Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 2, Chapter 5

V

 

Baltazar was led to a large building that was surrounded by guards and draped in lavish tapestries. It was an old building constructed out of mortar and wood, nothing all that special, but it was also the largest building in the city and thus the only one that could house the King’s entourage. The hall was large enough that a single footstep could be heard echoing off of the walls.

Baltazar had an emotionless expression on his face as he passed through the bare hallways. He looked as though he was being led to the gallows to be hung. In his own mind, that very well might be the case if he was not careful.

The next set of doors were large and ornate. Two guards pushed them open and stood aside, allowing Baltazar to proceed into a large audience chamber that had quickly been adorned with riches. No doubt to make the Philip look more opposing to whomever he met with, or at the very least, it was to make him feel more at home.

Baltazar stood still with his sword at his side, looking around the room. This level of luxury was gawdy to an almost obscene level. He could not believe that anyone that he was related to would insist on being surrounded by such needless luxury. Philip was the king, and was thus entitled to his wealth, but showing it off like this was just blatantly unecessary.

Finally, the sound of a door opening at the back of the room drew his attention. A man dressed in beautifully crafted black and gold armor entered the room. The voice of one of his assistants echoed throughout the chamber, “Hail, Philip III, King of Castile, King of Aragon, King of Portugal, and the Algarves!”

Baltazar bowed as was expected of him, albiet unenthusiastically. Philip nodded, “Arise.”

Baltazar rose to his feet and crossed his arms as his eyes met Philip, “You summoned me, your majesty?”

Philip was a well groomed man with dark brown hair and a very light beard that didn’t cover his long chin. He spoke with a slight slur and wiped his mouth with a white hankerchief when he spoke, “Yes, it’s good to see you, my dear brother.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I don’t know what you are talking about. You are no brother of mine.”

“Indeed,” Philip smiled, “your humble origins on your mother’s side ban you from any title of nobility.”

“I would take her family over the Habsburgs any day,” Baltazar replied.

“I don’t blame you for that.” Philip agreed. “When our father found out about you, he had you and your mother banished to prevent embarrassment, but yet here you are causing us even worse trouble.”

“Glad to be a thorn in your side.” Baltazar replied with a smile.

“Well,” Philip replied with less of a smile, “let us dispense with the pleasantries and get down to business.”

Baltazar nodded, “As you wish, your majesty.”

Philip opened his hand and reached over to one of his assistants who handed him a piece of paper. He then held it up in front of Baltazar, “Are you familiar with this parchment?”

Baltazar shrugged, “Regrettably, your majesty, its purpose escapes me.”

An annoyed look passed over Philip’s face as he spoke, “It’s a Letter of Marquis. What this means for you is that you will be pardoned from the crimes you have committed against my crown and free to attack shipping without fear of a hangman’s noose.”

Baltazar frowned, “What’s the catch.”

“The catch,” Philip repeated, “is that you will agree to stop sinking Spanish ships and start going after the true enemies of our great land.”

“I see.” Baltazar said thoughtfully. “In that case I must refuse.”

“Refuse?” Philip scoffed. “Are you mad?”

“Allow me to explain,” Baltazar replied, “I consider you and your family to be true enemies of our great land. Your group of inbred degenerates has been plaguing our country with war and poverty for years. I cannot ignore that.”

Philip sneered, “Mind your tongue, brother. I have made you this offer because the blood of our father, Philip II courses through your veins, but if you turn me down, I will see you pay for it in the most… offensive manner possible. Even my tolerance has its limits.”

“I appreciate the warning, dear brother.” Baltazar said with a smile. “Give me some time to think about it. We are talking about a rather huge change in strategy.”

Philip nodded, “Fair enough, you have until sun down the day after tomorrow. If I have not heard back, you will be arrested for piracy and, blood or no blood, I promise that you will be hanged!”

Baltazar bowed, “Then you shall receive my response in haste.”

Philip returned the bow, “Good day to you. I eagerly await your reply.”

As Baltazar turned and left the room, a second man appeared from behind the throne. A menacing smile appeared on the man’s face, “I told you he wouldn’t accept it, your majesty.”

Philip nodded, “If he doesn’t, you know what you have to do. He’s a loose end that must be tied. I can’t very well deal with our enemies while my own kin is pillaging our supply line.”

The tall man bowed, “Yes my lord, I will take care of it.”

Baltazar stormed out of building and headed back to his ship. He had a feeling that he may have even less time than his half-brother had given him. He’d never trusted anyone from his father’s family and he was not about to start now. Given his history with them, they’d most likely invalidate the letter at the first oppertunity.

The moment he was outside, Baltazar began to run for his ship. He ran through the streets and passed by of his men standing in front one of the taverns either drinking or conversing with the locals. When they saw Baltazar run by, many of them looked at each other strangely, but got up and gave chase.

It took about 20 minutes, but Baltazar got back to the Specter and climbed aboard. Only about half the crew was present, including Melchior, Papi, and Melisande. Baltazar leaned on the railing to keep his balance as he caught his breath. His tanned face was bright red with beads of sweat forming on his forehead.

Melisande turned to him and patted him on the back, “Are you okay?”

He nodded as his breathing slowed, “Melchior.”

His first officer stepped forward, “Here sir.”

“Get a search party together.” Baltazar ordered. “We need to get the men back here now! We’re shoving off tonight with or without them!”

Melchior looked at his men and then back at the captain, “Did something happen?”

Baltazar nodded, “Yes, but I’d rather be underway when I tell you about it…. It’s bad.”

Melchior promptly turned to the men, “You heard him, look alive there! Go and get our boys back!”

The crew scattered down the walkway and disappeared into the town. Melchior turned back to Baltazar, “Captain, what is it, where are we going?”

“The king has offered me a full pardon if I stop sinking Spanish ships,” he replied, “but he told me if I don’t take it, we’ll be executed. I have no intention of working for that scum even if I were the fool enough to take him at his word, and I don’t think he intends to give me the time I asked for.”

Melchior nodded, “I don’t disagree with ye sir. Them royals be not known for their honesty. I’ll have this ship ready to go by sun down. Ye have me word.”



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, Book 2, Chapter 3

III

 

Hours went by as Melisande contemplated her situation. She wanted to rejoin the crew, but she knew that Baltazar would never allow it. Still she was out at sea on her adventure and she still wanted to find out about her family. She at least still had that.

Her thoughts were cut off by a signal from the deck, “Sail ho!”

She immediately jumped to her feet and ran out on deck to see the other ship. Baltazar stood next to the helm with his hands at his side. He picked up his looking glass and peered through it to inspect the ship that they were coming up on.

After a few moments, he smiled and lowered the scope, “Mr. Melchior, we’ve found our spaniard. Full sail if you please.”

Melchior nodded, “Aye aye, full sail you swabs!”

Melisande walked up next to him on the aft castle, “What’s going on?”

“The reports we got were dead on.” Baltazar replied. “We’ve found our merchant and we’re going to take it.”

He turned to Gilles, who was back on the helm, “Come about ten degrees starboard.”

The ship picked up speed and began to close the distance with larger Spanish ship. Melisande shook her head, “Look at the size of that thing, you can’t be serious.”

“Size isn’t everything on the ocean, my dear.” Baltazar replied. “Speed is a far more deadly advantage, and we have the wind with us.”

He then looked over at Gilles, “I’ll take over here. Take our guest to my cabin and see to it she stays there.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

He let go of the wheel and turned to Melisande, “This way please.”

Melisande shook her head, “I signed on as a member of the crew. I’m fighting here too!”

Her words impressed Baltazar, but not enough for him to rescind his order, “You signed on under a false identity. You are entitled to nothing. Go below or I might reconsider letting Morgan hurl you overboard.”

Melisande flashed Baltazar an angry look as she turned to follow Gilles. The helmsman held her on the arm as they walked, “I never did thank you for saving my life. For what it’s worth, I’d be fine with the idea a serving with a lass.”

She smiled, “It’s nice to know someone around here wouldn’t mind. May I ask you a question?”

“By all means.” He replied.

“Why are we attacking Spanish ships?” She asked. “Isn’t he Spanish?”

Gilles shrugged, “That’s something you’d have to ask him. As long as I get my share, I could care less who we attack.”

Melisande turned away as he closed the door behind her. She thought about it oddly for a moment, but then turned her attention to what was going on outside. She opened the window and watched as the small Spanish ship grew larger with each moment. This ship was a large carrack style vessel with a high fore and aft castle. It was also bristling with guns from the hull. Baltazar must be crazy, she thought to herself.

On deck, Baltazar saw the ship enter gun range. He smiled and looked to the men at the rigging, “Raise the colors! All hands run up the guns!”

A black and red flag with the image of a demonic spirit was raised behind the lateen sail. Baltazar counted down the seconds until he was right where he wanted to be and then pulled the helm hard to starboard. The men yelled and cheered as they approached their opponent.

Baltazar nodded, “Steady men, wait for it…”

Once they were in the right position alongside, Baltazar waved his arm, “Fire!”

Smoke poured from both sides of their cannons as large explosions emanated from the muzzles. Melisande could hear what sounded like deafening thunder from the deck as the cannons blasted the Spanish ship. The cannons ripped massive holes in the side of the Spaniard. In response, she began to turn to starboard in order to fire her own guns.

Baltazar saw this, and looked up at his men on the masts, “I need more sail men! Tighten them up, don’t give the Spaniards a target!”

The men worked as fast as they could and it paid off. The ship turned quicker than the Spanish carrack could compensate for. Baltazar held the helm at hard over to starboard. The old wheel shook as the ship moved out of range of the Spanish guns. Moments later, Baltazar’s ship had made a full 180 degree turn and was now turning to port to fire the cannons on that side.

Baltazar nodded and raised his left arm, “Port gun crew, ready on my mark!”

He waited a few seconds for his ship to be positioned exactly where he wanted it and then dropped his arm, “Fire all!”

A huge series of explosions rocked the side of the Specter as her cannons unleashed a terrible volley on the Spanish carrack. Baltazar’s crew cheered as they watched smoke pour out of the side of the Spaniard. It appeared as though the ship was crippled. Baltazar kept his eyes on their flag, waiting for it to be lowered, but it never fell. Instead the ship slowly began to turn. The joy in the crews’ eyes turned to fear as the Spanish carrack brought its guns to bear.

Baltazar turned his ship hard to starboard in an attempt to avoid getting hit, but it was too late. The carrack opened up with a full broadside. Baltazar screamed as the ship’s massive cannons erupted in flame, “Hold on everyone! Brace yourselves; this is going to be bad!”

Cannon fire ripped through the deck and hull as the barrage continued. Baltazar called down to his men, “Reload, ready the guns and prepare to return fire!”

Baltazar’s men quickly responded as the hull splintered around them. Melchior jumped into action, “Move it your bilge rats! Brace the cannons, ready the fuse!”

After a few moments, Melchior looked at his rows of cannon and called out, “Guns at the ready?”

Each gun crew signaled back one at a time, “Gun ready sir!”

Melchior turned to Baltazar, “All guns reporting ready sir, except port side numbers 2, 6, and 8, they’re out of action.”

Baltazar nodded, “It’ll have to do, all guns return fire!”

Once more, Baltazar’s guns let loose a barrage of smoke and fire. The shots ripped into the Spaniard. One shot blew through the main mast, sending it toppling to the side. There was a moaning sound that came from the ship’s hull and it slowly listed to port.

Melchior ran to the helm, “Captain, the Spaniard looks to be taking on water! We must have hit her below the waterline.”

Baltazar nodded, “Aye, and look!”

He pointed to the flag aft of the mizzen mast as it slowly lowered and a white one took its place. Cheers of victory arose from the remaining crew aboard the Specter. Baltazar nodded, “Grappling hooks men, make ready to board!”

They brought their ship alongside the Spaniard and threw across several planks to create walk ways. Melisande watched as Baltazar crossed over to the Spanish ship with two men. He was met on the larger ship by the enemy captain, who was a large man with a thick mustache and a gruff expression. The two men greeted each other.

The Spanish captain bowed and held out his sword to Baltazar, “Sir, I am Captain Del Rosa of the Spanish merchant vessel Cristobal. Please accept this sword as my personal surrender, Captain.”

“Thank you Captain,” Baltazar replied, “It was a battle well-fought, there is no shame in your defeat. You may keep your sword.”

“And what do you intend to do with us now,” Captain Del Rosa demanded, “leave us to sink with our ship, or perhaps hold us for ransom?”

Baltazar’s men came across from the Specter, “Permission to transfer the cargo, captain?”

“Aye,” Baltazar nodded, “but remember, no crewman or passenger is to be harmed, and any crewman who lays so much as a hand on a woman passenger will lose said hand. Do we understand?”

A resounding ‘aye’ came from the crew in response. Baltazar nodded and raised his arms, signaling them to start working, “Get to it men.”

The crew raced over like a flood of men and ransacked the ship’s interior. Captain Del Rosa shook his head as they moved, “I asked you a question, Captain. I can’t overlook the fact that I have yet to receive an answer.”

Baltazar nodded, “Indeed, my dear Captain, forgive me. I am not in the business of murdering such honorable opponents. Even surprised, damaged, and outmatched, your ship put up a good fight. The Spanish Armada would be lucky to have such iron.”

He turned to one of the Spanish crewmen, “Lower your ships longboats will you?”

The man nodded and promptly took three men to ready the boats. Captain Del Rosa was taken aback, “You’re letting us go?”

Baltazar nodded as the Spanish captain continued, “But how will we survive out here on the open ocean?”

“Take whatever food, canvas, and provisions you need.” Baltazar replied. “You’re only a few hours sailing from shore. If you set your boats on a course directly south, you should hit land by day’s end.”

Captain Del Rosa looked south and nodded, “I’ll not forget your gallantry, Captain. I expected to meet my end the moment you came onboard.”

Baltazar’s men carried large crates and barrels out of the hold and transferred them all to the Specter. The crew of the Spanish ship quickly made their way over the side and into the boats that had been lowered. Once everyone was over the side, Baltazar turned to Captain Del Rosa, “I’ll take my leave of you now, Captain, as I assume you wish to maintain your honor?”

Captain Del Rosa nodded and extended his hand, “I’m sure you understand. This is still my ship.”

“Only too well,” Baltazar smiled as he shook the merchant captain’s hand, “Good bye Captain, and good luck.”

“Thank you,” Del Rosa responded, “farewell.”

Baltazar turned, walked across the planks, and turned to his men, “Shove off, move us away from the Cristobal, we don’t want to be dragged down with them.”

The Specter slowly began to pull away as the crew cut the grappling lines. Baltazar watched as the last of the Cristobal’s men quickly entered the boat. Once every last person on the ship was safely away, Captain Del Rosa climbed down the side and entered the last boat before it pulled away.

The crew of the Specter watched as the Cristobal slowly disappeared beneath the waves. He turned back and looked through the window to his cabin. That was when he noticed that Melisande wasn’t there. He turned back and looked at his first officer, “Melchior, where is our passenger?”

“She’s below decks.” Melchior replied. “She refused to stay in the cabin. I wasn’t going to put up a fight.”

Baltazar rolled his eyes and climbed down the ladder while his men continued to load their new cargo into the hold. What he saw on the main gun deck shocked him. There right next to the guns, was a triage set up by the ship’s carpenter.

Melisande was standing over a wounded crewman, cleaning an injury caused by the splintering wood from the Specter’s hull. Her sleeves were rolled up and her arms were covered in blood. She looked up at Baltazar with a faint smile as he approached, “That was a nice thing you did for the captain, allowing him to maintain his honor.”

“You saw that?” Baltazar asked.

“I watched the entire battle.” She responded. “I was on deck getting your casualties down here for care while you were on Spanish ship.”

He looked down at the injured crewman, “How are you Morgan, is she taking good care of you?”

Morgan was the same man who had wanted to throw Melisande over the side earlier in the voyage. He coughed lightly before speaking, “She be a living angel of mercy. The pain be manageable now.”

Melisande smiled as she worked. Baltazar nodded as he turned to her, “I don’t think anyone will want you thrown over the side now.”

Morgan’s eyes widened as he remembered his words. An apologetic look appeared on his face, “Forgive me, lass.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Melisande replied, “just rest easy.”

Baltazar turned away and headed over to the carpenter, “How many did we lose?”

The carpenter looked over his triage, “Ten dead, about sixteen wounded. Eight of them should be able to return to duty in a day or two.”

He then looked over at Melisande, “Make that ten with the way Melisande be working.”

“Ye know sir,” he continued, “none of this would be happening right now if it wasn’t fer the lass. I don’t know where she learned how to care for people like this, but she’s saved three lives so far.”

Baltazar sighed, “I know…”

He walked back over to where she was working and sat down, “The work you’ve done here is very impressive. I know Morgan appreciates it, don’t you sailor?”

The large man nodded as he passed out. Baltazar smiled, “Where did you learn how to tend wounds like that?”

Melisande shrugged, “I didn’t learn how to. I can’t explain it. I just know how to treat an injury when I see one. I don’t understand how.”

Baltazar nodded, “Well… keep up the good work.”

Melisande saluted Baltazar only half seriously, “Aye sir.”

He got up and walked back up on deck. Once there, he turned to the helmsman, “How’s our haul?”

Melchior watched as the last of the plunder was brought below deck, “We should be able to turn a good profit.”

Melchior ruffled his brow and turned to Baltazar, “Are ye still planning on giving most of your shares to the local poor house and the church?”

“Aye,” Baltazar replied, “tis the right thing to do.”

“I never understood this,” Melchior replied, shaking his head, “in all the years I’ve served with ye, the riches ye’ve plundered would have made ye a very wealthy man.”

“You don’t have to understand,” Baltazar replied, “I have my reasons, believe me.”

Melchior nodded, “Fair enough, Captain. What be our course?”

“San Sebastián.” Baltazar responded. “We should be able to part with our goods without a lot of questions asked.”

“As long as we aren’t coming under fire ourselves!” Melchior mused.

Baltazar shook his head, “Most of the corsairs that operate out of there are former fishermen trying to turn a profit. They’re not well armed and wouldn’t be so bold as to come near the Specter.

Melchior did not look as confident, “Desperate men be willing to do desperate, and often stupid, things. They tend to take greater risks.”

Baltazar sighed, “Are you questioning my orders Mr. Melchior? Perhaps you would like to take over as Captain for a while? If so, you can vote to have me deposed.”

Melchior shook his head, “No sir, I harbor no ambitions as such. I just be looking out for the good of our men.”

“As you should.” Baltazar admitted. “You’re a good man, and a close friend. Please trust that I know what I’m doing.”

“Aye Captain,” Melchior replied, “My humble apologies.”

*

The Specter sailed through the night and on into the morning. Melisande returned to Baltazar’s quarters while he slept on deck near the door. At five bells, three men approached the captain. He was slowly roused by their presence. His vision was blurred as he slowly rubbed his eyes and stood up, “What is it men, the sun has barely kissed the horizon yet.”

His eyes focused enough to make out Morgan, the carpenter, and Gilles standing in front of him. They stood silently for a moment before Morgan spoke up, “Captain, we’ve been speaking in open council with the rest of the men about the lass.”

Baltazar rolled his eyes, “I know, and I’ve taken note of how you feel. I give you my word that she will be off the Specter as soon as we dock in San Sebastián.”

The men looked at each other for a moment before Gilles finally spoke up, “That’s what we be wanting to discuss sir.”

“Oh?” Baltazar replied with interest. “Well you’re speaking to me in open council, as is your right, so speak your minds. I won’t hold anything against you.”

Morgan spoke up again, “Captain, sir, ye can’t put her off the ship.”

“Have you been speaking to the ship’s cook again?” Baltazar asked with a sigh.

“Nay sir,” The carpenter replied, “but we’ve seen her work. As a cabin boy, she worked as hard, if not harder than any man aboard, despite getting only a half-wage. The drinks haven’t been flowing nearly as quickly since she’s been confined to your cabin. Then she voluntarily took to nursing the wounded back to health after the battle.”

Morgan nodded, “I’m figuring too many of us would be dead now if not for her.”

Baltazar could not believe what he was hearing, “So now, after everything you’ve said, you want her to remain on board, as a member of the crew?”

“Aye.” Gilles replied. “The men no longer look at her as a tavern wench, and she’ll be treated as one of us. We give you our word.”

Baltazar looked Morgan in the eye, “What about the black mark and all that?”

“As we been telling ye captain,” he replied, “we don’t see her as a tavern wench anymore. She be one of us now. Some of us wouldn’t be here if not for her.”

“Okay…” Baltazar said looking at the honest eyes of his men. “Well I appreciate your input. I’ll talk to her and to Mr. Clement… I make no promises, but we’ll see where it goes.”

All three of them smiled and saluted, “Thank ye, Captain.”

Baltazar nodded, “All right… to your stations.”

The three men turned and started the morning work. Baltazar stood there in disbelief as the Sun came up over the horizon. I’ve never seen anyone earn the respect of these men so quickly, he thought to himself. There is something almost mystical about her.

Baltazar decided to sort it out later. The ships bell hadn’t rung yet, and he was still tired. His bunk creaked gently as he lay back down and fell asleep.



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

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

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

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale Chapter 1

Book 1

A Simple Dream

I

Normandy 1601

The sound of loud church bells drove Melisande from her bed in the residence cells of Mont Saint Michel. She stood up, slid her feet into her wooden sandals and opened her window to let the sun in. This day was special for her as it was one of the few really warm days in Northern France.

The sea breeze caressed her face as the gentle sound of waves crashing on the shore filled her cell. It was high tide, which meant that the abbey was completely surrounded by water. Only a small bridge in the water connected the massive building to the mainland.

Melisande was a little disappointed as she enjoyed sneaking outside of the walls to run along the sandbars and marshes when the tide was out. It appeared that she would be stuck within the abbey’s walls at the mercy of her caretakers for the day.

Ever the optimist, she shrugged it off in the hopes of seeing a ship on the horizon. It was a common occurance to see the small sail of a fishing vessel or courior on the horizon, but every now and then, she would be treated to something larger. The height of her mornings were when she caught sight of a large merchant vessel or, every once in a while, a warship.

This would not be one of those mornings as her tranquility was quickly interrupted by a harsh knock at her door, “Melisande? Melisande, are you still in bed at this hour?”

Melisande let out a startled yelp as she raced for the robe hanging next to her bed, “I’m up, I’m awake!”

A deep sigh could be heard from the other side of the door, “Have you at least made yourself decent?”

Melisande quickly tied the sash to her robe, “Yes, you may enter.”

The door burst open revealing an old nun with her arms crossed on the other side. The nun was very heavy footed and her steps could be heard throughout the abbey when she walked. Upon seeing Melisande’s appearance, her lips formed a scowl, “Young lady, it is not becoming to stay in bed all day. You have studies and chores to perform.”

Melisande frowned, “I finished my studies yesterday and this is supposed to be my day to rest. Please Sister Mary, it has been a long time since I went exploring. Might I have a few hours to myself?”

Sister Mary rolled her eyes, “I have watched over you since you were a baby, I have taken care of you, and I have put up with your nonsense. Exploration and adventure are for soldiers and sailors. What you desire is not all it appears to be, believe me. That is the path of pain and loss. You need to learn to be a lady. Find yourself a calling and perhaps a husband. Especially since you’ve decided that you did not want to join a holy order.”

“I’m sorry Sister,” Melisande replied honestly, “I am grateful for your care… but becoming a nun never had any appeal for me. I have spent my whole life thus far behind these walls. I don’t wish to be behind them forever. Something out there calls to me, I can feel its pull.”

She looked over at the two stained swords that she had mounted over her bed, “Something bigger awaits me and I need to find out what it is.”

Sister Mary followed her gaze to the swords and shook her head, “I never wanted you to receive those things, but your father insisted, and I was not about to deny someone their dying wish.”

Her gaze then returned to Melisande, “Your path is your own to choose, though you may find yourself regretting such a decision if you go searching for answers. I hope that I don’t live to see that day.”

“You don’t know that.” Melisande replied. “These swords belonged to my family… and I don’t even know who they are. I need to find answers if I’m ever to be able to live with myself.”

The elderly nun touched one of the swords near the hilt, “A few generations of your family were protected by them, this is true, but where are they now? You are the last of your family.”

Melisande stood next to Sister Mary as she looked at the swords, “But I don’t even know them… I don’t even know what my family’s name is. Will you finally tell me about them, please? Who were they, what were they like, and what is my full name?”

The nun turned away from the swords and looked Melisande in the eyes for a few moments. She saw the stormy blue eyes that never looked the same from one moment to the next. It was as though an entire sky scene passed through her pupils as she stared.

Finally the nun sighed and turned to leave the room, “I told you that I forgot your family’s name. I did not know your family well, so I can’t provide you with any information. I only met them once when they released you into my care. I’m an old woman. My memory fails sometimes”

Melisande rolled her eyes and became angry, “You’re lying. I don’t know what you think you’re protecting me from, but I deserve to know. If you truly don’t know the answrs, then you know someone that does!”

Sister Mary stopped dead in her tracks, but did not turn around, “Two demerits for your tone. It’ll be three more if you don’t begin your chores soon.”

The door closed behind her as Melisande sat down on the bed and began to sulk. She had been confined to the abbey all of her life. Often times if a ship passed by, she would try to convince one of the soldiers on guard to let her use their looking glass. Most of the time, she was successful and Melisande spent the day watching as the ships passed.

The guards didn’t make life any easier for her as they were full of stories about wars past. Melisande loved to sit and listen to the old veterans talking about past glories from long ago, even though she knew that many of them were blatantly made up or exaggerated. It made her yearn even more to free herself from the protection of the abbey walls.

Melisande had often dreamt of a life at sea, but that life was restricted to men. However she was certain that she could make it work if only she could get away from the abbey. Such things were little more than pipe dreams as she knew that she was kept there for a reason. If she tried to escape on foot, the guards would catch her in no time.

Still, in many ways, Melisande could hear the sea calling to her. It was as though an unseen spirit of the sea was pulling at her arms, but Mont Saint Michel would not release her feet. She balled a fist and hit the stone wall as tears formed in her eyes. She could barely stand it anymore.

**

It took Melisande an hour to get cleaned up and get ready for her chores. She brushed her long blonde hair back behind her left ear and allowed the right bangs hang down to her cheek. Her hair flowed half way down her back as she worked. When she was finished tending to her appearance, she left her room and made her way down the tower’s winding staircase. She then proceeded through the abbey to the main kitchen as the residents and clergy finished their meals and began to clear out.

Melisande was seated over in the far corner and given a small bowl of wheat. She ate it down slowly, resenting the flavorless mush. She never sat with anyone and was mostly ignored by the other people in the room. When she was certain that no one was looking in her direction, she dumped the wheat into a nearby bucket that she would later use for cleaning.

Sister Mary came over to her a few minutes later with an emotionless expression on her face, “Well Melisande, I am glad that you are finally up and about. Are you ready to begin your chores?”

Melisande nodded unenthusiastically, “Yes sister, I finished breakfast, so I’ll get started.”

“Good,” she replied, “I believe Mr. Clement could use some help in the kitchen. You’ll start there today.”

“Yes sister,” Melisande replied respectfully.

Without another word to the old nun, she obediently turned and entered the kitchen at the back of the room. The kitchen was little more than a stone closet with a single oven carved into the back wall. Two tables were the only furniture and they were covered with dirty utensils.

Amidst the chaos, the cook looked up and smiled at Melisande as she began her work, “Top of the morning to you, Messy.”

Melisande smiled as she picked up the water bucket next to the fireplace, “Good morning, Papi.”

Papi was a stout man that, despite his imposing size, held himself the way a soldier would. Though he never talked about his past, Melisande was certain that he’d been a military man at some point. She didn’t know his real name and always referred to him as Papi or Papi Clement.

Though Papi was somewhat of an enigma to her, she still looked at him as a father figure. He was also the only man who got away with calling her by the nickname ‘Messy,’ which he gave her as a joke about how she cleaned. It always seemed to get a rise out of her which was something he enjoyed greatly.

Melisande’s attachment to him went back to when she was three years old and he would set aside some dough to make a cookie for her whenever he was cooking. As the years passed, she would periodically sneak off to the kitchen to see him whenever Sister Mary’s back was turned. He always enjoyed the company.

Papi was not a priest or a clergyman, but he was the best cook in town and was often hired at the abbey. He also had a reputation for disappearing for a few months at a time. His absence was always upsetting to Melisande and each time, she wondered if she would ever see him again.

Papi watched Melisande as she got down on her knees to clean the floors and noticed the sad look on her face, “What troubles you, Messy, why the sour look?”

Melisande stopped for a moment, “Have you ever felt that you were destined for more then you are, or ever asked the question whether or not this is all that’s out there for you?”

The chef chuckled as he thought back to his younger years, “Oh when I was younger, sure. We all have those feelings at one point or another. Fortunately, in my time, I have seen much of the world and had my share of adventure. After all that, a little peace and quiet is a welcomed change.”

“That’s what I want!” She blurted out. “I’ve often thought about getting out of here and seeing the world. I want adventure, but moreover, I want to know who I am and where I come from.”

She touched her cheek right below her eyes, “I know I’m different, I just would like to know how and why.”

“Different?” Papi asked. “What would make you think so?”

Melisande chose her words carefully as she responded, not wanting to cause alarm, “Well my eyes for one. I’ve not seen another pair quite like them in my years, and…”

Melisande stopped for a moment, wondering if he should tell Papi this part. She trusted him, but it was quite personal. Still, he had never given her a reason not to believe that he would keep her words quiet, “When I close my eyes at night, I see things.”

The old cook stopped tending to the mess, “Things, Messy? What sort of things?”

“I… I don’t know…” She replied. “I think they might be angels. I close my eyes and I see these beautiful people dressed in white robes, dresses, or in silvery armored plates. They all have wings, but many are different shapes and sizes. Other times, it’s just one angel with her eyes bandaged.”

Papi looked nervously at her, “Messy, I’d be very careful about who you tell about those dreams, especially here.”

“I know,” she said with a nod, “don’t worry, I am not so naive that I don’t know what they might think.”

Papi turned back to cleaning off his table, “So what do you think these dreams mean?”

Melisande shrugged, “If only I knew, but I think it has to do with who I am. These dreams don’t feel like dreams at all. They’re more like what you’d expect from memories, if that even makes sense.”

She looked over at the small window which had been cut into the wall, “I want to find out, but I can’t do that as long as I’m stuck here.”

“You are probably better off not knowing.” Papi replied. “The world out there is a treacherous place. Even the strongest have trouble just getting by.”

Melisande glumly nodded continued her work, “Yes, that’s what everyone says. It’s too dangerous… I should just stay here and become a nun… forever… You sound like Sister Mary.”

Papi bit his lip as he looked at her, “Messy, I have some bad news for you.”

Melisande usually knew what this meant. Papi was going to be disappearing again. She closed her eyes as she responded, “You’re leaving again, aren’t you?”

Papi nodded, “Yeah, tomorrow.”

“For how long?” She asked.

“I can’t say.” Papi replied. “Hopefully not for too long.”

Melisande frowned, “I’ll miss you…”

“I’ll miss you too, little Messy,” Papi replied, “but no more frowning. I’ll be back!”

“You promise?” She demanded.

“Have I ever lied to you before?” Papi asked. “Of course I promise.”

“You better.” Melisande replied.

Melisande was meticulous in her cleaning. She made sure that no crack in the floor went unattended to. An hour went by as Papi and Melisande worked. They were just finishing wiping everything dry when Sister Mary appeared at the door and looked around.

Melisande smiled, “I’ve finished cleaning, what do you think?”

Sister Mary surveyed the room, as usual, without a hint of emotion and nodded, “Satisfactory work… ok, you have done your chores for the day.”

“Satisfactory?” Melisande scoffed with a surprised expression. “I scrubbed everything until it was spotless.”

Papi nodded, “I saw how hard she was working, madam, she scrubbed the entire kitchen down.”

Sister Mary gave Papi a stern look before turning back to Melisande, “Don’t ask one’s opinion, if you don’t honestly want it. Now be gone with you.”

An exasperated Melisande stared at her for a moment in disbelief. The nun returned her stare and clapped her hands, “Come now, move it!”

Still in disbelief, Melisande shook her head and stormed past the old nun up the stone steps, heading back to her room. She was angry, upset, and frustrated all at once. It never seemed like anything she did was good enough. Just once, a’ good job,’ or a ‘thank you for working so hard,’ would be appreciated. She thought to herself. Not from Sister Mary, no way, that would be too much to ask!

Melisande was years ahead of other people in her studies and she always did a good job on her chores. Though she credited being so far ahead in studies with the fact that she simply had nothing better to do with her time. In her heart, she would have made the trade to have experienced some of what the outside world offered.

**

Papi shook his head as Melisande disappeared. Sister Mary turned back to him, “You disapprove of the way I’ve raised Melisande, do you?”

“Not at all madam,” he replied, “she’s a strong-willed, but polite and hard working young woman. You’ve done as fine a job with her. As good as anyone could hope to.”

Sister Mary’s stoic expression didn’t change, “Don’t hold back. Say what’s on your mind, Mr. Clement.”

Papi looked at the stone stairs where Melisande had been standing, “However, I don’t know about how you treat her sometimes. It seems a little cold. I may not know much about her case, but she is still young. I doubt her being here is her own fault.”

Sister Mary glared at him once again, “You think I’m hard on her because I blame her for being here?”

“I can only judge based on what I’ve seen.” Papi replied. “It does look like you’re hard on her for something even she doesn’t understand.”

“Then perhaps you should watch more closely.” Sister Mary hissed. “It has been my charge to care for her since she was born. I have raised her within the church and protected her.”

“Protected her?” Papi said suspiciously, “Protected her from what?”

Sister Mary turned to leave the kitchen, “You are paid to cook, not investigate. Keep your opinions to yourself and let me decide what is best for her.”

Papi shook his head with a slight grin, “Don’t ask one’s opinion, if you don’t honestly want it.”

Sister Mary paused for a moment before turning and giving the cook an angry stare as she walked away. She didn’t appreciate her words being used against her.

Papi smiled, knowing that this was one of those rare times where he actually won an argument against her.



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:

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Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Destiny: Divinity’s Finale, Book 6, Chapter 8

VIII

 

Aralyn awoke as the sunlight poured through her window. She sat up and stretched as she opened her eyes. At first, her eyes were extremely blurry, but they began to clear as she rubbed them and blinked. An unfamiliar room appeared in front of her and she looked around in shock. Where was she, and more importantly, why did this room seem oddly familiar to her.

Aralyn placed her bare feet on the floor and pushed herself into a standing position. It took her a few moments to find her balance as her head cleared, but when she was ready, she left the room and proceeded down a small flight of wooden stairs. Sounds of activity aroused her senses as she made her way down to the first floor.

The sounds got louder and she could hear familiar voices as she reached the first floor and pushed the door to the kitchen open. On the other side Gilles was tending to a hot stove, while Baltazar and Lailah worked on cleaning the utensils they had used. It appeared as though Morgan had gone into town and picked up some fresh food to cook. It was be the first decent meal any of them had enjoyed since Papi died.

Morgan stood behind the door sharpening a knife as she came in the room. He looked up and dropped the knife, “Well hello there!” He said in a cheerful voice, “Hey everybody, look who’s finally awake!”

The group turned to see her. Baltazar dropped what he was doing, walked over to her and hugged her tightly, “Good morning, I’m so relieved to see you up and about.”

Gilles and Lailah stopped their work and joined the rest of the group. Aralyn looked at Lailah nervously, “Did we do it? Did we… win?”

Lailah smiled, “Oh yes, we won. The imp army was completely destroyed and Paeles has been reclaimed by the land. No one will ever be tortured by those haunted souls again.”

“What about Legion,” she asked in an insisting tone, “I saw his body dissolve and float away into the clouds. What happened?”

“Relax,” Lailah replied, “Legion will never harm another person ever again. He has been reclaimed by the Most High. Legion has become a part of him again.”

A look of concern came over Aralyn’s face, “But if the Most High reclaimed him, won’t that mean that God has a dark side again?”

“Yes,” Lailah admitted, “But you mustn’t worry. Humans have the same darkness inside of them. The Most High will adjust and learn to live with his as easily as you have. In that way, Legion will be trapped within the Most High forever.”

Aralyn closed her eyes and breathed a sigh of relief, “All is well again?”

“Better than that,” Baltazar replied grabbing her hand, “Come on!”

He led Aralyn out of the kitchen and out the front door. Aralyn looked at him oddly, “Baltazar where are we going, what has you so…”

Upon seeing the house from the outside, she finally realized where she was, “Oh my…”

Baltazar spread his arms, presenting her home to her, “Welcome home!”

Aralyn looked around with wide eyes, “How… how did you do this?”

“I can do many things,” Baltazar replied, “But you did this.”

“How…” Aralyn asked, astonished.

Lailah came up behind her, “When your powers restored the Black Vengeance after she sank, you also restored Mont Saint Michel and your home here.”

She quickly turned around, “So then… Sister Mary?”

Lailah frowned and shook her head, “She was already dying. She was very sick and had only a limited time left. The Most High allowed her to avoid the pain of a second death and allowed her to remain.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “I… I didn’t even know that…”

“You couldn’t have,” Lailah replied, “She hid it well, but don’t worry, she is well cared for and happy now.”

“So this… is my home.” Aralyn whispered in a state of shock.

“One of them,” Baltazar replied as he pointed at the Black Vengeance, anchored off shore, “You still have a place with us.”

Aralyn nodded, “And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. That is always first and foremost my home.”

At that moment, Aralyn noticed the boat moored on the dock attached to her house, “Is that… it can’t be!”

She took off down the dock and climbed the ramp leading to the small ship. Without another thought, she entered and explored the cabin, and then the hold. Baltazar and their friends followed her down the dock as fast as they could, but she had long since disappeared below deck. They waited on the dock for her to reappear. When she finally did, her eyes looked mystified, “This… this is where it all started. This is the Patrisi fishing boat.”

Baltazar nodded as he looked it over, “It’s an older design to be sure, even older than the Black Vengeance, but it appears to have been updated at some point.”

Aralyn nodded as she walked back down the ramp and joined the group. She was about to say something to Baltazar when her eyes suddenly went wide with a look of both happiness and fear. Baltazar turned to see three angels standing behind him, “Xaphine, Ariel, Roselyn, good to see you!”

Xaphine smiled and bowed, “Very good to see you as well. You both did wonderfully.”

Aralyn curtseyed, “Thank you, you honor me.”

“You honor me,” Xaphine replied, “Because of you, the events that started eighty years ago have come full circle. All loose ends have been tied up and the last hints of damage that Michael had caused have been swept away.”

“What of the forces of Lucifer?” Morgan asked, “We never would have succeeded without them.”

Xaphine nodded, “No… No we wouldn’t have. The Most High and Lucifer have reached an understanding. They are no longer at war with one another. Lucifer will be made part of a new council of angels that includes the archangels. They will assist the Most High as the ruling body. This should prevent the Most High from getting so fatigued from dealing with the wars humankind brings upon itself. Officially, Lucifer still rules the underworld, but he will now answer to the Most High in all things.”

Gilles frowned, “Do you think that is for the best?”

“Only time will tell,” Ariel replied, “Many angels weren’t happy with this decision, but a lot of good may come from it.”

Xaphine nodded and turned back to face Aralyn, “Now it’s time for you to claim your place amongst the Choirs.”

She reached out her hand to Aralyn, “Don’t be afraid.”

Aralyn placed her fingers in Xaphine’s hand. Suddenly her body began to glow. Aralyn watched as her skin began to emanate a bright golden aura. Suddenly a new sense of clarity and a feeling of satisfaction came over her. Her wings began to shimmer as though they had been covered in gold dust and she lifted herself off the ground to feel the wind blow through them.

Baltazar watched and feared her knew what this meant. After a few moments, she lowered herself back to the ground, “This… this is incredible.”

Xaphine smiled, “Just wait until you see the Celestial World.”

Aralyn looked at her oddly, “What do you mean?”

“You have proven yourself worthy to pick up your ancestor’s legacy,” Roselyn replied, “You can now come with us and help us do the Most High’s bidding.”

The smile disappeared from Aralyn’s face, “No…”

Xaphine looked at her oddly, “What is it?”

“I’m not going,” Aralyn replied, “I have friends and a family here, I will not go…”

“You don’t have a choice, sister,” Xaphine insisted, “You’re one of us, you belong with your own people.”

“These are my people!” Aralyn shot back, “Just because the blood of an angel courses through my veins, it does not make me any less an angel. My mother way human, my father was human, and so am I. I’m not leaving…”

Aralyn exchanged glances with Baltazar. More than anything, she wanted to reassure him that she wasn’t going anywhere. He nodded to her as she turned to face Xaphine. Roselyn saw Baltazar’s expression and understood what was going on, “You love this man, don’t you?”

Aralyn nodded, “He stood by me, cared for me, and loved me. I gave him my heart and I will not leave him.”

Xaphine shook her head, “I have heard enough of this…”

“And I have heard this before,” Roselyn’s voice appeared from behind.

Xaphine turned to see her smiling at Aralyn. She stepped out from behind Xaphine and touched Aralyn’s chin, “You are so much like Adaline… it’s incredible. She made the same argument you are now.”

Aralyn moved closer to Roselyn to the point where their cheeks almost touched, “Please don’t take me away from him…”

Roselyn stepped back, smiled, and nodded. She then turned to Xaphine, “General, we can’t take her.”

“What madness is this?” Xaphine shouted, “The Most High has commanded that she return with us. It’s out of my hands.”

“Is it really,” Ariel chimed in, “General, since when do you put so much stock in the rules. The Most High is God above all others, but you command his armies. Come on Xaphine…”

Xaphine crossed her arms and sighed, “The Most High will have my wings for this…”

“Maybe,” Lailah chimed in, “But most likely not, as long as the work gets done, the Most High rarely cares how or who does it.”

Xaphine looked like she was deep in thought as her lips twisted. Lailah smiled, “Tell me General, how is Piero these days?”

Xaphine’s eyes opened wide and she glared at Lailah as though telling her to hold her tongue. Finally, she shook her head and turned to Aralyn, “You are correct, you are human, but only part. You are angelic as well…”

She paused for a moment to let out a deep sigh, “Okay, here is what I’m offering… Given the fact that our numbers were hit very hard by the war with Legion, we need all the help we can get. So I can’t just let you stay here full time, but as you are part human, you may spend part of your time here, and the rest of your time with us… let’s make it an even six months a piece. You may break that time up however you see fit; six months here, six months in our world or a week in our world and a week here. Frankly, I don’t care as long as your obligations are fulfilled.”

“It’s a high price,” Roselyn added, “But it is fair.”

Xaphine nodded, “There is one downside however… you have to spend the first six months with us. You need to get used to being in both worlds, which takes considerable training.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “Must it be this way?”

Xaphine’s lips twisted, “I know it seems unfair, but it’s the only way I’ll be able to convince the Most High to allow this.”

“I understand,” Aralyn replied, “Thank you, Xaphine. I know what you’ve done may cause you trouble. I appreciate you going out on a limb for me.”

Xaphine smiled, “You aren’t the only one who chose to mate with a human. Trust me, I understand better than think.”

“May I have a moment to say goodbye,” Aralyn asked.

“Take your time,” Xaphine replied, “There is no rush, you’ve earned this much.”

She turned to face Baltazar and stepped toward him. As she passed by Lailah, she smiled, “Thank you for everything… I don’t know where I’d be right now without your help.”

“You would have done just fine,” Lailah replied, “Of that, I am certain. For what it’s worth, I would have made the same decision you did about staying here.”

Aralyn nodded, “Thanks for that… just seeing Xaphine’s reaction made me worry that I was being selfish. I hope I made the right choice.”

“After everything you went through,” Lailah replied, “You’ve earned the right to be a little selfish.”

“But how do I know I’m doing the right thing,” Aralyn asked.

“Trust your heart,” Lailah replied, “Let destiny decide what’s right.”

Aralyn smiled and nodded, “I will.”

She turned and continued to Baltazar, his face had lost all of its color and a look of sadness had become apparent. Aralyn smiled, “Please don’t look at me like that. I love you, more than anything else in this world… I love you.”

“I love you,” Baltazar replied, “But this is so unfair, after everything you’ve been through.”

“I know,” she replied, “But it’s only six months, we’ll make it work.”

Baltazar looked away with a dismal expression. Aralyn looked at her love with worry in her eyes, “Won’t we? Baltazar, can we not make half of the time work until you join me above the clouds?”

Baltazar looked into her beautiful blue eyes, “Yes… yes we can. I’m sorry, Aralyn. It just seems like we’re once again asked to pay a heavy price for victory. I mean, we literally saved the world.”

“Yes we did,” Aralyn replied, “And we’re going to keep saving it.”

“How,” Baltazar asked.

Xaphine stepped forward, “The Spanish Empire has only begun to realize the effect piracy will have on their interests. Eventually, their numbers will dwindle, and their holds in the Caribbean will be fighting for freedom. Within the next two hundred years, Spain’s power will be gone and they will be no threat to anyone anymore. The powers of England, France, and the like will rise to end the Spanish oppression… and the Habsburgs will cease to exist.”

Baltazar smiled, “Then I will continue going after their ships.”

“And I will be by your side,” Aralyn replied, “Either in spirit, or by healing your crew when they are injured.”

“Yes,” Baltazar said softly, “We’ll save the world together.”

Xaphine cleared her throat to get Aralyn’s attention, “It’s time…”

Aralyn threw her arms around Baltazar, “I love you… I promise you we’ll see each other in six months, okay?”

Baltazar nodded, “Where should we meet?”

“Here,” She replied as her body began to face, “Six months from today, meet me here, I’ll be waiting for you!”

The other angels also began to fade. Baltazar turned to Lailah, “It was nice knowing you.”

Lailah nodded, “The pleasure was mine, we’ll see each other again someday, count on it.”

Baltazar smiled and watched as his love disappeared. Just before she completely vanished, a tear fell from her eye and landed on the dock. It splashed and formed into a small golden feather. Baltazar picked it up and put it in his pocket. Morgan placed his hand on Baltazar’s shoulder, “Ye okay Captain?”

“Yes, “Baltazar replied, “I’ll be fine…”

He took a deep breath and turned to face his men, “Come on boys, we’ve got six months of work to do before we can come back here! To the Black Vengeance, sail for Spain, and pirate glory!”

Gilles and Morgan saluted and headed for the boat, “Aye sir!”

 

Aftermath

Six months had passed for Aralyn, just as she was promised it would. When she was ready to return to Earth, there was a flicker of light and she appeared in front of the Patrisi home. Her wings were gone to help her pass as a human without incident, but her eyes were still glowing. The light blurred her eyes and made it impossible for her to see anything. She rubbed quickly trying to clear her vision.

When it finally returned, she let out a disappointed sigh. The Black Vengeance was nowhere in sight. Would he have abandoned me? She thought to herself, no, he wouldn’t do such a thing.

As though answering her question, a ship appeared from the other side of the harbor. Her sails veiled in a red sunset, Aralyn could tell that her love had finally arrived. The ship gracefully slowed to a halt as the sails were drawn and the anchored was dropped. She waited patiently as the longboat was lowered and began rowing for the shore. Anticipation built up inside of her as she waited for it to touch the shore.

The Sun slowly disappeared but the lamps all along the house took over illuminating the beach as the boat approached. Once it was within a few feet of the beach, Baltazar jumped over the side and ran through the wave to her. Aralyn ran down the beach to meet him half way, but she ran faster than he could. The two came together just a foot into the surf. They held each other tightly as the waves gently caressed their feet.

Gilles and Morgan pulled the boat up on land and watched from a few feet away. Aralyn released Baltazar from her grip, “My love… I have missed you.”

“And I missed you,” Baltazar replied.

The two brought their faces together and their lips connected in a deep kiss. Suddenly, four stars overheard began to twinkle brightly and colorful explosions went off in the night sky. All four of them turned to watch as the sky became illuminated in green, blue, red, and yellow colors. Baltazar smiled, “It’s amazing…”

“My sisters,” Aralyn replied, “I should have guessed they’d pull something like this.”

“Did you find all the answers you were looking for up there?” Baltazar asked.

Aralyn nodded, “Yes… I got to speak to Adaline, Giovanni… and my parents.”

Baltazar pressed her closer, “How are they?”

“They’re all happy…” Aralyn replied as she bit her lip. That’s what matters most. Although I should warn you, my father is very suspicious of you.”

“Is that so,” Baltazar chuckled, “Well I’ll just have to work even harder to prove my love for you.”

“That I would love to see,” Aralyn said laughing.

Suddenly, Baltazar pulled a beautiful jeweled necklace with a massive pearl on the end of it from his pocket. Aralyn gasped and placed a hand on over her mouth, “Baltazar… It’s beautiful…”

“Aztec,” he replied, “It was on its way to Spain from the new world. I… liberated it for you.”

“You are a pirate aren’t you?” Aralyn said jokingly.

“Among many other things,” Baltazar replied.

He quickly placed the necklace on her and rubbed her shoulders. She placed her right hand on his left one, “I can’t wait for us to start our life together.”

“It should be quite an adventure.” Baltazar replied.

“Really,” Aralyn asked, “I thought our big adventure was over. All the loose ends have been tied up.”

“Never,” Baltazar insisted, “All life can be an adventure if we choose to make it so.”

A look of excitement came over Aralyn’s face, “Yes, then let’s make it one.”



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 6, Chapter 7

VII

 

As Gilles predicted, the wind carried them to Venice in less than a week. No one onboard could explain such good fortune. Whenever they altered course, it almost appeared as though the wind was going with them. It blew through the sails hard enough to test the limits of the ship’s speed, but never enough to damage it. Lailah suspected that someone was aiding them on their journey.

Baltazar spent most of the time in his cabin with Aralyn. She had been badly injured and had not yet awakened. The bruises and cuts all over her body were slowly healing, but Baltazar worried about what damage was below the surface that he could not see. Lailah also peeked in from time to time to make sure that she was okay. She inspected Aralyn’s injuries to make sure she was healing properly.

On more than one occasion, Baltazar would turn to Lailah with a worried look, “Why won’t she wake up, what happened to her?”

“She’s fine Baltazar,” Lailah replied in a reassuring tone, “Aralyn poured everything she had into the fight, including her own life energy.”

“Her own life energy?” Baltazar repeated, confused.

“Every living creature has life energy,” she replied, “Angels have the ability to draw upon theirs for strength is they ever need it in a stressful situation. Aralyn used a great deal of hers and it is going to take time to replenish it.”

Baltazar straightened her hair as she slept, “What happens if an angel uses too much of it?”

Lailah frowned, “Then they wither away and die, but that isn’t what’s happening here, trust me.”

Baltazar shook his head and held on to her as tightly as he could. When Lailah was gone, he whispered in her ear, “I’ll make a deal with you; you wake up, and I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. How does that sound?”

Of course, he got no response, but he still waited a moment before speaking again, “Well… take some time to think about it.”

**

Another day went by before Venice came into view. With Lailah’s help, they were able to find the Patrisi residence within a few hours of sighting the city. As the ship sailed on, the crew could not believe their eyes. The old pier had been repaired, the shipwreck had been pulled from the rocks and was now a seaworthy boat docked on the pier, and the house had been completely rebuilt.

Baltazar could not believe his eyes, “What happened here?”

Lailah smiled, “Thank your love for this.”

“What do you mean?” Baltazar asked.

“Do you remember the when she raised the Black Vengeance from the ocean floor after the French sank her?” Lailah replied, “Her powers went out of control and went about reversing everything that Legion had done as well. Mont Saint Michel has been restored, and so has the Patrisi home.”

Baltazar looked around in shock, “This is amazing, it’s like the place we visited never existed… how is this possible.”

Lailah shrugged, “That’s what we don’t know. No angel has the ability to do all this. I suspect that when her powers finally flowed to the surface, she unconsciously ordered them to do the things she desired most, but this is only my theory.”

Baltazar nodded as he grabbed his spyglass. Looking through it, he could see that the house was deserted. Multiple footsteps on the ground made it evident that someone had been investigating the rebuilt home recently, but other then that, there was no evidence of disturbance.

Baltazar lowered the spyglass and turned to Morgan, “This is as good a place as any to make berth. Assign a lookout detail and grant shore leave to the rest of the men.”

Morgan saluted and turned to the crew, “Drop anchor, and lower the longboat for the captain.”

The red sails were folded against the yardarms and the anchor hit the water. Within moments, the ship came to a stop. The longboat went into the water and Morgan climbed down to inspect the boat. After a few minutes, he looked back up to the deck, “Longboat ready Captain.”

Baltazar nodded, “Take over up here.”

As he turned and headed to the cabin, he turned to Gilles, “Into the longboat with you. Take Lailah as well. I’ll join you in a few moments.”

Gilles saluted, “Aye sir.”

Baltazar disappeared into the cabin and sat down on the bed next to Aralyn. He leaned over her and gently whispered in her ear, “You’re home, Aralyn. It’s out there waiting for you. I’ll take you there so you can wake up in your own home.”

Carefully, Baltazar ran his hands under her back and legs and lifted her off the bed. He made his way back out on deck and over to the longboat. Before he climbed down, Baltazar handed Aralyn to Lailah, who sat down and rested Aralyn’s head on her lap. Baltazar then climbed down into the boat and manned one of the oars. Gilles took the other one and they began to row ashore.

As the boat pulled away from the Black Vengeance, Baltazar yelled back, “Organize shore party and see to it that the men get their shore leave.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Morgan yelled back, “Don’t you worry, you’ll have a well rested crew, sir. You just worry about getting Aralyn better. We’re going to need a good nurse where we’re going after she wakes up.”

Everyone onboard laughed as the boat pulled away. Baltazar smiled and saluted. Baltazar and Gilles rowed towards the shore as quickly as they could. Unlike the last time they had shown up at this house, the sea was very calm and quite. It was only a few minutes before the boat grazed the rocks underneath her.

Gilles and Baltazar jumped out and pulled the boat up on land. Gilles looked around and nodded, “This be eerie, everything fixed as though nothing happened in the first place.”

Baltazar nodded, “Perhaps that is for the best. Better the world not remember Legion and what he did.”

“Very true,” Lailah replied, “Something so evil could stir the minds of man even after it has been destroyed.”

Baltazar turned to Gilles, “Check out the house, make sure it’s secure.”

Giles nodded, “You got it Captain.”

Lailah looked up at the second floor, “I’ll check up there.”

She spread her wings and flew up looking into each window, inspecting the rooms, “This is incredible… everything exactly as it was the day Aralyn was born. Nothing at all has been altered.”

Gilles opened the front door with his pistol drawn and began to look around. The house was fully furnished and clean. It actually seemed quite welcoming. He walked through the rooms on the bottom floor without finding anyone and returned to the entrance. He picked up a torch that was leaning behind the door next to, of all things, an old arquebus.

Gilles pulled some gunpowder out of his pouch, sprinkled it on some cloth and wrapped the cloth on the torch. Once it was ready, he unloaded his pistol, held the flintlock of the pistol against the rags and pulled the trigger. The spark ignited the torch which then burst into flame. He lit the lamps on either side of the door and at each end of the house as the sun began to go down. Once they were done, he went inside the house and began lighting the lamps inside as well. Finally, he got to the fireplace and lit the fire there, which illuminated the kitchen.

Once everything was lit, Gilles returned to the front door once more, “Captain, the house is secured.”

Baltazar watched from the outside as the beautiful house came to life. The sky began to get dark and the stars appeared overhead. Lailah landed next to Baltazar as he picked up Aralyn. She looked up at two unusually bright stars in the sky, “Why hello, my sisters. What brings you here?”

Baltazar looked at her oddly, “Who are you talking to?”

Lailah continued to watch the stars as she responded, “My sisters Ariel and Roselyn. They’ve been watching this home since one of their sisters lived here.”

“You mean Adaline,” Baltazar replied.

Lailah nodded, “Her circle grew quite fond of this area, even after her death and continued to watch over the Patrisi family.”

Baltazar sighed, “A lot of good it did them.”

“Yes…” Lailah said softly, “Unfortunately no angel was really a match for Legion, so our options were limited.”

Baltazar brought Aralyn inside, took her up to the second floor, and laid her in a comfortable bed that looked like it had just been slept in a few hours ago. Lailah’s lips twisted, “The last person to lay there was Aralyn’s mother, when she gave birth.”

Baltazar watched as Aralyn slowly began moving and pulled the blankets up around herself. He smiled, “I think we’d best leave her alone.”

The two of them retreated from the room. Lailah sat on the front stoop outside watching the stars as Baltazar claimed a small cot on the first floor. Gilles went poking through the kitchen for food and found the house fully stocked with preserved supplies. Given the age of the house, he wasn’t sure how good they’d be, but he was starving and decided that it was worth the risk.

Baltazar sat back against the cot and began to fall asleep. He looked around once more and thought about the life that Aralyn had been robbed of. Would she have been better off if she were raised here with loving parents instead of the cold trappings of an ancient abbey? The answer was obvious; of course she would have been better off, anyone would have been.

Baltazar thought back to his own family. The mother who loved him and the father who had cast him out and refused to even admit he existed. It filled him with a great deal of resentment. Inside, he couldn’t wait for Aralyn to be well again so that they could get back to plundering his family’s ships. Baltazar’s head once again filled with fame and fortune as he drifted off to sleep and dreamt of easier times.



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