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

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,

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jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

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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:

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

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Historical Accuracy in Writing #Writing #Author #Advice

Hi Jim,

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

Thanks,
Mike


Hi Mike,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

… But he went down with the ship.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Readers,

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

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

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

I have been writing for several years, have multiple 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 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

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

VI

 

Lailah’s wings were extremely sore almost to the point of paralysis. Even a slight flap to keep herself level was agonizing. She struggled to stay airborne, not wanting to crash into the water. In her thousands of years, she had never learned how to swim, and doubted even the best swimmer would fair well in harsh seas with another person as dead weight.

Gilles saw her coming in. At first, he was relieved, but then he saw her erratic flying and the fact that she was not slowing down. His eyes widened as she got closer, “Men, clear the deck, look out!”

Lailah flew over the port side, dropping Aralyn’s body before crashing down herself. Gilles grabbed Aralyn and handed her to two nearby crewmen, “Get her into the cabin, make sure she is comfortable.”

The two crewmen picked her up and did as Gilles had ordered. As they disappeared from sight, Lailah hit the deck hard and rolled a couple of times until she was able to use her wings to stop herself. She lay on the deck for a few moments, badly hurt, but still conscious. Then she remembered that Baltazar was still in Paeles waiting for her.

Lailah quickly stood up, took a moment to regain her balance, and tried to spread her wings to fly back to the ruins. She began flapping and tried to run, but her legs gave out underneath her. She tried a second time, but Gilles grabbed her, “Sorry lass, I don’t think ye’ll be flying again for a while.”

“I have to,” she insisted, “Baltazar is still over there!”

Gilles quickly turned back to look at Paeles, “The captain didn’t make it out?”

“He’s still waiting for me,” Lailah yelled with tears in her eyes, “I promised him I’d come back for him. I have to go!”

Morgan looked out toward Paeles as the massive whirlwinds sucked in what was left of the city. Whole buildings had been ripped from their foundation and were now spinning in the air as they broke apart. He frowned and shook his head, “Don’t think there be anyone left for you to be keeping that promise to lass… that I don’t.”

Lailah watched helplessly as the whirlwind turned the entire area into a crater. Gilles crossed himself, “Captain…”

Tears streamed down Lailah’s cheeks, “This isn’t right. He did so much for us… too much to allow him to die this. I promised him…”

“You did everything you could,” Morgan replied, “I’m sure he doesn’t blame you. You managed to get Aralyn back here safely.”

Morgan nodded, “Aye, we’ll miss the Captain dearly, he be the best man I ever did serve under, but he loved Aralyn, and she was what was important.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” A familiar voice piped in from behind, “But then again, enough people Aralyn loves have already been lost to us. For her to accept another loss would be too much to ask.”

The entire crew looked in disbelief as a waterlogged Baltazar De La Fuente climbed over the railing on the starboard side. Gilles smiled, “Captain!”

“But how,” Lailah asked in disbelief, “I left you in the middle of the city, how were you able to escape so quickly?”

Baltazar shrugged, “Demonic creatures, haunted cities, massive whirlwinds… and even the devious mind of one Aralyn Patrisi are nothing I cannot find a way to overcome.”

Lailah chuckled a little, but still frowned, “I’m sorry Baltazar, I told you I’d come back and I didn’t.”

“It’s okay Lailah,” Baltazar replied, “I saw the way the city was collapsing around me. I knew when I handed Aralyn to you that there was no way you were going to be able to keep that promise.”

Morgan cheered, “We all should have known better! He’s Captain del la Fuente, nothing can kill him!”

Baltazar turned to Lailah, “How is Aralyn?”

“She’s fine,” Lailah replied, “She hasn’t regained consciousness, last I had seen, but she is resting comfortably in the cabin.”

As a look of relief came over Baltazar’s face, Lailah smiled, “Don’t worry, your love is much more durable than you think.”

“I know,” Baltazar replied, “In many ways, more durable than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

As the crew celebrated their captain’s return with cheers of joy, Baltazar inspected his ship now that the battle was over. There were burn marks everywhere, much of the deck railing was gone, and even a few cannons had been turned over. There was even a large hole in the deck, and one of the cabin windows has been shattered. To Baltazar’s surprise, the sails were still intact, but they were pretty much the only part of this once proud ship that had remained intact.

Baltazar shook his head and glared at his crew, “Mr. Gilles, where are you?”

Gilles stepped out of the crowd of cheering crew with a nervous look on his face, “Captain?”

Baltazar had an angry look on his face, “Mr. Gilles I did give you an order to take care of this ship did I not?”

Gilles gulped, “Yes sir…”

“Excuse me, Captain,” Morgan interjected, “But Gilles did the best he could under the circumstances…”

“I don’t believe I asked for your opinion, Mr. Morgan.” Baltazar replied.

Morgan nodded apologetically, “Aye Captain…”

“Now, Mr. Gilles,” Baltazar turned his attention back to his first mate, “What do you have to say for yourself? The condition of this ship is absolutely deplorable!”

Gilles nodded, “Aye sir, I know… I did my best, but we were under heavy fire from our enemies.”

“I see.” Baltazar replied thoughtfully, “So in other words it could have been a lot worse?”

“Aye that be true,” Gilles replied.

“So then what you are saying is that you actually did a really good job under the circumstances and because of your fine work, the Black Vengeance lives to sail another day… is that what you’re saying, Mr. Gilles?” Baltazar demanded.

“Well I wouldn’t be putting it quite that way sir,” Gilles replied, “The entire crew played a part in this adventure and I be saying that because of all of our efforts, the ship was saved.”

Baltazar’s eyes looked even more enraged, “Mr. Gilles, are you now blaming the rest of the crew for this mess?”

Gilles shrugged, “Well Captain, I…”

“I should grant you all shore leave!” Baltazar yelled, “Yes, I think a few weeks of shore leave along with pain of booze and wenches should teach you a lesson about ever doing such a good job of keeping my ship afloat again! What do you think?”

Gilles scratched his head with a confused look, “Captain?”

“In fact,” Baltazar said, turning to his crew with a nearly enraged look, “Shore leave for all of you men, just to show you how much I appreciate your hard work.”

The men looked at each other not sure what to make of Baltazar’s words. After a few moments, Baltazar’s expression changed from an angry scowl to an overjoyed smile, “You men did very well today and I am very proud to be serving with the lot of you. Because of your sacrifices, Aralyn is finally safe, Legion has been defeated, and now life can finally go on!”

Baltazar turned back to Gilles, “Mr. Gilles, set course for Venice… get us to the old Patrisi residence. Once we’re there, let’s partake of the beautiful Venetian countryside before we get to work repairing the ship.”

Gilles nodded, “Venice, very good Captain!”

“Captain,” Morgan piped up from behind, “What about after the Black Vengeance be repaired?”

Baltazar looked at every crewman and smiled widely, “Then it’ll back to plundering Spanish ships!”

The entire crew cheered even louder than before as the captain crossed his arms and smiled, “On deck you worthless rats, all watches, prepare to make way, shorten and cable. Men to the yards, aloft with you! Set topsails, hands to the braces, weigh anchor, let fall the sails!”

The men scattered to follow their captain’s orders. Within minutes, the sails came down as the anchor began to break the surface. The ship slowly began to move forward as Baltazar watched from the aft castle. He took one last look at the barren area where the ruins of Paeles once stood before turning to Gilles, “Five degrees starboard then hold your course, Mr. Gilles.”

Gilles nodded, “No problem, Captain.”

“Mr. Morgan,” Baltazar called out to the main deck as the wheel began to turn, “Full sail, if you please!”

“Aye sir,” Morgan replied and turned to the men who were still aloft, “You men, full sail, get the lead out!”

The remaining sails came down and the ship picked up speed. Baltazar nodded, “Let’s get to Venetian waters.”

Gilles smiled, “Aye sir, as long as the winds hold out, it shouldn’t take too long.”



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 5

V

 

The battle outside of the city had begun to die down. With the help of Lucifer’s forces, the Choirs of angels managed to push the Imp armies into full retreat. As the angels dealt with the last remnants of the imp army, Xaphine, Ariel, Roselyn, and the demon Xaphine had met earlier joined Gilles and Morgan on the deck of the Black Vengeance.

The ship sailed as close as they could to Paeles before the wind overwhelmed her sails. Several crewmen wanted to lower longboats and go find their captain, but Xaphine stood in their way, “This is something they have to do alone. This cursed land is too dangerous for humans.”

Though in her own heart, she desired to be there to help them. She still felt responsible for Legion gaining enough power to break out of the underworld and cause so much turmoil. The dishonor of knowing that Adaline’s great-great-granddaughter had to suffer for crimes that she had committed was unacceptable, but she could not interfere, she knew this.

Gilles stood by her side at the railing, “Did you know Gavreel?”

Xaphine turned to look at him, “Excuse me?”

“Gavreel,” he repeated, “Did you know her.”

She nodded, “Yes, Gavreel was a special angel amongst the Choirs. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but from what I’d heard about her, she was very kind hearted.”

Gilles lowered his eyes, “She died protecting me…”

“I know,” Xaphine replied, “I can feel it when one of my troops falls. It is truly a shame, but she died doing the job she loved; protecting people.”

Gilles nodded, “Yes… she said the same thing.”

The demon stood on Xaphine’s other side and spoke with a sarcastic tone, “I have a question for you ‘General,’ if it wouldn’t be too inconvenient?”

Xaphine rolled her eyes, “What is it Baʿal Zəbûb?”

“Legion is one that is many,” he replied, “One consciousness, one voice, but many minds and many forms. How do you intend that one angel should be able to defeat a creature that can take the form of as many creatures it wants?”

Xaphine smiled, “Leave that to the Choirs. Legion can’t hold multiple forms for long. It drains his energy. So we’ll wait for him to revert to single form. Once he does, our agent, Lailah, will signal us. That’s when the Choirs of angels will focus our powers together to lock him in that one form.”

“How long do you think you’ll be able to hold that,” Baʿal Zəbûb asked.

Xaphine shrugged, “Who knows… a few hours maybe? Hopefully it should be enough time for Aralyn to defeat him.”

Baʿal Zəbûb scoffed, “You’re putting an awful lot on the shoulders of a mere half-breed. Do you seriously think that this has any chance of success?”

“She may have the drawbacks of being a mortal,” Xaphine replied, “But she is far more powerful than any other single angel. When her powers manifested themselves, she was able to do incredible things with no training at all.”

Baʿal Zəbûb didn’t say anything in response. He was too deep in thought, contemplating what would happen if she did fail. Xaphine sighed, “You know… I owe you a thank you… if you hadn’t come, we probably wouldn’t be standing here now.”

Baʿal Zəbûb snorted, “I never thought I’d here that from an angel… even one who spent many years on our side.”

Xaphine smiled, “We did have some fun times together.”

“Yes we did,” Baʿal Zəbûb replied, “Before you turned on us.”

“Don’t,” Xaphine shot back, “You of all people know what Lucifer tried to do to me, after everything I sacrificed for him. After everything I did to help him, he still could not even grant one single request on my part. At that point, he proved to be no friend of mine, and I sided with the one person who had shown me unending loyalty.”

Baʿal Zəbûb nodded, “Forgive me Xaphan, I didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you, far from it. I didn’t agree with your decision, but I understood it. You were always a fine general and I’m glad to see that after everything, the Most High was smart enough to recognize your abilities. “

“Xaphine,” She replied, “My name is Xaphine Lorenzi now.”

“Ah yes,” Baʿal Zəbûb chuckled, “So I heard… Well Xaphine, I must say, after watching you fight, it’s nice to see that your chosen allegiance hasn’t dulled your abilities at all.”

“Or yours,” Xaphine replied, “I think that, when the dust settles, Lucifer and the Most High may have a few things to discuss.”

Baʿal Zəbûb nodded, “Perhaps, once all this is over.”

*

The wind began to blow hard inside of the ruins of Paeles. Each step Aralyn took forward was met with a strong force pushing against her. She held tightly on to Baltazar’s arm as the two pressed on closer and closer. Lailah stood behind them and looked back toward the sea. She couldn’t see anything, but was hoping against hope that her people were winning the day. Overheard, she couldn’t see anymore imps, but for all she knew, they could still be there, the clouds from the whirlwind blocked her view.

Once they reached the edge of the whirlwind, Lailah stopped walking. Aralyn turned back to her, “What’s wrong?”

“This is as far as I dare go,” Lailah replied.

Aralyn shook her head, “What are you talking about, I need you, I can’t take on Legion alone!”

Lailah smiled, “You are not alone, trust me on that. I have to alert the Choirs of your progress.”

“But…” Aralyn began to protest, “I need you…”

“No you don’t,” Lailah replied, “I have already fought Legion and failed. Long have I watched over your family… and you. But you have grown into a strong young woman, and a powerful angel. You don’t need my help anymore. It’s time you stand on your own.”

Aralyn lowered her eyes, “I… I understand…”

Lailah turned to Baltazar, “You are her support now, her protector, and her love. Keep her safe.”

Baltazar nodded as he turned back to face the violent wind. Aralyn grabbed his arm once again and wrapped her own arms around it. She pressed her head against him, “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.”

“I do,” Baltazar replied, “I’ve seen you handle everything else that has been thrown at you, and you have had an unreasonable amount to deal with in a short span of time. Ever after all that, here you are, still standing. If I didn’t think you were ready for this, I never would have let you come this far. I believe in you.”

Quivering, she forced a smile, and nodded, “Then I’ll do my best not to let you down.”

With a renewed sense of confidence, she drew her sword and pointed it at the vortex. The blade responded by glowing green. She looked at the blade for a moment, “You have defended my family for many years… don’t let me down.”

Aralyn sucked in a deep breath, squeezed Baltazar’s hand and stepped through the spinning winds. Baltazar stepped through at the same time and held on tight so that he would not lose her in there.

The pair was instantly surrounded by a gray fog. The wailing of Paeles and the sound of the harsh winds were gone. All that remained was low whisper that sounded muffled. Baltazar turned a couple of times to see if they could make out anything, “So now what’s the plan?”

Aralyn shrugged, “I don’t know, but standing here won’t do us any good.”

She tugged on his arm, “Come on, let’s keep going forward.”

“Okay,” Baltazar agreed hesitantly, “Just don’t let me run into any invisible walls or step off a cliff.”

Aralyn smiled, “No worries.”

She took a step forward onto the unseen surface. When she felt solid ground, she took another step and pulled Baltazar to stay with her. The two walked through what could only be described as oblivion. Their breathing and footsteps echoed as they moved like they were in a large amphitheater.

Moments later, the gray began to clear like fog being lifted. In front of them was a massive cliff that seemed to protrude slightly upward into the vortex. Aralyn and Baltazar walked cautiously out to the edge of the cliff. When Aralyn looked down, she realized that there was no bottom to this whirlwind. Looking up, she realized that there was no top either. It appeared to stretch on endlessly. Aralyn was starting to get impatient and turned to Baltazar, “Stand back.”

Baltazar nodded and moved backwards to where there was more ground underneath him. Once she was convinced he was on stable ground, Aralyn turned her attention back to the vortex. She stared upwards for a few moments before calling out, “Legion!”

Her voice was met by a hollow sigh, but no other response. She waited a second and then tried again, “Legion!”

This time the entire whirlwind shook and a deep voice answered her, “Aralyn!”

An enormous entity that could only be described as a cloud of black smog appeared in front of her. In her right hand, Aralyn’s sword glowed even brighter as she aimed it at the cloud. The entity spoke, “Aralyn… so you have finally come. We must say it took you a little longer than we expected.”

“Happy to disappoint,” Aralyn replied, “Perhaps I can do it again some time?”

The entity laughed, “You are Adaline’s descendant indeed. Unfortunately, there won’t be another time. You will not leave our vortex alive. We have finally restored ourselves to full power and do not even need you now.”

The entity paused a moment and began to shift in shape. It slowly took human form, but it was little more than a black silhouette. A pair of yellow eyes opened on the area where a face would be, “However… we could still benefit from the powers you possess. Join us, and spare yourself unceasing pain and anguish.”

Aralyn’s eyes glowed as she thrust her free hand forward. Hot beams of white light emanated from her fingertips and shot through the air towards Legion. She clenched her teeth as the beams flew, “Never, Legion, die!”

Her attack struck Legion and passed right through him. His laughter echoed through the chamber as the beams of light vanished. Aralyn placed both hands on her sword took a step back. Legion roared, “You are a fool. We tried to be generous with you and this is the insult we receive? We are many and cannot be killed so easily.”

Legion raised his right hand, “Let us show you…”

Instantly, Legion disappeared from view and Aralyn heard Baltazar’s voice behind her, “Lookout!”

She turned to see Legion standing next to her. She was quick enough to be able to deflect his attack and push him away. As quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. Aralyn had a feeling that she knew what was going on and turned around. Sure enough, Legion was standing behind her in a different form and attacked again.

Within seconds, Legion attacked her from all four sides. He would alternate when he would appear in each position and what attack he would use. Baltazar ran to her side, but the moment Legion appeared, he went flying to the back of the ledge. He tried again to reach her, but again was sent flying through the air.

The sword she had given him when they first left the Black Vengeance, glowed brightly, but he had no idea what it meant. As much as he tried, there was no way for him to reach his love and he was forced to watch as she fought through this onslaught. He continued to look for a way to get to her, but could not find a way through this invisible barrier.

Aralyn fought hard, swinging her sword in defense, but she was having a hard time keeping track. Eventually she lost track and turned the wrong way, expecting to be attacked from behind, but Legion wasn’t there. Instead she felt a blunt pain in her side. She gasped as the wind was knocked out of her. She was now unable to deflect any more attacks. Legion hit her in the back, slashed at her leg, and then connected with her cheek. Baltazar threw himself at them as blood sprayed from Aralyn’s nose. Again he was unable to reach her as she fell to the side and her head hit the ground.

Aralyn’s world suddenly went black. She wasn’t unconscious, or at least she didn’t think she was, but her eyes couldn’t detect any sign of anything. She struggled to stand up and called out, “Baltazar… “

The only response came from a blue orb that appeared in front of her. It suddenly became very bright and approached Aralyn. It became so bright that she had to block her eyes to stop the light from blinding her.

“What is this, who are you?” She demanded.

There was a sudden flash and the orb disappeared. In its place was a beautiful young woman with blond hair and blue eyes that matched Aralyn’s. In fact, she looked exactly like her. Aralyn rolled her eyes, “Legion if this is another one of your tricks…”

“Shh…” The figure replied, “I’m not Legion.”

Aralyn looked at her oddly, “Then who are you…”

“I think you know,” the figure said with a smile, “I am a part of you.”

“Then you’re Adaline, my great-great-grandmother.” Aralyn replied.

The figure nodded, “That’s right… “

“What do you want,” Aralyn demanded, “I don’t have time for this.”

Adaline frowned, “I didn’t expect such hostility from my own kin…”

“Hostility?” Aralyn scoffed, “What do you know of hostility? Because of your short-sightedness, I had to grow up trapped behind the walls of an ancient abbey, I had no parents, almost everyone I ever cared for is dead, and now it looks like I might be too! Now I am stuck with your powers and abilities and I never wanted any of this!”

“No one asks for things like this to happen,” Adaline glared back, “Do you think I asked to be kicked out of the Celestial World, or be blinded and tortured to within a mere thread of my life? Do you think I asked to have people fight and die for me and in the end watch the person who loved me the most suffer? When all was said and done, I did what I had to do to be happy and so that your great-great-grandfather would survive. I make no apologies for that and I never would. It may sound selfish, but I love Giovanni and I would have done anything in the world to be with him.”

Aralyn could see a tear in her ancestor’s eye, “I am sorry for what happened to you, but believe me, I had nothing to do with it. I’m not a member of the Choirs of Angels anymore. It was the price I paid for a mortal life. Once that life was over, I would return to the Celestial World, but I would live in paradise as a human, not an angel, so I would have no say in their workings. It was a choice I’d make over and over again.”

“What about your powers,” Aralyn demanded, “How did I get them?”

“There was no way to completely remove the angelic essence from my being,” Adaline responded, “Not even the Most High has that capability. So he removed what he could, leaving just enough to prolong my life as long as my husband lived. We didn’t know until it was too late that the remaining essence would begin to manifest itself in later generations until it manifested itself in my last descendant.”

Aralyn sighed, she didn’t like the response she received, but it was something she would need to live with, “Fine… what about those swords? What is so special about those?”

Adaline smiled, “They originally belonged to a group of Lutheran revolutionaries. We needed them to defeat a terrible threat. So we travelled to the Underworld to coat them with venom from the Eden Serpent.”

“What is an Eden Serpent?” Aralyn asked.

“Not an Eden Serpent,” Adaline replied, “The Eden Serpent, there was only ever one of them. Think back to your studies. This was the serpent that got humankind kicked out of paradise. We hunted it down, killed it, and used its venom to curse our blades. The venom infused itself into the steel and now those swords can kill an immortal as easily as a regular sword can kill a human… they have been passed down in our family, and now they belong to you….”

Adaline touched Aralyn’s chin gently, “I am very sorry this has all been put on your shoulders. If I could take your place, I would.”

“But you can’t,” Aralyn replied, “So where does that leave me, dead?”

Adaline shook her head, “No, not dead… in a perilous situation perhaps, but not dead.”

“What do I do,” Aralyn insisted, “Please, you have to tell me, if I fall, Baltazar, the crew, and the rest of existence die as well!”

Adaline smiled, “Baltazar… quite the handsome rogue you’ve taken as your lover.”

Aralyn rolled her eyes, “What of it?”

“Oh, nothing,” Adaline replied, “Legion won’t be easy to defeat. In addition to being powerful, his consciousness is made up of thousands of minds working together like a bee hive. That is how he is able to move so quickly and seemingly be in more than one place at once.”

“So what do I do?” Aralyn asked.

“If you drain some of his power, he’ll be forced to revert to his true form,” Adaline replied, “Every hive has a queen and so does he. If you can damage him enough to expose his central mind, he will be vulnerable.”

“How am I supposed to do that,” Aralyn asked,  “I couldn’t even hit him.”

“Try something unexpected,” Adaline replied, “And rely on those around you…”

Aralyn rolled her eyes, “More cryptic responses… I need more then that!”

Adaline turned and looked behind her as though someone was coming, “Our time together is at its end. I’m sorry I can’t give you more than that. Just trust the people around you.”

As she began to vanish, Adaline kissed Aralyn on the cheek, “I love you, no matter what happens, you will always be family to me. Good luck!”

Aralyn had tears in her eyes as she watched yet another member of her family vanish from in front of her face, “I… I love you too… grandma…”

Aralyn lowered her eyes as the blackness turned to gray and she suddenly returned to reality. The sharp pains from the injuries she had received at Legions hands suddenly came rushing back. She opened her eyes to see Legion standing over her with a massive black sword in his hand, ready to deliver her a killing blow. She had no way of getting out of the way in time.

Baltazar saw his love hit the floor unconscious. At that moment, he saw that some of her blood had sprayed onto the gun on his belt. Remembering what happened aboard the Black Vengeance when the angels had blessed their cannons, he pulled the pistol from his belt. Lord God in Heaven, make this work, I beg of you… He thought to himself as he performed the sign of the cross over the pistol.

Legion brought his sword down on Aralyn. He was about to deliver the final blow when he suddenly heard a thundering boom. Searing pain ran through is back and he could feel himself getting weaker. He turned to see a smoking pistol in Baltazar’s hand.

Looking down at his hip, Legion could see what looked like gold dust slowly falling from where he’d been shot. He could feel the power draining from his form as he pressed his hand against the injury and solidified his form. Baltazar could see a nose and mouth form on Legions face as his features appeared.

Outside, the whirlwind died down for a brief moment. She felt the dark powers and the malice momentarily disappear and realized that this was their only chance. Her hand glowed white as she thrust it into the air and sent a white bolt of lightning shooting into the clouds.

From the Black Vengeance, Xaphine saw the signal and turned to Ariel and Roselyn, “Move your angels into positions, form a perimeter around the city, and begin focusing your minds. Hurry now, if Legion is able to restore himself, all hope for our friends will be lost.”

The two angels immediately took flight and organized their forces. Within moments, there was a circle of hundreds of angels around Paeles. Once the circle was complete, Xaphine took flight from the deck of the ship, shot through the sky, and landed at the last open position in the circle. She took a deep and placed her right hand on her temple. Her eyes snapped shut as she focused her mind. The ground began to tremble as a low humming sound emanated from her being.

The angels on either side of her mimicked her movements as did the angels next to them. Within moments, the hum became so loud, it could be heard for miles. As their energy manifested itself, the angel’s skin began to glow white and bright beams shot from their foreheads. The energy from their focused minds struck the whirlwind and disappeared into the vortex.

Xaphine sighed, “It’s all up to those two kids now.”

*

Inside the vortex, Legion laughed as he turned his attention to Baltazar, “What were you planning on accomplishing here, boy?”

“Get away from her you freak,” Baltazar replied, “Come try that with me!”

“You,” Legion scoffed, “A simple mortal… we didn’t come all this way to be chastised by an insignificant parasite. You’re in way over your head.”

Baltazar smiled, “Ancient demons, trips to hell, ugly winged beasts… it seems like a normal day for me.”

His words made Legion laugh even harder, “Very well then, if you are so anxious to meet your end, we will oblige you.”

The sword is Legion hand spun like a wheel as he turned and attack Baltazar. Baltazar extended his blade, which was now glowing bright green and struck Legion’s. The two swords impacted with a loud clang and a flash of white light. Legion struck again with an inhuman grunt that sent chills through Baltazar’s body. The blow almost knocked the sword from his hand, but he managed to keep his grip steady.

Legion’s attacks were brutal and relentless. Baltazar could feel the sword begin to buckle under impact. The green aura began to pulse as Legion brought his sword down once more. The blade of Baltazar’s sword shattered and sent shards flying. One shard grazed Legion’s cheek. Gold dust sprinkled out of the injury as Legion quickly pressed it closed with his finger.

Baltazar looked at the remains of his sword and realized that he now had no way to defend himself or Aralyn. Legion’s right fist came around and impacted on Baltazar’s cheek. The blunt force of the impact sent Baltazar flying on his back. Legion smiled and stepped forward with his sword in front of him. Baltazar rubbed his cheek and stood back up. Legion moved closer and pointed the sword at his throat.

Baltazar backed away slowly as Legion moved forward. His feet slid back across the floor until he was right on the edge of the cliff. His eyes never left the yellow burning ones of Legion. Seeing that Baltazar had nowhere else to go, Legion brought his sword back, ready to strike.

Baltazar closed his eyes, certain he was about to die as he waited for the death blow. Legion began to bring his sword down, when he felt a sharp pain in his back. He turned to see that Aralyn had found her feet and managed to sneak up behind him. In solid form, Legion didn’t have the same abilities he’d had as an entity and was unable to sense her.

Aralyn’s eyes burned like blue fire as she glared at Legion. Her sword was glowing and pointed directed at Legion’s chest, “Your fight is with me.”

“So it is,” Legion agreed, “That suites us, we grow tired of dealing with lesser beings.”

Aralyn spread her wings and jumped over Legion, using them to elevate her out of Legion’s reach. She landed between him and Baltazar, keeping her wings spread, “Do not touch him!”

Legion spun around and brought his sword down. Aralyn parried his attack with her own sword which was glowing bright than ever before. She clenched her jaw as the two swords scrapped together. Finally, Legion pulled back a few feet. Aralyn pointed her sword at him again and stepped forward, “You’re going to pay for every single person you have hurt. Papi, Sister Mary, the crew… and my family… give them back to me Legion, give them all back!”

Legion laughed, “So you wish to kill us? That’s not a very angelic reaction.”

“No it’s not,” Aralyn replied, “But I’m not much of an angel anyway. I’m a human being.”

“A human, you say?” Legion scoffed, “The thought that someone would choose the life of a pathetic creature over a superior being… it’s actually quite troubling.”

“Enough,” Aralyn replied, “You have spent too much time in Hell. You speak of things you do not know.”

Legion nodded, “Perhaps, but once we kill you we’ll never have to find out.”

“You can try,” Aralyn replied in a calm voice, “But even if you succeed, the battle is already over and you have lost.”

“Lost huh,” Legion cackled, “Perhaps you refer to imp army that flocked to us? We could care less as to what happened to them. They were mere pawns who have served their purpose.”

Aralyn’s eyes narrowed, “What are you talking about?”

“The imps thinned the Choirs numbers down significantly when they hadn’t even full rebuilt from the celestial wars.” Legion replied, “With their numbers dwindling as much as they are, they won’t be able to stop us. We are Legion…”

“For we are many,” Aralyn interrupted, “Yes I’ve heard that before. It didn’t bother me the first time and it still doesn’t. No matter how many forms you can take, or how many copies you can summon to your control, you still do not scare me.”

“No?” Legion asked, “Let’s find out…”

Legion focused his mind and his eyes turned red. Aralyn brought her sword up in front of her face, ready to defend against Legion’s attack. Suddenly, white lights flickered around Legion, and his eyes returned to their yellow color. He looked around, confused for a moment and tried again. The lights flashed even brighter this time as Legion growled. Aralyn smiled, “The Choirs numbers may have dwindled, but there are still more than enough of them. You have already lost Legion. Surrender and God may yet show you mercy as he did once before.”

Legion shook his head, “Where was the Most High when Lucifer corrupted our lair, where was he when the creatures of Sheol were trapped and brutalized, and where was he when Lucifer brought his damned souls to dwell there? No, the Most High’s mercy doesn’t appeal to us. We know him better than anyone, he will not stop what has happened. ”

“I do not care about what happened in Hell,” Aralyn shouted, “You’re actually using your mad lust to regain the dominance you let slip away as a justification for murder?”

“I’ve heard enough,” Legion spat back, “You die now!”

Legion lunged at her with his sword. She turned to the side and parried his attack. To her surprise, he took to the air and raised himself high above the ledge where Aralyn stood. The whirlwind suddenly vanished as Aralyn flapped her wings and took flight in pursuit.

Baltazar found himself standing only a few feet away from Lailah, “What happened?”

Lailah looked up, “His powers have been diminished. He can no longer maintain his powers. She just needs to keep weakening him!”

Baltazar watched his love give chase above the smashed buildings, “Well, come on, we need to help her! She can’t take him on alone!”

“We can’t help her,” Lailah replied, “Even in his weakened state, he’s more than powerful enough to take on another angel. If we break our hold on him now, he will be able to use his powers to morph into other forms, and we may never be able to defeat him.”

“We have to do something,” Baltazar insisted.

Lailah nodded, “Believe in her and be strong for her. That is what she needs right now.”

Above the city, Aralyn chased Legion around the sky. It appeared that Legion was trying to wear her down. Aralyn did not see this and pressed her wings as hard as she could. Flying was still new to her and she struggled to keep pace. Sweat poured down her body as she increased speed.

When Legion saw that she was gaining on him, he turned around and flew back to the middle of the city. Within moments, he settled over the ledge where they had originally fought and pointed his sword at her again in order as though challenging her to try to attack him.

Aralyn was breathing heavily as she wiped the sweat from her brow. Her sword continued to glow as she charged at Legion with it pointed in front of her. Her wings were sore and she was out of breath. She decided to slow down in order to reserve her remaining strength. Her wings ached as she soared through the cool air, but she eventually reached Legion. Her teeth were clenched as she brought her sword up to strike, “This is the end for you…”

The two enemies crossed swords again. The blades sparked as they struck and slid off of one another. Aralyn realized that she couldn’t do this for too long as she was having enough trouble keeping herself in the air. She performed a somersault over Legion again and tried to stab him from behind. Legion countered her attack and turned upside down to connect his sword with hers.

Aralyn broke away and tried to come at him again with a slashing attack, but this time, Legion was ready for her. When she got close enough, he performed a spin that resulted in his foot striking her on the right cheek. He also brought his sword down on hers, shattering it.

Having no other defense, Aralyn drew upon her remaining energy and blasted Legion with a beam of light from her right hand. The beam grazed Legion shoulder and caused him to jerk backwards. The force of the energy was enough to knock Aralyn from the sky. Using her wings, she was able to slow her fall, but she was unable to stop it. She struck the ground and lie on her stomach for a second stunned. The pain shooting through her body was almost unbearable as she finally struggled to get back to her feet.

Aralyn had been badly beaten and her body was failing her, but she knew that her only choice was to keep fighting. Victory or death, she thought to herself, I won’t be able to live with myself otherwise.

With tears in her eyes, she turned to face Legion as he began a sky dive towards her, ready to deliver a killing strike. Aralyn quickly looked over at Baltazar who running to her as fast as her could, even though it was obvious that he was too far away to get to her in time. She watched her for a moment and mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry, my love.’

Aralyn immediately turned back to Legion with anger, “Die you bastard…”

She drew upon the last drop of strength she had left, outstretched her arms, and thrust both hands towards Legion. White hot beams of light flew from her fingertips and struck Legion, stopping him in his tracks. Legion’s form was thrust backwards slightly and he dropped his sword. The intensity of the blasts held Legion in place and paralyzed him.

Aralyn continued her attack, but was losing energy fast. She stumbled a couple of times, but managed to find her footing enough to keep her standing. She tensed her hands in order to push more energy into the blasts. Shooting pain passed through her hands, legs, wings, and entered her heart. Her wings spread and she screamed, “God, please don’t take me yet, it is not finished. Please, not yet!”

Her nose began bleeding again as she fought through the exhaustion and the pain. Her eyes squinted as she realized that she could not hold her arms up any longer. She began breathing heavily and was almost blinded by sweat dripping into her eyes. Her arms became extremely heavy and were ready to collapse. Aralyn closed her eyes and shook her head, “It’s no good… I’m sorry Baltazar, I can’t do it. I don’t have enough strength left.”

Suddenly, Aralyn felt an arm under her wings press against her back, holding her up and a hand grabbing her right wrist. She opened her eyes to see Baltazar standing next to her, holding her up. She breathed heavily and a look of relief came over her features as Baltazar smiled at her, “You’ve done just fine, now let me help you.”

A second hand grabbed her left wrist and held it tightly in place. Lailah whispered in her ear, “Use my strength, and finish him.”

Aralyn nodded as she drew upon Lailah’s strength and focused it through her hands. The beams of light became twice as strong as they had been before and the energy enveloped Legion in light. Legion screamed out in pain as his entire body began to burn. Aralyn began to breath heavily again and forced the last of her energy through her hands before collapsing in Baltazar’s arms.

Legion’s body had steam pouring off of it, and he was breathing heavily, but a sense of relief came over him and he smiled, “You have lost Aralyn. You are out of strength…. now there is no one to stop us from retaking the underworld…”

Aralyn looked up at Legion weakly, filled with remorse that she was unable to finish the fight. What pained her even more was that now she would have to watch as her friends die. Secretly she hoped that Legion would kill her first, but he was never that kind.

Legion was about to continue speaking when suddenly, he noticed that gold dust was flowing from his body. Unlike before, this time it was flowing upwards into the sky. Legion looked up toward the clouds frantically. His eyes turned to blue as they darted back and forth, “Master… no… You can’t take us! We won’t allow it! Leave us to complete my mission, we beg of you… no!”

Legions form continued to disintegrate into gold dust until his entire body exploded in a magnificent display of light and the remaining dust disappeared into the clouds. Aralyn sighed as she felt her body finally give out. Her eyes closed and she fell unconscious. Concerned, Lailah felt her neck and arm. After a few seconds, she nodded, “Aralyn will be ok, she just needs rest and time to heal.”

“Thank God,” Baltazar replied as he picked her up, “Let’s get her out of here.”

Suddenly, the ground began shaking under their feet. Large towers that were still standing in the city were beginning to collapse as the whirlwind began to pick up again. Baltazar looked at the city as it destroyed itself and turned to Lailah, “We have to get out of here, can you fly us out?”

Lailah shook her head, “I can’t carry two of you at once. We’d never get off the ground.”

Baltazar sighed as he handed Aralyn’s unconscious body to Lailah, “Get her out of here… get her back to the Black Vengeance.

Lailah looked at him and nodded, “Don’t worry, I’ll see to it she is safe, but I’m coming back for you. I promise.”

Baltazar nodded, “Alright, get going!”

The whirlwind became stronger as Lailah flapped her wings hard, struggling to climb into the sky. The wind picked up and grew stronger and stronger until loose stones from the wrecked buildings lifted off the ground and entered the whirlwind. Lailah dove to avoid a building that was collapsing right in front of her as she continued to fly as fast as she could to get out of Paeles.

The wind picked up even more and it felt like Lailah was about to get sucked back into the vortex. Her wings ached as she pushed harder and harder to break away. It took almost all of her energy, but after a few more hard flaps she was able to pull out of the whirlwind and get to the Black Vengeance.



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 4

IV

 

Xaphine flew between the lines, narrowly avoiding getting hit by a fireball. The two armies were now completely meshed together in combat. The angels pushed against the imps, and managed to get them back away from the ship for a few moments, but the imps kept on coming. Gilles was forced to pull the Black Vengeance out of the fray to regroup and take stock of the battle damage. The ship was already covered with Imps and they would need to deal with those ones before doing anything else.

Ariel approached Xaphine as their lines met up, “General, this isn’t looking good, there are just too many of them, we need to fall back!”

Xaphine shook her head, “If we fall back now, Aralyn is as good as dead. No, we keep fighting and if anyone tries to pull back, I will kill them myself. Are we clear?”

Ariel looked at Xaphine for a moment with a shocked expression, “I’ll rally our forces, general.”

She left Xaphine to try to organize a counter attack while she rallied her own squadron.

Gilles fought hard to clear the imps from the deck of his ship. Gavreel remained onboard and fought by his side. Once the Black Vengeance was out of the battle, the group focused on getting rid of the imps that were still on the ship. The crew had been driven back into groups and was being forced into corners of the ship. Gilles braced the helm and turned to help the rest of the men.

Gilles jumped off the aft castle into the middle of a group fighting imps. He brought his sword down on an imp that had its back turned. The sword struck its neck, which immediately turned to dust. After a few minutes of fighting, Gilles managed to free the group, “Come on men, let’s get these disgusting creatures off our ship!”

The men cheered and followed Gilles as he attempted to rescue a second group of crewmen trapped by the imps. Gilles moved in to attack and stabbed another imp in the back. The creature screamed and burst into smoke. Once it was gone, Gilles turned to attack another creature, when he saw a third one charging at him. Gilles had been caught off guard and there was no way for him to react in time.

Suddenly, Gavreel appeared between them. The spike that was intended for Gilles, plunged through her chest and emerged from her back. The creature let out a high pitched laugh and it slid the spike out of her body. Gilles felt as though he had a cannon in his chest that was about of go off, “You bastard!”

Gilles dove at the imp and drove his sword through its chest. As with all of the other imps, this one’s body vanished once it had been killed. Gilles dropped his sword and knelt down next to Gavreel. She had blood pouring out of her wound and was coughing badly. He tore a rag from his already shredded shirt and placed it on her wound, trying to stop the bleeding.

As he pressed down, he looked into her eyes, “You saved my life…”

Gavreel smiled, “It was… the right thing to do. You humans… you are so much like children. I…”

She began to cough again. Gilles pressed harder, trying to stop blood from flowing out both sides, “Stop, don’t talk, we’ll get you patched up in no time.”

“You are sweet,” Gavreel replied, “But you can’t save me. The injury is fatal.”

“This is not right,” Gilles said in an angry tone.

She shrugged weakly, “Angels are responsible for guiding and watching over humans. As far as I’m concerned, I have done the job I was created to do… do not mourn for me…”

Without another word, Gavreel closed her eyes and the light left her body. Seconds later, she lost all color and disintegrated into dust, which was then swept away by the wind.

Gilles watched her disappear with a tear in his eye. He looked down at his hands which were still covered in blood. To his amazement, all the cuts and bruises he’d received during this battle instantly healed. Older scars also began to disappear as Gilles wiped the blood from his hands. After seeing that his body had somehow fully regenerated, he looked up to the sky and crossed himself, “Thank you, my friend.”

“Gilles,” Morgan cried out from across the deck, “Look!”

As the crew finished off the remaining imps on deck, Gilles looked up in the clouds to where the battle was taking place. To his horror, the Choirs were getting overrun. Gilles shook his head, “No…”

Without another thought, he ran to the wheel, removed the brace and brought the ship about, heading back into battle, “All hands, run up the guns and prepare to fire!”

Morgan stood next to him on the aft castle with the spyglass, “Is this wise? The Black Vengeance be badly damaged. I don’t know that she be in suited condition to take another beating.”

Gilles never looked away from the battle, “Those angels are fighting and dying for our existence. If they lose, it won’t matter if this ship survives or not.”

Once Gilles had the ship pointed straight at Paeles, he called up into the masts, “Full sail!”

The ship pulled hard on the wind and managed to get within gun range in a matter of minutes. Gilles counted out a few seconds and then turned the wheel hard to starboard bringing the port guns to bear. It took him a few moments to get them into position, but once the guns were aligned, Gilles nodded, “All port guns fire!”

The ship responded with loud booms and a cloud of smoke. Cannon balls littered the air and ripped through the clouds of imps. Baltazar had trained his crew well as they were able to avoid hitting any angels. The crew’s efforts paid off as their cannons cut enough of a hole in the imp’s lines for the angels to break through and regroup.

Their victory was short-lived as the imps turned their attention back to the human ship. This time, more than half of the remaining imps shot down toward the ship. There were enough of them to completely blanket the Black Vengeance and choke any light from their eyes.

Gilles saw them coming and didn’t even bother turning the ship, “My God… this be it.”

Morgan nodded, “Stand fast, maybe we can take a few of them with us… it’s been good knowing ye Mr. Gilles.”

“Aye,” Gilles replied, “It’s been an honor sailing with ye.”

The deck crew raised their swords and waited for their incoming doom.

Suddenly, another group of dark creatures appeared out of nowhere. Large beasts, dragons, and what looked like demons filled the sky and attacked the imps. Gilles looked up in shock, “What the… where did those come from?”

Xaphine also saw what was going on from her side of the line. She turned to her squadron, “Fight on, let’s see what this is about!”

Xaphine’s group ripped through the imps in an attempt to reach this new demonic force. She knew she may wind up fighting two enemies, but she had to know what was going on. As her forces approached the demons, one of them recognized her, broke off from the fight, and came out to meet her. The dark creature resembled an imp, but it was much larger and its body was that of a human. It smiled at her with sharp, jagged teeth, “Xaphan, my dear friend… it has been a long time.”

Xaphine narrowed her eyes, “Baʿal Zəbûb… what are you doing here?”

Baʿal Zəbûb put out his hand to her, “Lucifer sends his compliments, and we offer our assistance in this fight.”

Xaphine could not believe what she was hearing, “And what does Lucifer want in exchange?”

The demon shrugged, “I would guess that he would want to eliminate this threat so that he can safely hang on to his kingdom. He has not instructed me to ask for anything in exchange.”

Xaphine’s jaw was almost on the ground, “Given our history, Baʿal Zəbûb, I am disinclined to believe anything that Lucifer says… however at the moment, I see no choice but for us to join forces if we are to prevail. Your help is most timely.”

Baʿal Zəbûb bowed, “Come, let us get to work!”

The two groups fought side by side and managed to punch a massive hole in the imp lines with help from the cannons of the Black Vengeance. Roselyn appeared next to Xaphine on her right side, “It looks like we’ve got them scattered, we need to keep them that way!”

*

Aralyn had a hard time looking Baltazar in the eyes after what happened. They passed through another block of city and into another area that resembled a brothel. When they entered the building, just trying to get through, the entire room went black. Baltazar found himself alone as the blackness around him began to fade to color. The brothel was now full of deformed people, all naked, all looking at Baltazar oddly.

In the center of the room stood a man clad only in lavish jewelry. He stretched his hand out Baltazar, “Join us, my friend… tell me that endless pleasures and debauchery are not what you always secretly desired.”

Baltazar shook his head, “I was blind and stupid during those days. I never realized what I was missing out on while using people. That is not what I want anymore.”

“Then what do you want?” a familiar voice appeared from behind.

Baltazar turned to see Aralyn standing behind. She was completely naked, her wings were folded behind her, and the contours of her body had been decorated with paint. Baltazar took a step back, “Aralyn I…”

She stepped forward with her hands at her side, “What do you really want?”

“I… I want you,” he replied, “I’ve always wanted you. You made me see the whole world in a different light.”

She took another step towards him, “Well I’m here… take me.”

Baltazar thought about it for a moment before shaking his head, “No way… this can’t be real. The Aralyn I know would never be like this. You’re not her, and she’s not here!”

“Maybe,” Aralyn said playfully, “Maybe not… does it matter? She’ll never know…”

“I’ll know,” Baltazar replied sternly, “Get away foul creature. I am not doing something so indecent!”

The image of Aralyn moved closer, “Are you sure?”

Baltazar pulled a knife out from under his jacket, “I’m not so much the scoundrel to hit a woman… even if I’m sure she’s not really one. But if you don’t leave me be, I will make an exception!”

The imposter frowned, “You have no idea what you’ve started here!”

The scene quickly dissolved back into the ruined building that Baltazar had originally walked into. Aralyn was standing there next to Lailah with tears in her eyes. He turned and looked at her oddly as he wiped sweat from his brow, “What’s the matter?”

Aralyn smiled, “The spirits made me watch you. They made me watch what you were doing. I think they were so certain that you would jump on an opportunity like that.”

Baltazar grimaced, “Bastards…”

“But you didn’t!” She said joyfully as she threw her arms around him, “You remained honorable even when there appeared to be no consequence. You knew my feelings and respected them, even when it seemed like I did not. There may be hope for you yet.”

“I know,” Baltazar replied with a grin, “What can I say, I’m just that kind of guy.”

Aralyn rolled her eyes and sighed, “You have the biggest ego of anyone I have ever met in my life… but I love you…”

Baltazar smiled, “You don’t know how much it warmed my heart when I first heard you say that. It still remains one of my fondest memories. I love you too, very much.”

The two kissed while Lailah stood off to the side, “Well done Baltazar, bravo.”

The ground began to rumble, interrupting what might have been their last moment together. Aralyn looked forward towards the whirlwind, “He knows we’re here and he’s waiting for us.”

“How can you tell?” Baltazar asked.

“I can hear him,” Aralyn replied, “His voice calls to me somehow.”

Lailah nodded, “We’d better be careful then.”

The group moved through the building and out to the other side. It took some time to find a way out of the ancient building, but once they reached the other side, a second field of smashed ruins. This one was considerably larger and appeared to be a large crated. Located at the deepest point, was a bright aura which appeared to be generating the massive whirlwind.

Aralyn folded her wings back and rubbed her arms. Baltazar could see she looked cold so he stood behind her and put his arms around her. He could feel the goose bumps covering her body and white mist appeared from her lips. Baltazar looked at her oddly because he didn’t feel cold at all.

Aralyn’s eyes glazed over as they continued to walk, “I’m coming for you…”

She sounded almost mesmerized as she spoke. Lailah stood behind her and kept a close watch. Baltazar allowed Aralyn to walk ahead slightly and turned to Lailah, “What is going on with her?”

“It’s Legion,” she replied, “His power draws in those sensitive to such things. I can feel its pull too, but I was trained to be able to resist it.”

“Is this going to be a problem?” Baltazar asked nervously.

“It shouldn’t be,” Lailah replied, “The pull of his power will only draw her closer, but it shouldn’t be able to dominate her mind. She hasn’t had the training for this, but her mental fortitude should be strong enough to hold out.”

“That’s the plan,” Baltazar scoffed, “Why didn’t you spend our voyage training her… what happens if you’re wrong?”

“Fending off the lure of power can’t be taught,” Lailah replied, “It can only be built up over time through experience and wisdom, and we simply didn’t have the time to wait. To your second question, if I am wrong and his power does lure her in, well that’s why you’re here. Normally I wouldn’t have allowed a normal human to come along on such a journey, but you and her have a connection that is stronger than even his power.”

“And what is that?” Baltazar asked glumly.

“Love,” Lailah replied, “Love is the strongest and most wonderful gift the Most High ever gave anyone. He even allowed the angels to know and understand it as our reward for steadfast loyalty.”

“The power of love…” Baltazar said in a sarcastic tone, “Sounds like a fairy tale.”

Lailah smiled, “Yes well, all fairy tales, all myths, and all legends have some basis in reality. The stories had to come from somewhere.”

Aralyn overheard them and turned back, still in a haze, but able to communicate, “I’ve always believed that the fairy tales of old had in some ways actually happened.”

She turned back and looked at the bright light at the bottom of the whirlwind, “It’s what I’m hoping will be the case here…”

Baltazar left Lailah and turned to Aralyn, “Once all of this is over, I’ll take you anywhere you wish to go. All you have to do is ask, and we will go.”

Aralyn smiled, “That sounds nice, but there will be at least one place that I will have to take you.”

“Where is that?” He asked.

“Into the clouds,” Aralyn replied, “I have wings now and have barely been able to use them. I want to see the wonders of the sky, and to share them with you.”

Lailah frowned and backed away slightly. There was something she kept hidden in the back of her mind. It pained her to hide it from Aralyn, given everything that had already happened, but giving her information that might jeopardize her chances at victory wasn’t a good idea at this point, so she kept her mouth shut.

Baltazar looked at the whirlwind, “It sounds like a deal to me.”

“Good,” Aralyn replied, “Once this is over.”

The two looked ahead of them and walked slowly towards the massive whirlwind.



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