Friday, 22 April 2016

Sword, Sails + Scoundrels: Pertaining to Pirates

Yipee! We have, at last, reached the day of beginning! I've been looking forward to sharing in this adventure with you all! I have so many great plans. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading it just as much as I did writing it. 

In this first part, I've attempted to explain several things, hopefully in an interesting but understandable way...I really had no clue where this was going but it turned out okay.

Now I can reveal the cover picture!! (Insert excited shrieking)  A massive (massive, massive, massive, massive x infinity) thanks to Sarah for spending so much time on this for me. I promise not to ask you to draw sails ever again. I just can't say how much I love the whole look of this picture, from the top to the bottom, left to right. Epicness in drawn form. And Sarah, as ought to be common knowledge, is epicness in human form. :)



The ship rolled over another wave, and my hands flew to the handrail to keep my balance. Spray fountained up in the front of the ship, cascading gracefully over the deck. As we dipped down into the trough of the wave a spray of water splashed over the side.

Ducking behind Eumin, I managed to avoid most of the water, but he took it full in the face. Spluttering, he spat out a mouthful of salt water. “Bleh, that’s what I don’t like about sea travel. Too much spray.” He gave me a sidelong glance, “Although you’ve managed to stay fairly dry.”

“It’s a matter of having a large friend who kindly shields you from it,” I returned with a smile, lurching forward suddenly as the ship rose up again.

Eumin chuckled. “You’ve not found your sea legs though.”

I shook my head, holding the wooden rail for support. “I never realised sailing was going to be like this until—” I broke off, “Has it really been two weeks?”

Eumin frowned down at his fingers for a long moment, counting them several times. “Yes,” he looked back up with a smile, revealing that he’d not needed to count at all.

“Wow, it feels like ages,” I remarked. “Well, either that or just a couple of days. I can’t quite work it out.”

A fleck of foam landed on the back of my hand, and I wiped it absently on my leggings. “I still don’t really understand what’s going on.”

Eumin shrugged. “It’s not something easy to discover. Your father’s reaction showed that much.”

“Tell me again, will you?” I asked, looking up at my companion. “I’m just trying to get everything in order.”

His shoulders rose as he drew in a deep breath. “Two years and nine months ago, a member of the royal council was assassinated while visiting his family in Sáliner. As the trusted lieutenant of the Royal Outriders, Leonora was sent to investigate the issue, accompanied – as usual – by Eumin Quest, one of the king’s advisors, and also an esteemed member of the council.”

He paused as I grinned in his direction. “He says in a humble tone,” I interjected.

“No really, I’ve been in the council for five years, and my sister is the famed Lieutenant Leonora. Bonus points to me.”

“How come she’s only a lieutenant if she’s so famous?”

A grin slid across Eumin’s features. “She’s be offered promotion hundreds of times, but she doesn’t want it. Apparently it’s hard enough to be a responsible lieutenant let alone a commander.”

I ducked away as a jet of spray shot from the water. “Back to the point,” I said, remembering the purpose of our conversation.

“Yes,” Eumin said, frowning, “Where was I?”

“Ah…” I opened my mouth to reply but then shook my head blankly. “I don’t remember.”

“Pfft, that shows just how much you’ve been listening,” he snorted. “So anyway, we went off to investigate and, after around a month things were starting to get worse, but we’d worked out the assassin’s name. We’d also been told – by a rather shady looking character – that there was only one person who could stop him. His sister.”

I nodded, still barely comprehending.

“So we went off to find some Lady De Corlette person who was our only hope to getting rid of this guy completely—“

“And you met Maree, but then went back to Eirerandil to find more clues,” I continued the tale. “But then two years later, you discovered exactly who you were looking for, and so you found me.”

“Basically,” Eumin agreed.

A tight feeling of pain in my chest built a little higher. “I just can’t believe that Marius would do anything like that,” I burst out, my voice catching ever so slightly. Tears threatened to spill and I rubbed my hand over my eyes, blinking furiously.

Eumin’s hand touched my shoulder. “I understand,” he said softly.

A startled yell from the front of the ship brought my head up, and I almost laughed at the sopping figure of Leonora as another explosion of spray splattered the deck. She dripped her way to us, brushing the sopping fringe of her hair from her eyes.

Eumin looked her up and down. “You look like you’ve been having fun.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah,” she stretched her arms above her head. “I have no clue why I started arm wrestling sailors. They started it, but I was fool enough to agree.” Leonora turned to me, “A piece of advice, never get into an arm wrestle with a sailor. You will lose. Also, if you must, never let one of these decent types see you wince or they will never stop apologising.” She shook her head, “Once was enough, but after slamming my hand into the table, Lewis has barely paused for breath with all his ‘sorry’s.”

A smile crept onto my face, and I turned to look out to sea again, glad to have my mind back on more cheerful topics.

A small dot appeared on the horizon.

I frowned, my head on one side, wondering vaguely what it was.

Slowly it began to creep up higher, revealing more and more of the shape.

“SAIL AHOY!” came a shout from the top of the main mast where a sailor was on lookout duty. “Ship off the starboard bow!”

“Can you see what she is?” the captain bellowed back, peering into the distance.

I grabbed Eumin’s shoulder as a support and scrambled up to stand on the handrail. The dot was becoming even clearer, and I could make out sails and the actual ship now.

“Careful,” Eumin cautioned, taking my hand.

“I can’t tell!” the lookout yelled down to the captain. “She’s not flying any flag!”

I jumped back down to the deck, glad I did so a moment after as the ship rolled over a particularly big wave. 

“Quest!” the captain called, beckoning to Eumin.

Eumin frowned and headed across the swaying deck toward the captain and the first mate. After a moment, Leonora and I followed.

“—may turn out to be a pirate, the Notrias sea is simply riddled with the vermin,” the captain was saying. “If she is, we won’t be able to outrun her on this course.”

“So they’ll catch and board us?” Eumin asked, looking over the sea to the other ship gradually becoming more and more distinct.

“She’s unfurled a black flag!” the lookout yelled down.

The captain waved his hand in acknowledgement.

“There’s one other option,” the first mate said lowly.

I leaned forward as if drawn by some underlying tone of voice. A shiver of fear trailed up my spine.

“We could turn south and sail around the east side of Pyre-ite Island. We’d be running with the wind dead behind.”

Eumin looked at the captain in alarm. “But that would take us past—” he stopped, looking at their grim faces.

“These pirates spare no one.”

“Maybe not,” Leonora said.

The eyes of all the small group turned to her.

She was glaring at the approaching ship. “No,” she shook her head, finally glancing at the frowning faces around her. “If that’s the ship I think it is, we’ll be fine.”

“What d’you mean?” I asked, screwing up my eyebrows in confusion.

“That ship is the Rift – no other pirates fly that black flag with a jagged white line through it. Her captain’s been after me for ages,” she returned her gaze to the ship. “I believe he wants to fight me.”

Eumin drew a hand across his forehead. “Not that one,” he groaned.

The ship’s captain glanced from one to the other. “What are you talking about?”

“You’ve heard of the Rift?” Leonora asked.

He nodded furiously. “Yes, a more dreaded and elusive pirate vessel I am yet to lay eyes upon. Stories of Pirate Captain Wielder never cease among the wharves and sailors of these parts.”

“Well this Captain Wielder presumably wants to raise his reputation a little higher,” Eumin continued. “And so he’s been following Leonora around for…how long do you think?” he directed the last to Leonora.

“Too long,” she sighed heavily. “It gets annoying.”

The first mate ran his fingers through his damp hair. “Would it be worth the risk?”

“I don’t know,” the captain said. “What do you say, Quest?”

Eumin rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “If we can turn west immediately after the islands, there should be no problem. We’ll be far enough away from it.”

“From what?!” I burst out, frustrated.

They turned to me, surprised looks on their faces. “The maelstrom, miss Conwell,” the captain said after a moment.

I looked blankly at them.

“Swirling vortex? Massive whirlpool big enough to sink a fleet of ships?” Leonora suggested.

“Oh. Right. That doesn’t sound good,” I said, an alarming image appearing in my mind.

“Correct. It isn’t much good,” Leonora agreed.

“So we’ve got to choose between pirates and a…a swirling vortex?”

“Aye,” the captain nodded. “Let me tell you, the tales I’ve heard of the Rift and her captain are enough to make me choose the maelstrom over a meeting with him any day. And I am no coward.”

“I will leave the decision to you, captain,” Eumin said. “You will best be able to make the right choice.”

“Big factors like pirates and maelstroms don’t make it easier,” the captain muttered.

I turned to look at the pirate ship. There was nothing particularly special about it, so far as I could tell, but I had next to no knowledge on ships. A fluttering black flag flew at the top of the highest mast.

So that’s what a pirate ship looked like.

Perhaps my father had been wise to be reluctant to allow me to go.

Too late now.

“SAIL AHOY!” came the shout again.

I spun around to follow the other’s gaze to where the lookout was pointing urgently.

“Astern port side!”

“What in the world does that mean?” I muttered.

“That way,” Eumin returned, pointing backwards and slightly to the left of the ship where a dark dot lay on the horizon.

“Oh,” I mouthed, watching the rest of the vessel appear.

Then the lookout added one last thing: “She’s flying the black flag!”

“Um, now what?” I asked timidly.


҉

1. “To port! Change course for the south!” the captain roared at the crew below.

2. “The Rift is changing course,” Leonora observed slowly, staring out at the first ship.

3. “Take a leaf from your own book,” Leonora said. “Do what they least expect. We’ll land on Pyre-ite Island.”

҉

Well, hope you liked the first part of SS+S! I wasn't exactly planning on having pirates come in quite this soon, but they just sailed into everything without my help. That's Captain Wielder for you. I have so many ideas for scenes in the future. Some of the ones I've written actually happen closer to the end than the beginning...but they're cool. 

I am greatly looking forward to all the comments and votes.

Fair winds!


16 comments:

  1. This is very different from your previous two stories! At least so far.
    I think I'll choose #2.

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    1. Indeed...it may have a slightly different tone to it 'cause my brain is still half embroiled in my Camp NaNo project, but it is going to be quite different. And a LOT more time is going to pass - at least six months.
      I've done, world-traveling/fantasy, medieval fiction in one country, and now I'm moving on to sailing stuff! I was originally planning to go Sci Fi next, but that was before the sequel made it's appearance. :) I've had a thing with ships for quite a while now. There's just something cool about them...

      Thanks for voting, and I hope you like the story! :D

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  2. Well I suppose I shall make it easy and vote for 2... although I am tempted to go for three, just to be different.

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    1. Well, you never know what everyone else will say. Two must've been the interesting option today! :)

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  3. I'm really liking this story, Jane! I'm new around here, and I think I'm going to enjoy SS+S :).
    I vote for option 2!

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    1. Hey Savannah! It's great to have you here! I'm so glad you've come and liked the story! Thanks heaps for voting! :D

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  4. Ooooh! So exciting already :D

    I'll vote for Option 3!

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    1. Yes! As I said, the pirates weren't meant to come along quite yet, but I had to make things interesting and voila! There they were. :)

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  5. Great story, I vote for option three.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, dear father! :)

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  6. A good start, I've always liked boats and pirates,now I want to know what's on the island so I vote 3

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    1. You've always liked boats and pirates?! Okaay...I can't say that I'd actually realised that before. :)

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  7. LOVE IT! Can't wait to continue. :-)

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