Chapter One: Caliban’s Dream
Her skin was like silk, softer than sand. And when I looked into her eyes, I could tell she wanted me. Her body yearned for my touch and she made me feel more alive than I ever had. She bore the embers that brought light into my meager existence. She made me happy, so genuinely joyous that I truly smiled.
For seven years I felt this way. Every moment was more jubilant than the last. And every time I held her in my arms, I could feel my dead heart melting. Succumbing to the love I felt for her.
Never had I felt an emotion so profound. It filled holes in my soul that I'd forgotten existed. I felt complete. I could never let her go.
Until I had to.
"Caliban!" Zaccai's voice echoed into my ears, causing my eyes to open squintingly. I looked upon the pale, grey eyed creature looming over my bedside. He looked panicked, and it was then that the rest of the noise rushed in; cannons firing and men screaming. The ship rumbled amidst the chaos and I was overwhelmed with irritation. "Caliban, wake up! We're under attack!"
I was frozen with thirst, my body had been reduced to a zombified husk, awaiting a drink.
"Here," Zaccai cut his arm open, and spilled his blood into my mouth. Mere droplets were enough to rejuvenate me into my youthful form. Suddenly energized, I sat up, throwing the blankets off my body and hurrying to my wardrobe to get dressed.
We'd only pulled into port a few hours ago. Caliban was still asleep, like he had been the last seven years, while my new companion John and I, sailed with our crew, plundering every merchant who crossed our path.
I never thought we would run into the same crew we pirated back in the Caribbean. They told the townspeople of this port stories about demonic beings who only attacked at night; pillaging their goods, and slaughtering nearly every man in sight. Savages, he called us. Witches, is what stuck. Before we knew it, a mob of humans had corralled our ship, adamant on killing us.
We could easily kill them all, but what good would that do us? We'd simply be labeled as murderers who massacred an entire village. But there were so many of them. Hoards of people flooded our frigate like wild animals looking to feed. They already captured John and were in the midst of beating him on deck.
I had no choice but to wake Caliban. He'd know what to do. I was only the quartermaster and I'd run out of ideas. My most confident plan was for the crew to create a firewall of wood to block us from the mob's wrath.
"What did you do?" Caliban questioned harshly while he slipped on his silk robe. He faced me, his eyes ablaze with rage. My back stiffened at the sight, but I kept my composure, knowing he couldn't.
"I did nothing—"
"Clearly!" He snapped. He snatched his dagger off the dresser and stormed out of the room. I followed him up the stairs and onto the deck.
The mob had breached the firewall and were attacking our crew. We were painfully outnumbered, while ships from the port surrounded us with ongoing cannon fire. We were done for.
"What idiotic, pig shit is this!?" Caliban snapped again. He gripped a civilian by the skull, crushing his head into a bloodied pulp in his clutches. He shook the remains from his fingers. "They think we're witches?" He looked at me. "Show them witches. Kill them all."
"But Caliban, that's genocide, we'll be hunted for this—"
"They are mortals!" Caliban grimaced, lancing a human with his blade when she attempted to strike him. He ripped his dagger out of the woman's stomach and glared at me. "They are worthless, and they are destroying our ship. Get to it. Take out your sword and murder everything in sight."
He acted colder than usual that night. He tore through humans, young and old, like they were livestock. Meaningless human heads made a mess of the deck while I decapitated every attempted strike against my life. These humans were stupid. What was their drive to continue when they were only going to die? Was their god that important to them?
The battle lasted for hours into the night. The humans had eventually retreated, their numbers having been lessened to mere dozens. Blood painted the deck and bodies were spread about like furniture. We dumped them into the ocean and fed on the ripe ones.
Our crew managed the rest of the cleanup while John, Caliban and I had a sit down in the captain's quarters.
I'd been beaten to a pulp, but the blood in my veins made my body heal with unimaginable precision. I sat slumped in a chair while I sipped a glass of wine. I looked at Caliban, and I wondered why he was so driven to kill them all. As if he was in a rush.
He was currently tearing through the room, opening maps and scrolls, skimming through books like a scholar. He finally took a seat after all his trouble, and rolled out a map, pinning the edges to his desk.
"France?" Zaccai inquired. "We've already been there countless times—"
"We are to venture there again," Caliban cut in. "That's where she's located..." he muttered.
Zaccai's eyebrows raised. "She?" He scoffed.
"We stay in this port for another three days for repairs. Steal whatever goods from this town as necessary." There was this determination aglow in his eyes. "Because we will not stop until I have her."
"Who is her?" Zaccai sneered. "What are you on about?" He stood up out of his chair.
"I had a dream," Caliban explained. He seemed to be calmed by those words. He nearly elaborated, but he cut it short, averting his gaze and looking back at the map. "You wouldn't understand. Just know that I am in pursuit of a woman."
"For what reason?" Zaccai continued to question. He seemed to be growing infuriated. "What woman possessed you this time?"
"No, not just a woman," Caliban met his eyes. "The woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with."
My eyes widened when I looked at Caliban's. I recalled that same expression from when I first met my wife. I couldn't fully understand what drove him to feel so strongly... but I could relate to the feeling of desperately wanting another person's love. I felt saddened by its nostalgia. Maybe even envious that he could feel something so profound while I couldn't.
I sipped my wine and didn't speak a word.
"You truly are an imbecile," Zaccai scoffed. "I'm so confused. You say you saw her in a dream?"
Caliban nodded. "For seven years I dreamt of her. It felt so real. I could feel every second of the time I spent with her. And the sex was amazing."
"Alright, now you just sound stupid. You had an erotic dream, Caliban. That's it. There is no mystery woman waiting for you in France—"
"She was real!" He exclaimed, meeting Zaccai's gaze with determined fury. "You might not understand, but I know she's out there. She may not know it, but we were destined to be together."
Zaccai folded his arms. "Fine. Let's say, hypothetically, this woman does exist. What're you going to do?"
"I'm going to make her like us—"
"What!?" Zaccai snapped. "Are you out of your fucking mind!?"
"You'd best watch your tone with me! You have no idea what I'm liable to do if you try to stop me!"
Zaccai grit his teeth. "Are you threatening me?"
"I should have never told you. I knew you would react this way." Caliban stormed around his desk and faced Zaccai. "You will not meddle in my efforts. Do you understand me?"
Zaccai's eyes hardened angrily. I sipped my wine, unable to utter a word. "I dearly hope you find what you seek," Zaccai exhaled halfheartedly.
"That's what I thought," Caliban hissed. He sat behind his desk once again. "John," he motioned to me, I sat up. "Heal the wounded," he looked at Zaccai. "You can go find new recruits. We lost several men last night."
"Nobody in this shitty village would dare accompany us," Zaccai grumbled. "We might as well leave and recruit elsewhere—"
"That is but a waste of time. We need men now," Caliban rested his elbows on the desk. "Capture them, hypnotize them, make them loyal to us. You've done it before."
"If you utter another fucking complaint, I'll rip your tongue out and eat it."
Zaccai held his breath. He gave Caliban a lasting glare before he stormed out.
I lifted myself out of my seat and grabbed my cane propped against the chair.
"John," Caliban stated, facing out the window, watching the sunrise. I studied his features as he did this. Eyes, blacker than the night, red tinted skin, and small horns protruding his forehead like a crown of sorts. I still had trouble wrapping my head around his existence in this world. I'm sure he's had immense struggles with it too. He lowered his gaze in thought. "Do you think I'm a fool for chasing after love?"
I wanted to smile. He had centuries of wisdom over me, yet he still struggled to contemplate the meaning behind love. "What else is worth chasing after?" I replied.
Caliban exhaled an amused scoff. "Indeed."
It was mid-afternoon and I managed to rally up a dozen or so civilians to recruit. I had a bundle of them tied around a tree in the dense forest. I crouched down before a woman, the final one left to be hypnotized.
She shook her head reluctantly and kept her eyes squeezed shut as I crouched before her. I heard her muttering a prayer under her breath.
"I'll wait," I sat back. "For your god to show up," I scratched my claws through my silver strands of hair and exhaled a stifled laugh. "You mortals always cling to something. You can hardly see past your own noses without believing in some deity." She let out a scream when I leaned into her. "It probably gives your soul comfort. All humans innately yearn to give up their control. Whether it be to a god, money, or societal expectations. But," I touched her chin. "You're probably too uneducated to understand that. You just keep on praying then." I folded my arms and watched her tremble. She kept praying, her words all mixed together in one long sentence as urine leaked from under her dress. I stepped back before the stream touched me. "You pissed yourself..." I sighed, pinching my nostrils. "Humans are so disgusting." She yelped when I crouched before her and grabbed her face. "Look upon me, mortal." She reluctantly opened her eyes at my command, still uttering prayers. "Silence, and listen well." She went quiet, her wide eyes hanging on my every word. "Your god is dead. I am your new god. You will be loyal to me, you will die for me, you will serve me for the rest of your days simply because it brings you joy to do so. When I finish casting this spell, you will forget who you are, and only remember me, as your savior."
I let go of her face and she blinked, looking upon me in a different way than before. Like she was helplessly in love. "Why does this always happen when I cast this spell?" I muttered to myself.
Tied in a line, one behind the other, I led the humans onto the ship to get accompanied with the other crew, who all seemed well healed by John's hand.
Caliban was still in his captain's quarters looming over his desk, his face fixated with concentration.
"I gathered some humans," I stated.
He glanced up at me for a moment before going back to looking at his map. "You called me an imbecile before," he exhaled.
"And it still stands."
He met my eyes resentfully. "If you had a dream as profound as mine, you'd be doing the same exact thing."
"I've had plenty of sexual dreams. None of them have led me on a wild goose hunt though."
"It wasn't just a sexual dream," Caliban huffed. "It was more than that. She was beautiful and graceful and small. And she meant everything to me. It was enchanting."
I'd never seen him act this way. So... driven. Usually he spent his days sleeping off opium highs and reading books. When we traveled, despite him being the captain, I was the one who operated most of the control. I planned the voyages, I was the forefront in every ship raid. Caliban was a natural leader, I innately did it all for him. But for the past few decades, I watched his light inside dwindle into nothingness. Maybe this woman was his way of finding himself. Though I doubted it would end well. There was simply no getting through to him.
Maybe I was being a fool. But life lacked excitement without a little foolishness. Despite the outcome, whether it be what I hope or not, I had to try. If I tried at anything, I had to try at this. She could be out there, living a real life, completely unaware.
Her name was Belaset. She had thick curls of white hair running down her back like a stream, these heartfelt green eyes that an emerald couldn't compare and the softest voice, like a cool, whispering breeze. She challenged me and she didn't fear me like other mortal women. I had to have her, even if just to hold her for a moment.
Zaccai could never understand. He was a bitter creature, incapable of feeling anything. "Leave me," I sighed out. I looked up when Zaccai neglected to move his feet. "I said, leave."
"Are you truly serious about this?" He questioned, worry stricken about his face.
I narrowed my eyes at him. "I've never been more serious."
He looked away from me. "I'm taking a book," he walked to my shelf and searched my vast array of literature. "I'll read this one," he pulled out a lengthy book by John Barton.
"How dare you just take my shit," I scoffed. "Is this your feeble attempt to get back at me?"
"No, I just wanted a book. A three month sail? I'll need something to entertain myself," he replied candidly. But I could sense the sarcasm in his voice. I rolled my eyes and went back to studying the map. "I'll be reading this in my room." He finally left and I was alone with my thoughts. I didn't realize how desperate I was for company. I wasn't used to feeling so unsure about something. But there was this urge inside me that I had to pursue. There was no getting around it.
I had to have her.