Mutiny at Sea
When I woke, I noticed I was still alone. Maria was not to be seen. I got up and put on my clothes and weapons, I still had them. I also had the knapsack with the lifesaving medications. I wondered if they would be needed, as so much time had elapsed. There was a packet of data in there as well, including a note from Jason Gridley and a magazine I had placed in there called 'Popular Mechanics' that told about modern cars.
I left my room and walked down the hall seeking a drink, I found a fountain and cupping my hand filled myself. I heard laughter and turned to see Maria and Captain Rey walking towards me, arm in arm. They noticed me and smiled.
“Good you are up, Jason!” said the Captain. “We sail soon, you need to get back aboard the La Victoria. I have been showing Maria around Esmeralda. She has many ideas to improve things.”
“Schools for one thing,” she said to me in English. “They have no ideas about education, its all Monkey see monkey do. Only a few tutors exist at all.”
“I'm sure you can offer many ideas,” I commented dryly.
“You must eat before we leave port,” added Rey. “The voyage will be long and dangerous through the unknown straight to the seas of the Empire. Come, they have a feast set for us in honor of our mission.”
I followed the two as they walked though the palace to another large room where tables were set with platters of food, and pitchers of strong drink. They Korsars certainty ate well, at least those in the palace. I filled a wooden plate and sat to enjoy the meats and fruits. I noticed that Maria sat with Rey and hung on his every word. There were many others in the room, I recognized then from the ship. I saw Maja, now, she too had filled a wooden plate, mostly with fruits, she saw me and crossed the room to sit with me. She was smiling.
“I see the Cid didn't have you hanged.” she started, looking at her food.
“For that I am grateful,” I commented. “I am glad to see you again Maja.”
“I see that Maria, your mate, is spending time with Captain Rey,” she said.
“She is not my mate,” I informed her. “We travel together, that is all.”
“Interesting,” she said, now looking at me. “Why did she stay in your cabin on the ship?”
“She didn't know the Korsars and wanted me to protect her.”
“It looks to me that she has a new protector, the Cid's Son. Did you know that he and I were mates once? I grew tired of him and we parted ways, as is the custom on our people.”
“Do you still love him?” I asked.
She just looked at me with a strange expression. She thought long and hard before she answered.
“No, not now.”
“Do you have another mate?” I inquired.
“Not at the moment,” she said taking a piece of dripping meat from my plate and eating it.
“Captain Rey is a handsome man,” I commented. “It would be hard to find one like him.”
“I don't know, he is rich, in lands and gold, he is respected and many say he will be the next Cid but there are others who have better looks and positions of power.”
“Not many I would suspect,” I told her.
“There is one right beside me now?” she answered.
“Who? Me?” I said.
“Who will be the next Emperor of Pellucidar when your father passes on?”
“Is that what you are about power and money?” I said. “I may not be the next Emperor, there are many others who might be selected. Ja of Anoroc is one.”
“He represents a tribe, right? We have heard of him even in the Brotherhood. He is an Admiral with ships that use the Triangular sails. They are fast and well armed but most believe they could not go one on one with a Korsar galleon. No, he will not be Emperor.”
“Why?” I asked, curious about her logic.
“Who ever is Emperor must unite and stand for all the tribes of the Empire, not just one. That can only mean you, Jason, son of David.”
“There is Abner Perry?” I replied, “he is loved and respected by all.”
“Perhaps, I know little of him but, I believe they will want a leader, a younger man with the ability to take the Empire in new directions. He will need a queen -- why not a Korsar to unite in marriage the two greatest states in the Inner World?”
“You have it all figured out Maja,” I said finishing my platter. “You have forgotten one thing, chief gunner's mate for the La Victoria. I don't love you.”
“But you will!” she vowed. Then with a smile she leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. At that she smiled and walked away.
I was a bit taken aback by her boldness, something that would have been unthinkable in Sari. I saw Captain Rey coming over to me.
“I see you have discovered our Maja,” he said.
“I believe she has discovered me,” I answered. “I have never met anyone like her.”
“None exists,” he said look at her as she spoke to a bearded man across the room. “We will be sailing soon so follow me back to the ship! I prefer you and Maria stay close at hand. Not everyone in Esmeralda is in favor of a treaty between our two lands. Many would like war between us and the Empire. I will do all I can to protect you both.”
The man then leaped up on a thick wooden chair and addressed his crew telling them it was time to leave the feast and return to the ship. I saw many were taking rolls and fruit and filling their pockets, some even taking wooden tankards and bottles of wine.
A sort of drunken parade ensued that saw the captain in the lead, Maria and I in front and the rest staggering behind. Maja was following close at my back. As we left, I saw the look of disdain on the faces of the palace guards who saw little to their liking in the Korsar Crew and the mess they made of the hall.
The walk was though town and many were giving baskets of fruits to the men as they passed more than a few women offered kisses as well. It seems they had left a positive impression on the people. I later learned that La Victoria was one of the best ships in their fleet and had the choice pickings of crew -- selecting the best of the Brotherhood.
The ship was set with baskets, barrels, and cages of small animals destined to become dinners on the voyage. We walked up the gangplank and each person set to his duties in a way they were comparable with one another and knew what had to be done. It wasn't long before the lines were slipped and the oars used to push off from the dock, then they started to row. I saw even Maja had manned a sweep. They didn't get far before a call sent some into the rigging and the sails unfolded and caught the wind. The oars were taken in and the mighty ship started to sail into the open sea.
All the while, Maria was silent, watching them.
“I feel as if I am back in time.” she said. I noticed she spoke in Pellucidarian not English.
“You have picked up our speech?” I blurted. “I must admit you have the pronunciation down well. How did you do it?”
“I am good at picking up languages,” she answered. “ Rey helped me -- as did your instruction.”
I leaned on the rail as the ship cut though the water, the great square sails full and sending the ship moving though the sea.
“You seem taken with the Captain,” I asked.
“Such men do not exist on the outer world. He has the charm of a swashbuckler and a politician, he could be a movie star if he was in Hollywood.”
I had no idea what she was talking about.
“So you want to become his mate?” I inquired. This caused her to blush. “They say he might become the next Cid.”
“I don't know about that, Jason,” she answered. “Do you think the treaty will work? How does your father feel about the Korsars?”
“He hates them after being in a Korsar prison,” I answered. “It will take all the power I have to convince his to sign such a treaty -- one of the first in Pellucidar.”
“From what I have seen, it is long overdue in your inner world. What do you think of the people the Cid spoke about the ones in underwater boats?”
“Newcomers to the inner world. A group of desperate people who found the entry into the inner world. As these men are from your world -- do you know who they might be?”
“I have a suspicion of their identity —and if I am right they are the very worst people who ever lived and ruled in the Outer World,” she answered shaking her head slowly. “The Cid called them the people of the twisted cross and in their time they murdered millions.”
“Then maybe an alliance is a good thing,” I said to her. “With their weapons and ruthlessness it might well take the combined efforts of our two nations to defeat them.”
“You are right, Jason.” she answered. “I might well be wrong but if I am not, there could be problems for the Inner World.”
I could see the city of Esmeralda slipping away behind us, curving up into the sea above us. I saw the Captain coming to join us at the railing. There was a smile on his face and most of the time he was looking at Maria.
“We will be heading for the unknown straight,” he said. “Its a dangerous set of waters but once we pass though it we can make it to your Empire, Jason.”
“I think it will be a new beginning for our two lands,” answered Jason.
“I am all in favor of that,” the Captain said. “Jason, I wish to speak with Maria alone. I hope you don't mind.” I could see a look of surprise on Maria's face. I was shocked as well, but nodded my head and with a smile withdrew to the other side of the ship. I could see her eyebrows arch in curiosity as he spoke to her.
Maja joined me, she was cleaning a small rail mounted bronze cannon, and left it to come close and speak with me. She had been watching the little drama unfold.
“He is going to ask her to become his mate,” she said. “He will give her a fancy bracelet that he will tell her is from his mother. He will lock it on her wrist when she says yes.”
“How do you know this?”
“My wrist still has the scars of that heavy manacle,” she said holding up her wrist.
“We do not do such things in the Empire,” I explained.
As we watched we saw the two embrace and kiss. Then, from the pocket in his greatcoat, he withdrew a wide bracelet and placed it on her left wrist.
“Just as I said,” Maja added leaving me and returning to her work on the small cannon.
I could see a wide smile on Maria's face. I knew she would never leave Pellucidar now. I was happy for her and Rey. I knew she could make some real changes to the Korsar people as well. If its one thing they need its teachers. Well, her knowledge would have been helpful in Sari as well. I saw them embrace again and kiss, as other members of the crew watched. One tall fellow with a huge beard just shook his head in disgust. He was the second in command –an unfriendly fellow called Brujo.
“You better watch out for Brujo,” came Maja voice from behind me. “He has no love of the Empire or Captain Rey.”
“Why is that?” I asked her.
“He lost his brother in battle with a ship of the Empire.” she added. “He wanted me for a mate and when I accepted Rey, he grew to hate him. When we separated he asked me again but I rejected him a second time -- so I too am seen as an enemy. His father is in the council -- and stands against the treaty with David Innes. Watch your back, Jason Innes!”
“Thanks for the warning,” I told her. “I will keep an eye on this Brujo.”
“Know this Jason Innes, when you ask me to be your mate, I will say yes.”
“You seem sure of yourself,” I said with serious look. She just smiled and when back to work.
Maria spent much of the time with Rey and I just watched the crew of the Galleon as they moved the sails and sang as they worked -- the songs helped them to time their tasks and move efficiently.
The meal was served after some time and we were in the open sea. The wooden platters came up from the galley with the wooden tankards. It was meat and onions with olives in a spicy sauce. The meat was overcooked – and it was eaten with a dagger. The wine was tart and not unpleasant. Maria sat on one side of me.
“Congratulations are in order. You are the Captains mate?”
“Not yet,” she said showing off the bracelet with its jewels, “The ceremony will be done upon our return to Esmeralda. So we are engaged.”
“So you have lost interest in returning to the outer world?” I asked.
“I believe it is my destiny to bring education to these Korsars,” she said. “Besides, I love Rey.”
“I am happy for you,” I said eating my dinner.
“You seem to be taken with Maja,” Maria added.
“She seems taken with me,” I answered. “She did warn me about the first mate, Brujo.”
“Captain Rey doesn't trust him, as well,” she explained.
Songs were sang as the big ship sailed along, then I retired to the small cabin I had. Maria didn't join me but retired to the captain's cabin. The wine and the rocking deck put me to sleep.
I was dreaming of the great stone palace in Sari when I was violently pulled out of sleep by a sharp blow to the ribs. I looked up to see the grinning, bearded face of Burjo. He had poked me with the barrel of a cocked flintlock pistol.
“Wake up son of David Innes,” he said in a low voice. His breath was almost overpowering.
“What is the meaning of this?” I demanded.
“Your wanted on deck!” he said pointing the pistol up and leering at me in a way that sent a chill though my frame. I grabbed my clothes and knapsack and when for my rifle.
“You will not need that!” barked the first mate of the La Victoria. “Hurry, Empire boy!” He helped me up then pushed me out the door into the companionway towards the ladder that went to the deck. I noticed there was no one below decks. Most of the time it is filled with Korsars. I went up the wooden stairs, Brujo right behind me with his pistol.
The whole crew was on deck and for a moment I thought Captain Rey had called a meeting. Then I saw him, he was tied to the main mast! Next to him Maria. I knew what it was -- a mutiny. I saw other members of the crew were also tied up -- their only crime must have been their loyalty to Captain Rey.
“We have the son of David Innes!” yelled the First Mate to his well armed men. “What shall we do with him?”
“Make him walk the plank!” cried one, “Cut him up for the Megasharks!” screamed another.
“No!” came a loud woman's voice, Maja came forward. “If word of this reached the Cid, if you should touch one hair on Rey's head -- the whole of the brotherhood would seek you out and kill every last one of you! The lucky ones will die in battle -- those that they take prisoner will suffer a long and painful death. You know me! You know I speak true words.”
“You were Captain Rey's mate, Maja! you still hold love for him when he makes one of the Empire's wrench's his mate!”
“If you value your lives! Do not harm any of them!” Maja continued.
I noticed many in the crew nodded their heads in approval. Even Brujo saw this.
“Mayhaps you are right Maja,” he said. “Let us not touch him or his new mate. Lower a jolly boat and let him take his chances with King Neptune. I see clouds to the west, we shall face a storm soon.”
“Why that would be murder!” cried Rey.
“Lower the boat!” ordered Brujo and several men started to carry out his orders.
The wind was kicking up now and the sea becoming rough as the small boat was lowered by ropes into the water. Brujo cut the bonds of Rey and Maria.
“Over the side with you -- into your new command Captain Rey. He urged him on with the point of his cutlass. Reluctantly they cross the deck and went over the rail were the wooden ladder brought them to the small boat.
Brujo came to me, pushed me to the deck.
“Jason, son of David Innes, join them! I want no Empire filth on my galleon.” I got up and followed Rey over the side.
“Anyone else want to join the Captain?” he yelled.
“I would rather sail on a jolly boat with a real captain than a galleon with a fool!” cried Maja and joined us. Three other members of the crew followed her into the boat.
“I am not an heart less man,” shouted Brujo, this caused laughter on the ship. “I will send a cask of wine for your new voyage.” He tossed down a small cask to the boat and cut the rope that linked us together. We drifted as the big ship sailed away.
“I am sorry,” explained the captain. “I should have seen this coming. His father spoke out against the treaty. I never expected he had the support of the crew.”
“His gold has power greater than loyalty,” added Maja. “I heard things but never expected he would act -- I should have killed him sooner!”
“Are we close to land?” Asked Maria.
“The storm looks like its coming up fast,” I added as black swirling overhead blocking out the sun. The sea began to toss the small boat. I could feel rain start to sprinkle down.
“These waters are filled with savage tribes who hold nothing but hate for the Korsars,” explained the Captain. “Some are known eaters of men. Man the sweeps, we must keep the bow into the wind least we are swamped! Jason, take the bucket and bail out the boat as fast as you can! If we go under we are lost!”
Rey took the tiller as the three men and Maja brought out the oars. The boat was pitching madly now, and I started to bail out the water as the rain started to fall in punishing torrents! Maria was at Rey's side, a look of terror on her face. Soon we were all drenched and cold but doing all we could to keep from being lost. In the turbulent waters I saw the huge sharks of the Inner World as well as other monsters of the deep. Fog shrouded up but once I caught a brief vision of the Galleon Victoria, her sails down, rolling with a sea anchor, then the clouds obscured the image. They too were having a rough time of it.
I could see the oars were tricky work in this storm. The Captain was wise to put me at the task of bailing, where I could do little damage. At one point Maria took a ladle and helped as best she could.
Only the fact that the small boat was well built and high for surf landings on beaches kept us from being capsized. At one point, after a period of time Maja collapsed, exhausted. I quickly took her place as Maria took up my bucket and bailed. I did my best to keep of the rowing as the gunner's mate fell over.
“Keep rowing or we will be lost!” yelled the Captain over the roar of the storm. I was freezing and wet, in a short time my arms were numb. Twice waves broke over the small boat and almost sent us to the bottom. Four times I saw monsters from the deep, long necked things with sharp teeth, pulled to the surface by the violence of the sea. These creatures were fighting for their lives as well and didn't attack us.
Maja crawled to me as I labored at the oar, she was wet and the sea made her garments cling to her form. She spoke to me, but I didn't hear her at first.
“Jason,” she said. “I love you. I am only glad we shall die together.”
“We are not going to die,” I told her, “We will beat this thing! I want to strangle the life out of Brujo with my bare hands!”
“You can only have that dog after I am done with him!” shouted Rey. “There will not be enough to throttle when my cutlass has done its job.”
“Captain, let me put on my Iron Shoes and dance him to death!” Yelled Maja. Her hate giving new reasons to live.
“You shall have him first, but not to kill him, then it will be my turn, then Jason!” cried the Captain. “Anyone else?”
“I want to thrust spoons into his eyes!” added Maria, with a hate I didn't know she could hold.
“Spoken like a true Korsar!” answered Maja.
The storm had lessened a bit, and the captain tossed the wine cask to maria, who uncorked the thing and drank. When she was done Maja took a long drink then I and the others. It was tart and warmed the insides. I was thankful the treacherous Brujo had given it to us in a mocking gesture. We could stop rowing as the small boat rocked. The wind was receding now and the rain reduced to a sprinkle. It took longer for the dark clouds to part and the noonday sun to poke through, it was warm and the cloths dried on our backs. As the clouds parted, we searched for land but none could be seen. We could make out green islands high above us, many miles away. No one wanted to row, we just wanted to rest. My arms felt as if they were pulled six inches longer! Only the captain was busy searching the up curving blue of Korsar Az.
I checked to see of the Victoria was anywhere to be seen, but I couldn't make her out. We must have been blown far afield by the storm. I wish I had my binoculars now. Rey came forward and checked each of us out. Then he went forward to a built in space in the bow. It opened. He brought out a bottle in a basket covering and some small wooden boxes, sealed with wax. He passed these items to Maria who opened the bottle and drank, then handed it to Maja who also drank. The Captain opened one of the boxes and from it was wax encased cheese, dates and a small knife.
“Every boat has emergency supplies,” he explained. “There is a canvas tarp we can use as a sail as well. That is if there was any place to sail too.” He passed out the small cubes of cheese. They were peeled from the wax that covered them and tasted good. The bottle came my way and I had a drink of foul water -- but it was wet. Then came hard crackers, and dried spicy meat.
“Could we try for Esmeralda?” I asked.
“Brujo knew well where to abandon us,” answered Maja. “It is too far.”
“What of land?” Asked Maria.
“The Islands here are filled with unfriendly tribes,” added Rey. “We are not far from the unknown waters that link to the seas of the Empire -- but I fear this small boat will not be up to a voyage of that roughness.”
“We must make a choice,” I said. “We can't just drift around until we die of hunger and thirst.”
“Well said, my friend,” advised Rey. “Let us examine what we can do.”
“If we could find the La Victoria, we could try a counter attack?” said one of the men.
“She is nowhere to be found,” said Maja. “I heard his plan was to say we were attacked by Empire ships and those of us in this boat were killed or taken prisoner.”
“That would keep the war going,” I added.
“For all we know the Galleon didn't survive the storm.” Rey said. He was looking to the up curving sea.
“I saw her rolling in the heavy weather,” I added.
“I believe there might be another answer,” the captain replied with a wide smile. He pointed up. Our eyes followed his finger and we saw a bit of white in the sea -- it was a sail.
“Is it the La Victoria?” asked Maja.
“No,” remarked Rey, “She is a lugger, by the sail pattern. I believe its a Korsar fisher. They do not sail this far out but my guess the storm blew them out here. Let us raise the sail and make to join her!”
The men and Maja quickly took the spar and canvas and in no time they rigged a lanteen sail. That caught the wind and propelled us toward the small dot on the sea. I only wish I had the binoculars now.
“We are saved!” cried Maria.
“I can see the red flag on her mainmast,” announced Rey. “She is a Korsar and she is heading our way.”
Slowly the new ship became larger, she had two masts, was much smaller than the Victoria. There was a design on her prow and as it drew closer, they were letters.
“Its the swordfish,” said Maria, as she translated the words done in fancy letters in the bow. I could see she had damage from the storm.
In time they were close enough to hail us using an oversized trumpet.
“Who goes there?” they asked.
“Captain Rey, formerly of the Victoria.” he shouted back.
“Come aboard!” answered the Lugger. “I am Captain Lugo.”
We rowed closer as the sail was taken down and a line tossed to us by a sailor with a floppy hat. We took in the oars and the Captain went up the ladder set in the side of the small two-master, Maria was right behind. I followed with Maja tailing me. Once on deck, I saw they were piled with nets, I could see some of the rails and rigging was damaged. I saw Captain Rey shaking hands with an older fatter man with a long beard. This I took to be the Captain of the Lugger.
“Let me introduce my people,” said Captain Rey. At that he named us as the rest of the fishing boats crew came forward to watch. Some recognized Rey, and smiled.
“All I have is at your disposal,” added the Captain of the Swordfish. “We have half a cargo of fish in the hold.”
“I want to have you pass through the unnamed straight and into the waters of the Empire,” instructed Rey, “then make our way to Sari, the Capital of the Empire.”
“Those waters are forbidden!” complained Lugo. “To enter them is death.”
“I have the permission of the Cid, my father, himself. We can sail under a white flag, and not be molested by the Empire. Jason Innes, is none other that the son of the the Emperor David Innes.”
This caused the older captain to smile!
“That changes much, Our vessel isn't a galleon but she can maneuver well. Not much chance the Empire will fire on us with Jason on board.”
“There will be other rewards, I can assure you, Captain Lugo,” added Rey “The completion of this task will see golden rewards.” This also put a smile on the old man's lips.
“I have wanted the Swordfish, re-fitted.” he said in a low tone.
“I will remember you when we return to Esmeralda.”
“What of my cargo of fish? They are in tanks and could last a few sleeps... I would hate to have to toss them over the side...”
“Maybe you could sell them in Sari, or we may eat them...” said Rey with a twinkle in his eye.
“Do they eat fish in the Empire?” asked Lugo.
“Yes they do,” I answered. “You should get a good price for them.”
The small boat was taken aboard and space given to us below decks, It was cramped and smelled of fish but it was a welcome sight. There were no cabins, each just had a space on the deck, and a pad for a mattress. The crew were happy and welcomed us.
The coarse was changed and the lugger moved towards the unknown straight and towards my home. I had given up that the drugs I still had would be of any help to her. Too much time had passed -- had always know it was a long shot at best.
|CH. 1||CH. 2||CH. 3||CH. 4||CH. 5||CH. 6||CH. 7||CH. 8||CH. 9|
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