Friday, June 5, 2009

The second chapter..

A year or so into our relationship, my wife asked me to do something special for her. I asked her what it is I could do and she said that she didn't know but she wanted something that no one else had done for her. So after months of hemming and hawing and trying to figure out what that one thing could be, I wrote her a story. I took the life that we had created together so far and transformed it into a fantasy world. After winning her heart with the tale I decided that I should keep going with it, taking our adventures thus far and making them into the grand tales of Bear and Amalia. Eventually I will post the original story but for now you can feast on the second chapter. I give you "There be Beasties!" Please enjoy

It was the eve of the summer solstice in the sixth year of the second age. The Bear Prince had just returned home from a long day’s work in the forest, harvesting lumber and firewood for the coming winter. Every man, commoner or royalty, put in an honest day’s labor in the northern kingdom. It was the only way to ensure prosperity in the land and Bear was more than willing to comply with the tradition. Just as he sat down to enjoy a cold drink with his wife, a rapping came from the front door. Amalia kissed her husband on top of the head and left to answer the door. It wasn’t more than a moment later that she was calling fro him. As Bear turned the corner to the foyer, he saw standing in the doorway a man who was visibly exhausted. He had long brown hair tied back and wore a plain cotton shirt and knee high boots. Strapped to his side was an old-fashioned navy cutlass. Bear recognized immediately that this man was a sailor.
“Who are you?” Bear queried of the man.
“Sir, I am Geddy and I have come here at the behest of a man named Acadia.” Bear’s eyebrows shot up at the mention of the name. He quickly ushered the man into the sitting room. After getting him comfortable, Bear made his way to the kitchen to get him a meal and a drink, Amalia only a step behind.
“Who is Acadia, m’Love?” Amalia asked, obviously worried by Bear’s response to hearing the name. Bear took a deep breath and leaned against the counter, his mind obviously traveling backwards in time.
“Trenton Acadia has been one of my dearest friends since I was able to walk. He is now the Mayor of Pub Harbor Village on the far Eastern shores of Desert Island. If he has sent for me, something is seriously wrong.” They got the meal together for the messenger and made their way back into the sitting room, letting Geddy feast before grilling him for details. “So, Geddy, what problems have come to Pub Harbor?” The man wiped the corners of his mouth with a napkin, took a deep breath and began his story.
“Three weeks ago, on the eve of the full moon, when the sun sank and the misty twilight settled in the harbor, a ship came into view. We didn’t think much of it, as it is getting to be summer and more and more ships come in. We heard something strange, though, a loud piercing sound. And then another and another. It was only then we realized it was cannon fire and our village was under attack. When someone finally found a scope to try to see the colors of the ship, we discovered it was the Dread Pirate Geoffreys.” At the mention of that name, Bear’s eyes went wide and he slid forward to the edge of his seat so he would not miss a single word of the story.
“Who is the Dread Pirate Geoffreys?” Amalia looked between the two men with a concerned expression. Bear laid his hand over his wife’s and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“The Dread Pirate Geoffreys is the cruelest sailor to take ship in the last two ages. He robs from the poorest and kills innocent men and sea creatures alike for nothing more than the pleasure it gives him.”
Taking another long breath, Geddy went on with his tale. “It all happened so quickly. It seemed one minute he was still five miles out to sea and the next he was already on shore, making his way to the village with his crew. They killed two dozen people, robbed shop after shop and then as quickly as they came, they were gone again, just like the wind. Luckily, most of the village still stood and the next day we began to fix and rebuild what was destroyed. But a few nights later they came back again, and again a few nights after that.” Geddy sighed, rubbing his tired eyes. “Pub Harbor is in dire need of help, my Prince. We fear what is still left standing won’t be for much longer and Trenton thinks you are the only one who can help.” Bear sat there for a good long minute, his eyes staring out into the falling sun on the horizon. Amalia was at his side, an obvious look of discontent on her face. He stood up and paced for a moment in the sitting room, staring only at the floor in front of him.
“I know you are tired, but can you ride, Geddy?” Bear crouched down by the man, resting a hand on his forearm.
“Of course I can, Sire,” the sailor nodded in response.
“Rest for now if you can – we ride hard in an hour for Pub Harbor.” With his decision made, Bear stood up and made his way out of the room and up into his and Amalia’s bedroom, again with Amalia only a step behind him.

“You know I’m coming with you, right?” she declared to the prince.
“M’Love, this is a dangerous journey and I could not bear the thought of putting you in harm’s way,” he replied.
“But you have said that I can handle myself better than most women you know,” she retorted. “You won’t win this one, Bear. I’m going.” Bear let out a long, deep breath and nodded in agreement, stuffing a couple of shirts into a satchel. Amalia busied herself packing her own clothes and the rest of Bear’s as he went to a large wooden cabinet in the corner of their room. Taking a key out of his pocket, bear swung open the large oak doors. Before him, carefully laid out, was a small arsenal of different weaponry. First he holstered two pistols on his own belt, then set aside a belt and pistol for Amalia. Next came the daggers; one on his belt and one on hers. Finally, he took down the two swords that hung on each of the oak doors – one was broad and heavy, obviously his, the other shorter with cleaner lines and more sheen, obviously the weapon for a woman with more finesse. Bear walked over to her and handed her the sword, wrapping her hands around the pommel, his hand resting over hers. Amalia looked down at their hands and then moved her eyes up to his, where she could see the worry.
“You cannot hesitate,” is all he said to her, and she simply replied with a nod of her head. A short time later they were on their way through the eastern woods, headed for the far coast.

Pub Harbor was a two day ride. First they had to head south through the city of Bangor and then head due east past the Lucerne Castle and the village of Ellsworth. Bear hoped with any luck they would catch the tidal flow right and be able to ride the horses across the sand bar at low tide out onto Desert Island. Amalia had never been to Pub Harbor with Bear so she was both excited and frightened at the same time. She had no idea how to prepare for what was ahead but at the same time she was glad to be at Bear’s side.

They had little trouble crossing the sandbar onto Desert Island and as soon as they reached the shore Amalia noticed the difference in the terrain. The trees on the island were mostly all pine and spruce and the landscape was nothing but rolling hills in all directions that swept up and then slid off into the deep blue waters of the sea. “It’s gorgeous here!” exclaimed Amalia. Bear and Geddy both smiled, taking in the view around them.
“There’s no other place like it!” replied Geddy proudly. As they rode for another hour or so a giant mountain peak, the largest on the island, started to come into view on the easternmost point of the island.
“Bear, what mountain is that?” asked Amalia.
“That, m’Dear, is Callidac Mountain and at the base of it is Pub Harbor.” Still they rode on, up and over many more hills until they were almost touching Callidac Mountain. As they crested a sharp hill, buildings came into sight. They made their way into a village that started halfway down the hill and looked as if it would slide off into the sea at any moment.
“Thank the Gods, it still stands!” cried Geddy joyfully. Bear had to admit the beauty of Pub Harbor and the land surrounding her was enough to take his breath away every time. Pub Harbor was filled with shops, all famous around the world for their handmade crafts. You could find anything from pottery to jewelry, fresh baked goods to clothing. Of course Pub Harbor had to keep up with its namesake as well, and boasted dozens of pubs within its streets, each different in a unique way and each brewing their own homemade ales, which always proved a tasty temptation for a weary sailor.
As they made their way down into the village, people were out cleaning the streets, fixing doors and windows and straightening the signs in front of their shops. Amalia was enthralled with the variety of stores and pubs. Everywhere she looked there was something different, and she wanted to see it all. Bear couldn’t help but smile, watching her almost fall out of her saddle trying to look at everything at once. Bear noticed one pub in particular with huge bay windows and teal green signs. Hanging from its front door was a large sign painted in gold stating the name of the establishment… Geddy’s. Bear leaned over and nudged his new friend and pointed to the pub. Geddy chuckled. “My wife’s place! She runs the pub while I’m out to sea. Speaking of which, you and Amalia are more than welcome to take one of the rooms above the tavern at no charge!”
Bear smiled and nodded. “Thank you, my friend; your offer is greatly appreciated.” With that Geddy parted ways with Bear and Amalia so he could go see his wife while they went to look for Trenton Acadia.

As luck would have it, Acadia was not a difficult man to find. The village square was a grassy knoll that was cut into the center of the hill. It was adorned with a gazebo and a monument to the sailors who had lost their lives at sea. It also offered a perfect view of the harbor and open ocean. There, standing in the middle of the gazebo with his advisors and some of the residents of Pub Harbor was Trenton Acadia. They were all pouring over maps and pointing in different directions, arguing among themselves. Bear and Amalia made their way to the gazebo totally unseen by the group who was totally involved with themselves. Bear cleared his throat and a few of the men jumped, letting out yelps as they were startled by the man and woman who had so suddenly appeared among them. Acadia had a much different reaction. Trenton leapt over the railing of the gazebo and tackled Bear in a massive hug. Suddenly realizing his manners again, he stood and introduced himself to Amalia before declaring to the rest of the people that help had finally arrived!

That afternoon Amalia spent a few hours wandering from shop to shop looking at all the different merchandise while Bear and Acadia reminisced and tried to devise a plan at the gazebo. “Are there any ships left?” Bear asked of the Mayor.
“All that’s left are a few small fishing boats and one larger vessel that should be returning tomorrow.”
“Is she able to stand a fight?” Bear asked, a hint of hope in his voice.
“She might be able to make a run, she has twelve guns on board, but The Friendship is more of a cargo ship.”
Bear sighed and sat back in his chair, looking at the map of the northeastern sea in front of him. “As soon as she makes port tomorrow, have the captain re-supply and get a fresh crew on board. At the very least, we need to do some scouting.” Acadia nodded in agreement, staring down at the same map that Bear was looking at. For now, though, m’friend, let us drink,” Bear cracked with a grin.

That night almost half the town was crammed into Geddy’s Tavern, all sharing Geddy’s famous dark stout. Bear and Amalia, Geddy and his wife as well as Acadia and his were all seated at the head table, while the other residents all talked and joked across the tables. Bear stood, clearing his throat and raising his glass, and immediately the whole tavern went silent. “My friends!” he exclaimed. “Drink hearty tonight for we know not what comes on that horizon tomorrow. I toast you all now.” He nodded at Geddy and Trenton. “To friendship!” He smiled at Amalia. “To love!” He then raised his glass to the windows and out to the sea. “To freedom! Salute!” With that, a roaring “salute!” and cheering filled the bar. They all shared a few more pints of the dark stout before retiring for the night, off to get some much needed sleep for the next day’s adventures.

The next morning, Bear woke to bright sunshine, the salty smell of the sea air and Amalia humming, sitting in the window looking over the Harbor. Bear rose and kissed her gently and she smiled up at him. “Love, I have been hearing something strange all morning. If I didn’t know better I would swear I’m mad! I’ve been hearing thunder constantly, yet there are no storm clouds on the horizon.”
Bear laughed and patted her gently on the head. “I will show you the source of your thunder, just as soon as we eat some breakfast.” As they made their way down into the tavern the scent of fresh blueberry pancakes and bacon filled the air. Bear and Amalia sat with Geddy and his wife and enjoyed a homemade feast while they all talked back and forth about the happenings of the different kingdoms and different cultures. After finishing up, Bear packed a lunch for himself and Amalia and loaded up the horses.

Amalia was stunned by the beauty of the rocky shore of Desert Island. The cliffs were made of solid pink and gray granite that rose from the sea floor and went hundreds of feet into the air. They passed Seal Point which lived up to its name; hundreds of seals lay beached, enjoying the summer sun. As they continued past the sandy beach the rumbling of the thunder started to get louder and louder. Finally they broke through a clearing and all you could see was a wall of water. Every time the tide rolled in, it filled a narrow cavern and thundered outwards, creating a giant spray that went twenty or thirty feet into the air. “This, Amalia, is Thunder Hole, the source of your unseen storm,” chuckled Bear. Amalia was amazed by the raw power as they walked down the cliffs to get a better view.
“How deep is it?” she questioned Bear.
“No one really knows. The last person that fell in didn’t make it back out. The current here is far more than any man can withstand.” After a time, Amalia had seen and heard enough and they continued on with their journey around the island. Bear took her to a small winding carriage trail that worked its way up the side of Callidac Mountain until it reached the summit. The top of the mountain was littered with boulders half the size of a house and when you stood on top of one you could see for miles and miles in every direction, including directly down upon the village that was more than half a mile blow them. It was on top of one of these boulders that bear laid out a picnic for him and Amalia. They sat for a while talking and eating, enjoying the warm summer sun and the cool breeze of the sea.

Just about the time they finished their meal Bear spotted a four-masted ship returning to the harbor below. It was The Friendship returning from her voyage to the Southern lands. Bear and Amalia had a ship to catch so they quickly packed their things and made haste down the mountainside and into the village. Their timing seemed perfect because as they reached the dock they had just finished putting fresh supplies on the ship and the Captain was gathering a new crew. “Welcome aboard The Friendship, my friend!” He greeted Bear and Amalia warmly.
“Are you ready for another grand adventure?” Bear asked.
“Always ready for a romp!” howled the captain with a smile.
“Well, let’s go see what trouble we can get ourselves into!” chimed in Amalia.

A short time later they set sail and were headed into open waters. On board with the crew and captain were Bear, Amalia, Acadia and his advisors as well as Geddy and a couple other pub owners. They set their course in a South-Easterly direction to follow a small chain of islands that could pose possible hideouts for Geoffreys. The water was clear and calm with a good tail wind. It was perfect sailing and they were making good time. Although Amalia was nervous about possibly coming into a battle, she was having the time of her life. She had never been on the open sea before and she loved the freedom that it offered. Being there with the man she loved made it all the sweeter and no matter what happened after today, she was a happy woman. They rounded the chain of islands a few hours later, each man looking through his own spyglass for a hint of pirate, but there was nothing there but seals and rocks. The Captain brought the ship back around and started to head back in the direction they had come, just as the sun was starting to sink in the late afternoon sky.

“There be beasties!” came a bellow from the man in the crow’s nest. Sure enough, a few hundred yards off the port side a giant fin came up out of the water and splashed back down. “Is that a whale?” jumped Amalia. Bear nodded and took her hand, leading her to the side of the boat where many of the men were already watching the creature. Soon another fin appeared, then a tail. They had stumbled across a whole pod of them. The helm brought the ship around closer to them so they could have a better look. Everyone watched as the whales played on both sides of the boat. They leapt into the air, blew plumes of water high into the air, and smacked their fins against their sides. After a few minutes Bear noticed that the whales were headed in a northerly direction and he turned to the captain. “Isn’t it sort of odd for them to be heading north this early?”
The captain thought for a moment and then nodded in agreement. “I can’t say that I’ve seen in forty years on the water.”
Bear watched the whales for another few moments before spinning on his heels and hollering to the helm, “Mate, make a northerly course for Pirates’ Cove!” Everyone on the ship gasped and turned to look at Bear.
“There is no more Pirates’ Cove!” cried one of the town advisors. “After the fall of Blackbeard, the Scotian Maritime Navy took over the island and renamed it Halimouth Island and uses it as a guard post for the Maritime harbors,” stated another. “Even you know that, Bear,” added Acadia.
Bear looked at them all and shook his head slightly. “Gentlemen, if you were the most feared pirate on the seven seas and you had a crew of over fifty cutthroats at your command, would you think twice about storming an island that had a mere fifteen guards on watch?” All of their eyebrows started to go up, ready to argue with Bear again when he added, “And when was the last time that Scotian guard from Halimouth set foot in Pub Harbor?”
“Well, it has been about three wee…” The advisors jaw dropped.
The captain needed no more encouragement. Charging the deck he drew his sword. “Helm, full sail ahead!”

The sun set and they sailed on in the light of a three-quarter moon. They came into sight of Pirates’ Cove and sure enough, on the western face of the island The Maelstrom laid anchored. Amalia looked up into Bear’s eyes and asked him quietly, “How did you know to follow the whales?”
Bear turned, motioning out to the sea. “Whales are the oldest and smartest beasts of this Earth. They have seen the atrocities that Geoffreys has committed, killing their kind as well as our own. They too want vindication as do the rest of us.” Amalia turned and looked at the approaching island. Pirates’ Cove was a narrow spit of land that rose straight up out of the ocean and was a mass of solid rock. There were no shallows around the island, so a ship could sail right to the cliffs and drop anchor. It made for quick unloading and fast getaways. The island was filled with caverns that led into tunnels that wormed their way through the rocks. One in particular led straight up to the top of the island; it was a perfect lookout point. It was that exact reason that the Scotian Navy had taken the island and Bear was guessing it was Geoffreys’ reason as well.

The captain led the ship to the eastern face of the island where they were hoping they could surprise the pirate crew. Bear, Acadia, Geddy and Amalia led the crew into the cavern, with the rest armed to the teeth and close behind. All they found in the first cavern they came into were a bunch of drunk and passed out cutthroats which the crew quickly gagged and bound together. It was in an upper cavern that the fun began. As they rounded one tunnel’s corner, the group entered the largest cavern in the island and it was full of nasties. A great battle began between the pirates and the Friendship crew. The sound of pistols blaring and metal clanging was almost deafening inside. Bear watched a shadow duck into one of the other caverns and he took after it, knowing it was Geoffreys. Amalia went to follow her love but was soon ambushed by three men. She drew her sword on two of them and they went back and forth the around the cavern, trying to best each other. The third pirate tried to sneak behind Amalia to gain an advantage but she was having none of that. She forcefully thrust her hard-heeled boot into the man’s jewels and sent him screaming to the floor. “A hole in one!” she exclaimed loudly. The other two pirates became distracted by their comrade’s cries of agony and Amalia took the opportunity to clean her sword through one’s heart while drawing her pistol on the forehead of the other. The cutthroat knew he was bested and surrendered.

While Amalia tended to the rest of the pirate crew with the sailors of The Friendship, Bear had engaged Geoffreys in a fiery battle. The two men fought over the entire island, in and out of caves, leaping over boulders and trudging through tidal pools. They had put each other through hell and were bleeding, but neither was keen on giving up. As the Friendship crew gathered the rest of the pirates into the brig on the ship, the metal clanging of the Geoffrey’s and Bear’s swords echoed throughout the entire island. They had made their way to the top of the lookout point where no man had an advantage except his skill. They battled on into the cool night while everyone from below watched. Geoffreys made a powerful lunge at Bear and as Bear went to take a side step he tripped, falling straight onto his back. Geoffreys, putting all the strength he had left into a final lunge, went clean over Bear and over the cliff’s edge. When Bear stood, Geoffreys clung for dear life by the hilt of his sword; it had been driven into the ground with the force of his lunge. “I beg of you, me prince, help me! Mercy!” cried Geoffreys loudly.
Bear crouched down, easily able to extend a hand to Geoffreys if he wished. “Mercy?” said Bear. “Where was the mercy for all the times you raped the sea of her bounty again and again? Where was your mercy then, Geoffreys?” Bear wrapped his hand around the pommel of Geoffreys’ sword. “I have no mercy for you. Harm was done by your sword. By your sword, so will it be undone.” With that, Bear pulled the sword out of the ground by the pommel and sent Geoffreys falling into the murky ocean below. Amazingly, the dread pirate survived the fall, but just as he raised his fist into the air to swear his vengeance against the Prince, a plume of misty water rose high into the air directly behind. Just as Bear said the words “There is your mercy,” with a dark smile, a great whale leapt high into the air and crashed thunderously down onto Geoffreys, sending the pirate into crushing black oblivion.

Bear made his way down through the tunnels and out into the open caverns where he was greeted by Amalia and his other friends. It was obvious that he was sore, but he would survive. As they made their way back to the ship, Bear admired Amalia’s handiwork with the cutthroats. “It seems you’ve been busy,” he chuckled.
Amalia leaned up and kissed him lightly on the lips and smiled. “A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do,” she said.

They made their way back to Pub Harbor on The Friendship with The Maelstrom in tow. The pirate ship was to be cleaned and re-commissioned as The Windjammer: Royal Protector of Pub Harbor. Upon their arrival back in port, they were greeted by all the village residents as well as people from all over the island. A great celebration ensued and lasted deep into the night. The village of Pub Harbor was saved. They had their treasury back, they had a new protector, and they also had a prince and princess who needed some sleep.

After a long night of drinking, music and dancing, Amalia awoke to the sound of Bear humming, sitting in the window, and overlooking the bay. He stood up and walked over to her, sat next to her on the bed and kissed her softly. “Happy birthday,” he said to her with a smile.
“Huh?” she looked up at him in sleepy confusion.
“You didn’t think I forgot, did you?” he chuckled and handed her a small gift-wrapped box.
“I guess I thought you would, but I’m glad you didn’t.” Amalia sat up, eyeing the box with a huge grin. She tore into the package as soon as Bear handed it to her and pulled out a bangle bracelet of two dragons with entwined bodies and a clasp of meeting heads. “Oh, Bear! It’s beautiful! Where did you find it?”
Bear took the bracelet and put slid it over her hand and onto her wrist. “I had it made right here in Pub Harbor, just for you. I know how much you love dragons.”
Amalia kissed him deeply again and ran her fingers over the bracelet and let out a small sigh. “What’s the matter?” Bear was confused.
“Oh, nothing at all, my love,” replied Amalia. “I just wish for once I could see a real dragon.”
Bear chuckled and swept a few hairs from her face. “Well, maybe someday you will.”
Amalia looked at him with a raised eyebrow and huffed a little. “Hon, you know that isn’t possible. There’s no such thing as dragons! I’ll never really get to see one!”
Bear leaned over closer to her and whispered in her ear, “Never say never …”

1 comment:

Fox In Detox said...

Phew! that was long...but what a great story. You need to write a novella. This is awesome.