Chapter 1: The Storm
The night was so cold that the rigging could snap under the pressure of being stepped on if one were to attempt it. The raging ocean tossed the ship about ruthlessly as the sound of thunder roared through the night sky. The biting wind howled mercilessly and rain pelted the ship’s windows harshly. Everyone aboard felt the bitter cold and those who were unlucky enough to be above decks were soaked to the bone from the relentless rain.
Trouble was set for the happy crew of The Rose. A crew member by the name of Bloody John had plans to take the fast ship for his own by any means necessary. He had signed on four years ago upon hearing tale of the speedy craft. It didn’t take long for him to gain a small following of men and come up with a brilliant plan to take over the ship. Then one night his plans changed in a blink of an eye. He had overheard a low voiced conversation betwixt Jason and Markus about a treasure so great it would enable everyone on the ship to retire and live like kings. Thinking quickly he devised a plan to not only take the ship but to gain the information to locate the island and have the treasure for his own.
Finally the timing was right to set his devious plan into motion. A week had passed since Emily’s, the captain’s daughter, tenth birthday when John burst into the Captain’s cabin. He demanded the heading and that Jason turn over the ship. All too soon it became apparent that Jason wouldn’t be forth coming with either. John raged at the arrogant Captain like the storm that raged outside. Finally playing his last card John threatened to slit both the throats of Mad Dog and Emily for he knew that Jason’s only weakness was the people he loved most. In an effort to spare the lives of those he held dear to his heart Jason agreed to be marooned.
Only after he had John’s word that Markus and Emily would be unharmed and Emily was to be returned to her uncle in Port Royal did he give over the heading to the small island. John had Jason, Emily and Mad Dog escorted to the bow. Once there John let out an evil chuckle, “Jason you are a fool. Do you really think I’ll just maroon you? No! I have something else in mind for the likes of you, Hawk. Men prepare for a keelhauling.”
Jason stood proudly at the bow, hatred burned in his sea grey eyes. Unyielding determination radiated from his well-defined body. Even when facing his last moments he didn’t show any sign of fear or weakness. Two of Bloody John’s men grabbed his arms to bind them behind his back. Jason shook them off with ease and glared murderously at the man.
“You sadistic bastard! This was not part of our agreement.” he spat venomously.
John cackled evilly, “Plans changed Hawk. How fitting don’t you think? Now you can taste the harsh sting of your beloved ship. Men bind his arms and feet!”
Again Jason shook off the biting hold of the two men. “John, you scurvy dog! Not even you would deny me one last farewell to my daughter.” he said murderously. Loathing dripped in his rich tenor voice.
John sneered maliciously, pure evil glinted in his beady black eyes. “Bring the brat forward.”
The torrential storm raged on as Emily was brought to Jason’s side. Like her father she didn’t show any signs of fear or weakness. She stood defiantly before Bloody John, knowing that these were her father’s last moments.
Her captivating eyes matched that of the wind-blown ice. Her heart shaped face was set in absolute revulsion and her eyes reflected utter hatred. She shook off the grip of the man that held her and turned to her father. Jason went down on one knee and drew her into a loving embrace. He choked down a lump that had claimed his voice and tears threatened to well up in his eyes. Emily threw her arms around his neck and buried her head in his chest. She fought back the hot tears that swam in her eyes as she breathed in his scent of sandalwood and sea mist. His warm loving embrace soothed the storming emotions that raged within her as she felt him stroke her soaked tresses.
He gave her a fatherly kiss on the top of her head, and after what seemed a lifetime he released her. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a delicate charm bracelet and slipped it onto her slender wrist. “Be good for your uncle Emmy,” Jason said, his voice choked with deep emotion.
Overcome by deep sorrow Emily just nodded her head in accord to her father’s request. He pulled her close again and held her tightly not wanting to have this moment end. Emily was his life, his whole reason for living. He kissed the top of her head again and whispered into her ear;
“Remember lass, I will always be with you and that I love you. Do me proud princess.”
She held him tight, her arms straining as she hugged him.
Emily whispered back; “I love you too Papa, and you have my word that I’ll do you proud.” She fought back a sob as he released her one last time and stood to face his impending doom.
John interjected with an evil sneer. “What a heartwarming moment I must say Hawk. It almost brought a tear to my eye. Men, tie him up!” His voice was hard and emotionless.
Even being bound, Jason had an air about him that was both commanding and formidable. He looked into the ink black horizon and prepared for what was to come. As soon as he was tightly bound John gave the order that sent Jason off under the ship. Jason was drug the full length of the ship, the barnacles scraped and cut his flesh. The salty water stung and burned in his wounds. His lungs felt as if they were on fire and going to burst.
The urge to take a breath became overpowering as he endured the keelhauling. The combination of the pressure from the depths and the strain of the ropes were overwhelming even for him. Just when he thought he couldn’t hold his breath any longer he felt himself rising to the surface. As soon as he broke through the ocean’s hold he blacked out and knew no more.
His breathing was shallow and almost unnoticeable. His clothes were tattered, torn and soaked with a combination of blood and seawater. John strode over to the almost lifeless man and laughed manically. His weaseled voice filled the air as he laughed in triumph. He kicked the passed out form hard in the gut.
“Toss him overboard and let the sea do with him as it will.”
Mad Dog and Emily had been restrained and forced to watch as Jason was unceremoniously tossed overboard into the ship’s wake.
“Bastard! Mark my words I’ll kill you with my bare hands for this!” Emily said darkly as she struggled against the strong grip of the quartermaster.
Mad Dog fought against the tight hold of the cook, loathing set on his weathered features. Revenge and murder rose up within Mad Dog as John chuckled with absolute glee.
“Set sail for Port Royal. Show Master Granger to his new quarters. Oh yes, take the brat to my cabin,” John ordered as he strode to the poop deck, savoring his victory.
Jason slowly came to, his body wracked with unspeakable pain. He didn’t know how long he had been floating in the water. It wasn’t long before he blacked out again from the insurmountable agony that fogged his mind and coursed through his body. After what seemed to be hours, Jason was awakened by a gentle prodding that made him wince.
He opened his eyes to a slit and noticed that a dolphin was swimming next to him, prodding him with its nose. Too weak to swim he let the sea’s choppy current and the dolphin’s nudging carry him along as he slipped into blackness once again. Between the tempest sea and the excruciating pain Jason had long since gone numb. Sometime the following day, the warmth of the sun and a soft breeze that caressed his ruggedly handsome face awakened him. Jason opened his eyes and promptly shut them due to the bright reflection of the sun on the ripples of the water.
His stomach twisted with hunger and his throat was parched from thirst. The sun beat down on his head and the wind had chapped his lips. His body was in agony from head to toe and the pain still fogged his mind. The dolphin that had stayed with him all night nudged him causing him to groan. “Easy there mate.” The dolphin prodded Jason again sending waves of pain over him. Still lacking the strength to swim on his own he let the dolphin nudge him as the sea carried him on a much calmer current. For two days Jason drifted on the tide with the aid of his marine companion.
He slipped in and out of consciousness more times than he could count. By the third day he felt as if he would go mad with thirst before going mad with starvation. His mind had cleared a bit from the pain induced fog. His exposed flesh was sunburned. His lips were cracked from the elements and the salt from the sea. At the back of his mind he had one burning desire; absolute and unyielding revenge for what had been done to him. Sometime during the third day he woke finding himself on a white sandy beach. The waves lapped at the shore and licked at his knees. He rallied what strength he could to pull himself into a sitting position to take in his new surroundings.
Off in the distance behind him, he could hear the faint rustling of trees, and the call of birds on the air. Uncharted pain shot through him, setting him afire. His vision swam and he was dizzy to the point of passing out once again. He gritted his teeth in agony as he fought the overwhelming pain. A chirping sound on the horizon caught his attention and he looked towards the ocean. There he spied the dolphin dancing and playing in the waves. Jason smiled at the playful mammal and said barely above a whisper; “Thanks mate.” He sat on the beach awhile longer slowly gaining his strength back as he watched the dolphin playing in the ocean.
After what seemed hours he knew that he would have to get off the beach and go in search of fresh water to quench his great thirst. Drawing on his strong will he moved swiftly so he was standing. His stiff sore muscles screamed out in painful protest, causing his vision to swim once again. He stood still until he felt steady on his feet then slowly proceeded to the distant tree line in the hopes to find fresh water. With determination he made the tree line and entered into the welcoming shade. Onward he pressed in the cool pushing back the pain that threatened to overpower him. His groans could be heard on the air as he followed a trail he had stumbled upon.
There were plenty of fruit bearing trees and berry bushes. The only animals to be sighted were parrots of various colors. It was not long before the trail ended at the entrance of a cave. Curious he pressed on to investigate. Once he had entered he leaned against the hard rock wall to rest from the exertion of his hike and let his sharp eyes adjust to the dim light. Relief washed over him as he noticed there were shelves and on some of them there were bottles of rum.
He winced in severe pain as his back scraped against the rock when he moved towards the shelves. Jason reached for a bottle and drank deeply, quenching the maddening thirst. With renewed strength he investigated the cave further and found rations, medicinal potions, a variety of scented soaps, lamps, and even an assortment of clothing. Jason set about taking care of his basic needs and emptied several bottles of rum doing so.
He was only on the small island for a month. During that time he set about building a sea-worthy raft so he could go in search of his cherished daughter, his best friend and his beloved ship. He also planned on gaining his revenge on the mutinous Bloody John. During all this he noticed the dolphin that had rescued him from a grim fate had not left, as if watching over him still. The day finally came. The raft was ready and he cast off the island that he had called home. It was a perfect day for sailing, the sun shone brightly, with a soft breeze, and clear blue skies.