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Corrandion, Corridane
I am JT, Ringer, nutjob, and archer, in that order. I like animated films, epic films, book films, movie music, folk music, and the occasional random other thing. I make friends by accident and like it that way...

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30 June 2011

One More Day!

Tomorrow is the first day of posting for The Price Of A Throne. Since the story covers multiple storylines simultaneously, the main character of each chapter gets their own label, so you can read a single storyline without interruption if you would like. By the time most of the characters have been introduced, I will have put up poll questions regarding the story, by way of which I can discover what characters are the best. When I find a satisfying image, I will make and post a 'noble blog' award...:D. Strength! Wisdom! Justice!

28 June 2011

Chapter Thirty-six

watch out. I sometimes write in the present tense to bring you closer to the action... enjoy...

Chapter XXXVI

Two more days, which seemed to the sailors as if they would never come to an end, passed before they were close enough to Boston harbor for Gabriel, who had been piloting the ship throughout the voyage, to finally make the announcement which all had anticipated; that they should prepare for docking. The moment he said this, the ship became a hive of activity, as several men began to furl the sails while others roused out the anchors or, if they were unlucky, began to clear the lower decks of hammocks, sea chests, and various other articles which had been mislaid by the men who had first claimed them. At long last, just after midday, the ship came alongside the dock.
Almost before it had stopped moving, Matt, Mark, Luke, and Raphael, two to each side, had leapt overboard holding the ropes used for just that purpose. When they had finished their task, which did not take them long, the four boys met in front of the ship. As they looked out at the growing crowd which had gathered to witness the arrival of the ship, the boys felt a sudden rush of pride in themselves. “Look at all those men out there!” remarked Raphael, as if the others needed to be told to do this. “And they’ve all come to see us! Would you believe it?”
“I can believe it, because I’m seeing it with my own eyes.” answered Matt.
Before the boys could say more, David appeared on the dock, along with Gabriel and John. Blowing loudly on a whistle he had brought with him, David announced to the crowd “The threat is over! And no-one has received any money for the head of Admiral Mellino, I presume?”
This statement was met with cheers and some laughter. David, however, suddenly grew serious as a large group of men stepped toward him. Without introducing themselves, they said “Come with us. Your brother is waiting for you.”
“Oh ho” replied Gabriel with a laugh “Has Anthony become so rich already that he sends servants to meet us? Who was this wealthy relative we didn’t know we had?”
“Quiet!” snapped the leader of the men who had stepped forward. “All of you are under arrest as pirates!”
There was a collective gasp from the crowd and also, we must admit, from the newly arrived sailors turned prisoners. “All of us?” David cried, voicing the common surprise. “Including the boys?”
“Including the boys.”
“Who accused us?”
“A man who wishes to remain unnamed.”
“But this can not be true! Any man who accused us of such baseness is a liar!”
“We do not discuss the honesty of others. Our task is to arrest you and place you in prison until your case is decided. Come along.”
Knowing that to resist would make them truly guilty, the Mellinos, along with Matt and Mark, could do nothing but march slowly in front of their captors through the crowd, whose surprise was quickly turning to hostility.
“Pirates, are you? And I thought you were good men!”
“And your brother an Admiral? Is he a pirate too, then? Did he buy his flag?”
“Go die in prison! No one’s going to try to get you out!”
Unfortunately, the hostility of the crowd soon became evident in the prisoners themselves, though they attempted to keep their tones civil. Gabriel turned to David, scowling. When he spoke, frustration was evident.
“Now, whose idea was that flag? We’d have been met with worse than this if we’d had that thing flying from the masthead.”
“Right back at you, Gabe. Whose idea was it to tell our secret plans to a ‘friend’, as you called him?”
“What makes you think it was him?”
“He wanted to remain unnamed. Obviously thinks we’ll come after him if we get out. Wouldn’t you?”
“Wouldn’t I what?”
“Never mind. We have to think of a plan that will get us out.”
Leaning back to speak to John, who was immediately behind him, Gabriel whispered “Pass the word. We’re to break away as soon as possible.”
Five minutes later, the whole party was forced into two carriages which stood waiting for them. Gabriel, Raphael, and John stepped into the first, while David, Luke, Matt, and Mark entered the second. As the prisoners took their places inside the carriages and the guards took their places outside, the boys leaned in toward David in their coach, asking eagerly “Well, have you got a plan yet? What’s the signal?”
David looked back at them which might have pity for their excitement. “The plan, my boys” he said softly, glancing out the window at the ominous building they were to be housed in “is that we will trust in God and the government.”
“We’re not going to break out?!” The boys were unable to hide their shock at David’s statement.
“Yes. Breaking out will be a last resort only. We must not accuse ourselves by our actions. I promise you, we will not mount the scaffold.”
The boys relaxed once more, satisfied. They knew now that they would escape, if they only waited for the right moment.
Seconds later, the coaches stopped abruptly. The guards swung the doors open wide and snapped “Out! Quick march!”
The prisoners, who were now confident in themselves and secure in the knowledge that the guards did not know their plans, stepped out of the coaches and, grinning cheekily, marched ahead of the guards straight into the dark passageway which was the main opening of the prison.
As they marched past, a voice rose out of the darkness. “It is you, isn’t it David? I’ve been in here for I don’t know how long waiting for you to turn up.”
“Anthony! Are you well?”
“As well as a man can be who’s escaped from his enemies only to be condemned by his countrymen.”
“Where’s Michael?”
“That’s enough!” the guards barked, prodding David’s party forward. “No communication with prisoners is permitted!”
As David and the others began to march forward again, Anthony called after them “Michael’s all right! He escaped! He’ll get us out!”
Cheered by this statement, the new prisoners replied with a call common to all men: “Freeeedoom!”
Just as Anthony had said, Michael had escaped and was roaming the streets of Boston. You may wonder why he had not simply turned back and broken Anthony out straightaway, but he had not done this because he knew that if he were to approach the prison at all for some time, he might be recognized and captured. He would be no help to anyone then.
The day on which we have spotted Michael is two days after the arrival and capture of his uncles and the other boys. At the moment he is sitting on the dock, watching and waiting for a certain ship to come in. There is a ship coming in now, and Michael rises anxiously to meet it. He thinks that Dameon may be on board this ship, as, of course, he is unaware of his oldest uncle’s death in Madrid.
After several minutes of intense concentration on the ship, Michael falls back in despair. Dameon has not disembarked.
As the ship continues to unload its cargo, two men, one of solid build and average height and light brown hair, and the other a tall, thin man with darker hair, walk briskly past Michael’s position, talking earnestly in a foreign tongue. Michael, having nothing better to do, decides to follow them.
When Michael had been following them for several minutes, the shorter man stopped suddenly and fired a question at him. “Did I know your father, boy?” asked the man, sounding surprised.
Moving closer, Michael replied “Did you? Who’s my father, then?”
“Would your father be Captain Dameon Mellino?”
“No. Captain Dameon Mellino would be my uncle. If you know him, can you tell me where he has gotten too?”
“Your uncle died fighting bravely. My companion and I have hurried here in the hope that we could save the rest of your people from the scaffold.”
“Really? Then you are just the help I’ve been looking for. The rest of my uncles, my cousins, and our two friends, sons of the famous captain Sponsler, are all imprisoned now. Will you help? How did you know we had been wrongly accused of piracy?”
Leaning in toward Michael, the man answered “That ship is really a smuggler. News travels fast. We came to help. Lead us on.”
“Thank you, sir.” Michael replied, stepping in front of his allies and striding off in the direction of the prison.
Some time later, when they had drawn close to the prison, Michael spoke again. “All right, sir. The guards want me. If I run past, some of them are bound to follow. Keep an eye out for yourself, because you’ll have to fight some off.” Noticing the man’s lack of a blade, he added “A few feet away, I will turn and throw you a knife. If you catch it, you should be able to unlock the doors if you haven’t taken the keys by then. Tell my family I will be waiting outside the western gate. Good luck.”
“Same to you, boy.”
Without another word, Michael sprinted off, in full view of the prison guards. Just as he had hoped, several of the guards, calling out “It’s the Mellino boy!” leapt up and ran after him. Just before he got clear of the prison, Michael drew one of his blades, spun quickly, and hurled it off in the direction of the men who had come to help him. Then he ran off.
Still in the shadows, the two men watched the boy’s flight. At the last possible second, the tall one reached up and caught the flying knife. Then the pair sprang out of the shadows.
The guards, who had become tense, quickly surrounded the two men as they ran toward the doors of the prison. The fight was hard but short, and it was only a few short minutes before the tall man was twisting Michael’s knife in the lock and throwing the doors open wide.
In a few moments more, the pair, who had left all the guards sprawled upon the ground, ran down the corridor shouting “Mellinos! Sons of Sponsler! Your help has arrived!” At every reply, they stopped long enough to say “The boy said he would meet us beyond the west gate. Wait for us.”
In the space of twenty minutes, the two men had released all of the Mellinos and both the Sponsler twins. Suddenly, Gabriel took charge. “Come on! I know where we can find coaches!”
As there was no time to argue, everyone else followed Gabriel obediently as he dashed off.
The whole party sprinted off without another word. As they ran, a cry was taken up against them. “The pirates have escaped! Sheriffs! Sheriffs!” Fortunately, the ‘pirates’ were able to keep just ahead of the angry crowd until they reached a cab stand, where they clambered hurriedly into an empty coach.
As the former sailors arranged themselves in the seats (the two men who had freed them had turned away and run off earlier), gasped out “To the west gate! When you’re there, we’ll hire you for longer! Quickly!”
As the noise was too great to attempt a reply, the cab driver only snapped his whip in the air, causing his team to dash wildly through the oncoming crowd.
Some time later, when the cab had reached the west gate, the occupants of the cab caught sight of Michael dashing towards them. Calling on the driver to slow down but not to stop, David, who was closest, threw open the door just in time for Michael to grab onto it and swing himself inside. David then called to the driver “Go on ‘till we tell you to stop!”
The coach bounced swiftly down the road for several days. By the end of the first week, the passengers knew they were being pursued by mounted sheriffs, who had as yet been unable to catch up with them. David then promised the coachman fifty dollars if he could get them home, and then suddenly decided “You drive, Gabe. We’ll let this man go.”
“Aye aye, sir.” Gabriel replied cheerfully. Without breaking stride or slowing down the coach, he had positioned himself on the box in moments. He stopped the coach for an instant so the other man could jump off and collect his fee from David, and then they were off.
Two weeks later, when the intrepid adventurers had finally reached home, they had to run into David’s house at breakneck speed to evade the sheriffs who were still chasing them. “Quick, everyone” David called “Bar the door! There’s something I must find! They shan’t take us away!” As the others braced themselves against the door, David went dashing down the hall. A few minutes later, he gave a triumphant cry. “Ah ha! Perfect! Just what I wanted! Open the doors, men! We surrender!”
For a moment, the others were stunned, but then they saw that he was laughing. They threw open the doors. As the whole party stepped outside, they noticed that a large crowd had gathered on the lawn to discover the reason for the commotion.
Grinning widely, David announced “We’ll come quietly men, but only if we are allowed to read this letter first.” Without further ado, he began reading.
Captain Dameon Mellino, Captain David Mellino, Admiral Anthony Mellino, Pilot Gabriel Mellino, John, Luke, Michael, and Raphael, sons of the said officers, along with Mark and Matthew Sponsler, twin sons of Joseph Sponsler, volunteer spymaster for the U.S. government, are hereby fully and unconditionally pardoned for any acts of privateering or piracy which they may have committed in defense of this nation. Signed by the hand of the President of the United States, …” At this time, David held it up for all to see. He then added “Now, my good men, if you’ll go find a man by name Franz Turphoil, and arrest him, we shall be square. And tonight, I invite everyone to the pub to celebrate!”
The whole crowd cheered at this, and then went their own ways. The pardoned sailors retreated into David’s house and remained there until after dark, when they went to the pub, which was full. Taking the largest table, David called “Ale for the men and cider for all the boys! These two” he added, pointing at Mark and Matt “are boys.” This statement drew general laughter.
Several minutes later, when the drinks had come, David rose. “Gentlemen, I would like to offer a toast, or two.” Raising his mug, he called out “To God, to America, and to true friends! Long may they last!”
“Aye!” cried the whole establishment. There was a pause as everyone drank a portion of their beer. Then David continued. “To Dameon Mellino and Joseph Sponsler, two brave men who died for their friends!”
“Aye!” The drinks were emptied, then refilled. Then, David mounted the table and called out in his best deck voice ‘To happy reunions and fortunate destinies, may they be God’s Will!”

So ends the story of Reunions And Destinies
Featuring my good friends The Scarlet Pimpernel and his brothers, C.C. and his brother M. as Spaniards, and with appearances by my good friends J.B. and H. S. as Portuguese expatriates.
(Under normal circumstances, I do not positively identify my friends to protect their identities)

-Written for the greater Glory of God by JT/King Valun-

27 June 2011

Final Note

My apologies for confusing anyone, but Reunions & Destinies is not quite there yet. I have a comparatively action packed final chapter in the works which i promise you will go up before I begin Price Of A Throne, which will not be delayed. Thanks to Velvin, Saxon, and The Scarlet Pimpernel for taking me up on my request for publicity. Hope you enjoy the story.

26 June 2011

Notes On Price Of A Throne

To make fully certain that my upcoming story, The Price of a Throne, is sufficiently comprehensible, I am posting this page of notes that I originally wrote for myself to describe the overall setting:

Ruler: Valun III
Capital: Corrandion
Other large cities: Carribeasa, Berunthia.
Terrain: flat, fertile. Few hills, scattered trees.

Ruler: Meltran
Capital: Bernola
Other large cities: Birixia, Traumaval.
Terrain: hilly, one major forest.

Ruler: Elmbran II
Capital: Varaskel
Other large cities: Taronga, Brilmain
Terrain: One major lake, one major forest, mountainous

Ruler: Torlan
Capital: Gaimaron
Other large cities: Goman, Trepalenmar
Terrain: Entire country is desert, except edge all the way around. There is a Nile valley style river alongside which the capital is built.

All the countries produce enough food to be self-sustaining to a great extent, excepting, of course, Gairbairia, which trades heavily with nations to the East. The best craftsmen are found in Brandia. The people of all the countries believe in God, whom they refer to variously as The One Who Rules Us All, The Great One, or simply The One. It takes approximately 10-14 days to cross any country from East to West at a brisk, steady pace.  All water flows basically from South to North.
The layout of countries is in the most straightforward manner possible. Facing North, Corridane is in the Southwest corner, Brandia is in the Northwest corner, Ronaiera in the Northeast, and Gairbairia in the Southeast. The empire of Naibern stretches from the Westernmost edge of Corridane to the Eastern edge of Gairbairia, on the Southern border of those countries.Corridane, Brandia, and Ronaiera have extensive seacoasts to the west, north, and north, respectively. Gairbairia is landlocked.

p.s. Thanks are in order to Velvin, who linked to my blog like i asked my followers to do. I promise you that will be the last time I pull that stunt.

23 June 2011

Title And Synopsis

I'm putting this up a week ahead of time so you can all take advantage of it. I call on all the nobles of Corridane (my followers) to PLEASE SPREAD THIS AROUND! Repost this! Link back! Whatever! I need critics! Notice I did not say I need people who will like my work. I need people who will criticize my work.Through the course of this story, I expect everyone to hide behind their semi-anonymous blogger personas and be ready to complain. In addition, Scarlet Pimpernel, release the quotes! That said, here follows what I'm asking you to spread:

Four Kings

A young king reclaims his lost throne, with the aid of three life-long companions, One of whom is not who he seems to be. Soon afterward, he finds himself called to regain something more meaningful than royalty.  Meanwhile, a dark emperor has risen on the king’s borders, seeking to subdue all those free from his rule. Separated, the three friends must fight for their lives against great odds. In another land, an even greater price is paid. All those who would stand against tyranny must unite if they are to defeat their foes. But even then, the price has not been paid in full. What is the price of a throne? Will good or evil reign over Corrbrangairia for all time? If you wish to know, you must ride with the four kings!
A New Weekly Serial Coming To JT’s Tales July First, 2011

Strength! Wisdom! Justice!

19 June 2011

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter XXXV

Nearly two weeks had passed since the events of the previous chapters. The journey through Portugal to the coast had taken as few days as one could possibly expect it to take, and David and his party had already been out to sea, on board a Portuguese trading vessel, for at least four days. They were not idle, as they had been taken on condition that they, being able seamen, would work alongside the hands. It had been agreed, however, that they would all be in the same watch.
On this particular day, they were on duty in the middle watch of the night. Accordingly, Gabriel was manning the helm, Mark, Matt, and Raphael were in the crow’s nests atop the masts, and Luke and John were standing beside David, who was officer of the watch, on the maindeck, when they heard first the shots, and then the cries.
“Fall off and stand by for boarding! We shall fire if you attempt anything!”
“Luke,” David whispered to his son “Go give the captain my compliments and tell him that it seems he needs to prepare his papers and what little armament he has.”
“Are we going to fight?”
“Yes. Just go.” David replied, slapping Luke lightly on the back.
Luke took the hint and ran off into the darkness.
After Luke had left on his errand, David strode over to the wheel to have a few words with Gabriel. “Have you fallen off yet?”
“Do I look like I’m wet? I need the crew to fall off. We’ve no worries yet. They can’t see us.”
“Then how do they know we’re here? Believe me, if they called out to us, they’ve surely got guns trained on us.”
By this time, Luke had brought the Portuguese captain on deck. David, who knew enough of the man’s language to make his point, pointed out in the direction that the British voice had come from and held out his other hand for the night-glass the captain had brought with him. Taking it, he took a long look at the British ship, which he could now see easily. Handing back the night-glass, he pronounced in Portuguese “Frigate. Gunports open and prepared.” Turning to Gabriel, he repeated the statement in English and added “So what are we going to do about it?”
“What do you expect us to do about it? They outnumber us at least three to one and are already prepared to blow us out of the water. What arms does the captain have?”
“There’s a carronade on the bow. Besides that, he has only small arms for the men.”
“Then it is obvious. We have to run. Tell him to lower his boats. We’ll row away on muffled oars.”
“Under the loaded guns of a British frigate?”
“One can’t be the hero every day, or night, for that matter. The night’s at it’s darkest now. We must go. Send the night-glass up to Mark. He’ll keep us informed. Tell John to stay up there with him to relay messages.”
Soon, there was nothing more to be said or done. In a short time, all the few boats the Portuguese had on deck were in the water, hooked to that side of the ship which faced away from the British vessel, and pulling hard to move their ship out of danger quietly.
On deck, Gabriel, who was still at the wheel, tested the wind and then turned to David, saying “Ask him how fast his ship can go.”
Without replying to Gabriel, David did so, and then addressed his brother. “He says... it can fly like a bird when he wants it to. But you’ll have to give him the wheel.”
“Fly like a bird, can it? What sort of bird, a falcon or a dodo?” Gabriel said, grinning broadly as he relinquished the wheel.
The captain must have had an idea of what Gabriel had said, because he took the wheel scowling and immediately began snapping out orders to the crew. David turned on Gabriel indignantly. “You need to apologize to him. At the moment, he’s our captain, to a point. You know perfectly well you never would have said that if you thought he would understand.” David paused as the captain addressed him. Turning back to Gabriel, he added “He wants you to heave the log.”
Saluting to the captain, Gabriel turned and strode off without saying a word. Five minutes later, he came running back. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself!” he called to David. “We’re already running off the reel!”
Just then, John appeared at Gabriel’s side. Saluting, he announced “Mark said it’s been long enough that I can tell you that it appears that there’s nothing behind us anymore. We’re safe.”
And then, a moment later, a totally unexpected cry from the boys on the lower mastheads. “Look out! Look ooouut beloooow! Mark, Where are your eyes?!” An instant after the boys’ cries had stopped, those on deck saw what Matt and Raphael had just noticed. A large British ship had materialized out of the darkness, directly in their path. The captain spun the wheel as fast as he could, but it was too late. The merchant vessel collided head-on with the broad side of a British frigate. The bow of the trader immediately snapped almost completely off.
David immediately began shouting at the captain in Portuguese. “Arm as many men as you can and send them after us! We have a hard fight ahead, for it’s capture that frigate for ourselves or sink!” And then in English “Come on Gabriel! This is as good a time as any!” Throwing off his coat to reveal a menacing array of knives, and even a tomahawk, David drew a pistol, ran to the extreme forward end of the sinking merchant vessel, and leapt aboard the frigate, ready to fight.
Gabriel, who was just as ready as David, followed his brother a moment later. As soon as he hit the British deck, there was a pepperpot pistol in each of his hands. Mark, Matt, and Raphael came down from the mastheads moments later. Each was carrying a pistol and a saber. As the armed crewmen ran past them to the aid of David and Gabriel, the five boys grouped together on the safest point of the rapidly sloping deck. Mark spoke first.
“Alright. Matt, you stay behind with Luke and John. Raphael and I are going in.”
Matt was taken aback by this statement. “What? You think we’re too young for this? You’re my elder by what, five minutes? Remember what our father said.”
“I am remembering. He taught me to be the best just for this purpose. Wait here. Someone’s going to get hurt.”
“Do you remember that this ship is sinking under us?” exclaimed Luke, exasperated at the twin’s arguing. “We can’t stay here anyway!”
“Look at it as it really is, Mark.” John spoke up “We need every man we can get, you can’t stop us anyway, and if you really are the best, the last thing you want is for Luke to feel compelled to knock your head on straight again when you would rather be out there fighting. We’ll come behind you.”
“Alright then. Come on. We’ve wasted too much time already.”
Without another word, the boys, led by Mark, clambered over the side of the British vessel and joined the fray, which was going badly for their fathers and their allies. David and Gabriel, with the Portuguese crewmen, had their backs to the figurehead of the ship. It was all they could do to stay alive in the face of the foe’s overwhelming numbers and superior training.
The boys caught the British marines by surprise, and had soon cut their way to their friends’ sides. Turning to David, Mark asked “Well, sir? Are we going to get home to our families, or are we going to die ignominiously on a bloody British deck? Shall we show these redcoats how men in full possession of their wills fight?”
“You are confident we can beat them? You’re only a boy.”
“Only a boy? There you go again. I’ll show you what a ‘boy’ trained by the phantom can do!” With that, Mark drove straight into the line of British troops. He was soon lost to sight behind the numerous ranks of marines.
Matt, the Mellinos, and their allies continued the fight, asking no quarter. No speech was heard from any quarter for several minutes. Then, suddenly, from a far quarter of the ship, came a cry, which Matt and the Mellinos could hardly believe. “Help! Help! Heeeellllp meee or I’ll die!”
Everyone could tell who was calling out. Matt and David stared at each other for a moment, and then, without a word from either of them, charged straight into the British lines. The British troops were so taken aback by this sudden, seemingly hopeless move, that their deeply imbedded military precision and skill which was so often unstoppable was no match for Matt’s wild desperation, backed by David’s veteran skill.
In consequence of this, it was not long before the two had reached Mark. They had reached him at the last possible moment. Mark lay sprawled on the deck, quite apparently senseless once more. The captain of the ship, who had just struck the decisive blow, was standing over him, determining whether it would be better to finish the boy now or hold him captive.
Before he had time to make his choice, though, David’s tomahawk had decided for him.
While David held off the attackers, Matt immediately set about rousing Mark. On one knee beside his brother, Matt slapped him several times with his free hand.
“We’ve come! Don’t be dead now, after all we’ve been through!”
Releasing a drawn-out moan, Mark replied “That bloody Brit doesn’t know how to hit a man. Thought he’d knocked me out. I did too. Then I find all he’s done is to give me a blasted nasty headache.”
“Then stay still. We’ll be out of this soon enough.” Rising, Matt raised his sword, standing over Mark. Standing back to back with David, he held off every man who came his way.
It seemed to Mark, as he lay on the deck, doing his best not to move, that Matt changed as he watched. There was something about him which had been longing to come out, and apparently not had a chance to do so until this battle. Mark could not immediately decide how Matt had changed, but after a few moments had passed, he determined what it was. There was a new hardness about Matt, a new determination, which had not been present before. This too, was a question Mark found himself unable to answer at the moment. So, there, as his brother and his Godfather continued to slay British marines left and right to protect him and themselves, Mark turned inward, to discover what he really thought.
Even the act of thinking was painful, due to his awful headache, but after several minutes had passed, Mark began to see the answer to his question. As they grew up, he had always seen Matt only as a friend, and not as an equal. But in the recent weeks, he had been over the edge of despair and back, and only now began to see things in their proper light. Matt was his equal, and in some ways, his better. Mark, who had been trained as the fighter, was now forced to watch as Matt proved that he, too, was brave enough to handle anything thrown his way. The days when Mark had had to shield Matt were long past. Now, their roles, as they had been long since in reality, were reversed, and Matt was doing his best to shield Mark. The words which had brought him back from the edge ran through Mark’s mind again: “Trust Matt, and you’ll live long and happily. Ignore him, you’ll die soon.” Mark, however, had always been too impetuous to heed those words before. Now, as he lay helpless on the deck, he finally saw what he had been missing.
That which Matt had, Mark was finally gaining, through Matt’s unquestioning determination to stand and fight, for the first time without Mark at his side. An understanding. An understanding that men do not accomplish great tasks without support from others. Even those who appeared to have done their deeds alone always had others to thank for support. Mark’s greatest need for support had finally come, and Matt had risen to the challenge. There was no longer anything to fear. Mark slowly allowed himself to relax. Moments later, he succumbed to the urge to sleep, even in the midst of a battle.
It was hours later when he opened his eyes again, his headache completely gone. Silence had once more returned to the ship. David and Matt soon showed themselves, leaning over Mark as if he were something that had fallen from the sky. “So, you’re finally awake, eh? Hose to the deck!” David called loudly as Matt said in a stage whisper, grinning widely “I’d get up if I were you. They’re about to douse you.”
Scrambling up, Mark dashed up the nearest mast until he reached the yards. Laughing, he called down “Truce! Truce! I’m awake now, see? I’m not coming down ‘till you put that dangerous hose away!”
It was not long before Mark was joined on the yard by John. Settling himself into position, John said “You would think it a pity that you missed most of the battle. You would have been as surprised as we were to see what we saw. Matt fought like twenty and shouted like ten. Of course, we all had to stand up to waves of marines, but if one man’s blade was stained, it was Matt’s. And then afterwards. We used nearly all the spare sailcloth, for uncle David insisted the job had to be done respectfully. You slept through all that, and stayed out until the same time today.”
“I slept all day?!” exclaimed Mark, astonished “Well-Well--- That captain and I both thought he’d done for me, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Why didn’t anyone move me?”
“They said you needed rest. Said a nap that long would get you over anything that was wrong. Also said that if you found you’d been moved to a bunk, you’d likely blow off at everyone. That was Matt.” John added, almost as an afterthought. “Well, I’ll be going. They’ll be wanting you on deck soon now you’re fit for duty.” Swinging off the yard, John grabbed a rope and went on his way down to the deck.
It was fortunate for all concerned that they did not cross paths with another British ship during their passage to America. At long last, after several weeks of hard labor (for the ship would have been undermanned had they won the battle unscathed), Luke, whose turn it was to stand up the mainmast, cried “I see it! I see it! America! We’re home at last!” Closing his father’s telescope, he grabbed a backstay and slid back down to the deck.
He was soon met by David, who took the glass and said “We’re a long way from home yet if you’ve just seen it now. Back to your duties. I’ll send another man up now.”
Knowing it would be futile to protest, Luke turned dejectedly and made his way back along the deck until he came alongside the twins, coiling loose rope. “Drat this cruise!” He exclaimed suddenly. “Wasn’t this cruise supposed to make us all rich? So where are the riches?”
Without looking up, Mark replied “It has made us rich. Our riches are inside. If you’re wondering where all the galleons have gone, ask your father. If you want friends, we’ll be glad to help.”
But Luke was not going to be put off easily. Frustrated at having not received the commendation he thought he deserved for being the first to sight land, he was looking for a fight. “Keep your boring inner peace to yourself! Give me the riches! You wouldn’t care! It’s not as if you ever had anything!”
At this, Mark snapped. Leaping up after Luke, who had turned away, he quickly spun him around and grabbed his wrists to ensure that he was not knocked out. He spoke angrily, spitting out the words as if they tasted offensive. “Listen, Luke. You’re right. We haven’t got anything. We’re not wealthy like some boys I could name, We hardly know each other, and we lost our father, twice. But you don’t know what that’s like, because you haven’t lost him once yet. Now leave us be to work.”
As Mark resumed his work, Matt remarked “You handled that well. The old Mark probably would have threatened to toss him overboard. What did he want?”
“Didn’t you hear? More money, apparently. I can’t imagine why. Seems he really just wanted someone to shout at.”
“He’ll get over it. We all will. Didn’t he say we were almost home?”

15 June 2011

Upcoming New Serial

I want to tell you all, whether you actually care or not, that Reunions & Destinies will (finally) soon come to it's conclusion. It will be followed by a new story which I will begin posting in early July, which will eventually be quite a bit longer than R&D. Please check back here often, because I will be posting nearly every day until the end of the month to wrap up R&D and promote the new story. The coming story is the climax of my reason for starting JT's Tales in the first place. As if you needed any reminding, that means that I am practically begging you to comment often on the upcoming story, which I am putting up here so as to make it an interactive first draft, so people can point out where I went wrong, and I can take suggestions and fix the MS. This would be a great help to me, as it would to some degree improve my writing skills. IF YOU ARE AT ALL INTERESTED IN READING THE UPCOMING STORY, FROM FIRST POST TO LAST, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST. I will release the title page of the story in a few days, and I will ask you all to to at least link to it. Thanks.

09 June 2011

Final Battle

Chapter Ten

The next day began just as any other day on the island had. Soon after dawn, Maturin and Duvall emerged from their place of refuge in the island’s central cave, intending to return to the coast and see what McNeal had accomplished.
What McNeal had accomplished exceeded the fears of the two castaways. In the time since they had left, McNeal had succeeded in positioning at least half his guns, with all their accompanying accruements, in serviceable positions, pointed toward the sea. Not only did he have the firepower to hold off any ship afloat, but McNeal had also had the work of raising the treasure begun. Yet another band of men was hard at work on the damaged hull, working feverishly to re-float the ship.
Duvall took all this in with a look of dismay. “Horner does not stand a chance against a crew working like this. It is no wonder that he fears McNeal.”
“McNeal has but one weakness, and that is that he is totally unprepared for an attack from over land.”
“It is as if he can hear us. Look, he has stopped all work, and has now sent every man on shore. We can see from here that they are well armed.” After a pause, Duvall attempted to reassure himself as well as Maturin. “He is not suspicious. How could he know that Horner always comes on this day? He did not even know where the island was before I let it slip. Damn me.”
A moment later, Duvall jumped with astonishment when he felt a hand upon his shoulder. Turning to see who it was, Maturin and Duvall found themselves looking up into the face of John Horner himself.
“Yes” Horner told them. “I heard everything you said just now. Will you fight with me, to reclaim my treasure?” Horner asked, looking at Maturin. As he spoke, he ran Duvall through with a knife he had just produced without giving him a second glance.
This unprovoked, apparently spontaneous, act shocked Maturin. Looking down at the body, he asked “What did he do to deserve that?”
“He led McNeal to my treasure. I can not spare a man who would do that.”
“He said he acted under your orders! He said it was all part of your plan to trap McNeal here!”
At this, Horner laughed in Maturin’s face. “He said that? That it was under my orders? You have been fooled! He was always a liar. I discovered that for myself and let him go. Perhaps he was expecting some reward for bringing my worst enemy to me and death! Well, he’s received all the reward he was going to get!” Waving to hidden followers, Horner called out “Come armed, men! It’s time to finish this here and now!”
Maturin stared as hundreds of men stepped out from behind their cover, armed to the teeth. “Come on!” Horner called. “McNeal’s waiting for us! It won’t be long now! We’re only waiting for the others to bring the ship around!”
From the reef, McNeal was watching the beach, glass to his eye. He laughed at what he saw. “John Horner, eh? No doubt he’s come for his treasure. Well, I’ve no objections. He can have it. If he can reach it! Turn those guns around!”
Horner watched this new activity with increasing consternation. “Damn his eyes! He’s seen us! We can’t wait any longer! Wait! I see our ship just coming up on him! Every man back under cover! We’ll charge when the battle has begun!”
Maturin was surprised again. “Would it not be better to charge now, before all their guns are in place?”
“Are you giving the orders around here? Funny, I thought I was John Horner!--- Oh, blast it, there they go! Come on, men!” Following Horner and Maturin, most of the crew of Horner’s vessel, which was now in the bay firing at the Centaur and it’s crew, streamed out from the trees, yelling wildly. In the course of the charge, Maturin got slightly ahead of Horner. Without breaking stride, Horner pulled a gun and shot Maturin in the back, crying “I can’t spare you either!”
While Horner pressed his attack, McNeal, who had now stepped behind the shelter of his ship, watched calmly, only occasionally calling out “Keep firing! They can’t hold out against us!” McNeal’s men on shore had managed to fire one devastating broadside into the closely packed ranks of Horner’s men, and had then spiked the guns to render them useless. Now, the battle was joined, and no one could say who wold gain the victory.
After an hour of constant combat, Horner’s ship’s crew had destroyed the batteries firing at them, but had lost the ship, which was settling in the water under their feet. Moments later, it broke up. Not a man survived, as few could swim.
Seeing this, McNeal swam across the bay and joined his men on the shore. The captains of the respective crews were not the most feared men on the ocean for nothing. Both fought far better than any of their men, and so were, after much more fighting, literally the last men standing. Or rather, Horner was the last man standing, as he was walking among the dead, methodically stabbing every man to ensure that none could rise against him. McNeal lay among his men, feigning death, waiting for Horner to come for him.
Finally, Horner did reach McNeal, last of all. As Horner leaned over him and delivered the death blow, McNeal, his face blank, fired a loaded pistol into his rival. Horner fell beside him, and both died moments later.
Richontor, the isle of the forbidden sand, the island of death, had claimed it’s last victims. True to the words of Duvall, the first to die, no man ever returned alive. Years passed, and the bodies of the captains and their crews, along with the unlucky Maturin, were covered by the sand. Horner’s marvelous treasure, which he had accumulated throughout his years of piracy, lay undisturbed at the bottom of the bay. No one ever discovered what had become of John Horner, William McNeal, or their crews. The legend of Richontor, with no one left alive to tell it, died with them.

04 June 2011


Chapter Nine

Later that night, McNeal called several men to his side on the deck. He spoke quickly and quietly. “Our prisoners have escaped. We must find them as fast as we are able. If we do not, we shall never find the treasure that is said to be hidden on shore. One fiftieth part of that treasure would make a man wealthy for the rest of his days. But I won’t stop there. The man who brings back the prisoner Duvall alive has a claim to a twentieth part of the whole hoard. You may do what you like with the other, Maturin.”
At the conclusion of this speech, McNeal turned back toward his cabin, calling back “Arm yourselves as you like, but don’t come back without Duvall, or Maturin, or both of them, dead or alive! If you return without them, Davy Jones’ll have to build himself an extra locker.”
As he listened with satisfaction to the sound of as many as twenty crewmen leaping overboard to wade ashore, McNeal allowed the faintest hint of a smile to flit across his face. “The fools! They never learn! Never learn that without McNeal, they are as hopeless as fish in a net. Yet they still persist in their belief that if they try harder, they will succeed... Davy Jones drives a hard bargain, but he always holds up his end of the deal, at least.” With this less than charitable thought in his mind, McNeal retired to his cabin to await the results of the expedition.
After a few moments of silence, Duvall began to move deeper into the cave. Maturin, utterly perplexed, followed a short distance behind him, calling “Where are you off to? Would it not be simpler to return to the surface?”
“Do you want the treasure, or should we go back above ground and turn ourselves into that fiend we escaped from? Follow me. I know where I’m going!”
Without wasting an instant more in speech, Maturin began to run after Duvall until he had come alongside him once more. The two men walked side by side in silence until Duvall stopped abruptly, holding the torch high above his head. The raised torchlight now illuminated the bottom part of a large rock, which had been set in a hole which had been dug very precisely, with the intent that it should remain supported by the earth, yet still be possible to remove from underneath, if one had the size and strength to do so. Drawing Maturin’s attention to it, Duvall said “Lift that, if you still have the strength. It is our only way out of this place.”
Preferring to let his actions speak for him, Maturin, who was at least six inches taller than Duvall, stepped into position directly underneath the rock and extended his arms. The hole was shallower than it seemed, which was the main reason why no one who found it would have guessed that it was the exit to a tunnel. It was but the work of a moment for Maturin to lift the rock from it’s resting place. Stopping for a moment to shade his eyes from the sunlight which was now streaming in, he turned to Duvall and asked “What’s our next move? We’re still stuck.”
Let me climb out over your back, then I will help you.”
“No you don’t. If you do that, you’ll just push the rock back over the hole and shove off.”
“Are you saying you don’t want the treasure after all?” Duvall paused as both men became aware of the sound of gunshots, faint as it was. “McNeal has already sent men after us, it seems. Soon, he will be coming himself. He was always famous for overmanning his ships. So, shall we get the treasure, or will McNeal?”
“We will.” Maturin replied sharply, moving into the center of the light shaft and bracing himself as Duvall climbed out over his back. A moment later, Duvall dropped a ladder down into the shaft.
Maturin climbed out quickly. As soon as he had reached the surface, Duvall turned and ran off, calling over his shoulder “Follow me! It’s on the coast!”
Maturin did not waste his breath in reply. In a moment, he was running alongside Duvall. They ran side by side, crashing through the underbrush of the densely forested island, until they reached the edge of the beach which fringed the island on all sides.
Duvall paused for a moment, looking for a landmark. Suddenly, he found it, a spire of rock sticking up out of then water fifteen yards off the coast. Lying down on the beach, Duvall announced “Now we wait for low tide. We will not be able to reach the treasure until then.”
In a flash, Maturin understood what Duvall meant and knew that there was nothing left for them to do but sleep to regain the strength they would need to uncover the treasure. But before closing his eyes, he turned to Duvall and and asked “Would it not be better to leave the treasure undisturbed until John Horner arrives?”
“Of course we shall leave it there. Do you think two men would be able to hide all that treasure successfully from one such as McNeal unless it was underwater?”
Several hours later, when the two men woke from their nap, they discovered that they had missed their chance. The rock that served as their landmark was uncovered, yes, but they could now see the Centaur, the most feared ship in the ocean, standing fifty yards offshore. Duvall, who had risen first, shook Maturin roughly, shouting “Quick! We must run! McNeal’s onto us!”
Getting to their feet in seconds, the two fugitives dashed off back into the forest they had struggled through only hours ago. McNeal, his glass to his eye, watched them run, laughing harder than he had in may a year. “Hahahahaha! No one escapes from McNeal! Especially here! That treasure’s as good as mine now! There are only two reasons why they would have stopped there, and then run off like scared rabbits when they caught sight of me! That treasure is either underwater or under the sand! Let us look underwater first! Every man overboard! If you can’t swim, you’ll learn today!”
Goaded on by their sadistic captain, a large part of McNeal’s crew leapt overboard into the swirling waves which had spent their force against the side of the ship. With as many as a hundred men searching, there was barely room to move. Nevertheless, it was not long before someone had spotted what they were looking for. Scarcely ten minutes had passed before a muscular crewman wearing a red bandanna around his long hair broke water close by the ship and called out “It’s there, Captain! All caulked tight and sealed in its cave! We’ll have to move in closer to shore to bring it aboard, though!”
When the man had finished, McNeal called out “Every man who hasn’t been eaten by a shark back aboard on the double! We’ll bring her into shore!”
From the underbrush at the edge of the forest, Maturin and Duvall watched the Centaur move closer to the beach. Duvall spoke, his voice bitter. “The treasure is his, unless...” He trailed off, hoping Maturin would ask what he meant.
Maturin obliged in a moment. “Unless what?”
“Unless his draught is high enough to cross the reef safely.”
“The reef? There’s a reef out there?”
“Did you think you that rock was out there by itself?! There’s a reef! Now we must hope that either his crew didn’t warn him, or that McNeal tries it anyway. I’m sure he will. He’s too big for his boots.”
The two fugitives watched with bated breath as the Centaur inched closer to the rock. Noticing a distinct change in the tide, Duvall cried “No better! They are crossing at low tide! Grounded! And breached!” Just as Duvall cried ‘And breached!’, both fugitives heard a sound like a cannon firing, which, from their vantage point, they could see was caused by a newly uncovered rock ripping a hole in the bottom of McNeal’s ship.
Maturin and Duvall watched happily as McNeal grew steadily angrier with his crew for the blunder which had, in fact, been caused by the mutual spite felt by McNeal against his crew and his crew against him. When all the men had come back aboard, the one who had found the treasure had added “I wouldn’t take the ship any farther if I were you, captain. We don’t want anything costly happening now, so close to the treasure.”
Sensing another meaning behind the crewman’s words, McNeal had ordered that the ship move forward. Straight onto the reef which the crew knew perfectly well was there. The moment the ship was torn open, McNeal ordered that half the guns be lowered out of the ship onto the rocks in order that the ship might tip on it’s side and leave the hole open to repair.
Suddenly, Duvall said “We’ve been here long enough. It will not be long before McNeal’s men are blundering through, missing the trees for the forest.”
Several minutes later, Duvall spoke again. “Now we wait for John Horner to arrive. He’s due tonight.”
“He had better arrive for his appointment, or someone will be dead soon.”
“Are you threatening me?” Duvall exclaimed in indignation.
“I am not. It is a fact that several men will be dead soon if Horner doesn’t arrive.”
“We shall see.”