Forged far below the sea’s surface and the beneath the sea floor, somewhere in the bowels of the Earth an ancient force sought it’s retribution. Afflicted with a hatred woven into the fabric of its being, the ocean wanted to reclaim the Earth and all it’s land…
Heavy rainfall descended from the heavens above. The ocean was thrashing vehemently in violent protest. Howland was guided, ushered towards the ocean by rocking waves and a raging sea. He was dancing with death transmuted into an elemental assassin. A high seas fury is the grim reaper of the ocean. This elemental dance courted him, shepherding his soul towards the sea. Howland shifted his weight, counterbalancing an incoming wave. He looked down into the ocean and into that lightless abyss from the edge of the ship, enticed by the inviting gates of a cold watery hell. The ocean was in tempestuous upheaval. Clouds covered the sky with an impenetrable layer of thick and dense clouds, rivaling the color of ash. Usually the night sky was decorated with galaxies and interstellar cosmic beauty. Illuminating whatever world the stars shone upon, as the universe infected curious minds with its intoxicating intricacies and symmetries. But not tonight, no tonight was natures relentless and unyielding power in full force. An ancient force, unbent in its primordial ways. A force of such titanic strength it could drown mountains, swallow cities and shift continents.
Waves crashed and broke against Cheyennes hull, rocking the ship leeward and tossing supplies into the water. Abandon ship. Howland realized, senses returning to him. He wiped his face dry, and spat salty water out recognizing he had swallowed some unwillingly. Howland searched the deck frantically for his mom only to find chaos. Darkness shrouded the sea providing the only contrast of broken masts, supplies and bodies. Lightning cracked erratically, flashing brief moments of pure horror. Shipmates and fellow fisherman fell into the water hopelessly, engulfed by the water never to see their loved ones again, never to resurface. The oceans salty because its full of drowning men’s tears. Howland figured, just nearly sliding under another broken mast falling meters behind him. Finding his footing, Howland perked up his head to inspect the deck again for his mother. Nothing. Where is she. Thinking the worst but remaining hopeful, Howland headed for Cheyennes life rafts.
“ROGUE WAVE!” Shouted a fisherman, struggling against hurricane winds for a voice.
A rogue wave tremendous in size struck the boat, wielding enough force to render mortal men unconscious with a single aqueous sweep. Thunder clapped in the distance, or maybe it was just the boat being thrashed around. Howland didn’t know. Water rushed on-board flooding the deck overwhelming every living soul that remained on board, sweeping them off their feet and into the dark oceanic abyss. Howland plunged into the water. It’s a giant malevolent icebox. Howland thought as he fell in. Despite adrenaline gushing through his veins, the water was so cold his muscles tensed up and became stiff. Entrapped in the currents of the ocean and in between the wave crests, he searched for anything that would help keep him alive. If bodies would stay afloat I’d have quite the raft. Howland pondered darkly. From the corner of his eye, Howland caught sight of a wooden barrel bobbing in and out of the water like a cork. Keeping his head up, he fought against his stiffening muscles and commanded them to swim. Howland felt the ocean drop as he descended into a swell. Lighting illuminated Howlands immediate reality revealing a monstrous wave of water. That very flash of electricity accentuated the essence of monstrosity the wave had. Frantically swimming for life, Howland reached the bobbing barrel. The irony. I fish the ocean for food, taking life from it as I may to feed myself and my family. Now the ocean takes what it’s owed. It takes my life from me. He figured as the wave towered over him nearly 50 feet high. Howland crooked his head upwards as if to stare the behemoth down, defiant. What anguish god spawned you? He thought. Howland braced for impact reciting an archaic fisherman’s poem. When the stars fade and the storm comes, the cold winds blow as the water turns from blue to an inescapable black, knowing full well you won’t be making it back. Howland recited as he embraced his death at the end of his journey.
An eerie song sung of rusted steel being played slowly among the prison bars of a cell woke Howland from his nightmares. Peaking beneath a slim opening in his eyelids, Howland counted 20 well armed men glaring down at him. Blood stained pants and cut up rags for shirts. Tattered clothes dressed these men. Faded tattoos covered their overworked muscles.
“Get up you death defyin’ son of a bitch, the captain wants a word with ye” Said a gruff voice hauntingly. “Captain Damien is wondering why you denied the sea it’s salt”
A melody for the deranged. An anthem for the insane. These are broken men. This is the ballad of Pirates. Howland realized as he stood up and walked out of his cell and towards the captains quarters.
Howland was led out of his cold damp prison cell and onto the deck by a man who was so large that giants would question his heritage.
“What’s your name boy?” The beast of a man guiding him towards the captains quarters queried.
“Howland.” He added, responding without hesitation. Howland noticed 5 missing fingers on his chaperones left hand. The man lost 5 fingers, but that didn’t take anything away from him. He was still more man than most, he reminded Howland of a mythological god who’d been chiseled into stone, perpetuating eternal power and a confidence as if he had a blood-right to sit among the gods themselves. He was a man among men, a man among boys.
“Look kid, I’ll be frank. And we don’t have a lotta time to discuss shit. But if you want to live, heed my warning. Our captain is nobody’s fool. Impress him with whatever it is that he thinks that you might have to possibly offer. Humor him with acts of cruelty, seduce him with sadist thoughts. Impress him with brute strength or quick hands and the ability to kill at will like Achilles. I don’t give a shit what you do. But you better find a way to do it. Look him in the eyes boy. Don’t lose sight of them. But never, never derail him from his train of thought. Or you’ll pay the price, in blood.” The obvious kin to giants said.
Howland nodded. He understood.
“What’s your name?” Howland asked curiously, talking gently under the cold call of the wind.
“Name’s Isaac Towers.” He nodded and walked off to scrub the deck.
Howland felt the lingering stench of death that’s been left to rot ingrained within the cedar fibers of the deck boards as he made his way towards the captains quarters. He gathered himself as he saw the black flag blowing softly in the wind. Broken men feed off fear. For they fear nothing. The only release from their fabricated vision of reality is death. Show them no fear, admit no such thing. They’ll hang you if you’re lucky, and slit your throat in the middle of the night if you’re a coward. Howland informed himself taking each step cautiously as he gazed towards the watchful eye of the moon, seeking its protection of illuminating his surroundings with a dimly lit sky. The night was cold and the wind eroded any remaining warmth from his skin. Mom, I don’t know where you are, but I know you’re out there. Somewhere, looking at this same moon. Wondering where I am…wondering if I’m okay. Howland couldn’t summon the courage to admit she was probably dead. Another soul lost to the sea. He felt tears trying to flood his cheeks with sorrow. Howland refused to cry. Holding back tears like a dam he felt the pressure of built up grief being reverted and re-directed towards his heart. Howland prayed silently. Look, whoever’s up there I know were not close or anything, or what your name might even be for that matter, but if anyone is out there who has an ounce of sympathy with the power to bring back loved ones, I’d do anything. Anything. Howland waited for a moment. Then another moment. No one answered. He looked up towards the moon, and for brief a second, he felt hopeful knowing maybe, somewhere where out there, with the slimmest amount of faith he could muster that his mom might be looking at this very moon. He wasn’t going to die a coward, for these men would kill him if they saw a glimpse of weakness. Chin up and chest out, Howland carried on forwards toward the captains quarters.
Howland wandered up to the man who was leaning against the captains door. He’s been watching me. Dressed in raggedy black clothes a hood pulled up to cover his hideous face cut up and scarred from lashings and beatings. He leaned on the door with a natural swagger as he slowly caressed the hilt of his sword.
“Name’s Virion Stone”
“Fuck off!” The hooded man interrupted Howland. “You wont be around long enough for me to even remember your name. You better hope you’re in there long boy, because when he’s done with ya, you’ll wish ya never left” The man named Virion Stone said.
“Whys that?” Howland responded, avoiding to succumb to fear.
“To start I’m going to cut off both your fucking ears, then you won’t be able to hear me coming the next time I come to claim another piece of you”
Howlands heart sank. He felt fear over-ride logic, reasoning. Virion stepped aside, and opened the door for Howland. A melody for the deranged. An anthem for the insane. These are broken men. This is the ballad of Pirates. The captain was sitting there ominously, comfortable on his oaken throne. Howland watched his every move from his peripherals, as his eyes were locked on the captains. The captain got up, and turned to Howland. He was a tall man, standing nearly around 6 and a half feet, his hair looked messy as it flowed unkempt from beneath his black hat. He was a handsome man wielding a smile so pure and genuine that you’d put your trust him if he’d just commandeered your ship and told you he was coming back to rescue you as he stole off into the night and across the ocean with your silver, gold, and maiden. Howland noticed there was no food in the captains quarters. Only one glass and a bottle of rum. The captain waved him over.
“Millennia have passed, and time drudges on as civilization and human culture expand its territories, creating empires that control this Earthern world, but what these Earthern kings fail to grasp is one day the ocean will reclaim what rightfully belongs to it.” The captain stood before Howland, towering him. Fear flooded Howlands veins, but he refused the the craven call of flight. Fight. Howland reinforced his thoughts of fear with thoughts of courage. “An average river can carve through mountains and cut its way through a country. Now, imagine boy. Imagine what the ocean could do. One minute the ocean conjures storms large enough to feast on shorelines, and then goes on to create land to host land dwelling life the next. The hell with kingdoms boy. The ocean is power. And I’m here to conquer it.”
Howland listened. He felt the sentiment from the words pouring out of the captains mouth. Each word shedding a little light on his character. He shared the vitality and restless spirit of the ocean. Howland could sense the captain was content and at peace when his mind, body, and soul were near the salty sea. He resonated with the tides of the ocean.
“Damien Graves is the name I was given. And yours?” The captain asked.
“Most people call me Howland.”
“How did you survive that storm Howland?” The captain asked.
“I’d like to tell you the heroic story of how I braved the storm, but all I could do was swim like a fucking fish until I thought my heart was going to give out. I got hit by a wave that could’ve crushed a mans skull. I must’ve passed out holding onto that barrel, and let the current take me wherever it bloody well pleased. I got lucky…were you wondering if the oceans rage met it’s match?” said Howland.
The captain laughed. “Mmm…yes. Lucky indeed.” The captain said as he walked over and pulled another glass from beneath his desk. He poured two tall glasses of rum and handed one to Howland.
“To the oceans rage.” The captain toasted as Howland noticed a subtle smirk appear on the captains mouth as he raised his glass to his mouth and drank.
“….there’s a simple hierarchy on my ship and you’re not even on the hierarchical pyramid yet, so watch yourself because none of us will hesitate to kill you. We get bored quickly.” The captain said as he flipped the switch on his mood, maddening his thoughts insinuating a lust for blood.
Howland downed it like a gun toting, no shit taking kind of man as he held back a fiery pain as the liquid fire oozed and trickled it’s way down his throat. As expected he was to find his own way out of the cabin. Howland walked out of the door and headed towards where Isaac was busy scrubbing the deck, when he remembered Virion was standing outside, manning the door.
“You’ve defiled death. But you can’t defy deaf, boy. Sleep tight” Virion whispered.
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