deck, “Can you make a run for provisions for one more head, but discretely?”

Marcel sighed heavily, knowing there was no way to assuage his master once he chose a course of action, “Cod is easy to find, salt beef we already have. Perhaps some more ship biscuits, cheese, and the like. If I might add, Captain, what are we to do with all that herring?”

Duncan smiled mischievously, “Depending on our finances, buy some potatoes and bread. We’ll have stew the first week. Apologize to the men with beer and rum. Waste not, want not, as they say.”

Marcel gagged as he knew Duncan’s ‘we’ was not in the royal sense.

“Your orders, Captain,” he said, then left.

Duncan looked back at the mermaid and she at him. Her expression was now more curious than before. Duncan’s smile faded.

He asked, “I feel there should be something better to call you than ‘she.’ Do you have a name?”

She chortled passively, then said, “My people don’t use names the way yours do, but one of my previous jailors called me Madeleine. I’m not sure why…”

“Madeleine,” said Duncan smiling, “beautiful and fitting.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Madeleine said dismissively.

Unsure how to recover from that mild social misstep and unnerved by her calculating gaze, Duncan turned and promptly left. Just before the steps, he looked back over his shoulder. Madeleine watched him attentively. He climbed up to the deck and fastened the doors to the hold shut.

The crew milled about, attending to their various duties. They all peered at Duncan with varying degrees of suspicion and concern. Marcel had likely issued his admittedly bizarre orders before starting his way back into town for their last supplies. A lot of secrets aboard this ship, he thought to himself, better not give them a chance to wonder.

“All hands,” he shouted, they stopped and listened, “I hope you enjoyed your leave last ‘eve, but I’m afraid we have a new commission, one that requires the utmost diligence and discretion. We make sail for Coldport once the quartermaster returns from town. ‘Till then, finish your duties and bring the ship up to steam! I want her engine hot! Understood?”

“Aye, Captain,” they shouted.

It was not long before they left the harbor under the power of steam and sail. The Chevalier’s engine cranked, hummed, and hissed a steady rhythm as greyish smoke poured from the funnel. Constant watches of sailors under the direction of Marcel, Duncan, or the boatswain ensured the sails were in the right orientation to keep the Chevalier up to speed and reduce strain on the engine.

The first four days passed without incident. The crew complained about herring stew while Madeleine seemed to enjoy the relative improvement in her diet, or at least she did not protest the cheese, cod, and bread she was offered. Madeleine was afforded the same frequency of morning and evening meals as the rest of the crew, which, as Duncan discovered, was more than she was fed by Delaneuve and his men. Nevertheless, conversations with her were usually succinct at best as she was rightly still wary of them. The only two people Duncan trusted in the hold for longer than a few minutes were himself and Marcel. Though by the third morning, Marcel refused to bring Madeleine her meals stating, “she gives me an evil stare, that one!”

Duncan then took over giving Madeleine her meals. He grew more quickly accustomed to her uncannier traits, though he knew not why. Few words were shared at a time between them, but they seemed to study each other’s expressions, trying to discern what the other kept hidden. Indeed, she seemed almost hurt Marcel wouldn’t come down that day, Duncan reasoned, but he thought the timing was ill to question her about it. As he took away her empty plate, he thought, “would I trust my jailor as a confidant?” It was then an idea hit him, “If there were a way out of this predicament, I’ll need her to help me find it. She needs to trust me not as her captor but for what I am, a fellow victim of fate.”

Marcel listened to these rhetorical musings that night, muttering half-sarcastic japes about how this run would be their last.

The next day the winds were dreadfully calm, Marcel furrowed his brow as Duncan spent most of the morning ordering his crew.

“Boatswain, haul in the sails! Engineer, ahead full steam and make haste! I want Coldport in a fortnight! We have time to make, lads!” he cried.

The more seasoned men looked exasperated at each other, unsure of how to cover that vast distance with full steam and sail in less than fourteen days. Nevertheless, they persisted faithfully.

He barely had time to bring Madeleine her cheese and hardtack from the galley that morning. He returned later to find that she devoured the former and ignored the latter, much to his amusement. Mermaids hate ship biscuits, too, good to know, he thought. It was that evening he decided to test his idea. Instead of having his dinner with Marcel in his quarters, as was his usual ritual since procuring the Chevalier, he took two portions of herring stew and a hunk of not-too-stale bread directly from the galley to the hold.

As he took care to close the doors behind him without spilling the stew, he noticed Madeleine watching him expectantly from the darkened far side of the hold. Truly, it is hard to miss those shining blue eyes in any environment. Though most would find the sight unnerving or mystifying, he approached her casually and brought over a barrel to sit on.

“What is that?” Madeleine asked.

“It’s dinner.” Duncan said innocently.

She snorted, “I know, but what is it?”

“Stew and bread.”

“Stew?” she asked candidly.

“Boiled meat and vegetables in a thickened stock. We’re a little short on salt and herbs at sea, unfortunately, so it’s a little bland. Wait, you’ve never had stew or soup before?” asked Duncan curiously while handing a bowl to her and tearing the bread in half.

She considered the question literally, finding the answer obvious, “Well, Captain, it’s hard to light a fire underwater, where my people live.”

Duncan chuckled, a genuine smile spreading on his face. Madeleine was puzzled until she recognized she had said something humorous. It was the first time Duncan saw her smile. He was momentarily intrigued by the second pair of incisors on her upper and lower jaw where the first molars would be on a human, but he said nothing, choosing to enjoy the breaking of the impasse that plagued their first few days of acquaintance. Duncan took his spoon and ate a small mouthful of stew. Madeleine took a moment to study him and then mimicked his actions, her unpracticed webbed fingers fumbling with the spoon until she found a comfortable purchase. She suddenly made a strange face.

“Too hot?” Duncan asked.

“No… is this herring?” she asked, her eyes betraying a mild insult.

Duncan had prepared for this. In fact, it was the only bit he had rehearsed since a brief altercation with the cook, who was really a rather forgetful deckhand with an elementary culinary acumen.

“Yes,” he said, “but the brazen cook told me off for asking him to prepare a separate meal last minute. That’s what I get for trying to use preserved herring every day. The men think I’ve been eating double portions and simultaneously avoiding the stuff, if you can believe it! Gossips, all of them are.”

Madeleine thought that amusing, so she leaned forward and said, “They’re your men, why don’t you ‘set them straight’ or so I’ve heard others of your kind say?”

Duncan was taken aback, but quickly answered, “Captaining, like all good leadership, runs a fine line of fear and respect. If your men respect you, they’ll do anything for you, even if it is not in their best interest. If your men fear or hate you…”

His sudden confidence was beset by a whisper of sadness, and he faltered with the thought. Madeleine cocked her head, understanding his expression but not its cause. She suddenly felt the need to change the topic of discussion.

“Then it will do,” she said decisively, “the boiling changes the flavor enough, so it is acceptable.”

Once Duncan recovered his speech, he briefly gazed at the ceiling and thought, wait, wasn’t I supposed to be the one helping her? Her sudden sympathy caught him by surprise. A wave of thoughts and replies assaulted his mind until he decided to say, “Well, I suppose the crew are tired of it, too. I’ll tell the cook tomorrow that we are due for a menu change. Salt beef instead?”

Madeleine nodded in approval and the two ate a few spoonfuls of stew. Madeleine watched as Duncan then took his hunk of bread and soaked up a bit of the stew with it then ate a bite from it. She mimicked him, seemingly pleased by the result.

“Your people know how to eat,” she said approvingly.

“This is nothing,” he said lightheartedly. He almost offered to show her better, but to do that he would need a plan of action once they reached Coldport.

They ate nearly the rest of their meal. As Madeleine stopped to breathe, she asked, “Why does your second refuse to eat with us? Mar-cel, his name was?”

“Marcel!” said Duncan, surprised, “I’m unsure. Why do you ask?”

Madeleine pondered, not moving her eyes from his and not wanting to reveal too much of her mind, “No reason. Curious.”

Duncan sighed heavily. As the naturalists say, nothing comes from nothing. He needed to offer something first if he ever wanted to earn her trust.

He said, “I’ve known Marcel for ages, and he is the truest friend of mine alive, almost like an uncle and a brother. Unlike me, he is superstitious and wary of omens and specters and the like. He grew up on stories of mermaids luring seamen and sinking ships…”

Madeleine burst out laughing.

“What?” Duncan said, confused.

“You two-legs,” she said, trying to control her chuckling, “you always confuse us for sirens…”

Duncan did not understand the allusion, as mermaid in his native language was sirène.

“…I find it hard to mistake me for a giant, man-eating bird with an enviable vocal range.” she said.

Duncan finished his stew and mopped the bowl with his remaining bread. He furrowed his brow trying to imagine this new nautical terror conjured into his mind. Krakens, sea drakes, leviathans, now this? The sea was no place for a man scared of ghost stories, for many of them are capable of rending ships to splinters.

“Thank you,” she said, “It has been a while since I have had true conversation.”

Je vous en prie, mademoiselle,” said Duncan, playfully teasing at a notion of formality, “it has felt like ages since I had the pleasure of dining with a woman.”

Madeleine slanted her head and furrowed her brow, “Then I should thank you again, Monsieur.”

“Why is that?”

“For calling me what I have always been.”

She politely handed him her bowl as he sat there speechless.

A la prochaine, Capitaine Duncan.

Despite his current dumbfoundedness, Duncan recalled his usual charisma and replied, “Farewell and good night.”

Duncan went to sleep that night pondering her words and lamenting his fate more than he had when they left New Colverelle. His dreams were restless, more so than usual.

It did not help that he awoke at first light to the frantic ringing of the Chevalier’s signal bell.

“Smoke sighted! Smoke sighted!” the lookout cried.

Duncan hurriedly slung his coat over his shoulders, along with his revolver’s harness, and crammed his feet into his boots. He and Marcel almost collided as they ran to take command of the crew. Marcel was no better dressed but equally worried.

The lookout held a spyglass firmly to his eye while trying to shield himself from the morning sun. He positioned himself on the prow as he scanned the eastern horizon, which was masked by the sun’s glare and a fading veil of sea mist. Despite this obstruction, even Duncan could see two curls of greyish black smoke in the distance with the naked eye. There was an unmistakable mechanical humming sound in the air.

“Two airships due east, Captain! They’re Republican frigates, flying sun astern!” the lookout said.

Duncan and Marcel looked at each other searching for a plan. Suddenly a deep sonorous blast came from one airship’s horn. A loud echoing voice then issued forth from its vicinity.

“Unidentified steamer, this is a naval patrol of the Serene Republic and her overseas territories. Halt and prepare for inspection.”

The message was repeated in the three official languages of the Republic. Duncan looked at Marcel, who seemed to be in a near panic.

“We must be nearing Roche Sablé, Captain, an outpost of the Salais fleet,” said Marcel, “this must be a patrol from there!”

Quels salauds! They are never around when you need them, they are always there when you don’t. Lucky devils.” said Duncan in half-admiration.

Marcel looked at Duncan, “We surely can’t out-gun them. Can we outrun them?”

“Not with this ship, Marcel.” Duncan said.

Marcel leaned to Duncan’s ear and whispered, “What are we to do with our guest? They’ll find her for sure!”

Duncan nodded, keeping his eyes firmly east, and took a deep anxious breath. He then summoned his sense of authority as he called to all stations, “Quartermaster, call all hands; Boatswain, bring in the sails; Engineer, all stop! Prepare to be boarded, men!”


Episode 2 is out now! See the link below to continue the adventure. Don't forget to like, comment, and share this episode before you do!

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About the Creator

Ian Read

I am an archaeologist and amateur story-teller. I publish a variety of content, but usually I write short and serial fantasy and sci-fi.

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From New Hampshire

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

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Comments (6)

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  • Donna Fox (HKB)5 months ago

    Ian, I like what you did here! It was fun creative, enticing and an overall engaging read! When I find more time I'll be coming back to check out part2!! I can see why Amanda recommended this piece for my graveyard challenge! Great work!!

  • Donna Renee11 months ago

    Love this, Ian!! I really enjoyed the time you spent in setting the scene here. I feel like I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile now but it always takes me a bit to get to longer works, harder to focus on my phone for that long and that’s where I do most of my vocal reading. I’m gonna open part two on my laptop though so I don’t forget to come back to it soon 😁

  • Hannah E. Aaron12 months ago

    This is so good!! The first paragraph did an excellent job at scene-setting, and the characterizations of Marcel, Duncan, and Madeleine are wonderful! And that cliffhanger! I'm so excited for the next part!

  • Cezanne Libellen12 months ago

    Great job Ian!! This was very enjoyable to read!

  • Amanda Starks12 months ago

    Love this! Your knowledge of sailing, harborwork, and other languages really helped bring this world to life. Interested to see the next part!

  • L.C. Schäfer12 months ago

    This is wonderful, you had me invested in the characters straight away, and guessing (correctly, not to brag) what was in the mysterious box 😁

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