Swords clashing. Cannons firing. Fire blazing. I rush down into the cargo hold and push aside barrels of rum and leftover gunpowder. Tripping over a pile of rope I stumble back onto my feet and glance out the nearest porthole. Seeing another enemy ship approach us from the port side, I pull out my spyglass from within my vest. Two men just loaded a cannon and struck a match. I throw the spyglass onto the nearest barrel, jump over a fallen beam and slam into the back door as a cannonball flies into the side of the ship. Wooden chunks and other debris fly through the air. I duck down as I fiddle with the lock that I made myself months ago to protect this cargo. Feeling the lock line itself into place, I let it drop to the floor as I fling the door open. To an outsider, this closet looks ordinary and quite boring with the only thing being inside of it, burlap sacks. But digging into the pile of cloth you’d find the legendary stolen treasure, The Phantom’s Eye, within it.
As I begin doing so, I feel the seawater around my ankles – we’re sinking. I know I have to get out of here fast in order to keep the stone from disappearing into the sea. I find the brilliant gold and green stone and shove it into one of the sacks. I fling it over my shoulder and make my way back to the stairs where I enter the heat of the battle. I step onto the deck, out into the chilly night air, and assess the situation. We are surrounded by ships; all of them belonging to one pirate captain. The one pirate captain that I managed to steal his most prized treasure. I knew when I first stole it, that I would be putting me and my crew in danger. But I had to take the risk…for treasure.
Seeing pirates fighting my crew, I don’t see the captain among them. As I turn to try and find a dinghy, the cabin boy, Drake, finds me and runs after me while sheathing his sword. He’s always been a scrawny excuse for a boy ever since I found him on his home island, but I taught him everything he knows. He runs a hand through his coarse, dark, brown hair and stops in front of me, panting.
“Captain Jarek! How do you want us to fend off the pirates?”
I turn to look at the scene behind him and see that we are losing; the men I’ve known all of my life falling to the ground, dead. I avoid Drake’s focus… if I look at him, I know I won’t want to abandon them…
“Drake. Sometimes in your life, you have to make bad choices in order to survive.” Another ship crashes into ours bringing another wave of pirates with glinting swords and hatred within their eyes. Drake looks to the pirates and to me, noticing the sack on my back. He takes a deep breath as he realizes what I have. He was the one witness who saw what I took that one dreadful morning.
“Captain, if you could make one good choice right now and be able to leave here alive, would you do it?”
I finally look at his pleading eyes as he waits for my reply. My grip tightens on the sack and I close my eyes.
“Captain! Would you?”
A fire burns in my chest bringing up thoughts of my life before this one. Of how I used to care about what others did. I remember how I became a heartless pirate myself while I traveled the world in search of treasure. But now as I have the one thing I’ve been searching for, in my burlap sack, I have to take the chance to live the life I never had.
I run up the stairs to the stern of the ship and find a spare dinghy to make my escape. As I begin to climb in, a familiar voice rings throughout the ship causing everyone to stop what they’re doing. I turn to see the Captain of the pirate fleet landing on the deck with a mighty sword in hand, Captain Cray.
“Jarek! You know what I want!” His voice is like thunder as it makes the very ship shake with his anger. I continue to make my escape but out of the corner of my eye, I see a glint of metal.
“Stop being a coward Jarek and take the blade for your own crew!” I turn in time to see Cray run his sword through Drake’s stomach.
I throw the bag onto the ground and mount over the railing, to land on the deck and come face to face with Cray. I’ve only seen him one other time and that was when I escaped with The Phantom’s Eye. Now, I see why he is nicknamed “The Demon of the Seven Seas”. The first thing I notice is his eyes. Black eyes reflecting the nearby fires; eyes filled with loathing, insanity, and revenge. His full black beard is braided and matted with bones woven into the hair. His rag of a captain’s coat, rumored to have a piece of every captain’s hat that he has killed sewn onto it. His massive cutlass, specially made to cut down any enemy that got in his way. And right now, I am that enemy. As terrified as I become, an unquenchable bonfire roars in my chest for the death of Drake – the death that I have caused. I unsheathe my sword.
“Come at me Cray!”
We both cry a shout of war and our swords clash. As we do so, both of our crews continue to fight. Cray’s intense power overwhelms me but I push against a storage box behind me to push him off. He cracks his neck and lunges at me again. Using my agility against his stature I roll past him, from his sword, and slash the back of his coat, cutting his hulking back. I take the small bit of progress and jump back as he roars and he swings his sword down into the deck, cutting open the ship to reveal a flooding hull. He jumps over the hole and throws me against the mast, knocking the air out of me. With a quick fling, he slices my chest and goes for the stab but I go around the mast to block the sword from me. I see an opportunity open as his sword gets stuck in the mast and I stab the side of his abdomen. He screams out and flings out his fist connecting his meaty hand to my jaw.
I fly across the deck losing my sword in the process and he rips his sword from out of the mast. I look around for my sword and see it land into the battle between my crew and his. I run across the deck, ducking and dodging fists and swords. I slide under two clashing swords and grab my cutlass. Cray is close behind me. Realizing I’m close to the edge of the ship, I try to move. But like a bull charging a matador, Cray throws his sword to the side and pushes me towards the water.
I fall back but manage to grab onto a protruding slab of wood that was coming out from the hole where the cannon hit. I drop my sword into the ocean for a better grip on the piece of wood. The ocean touches my ankles making me realize how much we’re sinking. Cray pulls out a dagger from within his sleeve and rears back to throw it at me but my first mate, Luther, jumps onto Cray’s back and starts choking him.
I climb back up to the deck and see Luther on the ground either unconscious or dead. I turn to Cray with nothing but a will of vengeance and an idea enters my brain. An idea that will end this battle once and for all. Instead of going for Cray, I run back to the stern of the ship, climbing the stairs and grabbing the sack. I pull out the stone and look at it realizing I have to throw away my years of dreaming and searching for something that could change my life. I show it to everyone on board.
“It’s over Cray!” I yell and then we all watch as if time slowed down to see the stone soar through the air and crash into the ocean’s abyss.
“NO!” Cray’s booming voice shakes the ship once again like thunder. He pushes aside anyone in his way and stomps up the stairs. I stand my ground, knowing whatever happens next that I have at least tried to redeem myself from this chaos. He grabs my neck and lifts me into the air, squeezing my neck tighter and tighter until I see black dots dance around my vision. I struggle to get out of his grasp, to breathe, but his grip is like a stone. I look at his sleeve and see one more dagger within the folds of the cloth. I pull it out and stab Cray’s arm. He screams out in pain and let’s me go. I fall to the ground coughing to get air back into my lungs. I scoot away from Cray as he reaches for me again and pull my flintlock pistol out, aiming it at his legs in case he tries to do anything else. When I first assembled this crew, it was Drake’s idea to have a no killing policy if we were ever in this situation; to spare our enemies.
“There’s no point in fighting anymore Cray. The Eye is gone,” I say with an exhausted sigh. Members of my crew come from behind him and tie him up with rope. Luther follows the small group and helps me up.
“Thank you, Luther. For saving my life.”
He grabs both of my shoulders and looks me in the eye through his shaggy blonde hair.
“From now on, make sure your crew is more important than treasure, Captain.”