Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 2, Chapter 1

Book 2

The Pirate Heroes

I

The next two days were spent refitting the Specter for its next journey. Melisande worked hard to make sure that she won the acceptance of the crew. She served the meals promptlyand then helped clean below decks. She made sure to help out anywhere that she could, but made sure that no mug was empty when in the hands of a crewman. The crew appreciated the speed with which the drinks were served and refilled.

One late evening, she listened to two of the crewmen on deck arguing like they did the day she came on board. One she recognized as Melchior, the first mate. The other she had met a few days earlier. She didn’t know his name, but everyone just referred to him as the quartermaster. Judging by the sound of their voices, they weren’t happy.

“Two days it’s been.” Melchior yelled. “Where the hell be the captain!”

The quartermaster shrugged, “Last I hear tell of him, a woman had him tied up on land.”

Melchior rolled his eyes with a chuckle, “Literally or figuratively?”

“I don’t ask questions.” The quartermaster replied, “It be unsightly. That be what I was told and that be all I wanted to hear. This woman he be looking for apparently be something special.”

“She best be an angel.” Melchior replied. “If the captain be wasting all our time on this.”

The quartermaster nodded, “Heard he saved her from a gang a few days ago, he did. Now he be smitten.”

“Poor fool…” Melchior replied.

Melisande’s eyes widened as she listened in. Oh dear God, it can’t be…

**

An hour went by as Melisande tended to her chores. Papi was barely talking to her, still angry by her refusal to return to shore. It weighed heavily on her that the man she knew and loved may never look at her the same. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard the boson’s whistle piping all hands on deck.

Melisande quickly dropped what she was doing and ran up on deck with the rest of the crew. She turned to the man closest to her as she watched the gangway, “Gilles, what is going on?”

Gilles, the helmsman, was a short man with no beard and thick black hair. When he turned to face her, it was as though his whole body moved, “Captain be comin’ aboard.”

Melisande’s eyes widened as she watched and waited. Suddenly, across the walkway, she saw a man dressed in a red tunic and black trousers step on to the deck. She could not make out his face as his head was turned, but she was certain that she knew who it was.

Melchior saluted, “Welcome home Captain. Was your business on shore profitable?”

“In some ways,” he responded, “I managed to pump a little information out of one of the innkeepers about a Spanish merchant ship heading this way.”

“Feel free to spare me the details.” Melchior replied. “Be not interested in where ye got the information. I be more interested in the information itself.”

“Aye,” The captain replied. “We’ll discuss this at dinner tonigh. I’ll tell you all about my exploits on land.”

Melchior rolled his eyes, “And ye wonder why I be wearing thin.”

“Ah, but tis a good look, and much healthier my friend.” The captain chuckled as he turned around. “So what do we have here Melchior?”

Melisande sighed when her fears were confirmed, “Oh no…”

“The crew be assembled Captain La Fuente,” Melchior replied. “We weren’t able to find many replacements at this lousy little port, but we got enough to make do.”

Baltazar smiled, “Very good.”

Melisande did the best she could to keep out of sight as Baltazar looked over the group of men that made up his crew. He then stepped off the aft deck and walked the line, looking at each crewman.

Melisande tried to hide her face without seeming obvious. Baltazar stopped in front of Papi. He looked the old cook over for a few moments, “Good to have you back, Mr. Clement. I’ve been greatly missing your morning biscuits.”

Papi smiled and nodded, “I have a fresh batch cooking for you in the galley. You’ll have them before the day is out.”

“Good man.” Baltazar replied as he patted Papi on the shoulder.

Baltazar moved further down the line, inspecting them men. He stopped in front of Melisande and looked down at her face. She kept her eyes narrow to prevent him from seeing her tell tale pupils while mentally saying a prayer that her disguise would fool him.

Baltazar had an odd look on his face as he watched her, “Do I know you from somewhere?”

She shook her head, “I can’t say as your face is unfamiliar to me… sir.”

“You wouldn’t be related to anyone I owe money to, would you?” He asked.

“I wouldn’t think so…” She replied.

“Good.” Baltazar said through a sigh of relief. “Would this be your first voyage, boy?”

Melisande did the best she could to alter her voice, making it sound like that of a boy’s, “Aye sir!”

“What say you then?” He asked in a stern voice. “Are you prepared to serve, life or death, so help you God?”

Melisande nodded, “Aye…”

Baltazar smiled, “Good lad.”

He then turned and headed back to the helm, “Melchior, we sail at 8 bells! Get the ship ready!”

Melchior nodded, “Aye sir, everyone to your stations. Move it you dogs!”

The crew scattered across the deck. Each man headed to his station as everything came together. Baltazar watched suspiciously as Melisande disappeared below deck. He stood at the helm and turned to his first mate, “Melchior, what do you know about our new crewman? Where did he come from?”

“No idea, I’m afraid.” He replied. “We saw the boy looking lost on the docks and asked if he be looking for a ship to sign on with. He seemed anxious to sign once he came aboard. What’s more, he actually knows how to read and write.”

Baltazar nodded, “There is something familiar about that boy… keep an eye on him.”

Melchior nodded, “Aye sir.”

*

Melisande was below deck when she heard 8 bells chime. Baltazar stood at the helm barking out orders, “All watches on deck prepare to make way, shorten and cable. Men to the yards, aloft with you! Hands to the braces, weigh anchor, let fall the sails!”

Melisande nearly fell backwards as the ship lurched forward. She quickly found her feet and continued working. Once she finished setting the captain’s table, she ran up on deck and leaned over the railing. The cool sea breezes passed over her face and the ship began to pick up speed. Within moments, the Specter exited the harbor.

Baltazar turned one point to starboard as they reached open water. He stared out at the horizon and smiled, “Let’s have some fun.”

He used the coordinates that were given to him and navigated toward where this Spanish ship would be. Melisande decided to make herself useful and helped swab the deck as the rest of the crew prepared for action.

She saw Gilles pass by as they were priming the deck cannons, “Hey, any idea where we’re going?”

“Hunting,” Gilles replied with a smile, “we’re going after a Spaniard who will hopefully be carrying riches from the new world.”

A worried look came over Melisande’s face, “What happens to the crew?”

Gilles stopped working and thought for a moment, “Our captain is weird about that, he offers their crews a chance to join us, if they don’t, he sets them free in thier own ship’s longboats.”

“So he doesn’t kill them?” She asked.

“No,” Gilles replied, “not unless he has to.”

Melisande nodded as she finished working and went below. Papi had the captain’s next meal ready to go. He looked up at her as she entered the room, “Have fun on deck?”

Melisande nodded, “What do you know of Captain La Fuente?”

“Good man,” Papi responded, “good pirate. No one knows much about him. He avoids questions about his family and his past, but he’s quick with a joke and enjoys spending time with his crew. He gives each of us our fair share, but the odd thing is that he takes the rest of the plunder and what he doesn’t use to refit his ship, goes to the poor people and the church of whatever city we stop in.”

“Is that so?” She asked, surprised. “So he’s not like the cutthroat pirates that I’ve been reading about.”

Papi laughed, “No, he seems to be a man on a mission, but you would do well to stay away from him. His debaucheries on land are famous.”

“I know,” She replied, “I’ve met him before.”

“What,” Papi asked as a combined look of worry and surprise appeared on his face, “when?”

She lowered her eyes, “A group of ruffians attacked me as I was making my way to the docks. He stopped them.”

Papi stepped forward and took her hand, “Were you hurt?”

“No,” she replied, “he got to them before they laid a hand on me.”

Papi nodded, “He has my thanks, even though I can’t tell him.”

Melisande helped clean off a few dishes as Papi finished preparing the meal, “How long have you served him?”

Papi thought about it for a few minutes, “About five years. I served the captain before him. Captain La Fuente organized a mutiny when he was only 15. He took over command, treated his men better, and I decided to stay on.”

“I see,” she said in a rather disappointed tone, “so a scoundrel, a thief, and a mutineer.”

Papi smiled, “Yes, but an honorable one of each.”

Papi pulled the last plate out and placed it on a tray, “Bring this to the captain’s cabin. He’ll be expecting it.”

Melisande nodded as she took the tray. The boat rocked back and forth and it was difficult for her to keep everything on the tray, but she managed to make it on deck and then to the captain’s cabin. There was a strong wind blowing, but she was determined not to screw things up.

Once Melisande reached the cabin door, she placed the tray down, opened the door, and brought the tray inside. Baltazar was working on some sort of pistol as she set his tray on the nearest table, “What is that, Captain?”

Baltazar looked over at her, “Ah, Cabin Boy Mel, thank you for bringing my food by.”

She nodded as Baltazar held up the pistol so she could examine it. The hammer wasn’t like the pistols she’d seen before. Usually those had a lit match on the end. This one appeared to have a small rock wedged between a vice on the rear hammer. In front of it was a bent lever that fed down into a pan where the gunpowder would go, “I’ve never seen a pistol like this before.”

“Fascinating, isn’t it?” He asked. “We stole a box of ten of them off the last merchant ship we ransacked. The captain said they’re called ‘flintlock’ pistols. Look…”

He pulled the hammer back, pushed the lever into position and pulled the trigger. Yellow sparks flew from the contraption as the lever sprung into its open position. She looked in amazement, “So if I understand this correctly, whatever that stone is, when it strikes the metal, it creates sparks that cause the power to ignite! In other words, it can fire even in bad winds!”

Baltazar nodded, “Very good… how did you know that?”

“I…” She realized too late that she had said too much. “My father was a blacksmith. I understand these types of things.”

Baltazar crossed his legs as he began picking through the food, “Is that so? Tell me about your father, what was he like?”

Melisande shook her head, “No disrespect sir, but my family life is personal, they all died when I was very young. I don’t know much more than that.”

“I’m very sorry,” Baltazar replied, “forgive me.”

She nodded as she saluted, “It’s quite alright sir, but if I may be excused, I have other duties.”

Baltazar nodded, “Okay, you may go.”

Melisande turned to leave as Melchior walked in. She moved quickly to the side avoid bumping into him and saluted, “Excuse me sir.”

He nodded as she passed by, “Mel.”

Baltazar looked up at his first officer, “Melchior, what can I do for you today?

“Sir,” Melchior replied, “we’ve spotted a storm coming in off the port bow. I don’t think we’re going to reach the Spanish merchant tonight.”

“Bad?” Baltazar asked.

Melchior nodded, “It looks like we’re in for a squall.”

Baltazar looked out the window at the dark clouds on the horizon. He closed his eyes as the wind passed over his skin. To Melchior, it almost seemed like he was trying to read what the weather would be like from the sound of the wind.

After a few moments, Baltazar reopened his eyes, “We’ve got a few hours left… order full sail for about 90 minutes. Once it starts getting dark, drop all canvas, batten down all hatches, and go to storm procedures. I want this ship secure, mister.”

Melchior saluted, “Aye Captain, it will be done.”



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

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Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Chapter 4

IV

 

The cart had been travelling for over an hour and despite the bumpy ride, Melisande had managed to fall asleep in the back. She was roused when she realized that the cart was slowing down. The sounds of activity all around her were a good indication that she’d arrived in Granville. She raised her head and smiled when she realized that her trip was over. Now she needed to figure out how to get aboard a ship.

The cart passed through the market and was heading for the docks. She looked in front of her as the buildings parted to reveal tall masts and open ocean. This was where Melisande wanted to be. Quietly, she hopped off the back of the cart and went to take a closer look at the ship.

Upon examining her surroundings, Melisande saw several ships with men lining up to sign on. She walked over to one of the ships. A man was sitting at a small desk signing crew on.

He looked at her sternly, “This ain’t no place for womenfolk, move along.”

Hurt, Melisande turned her back to the ship without replying, and walked away. Looking at her clothing, she realized that there was no way she would be able to sign on as long as she looked like a castle maid. It was obvious that she would need to diguise herself as a boy.

Without another thought, Melisande turned and headed for the marketplace. Finding what she needed was easy enough with so many places to shop. She went from stand to stand looking for the right tunic and some trousers, but none seemed to suit her. Finally, as she was about to give up, she found what she was looking for at the last stand at the end of the road.

The shopkeeper was an older man who eyed her suspiciously, “You want to buy these clothes?”

Melisande looked at him nervously, “Yes sir, if that is ok. They are for my… husband.”

“Indeed…” The man said quietly, “and where is your husband?”

She began to sweat as she tried to come up with a credible story, “He’s… he’s at sea… he should be home at any day now.”

“This is how it always is.” She said, trying to be casual. “Every time he comes home, his clothes are always torn to shreds. I can’t have him looking like a beggar, you know?”

The shopkeeper narrowed his eyes, “Odd… I haven’t seen any reports of a ship coming in… lots going out, but not one coming in.”

The whole thing sounded suspicious, but he was a shopkeeper, not the local constable, “Oh well. Do you have enough money?”

Melisande pulled a small sack of coins from her dress and handed it to him. He opened it and looked in, “You’re a little short… but it’s ok, I’ll accept this for questioning you.”

She smiled and curtseyed, “Thank you sir.”

She took the clothes and backed away, looking for a place to change. Privacy was in short supply in this town, but she would not give up.

At the other end of the market stood an old tavern which was a favorite hangout for sailors that had just returned to port. Anytime a ship arrived, there was always a party and the doors would remain open all hours of the night. It seemed like a fairly rough spot and not suitable for her to change.

As Melisande walked by, the door to the tavern flew open and a man fell through them. He landed hard on his side on the dirt path. He was followed by a crowd that was led by a much larger man wearing an apron. The large man stood in front of him with a sneer, “Don’t be showing your face around here again!”

“Aw come on innkeep!” The man replied slyly, “I was just enjoying a drink! She came on to me. What’s the harm in me coming around and enjoying the local spirits?”

As though answering his question, eight swords suddenly appeared, pointed at his throat. The young man looked the mob that was now poised to strike and his lips twisted, “All right, you’ve made your point. Not a good idea.”

The men put their swords away and headed back into the tavern. As the innkeeper followed and closed the door, he called back to the young man, “Oh, and if I see you anywhere near my daughter again, I’ll fix you in a way to make you fit for the choir!”

Hearty laughs came from inside the tavern as the large man slammed the door. The smaller man stood up, brushed himself off, and straightened up his short black hair. He smiled and called back, “I’d still be more of a man than you!”

The young man laughed as he began to stumble down the street. He tried his best to steady himself as he continued, but he stumbled over a stone and fell forward. The man closed his eyes, certain he was about to hit the ground again, but instead felt pressure on his shoulders, holding him up. When his eyes opened, he saw Melisande holding on to him, “Are you okay?”

The man rubbed his eyes and looked at her again, “I beg your pardon?”

She looked at him oddly, “Are you okay? You’re stumbling all over the place and you reek of booze!”

Snap out of it man! He thought to himself as he straightened up, “My apologies miss. I seem to have had a bad string of luck lately.”

He smiled as he looked her over, “Until now, that is.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she replied.

The man brushed off his white tunic, straightened up the large golden medallion the rested on his partially bare chest, and stood up straight, “Allow me to introduce myself properly. I am Captain Baltazar de la Fuente, at your service ma’am. May I have the honor of your name?”

Melisande immediately noticed that his eyes were not on her face, “You may have the honor of my fist in your mouth if you don’t redirect your gaze.”

Baltazar shook his head and bowed, “My sincerest apologies, my fair lady. It is hard to keep one’s eyes focused on but a single aspect of such a work of art.”

At hearing his words, her eyes went fluttery, “You… you see me as a work of art?”

“Aye,” He replied drunkenly, “indeed the great painters of the church, including the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci could not have envisioned such perfection.”

“Leonardo Da Vinci…” She repeated in a whisper. “I have heard of him and read of his works.”

She forced a half smile as she moved closer to him, “Answer me something honestly my noble Baltazar…”

“Anything m’lady,” he replied in a sensual tone.

The blushing look on her face quickly turned to a cross between malice and deviousness, “How many women were fools enough to believe a single word of that flattery?”

Baltazar was caught off guard and his expression turned to one of shock. He struggled to regain his composure as he organized a retort, “It… matters not how many women I have said such things to, what matters is the sincerity with which I say it now.”

“And you’re badly lacking in any.” She replied with a snort. “Out of my way, I have no time for ruffians.”

Melisande pushed past Baltazar and made her way back to the docks. Baltazar watched her from behind. Well now, she certainly has spirit. He then took a moment as he examined her appearance before she turned away. She’s an unusual one… those eyes are unlike any other I’ve seen…

Once she was away from Baltazar, Melisande decided to try a shortcut through a large alley. She could see the masts of ships on the other side and quickly made her way through. She was a few feet away from the docks when two men appeared in front of her, “Well well, what have we here?”

Melisande didn’t give them a second thought, “Excuse me, please. I need to get to the docks.”

The taller man pushed her back, “What would a woman like you want on the docks? I better check your bags.”

Melisande backed off and tried to leave the alley the other way, only to see it blocked by two more men, “Let me be, I have nothing of any value to you!”

The leader looked her over, “Is that so? I think you have a few things of value, what do you think boys?”

The other three snickered as they closed in on Melisande. She began to breathe heavily as she dropped her bag and pulled the two swords out of her blanket. With one in each hand, she pointed them in both directions at the gang, “I know how to use these, back off!”

The swords looked tarnished and her quivering hands were not helping her case. The group scoffed and continued to move in. The leader kept his eyes on her, “Come on boys, let’s see what she has to offer.”

Suddenly, another voice appeared behind them, “What’s the matter Jaspart, roughing up local merchants becoming too tough for you?”

The leader looked up, “This doesn’t concern you La Fuente, isn’t there some merchant’s daughter you should be defiling?”

Baltazar laughed, “Yeah, but I only gamble my money, not certain parts of me. The price proved to be a little high. Anyway, you heard the lady, she said back off.”

“Really,” Jaspart replied, “I don’t think I have to back off… in fact, I appear to have three swords that agree with me on that, don’t ya boys?”

“4 swords against one?” Baltazar said with a frown. “Almost seems a little unfair!”

As the first gang member, a fat man named Grard, drew his sword, Baltazar grabbed his own and sliced the air. His sword clashed with Grard’s, while a second man, Allart came up behind him. As Baltazar dueled, he watched Allart out of the corner of his eye.

Once his attacker got close enough, Baltazar used his impressive speed and brought his leg back hard. His foot impacted against the Allart’s stomach, causing him to wheeze and fall to the ground. Then he forced Grard’s sword away with his own, balled a fist, and struck right on the bridge of Grard’s nose.

The man dropped his sword and cupped his hands over his face as he fell to the ground. The third man who had been standing next to Jaspart flinched and then ran as fast as he could in the other direction. Jaspart called after him, “Coward!”

Baltazar shrugged, “Almost unfair.”

Jaspart sneered, “This isn’t over La Fuente!”

“So you keep saying, old friend,” Baltazar called as he ran away, “but you just never learn, you should hire better men!”

Once they were gone, Baltazar grabbed Melisande’s bag and brushed it off. He then turned and handed it to her, “My apologies miss. Some of the locals around here are a bit rough around the edges.”

Melisande lowered her swords, “Thank you for your help good sir, though I am sure that I could have handled things.”

Baltazar smiled, “Of that, I have no doubt, even with such poorly kept swords. In truth I was going to let you handle it yourself, but then I thought, ‘What kind of a man would I be if I let you do all the work?’ So I figured I’d do at least one good deed today.”

“I see.” Melisande chuckled softly as she turned to keep moving. “Well thank you again.”

Baltazar nodded, “You’re welcome miss… um…”

“Melisande.” She replied. “My name is Melisande.”

“A beautiful name for one so fair!” Baltazar said with a bow. “Do you live around here? May I have the honor of escorting you home?”

“I would like that very much.” Melisande said politely.

“Very well then,” Baltazar replied, “which w…”

“Unfortunately,” Melisande interrupted as the devious grin once again appeared on her face, “I don’t live anywhere around here. So it looks like you’re going to have to escort yourself home.”

Melisande brushed passed Baltazar with a giggle, leaving him standing in the alley with a sheepish grin on his face, “It would appear that this rose has thorns…”

Baltazar watched Melisande until she disappeared from view. She turned a corner and hid behind a stack of barrels. After making sure that she was completely out of sight, she stripped off her dress and threw on the clothes that she had just purchased.

Realizing that her face was still a giveaway to her gender, she rubbed some dirt on her cheeks and slightly narrowed her eyes. Among the clothes she had purchased was a vest that helped hide her chest once she buttoned it. Finally, she stood up and looked herself over. She could now easily pass for a boy, or so she thought. A gust of wind blew her golden blonde hair into her face.

Melisande knew that other sailors had longer hair, but not like hers. She took care of her hair and made sure it shined brightly. She could never get it past anyone.

Knowing what had to be done, Melisande grabbed one of her swords and pulled her hair back. At that moment, she hesitated. What was she doing? Did she really want to alter her appearance this much?

I’ve come this far. She thought to herself with a deep sigh. If I really want this, I’ll need to go all the way…

With one quick pull, Melisande felt a ripping sensation as her hair came loose. She looked at the long locks in her hand as the remaining hair on her head barely touched her shoulders. She dropped the severed hair and allowed the wind to carry it away. She was now ready to go.

Unfortunately it looked as though Melisande had taken too long. All of the ships that were hiring had closed up shop and weren’t taking on anyone else. She let out another deep sigh and started walking down the dock towards the town, hoping to find some place to rest for the night. She passed by several ships, none of whom still had a desk out in front of them.

As she continued walking, she noticed a peculiar looking ship at the end of the dock. It was in the process of being repainted dark blue and flew no flag. The name on the back was painted in gold and shined in the setting sun.

On the deck, Melisande could hear two men yelling at each other. She couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but she picked out the words ‘deserters’ and ‘short-handed.’ As she made her way by the dock, a sailor on board looked over the side and yelled to her, “You there, boy!”

She turned back and looked up at the person who had called to her, “Me, sir?”

“Aye.” He replied. “Ye look like a lad looking for work.”

Melisande nodded as she tried to adjust her speech to sound more like an experienced sailor, “Aye, but it looks like everyone’s already signed up enough hands.”

The sailor smiled, “Well, ye think ye got what it takes to sail on the famous Specter?”

Melisande looked over the small ship. The Specter had a single square rigged mast which was followed by a smaller mast that carried a large lanteen sail. It was smaller than most caravels that Melisande had read about and the ship’s actual design was unknown to her, “Famous huh, what’s the pay like?”

“Ye’d start out a cabin boy.” He replied. “So ye would get a half a share of whatever we bring in.”

There’s almost no difference between a cabin boy and what I do at the abbey… She thought to herself. Still, you have to start somewhere.

Having made her decision, Melisande looked up at the sailor, “Where do I sign up?”

The sailor smiled as he beckoned her aboard, “Haha, that’s the spirit! Come meet the first mate.”

Without another thought, Melisande ran to the walkway and jumped aboard the Specter. She was surprised to see just how heavily armed the ship was. Large cannons lined the deck, making the walkway somewhat cramped. These were in addition to the standard armament on the lower gun deck. Other than that, there was nothing special about this ship. It was small, cramped, and looked like it was over-manned for its size. The aft cabin had three large, lead-plated windows, but that was the only decor on the aft castle.

“She be a simple ship, but she serves her purpose.”

Melisande jumped at the voice that appeared behind her. She turned to see the first officer standing right over her. He was a very tall man with a gray beard and dark eyes. His hair was almost gone and he wore a large hat to cover it. He smiled with every green tooth he still had, “Apologies, lad, my name is Melchior, I be the first officer on the Specter. I understand ye be looking to sign on with us?”

Melisande mustered up what courage she could, “Aye, sir.”

Melchior smiled, “Argh, what be your name?”

“Mel…” She stopped in the middle of her name. She couldn’t very well give her real name or they would know right away what she was. Could she get away with that, or would she need to think of something quick.

Melchior looked at her oddly, “Mel… that be an odd name. Be that short for something?”

She shook her head, “No sir, it’s just Mel sir.”

Melchior smiled guided her over to a table seated in front of the helm. On it was a book and quill. Melchior pointed to it, “All right then Mel, make your mark.”

Melisande picked up the quill and signed her name. Melchior’s eyes narrowed, “You know how to write too. This be quite interesting.”

“My mother insisted I learn.” She replied. “I can’t figure out why.”

“Perhaps she thought it best ye be educated.” Melchior replied. “It be a better way to live then not knowing if something ye be signing be false.”

Once Melisande was done with the book, Melchior closed it and put it away, “Welcome aboard the Specter, lad.

She nodded, “Thanks, so tell me, who is captain here?”

“Aye.” Melchior replied. “He be the bravest man I ever did sail with. I expect he be back any time. He be a real whirlwind of passion and ferocity. Ye best not cross his path.”

Melisande smiled, “Got it, this should be fun.”

Melchior shrugged, “Aye lad, if ye say so. I reckon ye be wanting to get started. Stow yer gear and make for the galley, the ship’s cook will be waiting for ye. Lively now!”

Melisande stood at attention and saluted, “Aye aye sir.”

She quickly disappeared below deck, found her bunk, and then made her way to galley. She passed through the small walkway illuminated by lanterns. The wood creaked under her feet as she stepped. Finally, she made it to the galley. This area was well lit and even had hot stove with a vent running through to the deck.

The cook had his back turned to her as she entered the small room. He was working hard on the crew’s supper. Upon hearing movement, he turned around to see who had entered his galley.

Melisande shrieked at seeing his face, “Papi?”

The startled cook looked strangely at Melisande, “Boy, why are you shouting like that? You could have gotten yourself shot!”

He then stopped in his tracks, “Wait… what did you call me, Papi?”

A terrified look came over his face as he realized who he was dealing with. He walked closer to her, grabbed a wet rag from the counter and put his hand to her face. Before she could back away or protest, he wiped away the dirt, “Only one person knows me by that name…”

As Papi wiped her face, his eyes went wide, “Melisande? So this is where you ran off to! I thought maybe you had gone exploring and that Sister Mary was overreacting per the norm but… What are you doing on this ship?”

“I might ask you the same question.” She replied. “I remember you disappearing for months at a time throughout my life, is this where you went?”

“I’m asking the questions here Messy!” He fired back, “This is no place for you! These people are pirates!”

Melisande stepped backwards, “A… a pirate vessel?”

“Yes,” Papi replied with a sheepish look, “I sign on as the ships cook every now and then when I need more money to keep my Inn open.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing, “So all these years, you’ve been a pirate.”

“I’ve been a cook on merchant ships too,” he admitted, “but this is the only one I’ve truly enjoyed serving on.”

“I see…” She replied. “So what now?”

Papi shook his head, “Now we’re getting you off of this ship and back to the abbey!”

“No!” Melisande protested adamantly, “I’m staying right here. I can’t go back to the abbey. I am tired of that life. I snuck out early this morning and went for a walk. When I looked back, I couldn’t stand the thought of returning to that cage. I need to get my life started before I rot away behind those walls!”

“This is not the place for you to get started.” Papi insisted. “If the crew finds out who you really are, I don’t know what they’ll do!”

“They won’t find out.” She replied smiling. “Look at me, you barely even knew who I was.”

Papi looked her over and sighed, “This isn’t a game, Messy! You are in real danger here. I’m taking you back. There is no other choice.”

She took a step backwards, “No, no you’re not. If you even try it, I’ll inform the local authorities of what you really are. I’ll then do the same with the abbey.”

Papi’s mouth dropped open, “Messy… after all these years… I was good to you and did my best to make you happy when I was at the abbey. After all that, you’re blackmailing me? You’d really turn me over to be hanged?”

“I won’t,” she replied, “and I don’t want to, but now you can see just how despirate I am. I can’t go back. I’ll die if I have to remain trapped behind those walls. No matter what, you’ll have to kill me to send me back.”

“Messy…” Papi said in a disappointed voice. “You’ve changed. I never thought you’d go this far.”

Melisande frowned as tears entered her eyes, “I’m sorry Papi. I don’t mean to hurt you and I hope you can forgive me, but I was suffocating there. I need to know who I am and where I come from. I need to travel and to find out who my family is. There is more to me than a simple abbey servant… I know there is.”

Papi saw the look in her watering eyes as they pleaded with him. She stepped closer as a tear fell down her cheek, “Please help me… please?”

Papi struggled greatly with her plea. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t like the way that Sister Mary had treated her, but how could he let her stay on that ship? She was in a lot more danger than he thought she could understand. Even so, what choice did he have? He couldn’t force her back and she did have information on him that could lead to a hangman’s noose.

Defeated, and knowing that Melisande would not give up, he sighed, “If you are absolutely certain that you’ve thought this through… fine. I’ll keep your secret for one voyage and only one! After that, I’m taking you ashore and we’ll find the answers to your past together.”

Melisande looked away as she contemplated his words. Papi watched her think, and knew that he had duties to attend to, “This is the only deal that I’m prepared to make. I’d rather face the gallows than see you at the mercy of these cutthroats. Is it a deal or am I taking you ashore now?”

Melisande looked up and smiled, “I love you Papi, you’re the best. I accept your offer!”

She threw her arms around him and gave him a kiss. Papi pulled away quickly with a nervous look, “Don’t thank me. I’m already regretting this. Keep yourself in check and don’t rouse suspicion!”

“Don’t worry Papi,” she replied, “the guards taught me how to handle a sword. I’ll be fine.”

“I hope so,” Papi replied, “I hope so…”



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

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Lion King Remake

Okay… I’m told that we’re going into a movie topic today. Let’s see what are we dealing with…

The Lion King (2019)

“CG-animated re-imagining of the 1994 Walt Disney classic The Lion King”

… … …

I quit.

I’m sorry guys, I’m done. To all my readers and followers, thanks for your support throughout all this time.

I’d especially like to thank my family and friends for being so loving and supportive… but this is it, I’m done. I would also like to retract my previous statements about Hollywood originality. 

Thanks friends… and farewell!

(Disclaimer: I’m not actually quitting, this was just my attempt to voice my utter disdain for this move by Disney, if it wasn’t painfully obvious.)



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.

You can also add me on Twitter!

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 2, Chapter 1

Book 2

The Pirate Heroes

I

The next two days were spent refitting the Specter for its next journey. Melisande worked hard to make sure that she won the acceptance of the crew. She served the meals promptlyand then helped clean below decks. She made sure to help out anywhere that she could, but made sure that no mug was empty when in the hands of a crewman. The crew appreciated the speed with which the drinks were served and refilled.

One late evening, she listened to two of the crewmen on deck arguing like they did the day she came on board. One she recognized as Melchior, the first mate. The other she had met a few days earlier. She didn’t know his name, but everyone just referred to him as the quartermaster. Judging by the sound of their voices, they weren’t happy.

“Two days it’s been.” Melchior yelled. “Where the hell be the captain!”

The quartermaster shrugged, “Last I hear tell of him, a woman had him tied up on land.”

Melchior rolled his eyes with a chuckle, “Literally or figuratively?”

“I don’t ask questions.” The quartermaster replied, “It be unsightly. That be what I was told and that be all I wanted to hear. This woman he be looking for apparently be something special.”

“She best be an angel.” Melchior replied. “If the captain be wasting all our time on this.”

The quartermaster nodded, “Heard he saved her from a gang a few days ago, he did. Now he be smitten.”

“Poor fool…” Melchior replied.

Melisande’s eyes widened as she listened in. Oh dear God, it can’t be…

**

An hour went by as Melisande tended to her chores. Papi was barely talking to her, still angry by her refusal to return to shore. It weighed heavily on her that the man she knew and loved may never look at her the same. Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard the boson’s whistle piping all hands on deck.

Melisande quickly dropped what she was doing and ran up on deck with the rest of the crew. She turned to the man closest to her as she watched the gangway, “Gilles, what is going on?”

Gilles, the helmsman, was a short man with no beard and thick black hair. When he turned to face her, it was as though his whole body moved, “Captain be comin’ aboard.”

Melisande’s eyes widened as she watched and waited. Suddenly, across the walkway, she saw a man dressed in a red tunic and black trousers step on to the deck. She could not make out his face as his head was turned, but she was certain that she knew who it was.

Melchior saluted, “Welcome home Captain. Was your business on shore profitable?”

“In some ways,” he responded, “I managed to pump a little information out of one of the innkeepers about a Spanish merchant ship heading this way.”

“Feel free to spare me the details.” Melchior replied. “Be not interested in where ye got the information. I be more interested in the information itself.”

“Aye,” The captain replied. “We’ll discuss this at dinner tonigh. I’ll tell you all about my exploits on land.”

Melchior rolled his eyes, “And ye wonder why I be wearing thin.”

“Ah, but tis a good look, and much healthier my friend.” The captain chuckled as he turned around. “So what do we have here Melchior?”

Melisande sighed when her fears were confirmed, “Oh no…”

“The crew be assembled Captain La Fuente,” Melchior replied. “We weren’t able to find many replacements at this lousy little port, but we got enough to make do.”

Baltazar smiled, “Very good.”

Melisande did the best she could to keep out of sight as Baltazar looked over the group of men that made up his crew. He then stepped off the aft deck and walked the line, looking at each crewman.

Melisande tried to hide her face without seeming obvious. Baltazar stopped in front of Papi. He looked the old cook over for a few moments, “Good to have you back, Mr. Clement. I’ve been greatly missing your morning biscuits.”

Papi smiled and nodded, “I have a fresh batch cooking for you in the galley. You’ll have them before the day is out.”

“Good man.” Baltazar replied as he patted Papi on the shoulder.

Baltazar moved further down the line, inspecting them men. He stopped in front of Melisande and looked down at her face. She kept her eyes narrow to prevent him from seeing her tell tale pupils while mentally saying a prayer that her disguise would fool him.

Baltazar had an odd look on his face as he watched her, “Do I know you from somewhere?”

She shook her head, “I can’t say as your face is unfamiliar to me… sir.”

“You wouldn’t be related to anyone I owe money to, would you?” He asked.

“I wouldn’t think so…” She replied.

“Good.” Baltazar said through a sigh of relief. “Would this be your first voyage, boy?”

Melisande did the best she could to alter her voice, making it sound like that of a boy’s, “Aye sir!”

“What say you then?” He asked in a stern voice. “Are you prepared to serve, life or death, so help you God?”

Melisande nodded, “Aye…”

Baltazar smiled, “Good lad.”

He then turned and headed back to the helm, “Melchior, we sail at 8 bells! Get the ship ready!”

Melchior nodded, “Aye sir, everyone to your stations. Move it you dogs!”

The crew scattered across the deck. Each man headed to his station as everything came together. Baltazar watched suspiciously as Melisande disappeared below deck. He stood at the helm and turned to his first mate, “Melchior, what do you know about our new crewman? Where did he come from?”

“No idea, I’m afraid.” He replied. “We saw the boy looking lost on the docks and asked if he be looking for a ship to sign on with. He seemed anxious to sign once he came aboard. What’s more, he actually knows how to read and write.”

Baltazar nodded, “There is something familiar about that boy… keep an eye on him.”

Melchior nodded, “Aye sir.”

*

Melisande was below deck when she heard 8 bells chime. Baltazar stood at the helm barking out orders, “All watches on deck prepare to make way, shorten and cable. Men to the yards, aloft with you! Hands to the braces, weigh anchor, let fall the sails!”

Melisande nearly fell backwards as the ship lurched forward. She quickly found her feet and continued working. Once she finished setting the captain’s table, she ran up on deck and leaned over the railing. The cool sea breezes passed over her face and the ship began to pick up speed. Within moments, the Specter exited the harbor.

Baltazar turned one point to starboard as they reached open water. He stared out at the horizon and smiled, “Let’s have some fun.”

He used the coordinates that were given to him and navigated toward where this Spanish ship would be. Melisande decided to make herself useful and helped swab the deck as the rest of the crew prepared for action.

She saw Gilles pass by as they were priming the deck cannons, “Hey, any idea where we’re going?”

“Hunting,” Gilles replied with a smile, “we’re going after a Spaniard who will hopefully be carrying riches from the new world.”

A worried look came over Melisande’s face, “What happens to the crew?”

Gilles stopped working and thought for a moment, “Our captain is weird about that, he offers their crews a chance to join us, if they don’t, he sets them free in thier own ship’s longboats.”

“So he doesn’t kill them?” She asked.

“No,” Gilles replied, “not unless he has to.”

Melisande nodded as she finished working and went below. Papi had the captain’s next meal ready to go. He looked up at her as she entered the room, “Have fun on deck?”

Melisande nodded, “What do you know of Captain La Fuente?”

“Good man,” Papi responded, “good pirate. No one knows much about him. He avoids questions about his family and his past, but he’s quick with a joke and enjoys spending time with his crew. He gives each of us our fair share, but the odd thing is that he takes the rest of the plunder and what he doesn’t use to refit his ship, goes to the poor people and the church of whatever city we stop in.”

“Is that so?” She asked, surprised. “So he’s not like the cutthroat pirates that I’ve been reading about.”

Papi laughed, “No, he seems to be a man on a mission, but you would do well to stay away from him. His debaucheries on land are famous.”

“I know,” She replied, “I’ve met him before.”

“What,” Papi asked as a combined look of worry and surprise appeared on his face, “when?”

She lowered her eyes, “A group of ruffians attacked me as I was making my way to the docks. He stopped them.”

Papi stepped forward and took her hand, “Were you hurt?”

“No,” she replied, “he got to them before they laid a hand on me.”

Papi nodded, “He has my thanks, even though I can’t tell him.”

Melisande helped clean off a few dishes as Papi finished preparing the meal, “How long have you served him?”

Papi thought about it for a few minutes, “About five years. I served the captain before him. Captain La Fuente organized a mutiny when he was only 15. He took over command, treated his men better, and I decided to stay on.”

“I see,” she said in a rather disappointed tone, “so a scoundrel, a thief, and a mutineer.”

Papi smiled, “Yes, but an honorable one of each.”

Papi pulled the last plate out and placed it on a tray, “Bring this to the captain’s cabin. He’ll be expecting it.”

Melisande nodded as she took the tray. The boat rocked back and forth and it was difficult for her to keep everything on the tray, but she managed to make it on deck and then to the captain’s cabin. There was a strong wind blowing, but she was determined not to screw things up.

Once Melisande reached the cabin door, she placed the tray down, opened the door, and brought the tray inside. Baltazar was working on some sort of pistol as she set his tray on the nearest table, “What is that, Captain?”

Baltazar looked over at her, “Ah, Cabin Boy Mel, thank you for bringing my food by.”

She nodded as Baltazar held up the pistol so she could examine it. The hammer wasn’t like the pistols she’d seen before. Usually those had a lit match on the end. This one appeared to have a small rock wedged between a vice on the rear hammer. In front of it was a bent lever that fed down into a pan where the gunpowder would go, “I’ve never seen a pistol like this before.”

“Fascinating, isn’t it?” He asked. “We stole a box of ten of them off the last merchant ship we ransacked. The captain said they’re called ‘flintlock’ pistols. Look…”

He pulled the hammer back, pushed the lever into position and pulled the trigger. Yellow sparks flew from the contraption as the lever sprung into its open position. She looked in amazement, “So if I understand this correctly, whatever that stone is, when it strikes the metal, it creates sparks that cause the power to ignite! In other words, it can fire even in bad winds!”

Baltazar nodded, “Very good… how did you know that?”

“I…” She realized too late that she had said too much. “My father was a blacksmith. I understand these types of things.”

Baltazar crossed his legs as he began picking through the food, “Is that so? Tell me about your father, what was he like?”

Melisande shook her head, “No disrespect sir, but my family life is personal, they all died when I was very young. I don’t know much more than that.”

“I’m very sorry,” Baltazar replied, “forgive me.”

She nodded as she saluted, “It’s quite alright sir, but if I may be excused, I have other duties.”

Baltazar nodded, “Okay, you may go.”

Melisande turned to leave as Melchior walked in. She moved quickly to the side avoid bumping into him and saluted, “Excuse me sir.”

He nodded as she passed by, “Mel.”

Baltazar looked up at his first officer, “Melchior, what can I do for you today?

“Sir,” Melchior replied, “we’ve spotted a storm coming in off the port bow. I don’t think we’re going to reach the Spanish merchant tonight.”

“Bad?” Baltazar asked.

Melchior nodded, “It looks like we’re in for a squall.”

Baltazar looked out the window at the dark clouds on the horizon. He closed his eyes as the wind passed over his skin. To Melchior, it almost seemed like he was trying to read what the weather would be like from the sound of the wind.

After a few moments, Baltazar reopened his eyes, “We’ve got a few hours left… order full sail for about 90 minutes. Once it starts getting dark, drop all canvas, batten down all hatches, and go to storm procedures. I want this ship secure, mister.”

Melchior saluted, “Aye Captain, it will be done.”



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, Chapter 4

IV

 

The cart had been travelling for over an hour and despite the bumpy ride, Melisande had managed to fall asleep in the back. She was roused when she realized that the cart was slowing down. The sounds of activity all around her were a good indication that she’d arrived in Granville. She raised her head and smiled when she realized that her trip was over. Now she needed to figure out how to get aboard a ship.

The cart passed through the market and was heading for the docks. She looked in front of her as the buildings parted to reveal tall masts and open ocean. This was where Melisande wanted to be. Quietly, she hopped off the back of the cart and went to take a closer look at the ship.

Upon examining her surroundings, Melisande saw several ships with men lining up to sign on. She walked over to one of the ships. A man was sitting at a small desk signing crew on.

He looked at her sternly, “This ain’t no place for womenfolk, move along.”

Hurt, Melisande turned her back to the ship without replying, and walked away. Looking at her clothing, she realized that there was no way she would be able to sign on as long as she looked like a castle maid. It was obvious that she would need to diguise herself as a boy.

Without another thought, Melisande turned and headed for the marketplace. Finding what she needed was easy enough with so many places to shop. She went from stand to stand looking for the right tunic and some trousers, but none seemed to suit her. Finally, as she was about to give up, she found what she was looking for at the last stand at the end of the road.

The shopkeeper was an older man who eyed her suspiciously, “You want to buy these clothes?”

Melisande looked at him nervously, “Yes sir, if that is ok. They are for my… husband.”

“Indeed…” The man said quietly, “and where is your husband?”

She began to sweat as she tried to come up with a credible story, “He’s… he’s at sea… he should be home at any day now.”

“This is how it always is.” She said, trying to be casual. “Every time he comes home, his clothes are always torn to shreds. I can’t have him looking like a beggar, you know?”

The shopkeeper narrowed his eyes, “Odd… I haven’t seen any reports of a ship coming in… lots going out, but not one coming in.”

The whole thing sounded suspicious, but he was a shopkeeper, not the local constable, “Oh well. Do you have enough money?”

Melisande pulled a small sack of coins from her dress and handed it to him. He opened it and looked in, “You’re a little short… but it’s ok, I’ll accept this for questioning you.”

She smiled and curtseyed, “Thank you sir.”

She took the clothes and backed away, looking for a place to change. Privacy was in short supply in this town, but she would not give up.

At the other end of the market stood an old tavern which was a favorite hangout for sailors that had just returned to port. Anytime a ship arrived, there was always a party and the doors would remain open all hours of the night. It seemed like a fairly rough spot and not suitable for her to change.

As Melisande walked by, the door to the tavern flew open and a man fell through them. He landed hard on his side on the dirt path. He was followed by a crowd that was led by a much larger man wearing an apron. The large man stood in front of him with a sneer, “Don’t be showing your face around here again!”

“Aw come on innkeep!” The man replied slyly, “I was just enjoying a drink! She came on to me. What’s the harm in me coming around and enjoying the local spirits?”

As though answering his question, eight swords suddenly appeared, pointed at his throat. The young man looked the mob that was now poised to strike and his lips twisted, “All right, you’ve made your point. Not a good idea.”

The men put their swords away and headed back into the tavern. As the innkeeper followed and closed the door, he called back to the young man, “Oh, and if I see you anywhere near my daughter again, I’ll fix you in a way to make you fit for the choir!”

Hearty laughs came from inside the tavern as the large man slammed the door. The smaller man stood up, brushed himself off, and straightened up his short black hair. He smiled and called back, “I’d still be more of a man than you!”

The young man laughed as he began to stumble down the street. He tried his best to steady himself as he continued, but he stumbled over a stone and fell forward. The man closed his eyes, certain he was about to hit the ground again, but instead felt pressure on his shoulders, holding him up. When his eyes opened, he saw Melisande holding on to him, “Are you okay?”

The man rubbed his eyes and looked at her again, “I beg your pardon?”

She looked at him oddly, “Are you okay? You’re stumbling all over the place and you reek of booze!”

Snap out of it man! He thought to himself as he straightened up, “My apologies miss. I seem to have had a bad string of luck lately.”

He smiled as he looked her over, “Until now, that is.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” she replied.

The man brushed off his white tunic, straightened up the large golden medallion the rested on his partially bare chest, and stood up straight, “Allow me to introduce myself properly. I am Captain Baltazar de la Fuente, at your service ma’am. May I have the honor of your name?”

Melisande immediately noticed that his eyes were not on her face, “You may have the honor of my fist in your mouth if you don’t redirect your gaze.”

Baltazar shook his head and bowed, “My sincerest apologies, my fair lady. It is hard to keep one’s eyes focused on but a single aspect of such a work of art.”

At hearing his words, her eyes went fluttery, “You… you see me as a work of art?”

“Aye,” He replied drunkenly, “indeed the great painters of the church, including the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci could not have envisioned such perfection.”

“Leonardo Da Vinci…” She repeated in a whisper. “I have heard of him and read of his works.”

She forced a half smile as she moved closer to him, “Answer me something honestly my noble Baltazar…”

“Anything m’lady,” he replied in a sensual tone.

The blushing look on her face quickly turned to a cross between malice and deviousness, “How many women were fools enough to believe a single word of that flattery?”

Baltazar was caught off guard and his expression turned to one of shock. He struggled to regain his composure as he organized a retort, “It… matters not how many women I have said such things to, what matters is the sincerity with which I say it now.”

“And you’re badly lacking in any.” She replied with a snort. “Out of my way, I have no time for ruffians.”

Melisande pushed past Baltazar and made her way back to the docks. Baltazar watched her from behind. Well now, she certainly has spirit. He then took a moment as he examined her appearance before she turned away. She’s an unusual one… those eyes are unlike any other I’ve seen…

Once she was away from Baltazar, Melisande decided to try a shortcut through a large alley. She could see the masts of ships on the other side and quickly made her way through. She was a few feet away from the docks when two men appeared in front of her, “Well well, what have we here?”

Melisande didn’t give them a second thought, “Excuse me, please. I need to get to the docks.”

The taller man pushed her back, “What would a woman like you want on the docks? I better check your bags.”

Melisande backed off and tried to leave the alley the other way, only to see it blocked by two more men, “Let me be, I have nothing of any value to you!”

The leader looked her over, “Is that so? I think you have a few things of value, what do you think boys?”

The other three snickered as they closed in on Melisande. She began to breathe heavily as she dropped her bag and pulled the two swords out of her blanket. With one in each hand, she pointed them in both directions at the gang, “I know how to use these, back off!”

The swords looked tarnished and her quivering hands were not helping her case. The group scoffed and continued to move in. The leader kept his eyes on her, “Come on boys, let’s see what she has to offer.”

Suddenly, another voice appeared behind them, “What’s the matter Jaspart, roughing up local merchants becoming too tough for you?”

The leader looked up, “This doesn’t concern you La Fuente, isn’t there some merchant’s daughter you should be defiling?”

Baltazar laughed, “Yeah, but I only gamble my money, not certain parts of me. The price proved to be a little high. Anyway, you heard the lady, she said back off.”

“Really,” Jaspart replied, “I don’t think I have to back off… in fact, I appear to have three swords that agree with me on that, don’t ya boys?”

“4 swords against one?” Baltazar said with a frown. “Almost seems a little unfair!”

As the first gang member, a fat man named Grard, drew his sword, Baltazar grabbed his own and sliced the air. His sword clashed with Grard’s, while a second man, Allart came up behind him. As Baltazar dueled, he watched Allart out of the corner of his eye.

Once his attacker got close enough, Baltazar used his impressive speed and brought his leg back hard. His foot impacted against the Allart’s stomach, causing him to wheeze and fall to the ground. Then he forced Grard’s sword away with his own, balled a fist, and struck right on the bridge of Grard’s nose.

The man dropped his sword and cupped his hands over his face as he fell to the ground. The third man who had been standing next to Jaspart flinched and then ran as fast as he could in the other direction. Jaspart called after him, “Coward!”

Baltazar shrugged, “Almost unfair.”

Jaspart sneered, “This isn’t over La Fuente!”

“So you keep saying, old friend,” Baltazar called as he ran away, “but you just never learn, you should hire better men!”

Once they were gone, Baltazar grabbed Melisande’s bag and brushed it off. He then turned and handed it to her, “My apologies miss. Some of the locals around here are a bit rough around the edges.”

Melisande lowered her swords, “Thank you for your help good sir, though I am sure that I could have handled things.”

Baltazar smiled, “Of that, I have no doubt, even with such poorly kept swords. In truth I was going to let you handle it yourself, but then I thought, ‘What kind of a man would I be if I let you do all the work?’ So I figured I’d do at least one good deed today.”

“I see.” Melisande chuckled softly as she turned to keep moving. “Well thank you again.”

Baltazar nodded, “You’re welcome miss… um…”

“Melisande.” She replied. “My name is Melisande.”

“A beautiful name for one so fair!” Baltazar said with a bow. “Do you live around here? May I have the honor of escorting you home?”

“I would like that very much.” Melisande said politely.

“Very well then,” Baltazar replied, “which w…”

“Unfortunately,” Melisande interrupted as the devious grin once again appeared on her face, “I don’t live anywhere around here. So it looks like you’re going to have to escort yourself home.”

Melisande brushed passed Baltazar with a giggle, leaving him standing in the alley with a sheepish grin on his face, “It would appear that this rose has thorns…”

Baltazar watched Melisande until she disappeared from view. She turned a corner and hid behind a stack of barrels. After making sure that she was completely out of sight, she stripped off her dress and threw on the clothes that she had just purchased.

Realizing that her face was still a giveaway to her gender, she rubbed some dirt on her cheeks and slightly narrowed her eyes. Among the clothes she had purchased was a vest that helped hide her chest once she buttoned it. Finally, she stood up and looked herself over. She could now easily pass for a boy, or so she thought. A gust of wind blew her golden blonde hair into her face.

Melisande knew that other sailors had longer hair, but not like hers. She took care of her hair and made sure it shined brightly. She could never get it past anyone.

Knowing what had to be done, Melisande grabbed one of her swords and pulled her hair back. At that moment, she hesitated. What was she doing? Did she really want to alter her appearance this much?

I’ve come this far. She thought to herself with a deep sigh. If I really want this, I’ll need to go all the way…

With one quick pull, Melisande felt a ripping sensation as her hair came loose. She looked at the long locks in her hand as the remaining hair on her head barely touched her shoulders. She dropped the severed hair and allowed the wind to carry it away. She was now ready to go.

Unfortunately it looked as though Melisande had taken too long. All of the ships that were hiring had closed up shop and weren’t taking on anyone else. She let out another deep sigh and started walking down the dock towards the town, hoping to find some place to rest for the night. She passed by several ships, none of whom still had a desk out in front of them.

As she continued walking, she noticed a peculiar looking ship at the end of the dock. It was in the process of being repainted dark blue and flew no flag. The name on the back was painted in gold and shined in the setting sun.

On the deck, Melisande could hear two men yelling at each other. She couldn’t quite make out what they were saying, but she picked out the words ‘deserters’ and ‘short-handed.’ As she made her way by the dock, a sailor on board looked over the side and yelled to her, “You there, boy!”

She turned back and looked up at the person who had called to her, “Me, sir?”

“Aye.” He replied. “Ye look like a lad looking for work.”

Melisande nodded as she tried to adjust her speech to sound more like an experienced sailor, “Aye, but it looks like everyone’s already signed up enough hands.”

The sailor smiled, “Well, ye think ye got what it takes to sail on the famous Specter?”

Melisande looked over the small ship. The Specter had a single square rigged mast which was followed by a smaller mast that carried a large lanteen sail. It was smaller than most caravels that Melisande had read about and the ship’s actual design was unknown to her, “Famous huh, what’s the pay like?”

“Ye’d start out a cabin boy.” He replied. “So ye would get a half a share of whatever we bring in.”

There’s almost no difference between a cabin boy and what I do at the abbey… She thought to herself. Still, you have to start somewhere.

Having made her decision, Melisande looked up at the sailor, “Where do I sign up?”

The sailor smiled as he beckoned her aboard, “Haha, that’s the spirit! Come meet the first mate.”

Without another thought, Melisande ran to the walkway and jumped aboard the Specter. She was surprised to see just how heavily armed the ship was. Large cannons lined the deck, making the walkway somewhat cramped. These were in addition to the standard armament on the lower gun deck. Other than that, there was nothing special about this ship. It was small, cramped, and looked like it was over-manned for its size. The aft cabin had three large, lead-plated windows, but that was the only decor on the aft castle.

“She be a simple ship, but she serves her purpose.”

Melisande jumped at the voice that appeared behind her. She turned to see the first officer standing right over her. He was a very tall man with a gray beard and dark eyes. His hair was almost gone and he wore a large hat to cover it. He smiled with every green tooth he still had, “Apologies, lad, my name is Melchior, I be the first officer on the Specter. I understand ye be looking to sign on with us?”

Melisande mustered up what courage she could, “Aye, sir.”

Melchior smiled, “Argh, what be your name?”

“Mel…” She stopped in the middle of her name. She couldn’t very well give her real name or they would know right away what she was. Could she get away with that, or would she need to think of something quick.

Melchior looked at her oddly, “Mel… that be an odd name. Be that short for something?”

She shook her head, “No sir, it’s just Mel sir.”

Melchior smiled guided her over to a table seated in front of the helm. On it was a book and quill. Melchior pointed to it, “All right then Mel, make your mark.”

Melisande picked up the quill and signed her name. Melchior’s eyes narrowed, “You know how to write too. This be quite interesting.”

“My mother insisted I learn.” She replied. “I can’t figure out why.”

“Perhaps she thought it best ye be educated.” Melchior replied. “It be a better way to live then not knowing if something ye be signing be false.”

Once Melisande was done with the book, Melchior closed it and put it away, “Welcome aboard the Specter, lad.

She nodded, “Thanks, so tell me, who is captain here?”

“Aye.” Melchior replied. “He be the bravest man I ever did sail with. I expect he be back any time. He be a real whirlwind of passion and ferocity. Ye best not cross his path.”

Melisande smiled, “Got it, this should be fun.”

Melchior shrugged, “Aye lad, if ye say so. I reckon ye be wanting to get started. Stow yer gear and make for the galley, the ship’s cook will be waiting for ye. Lively now!”

Melisande stood at attention and saluted, “Aye aye sir.”

She quickly disappeared below deck, found her bunk, and then made her way to galley. She passed through the small walkway illuminated by lanterns. The wood creaked under her feet as she stepped. Finally, she made it to the galley. This area was well lit and even had hot stove with a vent running through to the deck.

The cook had his back turned to her as she entered the small room. He was working hard on the crew’s supper. Upon hearing movement, he turned around to see who had entered his galley.

Melisande shrieked at seeing his face, “Papi?”

The startled cook looked strangely at Melisande, “Boy, why are you shouting like that? You could have gotten yourself shot!”

He then stopped in his tracks, “Wait… what did you call me, Papi?”

A terrified look came over his face as he realized who he was dealing with. He walked closer to her, grabbed a wet rag from the counter and put his hand to her face. Before she could back away or protest, he wiped away the dirt, “Only one person knows me by that name…”

As Papi wiped her face, his eyes went wide, “Melisande? So this is where you ran off to! I thought maybe you had gone exploring and that Sister Mary was overreacting per the norm but… What are you doing on this ship?”

“I might ask you the same question.” She replied. “I remember you disappearing for months at a time throughout my life, is this where you went?”

“I’m asking the questions here Messy!” He fired back, “This is no place for you! These people are pirates!”

Melisande stepped backwards, “A… a pirate vessel?”

“Yes,” Papi replied with a sheepish look, “I sign on as the ships cook every now and then when I need more money to keep my Inn open.”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing, “So all these years, you’ve been a pirate.”

“I’ve been a cook on merchant ships too,” he admitted, “but this is the only one I’ve truly enjoyed serving on.”

“I see…” She replied. “So what now?”

Papi shook his head, “Now we’re getting you off of this ship and back to the abbey!”

“No!” Melisande protested adamantly, “I’m staying right here. I can’t go back to the abbey. I am tired of that life. I snuck out early this morning and went for a walk. When I looked back, I couldn’t stand the thought of returning to that cage. I need to get my life started before I rot away behind those walls!”

“This is not the place for you to get started.” Papi insisted. “If the crew finds out who you really are, I don’t know what they’ll do!”

“They won’t find out.” She replied smiling. “Look at me, you barely even knew who I was.”

Papi looked her over and sighed, “This isn’t a game, Messy! You are in real danger here. I’m taking you back. There is no other choice.”

She took a step backwards, “No, no you’re not. If you even try it, I’ll inform the local authorities of what you really are. I’ll then do the same with the abbey.”

Papi’s mouth dropped open, “Messy… after all these years… I was good to you and did my best to make you happy when I was at the abbey. After all that, you’re blackmailing me? You’d really turn me over to be hanged?”

“I won’t,” she replied, “and I don’t want to, but now you can see just how despirate I am. I can’t go back. I’ll die if I have to remain trapped behind those walls. No matter what, you’ll have to kill me to send me back.”

“Messy…” Papi said in a disappointed voice. “You’ve changed. I never thought you’d go this far.”

Melisande frowned as tears entered her eyes, “I’m sorry Papi. I don’t mean to hurt you and I hope you can forgive me, but I was suffocating there. I need to know who I am and where I come from. I need to travel and to find out who my family is. There is more to me than a simple abbey servant… I know there is.”

Papi saw the look in her watering eyes as they pleaded with him. She stepped closer as a tear fell down her cheek, “Please help me… please?”

Papi struggled greatly with her plea. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t like the way that Sister Mary had treated her, but how could he let her stay on that ship? She was in a lot more danger than he thought she could understand. Even so, what choice did he have? He couldn’t force her back and she did have information on him that could lead to a hangman’s noose.

Defeated, and knowing that Melisande would not give up, he sighed, “If you are absolutely certain that you’ve thought this through… fine. I’ll keep your secret for one voyage and only one! After that, I’m taking you ashore and we’ll find the answers to your past together.”

Melisande looked away as she contemplated his words. Papi watched her think, and knew that he had duties to attend to, “This is the only deal that I’m prepared to make. I’d rather face the gallows than see you at the mercy of these cutthroats. Is it a deal or am I taking you ashore now?”

Melisande looked up and smiled, “I love you Papi, you’re the best. I accept your offer!”

She threw her arms around him and gave him a kiss. Papi pulled away quickly with a nervous look, “Don’t thank me. I’m already regretting this. Keep yourself in check and don’t rouse suspicion!”

“Don’t worry Papi,” she replied, “the guards taught me how to handle a sword. I’ll be fine.”

“I hope so,” Papi replied, “I hope so…”



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

Historical Accuracy in Writing

Hi Jim,

I was wondering how important you feel it is to portray history accurately, even in a fantasy universe?

Thanks,
Mike


Hi Mike,

It really depends on how close to reality your story is. If you’re doing a sort-of ‘what if’ story, you can pretty much do whatever you want… to a point.

I’d say no matter what the case, you really do want to get some things right. You’ll want to be careful and do your research regarding things like what sort of items were available at the time, the personas of any people you’d be portraying, and the circumstances around what historical events you’re talking about.

Writing about history, even in a fictitious manner can be damaging. Let me give you a few examples…

I hate this movie for a number of reasons. Fast forward to 1:50 and watch what happens…

The Japanese open fire on Civilians and medical staff at the hospital in Pearl Harbor.

Sorry to swear, but this is bullshit! 100% bullshit and it really pisses me off. This scene is an attempt to #1 Put the heroine in harms way, #2 Needlessly over-vilify the bad guys.

Look, the attack on Pearl Harbor was terrible and the Japanese military was guilty of a lot of things, but attacking the Hospital was NOT one of them. This is easily researched, easily found documented history that the Japanese did NOT attack the hospital, even when they had a clear shot, they would not open fire.

This understandably pissed off the Japanese, Vets, and historians alike as anyone who knew ANYTHING about the Pearl Harbor attack, knew full well that the Japanese pilots were under strict orders not to attack civilian targets, and survivors note that even when they had a straight line of attack, the Japanese did not once attack the hospital itself.

Michael Bay himself OPENLY ADMITTED that the scene was added because it made the attack seem more barbaric.

That… is just wrong and the excuse that this movie is fiction doesn’t protect it.

One other example… and this one is more the fault of a misreading of history and inaccurate reporting by the American Press… imagine, the American Press wrongfully smearing someone’s reputation.

Okay, this one is a little bit more tricky, so let’s dive into the actual history a little more…

At that point in time (Early 1900s), it was considered noble for the captain, crew, and pretty much everyone over 13 with a penis to go down with the ship while everyone else made for the boats. At the very least, this was the attitude of American journalists at the time.

As such, Ismay, seen as ‘another captain’ by many was smeared for being a coward and, again per the media, jumping into a lifeboat while women and children were still on the deck:

 

Unfortunately, this movie follows that narrative and further smears the reputation of Ismay.

Here’s the problem with this… Ismay was a passenger. He wasn’t the captain. That role fell to Captain Edward J. Smith. He was the man that failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path, did not issue a general abandon ship order, allowed lifeboats to leave the sinking ship partially filled, and even confused which ship he was on by ordering lifeboats to be launched from the promenade deck, which was enclosed on the Titanic. The Olympic had lifeboats there.

He is directly responsible for the loss of the Titanic, he is ultimately responsible for all the failures of the command structure on board, and the tragic life that was needlessly lost.

… But he went down with the ship.

Ismay on the other hand was seen helping and urging passengers into lifeboats and even helped lower them away. There are witness accounts to this. Further, witnesses say that he was actually ordered into the lifeboat as there was no one else in the vicinity.

‘Had he not jumped in he would simply have added one more life, namely his own, to the number of those lost.’
-High Court judge Lord Mersey,  British enquiry into the loss of Titanic

But because he survived, while Smith went down with the ship, Ismay is continuously smeared to this day. The clip I provided showing Ismay convincing Smith to light the final boilers is pure fiction. The boilers were already lit, and there is no evidence nor witness testimony that Ismay acted outside of his place as a passenger. He lived out the rest of his life in shame, labelled a coward.

Meanwhile, Smith has a statue in Beacon Park, Lichfield, Staffordshire, England. He is portrayed as a noble man in most works, and there are even unsubstantiated stories of him placing a child into one of the boats before swimming off into the night.

Do you see now the importance of getting history right, even in a fictitious universe? A quick look at the facts surrounding the history, and Cameron could have made the bold move of helping to rightfully clear Ismay’s name. Instead he followed the bandwagon and furthered the narrative that the man was a coward who jumped into a lifeboat willingly and left women and children to die.

My advice to you is to take as much license as you like when writing history into fantasy, just take care not to wrongfully smear anyone who doesn’t deserve it… and be ready for the historical nitpickers to pull everything apart if you didn’t get the history right.

Remember, the First Three Rules of Writing History:
Research, Reseach, and God Help You If You Don’t Research!!!



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.

You can also add me on Twitter!

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

 

Chappaquiddick (2017) – Projection

I try to steer clear of movie reviews, especially projections… but as this one comes out of my home state… and given the subject matter, I feel the need to get a few things off my chest about this movie…

Per Masslive:
“Based on a script by Andrew Loga, the film recounts the 1969 car accident, where U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy drove off a Martha’s Vineyard bridge, leaving his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown in a pond. Kennedy left the scene of the accident, returned home and failed to report the accident for nine hours.”

Okay… so for those of you not from the area, not alive during the 1980s election, or the incident in question, let me give you a little background…

The Chappaquiddick incident was a single-vehicle car accident on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts on July 18, 1969. The incident involved U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. His 28-year-old companion, Mary Jo Kopechne, reportedly drowned, although the testimony of a diver would indicate suffocation instead.

According to his own testimony, Kennedy accidentally drove his car off a one-lane bridge and into a tidal channel before swimming free, leaving the scene, and not reporting the accident for nine hours. Meanwhile, Kopechne had died in the car through drowning or suffocation. The next day, Kopechne’s body and the car were both recovered by divers. Kennedy pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of a crash after causing injury and later received a two-month suspended jail sentence. The Chappaquiddick incident became a national scandal of the 1970s.

I should also note that it completely derailed any hopes he ever had about running for president.

Okay, I’ve seen a lot of hyperbole thrown back and forth. There’s a lot of speak about Ted Kennedy straight up murdering her, Mary Jo committing suicide, a family cover up, etc. etc. etc.

The list goes on.

What we know:
Kennedy didn’t report the incident for 9 hours.
Forensic analysts concluded that Mary Jo died of asphyxiation, not drowning and possibly could have been rescued.
Kennedy got off with a slap on the wrist.

Say what you will, but I don’t think anyone not of millionaire descent would have gotten off with a 2 month suspended sentence. Just saying. 

Before we go any further, I have to confess my own personal bias here. I was never a fan of Kennedy. I didn’t like him at all.

People say he did great things for our state… well… what? For years after he died, our infrastructure was on the verge of collapse, we’re still paying off the Big Dig, our transit system was 50 years out of date, and Cape Wind failed… which he claimed he was opposed to for enviornmental reasons… but I’m sure the fact that he had a house right next to where the windmills were supposed to be built didn’t factor in at all, right? Not to mention the fact that not long after his death, stories of our state reneging on it’s obligation to adopted children   due to lack of funding began to circulate… while we somehow had $38 million to pay for a shrine for him that his family could have easily foot the bill for.

But I don’t really want to sound TOO MUCH like a pundit, so I’m going to move on…

Lets see… what do we have for a plot?

On the eve of the moon landing, Senator Kennedy becomes entangled in a tragic car accident that results in the death of former Robert Kennedy campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne. The senator struggles to follow his own moral compass and simultaneously protect his family’s legacy, all while simply trying to keep his own political ambitions alive.

… Kay…

Who’s directing this?

I’m getting two different names here… the first is John Curran… who’s known for… Apparently nothing I’m familiar with.

The other name… Oh God! Sam Taylor-Johnson… the guy who directed the theatrical bomb based on one of the most repulsively unreadable works of dribble ever to hit the shelves is tackling this!!??

Well based on all that, we’re going to be seeing some serious revisionist history here folks… be very afraid… Honestly this whole thing seems to meant to appease the cult-like following Ted Kennedy has that has been dismissive of the incident as a non-issue.



Okay, let’s put all of that aside and look at what we know from a ‘by the numbers’ standpoint.

“Will this movie be any good?”

Well… honestly it’s hard to say. What little info is available on it is that it’s a fairly low budget film, which isn’t saying much. Most of the best movies out there had a tight budget. The cast is recognizable at best, there is talent there, but no real household names to speak of. This wouldn’t be an issue except that I’m familiar with most of the leading cast and none of them have ever really stood out enough to justify a leading role.

The choice of director… eh… well… I only know him from 50 shades and given how much I hate the book, I wasn’t in attendance for the film, so I’ll give him… a little benefit of the doubt? Maybe?

No you won’t!

Okay, you’re probably right about that.

Will it bomb?

Low budget indie films rarely do. RARELY. I can’t see anyone taking too big a loss on this. I do however have a hard time with who the demographic is supposed to be. The people who remember this incident aren’t really the big movie-going audience, and again, based on the revisionist nature of the plot we’ve seen thus far, I don’t see very many people outside of hard left democrats and Ted Kennedy fanboys enjoying this.

Should we take it seriously?

This movie is listed as a Thiller/Drama. If we’re speaking as to whether or not it’s historically accurate? I’d say no. Again, based on the plot, this seems like more conjecture and biased opinion than actual facts of the case. Note that most of the little bit of plot we have focuses more on supposed inner struggles that Ted Kennedy may have faced.

Will you see it?

Nope. As an avid history lover, attempts at revisionist history tend to annoy me greatly. (See Animal Farm for more info)

Then why bother talking about it?

Honestly, normally I wouldn’t have, but this is about something out of my area. I live and have lived in a climate where people have tried to make this man… this ‘Liberal Lion’ a God amongst men. Heck, we’ve even seen him appear on kids TV shows… because that’s who you’d want as a role model…

Okay, okay, I’m off topic so I’m going to stop now.

Basically, I decided to tackle this one because Historical Fantasy is my bread and butter, and minus any mystical creatures, that’s pretty much what this is.



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.

You can also add me on Twitter!

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