The frigate bounced off the waters with magnificent speed, the calm sea waters disturbed by the great ship Queensbane. Twelve cloth sails propelled the frigate faster than any ship known in Earthengaugh.
On board were the 113 crew including the Captain Banobany as well as the 100 ton of plunder. She had sailed the rough seas of Earthengaugh for close to 12 years. Her red hair always tied in a pony tail under her black hat. Her immaculate black suit and white shirt stood out against this crew.
She looked into her spyglass and saw her target. A ship ahead in the horizon with the flag of Tartha. Her hated enemy, it’s emblem of a Red Cross with black arrows pointing outwards.
She smiled menacingly and shouted down to the few crew members gambling on the deck.
“Avast!” She yelled. An instant hush surrounded the deck and the crew looked up in awe. A small grin appeared on her face, she hopped off her platform and somersaulted onto the deck. She landed gracefully and put her hands behind her back. One hand within easy reach of her scimitar, she paced up and down.
“Those bastards are sailing on a ship a little farther to the North. We need to be swift! Dead men tell no tales!” She growled the sentence then looked at a few of the faces with a piercing nglare. “Well?”
“Get on with it!” She demanded. A few of the men winced and suddenly the hush turned into shouts of commands. Men rushing here and there, some pulling various ropes to set the main sails up. One pulled a rope and up rose the flag of the Queensbane. Four green Daggers pointing in each direction.
The ship’s pace fastened and the ship was soon near the enemy.
“Captain Banobany will suceed in her mission Lord Commander!” The Queen knelt forward on her throne “you should have more faith in her Sir!”
The Lord Commander grimaced at being scolded by the Queen. This royal woman was no fool and he knew the price of not taking advice.
“My queen” he started confidently but took a deep breath to think clearly “I trust your judgement but this Captain Banobany is a known pirate”.
The Queen interrupted.
“Ah! Ah! Ah” she tutted “Not a pirate any more. Dear Sir she’s a privateer!”
The Lord Commander was thrown off guard and his expression was puzzled. The Queen urged him to proceed. The Lord Commander took another deep breath and continied.
“Nonetheless I have concerns she may turn to our enemies if the price is right. Hoc confident can we be that she will keep her contract. This item you need is so precious!”
The Queen rose from her throne. She towered over the audience in this grand chamber. Her mithril throne glittering behind her.
“She will Sir Lancel! For if she does desert us…she will die!” The Queen sat down abruptly and Sir Lancel frowned. He immediately bowed to hide the frown from this Queen, she was dangerous.
The Queen contemplated her next course of action. She looked carefully at Sir Lance his dark eyes showing their true intent and distrust of her plan. She had to play this out carefully, she could have him executed but then his loyal men would not align themselves with her.
He was a smart man she knew this, with his colourful rainbow hair and brooding honour she had to keep him on side.
“Very well my loyal Lord. I have decided that you should take a ship of your choosing from my Armada, take the best men in my Kingdom. Make sure she completes her goal!” The Queen bent forward in her seat “Do this and be successful or I shall send you to the Mithers!”
The Lord Commander winced and bowed once again. He took his leave with several soldiers behind him.
The Queen sat back and put her closed hand to her chin as if in contemplation. Her voice confident she commanded her advisor forward.
“Sir Alistair!” She did not mo e from her stance.
“Yes Ma’am” a stocky little man standing to the right of the queen answered.
“What say you of our current predicament?” The Queen was still staring at the door that was now closed.
“Sir Lancel is a valuable asset to our kingdom. I fear that although he is loyal he does not trust this pirate” the Queen turned her head abruptly in annoyance. Sir Alistaire nodded in apology “he does not trust this privateer, I believe this is the best outcome if we are to recover the Shard.”
The Queen turned her head back to the door.
“Hmmm. Indeed.” Her eyes narrowed as she thought of the Shard.
The frigate Queensbane was hurtling towards the enemy ship at dazzling speed, it was less than a league away. The crew were getting ready for battle, Captain Banobany growled as she took out her spyglass.
She saw the enemy crew loading cannons and running around deck to prepare for battle. She smiled menacingly.
“Boyce!” She shouted and a toothless crewmember with one hand scuttled next to her.
“Yes cap’n?!” Boyce said excitedly.
“Arm the lads! Make sure the boys hold on tight when we near the ship.” The privateer looked back into the spyglass.
“Aye, Cap’n!” He ran off to command the crew to obey the orders.
The Captain never looked away from the ship, she was looking for weak spots in the ship. She noticed after closer inspection what looked like charred wood, a tell tale sign the ship had recently put a fire out under the deck. It was on the aft end of the boat, perfect to sink this ship.
It was a difficult situation as she had orders from the Dreadful Queen to recover a shard and she could not sink it straight away. That same Queen who blackmailed her into the Royal Contract, her blue eyes narrowed.
“Margyle!” She roared and a tall skinny man appeared to her left side.
“Yes Captain!” He stood proudly taĺl beside her. She threw the spyglass behind her and with fast reflex he caught it.
She paced up and down the platform never taking her eyes of the distant ship. Her arm raised as she did so.
“Take a look in the spyglass, at the aft side just under the main deck. What do you see?” She concentrated her pointed finger at the vessel.
Margyle grinned, this woman was not only beautiful but clever “You’ve found a weakness Captain!”
“I’m thinking to sink the miserable vessel to the depths of Eloin. But alas there is something I need to attain in it” she narrowed her eyes and glared at Margyle “as Weapon Master good this great frigate I’m wondering if you have any input?”
Margyle took the spyglass away for a moment, he looked at this beautiful woman. Then he looked back into the spyglass.
“We could still sink the ship…just means that time would be important…and the bravery of the crew” at this point there was a similar at his throat.
“Our crew not brave enough boy?” Sneered Banobany.
He took the spyglass from his eye and looked her straight in the eye “I’m not talking about our crew…but theirs!” The scimitar dissapeared in an instant. She snatched the spyglass back and viewed the ship, she noticed that most of the enemy crew looked malnourished and chaotic. This might be easy.
“Very well Margyle! Load your cannons and give the order on my sayso!” She turned the steer of the ship and made a straight path to this doomed vessel.
The frigate was closing in cutting the water like a hot knife on butter. Soon they were organised and the Captain addressed the crew. Her platform was enough room to give her speech and she started with her scimitar in the air.
“Lads of the sea! Our enemy is not far” her scimatar pointed to the ship “we are but moments from glory! Give your all to this cause and I will give you fortune! Disobey and you know the consequences!” She squished her sister so fast it seemed a glint of sun had appeared.
“We shall storm the ship! Follow my lead, I will board with half of you, when I do the remaining crew must pull back our frigate to the side and blow a hole into the aft end of that ship!” She put her scimitar away “Draw lots on who is staying and who is storming with me!”
She turned to the enemy ship who was so close now, they would be there storming the vessel in less than 5 minutes. The Captain gave the steer over to a crew member and balanced on the bowsprit, walking so delicately with her scimitar out and a dirk in the other.
The enemies were moments away and the bowsprit was approaching the vessel quickly. The Captain grinned menacingly and let out a roar!
“Boys! Get ready for war!”
The fierce roar of the crew of the Queensbane echoed along the empty sea. Only the seagulls who flew heard along with the enemy.
Captain Banobany leapt with mighty courage as the bowsprit touched the enemy vessel. She screeched and howled as enemies rushed towards her but she danced through the skirmish with fìnese.
Her scimitar whirling around her head and hitting each target, the dirk did as much damage and caught an unfortunate enemy up through his chin and mouth. Blood squirting everywhere and on her white blouse.
It didn’t take long before half her crew were storming the ship, they were behind their captain. Some of the enemy crew had guns and were shooting, Captain Banobany looked around searching for the bastards Captain.
She scanned the scene whilst shots were being fired from all directions. She saw him, he was looking down upon the scene. What a coward she thought! He should be in the skirmish, she ran towards him and cut unto several enemies killing then instantly.
Her dirk stabbing the eyes out of an unlucky deck man.
“Landlubbers!” She chortled as she ran straight to the platform where this Captain stood. A blade narrowly missed her side and she stopped, turned around and faced the attacker. Her eyes narrowed looking at the spindly crew member, she cut his leg off with one mighty scimitar cut.
She turned and ran back towards her target, a musket fired towards her and bullet aimed straight for her heart. She saw the smoke from the musket and dived into a roll along the galley and jumped on to the staircase to the platform where the pirate captain stoood.
“Targosa! I am here to kill You!” Banobany sneered as she pointed her scimitar at his chest, the dirk in her right hand held out in readiness.
Targosa looked down the length of the scimitar, he glanced to the right where on deck the two crews fought with ferocity. The howls and screams vibrating through the timbers. It was hard to tell which side was winning.
“You cannot defeat me Banobany! This is not a woman’s worl-” he gulped as the scimitar pressed on his throat. She looked to her left and smiled menacingly.
“Looks like you’re going to be defeated Targosa!” Her eyes narrowing and her blue eyes showing true rage, she looked at this Captain and found nothing of a leader. His short black beard and young clean face betrayed the truth. She understood her error at the last second. This was not Targosa.
She ducked as a cutless swept through the air aiming to kill her. She lost her balance to the rocking motion of the ship. She stared up and there was the real Targosa with his cutlass bearing down on her.
The pirate gaffawed as he saw her lying there, she kicked out and flipped forward. She was on the attack now and proceeded to duel in the midst of battle. Metal swords blinked together as she feigned and thrust, Targosa studied her as they fought looking for weaknesses in her defense.
Her face full of malice she thrust forward, as she did so Targosa swung his cutlass narrowly missing the top of her head. This was her weakness.
He twirled around as her scimitar missed his left shoulder by a whisker, he countered with a downward cut and a step forward throwing her off balance. Banobany pushed back until both swords were crossed between them.
“You need to die you coward!” She spat in his eye and he stumbled backwards, she sneered and the full rage came in a blur from her criss crossing scimitar. The dirk digging the air in between the strikes until Targosa was on the floor surrendering.
“Enough!” He yelled at this crazed woman but she was not stopping, her sword was about to thrust when she stopped. Her hateful eyes looking down at him, she had defeated him now whether tobkill him or keep him for other purposes.
She kept the sword on him and surveyed the scene behind her. Her crew were beating the enemy but the Queensbane was a little bit behind the enemy ship. She saw one of her crewmembers coming towards her in panic, his bloodied face showing battle scars and the adrenaline could be seen from his eyes.
“Ursula!” She shouted, this man heard his Captain and went straight over to her.
“Tie this Captain up! He’s coming with us, maybe the Queen will give us a price for him” she kicked him hard in the stomach and Targosa winced and weighed in pain.
Instantly Ursula found some rope and tied Targosa up so tightly he was bleeding.
“You’re a fine fighter wench, but you’re not a pirate!” Targosa spat at her foot and she responded with a knee to his chest.
“You’re right Targosa. I’m not a pirate tis true, I’m a God damn privateer.” She sighed as she turned and looked at her ship which was on its starboard side. Cannons facing the enemy ready to fire at the enemy ship, she had to be quick.
“Boys!” She screamed amongst the fighting “throw the enemies overboard and be prepared! The cannonballsare to fly!”
She turned to Ursula “Make sure that yellow livered excuse of a pirate gets on our boat alive!” Her face turned to menace “or else!”
She opened the door to the deck below and dissapeared to find the shard she was ordered to find.
Banobany rushed down the stairs to the lighted deck below, her eyes squinted to adjust to the dim light. Her scimitar out in case of a rushing attack but no one was here in this small room. The room was stacked with boxes full of food, there were no treasures that she could see.
She looked to the end of the room and there was a small door, she rushed towards it and tried to open. It was locked.
Cursing her misfortune she stepped a few paces back and kicked at the door, it was a strong kick but not enough to break. She took another run at the door and kicked as hard as she could, the moment she struck the door there was an almighty crash.
The door flew open and she flew in, caught by surprise she landed in a heap and another crash hit the boat. They’ve fired the cannons she thought, she looked around and she could see this was a living quarter with a bed and cabinets.
The Shard was here she was told and she began to search high and lo frantically looking for this item. Another crash and the boat was tilting very slightly, she turned to look elsewhere when her eyes widened.
She turned back and looked at the bed, it was under there she was sure of it. She lifted the bed and to her surprise was an old man lying in strange garments. He looked at her in horror.
“Who are you?” He asked weakly, his eyes bloodshot and his beard quivering.
“Never mind who I am! Where’s the shard??” Her malice returning, another crash against the boat.
“Shard? It’s not here i promise you!” The old man looked shocked at the mention of a shard. Banobany lifted her scimitar for the kill. “Noooo! It’s not here but I can get it if you let me live!”
Banobany had no choice but to lift the old man “you are coming with me, if I find out you’re lying to me it’ll be worse than drowning on this vessel!”
The old man nodded slowly, she grabbed him by the tunic and dragged him up. “Get moving!” She booted his behind and he fell forward, another crash of the cannonball against the enemy ship.
They both ran up the steps and out onto the main deck. Her ship was now advancing back as this ship was tilting further up. Most of the enemies had perished as well as her crew, there were at least 30 men left of her crew.
Ursula still had Targosa at the aft of the ship, the Queensbane was near to this ship now so close that they could board very soon.
Banobany looked behind her thinking she had made a grave error however she had no time left to think on. She threw the old man down to the main floor and jumped swiftly down.
The Queensbane was edging near this ship and the crew on-board were already getting the boarding planks ready. This vessel was fast sinking, Banobany was dragging this old man to the aft end of the boat.
It was starting to rock uncontrollably with water getting in, Queensbane was moments away. Finally the moment came to board back safely, boarding planks down and the crew boarded back on. They were carrying loot from the cargo deck, enough to keep them happy.
The old man and Banobany were the last to board, as soon as Captain landed on the Queensbane the enemy ship started sinking into the depths of the sea.
She walked amongst the cheers and yelps of her crew, happy to have anothèr victory on the sea. She confidently walked around on board until the noise died down, she raised her hands up.
“Lads you did me proud!” She grinned widely “you shall eat like kings tonight! And maybe one of you will be lucky to spend a night in my company!” The men eagerly looked at her wanting the offer. She continued.
“And then!” She gyrated “you can eat like a king!” The men howled in laughter and lust, they did truly love and fear their leader who had brought them fame and fortune.
“Now men! We must keep our wits about us!” She took her scimitar from her scabbard and rested it on her shoulder and paced the floor.
“For we are not all friends here” she stopped at Targosa and put the point of the scimitar to his Adams apple, she raised an eyebrow.
“Are we? My dear cowardly Captain?”
The Mighty God shivered with anger, he stood an impressive height against the priests that bowed before him. The void was black as night, only the inhabitants of this void were illuminated in a light yellow aura.
The God was humanoid with great bulging eyes, and long hair, a massive crown upon his head. His name Seurez and he was the God of Illumination, a fierce fighter for balance in the world.
“You must find all the Shards my loyal priests!” His voice boomed and blasted around the empty void, seemingly bouncing into infinity.
The Priests kept bowing in their medititative posture, their voices returning telepathically to the void in agreement. Yes my Lord!
“I am bound within my realm to stop such calamities, my brother has told me that I must let the creatures of Earthengaugh to do as they please!” The God looked saddened then returned into grimacing again.
“I will inform you of precise locations of the nine shards when I know them, we must protect them at all costs! The Queen must not have them!”
Yes Lord of illumination!
The Priests loved this God of their order and believed in his view on things, they were wholeheartedly connected to his course of action. The God grew stronger with the belief of these priests, all 12 of this order had done great things in his name.
He nodded with hope “Go now my priests, except for the High Priest Banjael. I should like to speak to You!”
Eleven of the priests dissipated into nothingness leaving the void and returning to their bodies. Rejoicing as they went.
Praise Seurez! God of illumination!
One priest left in the presence of this mighty being. “Banjael! I want to give you the shard locations, my vision is cloudy and I wish to use your powers to find the Shards. This Queen will not prevail!”
The God held out his hands, he concentrated his mind on the priest, as he did so symbols flew out from his head and went to the priest. A yellow ring with a black hole settled on the priest and landed on his head.
Teleportation! The God said telepathically.
Another golden symbol came and settled upon the priest this time it was a bull with mighty horns.
Strength! He said again telepathically.
The God was bestowing gifts upon this priest to use on a quest for the shards.
Thank you my Lord! Replied the High Priest.
The God shook the concentration and his booming voice returned. “Find the Queensbane! There you will find the Shard!”
Praise the God of Illumination!
“Go my child!”
The High Priest dissipated into nothingness and returned to the mortal world of Earthengaugh.
Banobany kicked the old man down the stairs to the stow, then Targosa followed. She went down the stairs after locking the door, she casually walked down the stairs to the two figures lying on the floor.
They were writhing in agony, so for added measure Banobany kicked both in the stomach. Wincing and writhing they were both pleading for her to show mercy.
She stepped over them and ignited a few lanterns, she hummed a sea ditty as she did so adding to the eerie atmosphere. She walked to a table with chairs and grabbed two of them at the same time. The rocking of the boat making a creaking sound whilst she walked. She set the chairs next to each other, she grabbed the old man and set him on the chair. Then Targosa was placed upon the other, his hat falling off as he was placed.
He spat at her, his hands tied behind his back. She returned the favour with a strong punch in the man’s groin. She bent down and put her face just a few centimetres away from Targosa.
“Targosa” she said calmly “let’s make thìs a nice conversation” she grinned menacingly. The enemy Captain was in agony and could not concentrate, she turned her head slowly to her left.
“And you!!” She tutted “You need to give me info on this shard!” She took her dirk out and just played on his cheek, not driving it too hard and not too soft. The old man’s eyes widened in horror.
“Think carefully!” She took the dirk of him and played with it in front of his eyes.
She stood up and paced with her hands behind her back, after returning her dirk to its belt. She walked backwards and forwards in concentration.
“Targosa?” She turned to him with a questioning look “why would a feared pirate have an old man on board?”
Targosa looked at her and started guffawing, he was laughing hysterically and looked at her all the while. He stopped as soon as he felt her scimitar on his groin.
“Tell me!” She demanded.
“Well…we found…” her scimitar pressed harder “him…on the island of Gartner….” the scimitar point prodding on.
“Spit it out man or lose them!” She snarled.
“That’s just it…banobany…he said he needed passage…” he grimaced as the blade was cutting “please…stop! I can only tell you this! I’ve nothing else!”
Banobany believed him, his eyes told the truth and a man that was in a predicament such as this would confess his sins to the great God’s of Dalon!
She sat on the table looking at the backs of the prisoners, Targosa was heaving up and down. His laboured breathing over the suffering he had endured.
The old man had been still the whole time, thìs man was strange and she called out to him.
“Old man, what is your name?” Her questioning was not threatening and he didn’t seem scared.
“I have many names in this world, this life my name is Dariot.” He said with confidence, her eyes rolled. Great! We have a lunatic! She slapped her hand on her thigh and gaffawed which brought the uneasiness to another level.
“So! We have a mad man and a madder pirate!” Her eyes widened in delight and she smiled, she walked past the chairs to the stairs. She walked up and before she ascended she turned “Targosa you should be happy!” She laughed “you are going to see the Queen!”.
“And You!” He pointed at the old man “you will explain to her about the shard!”.
To her surprise the old man laughed so she responded by running and landing a punch that knocked him over in the chair. Happy that he got the message she straightened her tunic and ascended to the main deck.
She locked the door and returned to Captains Duties. Something still did not sit right.
Dariot was still in the same position on the floor that he was left in, he was groaning.
“What a woman! Eh?” Targosa exclaimed to the fallen man. His face full of admiration, he was only half the pirate she was and he had a morbid fascination with her. He hated her too. He was conflicted in what he felt. The old man broke his concentration.
“How could she leave me like this?” The old man had a massive bruise on his head from were she struck him. He struggled to get up and kept trying to find momentum.
“No point old man, lie there and pray to the gods!” Targosa sighed deeply “No point.”
Dariot gave up the struggle and lay still, he surveyed the dark room and breathed a sigh of relief that at least the woman had left the room.
Suddenly a blue rectangular light appeared just by Dariots head, black colour filled the thin blue line and it looked like a doorway.
Two hands reached out and grabbed the old man in the chair. He was dragged in quickly through the portal before Targosa even noticed. The doorway closed as suddenly as it appeared.
Targosa looked around in horror that the man was gone, his eyes widened and he feel extreme pressure on his chest.
What would Banobany do now to him when he didn’t even know?
It was a few hours later and he heard the door unlocking…