Booty! (WWC)

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    Default Booty! (WWC)






    CHAPTER I: SHOTS N’ RUM


    Elizabeth

    Those ragin’ waters o’ the Panolian Sea lapped against the S.S. Booty like liquid diamond. The sky shook, the wind howled. A mighty downpour came from above, as if t’warn us ‘bout our vile quest. Our noses practically froze in the cold, but every man pressed on for the good o’ each other; aye, we whar here t’throw out lives against the rough sea, logic wasted on the weak! We whar here t’conquer that precious booty o’ the blood diamond! ‘Ad I not been a member o’ Cap’n Eli’s sordid crew, I may ‘ave grappled for me mother against the excitement o’ it all!

    I be scopin’ the scene from the Crow’s Nest. This was whar me Cap’n wanted me, so this was whar I belonged. T’scan these sour seas was t’save me shipmates’ lives! Gently, I rolled me Cap’n eyeglass betwixt me fingers, admirin’ the amazin’ precision o' it. Although I scoured these seas day n’ night, me eyes sometimes wandered t’me crew down below…

    The first scallywag me eyeglass landed on first whar no other than that scurvy dog Cress. The big boy huffed as he replaced the canonballs, his tight shirt ripplin’ against his mighty muscles. An eternal grin shone on his tanned face while his brown curls o’ hair danced playfully with him. Stripped pants covered his legs n’ a brown cloth covered his eyes.

    “Vapo-vaporean!” a voice bubbled t’me. I reached o’er and gently patted me Lady Minesti, me one and only Vaporeon. She ‘ad adjusted t’the pirate’s life rather quickly, ‘aving adopted a pirate hat o’ her own! Her translucent scales shimmied in the darkness, her body happily gulpin’ in the pourin’ rain. Her body whar sleek t’the touch, like runnin’ water.

    “Aye missy, t’board these seas blind is t’act like a dead man,” I replied undar me breath. That bein’ said, I had nothin’ but respect for that boy! Big n’ blind, and he still outlasted the thirteen men, bless thar souls, that we lost at sea!

    Liftin’ me eyeglass back up, I saw that swabbie Cassius dryin’ the deck. Any time I laid eyes o’er the boy, I wanted t’hug him! Cress’ lover, Cassius, whar a wee boy just barley older ‘an me. His nervous blue eyes darted from the sea, t’me, back t’Cap’n Eli’s deck. His muscles whar noodles and his body drowned in one o’ Cress’ oversized shirts. Leather boots squeaked as he tried to keep the deck dry.

    It would be no use! The rain surrounded us from everywhar, like Arceus himself unleashed the floodgates. I shuddared at the thought as me eyeglass gazed o’er the ship’s beauty, Priscilla. She whar no doubt first mate, a symbol o’ authority as she playfully prodded at Cassius with the butt o’ her cutlass. Her deep ruby eyes glistened in the night, her long black hair wrapped behind a scarf. Tight britches exposed the plump shape o’ the short lady’s body. Her generous bosom threatened t’spill outta the thin sheen o’ her shirt and my cheeks reddened in the frozen night.

    Minesti be laughin’ at me, a bubbly sound escapin’ her throat. I placed a palm o’er her pirate’s hat, t’her soft head, as I scoured the S.S. Booty for the one I whar lookin’ for all along.

    And thar he whar! He leaned against the main mast, cool as any Cap’n could be. Twenty reels ‘round the hull whar he; he whar lean, taller than any man on board, but with well toned muscles that whar exposed from the pourin’ rain that exposed us all. I ravished in the thought o’ his scratched up, knee length leather boots, knowin’ full well that he’d crush any obstacle in our paths. Trailin’ up his bod slowly, I spotted the two huge pistols that straddled his hips.

    I could nevar fall for our Cap’n! I’d jeopardize the mission n’ die a death worse than bein’ sucked away by the succubus! But still, I lapped up the image magnified by me trusty eyeglass. It reflected every drop o’ water that bounced offa every dark, relaxed muscle. It caught the glistenin’ strands o’ black hair that whar plastered to his Goddess-sculpted face, his set jaw. N’ then thar whar the matter o' that eyepatch o’er that scarred excuse for his left eye n’ the giant pirate hat that shadowed his face…

    He stared right at me!

    Fumblin’ with me eyeglass, I intook a sharp breath n’ turned away like I’d been slapped with a Magikarp. ”Nothin’ t’report Cap’n! I’m jus’ scopin’ you out!” I thought hopelessly in my head. I must ‘ave been the worst recruit he’d evar had! I smoothed over me black corset and me ruffled-up dress. It had been cut up a bit above me knees in the past few weeks after I’d been recruited t’ease me movement. But still I looked like the useless porcelain doll, me waist-length blonde hair spillin’ all over the Crow’s Nest. Get it togethar, lassie!”

    “Vapoooooo!” Minesti screeched. I hugged her with my right arm to calm the maiden down as I took the eyeglass back t’sea, back t’whar it belonged! Damn me, I whar too late! The ripplin’ figure o’ a creature burst through the sheets o' ragin’ water. It edged closer n’ closer t’us, the beige lumps followin’ the serpent in horrifyin’ succession. From here, I gauged its length – it must’ave been o’er three ships long, twenty shakes angry and five barrels o’ feed hungry! The beast dipped its horrid head from the water. It revealed rows o’ gnashin’ fangs n’ a gargantuan head that could swallow us whole.

    The almighty demon Gyarados whar bulletin’ straight t’us!

    “All hands on d-!” My voice was but a bell t’these cruel waters. I lurched forward, rammin’ me forehead against the nest. Too late! The creature whar already here! Scramblin’ up, I checked first to see if me Minesti whar alright from the pressar. Then, I seized me eyeglass to see the seamen below scrable up from the sudden attack o’ the Gyarados. Damn!

    Cress, a cannonball launched in his iron beam o’ an arm, had almost fallen down with the attack. Almost. Nothin' could get to that rascal, not even the weight o’ waterworld’s best demon!

    Priscilla could nevar be taken down either. Her perfect brow furrowed as she began sprintin’ towards our canons. I respected her ability t’sprint straightly as the ship began to toss n’ turn with the surges o’ the beast.

    Embarrassed still, I didn’t bothar to check on our Cap’n. T’assume his injury from the mild blow would be t’disgrace him! Instead, me heart quickened as I laid me eyes o’er the fallen body o’ wee Cassius. Blood began drippin’ down his arm – he must’ave scraped himself fallin’ on the floorboards, damn this creature – n’ me eyes widened.

    “Must be a demon king Gyarados! O’er thirty feet long!” I yelled. Nobody heard me o’er the sudden roar o’ the beast. The sound shook me to me core but I fortified meself! I needed t’redeem meself for failing Cap’n Eli by not seein’ this demon comin’!

    I notioned t’Minesti as I began crawlin’ down the Crow’s Nest. Reachin’ for every twisted rung I held me breath. The ladder down twirled in the howlin’ wind n’ it whar a terrible drop down. I kept me gaze fixed betwixt the gurglin’ water o’er the ship n’ the ladder. Me Cap’n eyeglass whar still clutched in me hand, me knuckles white dots among the twisted night.

    On deck, everythin’ whar much bigger n’ I felt like an ant among me muscled mates. Priscilla barked orders t’Cress as I struggled to reach Cassius. Flurp-whirl-lurp; me legs jiggled against the tension o' the rockin’ ship. I couldn’t fall-not now!

    Before I reached him, ‘nother pang o’ fear attacked us! The beast stretched his long bod o’er the belly o’ our ship! The beige n’ blue pattern o’ the beast whar right before our eyes. A gargantuan tail gripped the butt o’ the S.S. Booty eagerly, shakin’ the ship with a terrible pressar!

    “Go go go, lad!” I squeaked out to Cassius. Helpin’ him up, I ripped a bit o’ my dress t’hold up his bleedin’ arm togethar.

    Cassiu’s jagged breath scratched me ears. “Thanks lassie, but I ain’t leavin’ me Cress!” Another lurch threatened t’lunge us o’er the ship. I thought quickly, Minesti at me side, as I looked back t’Cassius.

    “Go aboard our supply room n’ fetch me gunpower!” After a shake, I added softly, “Pronto, please, me good powder monkey!” The lad regarded me with respect as he took off towards the middle o’ the ship. It whar the safest part o’ the vessel. The fragile boy would destroy himself for his Cress n’ I knew well that his othar would beg him t’be safe.

    After battlin’ these surgin seas for months, thar whar no gunpowder left.

    But still, he would take his time lookin’. That whar all the time needed t’save ourselves from this horrid creature o’ hell! He raged against our vessel now, damn his soul! Little did the beast know that the S.S. Booty whar carved from steel itself, the best o’ the best for the King’s son! Our Cap’n Eli!

    “Great job, me lassie! Now I need ye t’spot me urchins-!” Whatever that beauty Priscilla whar sayin’ got delayed as the ship lurched forward once again. I immediately helped her up as she withdrew her cutlass, eager t’draw the blue blood o’ the beast. Splatterin’ rain reflected me disheveled hair in he curved blade as she raced towards the beast.

    “Wait! Ye can’t handle him on yer own!” I hated how soft me voice whar compared t’these seadogs. Cress chuckled at me faintly in the distance. I whirled around t’see him hurl the last gunpowder into the loaded cannons.

    “Ye can’t stop a good thing, babe!” he called as he fiddled with his match. The flame flickered in the rain. I smiled at him but almost shrieked as the Gyarados began rearin’ its ugly head – right behind him! A mighty crest erupted from the creature’s head like a sharpened trident. Saliva n’ blood mixed into a meltin’ agent as he roared again, too close this time, too loud! I instinctively covered Minesti’s ears, hopin’ t’comfort her!

    “Damn, I hear an ugly brute!” Cress roared with delight. He whar a fighter till the day he die! Sheer enjoyment danced in his expression as the first canon fired, one big blast that ripped the night apart. I tumbled backwards as the creature must’ave, an ugly howl breakin’ our eardrums. From the corner o' me eye, I spotted Priscilla surgin’ towards the beast – she whar goin’ to slice him head on!

    “I’ll show ye!” she shouted as she sprinted towards him, cuttin’ the night, cuttin’ the rain, cuttin’ the tension, a force. Her long hair flew behind her like a cape.

    Unfortunately, she whar too late! The beast had already recovared from the first cannonball n’ saw her comin’! A ghastly scowl covered Cress’ face; he couldn’t fire ‘nother canon, not at this distance! He would clob poor Priscilla too, and that whar not an option! Minesti roared n’ Priscilla screamed. She pictuared her bloody fate nestled in the hungry eyes o’ the beast!

    “You stay away from her!” I shouted, me strained voice foreign t’me. Before I knew what I whar doin’, I whar up, my shakin’ legs takin’ on someone else’s bravery. I seemed t’watch meself from a different perspective as I stood in the dangerous space betwixt Priscilla n’ the beast.

    “Lassie!” I heard Cress n’ Cassius shout a million miles away. I could barley hear them; me arm whar spread wide t’protect the beaut’ from any possible dangar. From here, the creature’s toxic breath huffed into me face. It whar dank, but me body whar still cold as the hungry beast moved in t’swipe me face off. Its own jaw whar the size o’ me bod n’ I waited for the end-

    I clutched me Milotic scale close t’me heart. I swore I coulda heard the light hummin’ o’ the beast from its shiny surface-

    Me world stopped as Cap’n Eli put his hand o’er me shoulder.

    Eli

    Gingarly, I placed a finger undar her soft chin. Me eyes met hers n’ me heart roiled with angar. Those beauteous green eyes almost popped out with her frozen fear…n’ thar she whar, her delicate, pale face framed against the billowin’ whisps o’ her blonde hair. The rain gently danced ‘round her heart-shaped face. It whar like the day I first met the dame.

    Not takin’ me eyes away from the beauty, I scoffed at the stupid beast. How dare he storm here n’ challenge me. T’attack me buxom beauty whar t’play with yer life. Every sea dog on these damn seas knew that truth, human or demon. Me crew. Me lady. Me pride. His life ended here.

    I held up me right pistol. The barrel whar black as the night.

    Without tearin’ me eye away from me dame, I fired. No hesitation. No regret. Power whar the gift to those willin’ t’use it.

    When the blast cut through the storm, the beast’s body ‘sploded. Shredded bits o’ the beast flew through the air like bloody eject. I held an arm out t’shield the dame as blood n’ guts landed everywhar, t’the black watar, t’me beautiful vessel, t’Cress who shrieked with surprise.

    That woulda made the fifth Gyarados attack in nary ten turns o’ the moon. Nothin’ dare dream o’ quellin’ a Gyarado’s rage when it whar like that. Nay, thar whar one serepent in the tales many reels ‘round the hull ago. They called the ancient beasts o’ tranquilizin’ powar Milotic. I ‘ad me suspicions that me own father hunted down the beauties in his attempt t’end piracy. It added t’me long list o’ reasons n’ ways t’kill him.

    Returnin’ t’reality, I regarded the beauty next t’me. ‘Lizabeth’s lip quivered n’ she seemed frozen in place. I rubbed two circles gently onto her neck. Walkin’ slowly, I surveyed me crew. Good, me hearties whar all in one piece. I’d beat them in hell had they died at the feet o’ that beast. I’ad lost dozens o’ good men out at sea; these scurvy remainders whar all I ‘ad left o’ me crew, o’ me essence. We whar a family.

    Me boots thuddin’ against the drenched floorboards seemed t’be the only sound. The sea calmed down. Me crew stared at me, wide eyed (‘cept for that scurvy dog Cress), n’ I turned to face ‘em.

    “Lassies n’ lads o’ the deep,” I commanded, “Grog for everyone!” That line reeled ‘em all back t’reality. A huge cheer erupted on board. Cassius threw his blind lovar in a hug while Priscilla lurched up from her cowerin’ spot. But then thar whar ‘Lizabeth, lil’ darlin’, still starin’ at me like I had saved her life. It whar nothin' dear, really.

    “Cassius me uke, clean this damn mess up,” I barked t’the boy. He smiled n’ shouted, noddin’ his head in the now-pleasant drizzle. I began turnin’ back t’me cabin n’ stopped. I met ‘Lizabeth’s pleadin’ stare.

    She fascinated me from her first day here. A pretty thing she whar, more pleasin’ on this blackened eye than any I’d see before her. Me nerves fluttered whenevar she whar ‘round her. I felt confident n’ more brash in everythin’ I did. Nevar before ‘ad I stepped into danger like that t’save a dame. Thinkin’ back on it, I realized I didn’t even think ‘bout me shot nefore I did it. N’ I realized I woulda done it again for her if I had te. This thinkin’ whar too heavy, too dangerous. I needed that girl for one reason only. Anythin’ else woulda killed off me n’ me crew.

    “’Lizabeth, I’d like t’see ye later in my cabin.” I turned n’ headed inside t’let me world class hooligans party.


    Elizabeth

    “Aye, he be shootin’ ye with his gun, alright!” Cress roared. The foaming tip o' his grog spilled all o’er Cassius as he cuddled the boy. Priscilla laughed, somehow even drunker than he. Cassius, nevar one t’participate in the drinkin’, simply laughed with his matey. Whatta lovely time!

    Every ten turn o’ the moons, the mates held thar game o’ grogfests. We sat all togethar, Minesti purrin’ away in me lap, Cassius on Cress’ lap, Priscilla heartily laughin’ her heart out. We whar gathered round a huge lantern Cress retrieved from the bottom o’ the ship. The lantern radiated a soft, warm glow betwixt the S.S. Booty n’ the huge moon that softened the sky. A low mist hung ‘round us, chillin’ us after the chaos o’ today. The rain had died down n’ left us feelin’ like we had brand new sealegs.

    “B-but how does he fight without breakin’ a sweat? N’ the guns he uses? Whar did he learn how t’do all that?” Me words spilled outta me mouth faster than Priscilla’s grog into her perfect mouth. Red singed me cheeks n’ I avoided thar hazy gazes.

    Nay, I couldn’t betray me feelings t’them! When the Cap’n had saved me, I felt somethin’ so real. The great Goddesses o' all the seas may’ave stopped the world in that moment for him, for us…no! Me Cap’n needed me mind clean on his crew. Feelings be gone!

    Luckily, Priscilla and Cress both whar too drunk to see how I whar dodging thar jokes.

    “He’s a real smooth dog, awright,” Priscilla began, wipin’ the foam offa her mouth n’ sendin’ it everywhere. “N’ a hell’uva fighter. People in the Royal Court be blabberin’ that his father had the boy professionally trained for the heat o’ battle since he whar a wee babe.” She struggled t’sit straight. “So lil’ babe, yer thinkin’ ‘so what?’ Every proper king ‘as his child trained t’fight.”

    “Wanna see what’s below me deck?” Cress asked Cassius. The blushin’ boy placed a small hand o’er his partner’s loud mouth. The bleedin’ on his arm had stopped long ago. Even so, a new red dashed across the boy’s cheeks.

    Priscilla’s words slurred together more n’ more by the minute. “The thing whar that he whar addicted to fightin’!” I leaned in t’hear her better, ignorin’ the allurin’ scent o’ the grog. “He whar so addicted that his father ‘ad t’stop ‘im! Eventually, Eli dropped outta good bearin’ with his daddy, the King O’ Kanon ‘iself!”

    “N’ n’? Go on me mate!” I pleaded her. Not meanin’ to, I scooted even closer n’ gripped her warm hands.

    “N’ Daddy branded him a traitor, a pirate!” Priscilla’s eyes grew wide as the moon. “For the rest o’ Eli’s life he whar considered the epitome o’ treason, a real badass! Yer favorite badboy!” Roses came upon me cheeks again. I gripped her hands harder but the dame had enough for the night.

    “They say he once ‘ad a Chatot, but Eli scared him off so damn badly that no pirate evar took in a Chatot again!” Cress roared out. Priscilla laughed uncontrollably.

    “He once drank so much grog…he grog!” Priscilla whar gone. I laughed as she held onto Cress for support.

    “N’ thanks for savin’ me, me babe!” she exclaimed in a happy shout as she passed out.

    Chucklin’, Cassius caught the beauty. His own mate whar a gigglin’ fiend as Cassius propped Priscilla onto the floorboards. Thar, she burped happily in her rest n’ turned on her curvy side.

    “For all his reels ‘round the hull,” Cassius whispered, “Eli whar considered a complete traitor. Tales whar told o’ how he acquired his own wealth, o’ the bounty hunters sent after ‘im t’return him home. Nay, he wants no place inside the Royal Court.”

    “Ah me mate, the only place that dame ‘Elizabeth wants be betwixt Eli’s pistols!” Howlin’ with laughter o’er his own joke, Cress too passed out from the drink’s grasp. Cassius whimpered as boy toppled onto him, knockin’ the breath outta him. Minesti giggled in her croaked tone at the sight, but I felt lost in a whole ‘nother sea.

    Me mind whirled with possibilities. The story seemed too thin; Eli seemed t’be too good a person, even with his hauntin’ past. Why ‘ad he really turned against such a mighty force, the King o’ Kanon himself? ”That’d be Cap’n Eli t’ye, ungrateful lass!” I thought sadly. I whar only aboard his vessel for thirty turns o’ the moon though it felt like the time betwixt the seas creation n’ today. I had no right t’call me Cap’n without his earned title…no right…I twirled me Cap’n’s eyeglass, rememberin’ how hard I had held onto it earlier. It whar like me greatest treasure next t’me scale, but why, mate?

    “This blood diamond,” I whispered t’Cassius. A light shiver ran through me. “What exactly does it do for ‘im? O’ all the booty, why that one?”

    A grey film o’ertook Cassius’ vivd eyes. He moved t’speak, but me Lady Minesti interrupted.

    “Vapoooo, vapoo!” Minesti settled in me lap. Her ears perkin’ up, her hat tipped up, I followed her trusty gaze. Thar, leanin’ against the mast by his cabin, whar me Cap’n Eli. The moon played a fine light on his features. His crooked grin rattled me t’me core.

    I turned back t’see Priscilla n’ Cress snoozin’ together by the radiator. They whar a drunken, happy pile o’bilge rats. Cassius offered me a content nod before movin’ t’join the little pile. I smiled at the thought, tuckin’ me eyeglass into me corset, n’ headed off t’Cap’n Eli.

    Eli

    “Minzen, keep yer lady Minesti company,” I commanded.

    Leapin’ outta his hidin’ spot in the shadows, Minzen barred his perfect teeth. Shadows made his black coat. The yellow rings poppin’ outta his coat whar only thar so I knew whar t’find him. Those red eyes beat fear into anyone fool enough t’spot them, or anyone he deemed prey. A wee peg leg stood whar his front right woulda been after bein’ swiped away by a creature o’ the deep all those years ago. He whar a damn good dog.

    N’after all that, he still moved like lightnin’. “Umbra!” he shouted as he reached me lady’s pet. In a black n’ blue tumble, he rolled out with her n’ vanished outta me sight.

    The dame had no chance t’react as I tucked her hand into mine. Nervous n’ frozen still, she barley managed t’foce out a sweet smile. I wanted nothin’ but for her t’feel like she could trust me. Had it not been for that damned man, it woulda been so. I woulda made off with her in the sunset two shake o’ the moon ago n’ all this woulda been done.

    Avast, that blasted man had ruined everythin’. I wouldn’t let him take her away from me. I wouldn’t let ‘im take away what whar properly mine, the treasure within her. Not on me life.

    “I apologize for earlier, me Cap’n!” she suddenly said, her voice bouncin’ off me cabin walls like bells. “Had I watched the seas, I woulda found that sea demon before he dare hurt our-yer ship, me Cap’n!” She moved t’bow. I stopped her with a gentle pull o’ me finger, mortified.

    I notioned fer her t’sit aboard me bed. ”Damn, I shoulda cleaned this mess,” I though t’meself as I watched her eyes take in me cabin. Past maps n’ compasses whar strewn all o’er the untidy wreck n’ I hoped she wouldn’t think me one o’ those type o’ pirates. Below me bed whar portraits o’ lasses from last port. They meant nothin’. It had been so long since I saw a beauty like ‘Lizabeth so for months on end, the rotten portraits had t’do. Me mother wouldn’t approve. But then again, he took me mother away from me, the bastard.

    When I sat meself next t’the beauty, she averted her eyes quickly. I looked into her pretty lap n’ saw her skin first. Skin so white n’ unblemished, it whar the first sign she whar a new recruit. I needed t’know what world she hailed from, knowin’ that she’d surfed the uncharted sea. I needed t’know her.

    “This eyeglass,” I began, pullin’ the piece out from its restin’ place near her bossom, “Has seen into the eyes o’ dead men.” I whirled it betwixt me fingers. Had I squeezed hard enough, the blood lost in its metal may’ave soaked me fingers t’haunt me. I chuckled at the thought. But when I looked up, thar whar her innocent eyes, huge green vortexes that coulda swallowed me whole.

    I cleared me throat t’clear whatevar whar formin’ betwixt us. “Yer a great addition t’me crew.” Even then, she sat silently, waitin’ politely for me t’continue. I wondared if I had been like that at one point, or if I whar always a rude, scurvy dog.

    “N’ that’s why ye need protection. So nothin' harms ye aboard these damn seas,” I snarled as I began unhoistin’ me left pistol. Freezin’me fingers with the weapon, I felt almost relieved as its leather holster came undone. I had nearly shot meself on accident too many times t’count. Slowly, I strapped it onto her own thigh. She flinched, breathin’ harder n’ harder, n’ I wondered if it whar too heavy for her.

    “Oh, me Cap’n!” she almost shouted. Strands o’ her hair waved down her face n’ I watched, amused, as she swiped ‘em away. “Thank ye, I can’t…thank ye!” Blushin’, she tried avertin’ her eyes again. She could nevar hide the smile that lightened me whole world though.

    Damn me for these feelin’s. This wharn’t what this whar ‘bout. I needed her for one n’ one reason only. What whar becomin’ o’ me?

    “Aye, yer very welcome,” I blabbered as I undid me other pistol. I notioned for her t’do the same. Her fingers twitchin’, she swiped the eyeglass back into her corset n’ fumbled with me pistol. Fer the next few spins o’ the clock, I taught her how t’cock, how t’fire, how t’ram a rascal’s head in with the butt. I took great pride in me guns; aye, they whar me first treasure, masterpieces made from the continent o' Lotiem. They froze anywhar they hit n’ blew the frozen junk into smithereens.

    She prattled on ‘bout her desserted home. So much love whar spread o’er one Vaporeon n’ a few scanty objects. One o’ these whar her beloved Milotic scale. The rounded wee scale shimmied in me cabin. I registered the pearly object in the back o’ me head as she tucked it in her bosom.

    More n’ more she laughed. Slowly, she began tellin’ me ‘bout her. I ravished what I could learn, everythin’ she knew from her different world. She whar the perfect mate, the perfect lass, everythin’ a Cap’n searched for in a mate. N’ she was everything a mate searched for in a lass.

    “N’ that’s how I dropped anchor in ye sea,” I said at one point, flingin’ her hair away from her beautiful gaze.

    “Aye, go on Cap’n!” she replied, laughin’.

    There be colors t’her soul that sink mine. I remembered how I found her lonely, abandoned t’a life that needn’t ‘ave ‘er. N’ I remember how I knew she belonged on me crew the moment I saw her. I remember that everythin’ whar so right, in n’ ‘bout her.

    When the first pinks o’ the horizon glimmered off the endless sea outside, I knew she whar too tired t’continue. She slumped into me arms, beggin’ me t’tell her more, but the dame needed her beauty sleep. Reluctantly, I scooped her away by placin’ me arms under her knees and back. The journey t’her cabin whar a short one but even so she stirred.

    “Thank ye, Cap’n Eli…”

    “’Lizabeth, you lass,” I growled, quietly, “Call me Eli.”

    N’ I placed her down softly into her bed. Somethin’ light glazed o’er her eyes before she drifted off to sleep. Slowly, I swooped down n’ cupped her chin before kissin’ her on the cheek. I stole out n’ into our new day.

    Somethin’ stretched inside o’ me, throwin’ away the rusted buoys that ‘ad barricaded me heart.

    But before that, I had slipped the map into her bodice.

    CHAPTER II: SHE BE A REAL SEA DOG


    Elizabeth

    The curved shape o’ the pistol molded right into me hand. Like raw, black cocoa, it too smelled o’ somethin’ sweet…N’ I saw meself, shootin’ into all me targets. Eli smiled upon me; thar, I knew nothin' more than t’smile back. The pistol whar as big as me forearm but here it weighed lil, so lil when I held it in fronta me Cap’n. He backed me blindspots. N’ when all the fools whar defeated, we leaned in again n’….

    “Elizabeth?” Cassius’s kind voice filtered through me cabin door. I snapped up immediately, calllin’ out that I be out soon. Frantically, I threw meself offa the plush bed. I reached for me golden hairbrush, one o’ me only posessions, n’ raked through me blonde mess. I ruffled down me dress, waves o’ black tumblin’ down me. After checkin’ that me Milotic scale and Eli’s eyeglass whar still tucked away in me dress, I realized that Minesti whar ready n’ laughin’ at me!

    “Silly lassie,” I chided her. I held her in me arms, relishin’ in the feelin’ o’ her slimy skin. When we exited me cabin the sun ‘ad already risen far into the sky. Bright sunshine beamed upon us, with not a cloud t’hinder its blessin’. The southern wind blew kisses o’ a breeze on us n’ I smiled. Good omens all ‘round, mates!

    N’ then I saw why that may’ave not been the case.

    Cress, Cassius, n’ Priscilla whar all gathered ‘round the main mast, starin’ off into sea. They whar dead silent. I quickened me pace towards ‘em, noticin’ uncomfortably how loudly me boots thudded against the floorboard. Minesti leaped outta me arms n’ quickened me pace too.

    “What be transpirin’?” I whispered. Cress, who ‘ad an arm draped o’er his Cassius, shushed the direction I stood in. Clearly, he be strainin’ his ears t’figure out what whar happenin’ too. Priscilla regarded me with clear eyes. Her hangover ‘ad long passed. This whar serious. Cress’ shirt, fixed on Cassiu’s fragile frame, rippled eerily.
    I heard it first. The muffled, high-pitched scream o’ a dame pierced me heart.

    I saw it next. Stabbin’ the watar, breakin’ down the sky bobbed a grand ghostship. Its hull whar gone, bits o’ its partial flags slappin’ the wind. The worn-down ship drew closer t’ours but I wondared what damage the broken ship could do in its poor state. It floated in an unsettlin’ way; Minesti leaned her frightened head closer to me.

    I saw him n’ her finally. Eli (I relished in the thought o’ callin’ him by his first name) stood, arms crossed, shoulders high, on the bow o’ the S.S. Booty. I followed his steely gaze t’the source o’ the screamin’ on the ghost ship. Hands tied. Ankles bruised. Naked. A gorgeous woman struggled against the chains n’ ropes tyin’ her down t’the ship. Me eyes watered as I took in the sight o’ the poor woman…n’ a woman she whar. I wandared if I had evar seen a more beautiful woman in me whole life. The way her crimson hair flew all o’er her face, blown as if from a Goddess, the sight o’ her pearly-pale n’ perfect skin so exposed…n’ me thoughts flashed t’the portraits o’ the lasses I accidentally saw ‘neath Eli’s bed. None o’ ‘em compared n’ I knew that he knew too…

    Snappin’ outta it made me cheeks flush. How could envy color me vision when her shrill screams shook me soul?

    “They ‘ave a hostage,” Cassius gently whispered into Cress’ ear.

    Priscilla grunted uncomfortably. “Somethin’s not right ‘bout her.”

    ”Ah no mate, she’s just sculpted from the Goddesses themselves. No huge deal. N’ that be why whar so silent. Just takin’ in what the Gods n’ Goddesses gave us,” I thought. Me head began whirlin’. Cress’ stiffened, as if hearin’ me thoughts. The air grew even tenser as we watched Eli on our own bow.

    He stood like a statue. Beneath his hat n’ eyepatch, he must’ave been sizin’ her up. But he never reacted. He took in her curves, the slides o’ her body, n’ never shivered. The terrible restraints on her wrists must’ave flown through his mind too. Yet he nevar once winced. His strong, set jaw nevar flinched, not even at the sight o’ the bruises linin’ her ankles like bombs.

    Finally, he strictly spoke. “Speak, dame.”

    “T-the pirates have c-captured me! I w-was fishing with my boy when they scooped us up!” Screamin’ again, she rolled her head on the ground. “They k-killed my b-boy! My precious Ian! Please, if you h-h-have any heart, save me!”

    “Yer a rat for not savin’ yer son.”

    “Damn, he be a tough customer!” Cress exclaimed. A grin spread across his face. Cassius quieted the boy, still hopin’ t’catch Eli’s strong, short words.

    “Her accent’s a whole continent away. From the bustlin’, industrial continent o’ Connylimn. Thar’s no way she floated off so far with pirates,” Priscilla fumed undar her breath. Her hand flew t’her cutlass’ sheath.

    Me heart beat wildly at Priscilla’s words. The continent o’ Connylimn whar no other than me homeland.

    For jus’ a second, I noticed an ugly snarl contort the goddess’ lip. For only a second. Yet it whar definitely thar.

    “Please! My name is Lady Elizabeth. I’m royal you see, the King’s very own fool! I’m rich and I can give you…” She craned her head closer t’the ground n’ her deep voice awakened the innards o’ any boy lucky enough t’listen. “Absolutely anythin’ you desire.” I whar sick t’me stomach. Arrgh, Elizabeth be me name! The stupid monkey!

    “Cassius, help me connect our vessels,” Eli smoothly said. Me heart dropped.

    Yet Cassius obeyed. Pullin’ away from Cress, he retreated t’a far end o’ the ship. In the meantime, I tried t’connect t’the dark o’ Eli’s eyes. If we saved the beauty n’ brought her aboard our vessel, would she find the booty with us? Could she be trusted?...But then again, how did Eli know t’trust me when I whar a new recruit too?

    Cassius returned with a wooden plank that scraped me eardrums as it dragged along the creaky floorboards. Eli, still not lookin’ up from the dame’s eyes, nodded at him as the tiny boy fixed the board betwixt the S.S. Booty and the ghostship. The plank slammed upon the broken ship with an eerie crack; I wandared if the pressar o’ the board could break the ship’s bow off.

    Me heart twisted n’ turned, n’ before I knew what I whar doin, I croaked, “Eli?” Me fidgety legs felt frozen in the eerie quiet, but I wanted t’run. I needed t’warn him against what he whar doin’. Every shot o’ a second that passed, the pull in me lungs tightened. Somethin’ whar wrong here.

    Eli nevar even turned ‘round t’me. “Priscilla, guard me beauty with yer life.”

    Me whole world tightened. Everyone hunched o’er, eyes focused, ready t’pounce. Prsicilla chuckled as she inched closer t’me, flashin’ me a compassionate smile. Her hand brushed the cutlass on her hip. I thought why, but immediately disregarded the idea. Whar they really about t’?...

    “That scurvy bastard. See Cassius, I knew this woulda happened!” Cress roared with a laugh. Cassius playfully rolled his eyes n’ patted his partner on the back. N’ that they whar, two lovers who knew they may lose each other in the next few minutes. We backed away from Cress quickly n’ me heart threatened t’splode.

    Eli crossed the plank.

    Me hand hovered o’er his gun.

    N’ then the whole world changed. As soon as Eli approached the dame, pirates popped up! They lurched from the barrels, from the invisible holes in the hull like they ‘ad seeped into thar preparin’ for this moment. At least five rascals, huge, sun-blackened men with thar sweaty bald heads wrapped in red scarves, surrounded me Eli like a black eclipse. They threatened t’suck me boy away, n’ I heard the giggle o’ the ruby goddess above me chocked breaths.

    “You stupid boy,” she said, risin’ up. Her ropes whar nevar attached t’the ship. Hate clotted me veins as I noticed her ankles whar merely painted on with dyed powder.

    One o’ the bald destroyers handed her a black cloak that she wrapped ‘round her bare herself. She slapped the same bald mate for starin’ at her bare form, a sharp, metallic sound, n’ shook her hair down. Bloody red hair ran down her like a fire n’ somethin’ ignited it. When I squinted, I noticed a miniature octopus crawlin’ above her head. Yellow suckers flailed everywhar, droplets o’ a sick puss fallin’ n’ burnin’ more holes into the ghost ship. Minesti hissed at the sight o’ the Octillery.

    “Eli, dear Eli! Come now, let’s be friends! I wasn’t kidding when I said you could have absolutely anything you desired.” Her sleek voice drowned a part o’ me soul.

    “You be happenin’ upon an opportunity that ends in death fer every sailor,” Eli began in his cool, calm voice, “We can smell a pillage a mile away. If ye wanted a fight, you coulda skipped yer theatrics. I’ve seen better from me sober swabbie.”

    The woman, Elizabeth, dropped her fake smile. “Give me the girl.”

    Instinctively, Priscilla gripped me clammy hand. No matter what she wanted from the beauty Priscilla, she would never ‘ave her, not on me life!

    When he said the words so true n’ frightenin’ t’every man on the seas, me heart swelled with pride.

    “Give me yer blood.”

    N’ all the pirates lunge at him, a metamorphic blob o’ thrashin’ shadows. I scream his name so loudly me voice goes hoarse n’ I avert me eyes away in horror. Me body seems t’shut down, only brought back by a reassurin’ squeeze o' Priscilla’s hand. I look up slowly. Me eyes grow wide for me Eli be destroyin’ these cretins! One by one, they fall t’the ground. He blasts his fist ‘across one man’s face in time t’kick another man in the face n’ break his jaw.

    He takes on ‘nother man as he dodges an attack, ducks in time for the bafoon lungin’ towards him, n’ manges t’hook ‘nother dog in the jaw. Me eyes follow him like a babe follows a star blazin’ through the milky clouds in the night sky – he be winnin’ this brawl!

    “Aye, don’t hold out on yer mates, ye blasted dog!” Priscilla rorared to Eli. A ghastly grin spread ‘cross her face as we began t’ran towards the plank. We whar headin’ right for the fray!

    “Time for pumblin’ round two!” Cress bellowed with a laugh that rolled out in waves ‘cross the seven seas. Cassius followed him gently, Minesti upon our heels.

    Because thar be more, wharn’t thar? Me ears twitched as thar evil attack stretched on in me imagination. This whar me first pirate pillage, yet I knew what whar comin’ for us – scores o’ men jumpin’ from out o’ thar scum hidin’ places. Thar may’ave been dozens against the five o’ us, but we whar a crew!

    The plank ricketed undar our footsteps. Me heart pumped like it coulda fallen outta me skin, through the thin plank n’ sink into the sea below.

    “Break into ranks!” I wharn’t sure who Priscilla babbled t’, for our men already split up. Priscilla’s hand squeezin’ min anchored me t’reality as the pillage unfolded before us. More men spilled outta nooks o’the ghostship. From here me eyes beheld the glint on thar grimy faces, thar ripplin’ muscles as they grappled for me Cap’n –

    “Follow me the whole time, lass!” Priscilla yelled out t’me. N’ thar we whar, weavin’ through the men that towered o’er us. It took me moments t’realize the men before us whar fallin’ in bloody showers as Priscilla’s cutlass cut through ‘em. N’ I did nothin’, barley registerin’ that Minesti whar safe n’ followin’ us the whole time. Me hand’s clammy sweatdrops hovered o’er me Cap’n gun.

    Me breath whar hitchen as me jarred mind took in the scene.

    Cress be a blind tsunami. He sucks in every pirate unfortunate n’ foolish enough t’be nearby him, vanquishin’ their stupid faces. One, five, ten – I lose count in the crazed scene o’ fightin’ unfoldin’ before me. His arms thrash out, greedy t’throw these men into sea, his powerful legs a kickin’ machine.

    We carefully skirt ‘round him n’ I see Cassius next. Me blood threatens t’spill outta me skin when I see the wee lad fightin’. His lithe form weaves in n’ outta the men, crouched low, two shinin’ daggers in his tiny grasp. Embedded in the weapons rest glintin’ rubies, reflecting the blood o’ the men they consume. I wish t’silently cheer for the boy, yet me throat hardens. Why does the image o’ sweet ole Cassius slicin’ these rats bother me t’me core?

    “Watch out!” Priscilla yells. Instinctively, I duck me head as a man lurches for me from Priscilla’s opposite side. A cannonball feels like it hit me n’ I begin fallin’, or I should be fallin-

    “Vapooo!” Minesti screeches. For too long, her voice feels like it filters t’me from a thick blanket. A sense o’ terror grips me lungs n’ rushed, forced breathin’ keeps me alive. Me senses return in time t’see three pirates act as a wall betwixt me n’ Priscilla. I yell her name out, me frozen hand empty, as I struggle t’see the faces o’ me perpetrators!

    Me forehead slams into the rock-hard chest o’ one o’ the men. Shakin’, I shoot me eyes what feels like miles up towards the grim faces o’ the men. Thar expressions be ghastly as they stare me down. Thar moist breath poisons me, breath uncleaned for who knows how many ports! The poundin’ on me ears from the clamor ‘round us continues, but I need t’see Priscilla!

    Vaguely, I discern her cry for me o’er the roars o’ the other men. They be surroundin’ her! The tip o’ her cutlass whirls in the air like a baton. Before I know what I be tryin’, me hand already pushes past the men, past the muck o’ pillage, past me memories o’ why this situation seem so similar.

    The sea goddesses be cruel; this situation bares wee resemblence t’any situation I ‘ad evar witnessed. A sickness piles in me stomache.

    “Attack ‘em, lassie!” Priscilla commands o’er the tumult. Time slows as I realize the men surroundin’ her like a black ring ‘ave friends – the mates closin’ in on me! Me knees buckle as I pull out Eli’s gun, so heavy in me bare arms. With great strength t’keep the simple machine up in me arms, I aim towards the monsters. They nevar budge!

    “Ye sea scum! Be gone!” Me voice, a lone whisper, shook. The men smiled n’ the dread knotted in me stomache. They made no move o’ hesitation. The brute t’me left, his face an eternally-scrunched mess o’wrinkles n’ frowns, took three steps closer t’me. I meant it! I cocked the gun, a defiant click against the roarin’ battle.

    The next sound tore me in two. Priscilla’s blood-curlin’ scream pierced the mornin’.

    I whirled ‘round instantly, yellin’ her name in response. Me legs functionin’ again, I kneed the man before me before rammin’ into yet another bald man. The pirates whar everywhere! But me Priscilla needed me! N’ I needed t’save her! With the greatest effort, I slipped past the nightmare-lookin’ man n’ then ‘nother n’ nother. They suffocated me like a black cloud n’ I felt trapped for the first time in me life.

    “Shoot me, ya boneless rat! Yer precious crew gal needs har othar arm tee pilot the ship, dontcha think?” The realization in the scrunchy man’s voice wrapped ‘round me like a noose. I let loose a howl o’ pain o’ my own, me blood boilin’! The rats ‘ad t’be lyin’! Thar could be no way they could break the arm o’ the invincible Priscilla. Even so, as I tried t’squeeze past ‘em again t’reach her, ‘nother man gripped me arm n’ yanked me towards him. I screamed again – the men whar closin’ in on me!

    In the trapped space, I attempted t’find me Minesti. Me heart churned as I twirled ‘round n’ round as more men gripped me. I could not see me precious Minesti, me one n’ only family member! Me breath hitched as I called her name, so pathetically the bald monstrocities laughed at me helplessness. The tears freely fell t’become one with the sea we may’ave drown in soon.

    I snapped. Jerkin’ away from thar steely grip, I held out me gun yet again. A wild look must’ave bore into me eyes, for the men began backin’ away slowly. Me hands trembled n’ me vision whar nothin’ more but the images o’ a smeared, bloody battlefield. In the fray o’ it all, I heard a horrid scream soar from Cress’ soul. ‘Nother one o’ Cassius’ followed. I dared not imagine what may’ave happened.

    Priscilla. Minesti. Cress. Cassius.

    …Eli? ”Me Eli, fight well! If they lay even a fingar on you, I’ll kill ‘em!”

    But could I kill ‘em?...

    Me Eli?

    Me hand felt so cold as it gripped the gun. Me entire hand would fall off from the sheer cold o’ guilt. I dare not shoot. Me hand whar too squeamish for such a thing. I whar too cowardly for me Cap’n, me Cap’n, me Eli…he gave me half o’ his best weapon in the hardest pillage his crew may’ave evar seen. N’ I couldn’t shoot it. Priscilla whar prolly dead. He may’ave been dead without it. N’ it whar all me fault. Again.

    “Good lass, that’s a good lass!” All me senses felt numb as the voice o’ the scrunchy man drifted t’me from somewhar far away. The sounds o’ the clashin’ o weapons and the swishin’ sea faded t’a different space. Me hope drained from me as reality caught up. A sharp, freezin’ metal pressed against the tender flesh o’ me neck. Me life whar t’end; the lives o’ me crew whar t’end because I dare not shoot. I deserved t’be sliced t’death.

    O me Eli, I be sorry, so vary vary sorry…

    “Enough.” Eli’s word pierced through me thoughts, as if he whar readin’ ‘em. Suddenly, all o’ the fightin’ stops. I look up, finally. I ‘ave t’see him after hearin’ his voice. It be the most shameful thought I’d evar had in me pathetic life. I deserved not even the thought o’ him.

    He be doin’ somethin’ I never wanted t’see in me days. N’ a terrible feelin’ pools In the bottom o’ me stomach.

    Me heart be beatin’ against me ears like a drum. Detachedly, I see me crew from the corner o’ me eyes as the pirates make way for thar own cap’n, Lady Elizabeth. Priscilla curls on the floorboards in a bloody ball, a pool o’ blood shadowin’ her life. Cress lies, beaten, o’er the body o’ a pirate he must’ave had his last revenge o’er. Cassius huddles o’er his boy, attemptin’ t’bring him back through tears. ”No!”

    N’ me eyes still ‘ave the audacity t’look at me Eli.

    ”No no no no!”

    He holds ‘is hands out in surrendar. N’ me heart breaks forever.

    His face be bloody, bloody, bloody. A tremendous gash runs down both sides o’ his cheekbones, the gunk trailin’ through his shirt. Or whar those new wounds thar too? N’ I look down at meself, pristine. So ashamed. I ‘ave not a scratch on me. N’ me crewmates may be dead. Me Eli hurts. I can see it from the black glint in his only good eye.

    Black chains restrain his arms. His broken muscles ripple through the restraints but he moves towards me.

    There’s nothin’ but love as he approaches me. His walk be slow, his broad shoulders relaxed. As they shove him t’me, his warm breath caresses me skin. If not chained, his arms be itchin’ t’open. He desires t’hug me when I’m the worst lass he ‘ad prolly evar known.

    N’ thar he is. Me Cap’n, me savior, me Eli.

    The scarred man smashes the back o’ his head with the plank.

    Eli

    “Tell me where the map is,” she hissed at me from the darkness.

    Stupid dame. She could think she had me crew, me pride, me beauty, but could she be so dumb t’evar think she’d strip me o’ my bein’? I already thought o’ a way outta this mess, but I ‘ad t’listen t’her more. As much as I strained away from her evil touch, as much as I hated playin’ these mind games with the devil…thar be things she know that I needed t’know.

    “Oh you, solid, brave Captain Eli Kanon.” Her voice slithered through the room. The hit o’ me last name hit me as hard as her hand on me thigh. Damn record-playin’, body-touchin’ rat!

    A rough washcloth o’er me eyes covered the world in an endless black. I could almost see whar that rat Lady Elizabeth whar though – her breath hit me like condensed poison, her hands always tryin’ t’go somewhar they whar nevar welcomed. A slight swishin’ covered us from all sides. The sound whar louder than on me own ship – could the ghost ship be threatenin’ t’cave in? It whar damn cold in this skeletal excuse for a ship.

    Damn. Me ship, me crew. These scrawny rats ‘board this ship need not beat me – I already did so enough. What whar wrong with me? Me crew came first. Always. The mission whar one o’ finding the infamous blood diamond – anythin’ else whar merely a distraction or a means t’our nefarious plans.

    Anythin’ else. That girl ‘Lizabeth. Whar in the bloody seas whar I thinkin’? I coulda easily let her go – I whar a dog t’see a woman die when I coulda saved her – but this wharn’t the sea for the pure hearted. I whar a sinner n’ a dog. N’ now I whar dead nothin’. I lamented o’er it again. Anger raced through me veins like molten lava n’ I restrained meself t’keep control in front o’ me perpetrator. Stupid ‘Lizabeth.

    Yet as I thought it, I wanted t’hit meself in the face.

    “Whar’s me crew?” I asked anyway. I knew the truth. Nay, I needed t’stall her more. Wheedlin’ all the info I could from her whar important. Why whar she after that sweet dame? Did she know te?

    “We wouldn’t need them, oh Brave Captain Eli Kanon, so we set them off on your ship somewhere. They should still be alive,” she said, her voice more than agitated now.

    Damn right they should still be alive. Despite me blunder, I ‘ad faith in me crew. They all knew that death aboard me ship whar punishable by me fist in thar face, courtesy o’ Davy Jones Locker. But still, I couldn’t help the swell in me heart that surged through me when I remembared them fightin’ like hooligans out thar. I ‘ad trained ‘em well. N’ then they exceeded me n’ fought for thar skins….N’ I betrayed me trust for ‘em. Took ‘em all for a woman.

    Damn, everythin’ hurt. A wicked flash o’ pain traveled back n’ forth through me skull like Jolteon playin’ on wires. Had I touched it, I whar sure I woulda felt the bloody, moist lump lazily caked upon me hat. Drips o’ blood that wharn’t dried yet fell t’me pant legs, all scratched up from the fight. Had I seen more o’ me, with me one good eye, I woulda known exactly what damage I whar in for. For now, all I could feel whar the wave o’ exhaustion threatenin’ t’crash down on me. I woulda easily taken it than listen t’that rat blabberin’ on. She disgraced the name o’ ‘Lizabeth.

    ‘Lizabeth. N’ here I whar protectin’ her again. I ‘ad t’admit it. Even from here, I wondared about her. Whar she ok? Had any o’ em tried anythin’ funny? I woulda killed ‘em if it whar so. Through me anger, I remembared her soft green eyes so full o’ worry as she watched the fight. She lifted her gun as if in offerin’. Nay, I dare not let her die by thar grimy hands. I ‘ad t’save her at that moment…the decision tore me apart like I whar still in battle. No matter me feelin’s, I ‘ad t’get both me and the beauty outta here.

    “Give me the map.” The wrench’s voice whar a command this time. It whar clear my waitin’ games wharn’t going t’wear her down. Damn. Luckily for me, I ‘ad hidden the map in the dame’s bosom; if anyone checked for the map thar, I’d kill ‘em.

    Not so gently, Lady Elizabeth tore the washcloth offa me head. The rough material brushed past me bruise, but I wouldn’t dare wince, wouldn’t portray any sign o’ pain t’the woman. Dim blue light flooded the cracked, ancient floorboards: the ocean completely immersed us, the ship’s hull bein’ transparent.

    I chuckled. “Well, funny how yer people pulled that trick. Connylimn filth and thar sea grass n’ puffed shrooms.”

    Impolite wrench. She nevar laughed at me joke. The blue outside bathed her body, that serpentine figure barley wrapped in the black cloak, as her hand slithared towards me again. Well, I’d be damned – a red n’ yellaw Octillery squirmed above her head, hissin’ at me. Wee droplets o’ acid missed me as they burned a hole in the spot betwixt me feet.

    “Listen,” she began, so softly a fool mighta fell for it. ”I know that you don’t want that worthless girl. Look at how much trouble she got you in already.” She leaned in closer, arcing towards me like she thought we’d melt togethar in some piraty tale. “You give me the map and the girl, and I set you free.” Her hand brushed past me thigh again as she whispered, a whirlin’, burnin’ sensation. Her head was so close t’mine that her warm ear brushed past me face. As I strained away, the rusted chain restraints opened lil pouches o’ blood in me skin.

    “You’re already too powerful for that diamond, my dear Eli. You’re too much for that girl,” she whispered t’me ear again.

    “N’ yer satan’s succubus,” I whispered right back, as darkly and deeply as she woulda liked it.

    That ticked her. The devil ‘neath the woman’s smooth skin ‘sploded. A vile scream soared from her tongue as she stormed through the room. I woulda laughed at the sight o’ the woman’s temper tantrum ‘ad her Octillery not also been crazy. The wee beast contracted his slimy mouth, shootin’ acid all o’er the place.

    “You will never have that blood diamond! Cross my heart, lay my king to sleep as yours; boy, you’ve overstepped a boundary!” She ‘ad stopped in fronta me, yellin’ out her dramatic mantra. I yawned. I’ad seen this so many times before. Sea dames – they whar nothin’ like seamen. Thar whar a reason I whar so particular ‘bout women on me crew. Especially a lil lass with vivid green eyes…

    “I will make sure that scrawny little wretch of yours pay. How dare she be the next heir…she would never deserve such a power!”

    In a moment o’ barbarianism, I felt angar flood me n’ take me far away. Enraged, I rammed me forehead as hard as possible against hers. Pain spread across me forehead like somebody dropped a bomb on me but I continued, standin’. T’hell with these restraints – she doubled o’er on the floor n’ hissed before attemptin’ t’scramble up again. I avoided her next blow – thar whar no stoppin’ me mad – and threw meself against the floor.

    Shatterin’, a sharp mess o’ the wood’n chair scattered amist the floor. Two chunks o’ wood whar left on me chain n’ I felt free, so free, as I began racin’ towards her. Every bit o’ my anger powered my steps n’ I felt the power surge through me. It whar the same power that branded me a vile brute. It whar every reason my father banished me from his kingdom n’ the same reason I survived on these seas – angar.

    From the corner o’ me eye, the door burst open. Ugly war cries tattoed the room as three or four more pirates filled the room. ‘Bout time I got me challenge! I tossed the thought o’ Lady Elizabeth t’the side; first, the biggest pirate o’ the group lunged for me. I stopped him, easy. This whar rookie business. The other two naturally fell into each other. N’ then I whar whirlin’ around, catchin’ the fourth one by his tender jugular. Down with another, up with another; the steady pulse o’ battle continued like a war drum in me head.

    After the defeat o’ at least three pirates, I zoned out. Why whar I fightin’ in the first place? What ‘ad even prompted me t’do it?...O’ course, I whar angry ‘bout me crew. I missed me ship. Nay, thar ‘ad t’be somethin’ more. Even as I whar attackin’, I felt Lady Elizabeth slowly backin’ away in the corner, watchin’ the blood soak through the floorboards. What whar I even plannin’ t’accomplish with this fight?...down went another brute, or so I thought.

    The ugly brute managed t’lunge himself up. A smear o’ red coated the floor whar he fell. I smirked at the sight o’ it, so eager t’deal more damage. The chains round me danced with delight n’ I threw a punch out t’the brute once more, connectin’ me knuckles with the hard o’ his jaw. He grunted as he kneed me in the gut – cheater shot, I shoulda known. I doubled o’er, not before quickly catchin’ meself before another set o’ legs came into the dim vision. Another brute smashed me across the back with somethin’ cold n’ heavy, like the hand o’ death come t’greet me. I welcomed ‘is challenge.

    Damnit ‘Lizabeth. I did it for ye again.

    Me vision faded.

    Elizabeth

    Ye cuddled me in yer arms, so strong. I be lookin’ up, past your milky eyes, both o' ‘em (they whar beautiful when ye ‘ad both) comfortin’ abysses o’ black. Past the clean flesh o’ your unblemished skin, further from yer pure, clean white shirt. Me eyes traveled past the chrome coral that forevar rested in its place. Above the crystallized ceilin’ that captured the soft ripplin’ o’ the ocean beneath it, I saw a figure move in n’ out. A figure? Whar it me imagination? I breathed in slowly, whiffin’ the fresh scent that reminded me o’ home. Ye shifted into me n’ I saw the figure sweep towards us.

    A flash o’ beige n’ red it whar. So comfortin’ t’me, t’you it whar that we began walkin’ towards it. Every humble inch we covered reverbarated the soothin’ shifts o’ water beneath us. Walkin’ on water towards the booty, the treasure, we did.

    The figure from above swooped o’er me. The transparent flashes o’ beige n’ red caressed me head, so cleaned that I homesick t’me stomach. Yet I be feelin’ like I belonged here all along. A warm sensation began poolin’ in my stomach, gently ebbin’ through me whole bein’. What whar this feelin’ o’ belongin’?

    Ye gripped me hand tighter. Nothin’ felt more right in the world.

    The beige n’ red wrapped around me, so naked, so soothin’ against me cool skin. It wrapped around me. The cocoon o’ warmth blanketed me, yet ye whar here too, enjoyin’ every moment o’ it with me. I closed me eyes, the vivid flashes o’ color too startlin’ t’be beheld by mortal eyes.

    When I opened them, I found meself covered with jewels. They be coverin’ me whole self like the condensed aurora lights we saw together. Do ye see? Do ye see how beautiful I look when I be with you? When I feel this way about ye…

    The beige n’ red slowly lifted from us. We arose differently, but ye were still the same t’me. Me Eli.


    A shrill scream shook the world ‘round me. I screamed back, me thick blonde hair spillin’ all ‘round me. A sheer cold wrapped ‘round me body. I thought I coulda died! ”So this whar Davy Jones Locker!” I though t’meself as me pulse lowered. Yet still the world shook, as if rockin’ t’me wild heart.

    When I had the courage t’open me eyes I almost screamed again. Thick bars came t’me vision, barley illuminated by a dim lamp above. Me knees grunted with pain as the rusty cold floor met ‘em. There whar an acerbic smell in the air; me nose be wrinklin’ as me eyes be waterin’.

    The bars be surroundin’ me on all sides. I figared I had less than enough space t’lie down, and no space t’kneel. Slowly, I continued t’crawl towards the edge o’ me confinement – the world shook again. Before screamin’ like a loose lass, I realized that me cage whar raised from above with a wee chain that rustled. It whar threatenin’ t’drop me cage towards whatever lie below. I would get outta here before I found out!

    As I scrambled towards the middle o’ me cage for balance, a different world came crashin’ down on me. Thar whar the memory o’ what happened hours ago floodin’ in. N’ then me heart started murmurin’ n’ askin questions ‘bout our crew. It cried o’er me Eli. I wanted t’cry o’er me Eli. Whar I dreamin’ ‘bout him?...

    “Minesti?” Me voice trepidated in the silence. Minesti whar always me lady. Had anythin’ evar gone wrong, she whar thar for me. She whar me sister when I ‘ad no family, me protector when I lived alone, me love when life whar dry…She nevar came.

    The hyperventilatin’ started. It felt like me skin whar peelin’ offa me body like a Krabby destroys its shell in the glistenin’ mornin’. For minutes, hours, it felt like ‘finity in the eternal darkness – I shook n’ sat thar. Me hands shakin’ everywhar, I tried t’make sure I whar still me in the darkness. Pattin’ me thigh, I found Eli’s gun. The gun I couldn’t shoot. Even tho Priscilla cried out t’me, I…

    I scowled. Avast, this whar me fault! I would fix it! I breathed in n’ out slowly, delibarately. It whar a trick Cress taught me t’calm meself. Oh, Cress. Big, blind n’ lovable Cress, so blind yet fought so-

    Breath in, breath out, Lass.

    I quickly reached for me Milotic scale. Breathin’ out slowly, I pressed the warm pendant t’me cheek. I briefly brushed past Eli’s eyeglass, ashamed t’even call him Eli. After makin’ sure they whar still thar, I gasped.

    Somethin’ else be nestled in me corset. I sat erect. How long had I been out cold here? Had any business gone on while I whar down? I would kill ‘em if so! Me blood boiled, all emotions returnin’. I need not bother me Cap’n after all I ‘ad done todey – I’d destroy ‘em meself! How dare they hurt me crewmates, how dare they even think ‘bout touchin’ me with their grimy hands, while I be sleepin’! Those cretins -

    Big breaths now.

    Fumblin’ in the darkness, I pulled the parchment outta me corset. The worn pap’r felt like tissuee betwixt me porcelain fingars. Slowly, I attempted t’lean me body towards the dim light o’erhead.

    The image whar a map! Yet thar whar no X mark, no dramatic bearin’ upon it. The ancient document whar weathered, aye. The ridges o’ mountains and ruffles o’ the sea whar barley visible in the light, yet I imagined they be hard t’see in plain mornin’ too. Whar this the location o’ the diamond me Eli be scourin’ the seas for? N’ why did I ‘ave it if it whar?...

    Somewhar close, a giant metal door creaked. Immediately, I folded the article up before foldin’ it back into me bodice. Light from the source filled the room n’ I scowled at me perpetrator.

    “If ye hurt me Cap’n you be plannin’ t’pay with yer life!” The words came out before I knew ‘em. Me knuckles clenched against me tousled dress, obviously not in comprehension with what me mouth whar spittin’ out.

    “Oh dear, dear sweet Elizabeth…” The voice o’ the dame spilled into the musty air. I hugged me knees, lookin’ up curiously. Me hand still wavered o’er Eli’s gun. The figure bathed in the light o’ the door took one step in. Vivid red hair burned the edges o’ the rickety door frame n’ I recognized the succubus from me spot midair.

    “The one and only! Princess Elizabeth, we’ve finally rescued you!”

    The next few shots o’ rum passed like nothin’. That cruel dame who destroyed me crewmates, disgraced herself, n’ forced me Eli t’surrendar led me away from the rust’n cage. Passin’ through the rottin’ hallways, I wondared where me Eli whar. My cheeks tinged with red; me heart pinched with despair. The vast ocean flowed outside o’ this skeleton entity. For a brief moment I wondared if he whar out thar – leavin’ me behind. I dare not hold a grudge if he did.

    “Princess Elizabeth?” Her voice whar kinder. Returnin’ t’reality whar tough. It couldn’t be reality – we whar in a bejeweled room in the middle o’ the skeleton. Huge diamonds whar suspended midair; the dim light from the waves outside cast a ripplin’ shadows o’er the boundless booty nestled right here. Two chairs n’ a table whar siteeated a few feet ahead. It whar like havin’ rum in the middle o’ the king’s palace.

    She rushed me o’er t’a chair, not unkind like, n’ began talkin’ immediately. “Princess Elizabeth! As I said, we’ve been searching for you!”

    The name she used finally caught me ear. What whar she blabberin’ about?...

    “As soon as he discovered you were gone, King Cannoyhielm searched all over the continent for you! He dispatched me to your aide right away.” Flippin’ her hair over her face, she leaned in. Her eyes glistened with somethin’ gentle. Whar it a spark o’ truth?

    ”O' course, Princess! Lemme jus’ attack all your crew, steal yer Cap’n, n claim me innocence!” I thought mockingly. ”I’ll add in me red hair dye while I’m at it!”

    Thar whar no way her words coulda been true. Before this, I whar nothin’ more than a meager farm girl sowin’ her seeds quietly in Connylimn’s fertile crescent. Thar whar nothin’ more t’that. I lived alone with me trusty Minesti. The days whar simple: farm simple lum berries, educate meself in the sun’s lazy hours, sell at the local bay, n’ give some o’ the profits t’the chil’ren. They ‘ad more than a future than I evar had. Then Eli changed all that…

    “Oh, Princess Elizabeth! Just look at your fine golden hair…had you never reasoned that you were fairer than all the rest, a true beauty hidden among the filth?”

    She reached out t’caress me face yet I ‘ad already cringed at her words. How dare she call me village filth! How dare she spill out all these lies, for who knows what reasons – what whar she even playin’ at?

    I snarled as I put on me angry face (I ‘ad learned from ole’ Cress). The expression seemed completely outlandish in this blessed room; me anger reflected offa all the diamonds like they whar rubies.

    “If ye want me t’give ye somethin’, jus’ spit it out! Ye make me sick!” I gave meself a mental high-five.

    She nevar releneted. “But oh, Princess Elizabeth darling! You know the tradition of Connylimn better than I do!”

    Me face cringed as she began her dramatic monologue. She musta thought me real farm filth if I nevar knew the most basic tradition o’ me own continent. It whar simple enough – the princess o’ Connylimn whar never known. O’ course, the prince whar always chosen by blood relations t’our ancient ancestors – that part we all knew. It whar part o’ the grudge against women that existed in the pits o’ me continent’s people, o’ everyone’s people. I felt equal for once aboard Eli’s vessel…

    I shook me head as me thoughts trailed for the hundredth time that day.

    The princess whar known only by a plethora o’ magical abilities supposedly in her blood. The most important o’ which whar her inherent ability t’seek out the finest booty for her country. The psychic ability whar nestled in the blood in one o’ a million, a true crowning piece. They said the princess whar more beautiful than any anyone ‘ad seen (well, the dame got me wrong!) and ‘ad the intrinsic senses o’ justice n’ self-sacrifice. Holiness n’ purity n’ all kinds o’ garbage we lived offa when we whar all hopeful young souls.

    In the Royal Court’s ancient prattlin’ o’ endless ennui, they said that’s why they whar surveillin’ us at all times. The true princess will be found n’ returned t’the Royal Court as soon as she be found. We knew it whar all a hoax. I ‘ad nevar once seen the Queen o’ Connylimn. I imagined her as a wrinkled ole hag with sun spots, like a used grenade. They whar no way any o’ that booty-scourin’, sea-surfin’ garbage whar true!

    As if that wharn’t enough, the legends went on! Thar whar somethin’ about a psychic connection betwixt the kings n’ queens. I ‘ad thought it romantic at once, but now the mere thought made me sicker than a swabbie. Thar whar also more ancient legends ‘bout the mysterious yet so called earth-shatterin’, tongue-blowin’, sea-swimmin’ powers o’ the princess. Nobody ‘ad the time for such tales; aye, we ‘ad all discarded it many reels ‘round the hull ago.

    “Princess Elizabeth!” The woman began leanin’ towards me. For a moment, I thought she’d kiss me.

    “Have you ever…risked your life for someone?” she whispered.

    Furiously, the vicious vision o’ crunching teeth came t’me mind. The wrappin’ o’ the boat by the giant beast came next, roars all ‘round! Priscilla’s horrified face as I stepped o’er her t’the jaws o’ the devil…

    “Have you ever…killed anyone?”

    Me heart ached.

    “Have you ever wondered if you would ever be able to kill anyone?”

    Me Eli… Me Eli so trapped against his decision t’rescue me came surgin’ o’er me like a storm. The gun I be unable t’shoot, the guilt runnin’ through me veins…

    From somewhar far away in me, I noticed the dame gettup. She scooted towards me and reached out t’hug me. For a while, I let in pass – her warmth whar too deceivingly comfortin’ after bein’ stranded aboard these seas. I sniffed in a whiff o’ her clean scent. Honey n’ lilac, the perfume o’ kings n’ queens. Sights n’ smells o’ me home continent flooded me. I backed away instinctively, tears risin’ t’me eyes.

    ”Yer pathetic! I thought t’mself hopelessely. The dame nevar backed away from me.

    Whisperin’ in me ear, she continued. “Why do ye think he rescued you?” The words whar soft sin against me flesh. “He needs you to find the mighty treasure he’s been looking all over the sea for. That’s it and that’s that – he found out who you were instinctively because he’s a prince, that infamous dog, and he’s been trying to take advantage of you this whole time.”

    I wanted t’shove her away. T’cleanse meself o’ her lies, t’comfort meself that it wharn’t true, t’promise meself that her story nevar added up when…it did. I snarled against the soft caress o’ her skin. The tears fell from me face n’ I began cryin’ even more from the stress o’ it. Me body choked up like it woulda choked me t’death.

    An eternity later, a boom came from the door o’ the secret room. Me eyes, so clouded n’ pathetic, blurred the image at the door. Me heart threatened t’pour out o’er the floor in muddy pile; me arms threatened t’rip open in a hug. Yet me mind told me t’run. The possibilities swam endlessly. Whar this…dread? Whar he really actually thar, or whar I dreamin’ again?

    Me Eli stood at the door.

    Eli

    Two woman wrapped against each other – aye, that woulda been a nice presence! I took it in for a minute. Thar whar ‘Lizabeth wrapped around that pirate rat from earlier. Me heart broke as I watched her tears flow down her lighted face, more beautiful yet mighty than any floodin’ river. She looked uninjured enough. Yet I could only imagine what they ‘ad done t’her, what nonsense that treachery mighta bestowed on the fine beauty. I stepped forward.

    I took a cursory glance at the decorated room. The diamonds littered the floor like crushed glass. Damn, me eyes be seein’ stranger things. The only thing that mattered whar ‘Lizabeth. She lifted her head shly from the nape o’ the beast n’ her eyes dilated. Somethin’ whar wrong in the way she stared at me – the ice in her eye....I’d seen it far too many times decoratin’ the eyes o’ dead men.

    What right ‘ad she t’be angry with me? The ungrateful urchin! I ‘ad saved her life. I ‘ad given me crew t’her. I ‘ad given me pride n’ dignity for her, somethin’ nobody even dare dream t’get. N’ I ‘ad come t’her rescue.

    Me body responded t’her frozen glare. The wave o’ fatigue from earlier had been appeased with the thought o’ seein’ her, but now I whar jus’ angry t’relive it all again. I fought me way towards her; aye, that whar the only way t’conquer a pillage: from the inside out. Many a men fell at me strikes. Me arms burned, me head afire from the chaos o’ our days. Everythin’ ached like they’d impaled me with the newest poison. It writhed n’ wrapped ‘round me body, shocks all ‘round.

    As if on cue, the corpse o’ one o’ me enemies slumped onto the floor. Dead. Finally. Leakin’ onto the diamond floor whar his blood. It whar like a slow red light show askin’ me t’go on with the act. I limped against the wall, the smell o’ the man’s blood threatenin’ t’kehaul me somewhere I dare not go. Me caked blood chipped off the diamonds in wee red flakes.

    Damn, me perceptions whar fadin’. Time whar gettin’ longer n’ slower: maybe neither, maybe both. Every damn detail nestled somewhar in me faded head. Yet it whar hard t’even look up. I willed meself t’focus. She whar here, she whar finally here, right infronta me! But damn, what whar I even plannin’ t’do now? Why whar I not rushin’ up t’scold her, for this whole mess?...Why whar I more angry with meself?

    “Eli! Me Cap’n Eli!” her words slurred towards me in a wave. The world wanted t’spin on its axis. Dammnit, I ‘ad come here for a reason, and I would accomplish me mission.

    “Well, me beauty,” I started, chucklin’. “Fancy seein’ ye here. Now whattsa diamond like ye doin’ here? Tryin’ t’sell yerself again with yer innocent n’ unable act?” I notioned t’the skeletal bride n’ the bejeweled room, me disgust hopefully apparent on me scarred face. Well, damn me. Near death made me fresh n’ furious. Me eyes blinked as I thought o’er the whole situation t’make sure it whar all real. I wanted t’strangle somehin’ a shot o’ rum ago – I’d done away with the entire vessel’s crew for this one lass – n’ I had the gut t’play it cool. Somethin’ in me ached at me actions.

    “Eli, you damn scum,” a reciprocal voice grumbled from somewhar. I grunted a response t’the Death Queen, Lady Elizabeth. Whar they in cahoots this whole time? Nothin’ whar surprisin’ t’me anymore. Sloppily, I turned me head t’face the lady – but a blonde beauty o’er came me.

    The look o’er her perfect face made me forget everythin’ I’d been gripin’ ‘bout. Thar whar nothin’ thar but despair locked away in her eyes. Tremblin’, her bottom lip moved up as if t’say somethin’ but stopped. She whar right ‘bout that. I dare not deserve anythin’ she ‘ad t’say after a comment like that. Me eyes moved down her body quickly. If they ‘ad scratched her, breathed upon her, or even thought o’ her – they whar first on me deathlist. But nay, thar whar only look o’ her neck cranin’ away from me as she tried t’hide the tears wellin’ in her eyes.

    “’Lizabeth?...” I stepped slowly towards her.

    Elizabeth

    “Eli?” I barely managed t’squeak out. Me voice whar nothin’ but startled air as I took in the sight o’ him, desperately tryin’ t’erase his words from memory.

    His injuries be atrocious. The black bruises adorn his body like tribal tattoos from the roughest bit o’ sea, the caked blood fallin’ in clumps as it rubs against the wall. His smell assaults me senses. It be the rank, raw scent o’ a body drenched in blood. He whar raw too: raw masculinity in the dark shadow o’ his clenched jawline, raw angar in his steely gaze. When he came in, he looked like he whar about t’pounce upon me n’ be rid o’ me once n’ for all. I wharn’t angry with him for this sentiment. All by me pathetic self, I caused his imminent downfall. I did what hundreds o’ men died attemptin’ t’do.

    Too many wounds whar opened now. The gash upon his chest, the broken arm o’ Priscilla, me assumptions all millions o’ miles away. I turned me head away in shame. He hated when I did that.

    Nay…I knew that it all wharn’t important.

    Eli. He whar alive. He ‘ad come t’save me.

    I reached forward n’ wrapped ‘im in an embrace like I’d nevar let ‘im go.

    Eli

    Her hug whar whar warm n’ reassurin’, like she’d melt right into me. N’ she took me for everythin’ I whar, includin’ the caked blood, the scars, the black bruises smeared ‘cross me arms. Waves o’ blonde hair washed o’er me. I breathed it in, the smell o’ the ocean waftin’ from her, the smell o’ her. She whar alive, right here, right now, spreadin’ her love through me n’ I knew everythin’ whar ok. Damn me for evar thinkin’ I coulda been angry with her.

    Yet the moment may nevar last long. With me treasure in me arms, I jump t’the side just in time. The world spins once more as I land hard against the diamond floor, ‘Lizabeth cuddled in me arms. Damn, with me drunken death n’ poor perception, I’d misjudged how far the floor whar. A new ache seared me side as I got up too fast. With the greatest dignity, I glared at the treacherous rat in the corner. The Octillery crawled o’er her head n’ I thought, distractedly, how she coulda fathomed that creature’s tentacles slatherin’ all o’er her unkempt hair –

    Had the vision dame really the mind t’shoot me?

    “Don’t ye dare hurt ‘im!” ‘Lizabeth screamed in fronta me. She ‘ad her arms spread out like she had just those two days ago. I nearly burst with pride when the memory o’ her against the Gyarados came t’me mind. That single event ‘ad made her a sure legendary in me mind - I had me assumptions, but at that point, she whar nothin’ more than the right one –

    “Cap’n Eli!” she screamed as another shot rang out.

    Part o’ me registered what whar happenin’. Part o’ me understood that we ‘ad been shot the first time n’ that we barely escaped Cthulu’s clawing. Part o’ me understood that ‘Lizabeth tried t’warn me from the next shot. N’ yet still, while day dreamin’ ‘bout the booty I’d share with the one I’d come t’feel fer most, part o’ me moved. Me ribs tumbled against the cold floor that reflected me pain in its million glarin’ facets. The skeletal queen stood at the end o’ the room, a hidden gun clutched in her hand. Me pirate hat ‘ad skidded t’the door. N’ she whar that close t’killin’ me.

    “Yer gonna pay for that hole in me hat,” I growled as part o’ me snatched it up.

    Yet I whar still in the clouds. Memories o’ me first moments with me lass sprang t’life in me head. They danced together like the rain that twirled before her beautiful, shiverin’ face on that first mornin’. The smile upon her face coulda calmed the seven seas. The dawn ‘ad barely broken n’ none o’ me crew ‘ad gotten any rest. I ‘ad urged them on – thar whar somethin’ worth while on the coast o’ our neighborin’ continent. I could feel it. They complied with me without question, despite the grime coverin’ Priscilla’s tired face, despite Cress’ loud protests, despite Cassius’ quiet denials, despite the shock maskin’ their faces when they first laid eyes on me beauty.

    “Yer disgustin’, real scum o’ the barnacle!” I shouted t’the skeletal queen. She smirked back at me, her finger suffocatin’ the trigger t’death. When she finally realized it whar outta ammunition, she came barrelin’ towards me. I smiled, unconsciously pushing me ‘Lizabeth outta harm’s way. Now I could enact me revenge –

    N’ a beauty she whar! It whar impossible t’not notice the modest figure protrudin’ outta her old rugged clothes. It whar clear that she whar poor. She whar no peasant though. There whar the vivid glint in her eye, the magic o’ intelligence n’ kindness spillin’ from her entity like the soul o’ a Queen. she took berries t’the chil’ren. Where whar her parents? How could they lose a precious treasure like that dame? N’ she looked up at me, as if hearin’ me thoughts. From that moment, it had been decided.

    “You will not have her for your nefarious plots, Captain Elijah!” Rushin’ back t’reality, the dame swung at me with a rough left hook. Except for…heave ho! She whar a real ho with her pirate hook. A thud hit the floor as he fake hand fell like she’d shed it. In its place there whar a golden, scythe-lookin’ nightmare come straight outta the stories. The tip, sharpened like it’d been waitin’ for me blood, graced me skin as I backed away. Well, damn! I had not been expectin’ that!

    “Yer a real sea dog, ain’t ye?” I screamed with a laugh. Me chuckle sent pangs o’ confusion ripplin’ through me head. I whar not in the best conditions t’fight. Steelin’ meself, I threw meself at her in a hard punch. Her shriek filled ‘cross the walls as the Octillery made t’attack me again, its bubbly fluids wantin’ t’consume me…

    N’ when I saw me ‘Lizabeth for the first time, I wanted t’consume her. Any fool woulda wanted te. Even in her grime, she held herself with the greatest revereance known t’a seaman. She moved towards me. Each step left a mark in me heart, lil pools o’ love that filled up whenever I saw her. N’ she instantly understood. She climbed ‘board. Answerin’ the call o’ the heart whar a funny business, but she knew, she knew me n’ I knew her. She took her lady Minesti n’ a comb before headin’ off with us.

    “You will not have that blood diamond! You will not become stronger, you madman!” Elizabeth gritted through her teeth. I ‘ad overpowered her, knockin’ her down so easily. I nevar fought woman. Not because they whar woman. That whar the mantra o’ any sexist pig on the seas. Nay, it whar because they whar usually defenseless. Not this rat.

    Her hook reached out t’mutilate me again. Cursin’, I gasped as I missed it again. Me head whirled n’ off went me baggy shirt. The woman screamed as she tried t’pry the matted thing offa her pure golden hook. It musta cost a fortune – she couldn’t afford t’ave that thing bloodied, nay! Me body moved before me jarred senses ‘ad an opportunity. We tumbled onto the floor like drunken hooligans – ‘cept she ‘ad a hook n’ I ‘ad me bare hands!

    Bare. That whar the way me sweet ‘Lizabeth whar. At first port, I ‘ad her strip herself o’ her old clothes. Priscilla went t’buy her dresses, jewels, anythin’ the dame admired. Me money whar all mine, gathered after years o’ booty-scorin’. All me hearties whar rich in thar own ways – but nay, sweet ‘Lizabeth whar t’ave anythin’ she wanted. Avast, that dame wanted nothin’. She settled for a single black dress n’ called me a saint. I ‘ad never seen such humbleness from a mate in all me life. That whar the first o’ many things she would teach me.

    Damn, I whar so absorbed in me thoughts that I missed her next attack. From somewhar far away, it felt like, ‘Lizabeth yelled. Whar it from me mind or from reality?...Me vision blurred as I recalled the first time me dame ‘ad been in trouble. I’d rushed t’her side immediately. She’d encountered a King Kingler, a brute big enough t’clamp her whole betwixt its claws from hell. I ‘ad blasted the thing off immediately from her. I’d nevar before felt so worried in me life. From that point on, I ‘ad her set t’scour the seas from the Crow’s Nest. O’ course, I knew she’d be able t’spot nothin’ from the perpetual mist. Yet I wanted ‘er safe, I needed t’know she’d be alright on me crew…I needed ‘er thar.

    And it wharn’t for her ability. O’ course I knew she whar a Queen o’ sorts. That much whar obvious t’any monkey. I realized her true heritage a few days after she boarded me vessel. The way her hair glowed, her inability t’harm, her natural knack for findin’ booty locked away in the darkest o’ places. I didn’t know if it whar because I whar o’ royal heritage meself. I dare not care ‘bout such trivial matters. The only thing that mattered t’me whar the fact that she whar here with me n’ that she whar safe. I couldn’t fathom the pricks o’ feelin’ prancin’ through me body every time I saw her, spoke with her, the pangs o’ hurt when she whar afraid o’ me. She cleared the red visions in me mind. Be it the blood diamond o’ the diamonds below me that sparkled with me blood, I care not. She whar me diamond.

    Truth n’ pain seared through me. I whar nothin’ less than a fool for lyin’ t’meself this whole time. I ‘ad locked her away from me all those months when we coulda gotten closer. I’d been so locked away meself that I nevar stopped t’realize how I felt ‘bout her. I’d leave with her thinkin’ I whar nothin’ more than heartless scum.

    “Eli!” her shrill scream bounced through me from somewhar distant. I closed me eyes, revelin’ in the thought o’ her. Vaguely, I knew I whar layin’ down somewhar. The pain spreadin’ through me core felt like nothin’ in face o’ the thought o’ her.

    CHAPTER III: SAEGLOPUR


    Elizabeth

    Me Eli.

    Me Cap’n, me savior, me hope n’ freedom.

    Me Eli…

    Yer dyin.


    Me heart burst. If it hadn’t, me lungs would do so first. They contracted, shrinkin’n’ shrinkin’ till I couldn’t breath. They fell into two wrinkled red wrappers n’ drifted outta me. It whar like everythin’ else. Me thoughts vanished. Me pleas for help disappeared; me breath hitched in silent, chocked sobs. Thar whar no longer the diamonds reflectin’ yer limp self. Thar whar no longer Lady Elizabeth standin’ before you. Yer blood reflectin’ offa the gold o’ her hook, the blood that pooled on the floor – it whar no more. Thar whar no longer the fadin’ twitches in yer unnaturally still body. No more whar yer reassurin’ chuckle…no more…

    Me Eli…

    no please, no no no –


    I watched meself from somebody else’s eyes. Had I been screamin’, clutchin’ yer cold body close t’mine? Had the tears drowned me? The blurry vision betxixt yer pale face n’ mine hid all. Had I been convulsin’? Me jaw may’ave fallen off. It whar impossible t’breath. Somewhar far away, somethin’ in me mind nudged me t’move. These whar signs o’ a heart attack, right? Or whar they the signs o’ a broken heart? I dare not stand it. I continued t’hold ye. The blood n’ my tears mixed into a salty nothin’. Me Eli? Could ye hear me shoutin’ yer name? Can ye feel me tryin’ t’pull ye away from a force greater than all o’ us? I’d wrestle it n’ lay me life on the line for it anyday.

    Me Eli…

    Why ‘ad I been so foolish? What possessed me t’watch ye fight, given yer poor condition? Could ye hear me at all, me Eli? Hear me when I told ye t’dodge? Where whar me voice when I commanded ye t’move, t’let me fight for ye? Could ye hear the whispers in me choked voice when I apologized for this? It whar all me fault, me Eli. The pillage, Lazy Elizabeth, me crewmates, yer beautiful body drainin’ all its life from ye slowly.

    Me Eli…

    Could ye hear me when I screamed me love for ye?

    Yer dead.

    “Princess Elizabeth! We’ve finally defeated the marauder!”

    I drew Eli’s gun from me thigh.

    I cleanched me teeth. Shivers rattered through me arm uncontrollably. I summoned Eli’s words from me jarred head. Words and phrases from his lesson about his gun threw themselves at the front o’ me mind wildly. Then thar whar the taste o’ his tongue on mine afterwards…n’ nothin’ else mattered. I cocked me gun. No hestiations; Eli nevar hesitated for me. Me Eli be dead, me Eli be dead n’ cold in me arms…n’ I allowed it t’happen.

    Tearin’ me gaze away from him whar the hardest part. Somethin’ dead in me believed that he coulda rose up again at any moment. The blood soakin’ his sculpted self would wash off like pecha berry paint. The blood mattin’ his dark hair wharn’t real. That would go too, just like in me dream. The thoughts came from the same part o’ me that believed Eli through n’ through. But…it whar every part o’ me too.

    “Y-yer goin’ t’pay,” I muttered. Me voice betrayed me. Aye, it whar just as rickety n’ uncontrollable as me spasmic muscles. I tipped Eli’s head gently up in me lap. Me other arm caressed his chest, as if he coulda woken up and shot the damned thing for me. Nay, he couldn’t. Nevar again.

    Whar that…dubity that reflected in the woman’s eye? She raised her arms in fake surrendar. N’ thar whar Eli’s blood all o’er her naked frame. The black coat wrapped ‘round her, ‘round the thoughts o’ him, devourin’ him till thar whar nothin' left but an inky nothin’.

    Me breathe hitched again. The vile creature ‘board the woman’s head made a foul sound. The suckerin’ o’ his tentacles whar the only sound, save for the shallow breaths me mind imagined Eli whar takin. I swallowed the bile risin’ through me body. Shakin’ me head, I forced meself t’focus on the task. Me hair washed o’er Eli’s chest n’ I felt sick all o’er again.

    “Princess Elizabeth!” I swallowed at her words.

    “See? He was trying to use you!” An eternity passed. He whar no longer existin’.

    “Poor girl, he never loved you.” She laughed like a maniac.

    N’ I ‘ad enough.

    The next moments slurred together.

    Part o’ me understood that I shot me gun. The sound exploded in the bejeweled room. Part o’ me held me Eli even closer. I’d protect him no matter what, no matter if he whar dead, no matter if it whar me that pulled the trigger. I wanted t’spend all o’ time with just him, right now. Avast, me future ‘ad different plans.

    I dare not shoot the actual dame. I bear not. Yer pathetic, yer pathetic, yer pathetic, after he lay his life down for ye-!” I shook the thoughts away from me head. Me future whar still movin’; nothin’ may’ave stopped the infinite roll o’ time. Me bullet headed at the foot o’ the dame, affectin’ a massive explodin’ sound. Me mind registered that the dame screamed.

    But everythin’ whar still movin’. Me Eli n’ I – we whar still movin’. I used the distraction t’somehow will me feet forward. It whar all inhumane strength that nevar belonged t’me. I pulled me Eli away. I would nevar forget his hat; I dare not leave any part o’ him on this treacherous ship. I pulled me Eli away from the gems, from the death that ghosted through this ship. I moved n’ moved, his eyeglass pokin’ me insides. Part o’ me willed that the eyeglass turn into a knife n’ kill me thar. N’ then thar whar Eli’s map too. It stretched o’er me in me mind, wrappin’ us both away like buried treasure. Me Milotic scale whar the only part o’ me left.

    Nay, I ‘ad t’think clearly. The thick smoke billowin’ outta the diamoned room from me shot caught me eye. It woulda taken Eli’s soul betwixt its whispy fingars. Up t’a heaven he deserved. Up t’a peace he coulda nevar ‘ad with me ‘round. I wish it woulda taken me too. The dame would get through it fast, too fast – I needed t’get me Eli away in time. Thar whar nowhar t’go, but that nevar stopped him from goin’ anyway. Me Eli…

    I reached the hull o’ the ship what seemed like centuries later. I ‘ad no formal plan. The bellowin’ skies threatened me t’do somethin’. The black smeared ‘cross the sky commanded me t’move. The sky cracked with sound o’ lightnin’. N’ then thar whar the flashes o’ lightnin’ illuminatin’ Eli’s motionless face in me arms. The rain flooded down now into the angry sea. The surgin’ water sloshed against the broken vessel, beckonin’ me t’step into thar frozen grip.

    O’, me Eli…what could I do?

    Lady Elizabeth flashed behind us, as if lightnin’ itself. Soot o’er her perfect skin, a scowl scarrin’ her gorgeous skin. N’ she whar approchin’ me, no longer patient. She wanted me power. She wanted t’find the booty with it. She wanted t’seize Eli’s map n’ force me t’guide her exactly t’the treasure. Then she’d drag me back t’me home continent until the Royal Court needed me again. The idea o’ black towers hoisted high into the sky shook through me with a tremble. O’, me Eli, thar whar no choice!

    Would ye hate me for what I planned t’do?

    Did ye hate me now for what I whar goin’ t’do?

    I love ye.

    N’ I threw our bodies into the water.


    Eli



    …father? No, ye threw me out…ye left me t’die, didn’t ye? Did I ever blame ye for what ye did? Nay, ye whar frightened….yer frightened face when I attacked the targets, whenever I brought up the question o’ Mom..father, what did ye do t’me mother?...n’ like that, it whar all fadin’ away…

    “E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H.” N’ the gigglin’ rung through me head like bells. “I have no last name, I had no parents…but! This is Minesti!”…she drifted in n’ out. Each word whar like a crystal piece, wrung together t’create a diamond necklace…that articulate, the bells….words, phrases….L-I-Z-A…what whar the rest?

    blonde, the color be blonde, golden…the smile that coulda conquered the sea…waves n’ whistles. Thar whar…we whar? …everywhar at once. The feelin’ rode through me. Thar whar soft nudges. Then came a feelin’…hot n’ cold at the same time? Someone whar slidin’ a steamin’ hot knife ‘cross me body. But thar whar no pain. What whar pain, anyway? What did it mean?

    I dare not dwell upon the matter. Everythin’ whar dim, yet not unfriendly. I put me hand up, then another, then all me extremities. Throwin’ meself at whereevar the knowledge whar... N’ back t’the blonde. N’ ruffles…thar whar ruffles. Black, kind, rough lil ruffles. Who did they belong te?

    Slowly, the searin’ o’er me stopped. Then came a cool liquid, poured from everywhar, but…I whar nowhar at once. Who whar I? Thar whar a void nestled in me chest. It wanted t’expand, takin’ me with it. Escape? Nay, I…nevar escape. I wanted te…fight. I whar a fighter. I ‘ad t’be. Who whar I fightin’ for?...

    “Captain Eli!” she shouted at me. Happiness washed o’er her face. Her face, so delighted when she took her first drink o’ the grog, her flushed face when that blind boy made his first sarcastic comment towards her…her face forever ago…n’ thar whar tears. Whar she cryin’ o’er me? Why? Damn, damn, damn. I knew nothin’.

    Yet I knew her. I ‘ad te. I tucked into meself further. I knew her, I knew her…she whar the only thing I knew. I focused all me attention onto her…I ‘ad t’find her. She whar me. The truth burst through me.

    ‘Lizabeth? Where whar you? O’ course. That ‘ad t’be her. That whar the one I wanted. That whar the one I always wanted. The only one I’d evar need. Me ‘Lizabeth.



    O’ darlin’, what ‘ad I done t’ye?

    I whar the biggest fool o’ all the seven seas.



    Me eyes snapped open.

    I whar aware o’ two things. Firstly, where whar me damn pirate hat? The mist licked at me hair. Instinctively reachin’ up t’see what that whar ‘bout, I grimaced. Me shaggy locks whar completely clean, silky t’the touch. Shocked, I looked down onto me hand. The cuts from earlier n’ the blood from earlier whar all gone. Me shirt whar gone, sure – but so whar the gashes that killed me earlier. I gently fingared the spot where the darkness encroached in. It whar the place Lady Elizabeth ‘ad slashed me with ‘er hook. It too whar long gone.

    Hunchin’ o’er the thought o’ her, the events from todee poured into me mind. It whar then that I noticed the quiet, stretchin’ little thing mewlin’ in me lap. The black cat whar curled in me lap like a ball.

    “Well, damn! N’ where whar ye this whole time?” I joked at Minzen. Despite me voice, an uncontrollable grin spread o’er me face. Embracin’ the wee Umbreon full on, I twisted me head o’er to see what must’ave been ‘Lizabeth’s bright reaction. Here whar me Minzen, n’ here we all whar togethar! Mere moments woulda passed before we found me vessel, n’ then we coulda continued with our quest –

    Whirlin’ ‘round, I called out her name. N’ then reality fell back in place. We whar cradled in a tiny boat barley big enough t’fit me n’ the pup. The rugged sides o’ it scratched me sides. I instantly recognized the makeshift boat I meself ‘ad made many moons ago. It whar none other than an escape boat from me S.S. Booty. We bobbled in calm waters; rain gently drizzled down. A thick mist hunched o’er us, protectin’ us with its feathery grasp from whatevar lay behind o’er it.

    “’Lizabeth?” Callin’ out t’her, I whirled ‘round again. Me action promptly twirled the ship n’ Minzen meowed worriedly. I knew that Minzen aptly transported anythin’ he wanted. It whar an ancient part o’ his dark abilities. It meant that he ‘ad a strong psychic connection t’me ship. Whar she thar? If so, why wharn’t we ‘board this moment?...How be I alive in the first place?

    Me head thrummed with the questions. Me smile gone, I looked t’me trusty Minzen.

    “Take me back t’our ship,” I growled undar me low breath. He complied. The fluorescent rings o’er his body shot yellow circles through the thick mist. Minesti purred, comin’ closer t’me. In a moment, a darkness soaked all o’ us. The transporation woulda taken only a moment, only a tick o’ the hourglass. Then I’d be able t’see me ‘Lizabeth, me crew, our victory…

    When we came te, I gasped. Me legs convulsed n’ threatened t’break through me makeshift boat. This wharn’t right. Somethin’ whar terribly off… Minzen leaped offa me n’ onto our hull. I did the same; nay, I attempted the same. I slipped before fallin’ t’the ground. What the hell whar this?...The ship wharn’t movin’! We spent months at sea – how whar it possible for Minzen t’leap offa the ship so smoothly?

    A roar o’ laughter washed o’er me. The nostalgic sound instantly ‘ad me jumpin’ t’me feet. Before I ‘ad the chance t’collect meself, two swoopin’ arms caught me in a hug that coulda killed. I hugged him right back, the blind bafoon! It whar no other than me scurvy dog, Cress! He let me go surprisin’ly fast, droppin’ me back t’me wobblin’ sea legs.

    “Eli, you crazy bastard! We thought you’d never come back!” His voice whar as boomin’ as evar. Because he whar blnd, I instantly knew the others whar here before they too wrapped themselves o’er me in hugs. Wee Cassius and Priscilla pressed themselves t’me, as cordial n’ happy as evar. They too backed away from me quickly, n’ I realized I must’ave made a huge fool o’ meself. No Cap’n shall evar abandon his crew, shall evar allow a pillage…yet it whar for a woman. I risked all o’ em for a woman.

    “Me buxom hearties,” I began, me voice raspy. “I sincerely lay me heart t’ye for me foolish action! Nevar again shall I surrender!” As I spoke, I took in thar injuries. Or…I took in thar lack o’ injuries. Curiously, the gash mark Priscilla ‘ad suffered at the mercy o’ the skeletal ship whar gone. Her beauteous black hair flowed o’er her back. It whar…too clean. Her scarf whar long gone. In fact, she looked clean as I’d evar seen her. A white gown actually covered her usually displayed form. Her skin whar pure pale, her hands dug into the clean o’ her gown. Damn! Where whar her cutlass?

    Cassius laughed innocently. “What do you mean, surrender?”

    “What in the hell? Why ye be prattlin’ like that, me powder monkey?” I snapped back at him.

    N’ really, what in the hell? Cassius too whar covered in a clean shirt. It wharn’t just a shirt – it whar a shirt befittin’ him! All buttoned up he whar, the usually shaggy curls o’ his hair actually trimmed for once. His rounded, huge gentle brown eyes took in the sight o’ me like he thought I whar crazy.

    “Are you ok, Elijah?” Priscilla asked next.

    She dare call me by me full first name?...I swiveled instantly. It whar like they whar closin’ in on me. Me heart drummed against me chest. What in the hell whar this?

    Cassius cleared his throat. “I’ve always spoken like this,” he shifted uncomfortably. “You used to, too. And then last year you started speaking like you had this…pirate accent or something of the sorts.”

    Cress laughed, a rumblin’ sound that vibrated the whole hull. “And you demanded that you be sent out to sea! You were looking for somebody named ‘Lizabeth’. We thought you meant your wife, Elizabeth.” ‘Nother rumblin’ laugh reverberated through his wide chest. “You took the makeshift boat off your dad’s ship and jumped out to sea. We always sent Minzen with you to return you…like today.” He grinned at the sight o’ the Umbreon slinking into the shadows.

    “Alright,” I began. Anger boiled up in me voice n’ I struggled t’keep it undar control. “Nice try, me hearties. Joke’s up.” I straightened me stance. When I did, I noticed that me pants whar nothin’ like they ‘ad been nary a few hours ago. These whar…too clean, too new. Me boots whar near knock offs o’ the actual leather that ‘ad been scratched t’nearly nothin’. Me breath hitched again; me gun whar no whar t’be seen.

    “Now tell me,” I almost roared, “What the hell be happenin’ aboard me ship?”

    They flinched, lookin’ at me like I whar crazy. Cassius cleared his throat again.

    “You mean your father’s, King Kanon’s, ship. We’re not even out to sea,” he added the latter part with a wee whisper.

    Turnin’ slowly, me heart sank. The S.S. Booty whar perched in a giant garage, as polished n’ new as it had been before I wrecked it out at sea. Me heart wrenched as I took in the reality o’ it. This whar none other than me father’s holdin. Me sweaty palms rubbed against me unscarred chest; what in the world whar happenin’ here?...I turned back t’face them. They, in thar white dressin’s fit for kings n’ queens, stared at me with concern. They thought I whar crazy…Priscilla held up her hand as it t’catch me if I whar t’run off again.

    Without ‘nother second betwixt us, I ran. I jumped offa the hull o’ the ship n’ onto the solid ground o’ the garage with a huge thud. Me sealegs whar still wobblin’, yet I ‘ad more pressin’ issues at hand. Everyone here whar crazy! N’…n’ none o’ this whar right. Where whar me ‘Lizabeth? What did they mean by me wife? I’d have no such thin’ – not unless her name whar –Liz-

    I thought no more as me hand pushed the grand door o’ the garage. N’ thar me memories whar, me childhood nestled in the expensive garnishin’s o’ a grand castle. I leaned o’er t’throw up: the sickly spotted vomit spilled o’er the lush red carpet, instantly drawin’ servants dressed in tux’s t’me side.

    “Prince Elijah! Are you ok?” They said in unision. Three ran o’er t’me, fancy rags already nestled in thar hands.

    Prince? Elijah? What olden, nightmarish scene whar this? I scrambled away from ‘em, managin’ t’fall again in the process. Me cheek brushed against the soft carpet n’ I cursed the loudest I could. Frustrated, I smashed me fist against the nearby wall – I needed t’prove t’meself that this whar some horrible nightmare – n’ yet nothin’ changed. In fact, I coulda swore I whar stronger than that. The wall ad’nt caved through with me punch. Instead, tiny cuts spill open at me knuckles. The pain tickled me hand n’ I shook it away as fast as I could.

    “Oh, is that my boy causing trouble again?”

    That voice.

    The chords belongin’ t’the filthiest man, the nonchalant tone used by Satan’s advocate ‘imself, the voice that told me it ‘ad murdered me mother in cold blood –

    Me father stood before me. The very worst part o’ it whar the fact that I saw meself in ‘him. The thick hair o’er his head that ‘ad grayed n’ been pulled back. The thick mustache suffocatin’ his face (I’d nevar pursue anythin’ more than stubble), the way he walked t’dominate people. A huge red cloak draped o’er him, the white fur linin’ it as real n’ royal as I ‘ad remembered it when I whar a boy. A grand scepter extended like another arm outta his hand. His glare met me eyes. N’ all the rage threatened t’spill outta me again.

    ”Find ‘Lizabeth, damnit!” I commanded t’meself before I threatened t’mutilate the man. With all me will, I pushed meself t’me feet again. Before the man could do anythin’, I whar runnin’ again, runnin’ where evar the exit t’this nightmare whar -

    “Quick! Seize my son before he runs off again; a king can’t afford to lose his prince!” he roared from behind me.

    N’ then I found meself weavin’ me way through hordes o’ servants. Well, damn! At least this whar somewhat similar t’what I usually did! Kickin’ n’ punchin men through the crowd at the castle, the sounds o’ battle filled the air…or whar it submission? Dreadfully, I realized that me kicks wharn’t as strong as they usually whar. These men whar holdin’ back. Me father meant what he said.

    I almost threw up with the thought o’ it as I neared a door. I must’ave ran here by instinct. The golden engravin’s whar as refined as they whar when I left this damned place. The grand door what at least fifteen feet tall, too big for a boy with even bigger dreams. With huffin’ breaths, I opened the door t’me room.

    I nearly shouted with rage. Lady Elizabeth lay on the bed. Her hair nearly consumed the bedpost thar whar as large as me cabin ’board the S.S. Booty. Thankfully, no longer naked whar she – she too whar doused in the fancin’ clothin’ everyone here seemed t’partake in. She laughed when she saw me, her feet swingin’ o’er the giant post.

    “Elijah, darling! I thought you’d never return. Remember, I’m here for you – always have been.” Her words still stuck t’me. I’d have t’shower if I wanted t’remove them all.

    “How the hell did ye get here, ye succubus?” I threatened with a low growl. I backed away immediately, the events o’ the other day (whar it a day ago? What time whar it exactly?) rushin’ back t’me. I glared at her hand, expectin’ the hook t’pop up, expectin’ the Octillery t’crawl o’er her at any second now.

    “Remember, Eli darling? We had married, and now the continents of Connylimn and Kanon are inseperable!” She too backed away from me as if I whar crazy. Her voice wharn’t as confident n’ she smiled t’sooth me.

    “Remember, don’t you? Your son is on the way.” She pat her belly.

    N’ I whar outta that castle as fast as me legs could take me. Another rollin’ wave o’bile crashed o’er me; what in the hell whar happenin?! I ‘ad spilled onto the street o’ me hometown by usin’ an exit t’the castle even I whar surprised I remembared. The searin’ sun blinded me as I traversed the bustlin’ street o’ me hometown. Where whar I goin’? Whar could I go? What were happenin’, n’ where whar me ‘Lizabeth?

    Nothin’ made sense. After hours o’ wanderin’ through streets, I settled down onto a beach I often visited as a wee lad. The silky texture o’ the sand caressed me like I coulda sank into its depths. I wished it. Like a pathetic lad, I brought me tired knees t’me chest n’ looked o’er the ocean. Think Eli, think! Nothin’ whar right here, that much whar true. Not a soul knew ‘bout me ‘Lizabeth, me closest crew mates whar me servants o’ some kind, n’ me father welcomed me home like I’d nevar left….’ad I evar left at all?

    O’ course I ‘ad! I slapped me face. ”Get it togethar, lad. Yer lass be out thar waitin’ for ye somewhar,” I thought t’meself. But..whar it true? They saw me like a crazy man o’ sorts. Me sweet ‘Lizabeth nevar existed in this world. I stared into the foamy horizon that blended the infinite sea with the endless sky. Sea n’ sky…they whar two. Two worlds, two halves, two entities. I needed me sea. I needed me ‘Lizabeth.

    An abornormal bump against the sea caught me wanderin’ eye. I immediately thought o’ the Gyarados attack, o’ sweet ‘Lizabeth yellin’ out the message from the Crow’s Nest. I tucked the memory back into me head, focusin’ on the image before me. The bump grew into a shimmerin’ body. Then thar whar scales, distinguishable from here. Fins extended two a slim neck, a smile pasted on the majestic creature’s face. It thinned as it approached. Me heart hoped for it.

    “Lady Minesti?” I said to meself as it continued t’swim right for me. I whar the only one on the beach, so I felt no shame as I ran up t’the Vaporeon, me arms extended.

    “Vapoooo!” it bubbled as it jumped into me. Aye, it ‘ad t’be Minesti, me lady’s Vaporeon! It recognized me n’ I it. Finally, here whar a friendly presence in this faceless world! The sliminess o’ Minesti rubbed against me grateful t’see me. Gone whar its pirate hat n’ rings – but still, thar whar no erasin’ that face o’ hope.

    “Whar she be, lass?” I almost shouted t’the creature. Me body shook with the idea o’ findin’ me ‘Lizabeth, o’ findin’ a way out. I fisted me arms up n’ down in anticipation. Finally, somethin’ made sense! Minesti meowed; she too felt the same. If so, me ‘Lizabeth whar still alive n’ well! We stood here togethar, on the cusp o’ two differnet realities. This whar the one where me beauty no longer existed. Like the legends proposed, the ancient receiver o’ the gift o’ the Queen could sacrifice herself for one other…in return for her own life. I trembled as I understood for once. This whar the world whar me beauty no longer existed.

    I nevar wanted t’live in that world.

    Whar she still livin’, then?...If Minesti recognized me, that whar one clue. She might still be alive n’ well. I dare not waste me time on the specifics o’ it. We would squander not ‘nother moment in findin’ her!

    “Away, Minesti!” I commanded t’the beast before sprintin’ towards the sea.

    I ‘ad a plan. It whar called findin’ ‘Lizabeth n’ getting the hell outta here.

    Minesti reached the roarin’ waters before me. She dived into the frigid water, me right after her. I held onto the creature’s shoulders as she began propellin’ in the freezin’ water that shot a thousand needles o’er me. I chucked as me teeth chattered; ‘Lizabeth dear, we whar on our way!

    The shore sailed away from us. Gone whar that other world. Gone whar the strangers I nevar knew nor wanted t’know. I grinned at the thought o’ it as Minesti leaned her wee head back. She held out somethin’ towards me from her mouth. Curiously, I encased the object in me palm. I instantly knew whar it whar before the wee thing meowed. Based on the smoothness o’ it, the tranquilizin’ feelin’ n’ the impossible way it captured the light, it whar none other than me lady’s Milotic scale.

    I held it up t’lips n’ sighed o’er it.

    ”’Lizabeth, do ye see me? I be on me way towards ye. I love ye.”

    CHAPTER IV: BOOTY


    Elizabeth

    I imagined me great ancestors laughin’ at me predicament from faraway, a jolly good time all ‘round! ”Aye, let’s make it so that she can almost sacrifice herself, but not really!”

    “Aye, great great great grandmother Elizabeth! N’ throw lots o’ pain on it for kinkiness!”

    “Can’t forget the random visions o’ her beloved!”


    Laughin’ at me own dry sarcasm sent more pain rollin’ all o’er me body. The air whar cool in this cave, yet the sweat beadin’ me body made me frigid. Me skin seemed paled even t’me. I whar sensitive t’everythin’ in here. The dim light from the lip o’ the cave burned me eyes. Me skin seemed t’crawl in the draftness, the cold fog creepin’ o’er me skin. I lay on the seabed within the cave. It whar too soft. Whar it the fact that I’d been lyin’ here for so long?

    Me thoughts returned t’the past events that consumed me memory in these past few…days? Had it been days, hours, or eternities? I ‘ad not the slightest calculation o’ it; aye, me most clear memory whar o’ divin’ off the skelton ship belongin’ t’that horrid dame, Lady Elizabeth. Thar whar a piercin’ cold, and an even colder entity in me arms: me dead Eli.

    I shoulda died. Aye, that woulda been the natural course. That woulda been what I wished against me dead Eli. Yet that whar not the course me future took. Instead, I swam. With the greatest o’ inhuman strength, I swam t’this wee cove. I remembar the tears that streamed o’er me face n’ onto me dead Eli…and then the amazin’ miracle transpired.

    He opened his eyes.

    N’ I closed mine.

    I ‘ad no idea what it meant. Lady Elizabeth ‘ad spouted some lie t’me ‘bout the restorative powers o’ the princess. The princes could apparently do too many things – she whar like the Swiss Army knife o’ the seven seas! But t’actually resurrect somebody…me mind still thrummed with the idea o’ it. If I ‘ad saved me Eli though, whar ‘ad he gone? ‘Ah he truthfully left me t’die? I felt a horrid feelin’ that paralyzed me body more n’ more each day. Me lungs filled with cement and me heart threatened t’cease beatin’ at any moment. Aye, I breathed quickly through me mouth, the fever set in, me cheeks too rosy for comfort…

    Thar whar too much time betwixt me erratic sleepin’ n’ the rise o’ the sun peekin’ through the fog. Thar whar nothin’ t’do save for suffer. That whar what me dramatic self thought. Me rational self reached into me corset t’examine me few belongin’s left. I ‘ad seen better days but nay, Eli’s eyeglass whar as sparklin’ as the day he gave it t’me. I played with the indistinguishable map next, foldin’ it in n’ out a hundred times o’er t’quell the agonizin’ feelin’. The creases had grown so pliant that they whar soft as tissee.

    The tantrum I threw when I realized I didn’t have me scale whar embarrasin’. I’d nearly stripped in me poor state, shakin’ out me head with me slender fingars. When nothin’ popped out, I sank back t’me spot. Fool me, I ‘ad lost it, me most precious belongin’…

    Yet thar whar a lad n’ lass lost t’me that whar greater than any loss. I ‘ad lost me Minesti those forevers ago when we whar first taken o’er by Lady Elizabeth. N’ now me Eli…the crew, me life, it whar slowly slippin’ into the forgivin’ sand beneath me…

    Often, I wondared whar this soft sand seeped te. This wee cove whar the only thing in me sight when I whar swimmin’. Yet it seemed…unnatural. At any moment I felt like I coulda been dragged down from the sand below. The low walls o’ the cove coulda easily caved in on me, but it wouldn’t matter. Aye, it whar like me own burial out at sea. I almost felt honored.

    The pain came o’er me again. Could I die here now? It seemed like the only natural way – if not by starvation, then by fever. Gigglin’, I discarded the idea o’ scurvy at sea. That whar no way pirates died, n’ I knew ‘cause I whar a pirate. I ‘ad become a marauder o’ me own. I ‘ad defied the fates o’ me ancestors. I whar no princess – I whar only ‘Lizabeth, the farmer with no full name n’ no parents. I ‘ad survived a Gyarados attack n’ lived through a pillage. I ‘ad met the baddest sailors on this side o’ the galaxy. N’ I whar dyin’ at sea after protectin’ me cap’n.

    Aye, it seemed like the good death t’me!

    Delibarately, me eyelids began closin’ again. Maybe that whar another ability o’ the princess – the ability t’will death upon herself. I dare not mind. Somewhar deep in me, I understood that me Eli whar safe, wherevar he be. If he whar safe, thar whar no doubt the crew be safe…thar whar no doubt me Minesti be safe. That whar all the conclusion I needed.

    I closed me eyes again. This time, the fog would take me away. A few more breaths n’ I would be done. Just a few more…

    Eli

    ”Lizabeth, don’t ye dare give up on me!”

    Elizabeth

    I stiffened. Whar that?...It couldn’t ‘ave been him. Nay, I whar simply imaginin’ things. It would not’ave been the first time I imagined Eli’s voice while in this cove. The brown walls whar so small that even me thoughts coulda bounced right back t’me. It whar just me thoughts….just me thoughts….

    But whar if it whar the opposite? I needed t’stop meself from self-destructin’ through these ideas. It whar not ethical for a dyin’ girl o’ my age!

    Eli

    ”Lass, stop yer thoughts right this moment!”

    Elizabeth

    “Eli?” I asked t’the thin air ‘round me. Me voice whar beyond raspy. I cleared me voice. How long ‘ad it been since I’d spoken? How long ‘ad I been sleepin’ in this cove?...I sniffed n’ then sputtered at me own action. Aye, they whar all sheer signs o’ my craziness. I sifted back into the sand without another word. Nay, me Eli wharn’t here. Me Eli whar safe and sound, aye, but he wharn’t here! I whar dyin’, that whar the only truth.

    “Ye silly lass. I be here, n’ I never plan t’leave ye again!” his voice boomed from somewhar in me heart. Me eyes watered at the crispness o’ his tone that me mind created. It sounded exactly like him, no matter the amount o’ time that passed betwixt us. The mind whar a horrible tool. The sound o’ the waves from outside crashed irregularly. Me body perked up hopefully. Whar it really?...

    “Aye, damnit!” he roared with a chuckle.

    N’ thar he whar, me Eli, n’ he nevar meant t’leave me here t’die-!

    Eli

    -N thar she whar, me ‘Lizabeth, alive n’ survivin’ n’ I’m sorry me princess-

    Elizabeth

    “Eli! Be ye really her-!” When he dived onto the sand t’hug me, me words whar completely cut off. He nuzzled into me in a full bodied hug, his huge body coverin’ every inch o’ mine like he whar makin’ up for somethin’ he missed. He whar stronger than I remembered too – the muscles o’er his arms n’ chest more prominent than I’d evar seen. He huffed slightly o’er me – had he been swimmin’? His body whar soaked, so warm yet frozen, so right! N’ then thar whar his cuts n’ bruises, dried yet permanent reminders o’ our journey togethar. Our journey togethar…

    “The journey’s nevar endin’,” he growled into me ear. I murmured somethin’ sweet into his ear – his real ear, he whar really here! I whimpered slightly as the thud o’ his gun rubbed against me. Instantly, he threw his gun belt off – n’ mine too in the process – so nothin’ could exist betxist us ‘cept these feelin’s o’ love. Security n’ peace n’ happiness n’ belongin’! N’ thar he whar, me Eli!

    “Vapooo!” came the bubblin’ call I’d embedded into me heart. Automatically, I twirled me head towards the source – me Minesti! Eli chuckled as he leaned slightly o’er so me lady could’ave bounced into me arms – n’ bounced she did! The watar gleamin’ off her skin mixed with me tears as I hugged her t’me form. N’ thar we all whar, me Eli, me Minesti, so safe n’ sound…I held both o’ em tight, promisin’ t’nevar let go! I’d nevar let go, despite me breaths comin’ in shorter n’ shorter episodes…

    Eli nuzzled his neck into mine n’ pulled me close. “Yer not dyin’,” he commanded. Yet still, his voice whar deep n’ dry. He must’ave known the truth better than I did. For a moment, I worried about me looks; nay, thar whar nothin’ I could do ‘bout it now. He sensed me n’ moved t’embrace me again.

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he pleaded endlessely into me. I embraced him back: how could I evar be mad at ‘im?

    “So this thought-hearin’ business! That must be a radical side effect, huh me Cap’n?” I joked with a giggle t’lighten ‘im. I ‘ad seen stranger things while travelin’ this cursed seas. Eli ‘ad taught me o’ a world o’ sea beasts, o’ me own powers that could find the greatest booty n’ revive people t’boot. Hearin’ each others’ thoughts whar somethin’ I’d add t’me resume in Davy Jones Locker!

    “Vapoo-vapoo!” Minesti murmured again. Did me ability only work for humans?...I ‘ad not the slightest idea what Minesti whar sayin’. Maybe it worked only for me Eli. The sensations in his thoughts wrapped ‘round me like a thousand white bandages. I saw meself from his eyes, grim n’ gastly, n’ then the thought o’ me wrapped ‘round him –

    “I be thankful for it.” He blushed but continued t’stare me right in the eye. A scurvy dog, me Cap’n whar! “If not for yer thoughts, I woulda never known whar t’swim t’find ye. The closer I got, the louder yer thoughts became until I whar so sure it whar you, I ‘ad t’swim faster.”

    Me eyes fell onto the Milotic scale nestlin’ in his gun’s satchel. I whar right; me Eli whar safe all along. Me belongings whar safe with him. Me Minesti whar safe with him. They would all continue t’be protected by the man.

    “Yer not dyin’, silly lass,” he whispered. Again he moved t’embrace me – far rougher t’make me laugh – n’ then somethin’ even more amazin’ transpired betwixt us n’ this crazed sea!

    We sunk into the sand!

    Eli

    No matter how hard I play it cool, me lass whar sick. She whar deathly marked by her pale complexion. Her wondrous eyes briefly lit up when she set her eyes upon me but slowly dimmed after that. Her body ‘ad gotten thinner – damn me for not gettin’ here sooner, she coulda starved t’death – n’ she struggled underneath me. She whar impossibly fragile undar me, like I coulda crushed her if I meant te.

    Yet still her thoughts whar so bright. She whar a fighter till the day she –

    It dare not end here. I steeled me thoughts, perfectly understandin’ that her thoughts whar as open t’mine as mine hers. N’ I spilled everythin’ out onto the shiny surface o’ her soul: how she belonged with me, how she needed t’survive, how I imagined we looked together, how Minesti n’ I took turns propellin’ the either towards her voice.

    When the sand suddenly caved in, I reacted instinctively. I turned me body so I whar undar her; I wharn’t sure how much shock she could take. Plus, the thought o’ her gettin’ hurt with me ‘round – it revolted me t’think o’. Minesti whar on top o’ her lil belly n’ we landed just like that into our fates.

    We landed with a low splash. A quick pang o’ pain rippled up me backside but me thoughts whar immediately on me dame. I caressed her face, makin’ sure she whar ok. Her thoughts flew at me in all sortsa directions. Nay, she whar not focused nor could she understand the source o’ her own distress. Her breath continued t’catch in uneven spurts. I tucked her forehead t’me neck, rockin’ her thar. Our new location be damned. She mattered more.

    Feelin’ guilty, she finally realized we ‘ad fallen. She turned her head slowly n’ I saw everythin’ she saw.

    We be sittin’ in a giant underwater lake. Giant reefs o’ coral stretched from the lake in a rainbow’s display o’ colors. A single shaft o’ light poured into the cavern from whar we ‘ad fallen, yet the lake itself seemed t’glow with light. The water whar clear t’the touch; a part o’ me felt wretched for disturbin’ whatevar sacred water we sat upon. A refreshin’ scent wafted towards us from all sides. I inhaled deeply; n’ in doin’ so, I could taste the fresh scent on me tongue.

    “Eli! O’er thar – dare it be what we’ve scoured the seas for?...” Her eyes lit up like moons.

    I followed her gaze. At the end o’ the lake whar the light source. An enormous coral structure reachin’ up t’the ceilin’ held a treasure in it. A true treasure it whar: an enormous, rusted ruby chest adorned by diamonds. It ‘ad a seabed o’ its own t’lay upon. Many lifetimes ago, this woulda been what I scoured the seas for. It whar bigger than any booty we ‘ad acquired n’ I knew it coulda been none other than the infamous blood diamond. In ‘nother soul, I woulda been rearin’ t’open it n’ acquire the powar that whar rightfully mine.

    ‘Lizabeth coughed lightly in me arms. The sound sliced through me soul. Pullin’ her closer, I noticed the waverin’ look in her eyes. Panic rushed through me n’ I whar lowerin’ her in the water, hopin’ n’ prayin’ n’ caressin’ her face, willin’ her t’be ok –

    Elizabeth

    It whar gettin’ harder n’ harder t’focus. Like I whar lookin’ at the whole room through a dusty eyeglass, me vision heaved in n’ out. Some type o’ water o’ercame me. I welcomed the refreshin’ splash with a shivar. I whar almost too numb t’feel it; whar really made me shivar whar Eli’s thoughts. They came at me from all directions, wrappin’ ‘round me n’ caressin’ me n’ for a moment I couldn’t distinguish betwixt his actual hand on me face and his thoughts. What an odd power for a king n’ queen!

    The look in his eye reeled me back t’reality. Thar whar so much love in it. N’ I realized the gravity that kept us connected this whole time. Briefly, I wondared o’er the entirety o’ our journey. It whar like me life flashin’ before me eyes –

    “Well me Cap’n,” I began, me voice luckily stronger than I felt, “Go claim yer treasure!” I nudged at his arms carryin’ me. He nevar budged.

    “But yer already here.”

    O’!

    Gettin’ up on me own, I pushed past rock hard muscles. If I whar dyin’, I at least wanted t’behold the treasure we ‘ad been scourin’ the seas for this whole time. It woulda comforted me Eli too, which whar what I wanted! He watched me slowly, pressin’ his hand o’er mine n’ takin’ me arm with his other arm. N’ like that, we walked on water t’the infamous booty.

    A rusted keyhole the size o’ me fist whar eye level t’us. I marveled at the size o’ the thing, at the size o’ the key which would 'ave t'fit in the thing. Me Eli, hearin’ me thoughts, wasted no time in gettin’ the rusted chest open. Briefly (n’ with a sad twinge in his eye), he let go o’ me hand t’try and pry the thing open. When it nevar opened, he gave a noncommittal shrug n’ went back t’holdin’ me.

    “Avast, yer goin’ t’give up?” I asked ‘im with me mouth wide open.

    “Booty diffars from the way ye might’ve seen it growin’ up. Think me lass: what would a fool like me evar be doin’ with a key?” He chuckled, squeezin’ me hand harder. “O’ all me scourages, this be the first time I’ve evar witnessed a keyhole t’a chest.”

    He chuckled again n’ I joined him, our laughter bouncin’ off the high walls. N’ for a moment I whar content with just that. We coulda stayed down here forevar, just us…

    N’ then me trusty Minesti padded up t’us! With a twitch, she handed me the scale I be missin’ in me fever. Surprised, I reached down t’envlop me lady in a hug; I knew I could count on her! The scale shimmied against the reflectin’ water. For a crazy moment, I regarded the strangely sized keyhole nary before us. Me hand tremblin’, I forced the scale into the chest.

    Nothin’ coulda prepared for what happened next. The mighty chest opened on its own, grindin’ on its rusted hinges. From it, a golden light filled the room like sunshine ‘ad been condensed in the thing. From the golden light, a flash o’ beige n’ red filled our senses; I ‘ad seen this before! Me heart quickened, filled with the ideas o’ me dreams! Eli’s thoughts whar a swirled mass o’ caution n’ worry. He gripped the small o’ me back, prepared t’move us anyway from whatever whar movin’ within its diamond casing.

    N’ somethin’ whar movin’ alright, twistin’ n’ climbin’ n’ stretchin’. A serpentine body twirled outta the chest, a whisp o’ beige n’ red, so beauteous n’ gentle that tears filled me eyes. Two long eyelashes cascaded down the mighty creature’s impossibly long frame. Its eyes whar invaluable gems o’ obsidian. N’ then thar whar the matter o’ its tail, an antique fan that left the latter part o’ its long body adorned with what looked like diamonds. It stretched above us, easily three times as long as me Cap’n ship, more than ten times gentle than any creature I’d evar seen.

    Fixed on the mighty horn o’ the creature’s head whar a crown. A drop o’ sunshine in this room it whar. The elegant crownin’ piece held a diamond in its hilt the size o’ me heart.

    The voice from me dreams began speakin’ t’me. Instantly, I knew that it whar none other than the blood diamond. Yet I knew somewhar deep in me heart that the crown belonged te…

    The mighty beast curls her head in a ribbon o’ legend, gently causin’ the crown t’fall in Eli’s open hands. I move t’wrap me arms ‘round his waist. I nuzzle me nose into his neck, whisperin’ that she loved him. My fearless Cap’n cries, the gentle tears streamin’ down his scars as he presses the lost crown o’ his passed mother against his breast.

    ???

    My son. My pride, my joy.

    I doth watched ye every day from above, my precious boy. My heart went with ye on every sail, every pillage; I prayed to our great gods that ye make the right decisions in the life that man hath thrust upon ye. My heart swelled when I witnessed your blessed fighting skills; I wished nothing but the best for ye when it was clear ye belonged on the throne.

    Do ye remember when I bequeathed the eyeglass upon ye? I knew then, my boy, that ye were destined for a greatness only listed in legends. Songs would be sung about your greatness; elder and youth would look to you in their times of need and success. Your reign in our kingdom promised to bring the happiest time to your people.

    My heart wrenched over the atrocities committed by ye father. I regret up here, every day, my inability to stop his madness. I hid the blood diamond aboard this sea goddess, unable to bear the thought of what may happen if his wretched fingers curl around the power of the diamond. I lay it into, my boy, the crown that I died with when your father hath murdered me. I pray ye not to reflect on the matter. Instead, I hope ye find the will to place the crown upon the bonny head of the one you hath chosen.

    Oh son, Lizabeth is your true diamond. Ye know that quintessential truth that aches in your heart; I entrust ye with her protection. She is to be your Queen one day, my son, and I would have none other than her for ye.

    So, I bequeath upon you the only gift I am able to leave behind. Take my crown and lay it upon her head as you’ll soon lay her upon the throne; and drink, my son, drink in ye victory when you overcome the madman. Ride this legendary Goddess the Gods have allowed me to influence; ride, my boy, and take all that is rightfully yours.

    Ye doth swell pride in my breast, my boy. I love ye.

    Eli

    Thar whar no mistakin’ it. The glitterin’ gems. The glistenin’ shine. The fierce points that easily commanded the attention o’ thousands. It whar an image I dare not forget. For minutes, I sat thar, unable t’grasp the sight o’ it. Me body shook as I recalled the thousands o’ images o’ a mother I ‘ad nevar ‘ad the fortune o’ truly knowin’ outside out the stories passed onto me. Outside the bloody voice o’ me father tellin’ me he slaid me mother like it whar an ordinary occurrence. I sat thar n’ reveled in the belongin’ o’ her, vaguely understandin’ that the rumor o’ the almighty blood diamond whar a rumor crafted by me own mother for me n’ me only. She knew that I needed me ‘Lizabeth t’finally unlock it. Pressin’ the crown t’me chest made me feel like she whar thar again, presin’ me wee head into the comfort o’ her soft stomach.

    When I looked down, I realized that me imagination whar part reality. ‘Lizabeth ‘ad her arms ‘round me, comfortin’ me like no one ‘ad in eternities. I woulda allowed that moment t’last forevar. Just me, me ‘Lizabeth, n’ me mother n’ her serpent wrapped ‘round each othar in the sanctuary o’ the lake we stood on. It whar not so.

    ‘Lizabeth’s thoughts whar deathly fadin’. Her mind spoke in spurts, wild, panicked moments n’ then a bare nothin’. Then thar whar a wee rumble o’ life in ‘em. If the tears whar for her or me mother, I dare not wondar. Her time whar runnin’ out. Me gentle thoughts from earlier blurred t’an angry stormcloud o’ fury. Whar whar I t’do? At one time, I ‘ad been a dog who woulda left her t’die among filthy pirates. N’ now I whar willin’ t’give me life, me ship, me booty for her –

    “Avast me serpent,” I commanded t’me mother’s Milotic, “Can ye do somethin’?”

    The beast looked upon me, puzzled. Holdin’ ‘Lizabeth in me arms, I regarded the majestic beast as it curled ‘round ‘Lizabeth’s figure n’ curled out again like a wisp o’ steam. Nothin’ ‘ad changed. The beast purred, a deep n’ sorrowful note that drifted sadly through the lake.

    “Eli?” Her voice whar understandin’. N’ I dare not understand it – she knew she whar dyin’, she whar lookin’ death right in the face – n’ she whar usin’ up all her energy by speakin’ t’me. I held her closer, not willin’ t’hear what would happen next. Not willin’ t’let time move on.

    “I love ye,” I told her. Even so, I whar rakin’ me brain for somethin’, anythin’ t’save me ‘Lizabeth. I ‘ad not the slightest idea o’ where we whar, medicine not belongin’ on me ship, no idea o’ whar me crew whar or me Minzen or anythin’ that coulda helped –

    “I love ye too,” she softly whispered against me skin. N’ her thoughts deceascendo t’an empty nothin’.

    I ‘ad let the crown hit the floor. Now I whar strugglin’ t’pick it up, t’see if the damned thing could do anythin’ for me, wondarin’ if me mother whar with me –

    Her thoughts nevar returned this time.

    N’ I whar screamin’, me cries drownin’ the barren cave. I ‘ad pried the diamond outta me mother’s crown. An angar n’ powar flooded into me like an electrical stream. I fixed me gaze on the closin’ eyes o’ Lizabeth as the diamond seeped into me palm. N’ I fixed me hand o’er her heart, betwixt me lady n’ eminent death -

    Her thoughts appeared in a hazy fog o’ random phrases. N’ then thar whar her heartbeast again, scynchronizin’ t’the relieved thumps o’ mine.

    “Umbra!”

    The sound o’ paws paddin’ gently o’er nary distract me from the slowly openin’ eyes o’ me lady. The sleepin’ queen ‘ad finally awoken. N’ then thar whar the jubilant cries o’ me crewmates from ‘nother life. Their happy cries poured into a part o’ me heart that ‘ad been locked away evar since this whole ordeal. The anxious slippin’ o’ feet o’er the lake came next, the boisterous laugh o’ me Cress n’ the shy giggle o’ Cassius. Somewhar me mind registered the drunken greetin’ o’ Priscilla as they all rushed towards us in a blind fit o’ love. N’ thar they whar before us.

    Elizabeth

    Me gaze fell upon Minesti n’ Minzen. Cupped in the safety o’ the Crow’s Nest, they curled together, as dark n’ comfortin’ as rain meltin’ into the night. The sunshine fell onto their little world; a refreshin’ breeze ruffled their tails as they slept against one ‘nother. Minesti purred gently in her sleep against her mate. I giggled as I beheld the sight o’ ‘em. I looked forward t’the Eevee pups runnin’ round betwixt our sealegs!

    Not a soul knew they whar entitled t’the same king n’ queen powars o’ thar masters. After a week o’ dreamin’ away in the safety o’ the S.S. Booty, me Eli told me o’ the brave efforts o’ both me Minesti n’ Minzen as they connected thar minds t’each othar. Me Minesti ‘ad found me, n’ then reported the sight t’Minzen, who clevarly alerted the whole crew t’our scenario. I briefly wandared if I may teleport too! Regardless, the two pups ‘ad saved our souls!

    The mighty creature Milotic hummed a sweet tune that uplifted the whole crew. She curled up against me side in a warm n’ welcome nudge, playfully nuzzlin’ the crown atop me head. Takin’ in the holy sight o’ her, I again thanked her for her presence. Since she ‘ad joined us, we ‘ad not the slightest attack o’ a sea demon Gyarados; nay, her mere presence qualmed the seven seas. I knew she whar here t’see us safely back t’port, n’ yet I wished she nevar had t’go. The seas would become a much safer place for pirates n’ people abroad!

    Sittin’ in the oberservin’ position I ‘ad done so many moons ago, I watched me crew. Thar whar Priscilla, in all her exposed n’ hyper beauty, playfully twirlin’ round her cutlass t’none in particular. Her left arm lay limp in a makeshift cast I ‘ad crafted meself out o’ floorboards n’ some o’ me beddin’, broken, aye, yet nevar defeated! I admired her! I ‘ad thanked her so passionately after our last encounter that she forced me t’enjoy a shot (or many a shot!) with her. N’ thar she whar, as pleasin’ n’ kind as evar t’me.

    Cress n’ Cassius whar off in thar own world again. Cassius whar directin’ his jolly mate, leadin’ him gently by the arm t’the grand chunk o’ metal that lay at the hull. In mere hours, the anchor would be tossed into the frozen watars o’ me Eli’s home shores. Yet here they whar, as cute n’ strong as evar. Many spins o’ the grand clock ‘ad passed, yet they whar an entity that would nevar change!

    Another entity o’ercame me. A strong stream o’ plans, phrases n’ resolution, surged through me as me Eli approached. Surprisin’ly, the kind exchange o’ thoughts wharn’t confusin’ or worrisome – nay, t’me maties I would tell that it whar like a constant comfort, a perpetual light illuminatin’ a dark sea. Except me Eli wharn’t a light – he whar a force! He stood atop the mast, his scars worn like battle badges, his eye locked onto all o’ us.

    “Me hearties!” he commanded without havin’ t’yell. Like a flash o’ lightnin’, we all scurried o’er t’him. Even Milotic followed, unable t’resist his inherent powar!

    The world stopped, waitin’ for his ordars. “Now,” he began slowly. “Ye knew I have no words o’ inspiration for ye.”

    Smiles passed ‘round us in a circle. “Damn, I’d be worried if ye did!” Cress shouted with a grin plastered o’er his strong face. Cassius shushed ‘im with a playful nudge o’ his elbow. Priscilla whispared somethin’ t’the both o’ em, motionin’ t’me n’ gigglin’.

    “Aye, just do what yer told n’ knock the bastard offa his throne. Do it for…” he paused dramatically, summonin’ the next two words with a reverance I ‘ad nevar known from him!

    “Yer queen.”

    N’ with that, me crewmates bowed t’me.

    Eli

    They say that a dead man feels the approach o’ his endin’. Whar the feelin’ from me father reverbeartin’ through me, then, because we shared the same blood? I ravished in the thought o’ slatherin’ it all ‘cross the throne he nevar deserved. The powar o’ the blood diamond gently pulsed through me like ‘nother heart; the heart o’ me mother, the heart o’ me Elizabeth pumpin’ through me like a constant adrenaline. This whar it; nay, this whar just the beginning for us.

    The ghastly image o’ me hometown rolled into view. The greedy towers o’ the castle reached for a heaven I’d nevar allow ‘em t’see. From here, I imagined the throne room o’ me father, me own room surrounded by the thin fog that tried t’protect the buildin’ from our onslaught. The room whar I planned me escape from home, the room from ‘nother life whar Lady Elizabeth ‘ad told me o’ the inevitable in a world whar me ‘Lizabeth nevar existed. I brushed the thoughts off. Nay, they whar nothin’ now!

    T’the side, Cress easily pushed the giant anchor into the soft sea bed below. The gentle stop o’ me ship only fueled me feelin’s more.

    More o’ the town came into view. Thar whar the bustlin’ streets, the people o’ the Royal Court decked t’their noses in the white garments, the alarm from above as the sentinels saw us approachin’. Thar whar nothin’ they could do now.

    I nevar broke a sweat thinkin’ ‘bout it. The light fog from above cloaked us, urgin’ us onward. The breeze ‘ad stopped; the sun ‘ad nary set, washin’ the continent in oranges n’ pinks. The smell o’ civility returned t’me, the scent o’ fresh food n’ flowers that much more enticin’ t’our victory. Steppin’ forward on our hull, I narrowed me eye.

    Thar whar people on port awaitin’ us. I saw the impossibly vivid red locks o’ a serpent first. It whar none othar than Lady Elizabeth; nay, the thought nevar even surprised me. She whar workin’ for me father the whole time, apparently as surprised as I whar t’know the true heir t’the continent o’ Connylimn. With no wondar, thar whar King Kanon stsndin’ next t’her, as rich n’ royal as he whar in me othar life.

    “He picked a nice day t’die!” Priscilla shouted from her spot. I nodded internally as Cress high-fived her. Aye, he did indeed!

    For, it whar not ‘im that made it so nice. It whar the scores o’ army men standin’ betwixt ‘im n’ us, an army t’combat a crew o’ five mates, two pups n’ a mighty beast o’ the heavens.

    I ‘ad not the slightest doubt in me crew.

    “My son.” He mouthed the words. A voracious angar whar apparent in his eyes. It whar the angar o’ our victory, o’ the thought o’ me with the blood diamond, o’ the vision o’ me n’ the queen that would overtake his throne.

    “Ole’ bastard,” I mouthed right back t’him.

    Priscilla glided her cutlass outta her sheath like water, a crazy grin o’er her face; t’me left, Cress rorared a crude greetin’ with excitement. Wee Cassius next t’him prepared his daggars with a legendary haste unknown t’these pour souls. Minzen n’ Minesti whar far away, prepared t’intervene togethar in thar own ways. The mighty beast Milotic roared a belligerent war cry that reverberated through the heart o’ the ghastly town.

    N’ me ‘Lizabeth whar behind me, backin’ me like I would her, now n’ forever. Her gentle finger hovered o’er the triggar o’ me gun as mine also did. She would nevar 'ave t'use it; nay, we would protect our queen till the day we die!

    We leaped offa the ship n’ into the fray that held our fates.

    FINAL CHAPTER: SETTIN’ SAIL


    Elizabeth

    Three years ‘round the hull passed like nothin’! After deafeatin’ King Kanon, Lady Elizabeth n’ thar dastardly crew, thar came the moment o’ Eli’s crownin’. Me heart swelled with pride! N’ thar he whar, me Eli addressin’ a thousand o’ people at a time, so comfortable in his worn pirate clothes in the face o’ rich n’ humble. The sun lit his face as if with divine intent; his gun at his side reminded everyone o’ who he whar! His speech whar nary a few words ‘bout the state o’ his continent: he would ‘ave nothin’ longer.

    Naturally, me crownin’ came next. The entire continent o’ Connylimn whar gifted t’me. Spins o’ weeks whirled by in a mess o’ paperwork n’ plannin’. It wharn’t interestin’ t’me; thar whar jewels n’ boundless gifts presented t’me, all o’ which I denied. As long as me home n’ people whar safe n’ happy, I too whar happy!

    Quickly after me crownin’, I forged an alliance with Eli’s home continent. Betwixt the hundreds o’ hardworkers n’ professional army run by none other than our Priscilla, people whar happier than evar before. Attacks on our joint home fell t’a mere nothin’; nay, not with the new kings o’ both the continents!

    I need not Eli’s thoughts t’understand his grievance ‘bout the thought o’ bein’ king. O’ bein’ trapped in a castle like he whar many reels ‘round the hull ago, o’ forcin’ his future offspring into a life he nevar wanted. I knew what he wanted n’ whar he wanted t’go!

    “Aye, thank ye, King Cress,” Eli said happily, pattin’ the big boy on the shoulder. Although he bequeathed him the position o' king, the same brown blindfold whar pressed lazily t’his eyes. The same grin shone ‘cross his face, causin’ us t’grin too! “N’ King Cassius,” he added, huggin’ the frame o’ the small boy.

    “Aye, aye now! Both o’ ye return home every now n’ then! I want t’see me future god-children before they grow thar sealegs!” Priscilla added, all smiles n’ sunshine. A highly-esteemed general outfit outlined her beautiful frame, her body still somehow exposed among the world-class awards knitted into the respectable fabric.

    “N’ name ‘em after me!” Cress added with a laugh. I shifted t’the side, mortified with thar suggestions!

    “A child named after each o’ ye,” Eli responded back. They laughed again, fillin’ the milky night with the possibilities o’ a beautous future.

    We kissed n’ hugged, the quiet goodbye betwixt each othar n’ a future none knew. Cress’ mighty arms grabbin’ us in a hug like he’d nevar let go, Priscilla’s already drunken slur, Cassius’ kind eyes regardin’ me n’ me Eli. I committed these sights n’ sounds t’me memory.

    N’ then we whar settin’ sail once more. It whar like the night I first left me old life with me Eli in tow, the faces o’ a boisterous crew before me. The S.S. Booty glided soundlessely in the watar, the sea as calm as the night sky that smiled on us from above. The clouds huggin’ the shy moon reflected only a bit o’ the gentle light that bid us farewell t’this world, t’our past troubles. In a matter o’ minutes, nothin’ whar visible but the endless expanse o’ the ocean.

    The Jellicent, enormous pink n’ blue ghosts in the water, whar in season. They illuminated the tranquil watar like glowin’ flowers. Minesti n’ Minzen purred at the sight o’ it, nestled away in the Crow’s Nest again. Milotic rubbed her head against both o’ us before slippin’ silently away t’the water. It whar time for the beast t’craft her own future, t’qualm the seas n’ find a mate o’ her own. It whar a good omen. It whar Eli’s mother in approval o’ the future we ‘ad set for ourselves; she need no longer watch in worry o’er her son’s future. Her son’s future whar with me now.

    Eli gripped me hand firmly as we lay next t’each othar on deck. We stared into the infinity sprawled above us, adorned with the jewels o’ the stars. His warm thoughts wrapped ‘round mine with the possibilities, with all his love for me. Thar whar endless booty out thar t’conquer, treasures t’find n’ tales t’be told. It whar all out thar for us, togethar!

    N’ thar we whar! Me n’ me Eli!

    FIN


    Last edited by Smiles; 3rd February 2013 at 05:53 PM.
    URPG

  2. #2
    Head of Stories Princess Crow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Booty! (WWC)

    Shiver me timbers!

    This story ye got here be claimed.

    Be warned, fer th' Crow be a vicious one.

    Garrrrr!

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    Head of Stories Princess Crow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Booty! (WWC)

    Graded, deleted, and sent via PM to the author!

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