Authors: Lexie Stewart
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“Um,” said Lenny. “Cap’n?”
“I’m kind of busy, Lenny!” snapped Lance, never taking his eyes off Captain Bloody.
“But, um, Cap’n?” Lenny tried again. “The ship’s on fire, Cap’n.”
It was true. The small, smouldering pieces of Captain Bloody’s sleeve had given birth to several fires which were now blazing. Fire swept hungrily up the sails and charred bits of rope rained over the deck. Flames ate their way through the deck, creating new hatchways to the deck below.
“Lance!” bellowed Captain Bloody.
“Don’t blame me!” cried Lance, indignantly. “This was your fault!”
As smoke wafted around them, Lance skipped up onto the barrel he’d used to bowl over the pirates. Now he had the height advantage and he drew blood with a slash.
Captain Bloody took a mad swing at Lance’s legs, trying to cut him off at the knees but Lance jumped the blade and landed neatly on the deck.
Lance and Captain Bloody circled each other, eyes locked, swords raised.
Suddenly, Lance gasped and his eyes widened with pain. He pressed his free hand to his back. It came back bloody.
The pirate standing behind him was sliding a dirk back up his sleeve.
Captain Bloody took advantage of the distraction. He threw a fist the size of a pumpkin and caught Lance a tremendous blow across the jaw. Lance was knocked off his feet. He slumped to the deck and lay motionless.
Captain Bloody raised his sword to deliver the killing blow.
Lance’s eyes opened a crack and he groaned, apparently unaware of death raising its sword above him. Through a fog of pain he saw a young woman with dark hair held between two men. She was calling to him; he recognised his name on her lips.
Why was such a bonny lass calling his name? Who was she? Then he remembered: she was the woman he loved.
“Josephine,” Lance murmured.
Josephine screamed as Captain Bloody’s sword came down, but instead of the sickening sound of steel meeting flesh there was the sound of steel meeting steel.
Lance’s eyes opened and blazing. With strength he didn’t know he possessed, he stood up, holding Captain Bloody’s blade against his own.
Captain Bloody’s one eye swivelled left and right and the skin around it twitched with sudden doubt.
Lance shoved Captain Bloody back and as the huge man staggered, Lance’s blade flashed through the air, knocking Captain Bloody’s sword to the deck in a spray of blood.
He fell to his knees and the deck shuddered beneath his weight. Shocked silence fell over the pirates.
“What god is this?” said Lance, addressing the crowd, “who bleeds like a man?” he raised his bloody sword for all to see.
As Captain Bloody’s huge shoulders slumped, something fell from the charred shreds of his sleeve and clattered across the deck.
Josephine pulled free and snatched the thing up. It was a strange contraption, made from a BBQ lighter and a child’s water pistol filled, by the smell of it, with petrol.
Josephine pointed it skyward and pulled the trigger. Flames shot into the sky.
“This is how your mighty god makes magic!” she cried. “Toys and tricks! This is what you’ve been worshipping!”
An angry murmur started up. It quickly burst into angry yelling and cursing- all of it directed at Bloody.
Bloody, no longer a captain, watched his men abandon him for the longboats.
He was like a once great ship with its masts broken. Now he was nothing but an impotent hulk, left adrift on the merciless sea of his own legend.
“Kill me,” said Bloody, his one eye blinking pitifully up at Lance.
“Why would I kill,” said Lance, sheathing his sword, “what I’ve already destroyed?”
Josephine stood on Ripple Thief’s deck with her crew and captain. There was little conversation as they watched the spectacular death of The Bloody Throne. The great ship simultaneously burned and sunk.
“I’m surprised Bloody hasn’t got in one of the boats and rowed away,” said Josephine.
“Well,” said Lance, “a good captain always goes down with his ship.”
“He does if you ties ‘im to the mast,” muttered Lenny.
As one, Lance and Josephine turned to look at Lenny.
“What a horrible way to die,” said Josephine.
“Aye,” said Lance. “But I’m not swimming back to rescue him.”
“Me neither,” said Josephine.
Up on deck, the party was already warming up. They’d dropped anchor and Lance had promised her that the party awaiting them on shore would be the best one of her life. ‘Real music,’ he’d said, ‘not that odd tinny stuff I heard from your future box!’ He promised her a night of singing and dancing and celebration and Josephine was looking forward to it.
She tried to repress the melancholy in her heart. This would be her last night in this world; her last night amongst ships and pirates and it would be her last night with Lance.
The skies were dark with clouds. A storm brewed. There’d be thunder and lightning and they’d try to activate the Lightning Circles and send Josephine back to her own time-- back to just before Captain Bloody’s ambush and the lightning bolt that would destroy Little Bounty. Josephine pushed it from her mind. That was tomorrow. For now, there was only the night and she was determined to make the most of it.
There was a knock on the door. It was Curry.
“The Cap’n asked me to deliver this to ya, lass,” said Curry, handing her a large box. His head was bandaged and his arm was in a sling but he was in good spirits. He’d even dressed up for the occasion with a large gold hoop in one ear, a smart black vest and polished boots. Everyone was excited about going ashore to spend their ill-gotten gains-- a large sum of which had been looted from The Bloody Throne as she sank.
“What is it?” asked Josephine, taking the box and putting it on the bed.
Curry apparently didn’t know because he hovered about to watch her open it.
When Josephine lifted the lid she pressed both hands to her heart with joy. It was the lavender dress.
“Oh, Lance,” Josephine sighed, lifting the dress from the box. “Curry, tell your captain that I’m over the moon!”
Curry had been smiling but now his old face collapsed into furrows of confusion.
“You’re over the-”
“I’m really, really happy,” said Josephine. She dropped the dress and threw her arms around Curry.
“I don’t suppose you require some help, puttin’ it on?” asked Curry hopefully.
Josephine narrowed her eyes at him.
“No, no, of course not, sorry,” said Curry as he bowed and hurried out.
Josephine began the arduous task of putting on the dress. It was tight-fitting, the waist was insanely small and it was so fiddly and fussy that she almost dislocated her arms to get it over her head.
Finally, Josephine stood admiring her reflection in the mirror. The door behind her opened and Lance stepped inside.
“Oh, Josie,” he breathed.
Josephine smiled at him in the mirror then turned around to face him. “What do you think?” she asked.
“If I told you what I was thinking right now you’d probably slap me, lass” said Lance, his eyes roaming over her.
“Lance?” said Josephine, fiddling with one of the frills.
“Do you remember when you told me that you’d never lay a hand on a woman without her asking you to?”
“Well,” she raised her eyes to him. “I’m asking you to.”
It had taken Josephine an hour and twenty-seven minutes to put on the dress. Lance had her out of it in ten seconds flat.
They kissed passionately, but when Josephine wrapped her arms around him, he gasped in pain.
“Lance, your back!” cried Josephine.
“It will take more than a few licks of the cat to stop me loving you tonight, Josephine!” cried Lance. He swept her up and dropped her on the bed. Then he shed his own clothes as if they were on fire.
When he joined her on the bed, Josephine squealed with delight.
They all but devoured each other with lustful hunger.
“Oh, Josephine,” said Lance, his voice hot and husky against the soft skin of her throat. “How I’ve wanted you!”
Josephine wanted to tell him that she’d longed for him too but her vocabulary had been reduced to moans and sighs and when he finally took her, the wild, salty thrill of him completely took her breath away.
Josephine snuggled closer to Lance and sighed with drowsy satisfaction.
Lace gave a satisfied sigh of his own and kissed the top of her head.
“Do you want to join the party now?” asked Josephine.
“No party could compare to laying here with you, lass,” said Lance. “Nay, I’ll keep you in my arms for just as long as I can.”
With those words he squeezed her tight as if he’d never let her go.
Up on Ripple Thief’s deck, a small crowd braved the storm. They were there to help set up the Lightning Circle and to say goodbye to Josephine.
Josephine was dressed in her jeans and t-shirt, which Lance referred to as her other-world clothes.
Lance finally had the two Lightning Circles. He handled them as if they were explosive.
“Be careful not to touch the glass,” he warned.
“Why not?” asked Josephine.
“There’s lightning about, lass. It activates the glass, see?”
Josephine looked and gasped with surprise. The pearly surface of the glass was moving like ripples across water.
“If you touch it,” Lance went on, “you might slip through into another time.”
“How do you make them work?” asked Josephine.
“You move the shadow on the sundial to set the time of day you want to open a portal to. And then to set the date, you twist the monster’s tongues and the little numbers on the dial move, see?”
Lance was shocked to hear the year she came from.
“Two thousand and eleven?”
“Don’t look at me like that,” said Josephine. “I’m not a cyborg or anything.”
Lance positioned one of the Lightning Circles on Ripple Thief’s deck and sent the other one out with some of his men in a longboat about fifty meters away.
“What now?” asked Josephine.
“Now we wait, lass.”
They waited. Above them the storm wind whistled through the rigging and made the sails billow and snap.
The air fizzed with electricity and lightning-- which they’d been waiting for-- flashed all around them. Josephine felt as though she was at a disco with strobe lighting.
“What happens now?” she asked.
“You’ll see, lass!” said Lance.
She didn’t have to wait long.
A bolt of lightning suddenly veered off its downward path and hit the Lightning Circle.
It should have smashed to pieces but instead it bounced off. Because the glass was tilted, the lightning shot off it at an angle back up into the clouds it came from.
The rebounds from both Lightning Circles criss-crossed through the sky, flying past each other but never connecting.
“What we want,” Lance explained, “is for two bolts to hit each other!”
Not long after, two bolts collided. Sparks exploded and a big, fat lightning bolt plummeted straight down towards the water. It stopped and hung in the air as if snap-frozen.
The bolt was in the centre of a beam of sparkling, white light, some seven meters across.
Josephine’s eyes grew wider and wider as she watched a shape appear in the beam, just below the point of the lightning bolt.
Josephine drew a sharp breath. It was Little Bounty.
Lance and Josephine boarded the waiting longboat and Lance took the oars. They made the trip in silence.