Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 4

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IV

 

Time went by slowly on the Black Vengeance as Baltazar counted it. When the hour finally came to a close, Papi came back up on deck, “Bad news Captain.”

Baltazar nodded, “Well I expected we’d have more than our fair share of it. What’s the matter?”

“It looks like Jaspart was scraping the bottom of his holds in order to catch us.” Papi replied. “We’ve enough left for maybe two days.”

“I see.” Baltazar replied while deep in thought. “We’ll have to put about then. That’ll also give us time to repair the damage this ship took from the Specter’s guns.”

Gilles turned to Baltazar with a nervous expression, “Put about sir? We’re sailing through Spanish waters, if we put in to a port along the coast…”

“I know,” Baltazar interrupted, “we’re being hunted by two major powers in the area… fortunately Portugal isn’t one of them.”

Morgan smiled, “Viana do Castelo is it?”

Baltazar returned his smile with a nod, “Aye, Viana do Castelo. I spent some time there when I was younger. It’s a large port city where a lot of adventurers sail from. Their merchants and dock masters don’t ask a lot of questions, so we should be fine.”

He then turned back to Gilles, “The hour is up, turn hard to port and steer us a course south, southeast.”

Gilles nodded and brought the ship around. The Black Vengeance listed slightly to port as they turned sharply. Once Baltazar was certain that they were going the right way, he turned back to Gilles, “Rudder amidships.”

The Black Vengeance quickly righted herself and began her voyage south. Baltazar looked behind him. He couldn’t see the French ship, but he could hear thundering explosions off in the distance.

Morgan turned his attention to the noise, “They’re firing at us?”

“They must think we’re not very smart.” Baltazar replied. “They’re firing blindly either hoping against hope to hit us or scare us into doing something stupid.”

He shook his head as he turned back to Gilles, “Amateurs… hold your course Mr. Gilles.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye Captain!”

Once Baltazar was satisfied that they were safe, he turned his attention away from their French pursuers. Though it was hard to see anything, he was able to pick out Melisande standing at the bow of the ship. Her face appeared to be directed downward toward some of the battle damage. A shot from the Specter had ripped up part of the aft railing on the forecastle of the ship.

Baltazar made his way down the starboard walkway to the forecastle. It was a bit of a squeeze getting around the deck guns Jaspart had added, but he managed to do so without running into anyone. The extra cannon limited the Black Vengeance’s cargo space. At one point, this ship would have only carried three cannons on either side, but the hull had been modified by a skilled shipyard to carry double the armaments on the gun deck, as well as three deck cannons on either side. Muzzle loading swivel guns had also been added to fore and aft castles.

This extra armament gave the Black Vengeance a rather cluttered feel. In addition, she also had to give up significant cargo space for the powder magazine. It was a hefty price for the extra protection, but Baltazar still considered it a fair trade as she still had far more cargo space then the Specter.

Baltazar climbed the small stairway to the deck of the forecastle. He made his way over to Melisande, when he noticed that she had a look of despair on her face. Once he was close enough, he placed his hand on her back and caressed her gently, “Everything okay?”

“No,” she replied, “everything is far from okay.”

Baltazar turned to face her, “What is it?”

“What is it?” She yelled. “Are you jesting? All the people I know and love with the exception of Papi, are dead. There is a chance that my home is far away from here, and that is where we are heading. It also appears that some inhuman creature is after me… I would think ‘what is wrong’ would be obvious, even to a ruffian like you!”

The moment the words left her lips, she regretted them. She was under a lot of stress, but Baltazar was only trying to help and didn’t deserve it. She lowered her eyes and calmed her voice as she spoke, “I’m sorry… I… I didn’t mean that.”

“It’s okay.” Baltazar replied. “Look, I know it’s not Mont Saint Michel, but you do have a home here with us. You will always be welcomed aboard the Black Vengeance.”

Melisande nodded, “I know… and to be honest, it’s what I’ve wanted since I was a child, reading about the discoveries of others, but I didn’t think my freedom would come at such a high price.”

“You can’t blame yourself.” Baltazar insisted. “You had no knowledge of whom or what you are. Perhaps if the people in the abbey had not hidden the truth from you for so long, things might have turned out different. Perhaps then you could have come up with a more careful plan to gain your freedom.”

“Maybe,” she said softly, “we’ll never know.”

She turned to face Baltazar and threw her arms around him, “Thank you for everything you’ve done. For a scoundrel, you’re pretty wonderful.”

Normally, Baltazar shied away from affections like this. He didn’t like anything that resulted in the formation of attachments, however something was different with Mel. When she touched him, it was as though something was obstructing his breathing. Within seconds, he could feel his lungs aching as he struggled to focus his breathing. His heart was racing and a warm feeling came over his skin.

Slowly, his arms went around her and his hands pressed on her back, “Don’t mention it.”

When Melisande finally released him, she looked out into the pale gray fog, “So we’re heading to Venice then to look for this Patrisi?”

“Eventually.” Baltazar replied. “We need to resupply first, so we’re going to put in at a Portuguese port. It may take a day or two to fix everything.”

Melisande nodded, “I’ve waited my whole life to find answers to the questions of my existence. I can wait a few more days.”

Baltazar smiled, “Good.”

*

The fog cleared around the Black Vengeance as she sailed south. The sun began its descent behind the horizon. The sky turned from blue to purple as the clouds turned from white to red. Almost ten hours had passed since they evaded the French galleass and, to the relief of the crew, Viana do Castelo came into view.

Baltazar stood with Morgan and Melisande on the forecastle. He kept a tight grip on his spyglass as he spoke, “It’s truly a sweet feeling whenever we make port. The men are restless, the goods are plentiful, the tavern wenches…”

Suddenly, he remembered Melisande was standing behind him, “Uh…”

“The tavern wenches… what?” Melisande asked with an evil grin. “Go on, finish the sentence.”

“The tavern wenches… are…” Baltazar stammered, trying to find the right words, “are ready to engage us in stimulating conversation!”

“Is that so?” Melisande asked musingly. “Very interesting, considering I’ve yet to meet a so-called ‘tavern wench’ capable of such conversation. Most of the time they’re just going on about how drunk you’ve gotten them.”

Baltazar shrugged, “Well you have met…”

“Save it.” She interrupted as she turned and left the forecastle.

Baltazar watched as she disappeared into the cabin. He turned back to see Morgan with a wide grin on his face. Baltazar glared at him, “All right, all right, wipe that grin off your face and get back to work!”

Morgan shook his head as he turned and walked to the aft castle. He worked on some of the rigging as they prepared to bring their ship in. Gilles looked over at him from the helm, “I’ve been noticing lately, the captain be acting a bit strange.”

“Aye.” Morgan replied. “It be the young lass. He looks at her differently than any of the innkeepers’ daughters he’s bedded over the years. She’s gotten her hooks into him.”

“He’s smitten!” Gilles realized. “That does not bode well for him at all.”

“Nay…” Morgan agreed. “Where once there be a man who could smooth talk his way up any lass’ dress, there now be a stammering idiot.”

Melisande slammed the door as she entered the cabin. Again she was biting her lower lip. Tears formed in her eyes as she put her back against the door and sat down. Really, she shouldn’t be surprised by Baltazar’s habits. Such is the lifestyle of an adventurer, she thought, but that doesn’t mean that he couldn’t show a little more tact.

A moment later, Melisande stood up and walked over to the starboard window. She leaned out and watched as the city grew larger in the distance. She could see the large buildings adorned with yellow and black flags bearing the city’s coat of arms. If she got a chance, hopefully she would get some time to go exploring. Her lust for adventure would have to wait as it would most likely still be some time before they docked. She turned back and lay down on the bed. Within moments, the rocking of the ship put her to sleep.

**

Melisande slept through the ship docking at port. It wasn’t until she heard a loud thud above her head that she came out of it. She opened her eyes to see that someone had covered her over with a blanket and left something for her at the end of the bed. She sat up and saw that it was a white and blue dress. She gasped as she looked it over. The stitching was the most intricate she’d ever seen and presumably more expensive than her entire wardrobe back at the abbey.

There was a note attached to the dress, “A mysterious stranger requests the honor of your company on deck. Please dress for the occasion.”

Melisande rolled her eyes, but decided to oblige her ‘mysterious stranger.’ She stripped out of the worn out, torn, clothing, and stepped into the dress. She then brought the white undergarments up first and pulled on the blue outerwear. After stitching the dress, she looked at herself in the mirror and carefully pulled the straps tight.

Once she was decent, Melisande did the best she could to straighten up her hair and wash her face. Her strict attention to detail caused her some frustration as she fiddled with a knot in her hair. It took her a moment, but she finally freed it. When she was finished, she stood in front of the mirror again and let out a long sigh as she was finally presentable.

The light from the sun still shined through the window as it was now half way set over the horizon. Melisande sucked in a deep breath and then opened the door. The moment it creaked open, she could hear the bustle of carpenters, painters, and dock workers running around the ship.

Baltazar was standing on deck with a man holding red cloth, “So how long will it take you to have these new sails installed?”

Melisande realized that the man was a sail maker that no doubt Baltazar had hired to replace the Black Vengeance’s ragged sails. The sail maker smiled, “We’ve got the sails already made. You’re ship type is somewhat out of date so sails like yours aren’t in high demand. It should only take a day to get them rigged. We can start tomorrow morning.”

Baltazar nodded, “Sounds good, now about these sails… you have a reputation for making sails that last forever.”

The sail maker laughed, “I don’t know about forever, but barring being hit by cannon fire, it’s unlikely that your ship will outlast these sails.”

“Would that be because of the sails or the way I run my ship?” Baltazar asked with a smile.

The sail maker laughed, “You will be very satisfied with these. Now, are you sure you want the red ones, they will cost extra you know?”

“Aye,” Baltazar replied adamantly, “we’re looking to alter our appearance as much as possible.”

“Running from someone?” He asked.

“It’s probably better that you don’t know.” Baltazar replied. “I trust you understand that this transaction never took place?”

The sail maker nodded, “As long as I get paid, I don’t care who I make sails for.”

Melisande cleared her throat as she came out on deck. Every eye on the ship looked at her as though a bright aura had suddenly appeared on deck. Baltazar’s eyes widened as he noticed her coming towards him. He nodded at the sail maker, “That will be fine, you’ll get your pay and a bonus for your silence. Get to it.”

The sail maker nodded as he surveyed the ship. Once he was out of the way, Baltazar slowly made his way toward her. She bit her lower lip as her eyes met his. Baltazar took her hand and kissed her right between the knuckles, “My lady, I humbly request you company tonight.”

Melisande smiled, “And where would we be going on this fine night?”

“That’s a secret,” Baltazar replied, “but I promise it’ll be worth your time.”

“I see,” Melisande replied, “well then I accept your invitation, good sir.”

Baltazar extended his elbow to her and she rested her arm gently on his. He escorted her off the ship to a carriage that had been waiting for them. She was shocked to see the extent that he was going to impress her, “How did you manage all this?”

Baltazar smiled, “I divided up the shares of the goods from the Black Vengeance’s hold. My shares were more than enough to pay for all of this.”

“I didn’t know there was anything onboard that could be sold.” Melisande said surprised.

“Aye.” Baltazar nodded, “Good old Jaspart horded everything away hoping for a big payday.”

The carriage stopped just outside of a large building on the city outskirts. Baltazar stepped out first and then extended his head to her, “This way, my lady.”

Melisande took Baltazar’s hand as he guided her out of the carriage and up two flights of stairs. They reached the roof where some of Baltazar’s men had apparently set up a table with chairs and an impressive meal for the both of them.

Gilles pulled out Melisande’s chair for her, “If you would take your seat, milady?”

Melisande nodded, “How kind of you.”

Behind them, a violin began to play and a voice started singing. Melisande’s eyes narrowed as she recognized the voice, “Papi?”

She turned to see him next to another member of the crew. He sang beautifully as the other man played. Melisande shook her head, “You are too much. I find it hard to believe that you had a part in this.”

Baltazar smiled as she turned back toward him, “Does this meet with your approval, my lady?”

She narrowed her eyes and shook her head, “Whatever magic you used to win over Papi won’t work on me.”

“I have no magic, my lady,” he replied, “I can only be who I am.”

“And what would that be,” she asked, “a ruthless scoundrel, an honorable theif, a wayward royal, or something else?”

Baltazar shrugged, “The man who managed to convince you to attend dinner tonight, who is interested in unraveling the mystery that is Melisande.”

Melisande nodded, “You know, flashy clothes, lavish dinners and…”

She looked out at the city as the last glimmer of sunlight disappeared, “… beautiful scenery… won’t win me over. I’m not some local tavern girl.”

“I know you’re not.” Baltazar replied. “I never would have put this much effort into winning the heart of a tavern girl.”

Baltazar looked out at the city. Lamp lights and torches lit up the night sky as the darkness took over. Melisande looked up at the massive church on the top of the hill, “What church is that?” She asked. “I’ve never seen one so big. Not even in Mont Saint Michel is that intricate.”

He nodded, “It is impressive, isn’t it? The Basilica of Santa Luzia was built there long ago.”

“It’s beautiful,” she replied, “truly beautiful…”

“It has one major flaw though.” Baltazar said softly.

Melisande looked back at him, knowing full well what he was about to say, “And what would that be?”

“It pales in comparison to your beauty.” He casually replied.

She rolled her eyes, “Flattery doesn’t work either, and especially not when it’s so predictable.”

Baltazar placed his elbows on the table, folded his hands, and rested his chin on top of them, “Then tell me, milady, what does work?”

She smiled slyly, “That depends on your intentions, if they are the right kind, you’ll figure out what will work sooner or later.”

Baltazar nodded, “I see…”

“And if not,” she continued, “then you can go to hell.”

“Understood,” Baltazar replied, “well in the face of eternal damnation, I would say that honorable intentions seem to be the best way to go at this point.”

Melisande’s smile disappeared, “You really mean that?”

“Aye,” Baltazar said softly, “I know I come off as a scoundrel and… lord knows it’s a reputation I’ve earned many times over, but with you… something’s different. I don’t feel the same way around you that I have around other women. With others, I’ve been able to talk my way in and out of everything. With you, I stumble over words, and at times, can barely breathe. I cannot explain it, and that annoys me terribly. You are unlike any other woman I have met. You spent your life sheltered in an abbey, yet here you are with more intelligence and knowledge of the world then most people could get in a lifetime. It’s… almost mystic.”

She smiled, “You are not the first person to say that to me. I can’t explain why I am this way. Most who have heard my life story would think I was some sheltered, naive girl. I guess in some ways that’s true, but since I was little, I feel like I’ve had someone watching over me, helping me make decisions.”

When Baltazar didn’t respond, she reached out her hand and touched his, “Sister Mary once told me that the things most worthwhile in the world are the things that test you. Those are the things you have to fight for, and the things that you will appreciate the most, once they are yours.”

“So I am to fight for you then is it?” Baltazar asked with a smile.

“If you wish to,” she replied nervously, “if it’s what you want. You have my attention. The rest is up to you.”

Baltazar sighed, “What about you, what do you want?”

She frowned, “To find the answers that have eluded me. I want to know who am I before I start thinking about what I’ll do.”

“I’ll do what I can to help you with that.” He said adamantly.

Melisande nodded, “I know you will. Thank you.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

From My Writing Playlist

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Not going to lie, this one is on my normal playlist. I am a huge fan of Lindsey Stirling and I do like Peter Hollens as well. They do a great job with this song, which is the opening to my favorite game of all time; Skyrim.

When to listen: Fight scenes. Any fight scenes will do. This song has all the dynamic of a fight. A build up, the initial clash, the quiet agony and pushing yourself to continue and the triumphant close. Give it a listen.

 

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Social Justice Editing!

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From HeatStreet:

Book publishers fearing the backlash from social justice activists are hiring special readers to check the books and flag up racist, sexist and other so-called offensive content before they go to print.

“Sensitivity reader” is a person who, for a small fee, will provide feedback about the book based on self-ascribed areas of expertise like “dealing with terminal illness,” “racial dynamics in Muslim communities” or “transgender issues”, according to The Chicago Tribune.


… Suddenly self-publishing is looking better and better, isn’t it? Seriously who is actually pushing for this?

On the surface, this may seem like a good thing. There’s certainly nothing wrong with making sure that characters are portrayed in a culturally correct manner. However what happens when that reading goes at odds with the writer’s message or experience?

Look, I’ve said it time and time again and the cardinal sin in writing is writing about something you don’t know anything about. If you want to write about another culture, experience that other culture first. Research it and maybe go spend some time in it.

You want to write about a place? Either visit it or talk to people who have been there and carefully study pictures of it.

Do you want to write about a person? TALK TO THAT PERSON and if they’re not still alive, either talk to people who knew them and/or research everything you can find on them; their personalities, decisions they’ve made, their impacts on history, etc.

“Publishers are encouraged to hire such “experts” out of fear of potential backlash for publishing books that have perceived bias and troublesome portrayals of oppressed groups, especially when the author isn’t part of the group.”

You know… awful though it sounds, I actually do not care about perceived bias and troublesome portrayals. So now we’re  getting to the point where we not only have to worry about what we say but also what someone believes we MIGHT be thinking?

If you want to write a reaction or call out someone because they said in a serious light, “Adolf Hitler did nothing wrong.” or “Kamau Kambon was right!” or “Death to all infidels!” Like if there is abject bigotry. Go for it, you’ll get no argument from me, but when you get into the whole thing where ‘you may not have directly said it, but its clear that this is what you were thinking when you wrote this’ or ‘it’s pretty obvious what you’re thinking, despite the fact that you may not actually be thinking it.’ That is extremely dangerous on an Orwellian level, which is very scary.

 

The only time anyone should be called out on their writing is when their portrayal is way off the mark either intentionally (As is the case with Pewdiepie) where it is clear what was going on, or due to a lack of research… AKA Titanic’s portrayal of Ismay. But no writer should be worried about writing a character a certain way when that’s been his/her experience with people who are ‘like that character’ or from the same area as that character, etc.

Everyone has different experiences and that doesn’t make them bigoted or anything like that. The whole idea of hiring sensitivity readers is just  such a foreign notion to me for three reasons;

1.It’s thought censoring. You’re basically paying someone else to tell you, ‘Well you might not have thought this in what you said, but here’s what some people might think you meant and that could cause a backlash.

2. Writing is not supposed to be safe. It’s not always supposed to be comfortable, heck it’s not even supposed to be flattering. Writing is here to make you think, to expose you to other ideas, worlds, thoughts, and opinions. To put a filter like this on said opinions is so offensive to me, this blog piece doesn’t even do it justice.

3. People into identity politics and social justice are always on the lookout for something they can be offended by. If this isn’t plainly obvious by the crap we see spewed by the regressive leftist media… and even certain elements of the left calling themselves out for having ‘cried wolf too many times to be heard,’ then it never will be. These people are not going to be able to stop that.

Unfortunately more and more publishers appear to be going this route, making themselves akin to the mainstream media, and indie publishing more like the alternative media that is on the rise.

In short, don’t give into this. If your publisher tries to push this on you, drop them. Go it alone. You’ll be better off. Thought policing is going way too far.

In short, publish whatever you want. If your readers know you and know your work, they will buy it. If people complain, who cares? Let them complain. People complained and called Pewdiepie a racist, it didn’t cost him any followers. In fact, the whole of the internet rose up in support of him. The same might not happen, but the people who have read your book will know the truth and they will stick by you, leaving the complainers to yell at a brick wall.

If not, if you let them bother you, you’re no better than the people that wanted to censor and/or edit the writings of Mark Twain.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Escapism Exists For a Reason!

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Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know how I feel about things like preaching in your story, out of context political diatribe, breaking the 4th well, inappropriately clashing reality with fantasy, and so on.

Well… today I wanted to touch on a subject that I think is getting constantly overlooked and deals with pretty much all of the above. It’s a little-known term called escapism.

First, let’s look at the definition:

es·cap·ism
əˈskāpˌizəm/
noun
  1. the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.
    synonyms: fantasy, fantasizing, daydreaming, daydreams, reverie;

    imagination, flight(s) of fancy, pipe dreams, wishful thinking, woolgathering;
    informalpie in the sky
    “romance novels offer a form of escapism that many people thoroughly enjoy”

So over the long weekend, I went to see a movie with my wife. Because she asked me not to, I’m not going to bring up what movie, but it was one with some singing and dancing, a lot of it seemed very dated and the whole thing was kind of giving the feel of a very fantastical world.

Honestly, though not my type of movie, I was getting into it. The actors were great, you could really feel the chemistry from the main cast, and really… though the singing musical numbers sucked, the soundtrack as a whole was pretty good.

Then for some reason, the writers had to smack us across the face with a dose of reality. After all the boosting the main hero did, after everything he did, and how wonderful things went… In the end, he’s not with the leading lady. They split up and went their separate ways, despite all of the build-up and development of the two characters.

Of course I understand that there is such a thing as a tragic romance and stories that surround tragic events, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about doing that.

When you set the stage that this is going to be a certain type of story, a certain type of light-hearted fantasy story, then bashing your audience over the head with a sudden dose of reality is both unwelcome and inappropriate.

And the excuse is always the same thing…

Per one of the creators of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ a show that is credited by many as having the worst finale in TV history:

Ugh… no matter how many times I hear a writer justify that choice, it never ceases to piss me off. ‘Well I wrote it that way because that’s how it is in real life, and real life isn’t always the cookie-cutter Happy Ending.’

Yes, we know that. We LIVE in the real world. We’re quite familiar with how harsh the real world is. We do not need a reminder of that.

I’ve always been a big proponent of people writing things the way they want. As a writer myself, I’ve always told people to write what makes you happy and your readers will pick up on that. As always, that’s fine. My issue comes in when a writer feels the need to either insert a ‘shock’ element because they think that this will stir up controversy and bring in more ratings, or feel like their story is getting too far away from reality due to some unwritten rule and thus smack their readers with a dose of it right at the end.

RED FLAG.

This is why I have such an issue with dropping soapbox politics, unsolicited opinions on political topics that a character should in no way, shape or form, have any concern or even knowledge of, and why characters shouldn’t be coming out of character and breaking the 4th wall for no reason.

This is especially crucial in this day and age with the political climate being extremely hostile to anyone with an opinion on anything. Regardless of what that opinion is. As human beings with a measurable tolerance for every day stresses, we need an escape from politics, an escape from the real world, an escape from harsh reality and that’s what fantasy is supposed to provide. It’s a coping mechanism.

Think about it. When my kids get home from school their tired, they’ve worked hard at school all day, came home and did their homework, and then they want to hear Daddy tell them a story. So every night, it’s on me to come up with something good. Could you imagine what would happen if I ended one of my stories with ‘And the princess had to miss the ball because she had WAY too much homework to do. Her fairy Godmother told her that unless she finished her multiplication tables, she wouldn’t be going out all weekend.’

Mommy would be replacing Daddy as the go to storyteller.

It’s a crude example, but a valid one, none the less. Why do some of us, as writers, feel the need to do this to our readers? Are we really so worried that their heads will go so high into the clouds as to not be able to come back down?

So Jim, what would be your opinion of an appropriate dose of reality?

Well… though I despise this movie for its gross historical inaccuracies… Titanic.

Yeah I know, the portrayal of Ismay was way off. Captain Smith and Mr. Murdoch was way off, but the overall story is one that I think was done correctly. Think about it… a rich girl has a fling with a poor guy on the Titanic who helped her realize that there was more to life then what she knew and more out there than what she had seen. He was the needle she so needed to burst the bubble that she was unable to fight her way out of.

However we’re on the Titanic, so we all knew what was going to happen. The ship was going to sink and most of the people onboard were going to die. Thus what happened to Jack wasn’t outside the realm of possibility in this fantasy retelling. This teetered right on the edge of realism to the point of it credibility.

 

Would their romance have survived had they gotten off the ship together? Even in that world, I’d say it would have been unlikely. Even in the context of their universe, just by looking at their personalities and character archetypes.

Honestly, this video came out a while back detailing what likely would have happened:

I know that this kinds of seems like the same type of dose of reality, but its not. The Titanic story has no supernatural elements, no reality-freezing dance numbers, nothing other than a few poor character portrayals.

Honestly for that reason, I think a ‘What if’ story would be pretty good… even if it did wind up damaging people’s view of the original source material.

Anyway, in the end, I understand if you want to keep people’s feet on the ground in your story. Honestly, there are ways of doing this… a piece here and a piece there will keep your audience engaged. A major plot-bomb at the end of the story will turn readers and viewers off.

In my opinion, keeping people’s feet firmly planted on the ground when they’re looking for an escape isn’t going to gain you many fans, at least not in my opinion.

Let me know what you think below.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 3

divinity11

III

 

The group rushed out of the sanctuary and down to the small rocky beach where their boat was waiting. It bobbed up and down as they jumped in. Papi and Melisande climbed in while Morgan and Baltazar pushed the boat back out.

Once it was safely in the water, the two men hopped in and manned the ores. They put their backs into rowing and within minutes came up alongside the Black Vengeance. Smoke was still pouring from the cannon that had been fired.

Baltazar helped Melisande onto the deck. Morgan and Papi followed close behind them. The rest of the crew quickly tied up the boat and, using the attached pulley’s, brought it out of the water.

Baltazar turned away from Melisande and walked over to the bow where Gilles was standing, “What’s going on?”

“Sorry to cut the trip short sir,” Gilles replied, holding up a spyglass, “but we’ve spotted a sail on the horizon.”

“Spanish?” Baltazar asked.

Gilles shrugged, “I don’t know, Captain, she’s not close enough to tell.”

Baltazar took the spyglass from Gilles, “Where away?”

“Two points to port.” Gilles replied.

Melisande joined him on deck as he scanned the horizon. Through the looking glass, he saw the massive flag on the back. It was blue with a gold fleur-de-lis in the middle.

Baltazar shook his head, “Not Spanish, they look to be French.”

Papi nodded, “No doubt dispatched by King Henry to investigate what happened to Mont Saint Michel.”

“Probably.” Baltazar agreed as he examined the ship. “They got here pretty fast though…”

He strained his eye to pick out what he could, “I’m seeing two really large lateen sails… ores… and a massive ram up front.”

He lowered the spyglass from his now-wide eyes, “It’s a galleass… and it’s heavily armed.”

“Great,” Papi sighed, “and here we are, a pirate ship with her guns loaded.”

“And the French be known for shooting first and investigating later,” Morgan added.

Baltazar nodded, “No doubt they’ve seen us… and even less doubt they’re thinking exactly what Papi is.”

“But we didn’t do this!” Melisande insisted.

“Try explaining that to their guns,” Baltazar replied.

“I figure we’ve got an hour before they be in gun range.” Morgan said, watching the ship.

“Less than that I think.” Baltazar replied as he turned back to his crew. “Weigh anchor, hands to the braces, I want full sail in ten minutes!”

He then turned to Gilles, “Take the helm, steer us a course west.”

“Aye sir.” Gilles said as he turned and headed for the helm.

The crew scattered to bring down the sails and get the Black Vengeance moving. Papi disappeared below deck to one of the cannon positions. Within ten minutes, the ship was moving away from Mont Saint Michel.

Baltazar kept his spyglass trained on the French warship as she approached. Melisande and Morgan stood on either side of him. The ship drew closer and came into view of the rest of the crew. To their horror, it changed course, moving away from Mont Saint Michel, towards the Black Vengeance. Morgan shook his head, “Captain, they’re coming about! It looks like they want us.”

“I don’t believe it,” Melisande said in shock, “they’re not even stopping to render aid to the abbey? There could still be people in there who need help!”

“Like I said,” Baltazar replied, “shoot first, investigate later.”

Morgan watched as the ship turned, “That thing has us completely outclassed. She be faster and far more heavily armed.”

“And her crew numbers in the hundreds,” Baltazar added.

He could hear Melisande begin breathing rapidly, “What are we going to do, how can we outrun something like that?”

Baltazar smiled, “Fear not, that ship may have us in terms of speed, but we have two advantages.”

“And what be those, Captain?” Morgan asked.

“Galleasses are famous for their top speeds, but they can only hold those for as long as their men can row, after that, they are completely reliant on those small sails.” Baltazar replied.

“What does that mean?” Melisande asked.

Baltazar turned to her, “It means that while they may be faster, we can cruise at our top speed much longer than that ship can. Also, the design and sheer size of that ship makes it difficult to maneuver. We can turn a lot quicker then she can, we’ll lose them.”

*

Aboard the galleass, the captain watched through his own spyglass as the Black Vengeance got underway. He lowered the spyglass with an angry look on his face, and turned to his mate, “Bring our guest up on deck.”

The man nodded, “Oui mon capitaine.”

The man immediately disappeared below deck. A moment later he returned with Jaspart, who looked like he was trying to dry off. The captain smiled, “Ah Monsieur Jaspart, how good of you to join us. It would appear you were correct about the pirate attack on our abbey.”

“Captain Jaspart…” He replied in an annoyed tone. “Those pirates stole my ship. I overheard them talking about ransacking the abbey. It looks like we got here too late.”

“Truly a shame,” the captain replied, “It seems your information was of little use. You best have something more valuable to keep you from being chained to one of my oars.”

Jaspart sighed, “I already told you, my letter of marquis is on that ship. We need to take it for me to show you, but it is authentic.”

“Not good enough Monsieur,” the captain sneered, “I am not fool enough to trust the word of a pirate.”

Jaspart nodded, “Then how about this, I know the ship and I know Captain La Fuente’s tactics. If you ever hope to keep on her trail, you’ll need my help.”

“For now.” the captain replied as he turned back to his mate. “Give me flank speed!”

“Oui mon capitaine.” The mate replied as he turned to the drummer keeping the rowing beat. “Flank speed!”

**

As the Black Vengeance pulled away from Mont Saint Michel, the French galleass became larger in the distance. Baltazar moved to the back of the ship with Melisande close on his heels. He leaned over the starboard side, extended the spyglass, and peered through it at the galleass again, “They’re gaining on us… from the looks of their ores, it looks like their Captain has ordered all ahead, flank speed. Fool… he won’t be able to maintain that for very long.”

Melisande watched as the ship got closer, “What is that spike on the bow?”

“That would be the ram.” He replied. “You want to steer clear of that, any ship that thing hits is doomed no matter what.”

“And right now it’s pointed at us.” Melisande said fearfully.

Baltazar sighed, “A few hours ago, you asked me to trust you. Well now I’m asking you for that same courtesy. Trust me, we can hold our speed a lot longer than they can hold theirs. We will lose them, I promise you.”

Melisande turned to face Baltazar with a confident look in her eyes, “I trust you Baltazar… more then you know.”

Baltazar smiled as he turned back to look at galleass again. He was about to look through the spyglass when he heard a loud boom, “Everyone hold on!”

Two cannonballs flew towards them and hit the water on either side of the Black Vengeance’s aft castle. Melisande gripped the railing hard, “We’re in gun range!”

“No we’re not,” Baltazar replied, “they’re just trying to scare us. Those shots would have just barely grazed the back of the ship. They’re pot shots.”

He turned to Gilles and nodded, “Keep us steady on, as long as we have the wind, we’ll be fine.”

Gilles nodded as Baltazar then turned to Morgan, “Let’s show these Frenchmen that they aren’t the only ones with cannons that fire straight, run up the aft cannons with a double charge of powder!”

Morgan nodded as he disappeared below deck, “Aye sir, we’ll give em what’s for!”

Within minutes, small ports opened up on either side of the rudder. Long but narrow cannons poked through the holes as the crew worked to get them ready. Baltazar waited for the signal to come as kept his eyes on the approaching galleass.

Finally, the signal came, “Guns reporting ready sir!”

Baltazar nodded, “High elevation, I want them knowing we have range on ours too!”

He waited a few moments as he calculated the distance in his head. He wanted thier shots to be a close call, at least. Melisande watched and waited. Then out of nowhere, Baltazar hollared down to the gun deck, “Fire!”

The deck shook as the two cannons unleashed their ammo. A pair of cannonballs shot through the air towards their target. The first one passed over the galleass’s deck and blew a hole in the forward lateen, while the second one hit the iron ram on the front with a loud clank.

Baltazar went wide eyed, “Wow, expert shooting men, that should rattle their cages a little.”

Melisande smiled for a moment before two more shots came from the galleass’s guns. The first missed completely while the second passed dangerously close to the Black Vengeance’s rudder. Gilles shook his head, “That… was too close. If they knock out our rudder, it’s all over for us.”

Baltazar didn’t respond. Instead he kept his eyes trained on the galleass and waited. Finally, the moment he was counting on had come. The oars began to slow down.

Baltazar cried out in an excited tone, “We got them, they’re slowing down!”

Cheers echoed all over the ship as the French galleass began to shrink into the distance. Melisande joined in the celebration, “You’re incredible!”

Morgan smiled, “Of course he is! He be Captain La Fuente! There be not another captain like him!”

Melisande nodded, “I’m actually beginning to believe that. As unbelievable as that is.”

Baltazar shook his head, “It’s not over yet. We’ll gain some distance, but we won’t lose them, not quickly anyway.”

“So what do we do?” Melisande asked.

“We wait.” Baltazar replied. “For now we’ll hold our course, and hopefully we’ll lose them long enough to change direction.”

He lowered the spyglass and turned to Melisande, “The question is, to where? Where are we going?”

Melisande reached into her blouse and pulled out the piece of parchment that was given to her by Sister Mary. She opened it and looked at what was written. Her eyes narrowed and a look of confusion came over her.

Baltazar placed the spyglass down on the table and stood next to her, “What does it say?”

Melisande shook her head, “It’s just a list of names… Venice, the Night Island, and…”

She paused for a moment, staring at the piece of paper. Baltazar’s eyes widened slight out of curiosity, “What is it?”

She looked up at him, “I… I can’t explain how… but this last name sounds familiar to me…”

“What name,” he asked.

Her eyes darted back and forth between the parchment and Baltazar, “Patrisi…”

“Patrisi,” Gilles asked, “who is that?”

“It sounds more like a family name than a person.” Baltazar replied. “Melisande, could that be your family?”

Melisande thought about it for a moment, “It’s possible I guess. The name is familiar to me, but I don’t understand why.”

“So it be Venetia then?” Morgan called out. “It seems like that’s where parchment says to go.”

Baltazar shook his head, “We can’t go anywhere until we lose that galleass nipping at our heels. Mr. Gilles, hold your course for now.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Melisande moved to the port side and watched the galleass as it did the best it could to keep pace with the Black Vengeance. She closed her eyes, crossed herself and clasped her hands together, “Lord God Almighty, watch over us, please. You have guided me this far, don’t let our story end here.”

She stood on the deck in complete silence for a few moments, waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. Tears formed as she closed her eyes. She felt the wind blow through her hair and caress her skin which only provided her limited comfort.

Suddenly, Melisande felt an odd surge of power flow through her body. Her eyes snapped open, revealing her pupils were once again glowing bright blue. She kept her back turned to the crew, trying to hide whatever was happening to her. Her eyes always seemed to have an unusual glow about them, but they were never this bright. As she hid herself, she heard a startled voice appear behind her.

Gilles pointed towards the bow, “Captain, look!”

Baltazar turned to face the bow. Right in front of them was a thick wall of fog. Baltazar scratched his head, “I don’t get it, the sun is shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, where did this come from?”

Gilles held the wheel steady, “Orders sir?”

“Steady as she goes, Gilles.” Baltazar replied. “Get us into that fog.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Visibility in front of the Black Vengeance faded down to nothing as they passed into the thick cloud. Baltazar nodded, “This is exactly the good fortune I was waiting for.”

With a smile, Baltazar put a hand on the wheel, “Gilles, hold us steady for another hour. Then, if the fog holds out, steer us thirty degrees to port and bring us to a course south, southwest.”

“You got it Captain,” Gilles replied.

Baltazar gave Gilles a confident nod as he turned to see Papi reappear on deck, “Ah, Mr. Clement, it seems we have a need to sail for the Republic of Venice. I need to know if we have enough supplies for a weeklong voyage.”

“Aye, Captain.” Papi replied as he once again disappeared into the hold.

Morgan looked nervously at Baltazar, “I suggest caution sailing through those waters, Captain. Political unrest be the norm in that region these past years according to the latest news. We don’t want to end up in the middle of a warzone.”

“No we don’t,” Baltazar agreed, “but the Venetians have a firm grasp on the region for the time being. I’d be more worried about us coming under fire from that barge behind us.”

“Ye really think we have a chance at outrunning it?” Morgan asked.

“Aye, definitely.” Baltazar replied with confidence. “With this thick fog, give it an hour, and we’ll never be standing in their shadow again.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 2

divinity10

II

 

Another day passed as the ship sailed for Mont Saint Michel. The morning watch reported seeing smoke on the horizon as the sun rose the next morning. One of the men shook Baltazar out of his bunk to wake him.

Baltazar rubbed his eyes as he looked up, “What is it man?”

“Sorry Captain,” the young scout replied, “but we’ve sighted smoke coming from the direction of the abbey.”

Baltazar shot out of his bunk and stood up, “Where away?”

“Two points off the starboard bow.” He replied.

Baltazar grabbed his spyglass and peered out on the horizon. He couldn’t see what was causing the smoke in the distance, but feared the worst. After lowering the spyglass, Baltazar looked at the coastline they were passing, “That’s coming from Mont Saint Michel… no doubt about it…”

The scout turned to him, “Sir would someone be so… ruthless as to attack an abbey?”

“Why not?” Baltazar replied. “It wouldn’t be the first time… Plus it’s a very defenisble fortress, even with low numbers. Still, let’s not jump to conclusions; we don’t know that’s what happened.”

“It looks like an attack to me.” The scout insisted. “Why else would it be smoking so much?”

Baltazar thought about it for a few moments and nodded, “Okay… all hands on deck, man the guns.”

The scout nodded, “Aye aye sir.”

He quickly ran to the ships bell, and started ringing it loudly, “All hands, on deck, everyone to the guns!”

The sound of the bell roused the crew and they rushed to get on deck. Baltazar took the helm, “Gilles, go get Melisande.”

Gilles released the wheel and saluted, “Aye sir.”

The rest of the crew got on deck quickly as Baltazar began issuing orders, “All hands, run up the guns! Five minutes, I want them ready to fire!”

Gilles disappeared below deck and made it to the galley where Melisande was finishing up her duties. She looked up to see Gilles rush through the door, “Gilles, what’s wrong?”

Gilles looked at her seriously, “You need to come with me right now.”

“Why what is it?” She asked nervously. “Are we under attack?”

“Our scouts sighted smoke over Mont Saint Michel.” Gilles replied. “It looks like there may have been a fight there.”

Melisande gasped, “What, who would attack an abbey?”

“I don’t know,” Gilles replied, “but we be going to find out, let’s go.”

Melisande nodded and followed Gilles up to the main deck. The morning sun brightened her eyes as she finished climbing the steps. Gilles pointed out to the horizon, indicating where Melisande should look.

Melisande squinted to see what was going on. Sure enough, she saw smoke coming from the coastline on the horizon, “No…”

Gilles watched her eyes as she peered into the horizon, “Is it…?”

“Yes,” she nodded, “it’s the abbey.”

Within minutes the ship was battle-ready as the burning abbey grew larger on the horizon. It took them another hour to get close enough, but it was evident long before they were close enough to go ashore that this had been the site of a vicious battle.

As the ship neared the massive castle, they could see large burn marks, blast holes, and flames spewing from the stone. An ominous feeling came over the crew as they beheld what should not have been possible. Mont Saint Michel was high enough to be protected from a sea attack, and easily defensible from land.

When they reached the bay Baltazar turned to his men, “Drop anchor here, we’ll have to take the longboat in.”

“That’s a little far, Captain.” Gilles replied. “It’ll take us a while to reach the abbey.”

“What other choice do we have?” Baltazar asked.

“We can keep going.” Melisande interrupted. “The tide is in, the water should be deep enough.”

Baltazar went wide eyed as he looked at her, “Are you insane? We have no way of knowing if it is deep enough. We could wind up running aground.”

She turned to him with a pleading look in her eyes, “Please, you have to trust me!”

Baltazar paused for a moment and looked at his men as they worked. Finally, he shrugged, “Steady as she goes, helm.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar then turned to Morgan, “Get the longboat ready and standby to lower away.”

“Aye.” Morgan replied.

“Pull in the sails.” Baltazar yelled. “Let the tide bring us in.”

The crew did as they were told and slowly, the Black Vengeance moved in closer to Mont Saint Michel. The ship glided through the water as the castle got bigger. Suddenly, there was a loud scraping noise that rocked the deck slightly. It gave everyone a jump and then stopped.

Melisande turned to Morgan, “What happened?”

“Figure we scrapped a reef.” He replied. “Don’t think it be a good idea to take this much further.”

Melisande nodded, “Just a little more…”

She noticed Baltazar looking at her with concern and glared at him, “Trust me!”

Baltazar turned away, “Helm, five more minutes, then bring us about, hard to starboard and drop anchor.”

“Aye sir,” Gilles responded.

At hearing his orders, Melisande smiled at him before turning and watching the shore. Gilles counted five minutes before pulling the helm over to starboard. Once he did, the ship slowly turned. Gilles held the Black Vengeance at starboard until the bow faced out to sea. The moment that he was certain she was in the right position, he called to the men at the bow, “Drop anchor!”

The anchors on both sides of the ship fell beneath the waves. Within moments, a loud thud indicated that the anchors had impacted on the seabed. The crewmen locked the ropes in place and turned back to Baltazar, “The ship be secure Captain, but I don’t think she can stay here long. We didn’t have to let off much slack!”

“Any idea how much space we have?” Baltazar asked.

The crewman shrugged, “A few feet between us, maybe?”

Baltazar nodded, “We’ll need to make this quick then, lower the longboat.”

Three men worked on getting the launch into the water. Morgan sat in the boat and kept her steady as she touched the water. Papi came up on the deck just as the crew was preparing the longboat.

Baltazar turned to him, “Ah, Mr. Clement, I was about to come and get you. We’re going ashore and I need you to accompany me. With the exception Mel, you know more about the abbey then the rest of us.”

“Understood.” Papi replied.

One by one Papi, Baltazar, and Melisande joined Morgan in the longboat. Baltazar was the last one to climb down. As he made his way over the side, he called out to the men on deck, “Gilles, you’re in command until I get back. Keep her battle ready, I don’t want whatever did this getting a jump on us.”

“You got it, Captain,” Gilles replied, “no problem.”

Melisande took the front of the boat with Papi astern. Morgan and Baltazar manned the ores and rowed towards the small beach located off to the side of the massive walls. As they drew closer, Papi looked up at the high towers, “My God, they took a lot of hits…”

“Aye.” Baltazar replied. “What’s odd is that any weapon that could reach those towers would be slow moving. It should still be in the area… but theres nothing.”

Morgan shook his head, “That be because there ain’t one. Everyone be thinking it, I’m just saying it; no human weapon did this.”

“Then what could it have been,” Melisande asked, “and why?”

Baltazar sucked in a deep breath, he didn’t want to say it, but he had a feeling that he knew what they were after. It’s you they were looking for, Mel. It’s the only explanation.

As the boat pulled up on the rocks, Morgan pulled a box out from under one of the seating positions and opened it. Inside was a pair of pistols, loaded, and ready for use. Baltazar grabbed one while Morgan grabbed the other. They also drew their swords as they jumped out of the boat. The two men’s boots hit the water as Melisande’s feet touched dry land. Papi followed his shipmates out of the boat as they made their way to Mont Saint Michel.

The group made their way up the side of the hill where there was no wall. It was a steep incline and they had to help each other climb at different points to prevent a fall, but eventually, they made it to the abbey walls. From there, they made their way around to the entrance. Walking along the walls, they could see the extent of the damage and some of the rubble that had fallen as a result.

Once they reached the entrance to the main sanctuary the group saw a guard still alive, but only barely. He was shaking in terror and continuously repeated the same words over and over again, “Guards, remain at your posts… hold your ground, hold your ground!”

Baltazar knelt down next to him, “Soldier, it’s okay, the fighting is over.”

The man stopped shaking and looked over at Baltazar. There was a sense of lifelessness in his eyes as though whatever he had seen had ripped the soul from his body before it had a chance to die. Baltazar placed a hand on the man’s shoulder, “What happened here, who did this?”

The guard’s breathing increased and he began shaking again, “Winged beasts… Foul creatures… not human…”

The three men turned and looked at Melisande. She had a look of terror in her eyes. Baltazar stood as the guard closed his eyes and felt limp, “Melisande…”

“Before you say anything,” she interrupted, “I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’ve never seen winged creatures before!”

“We have,” Morgan chimed in, “ye…”

She turned and glared at him, “What are you saying? Do you think I had something to do with this? These people cared for me since I was a child! You think I’d hurt them?”

“Not at all,” Baltazar assured her, “but not so long ago you unleashed inhuman powers on our enemies. At that moment, white wings appeared on your back. It can’t be a coincidence that similar creatures suddenly attack your old home.”

Melisande stepped back, “My God… you’re right… could this be my fault? I am responsible for the deaths of these innocent people?”

“That’s preposterous.” Papi replied. “Put that thought out of your head. You could not have foreseen this, nor could you have prevented it. Had you been here, you’d most likely be dead now too!”

Melisande shook her head, “I only wish that weren’t so hard for me to believe.”

Tears formed in her eyes as she looked at the bodies of guards and monks littering the castle grounds. Baltazar stepped forward with a sympathetic look, “Are you ok?”

“I know most of these people.” She replied. “They were my friends and the only family I ever really had… These guards… they taught me how to fight and let me escape for a few hours every now and then.”

Baltazar hugged Melisande, trying to comfort her as much as he could, “I am sorry for you. I know this must be very difficult.”

“It’s impossible,” she replied as she buried her head in his chest, “let’s just find what we came here for and leave… I don’t know how much more of this I can stand.”

Baltazar nodded, “All right then, let’s go.”

He led the way with Melisande under one arm and his sword pointed ahead. Morgan picked up the rear as they entered the gates to the main sanctuary. It looked as though large explosions of some kind had rocked the once beautiful garden. Large craters had ripped into the flower beds and trees.

Melisande shook her head, “I used to tend to these, I was so proud of them when they came into full bloom. I was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I even saw Sister Mary admiring them from time to time.”

Morgan looked for a moment, “They must’ve been nice. Ye be meticulous when it comes to injuries, can’t even fathom what they would have looked like.”

They continued moving until they entered the first hall. There, in the middle of the room lay small group of nuns. Papi shook his head with a sad look, “They didn’t even show mercy to the sisters… No one was spared…”

Melisande turned to Papi, “Help me, we need to see if one of these is Sister Mary.”

Suddenly, there was movement behind her and a faint whisper. She turned around to see one of the sisters was still alive. Melisande turned and dropped to her knees, “Baltazar, help me, hurry!”

Baltazar moved over to the other side of the sister and kneeled down. Gently, he turned the woman on her back and rested her head on his knee. Melisande moved the hood covering her head to see her face. She covered her mouth when she saw who it was, “Sister Mary!”

The elderly women opened her eyes slightly, “Little Melisande… you’ve returned. I feared the worst when you disappeared.”

“Please forgive me sister,” she replied, “I’m so sorry I worried you…”

Sister Mary weakly shook her head, “You had to find your own way… I watched over you for as long as I could. Your desire for adventure was too strong… I knew it was only a matter of time.”

“Sister, what happened here,” Baltazar asked.

Her eyes turned to face Baltazar, “You… are her protector now?”

Baltazar looked up at Melisande. Her glowing eyes met his and waited anxiously as though she was also curious to hear what his answer would be. Baltazar turned back to the sister and nodded, “Aye, that’s why I’m here.”

Sister Mary pushed against him a little to move her head. She looked up at him and studied his features, “You have a very kind face. You must protect her well, she is important… not just to us, but to the survival of all.”

“What are you talking about Sister?” She asked. “How can I be so important? You told me that I was just a foolish girl.”

“There is more to you then even you know.” Sister Mary responded. “You must find it… the power within yourself… or all of humanity will suffer the same fate.”

“Sister, who did this?” Papi demanded.

She looked up at him, “Demonic creatures… and the one that is many… They are looking for Melisande… but they mustn’t find her.”

Melisande backed away, scared, “Why, why are they after me?”

“Because of who you are.” Sister Mary responded, “Difficult trials lie ahead for you. If you are to survive… you must find the answers…”

Melisande shook her head, “I’m not ready for this, Sister… I don’t want to live like that!”

“You don’t have a choice.” She replied. “We all have a purpose, and this is yours. I’m sorry that such a huge burden has been placed on your shoulders… but such things are not for me to decide.”

“But where do I go from here?” Melisande asked.

Sister Mary reached under her robes and pulled out a small piece of parchment, “Take this… use the information to find the answers, only then will you be able to save us all.”

She handed the parchment to Melisande as her hand fell limp. Melisande took it, but then looked back at the sister, “Sister… Mary, please… who am I?”

The old woman coughed a few times, “You are… you… That is all I can say… you must witness the answers for yourself… for them to make any sense… only then can you decide who you are.”

Her eyes closed and she let out one final breathe. Melisande closed her eyes and placed a hand on Sister Mary’s chest, “Sister… I am so sorry…”

Baltazar placed her body carefully on the ground and crossed himself, “Rest in peace sister. Do not worry; Melisande is in my care now. In nomine Patris, ET Fili, ET Spiritus Sancti, amen.”

Melisande wept as she knelt next to Sister Mary’s body. Baltazar placed his hands on her arms and guided Melisande to her feet. She buried her face in his chest unable to hold back her grief any longer. Her heart felt as though a million needles had just simultaneously pierced it. I should never have left. She thought to herself. This is my fault…

Baltazar closed his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her, “I’m so sorry, Melisande, I wish that there were something I could do to change this…”

“She was my caretaker.” Melisande responded through tears. “She didn’t choose to take care of me, anymore then I would have chosen her… but no matter how badly I misbehaved, she never complained and never gave up on me.”

“Sometimes it be hard.” Morgan said. “Ye never understand how much ye loved someone til they be gone.”

“Truth,” Papi agreed, “as plain as any.”

“We need to get out of here.” Melisande said pleadingly. “Whatever attacked this place was looking for me, and they might still be in the area.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that be true. We best be shoving off.”

“Are you okay to walk?” Baltazar asked as he released Melisande.

She nodded, “I’m shaken up, but I can still move. I’ll be fine… physically speaking.”

The four shipmates ran out of the hall and into the sanctuary. Suddenly, they heard what sounded like a single cannon firing off in the distance. Melisande jumped at the sound, “They’re back, we’re under attack!”

“I don’t think so.” Baltazar responded in a slightly more calm tone. “That shot sounded like it was only a half charge of powder, not enough to fire at anything.”

Morgan came up behind them, “That shot came from the direction of the Black Vengeance, Captain. It most likely be a signal.”

Baltazar nodded, “To the boat!”

As they turned to leave, Melisande took one last look at Sister Mary and shook her head, “I’m sorry…”

Baltazar grabbed her arm and gave her a gentle tug, “Melisande, please… we need to go, now.”

Melisande looked back at him and nodded, “I’m coming.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 3, Chapter 1

divinity9

Book 3

As the Tides Change

I

Deep beneath the ground, in the fiery land of hell, an imp creature approached the entrance to the darkest cave in the Underworld. This cave was the only way to reach Lucifer’s castle by those not capable of flight. Even so, most creatures avoided it. The imp stopped at the entrance and peered in, “Master…”

There was a heavy moan as a black cloud of smoke appeared in front of it, “You had better have a good reason for awakening us!”

“I beg your forgiveness, Lord Legion,” the imp said nervously as he groveled before his master, “but we’ve found her.”

The creature took human form and opened red eyes, “It certainly took you long enough. Where is she?”

The imp lowered its eyes, “Our scouts located someone who matched the description of the girl… it was a young maid living in an abbey in the northern region of France, but we couldn’t be certain it was her. She was either unaware of her powers or unwilling to use them.”

“You begin to bore us, imp.” Legion growled. “Get to the point!”

“We couldn’t move on her until we were certain… that would surely have attracted the attention of the Most High… but surely you felt it, master?” The imp replied nervously. “There was a massive power spike in that region.”

“Yes…” Legion nodded. “Where is she now?”

“We don’t know my lord.” The imp said, stepping backwards. “I took the liberty of dispatching our scouts, but the area that they are supposedly located in is nothing but open ocean and wreckage… however we did find something that may be of interest.”

“And what’s that?” Legion asked.

The imp smiled, “Master, one of the souls that was present in the water spirit has come here. I recognized him almost immediately. I’ve brought him to you.”

The faint ghost stepped out of the shadows. It was in Jaspart’s form, but already looked as though his persona had been corrupted by the trappings of Hell. The spirit bowed to Legion, “Jaspart, at your service milord.”

Legion nodded, “Tell us, what did you see?”

Jaspart sighed, “Had I known, I might never have gone after that man. By what magic does an angel protect him and his crew?”

“You begin to annoy us.” Legion growled. “Tell us what you saw, or proceed to the pit where you belong.”

“Apologies milord…” Jaspart replied as he lowered his eyes. “We were in pursuit of a revolutionary against the crown of Spain. His name is Baltazar Del La Fuente. We had him beat. I had just cut down his first officer and was about to cut him down as well when that… that bitch suddenly appeared. I should have killed her when I had the chance in Granville. It was like she suddenly exploded with power and sent my men flying over the sides of two ships, but it didn’t seem to affect La Fuente’s men. Now I’m here and he has my ship!”

Legion nodded, “She possesses more power than you can ever know, but we need her alive. Did you see where their ship was heading?”

“My ship,” Jaspart replied strongly, resenting Legion’s words, “and I regret that I was already on my way here before the battle ended.”

“Then you are of no further use to us.” Legion hissed as her turned to the imp that was still standing to his side, “Take this condemned soul to his fate.”

The imp nodded and took a step toward the spirit. Jaspart backed away slightly, “No, milord. I can still help you! Please, hear me.”

Legion raised his hand, signaling the imp to stop as he turned back to Jaspart, “And what could you possibly offer us that’s worth saving you from your fate?”

“I know La Fuente.” Jaspart replied. “I’ve been his competition for years. I know his tactics and I know the man. He’s a scoundrel, but he lives by a code of honor. If you go after the girl, no doubt he’ll use everything he knows to protect her.”

“This is pointless,” the imp hissed, shaking its head, “if he tries to interfere, we’ll just kill him.”

Jaspart scoffed, “You think it’s that easy? La Fuente knows how to stay alive in the most dangerous of situations and knows how to weasel his way out of them. Don’t underestimate him.”

“So you would help us outwit him,” Legion mused, “and what would you want in return?”

“To be spared this judgment and allowed to return to my life,” Jaspart replied, “as well as a ship if possible.”

Legion nodded, “Very well, serve us well, and you will have a ship powerful enough to bring you riches beyond compare.”

“My liege,” Jaspart replied with a bow, “I am at your command. What is our plan?”

“We need more information about the girl, how much she knows, how she has lived, and where she’s going.” Legion thought out loud, as he turned back to the imp. “Let us pay a visit to this abbey where we know she’s been. If you find the girl matching her description there, bring her to us.”

A worried look came over the imp’s face, “My lord, won’t that attract the attention of Chiors of Angels?”

Legion nodded, “Probably, but they won’t be anticipating this. Their… leader… knows what I am and wouldn’t dare commit her forces against me unless they were assembled. She’ll cut her losses and assemble her people.”

The imp bowed, “Very well, if you’re certain. Thy will be done my lord.”

Before the creature vanished, Legion pointed an accusing finger at it, “You know the price of failure.”

As the imp disappeared, Jaspart looked at Legion with worry, “What job do you have for me, milord?”

Legion smiled, “Don’t worry; I have special plans for you, ones that involve the use of some of your countrymen.”

**

The crew watched as the ship slowly sank beneath the waves. Gilles stood next to Baltazar, “She was a good ship.”

Baltazar smiled, “With an excellent crew.”

“And the best captain.” Gilles added.

Baltazar shook his head, “If that were true, she wouldn’t be sinking.”

“Ah come on Captain,” Gilles replied, “Ye gave better then you got, and now ye’ve got a better ship.”

“Bigger isn’t always better. “Baltazar said softly. “The Specter was a much smaller target she could easily sneak into port without being noticed. She had a lot of advantages this one might not. So we’re going to need to adjust our strategy.”

“More noticeable perhaps,” Gilles replied, “but faster, better guns, and a stronger hull be a fair trade if ye were to ask me.”

Baltazar nodded, “Fair enough… by the way, have you figured out how this ship was able to repel our attacks so easily?”

“Aye,” Gilles said through a long breath, “but I still kind of find it hard to believe.”

Baltazar narrowed his eyes, “Explain.”

“Aye sir.” Gilles replied. “Most of the caravels built before a certain time were made to be cargo vessels, but this one… this one was built based on the design of the old cargo ships, but the skeleton of the ship is a sophisticated arrangement of crossed beams and a thick support frame. This ship was designed to be able to take a beating.”

“What are you saying?” Baltazar asked.

“She be a hunter-killer.” Gilles replied. “This ship be designed to lure in unsuspecting pirates and then blast them to bits before they know what they be dealing with.”

“Then why is it none of us have seen anything like this before?” Baltazar asked, getting very interested.

Gilles shrugged, “It’s only a guess, Captain, but I’d say the cost of building something so intricate be too high for those even with deeper pockets. I’d be guessing this be a test ship?”

“It makes sense.” Baltazar agreed.

“Excuse me Captain?” A voice appeared from behind.

Baltazar turned to see Morgan standing behind him, “What can I do for you Mr. Morgan?”

“Sir,” Morgan replied, “I be thinking someone is going to come looking for this here boat in no time. I was wondering what course we should set?”

Baltazar thought for a moment, “That’s not an easy question to answer… it basically comes down to what we want to do with the newest member of our family.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that’s exactly what I be thinking.”

Gilles looked over at Morgan, “What do ye think she be, Captain?”

Baltazar cut them off, “Let’s not start jumping to conclusions just yet. No one knows for certain what we saw.”

He put a hand on Gilles’ shoulder, “For now, you are first mate. Steer us a course west, northwest.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye aye sir.”

“Taking us back to Granville are ye?” Morgan asked.

“Not too far from there.” Baltazar replied. “The people at the abbey no doubt knew something we don’t. Why else would they confine her behind their walls for so many years?”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment. “Meet me in the galley in ten minutes. Gilles and Mr. Clement need to join us as well.”

Morgan saluted as he turned away, “Aye aye sir.”

Baltazar watched the last part of the Specter’s bow disappear below the surface, “Good bye old friend, and thank you.”

He sighed as he turned and headed for his new cabin in the aft castle. The wood working was far more intricate, as were the doors and windows. Baltazar pushed the cabin door opened and saw that Melisande was still sleeping. He sat down next to her and tried to fix her hair, “You saved my life… and that of my true family… I can never repay you for that.”

He let out a deep sigh, “But where ever your journey takes you, where ever you decide to go, I swear to you that you will have a friend in me until the end. I will see to it you find what you are looking for, honor demands no less.”

Baltazar covered her over with a blanket, rested her head on the pillow, and placed her swords next to the bed, “Rest well, you’ve earned it.”

He looked around the room while she slept, this is too much luxury for a sea captain. No wonder Jaspart was getting soft.

He looked down at her. She almost seemed to smile as she slept. There was a strange aura of serenity about her, almost as though she were projecting peaceful feelings throughout the room. Her golden hair gleamed from the sunlight as it came through the window. She’s very beautiful… I hope never to see her unhappy.

A knock came at the door as Baltazar stood up, “Yes?”

Morgan opened the door, “Beggin’ yer pardon, Captain, but the men be waiting for you in the galley.”

“Thank you Mr. Morgan, “Baltazar replied, “I’m coming.”

Morgan nodded, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar left Melisande to sleep and made his way down to the galley where Morgan, Giles, and Papi were waiting for him. The galley was a massive space intended for far more people than Baltazar had under his command. It was far more luxurious then anything they had on the Specter. So far, not many of the features aboard the Black Vengeance impressed him. He had a hard time deciding if this ship was a warship or a luxury yacht. Such things did not fit a respectable pirate.

The three men stood as their captain entered. Baltazar nodded, “Stand easy men.”

He then looked at Papi, “Ah, Mr. Clement, I’m sure it’s been an adjustment getting used to your new kitchen. So I am grateful that you’ve obeyed my orders so quickly.”

Papi nodded, “Sir, may I ask…?”

“No need,” Baltazar said in an assuring tone, “Melisande is fine. My guess is what ever happened, put a strain on her. She’s in the captain’s cabin, resting comfortably.”

“Thank you, sir.” Papi said with a sigh. “That is a relief.”

“Aye.” Morgan agreed. “Once again the girl probably saved our lives.”

Baltazar nodded, “No doubt about it, but the question is, what is she, and what do we do with her now?”

“We should send her back.” Papi replied. “The church obviously hid her for a reason. Please sir, allow me to take her home.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I respect your opinion and we are currently sailing for Mont St. Michel, but I will not just throw her over the side for no reason. She signed on as a member of the crew and she has as much right as any of us.”

Baltazar took in a deep breath as he continued, “Mr. Clement, you’ve known her longer than us, she calls you Papi, and she seems attached to you.”

“She’s like a daughter to me,” he replied, “but really, I don’t know any more than you do.”

“I be finding that impossible to believe.” Morgan said in an accusing tone. “What do ye think yer protecting her from by not telling us?”

Papi sighed, “Okay… I’m telling you the truth when I say I don’t know much, but what I do know is that she was brought to Mont Saint Michel’s as little more than a baby. The Orders were doing everything they could to get her as far away from her home as possible.”

“What were they trying to get her away from?” Baltazar asked.

“That,” Papi replied, “I… do not know, but they would not let her leave the abbey at all. She got so restless that she used to convince guards to let her sneak out. I remember how sad she would get being cooped up there. Everyone hated it… everyone. I always wondered what would happen if she asked me to smuggle her out. I don’t know that I would have refused.”

“Where did she come from?” Morgan asked.

“No one would tell me.” Papi admitted. “All I know is that she is not from this area, and judging by the accent her caretaker, Sister Mary, spoke with… I’d say she was probably from one of the lower kingdoms, possibly either Milan or Florence? Definitely somewhere in the old Papal Alliance.”

“That’s considering she even came from the same region.” Baltazar replied.

“Right exactly…” Papi admitted.

Baltazar looked as though he was in deep thought, “So we don’t know where she’s from…  but can we figure out what she is?”

Gilles looked up nervously, “In my short time at sea, this be the first time that my eyes have laid witness to anything like that. Could she be a witch?”

Papi glared at Gilles, “She spent most of her life in an abbey, where she brightened the locals’ spirits. When she got here, she started healing people after the battle. Even when she turned into… whatever that was, the only people she hurt were the ones attacking us. Does that sound like a witch or a demon to you?”

“Mr. Clement be right,” Morgan added, “she be no witch. Be I the only one who saw the wings appearing on her back?”

“Aye.” Baltazar said as the mental picture returned to him. “They felt like mist when I touched them.”

Papi turned to the captain, “Could she be some sort of an angel?”

“It makes sense…” Morgan replied.

“If that is the case,” Papi said softly, “no doubt she is unaware of her powers.”

“This is all conjecture.” Baltazar added, breaking the air. “We don’t know enough about what we’re dealing with to say one way or the other. Let’s focus on what we do know. This girl snuck out of the abbey after living there for most of her life. She is intelligent, well rounded, adept in the art of healing, and she posses some kind of supernatural powers.”

“Aye,” Morgan agreed, “that be the way of it.”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment, “So what do you men think? Send her back to the abbey, or keep her with us?”

Morgan scratched his beard, “Ye already know my feelings. I was the one who first wanted her off the boat, but she’s become a part of the crew. I be wantin her to stay with us.”

“I agree,” Gilles said, “I still owe her my life. I say she stays!”

Papi sighed, “At this point, I suppose voting to send her home would do little good. At least I’ll still be able to watch over her here.”

Baltazar nodded, “I think she has earned the right to choose, she saved all our lives. So if she decides to stay, we’ll welcome her.”

Gilles nodded, “Aye that be fair.”

“I agree,” Baltazar replied, “but for now, I’d also like to find out more about her, so we’ll hold our course for the abbey.”

Morgan narrowed his eyes, “Are ye wanting to take her on some quest to answer all these questions, Captain? Doubt there be much profit in that.”

“No probably not,” Baltazar nodded, “and I won’t force anyone to go on this journey with me.”

He stood up in front of the crewmen, “We have all agreed that she is a member of this family now. We all agreed that we do not care if she is an angel or a demon. Now I’m asking the three of you, if she decides to stay with us, will you help me repay everything she’s done for us? Every one of us at some point has needed help and the rest of the crew has been there. She’s entitled to the same treatment.”

Gilles stood up, “As I said before, I owe for more than the lot of ye. I’m onboard.”

“Hm…” Morgan thought for a moment. “There be plenty of times for plunder after she has the answers she needs. I be up for an adventure. Count me in.”

Papi smiled, “I’ve wanted to do this for years. Of course I’m in.”

“Alright, it’s settled then,” Baltazar agreed, “but we can’t do this without a crew. I suspect some of the men already had questions they wanted answered before we were attacked.”

He turned to Gilles, “Pipe all hands on deck in ten minutes. I’m going to let them know what’s going on.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

The men filed out and made their way to their posts. Baltazar climbed up to the deck and went to his cabin. Once he was in front of the door, he placed his hand on the doorknob and paused for a moment. Am I doing the right thing keeping her here? He thought to himself.

Baltazar put his fears out of his head and opened the door. Melisande was still lying in bed unconscious. He sat down next to her and brushed the hair from her face, “You saved our lives…”

Baltazar had several ports of call out there and double the number of maidens that both hated his guts and loved him, but there was something different about this one. She was more beautiful than the others, but she had an almost mystic innocence about her. Perhaps it was for the best that she stayed aboard. Papi wouldn’t be around forever, so if possible, Baltazar would need to find some way to ensure that she was taken care of.

A knock on the door shattered his thoughts. He stood up and faced the door, “Enter.”

“Pardon the interruption sir.” Morgan said as he entered the room.

Baltazar nodded, “What is it?”

“By yer orders sir,” Morgan replied, “the men be assembled on the main deck and be waiting for ye.”

Baltazar stood up and moved towards the door, “Oh yes. Thank you.”

He followed Morgan out and moved to the quarter deck where he stood in front of his men. Baltazar looked over the rag tag bunch that he had come to call family. He began to wonder if anything was about to change with what he had to tell them.

Baltazar finally decided that there was no point in postponing the inevitable, and addressed his men, “Brave crewmen, you have all served loyally and without question. You have yet to refuse a single order or disappoint me in any way, and for that I am grateful. Because of that, I now feel the need to address some of the questions that have arisen over the last few days… My father is Philip II of Spain… the late king. I am a member of the Habsburg family.”

A voice from the crowd interrupted, “Sir, what about Mel?”

Baltazar nodded, “I was getting to that. I just thought you’d like a full explanation…”

Another voice broke through, “We don’t care what family you come from, sir. Royalty or not, you’re still Captain La Fuente!”

The entire crew cheered, agreeing with the first man. Baltazar was very touched, “I don’t know what to say… thank you men!”

A man in front yelled as he threw an arm in the air, “I’ll follow Captain La Fuente to hell and back!”

The crew looked as though they were getting restless, so Baltazar moved on, “Well then, to answer your question, Melisande is resting comfortably. Whatever happened appears to have drained her of all of her energy, so she’s unconscious.”

A worried look came over the crew. Baltazar shook his head, “Don’t worry men, I assure you that she is alive. She is still breathing and her skin is quite warm. I’m sure she’ll be up and about before we know it.”

As the look of worry faded into relief, Baltazar took in another deep breath, “That is the other reason I have called you here. Men, Melisande has done a lot for us in the short time we’ve been together, but she has no idea where she comes from or who her family is. I intend to take her to find out. This journey may be very dangerous and we may not make any profit at all. At the moment, we’re sailing for Mont Saint Michel. If anyone doesn’t want to be caught up in this, they may be released from service upon our arrival. I won’t blame any man jack who decides to leave.”

The crew all began talking at once. Shouts of annoyance went up from the crew, “What abandon Mel?”

“We ain’t going nowhere!”

“I said before I’d follow Captain La Fuente to hell, and I meant it!”

“Ye ain’t getting rid of us that easy Captain!”

“We owe Mel our lives! Who says we won’t find a prize on the way!”

Baltazar smiled, “Okay, okay, I am sorry I offended your honor. I’m sure Melisande will be very grateful when she wakes up!”

The men cheered as Baltazar looked up at the sails, “Alright then, all hands, full sails, man the braces, and bring us to Mont Saint Michel!”

He then turned to Gilles and Morgan. Gilles returned his glance and nodded, “Holding course east, northeast, sir!”

Baltazar nodded, “Very good. I’ll be in my cabin, hold us steady.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

Again Baltazar disappeared through the doors. Melisande hadn’t moved as she slept. He sat down next to her. The sunlight from the window made her hair shine brightly and illuminate the cabin. Seeing her in this light, he couldn’t imagine a more beautiful site. He now knew that he wanted to keep her safe, no matter what it cost him. He leaned in towards her and whispered into her ear, “You needn’t worry, we’ll keep you safe.”

She moved around a little bit and half a smile appeared on her face. He then slowly moved his lips from her ear and pressed them against hers. She slowly began to stir as her eyes remained closed.

In less than a second, Baltazar felt a sharp pain in his throat. He pulled back to see Melisande’s eyes wide open in anger. She grabbed his shirt and held a knife to his throat. He put his hands up, “You’re awake… I’m sorry, you’re right, that wasn’t very chivalrous of me.”

A rambunctious grin formed on her face as she pushed Baltazar back against the cabin door. Baltazar felt his body squeeze as she pressed him against the wood. Suddenly, she brought her lips up and kissed him deeply. Baltazar kept his eyes open, unsure what was going on, but decided to go along with it rather than risk injury to himself.

After a few moments, she pulled her lips away from his, “From now on, you knock before entering!”

With that, Melisande opened the cabin door and, using impressive strength, pushed him out. Baltazar was pushed with so much force that he went flying back across the deck and landed on his back. He sat up to see the door to the cabin slam shut. He stared at the door for a minute shaking his head. Okay, what just happened?

Attempting to save face in front of his men, he got up and straightened out his shirt. That was stupid… He thought to himself as he heard soft laughter behind him. He turned to see three men staring at him, “What are you looking at, back to work!”

After throwing Baltazar out and shutting the door, Melisande bit her lower lip as she smiled nervously. Her heart was racing and she felt strange. She retreated to the back of the cabin and opened one of the windows.

The cool breeze helped calm Melisande as she sorted things out in her head. She still wasn’t sure exactly what happened. Where did that sudden burst of energy come from, why did she pass out, and most importantly, what made Baltazar think that he had earned the right to kiss her?

Melisande wanted answers, so she quickly grabbed some water out of the bowl next to the bed and cleaned herself up. She found some women’s clothing in the cabin that looked like it would fit her. She quickly changed, and made her way to the deck. She opened the cabin door and proceeded to the railing.

The air on the ship noticeably lightened when he presence became known. The crew was happy to see that she was up and about. Even the newer crew that had been victim to her energy waves could see the effect she had on the people she served with.

Morgan and Baltazar looked at each other for a moment. Baltazar nervously shook his head so Morgan decided that it was up to him to talk to her. He climbed down from the quarter deck and approached her as she watched the sea from the starboard railing.

“Top of the morning to ye missy.” He said with a smile.

“Morgan,” she replied as she turned to him, “good morning, what happened… where is the Specter?

“We lost the Specter.” He replied. “She was taking on water and listing badly, we couldn’t save her.”

Melisande lowered her eyes, “I’m sorry… I know you all served on that ship a long time. I thought that if we could end the fight quick enough, there might be a way to save her, but I guess that was a fantasy. I wish I could have done more to help.”

“Ye have nothing to be sorry for.” Morgan said sternly. “Ye saved all of our lives and helped us take control of this mighty ship. Thanks to ye, we be a lot better off than we were.”

“Your words are too kind,” she replied with a half smile, “but I don’t even know what happened.”

“Do ye remember the battle?” He asked.

She nodded, “Yes, I remember everything… but I don’t know what happened.”

Baltazar did the best he could to listen in and decided to risk joining the conversation. He approached the two of them and smiled. Melisande flashed him an evil grim that stopped him right in his path. It took him a moment to calm the chills, but once they were gone, he walked up to her, “What did it feel like?”

Melisande lowered her eyes, “It felt like a raging tide that had been held back by a rickety damn just broke through. It felt like whatever chains were holding me back had been snapped. At least for a little while.”

She looked up at Baltazar with her bright blue eyes, “I don’t know how else to explain it.”

Baltazar smiled, “I think we get it.”

“So wait, if those powers be dormant and ye unleashed them…” Morgan said hesitantly. “Then can ye do that again?”

Melisande shook her head, “I don’t even know what ‘that’ was…”

She lowered her eyes as she continued, “What am I, who am I, what does all of this mean, and what am I supposed to do now?”

“What do you mean?” Baltazar asked.

“You all saw me,” she replied, “I can only imagine what you think now…”

Her eyes turned to a look of fear, “What are you going to do with me?”

“Keep ye.” Morgan replied. “Ye be one of us. Signed and sworn.”

Baltazar nodded, “Not only that, but we’ve spoken to the crew and decided that we’re going to help you find the answers to those questions. I get the feeling that there is too much as stake not to.”

The light in her eyes turned to fire as tears of joy flow from them, “But what about your plunder? I can’t imagine that we’ll have a ton of time for pirating if we’re doing this?”

“Don’t be worrying your pretty head about that,” Morgan replied. “There be plenty of time for that later. Maybe we’ll pick off a ship or two on the way as well.”

“I don’t know what to say,” she replied as her voice began to crack, “I… thank you all so much. I’m not sure how I can ever repay you!”

She grabbed Baltazar and hugged him tightly. Baltazar braced himself for a sharp object to pierce his back, but it never happened. He slowly pressed his hands against her back as she nuzzled into his chest.

Suddenly Melisande’s eyes shot open and she pushed away with a nervous grin. The two of them looked at each other for a few moments in total silence. It was a very awkward moment for them both. Morgan smirked as he turned his attention to the open ocean.

“Just keep me from dying.” Morgan said mercifully breaking the silence. “All I ask.”

Melisande nodded, “Not a problem, Morgan. Thank you.”

She turned back to Baltazar, “So where do we plan to start looking?”

“Mont Saint Michel,” he replied, “we’re going to go talk to this Sister Mary who has cared for you all these years.Mr. Clement believes she may know the truth of your origins.”

“Papi?” She asked. “Where is he…”

“Below in the galley.” Baltazar replied. “You should go see him when you get a chance. He was really worried about you.”

Melisande nodded, “I’m sure… I’ll need to go talk to him.”



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim