A Treasure Voyage
The rain thundered down like bullets on Sakurai. It was terrible weather which didn't improve his mood. In a big city like London, no one had time for the homeless. Sakurai was starving. He had no money and he called an arch near the bottom of a steep hill his home. He had stayed alive by scavenging scraps of the more generous people and stealing off the less generous people. A couple of years back, he wouldn't have been so fussed about being caught stealing but last year, something happened which he hoped would change his future.
A ship had come from the port and claimed they were heading to Portugal to find some treasure. Most people had learnt to stay away from ships like these. "Nonsense ships" they called them. Sakurai was always interested in potential job offers like these. He wanted to have a bit of excitement to spice up his life. Luckily, the captain needed a crew. "Fine young lads are what I need," the captain said examining Sakurai. The captain introduced himself as Captain Marvellous. "You don't look like you have an inch of meat on your skinny bones!" laughed Captain Marvellous as Sakurai offered to join. "Tell you what though, I don't think enough people are interested this year so I'll come back next year and if you're bigger and better, I'll hire you, Deal?" Sakurai had grinned and promised he would do just that. His eyes had widened and he whispered, "Yes," to himself.
A year later and here he was. Nothing had changed about him. He was taller but that was just about it. He was still hungry, still thin and still lived under that arch. If anything, Sakurai was hungrier as he was a lot more cautious about getting caught stealing money. He was worried about getting caught and he would not be at the port the day the ship was due to come. What if the ship didn't come? What if he was stopped when trying to get to the ship? What if he wasn't hired?
"Sorry," Sakurai said automatically as he walked into someone. He scolded himself for losing his concentration. It was happening more and more as he let his mind wonder in the deepest far corners of his brain. He told himself to snap out of it and focus on the road ahead. He shook his head and stopped. He was at the market. Sakurai loved the market. He could mix in with the crowd with no one giving him disapproving looks. Sakurai eyed the butchers queue as it was decreasing. He needed meat the most if he were to look well fed.
Sakurai carried a fistful of shillings which he had stolen from the merchant he had bumped into earlier. For Sakurai, it was very easy for him to steal now.
It took a long time to get anywhere in the market. You had to wrestle through crowds of people and it took a lot of energy and patience. After weaving in and out of several people, he rushed to the butchers to get in front of the queue. As Sakurai barged in at the front, many people shouted obscene curses at him but Sakurai took no notice. The butcher was a meaty bullish man. "What can I get you?" asked the butcher.
"As much as I can get for this, "Answered Sakurai throwing down the coins.
"Where did you get it?" questioned the butcher sharply.
Sakurai replied calmly, "I sold my mother's locket." Sakurai secretly wore his mother's locket but the butcher nodded and turned around to start preparing the meat. It didn't matter where they got their money, the butcher thought, as long as they were willing to pay up. "Here," said the butcher handing over the meat. He grinned as he had deliberately given him less meat as he knew the boy wouldn't notice. Sakurai nodded his thanks and scurried away. Sakurai was always self-conscious about the fact he wasn't from London. In fact, he wasn't from Europe. He came from a far distant island called Japan. His family had always wanted to move to England in hope for a better life. It took years to get to England but he did it. His mother had died from fever in Germany. He had then stowed away on a ship to set for London.
Sakurai bounded to the port hardly containing his excitement. He stopped short as he noticed a policeman stare at him. Sakurai frowned, generally policeman ignored him. Then, Sakurai noticed the other person talking to the policeman. It was the merchant he had stolen from. "Drat," said Sakurai to no one in particular. He started running the opposite direction. He laughed as he saw the policeman shouting at him while trying to keep up. Sakurai was a lot more adapted to the streets than most people.
10 minutes later, Sakurai had made his way round a building and back to the port again. He carried a triumphant smile which only grew wider when he saw Captain Marvellous' ship. "Finally, you're here," called Captain Marvellous as he came up to Sakurai. Welcome aboard my ship, The Cortés.
Sakurai's stomach was churning as The Cortés left London's port. First, Captain Marvellous introduced him to the rest of his crew. There were seventeen people on The Cortés including Captain Marvellous and Sakurai. There was two Portuguese brothers Pedro and Andre, Sebastian, who was Spanish and little bit crazy, Three Italians called Marco, Matteo and Antonio, a French man called Lucas who was very close to Captain Marvellous, Andrzej, a polish general who wanted more action, A Danish gunsmith, Rasmus, who Captain Marvellous had let on his ship because he had gave his supply of firearms to him. There was also a German boy about the same age as Sakurai called Leon. The rest of the crew were English. There were called Eric, Daniel, James, Grayson and Dawn. Dawn was the only female on the ship.
"Right guys, this is our crew," said Captain Marvellous to the crew. "Basically, we're going to Fraser Island which is part of Australia to find Dracula's treasure lost in 1467. Any questions?"
"Yeah, how do you know where to go!" called Daniel.
The captain rolled his eyes, "I bought it from a collector. I worked for years to get money to buy the map and this ship." Captain Marvellous said fiercely.
Daniel grumbled and muttered something but didn't argue more.
Sakurai didn't know what to think. He was actually on ship with people finding treasure. He remembered stories being told about adventurers who had got rich by finding buried treasure but those were just stories Sakurai had thought.
Captain Marvellous had assigned each person a role or duty. Captain Marvellous was ship captain of course, Lucas was quartermaster, Sebastian was Sailing master, Pedro and Andrzej were boatswain who supervised the maintenance of the vessel and its supply stores. , Andre, Frank and Daniel was the carpenter in charge of repairing any damages to the ship, Rasmus was the master gunner, Marco and Matteo were 'mates' who checked if the ship was properly supplied and filled in for anyone who was ill, Sakurai was the rigger who had to climb up the spar and release the sails, The rest were sailors who needed to know how to read the weather, how to steer the ship and to know the rigging and sails.
The Cortés was a reliable ship. It was made of solid oak and was quite new. It was about a hundred feet tall. It was grand and majestic. Sakurai had seen many ships in his life as he lived quite close to the port. He knew that this ship was sturdy yet beautiful.
The route to get to Fraser Island was quite straightforward. The Cortés would go along the east coast of Africa and follow the coast line. Then it would go straight to Australia. It would take ten to fourteen weeks to get there. Apparently, it was called the clipper route.
It took a week for The Cortés to get to Lisbon for fresh supplies. They had been taught how to work the ship. Sakurai was enjoying his time on The Cortés. He loved climbing up the spar on a windy even though it was dangerous. He sometimes hung there for hours feeling the breeze on his face. It was his own picture of freedom. He also had got to know the crew a bit better. Most of the time, Sakurai hung around Grayson or Seb. He would have liked to know Leon but he was a bit of a snob and kept on going on about his rich father.
"What do you think our captain's real name is?" Grayson asked one day. Sakurai just shrugged, he hadn't given it much thought. Grayson lowered his voice, "I heard it was Ray Charmers."
Again Sakurai shrugged, "Why don't you ask him?"
Grayson whispered, " Eric did and Captain Marvellous got furious for no reason," Sakurai thought about it, Captain Marvellous had lots of secrets but it wasn't Sakurai's business. As long as it didn't affect Sakurai, Sakurai wouldn't be nosy.
Captain Marvellous, Pedro and André had some reals on them to buy food. They were to go to the market in Lisbon and Captain Marvellous would instruct them what to buy.
They came back with fresh fruit and meat they would have to eat quickly before it went bad. They also brought back heavily salted fish, limes and biscuits. Most of the men cheered when they saw they had brought back light beer and rum. They also had water stored in some barrels. It wasn't a very good diet but it was enough to keep them alive and Sakurai was used to small meals.
The one downside, Sakurai thought, was that the sleeping compartments were really small and it was a miracle if you got a decent night' sleep. Night time for them was thinking time. Tonight, Sakurai was thinking about what he would do after this voyage ended. He probably wouldn't want to go back to London. He could go back with one of these people on the ship. Or he could start his life again with his sixty fourth share of the treasure. He could stay in Australia. He had heard stories about Australia and it wasn't too bad. He sighed, he would decide when he finds the treasure.. Tonight, he decided, he would try and get to sleep. Every night someone had to keep watch in case someone tried to board The Cortés. It was Eric who was chosen tonight.
The next morning they woke up to heavy rain. It wasn't quite a storm but it was close. "Sakurai, you're up," called Lucas through the rain. Sakurai nodded and climbed up the spar. It was slipperier than normal but that didn't bother him. He climbed up like a monkey and released the sails. Sakurai lingered up there long enough to feel the strong winds push against his face. After he had climbed back down, the rain was getting lighter and the wind was less fierce. "It didn't last long," commented Sakurai. The others just nodded. No one had noticed there were only sixteen people on The Cortés.
It was only after a couple of hours before Eric realised that someone as missing. "Where's Seb?" No one had seen since all the rain and the winds. It took another hour to search the ship and declare him missing. "He must have blown off the ship," suggested James. While others murmured there agreement, Sakurai silently grieved for his lost friend. He imagined him to be washed away by the waves or already drowned in the cold unforgiving water.
Just as things couldn't seem to get worse, the Captain howled, "Where's the map! My map! Who has it?" No one had ever seen the map. Some people doubted the map even existed. Nevertheless, everyone searched again or the map as it was the reason they were on this voyage. No one had noticed a ship had pulled up alongside The Cortés.
It was only when their captain stepped into The Cortés we started shouting and demanding they get off. "Looking for this?" their captain said weighing a piece of paper in her hand. "Who are you and how did you acquire my map?" asked Captain Marvellous. She laughed and said, "I am Irichnid and Sebastian gave it to me." Irichnid was tall and quite muscular with dark hair and cold brown eyes. "Seb, he's still alive?" Grayson asked.
"Yeah, I'm alive," said Seb stepping out from behind Irichnid. "I used the storm as a distraction to get into Captain Marvellous' office and steal the map. Then, when you were all watching Sakurai climbing up the spar, the ship came and picked me up."
"But why?" asked Grayson. Seb shrugged, grinned and took out a little bag full of coins of all different currencies. Captain Marvellous wore a dark look. It must be painful for him, Sakurai realised, he had worked for the money to buy a ship and searched for years for the map. "I assume you want the treasure," said Captain Marvellous.
"No, we want little ponies with dragon wings," said Irichnid, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"I wouldn't mind them," said Captain Marvellous under his breath . In a louder voice, he called, "would you leave us alone if we actually get their first?"
"Of course, but how would you know where to go?" she said curiously.
Captain Marvellous laughed, "After several years of studying one object, you can kind of memorise its details. We can also follow you."
Irichnid glared at him, "Don't bother following us, if you do, this will happen." She waved her hand to her crew and someone gave her a gun. Everyone ran for cover except for Grayson who was a little too slow. "Grayson, get down," Dawn screamed but it was far too late. The bullets hit Grayson square in the chest and he dropped. Everyone knew he couldn't be alive. "Good bye, see you at the finishing line," Irichnid said scuttling back on to her ship.
The crew gave Grayson a little funeral service and threw him overboard in a box. No one was in a happy mood which gave the ship a gloomy atmosphere. One day, Sakurai overheard Pedro and Antonio ask each other how the Captain knew the way Sakurai wondered about that as well. Captain Marvellous had took a different route than Irichnid but ended up in front of her ship. The days had passed a lot slower than before Grayson's death. Everyone seemed more withdrawn. Luckily, they had run into no more bad weather and it was a smooth journey. With Grayson dead and Seb on a different ship, Sakurai started to talk more with Pedro and André. They wanted to find the treasure so they could get back some wealth which was lost by their father who gambled and drunk nearly all of it.
After a few more quiet weeks, Sakurai spotted some land. It was the first bit of land he had seen for ages. "Land! There's land!" he yelled. Everyone came to see it. "Is that Australia?" Sakurai wondered out loud.
Antonio answered, "It is. It's Australia!" His voice could hardly contain his excitement. Even Captain Marvellous had a smile on him.
Although, at the time, it seemed really close to the ship, it took a couple of days to reach Australia. There, they rested and ate good food. Sakurai had forgotten how much he had missed dry land. They resupplied and set of for Fraser Island. Unluckily, Fraser Island was just off the North east coast of Australia so they had to go all the way round Australia. No one minded another day or two as they were only a couple of days of getting rich.
As they approached Fraser Island, they saw a familiar ship docking at Fraser Island. Everyone groaned but Captain Marvellous just stared on. To his crew, he said, "We won't let them have our treasure. I know it is in the forest at the southern end of this Island. When we reach this Island. Split in to two's and search. We divide and conquer." Sakurai nodded to the speech and murmured his agreement.
"It wasn't fair," Sakurai said to himself as he stumbled into the forest by himself. As Grayson had died, it left an odd number in the group. Sakurai sighed and started searching the forest floor. His hands rested on his pistol or a 36 Colt Navy as Rasmus had proudly stated. Just before everyone had left the ship, Captain Marvellous had ordered Rasmus to arm everyone.
Sakurai stopped. His brain told him that the treasure was somewhere close. Sakurai laughed as he saw some leaves unnaturally grouped together. Sakurai sprinted to the pile and groped inside the leaves and felt the handle of some door. He yanked it open and dropped through the door.
Inside, it seemed to glow because of the sunlight reflecting off Dracula's treasure. Sakurai screamed in delight. It was truly a wonderful sight. Gold was piled high. Sakurai doubted that even the fifteen of the crew could carry all this back to the ship.
Sakurai heard the trapdoor open and close. Sakurai turned around and grinned, "Guess what I found?" He cut off suddenly. The person wasn't from the Cortés. Not now anyway. Sakurai came face to face with Sebastian. That would normally be fine except that Seb was pointing a rifle in his face. "Time's up Sakurai". Sakurai literally felt himself deflate.
"Don't shoot me," whimpered Sakurai. He suddenly made a grab for his pistol and saw a flash. Suddenly, he was on his back and Seb was standing over him pointing his gun at Sakurai, "Any last words?" he asked.
"It's not fair," sobbed Sakurai. He had a hope but had that snatched away from him. "It's not fair," repeated Sakurai.
Seb nodded, "Sorry to break it to you but life isn't fair." Seb shot once and Sakurai died. Seb didn't feel any joy in killing him. "He did find it" Seb said to no one in particular. So Seb set to work and buried Sakurai in gold. Seb dropped the last few gold coins on him and the Gold fell like rain on to Sakurai.