Authors: Lexie Stewart
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Many of them were malnourished but all of them looked strong and dangerous.
And they were armed to the teeth!
Josephine’s eyes grew wide as she took in the daggers, swords, axes and pistols. They were shoved into belts, waistbands, baldrics and some carried their daggers between their teeth.
“What’s going on?” cried Josephine but there was no more time to talk. They’d reached the ship.
Josephine was so focused on Little Bounty that she hadn’t seen the ship her captors were rowing towards. She craned her neck and saw a beast of a ship, square-rigged, three-masted with black sails and a hell of a lot of gunports.
She had probably started life as a respectable merchant ship or such but those days were behind her. Now she was painted black, red and gold and branded unevenly on her hull were the words: The Bloody Throne.
Along the bowsprit, skulls swung from a rope threaded through their empty eye sockets.
Just in case there was any doubt of the ship’s current occupation, a black flag with a white Jolly Roger flapped in the wind.
A pirate ship? Complete with pirates? Josephine was speechless.
The longboat was winched up to the rail and Josephine was unloaded like another piece of cargo.
The pirates shoved her and she fell to her knees on the hard, wooden deck.
Josephine had had enough of this dream. She tried to wake herself up by pinching her arms, opening her eyes as wide as possible and chanting, ‘Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!’.
Nothing worked. An icy feeling trickled down her spine. Maybe this wasn’t a dream? It certainly didn’t feel like any dream she’d ever had. It was running in real-time for one thing, and everything felt- and smelled- so real.
The harsh voices of the pirates suddenly fell silent and in their place Josephine heard a heavy tread walking across the deck. She didn’t dare look up. She didn’t want to draw the attention of whoever it was that commanded silence of such ruffians.
The boots stopped right in front of her. They must have been at least size eleven! Josephine’s heart went into overdrive.
There was the terrifying sound of a sword drawn. Josephine gasped when she felt its cold tip under her chin. Whoever held the hilt used the blade to make Josephine raise her head.
When Josephine looked up she saw a giant hairball with an eye patch. He was wearing a black waistcoat with shiny buttons.
All that could be seen of the hairball’s face was a bulbous, sun and rum reddened nose and one mad, black eye.
He too was well armed with swords and daggers hanging off the belt around his enormous girth and there were a stunning number of pistols attached to a baldric worn over one shoulder like a Miss Universe sash.
His one mad eye roamed over Josephine.
“On yar feet, me beauty!” he roared.
Josephine stood up on wobbly legs. Even standing she felt dwarfed by him. He was nearly seven feet tall and as heavyset as a grizzly bear.
He opened his mouth and a foul stench poured over Josephine. She would have covered her nose but she was paralysed with fear.
“Oh aye,” rumbled the monster. “You be a fine figure o’ a woman!” He then yelled over her head to the watching pirates. “I’ll be havin’ me the wench! An a portion besides!”
There were cries of, ‘aye, aye, Cap’n Bloody!’ except for one man who said, “That’s not fair! You always take such a big share, there’s nothing left for the rest of us.”
The other pirates shuffled about and the man who spoke was left alone.
Captain Bloody fell on the man like an avalanche. His sword rose and fell.
Josephine couldn’t see what happened because Captain Bloody blocked her view but she heard a bloodcurdling scream followed by two thumps.
“Feed the arm ta the fishies!” roared Captain Bloody as blood pooled around his boots. “An let that be a lesson to all of ye who would speak against yar captain!” He looked down and added. “May that learn ye better manners, ye daft swab!”
Captain Bloody moved away to pick out his share of the booty.
Josephine tried not to look at the man lying on the deck but she couldn’t help it. She looked and saw him lying in a pool of blood, waving the stump of his arm around in the air.
When Josephine came around, she thought for one glorious moment she was in her own bed, but then she noticed the lantern, the way the room was rocking, and the
She was so horrified at being in someone else’s bed that she scrambled out of it with a shriek. Where was she? There were piles of wet, stinking clothes, dirty plates and bottles on the floor. She was in an ill-kempt captain’s quarters. Captain Bloody’s quarters?
“Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit!” said Josephine. She tried to calm herself and think of a way to escape. She was alone, for now, and this might be her best chance. She tried the door but it was locked so she turned to the window.
The single window with decorative bars was set into one wall. Josephine tried to open it but the lever was rusty and stuck. She heard a heavy tread coming towards the door and fear shot through her. She heaved on the lever with all her strength and it finally gave.
The window opened, letting in a refreshing blast of wind and spray.
Josephine tried to climb out but found that the space between the bars was too narrow. Desperately she pushed her toes against the floor and wriggled but all she managed to do was to get stuck with the bars digging painfully into her ribs.
The door swung open.
“Avast, me prize!“ roared Captain Bloody. “Where ye be goin’ , wench?” . He slammed the door so hard the cabin shook.
Josephine screamed when his huge hands clapped around her hips.
He easily dragged her back into his cabin and dropped her on the floor.
He seemed delighted when Josephine scrambled away on her hands and knees and hid under a chair.
“Oh, how I loves other-world girls!” he said, rubbing the back of his gloved hand across his mouth. “They’ve got snap in their garters, they does!”
He howled at the ceiling and lumbered after her.
Josephine ran from the chair to a huge chest with Captain Bloody on her heels.
He laughed and laughed and when he ran into the table and knocked a jug onto the floor he laughed even harder.
Chasing a screaming woman around his quarters was probably his idea of foreplay, thought Josephine.
Josephine took refuge behind the solid table and then watched with horror as Captain Bloody picked it up and tossed it aside as if it were made of matchsticks.
Josephine had nowhere else to run. She backed up into the wall and stood there trembling.
Captain Bloody came towards her, arms stretched wide. A tongue fell out of his beard and licked at the grizzly, black hairs.
There was a knock at the door.
“Don’t interrupt me, damn it! I be havin’ a woman!”
“Help me!” cried Josephine.
“But Cap‘n, there’s-”
“Keelhauling for you!” roared Captain Bloody.
“Please, help me!” Josephine tired again.
“But Cap’n, it’s Cap’n Breakheart!”
Glass sprayed across the room as the window exploded inwards. A shape rolled across the floor and up sprang a man. He was tall and strong. His blonde hair was tied in a low ponytail with black ribbon and his sea-grey eyes danced with smugness and glee.
“Lance!” roared Captain Bloody. “What are ye doing on me ship, yar filthy bilge rat?”
“Just visiting,” said Lance pleasantly, sword raised and ready.
Captain Bloody ripped his own sword out and they began to fight.
Josephine tried to dodge between the two men and make her way to the window.
The newcomer had smashed the glass and the bars and now there was just a great gaping hole, easily big enough for someone to climb through.
“Ye’ll never get the Lightning Circles off me!” said Captain Bloody.
A horn sounded. Both men stopped to listen.
“I believe I just did!” said Lance with a grin.
Captain Bloody let out a roar that shook the cabin and ran at Lance like a charging bull.
Lance stood his ground. He smiled.
Josephine thought he must be crazy, then, at the very last moment, he stepped aside.
Captain Bloody charged headfirst into the wall.
“C’mon, lass,” said Lance, sheathing his sword and holding his hand out to Josephine.
Josephine shook her head.
“I wasn’t asking,” said Lance and in one smooth movement he wrapped an arm around Josephine’s waist, grabbed the rope he’d swung in on and jumped out the window.
Another bottle smashed against the wall.
“Stop throwing things at me, you crazy wench!” cried Lance and then ducked as Josephine hurled a book in his direction.
“I’m not a toy,” she panted, “to be dumped in boats and chased around and swung through the air like Tarzan of the jungle!”
“Ach! You’re a mad one, lass!”
“What!” Smash. “The!” Smash. “Hell!” Smash. “Is going on?” Josephine picked up another bottle but never threw it. Lance’s sword whistled through the air and Josephine’s hand was suddenly without a bottle.
She stared at her hand, expecting to see blood but there wasn’t so much as a scratch.
She looked up. Lance held his sword, point upwards. The bottle hung on the tip.
When Lance had swung them on a rope, 30 feet above the water, from the shattered window of Captain Bloody’s cabin to land safely on the deck of his two-masted schooner he’d done so to a chorus of cheers. Josephine was deposited in his cabin and there she’d stewed. Her fear had reached its boiling point and undergone a sort of chemical transformation. Like water turning into steam, her fear became anger.
This was unlucky for Lance who had opened the door to his cabin a short while later expecting to find the timid girl he’d put in there. Instead, he was attacked by a missile hurling banshee.
“I don’t have time for this, lass,” said Lance, taking the bottle off the tip of his sword and setting it on the table- out of Josephine’s reach. “Bloody won’t take kindly to my having stolen his booty. He’ll be after us.”
“I want answers!” said Josephine. “Where am I? Who are you? And what’s happened to Katie?”
Lance counted the answers off on his fingers. “My ship, Ripple Thief. Captain Lance Breakheart. And who the hell is Katie? Those are the quick answers and that’s all I’ve time for now, lass.”
There was a jumble of rat-a-tat-tats and thump-thump-thumps on the door.
“What?” Lance asked.
“Cap’n? Can we come in?”
“We gots it Cap’n!”
Lance swung open the door to reveal a motley bunch of pirates crowding the doorway. Their dirty faces were bright and eager.
Josephine ducked out of sight behind a table.
The pirate at the front raised something in a sack with great ceremony.
Lance snatched it and flashed a smile. “Good work, men!” he said and shut the door on their eager faces.
Lance reached inside the sack and lifted the thing up, letting the sack fall to the ground.
Josephine saw an object similar to a shaving mirror in design, only far more elaborate. It was set upon what looked like one foot of an eagle-claw bath.
On either side of the disc was a monster’s head, mouths open and tongues sticking out. At the top there was an engraving of a sun and at the bottom there was a sundial.
Framed by the disc were three pieces of broken glass which, while reflective, had a strange, pearly quality.
Lance turned it in his hands, thoroughly engrossed.