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Aboard the Scarlet Arrow
Speckett stood on top of the crow’s nest, gazing through a telescope at the open sea that lay before him. Oh how he loved the sea. The sense of freedom it inspired in him, the sheer beauty of the ocean, and just how unpredictable it was. That was what inspired him to become a merchant sailor in the first place. Unfortunately, another thing Speckett couldn’t predict, besides the sea, was just how little money he would make as a merchant. He actually lost money trading in the new colonies to the west, sailed back to England, and used what little money he had left to drown his sorrows at the local tavern. As fate would have it, another seafaring individual was at that specific tavern on that specific night.
Traveling back to England had been pretty rough. Considering how mad his crew was at their lack of a profit, and that Speckett had been able to hire them rather cheaply as most of them were recently freed from prison, he was happy to have made it back with his heart still beating and all of his limbs attached. Speckett had docked in Merrytown, a favorite port of his, named so because its inhabitants tended to make merry every single night. It was a town heavy on drink and women, and light on law enforcement. This was a particular combination that drew the unscrupulous like bees to honey. So, whenever someone wanted to engage in business of a less-than-legal nature, Merrytown was usually their destination. And that was why he had met Jim Looring in the tavern that night.
The tavern was built from a cheap, light brown wood, and was a fair bit smaller than those of a higher society were used to. That didn’t really matter, though, as those of a higher society wouldn’t be caught dead within a mile of this entire town. It was filled with the usual rowdy rabble, conversing loudly about their latest conquests and fighting whenever someone uttered something even remotely offensive. It was after the third fight of the evening when a man dressed in a white shirt and a rough brown overcoat approached Speckett. His scraggly goatee and dirty blonde hair, that fell a bit past his ears, made him look both charismatic and shifty. The man sat down at the bar by Speckett.
“You don’t seem drunk enough or stupid enough to be a regular here,” observed the man. Speckett gave a small chuckle.
“Come back in an hour, and we’ll see how I’m doing,” replied Speckett before he took a sip from his mug. A moment of silence passed as the man stared at Speckett.
“So tell me, was it a lass you fancied that turned you down, or perhaps the death of a loved one?” asked the man.
“I’m asking why you seem so down.” Speckett turned on his stool to face the man.
“If you must know, I recently lost everything trading in the west,” lamented Speckett as he turned back toward the bar to get at his mug. If he had been watching the man carefully as he spoke, Speckett would have seen something change in the man’s eyes at the mention of his loss.
“Well then, mister...” said the man, asking for Speckett’s name.
“Well then, Mr. Speckett, I have a business proposition for you,” said the man.
“I’ll need to know your name first,” spoke Speckett. The man stood up and bowed.
“Captain Jim Looring, at your service.” Speckett looked surprised.
“Captain, huh?” began Speckett. “Exactly what kind business proposition did you have in mind?” Looring smiled.
“It’s simple, really. You become a crewman on my ship, the Scarlet Arrow. Then we go find other ships out at sea, and liberate them of whatever cargo they may, or may not want.”
“You’re pirates!” gasped Speckett. A look of fake terror spread across Looring’s face.
“Pirates?!?” exclaimed Looring. “Oh no, no no.” His sly smile returned. “I prefer to think of us as people who take the burden of valuable cargo away from other ships so they can go faster.” Speckett shook his head.
“I can’t be a pirate!”
“I don’t see why not. You have experience with sailing, no?” explained Looring.
“Well, yes, but...”
“Then you only need to wield a weapon halfway decently, and you’ll be set,” said Looring, cutting off Speckett. Speckett sat there in thought for a while before speaking.
“And this will be a profitable venture?” questioned Speckett. Looring held up his glass.
“We’ll be rolling in gold before long, mate.”
And that was how Speckett ended up aboard the Scarlet Arrow. Gazing down from the crow’s nest, he could see that she was neither scarlet nor did she resemble an arrow. She a medium-sized frigate, built for speed and maneuverability. With three towering masts, and a multitude of sails, she was a sight to behold.
Speckett resumed searching the waters in front of them. There in the distance, perhaps 10 miles away, he could see the rear of a large galleon. He yelled down to the deck.
“Captain!” called Speckett. “I’ve spotter her!” Down below on the deck was Captain Looring.
“How far away are we?” hollered Looring.
“I’d say near 10 miles.”
“Brilliant, I’ll let the crew know. We’ll take her by nightfall.” Looring disappeared down a hatch to the lower deck and Speckett began his climb down from the crow’s nest. They had been chasing this particular vessel for almost 3 days. The Scarlet Arrow had almost caught the Spanish the day prior before losing her in a storm. Now, their target had been found.
When he reached the deck Speckett opened the hatch that Looring had gone through moments earlier, and slipped down into the lower deck of the ship. Most of the crew was gathered around a circular table playing five-finger fillet. There was, Gunpowder Lawrence, Thomas Steig, Fat Gary, Brick Tamland, and Ross the Clumsy all gathered around the table, while Mick Cortez stabbed rapidly at the table under the spaces between his fingers. The men stopped what they were doing and looked up at the captain when Looring came in with Speckett close behind.
“Have we found her?” asked Fat Gary, who was not named so because he was skinny.
“Aye,” replied Looring as he nodded. The men cheered.
“When will we take her?” inquired Mick. This time, it was Speckett who spoke.
“By nightfall, she’ll be ours.” The men cheered yet again and went to go prepare for the coming battle.
Speckett was about to go to his cabin and ready his things, when he was approached by Gunpowder Lawrence, who was by all accounts a stereotypical pirate. His left eye socket was covered by a black eye patch, a mean-looking hook adorned his left are where his hand used to be, and a black swath of hair grew from his chin. The odor of gunpowder clung to him like perfume.
“Yarrr!” began Lawrence as he always did. “Have ye spied me cutlass, matey?” he asked. Speckett could clearly see the sword hanging at Gunpowder Lawrence's left side; the side with his missing eye.
“Isn’t that it right there?” said Speckett, indicating the cutlass. Lawrence wheeled around so as to look with his good eye.
“Aye, so it is,” he said in relief. “Ye have me gratitude.” Gunpowder Lawrence walked away, and Speckett went to his own cabin. He made sure, his musket and pistol were loaded, had extra rounds and powder ready, and put his cutlass on his belt. Now all he had to do was wait.
Approximately 10 hours later, the sun was beginning to set, and Speckett, Looring and the crew prepared to board the now cannon-wrecked Spanish galleon. The deck of their target was higher than the deck of the Scarlet Arrow, so Looring had decided they would simply enter into a lower deck. A well-placed cannonball had made a hole in the side of their prey that would suit their purposes just fine.
Fat Gary and Ross the Clumsy were lowering the boarding plank into the hole, while the rest of crew fired at any Spaniard confident enough to pop up from cover and attempt to shoot Gary or Ross. Finally, the plank had been lowered and the pirates stormed into the galleon. While, Speckett took up the rear, he could see his crewmates already overwhelming the Spaniards inside. When Speckett himself made it inside, a rather brave Spaniard swung at him with a threatening axe. He deflected the blow off his cutlass, and drove the deadly steel into the poor man who had opposed him. The Spaniard crumpled to the floor and did not get up. Speckett didn’t like that part of his occupation, but it was either a few men dead at his hands, or dying of hunger in the streets with not a shilling to his name.
Whirling around, Speckett searched the area for more individuals who might cause him harm, but they all seemed to be either dead, or cowering in the corner. This battle would be easy. Speckett dashed up the nearby stair, hoping that they would lead him to the main deck. When they did, he breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the Spanish captain had surrendered, with the tip of Looring’s gun a mere six inches from the poor man’s head.
After all the cargo of value had been carried onto the Scarlett Arrow, Speckett sat at the table with the crew, feasting and drinking in honor of their success. He smiled as he raised the cup of rum to his lips. Another day had gone by in his new life as a pirate.